Sunday, July 31, 2005

Oh man, perhaps the weakest third act of the year.

Belongs to (drum roll please)... Hitch.

This was never going to be a masterpiece (obvious from the frames that said "Directed by Andy Tenant"), but the idea behind it was rather charming. A man who aranges to help people meet. Which, as a male is I've sometimes found awkward, and gives the film a relatable premise. And the film builds well on the relationship of Hitch (Will Smith) with the nebbishy but good natured fat guy Albert (Kevin James), and we want to buy his relationship with the heiress Alegra (Amber Valletta), because it's a charming sort of fairy tale. Of course, this begs the question: could you reverse it and have a hot dude and a chubby chick? I don't think people would buy it as readily, hot guys tend to not have soft spots in the same way. Imagine a love story between Brad Pitt and Adia Turturro... Not to dwell too deeply on this, but I think it has everything to do with the objectification of the female in modern society. Is this way too pretentious for an entry on Hitch? SURVEY SAYS: Yes with 87 votes.

But the film has a modest charm until it must get to the third act "Miscomunication that fucks everything up" that allows characters to be mad at each other for no good reason. It's at this point that the meet cute collapses, and reveals the limitations of Eva Mendez, who's easy on the eyes, but doesn't convey all that well. Then again, especially in the third act, things get telegraphed by the people standing next to the main characters who smile when Hitch says something charming or frown when he says something mean. Of all the films that have collapsed under their premises this year, it was this film that really made me feel pissed off with its TV writing stupidity. It's one of those films where you start rewriting it in your head while you're watching it. In five years I think you could remake it, though. Why not?

Yeah, you got satin shoes. Yeah, you got plastic boots. Y'all got cocaine eyes. Yeah, you got speed-freak jive.

Alexander The Director's Cut

Ain't no stranger.

Just a slob like one of us

Damon: I was thinking about Monkeybone today.
God: How many times have I heard a conversation start that way?
Damon: Too many I'm sure. I was thinking about how they have that joke where Stephen King is in hell because a less creative spirit took over his body. That's a pretty clever gag.
Damon: I thought about it. Didn't he write a short story about a possessed doll that kills?
God: Of course, every lazy horror trope he's taken and turned into something.
Damon: I wonder if he has a dictaphone.
God: "Note to self: possessed DVD player that shows people their deaths."
Damon: "Note to self: an evil supermarket that takes people's souls."
God: "Note to self: start the stories with quotes from Rock N' Roll songs. Wait..."
Damon: Hey now.
God: Dude, he sucks now, have you read his latest EW thing?
Damon: Nah.
God: He should commence the whittling, and suck on a corn pipe.
Damon: I wonder if he pursued the high price trim in his coke days. That would have been awesome. Killer Steve slaying the ladies. Awesome.
God: You seen anything good lately?
Damon: I liked Last Days a lot but I saw that with you, so... I liked Hustle and Flow, thought the Flight of the Phoenix remake was solid. Watched Ray last night. Meh. Good music.
God: But how do you fuck that up?
Damon: Dunno. Oh, I watched Bedazzled again, such a great film.
God: It's sad to think they're both dead.
Damon: I know, Peter Cook, such a genius.
God: Indeed.
Damon: What have you been up to lately?
God: Oh, you know. This and that. Rob Cohen and I have been hanging out a lot lately. He knew Stealth wasn't going to hit, but he's been taking it hard.
Damon: At least he got to fuck Asia.
God: Girls with daddy issues: always hot.
Damon: For sure.
God: And Jesus has been sort of mopey lately.
Damon: Any reason?
God: No reason. I guess it's that time of the month. He was dating Eva Mendez for a couple, and then that ended poorly.
Damon: Why?
God: Religous differences, I guess.
Damon: You.
God: She didn't believe in him, but mostly cause he was balling Kirsten Dunst on the side.
Damon: She is a side dish.
God: Oh well.
Damon: You been seeing anyone?
God: Me, nah. After Ali McGraw broke my heart in 84, I stay away from actresses.
Damon: You should date rock stars. The life of the road, meng.
God: Tell me about it. Stick it to Eve, or something.
Damon: She let you blow her mind, I'm sure.
God: You're not going to go for the sex tape reference?
Damon: Not today.
God: Well, you've got that going for you.
Damon: ZING!
God: And I'm out.
Damon: Chocolate Factory this week?
God: Yeah, maybe, hit me on my cell.
Damon: Done.
God: Peace.
Damon: Later.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Also: RE: The last bit: The Elizabethtown trailer.

There's something about that trailer that seems phony from frame one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

This post taken over by the ghost of Larry King

- Worst part of living in Los Angeles? Now I get driver's tan. My left arm is significantly darker than my right.

- "I'm going to let you go now." I have had this said to me on the phone, and I've said this on the phone. This makes sense if someone's said "Oh, I'm kinda busy right now, what's up?" and then you say "X" and then they say "Y," and then you're all "Cool, well, I'm going to let you go now." But when people say this to get out of a phone conversation, it's passive aggression, it's become commonplace, and I am as guilty of this as anyone else. So I hearby pronounce to myself, fuck that noise.

- I can't wait to see the Aristocrats. Which means I won't see it until video, probably. How does that work? Still, I've been good about theater stuff, and saw Last Days, Hustle and Flow, Wedding Crashers, and The Devils Rejects in so many days. Fuck Charlie in his Chocolate Factory though.

- If you can't guess I didn't make it to Portland this week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Heaven, Heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens

Kurt Cobain died eleven years ago. I was in high school, I had the day off, and the reports flooded in on the radio. My parents had an on-again off-again relationship with cable, but we had it at the time, and I spent a couple hours that night watching MTV as it cycled through tenuous reports and airings of the Nirvana MTV unplugged episode. Then my two favorite bands were Pearl Jam and Nirvana, and this was something of a blow. I remember being a Freshman and borrowing a copy of the Smells like Teen Spirit single on CD. Fourteen years ago my only CD player was my laserdisc player, now I have seven between my home and car.

In those brief three years the band released Nevermind, Incesticide, In Utero, all of which I consumed gleefully, backing up to grab Bleach along the way. Nevermind hit MTV like a bolt of lightning, going quickly from the "alternative" show "120 minutes" to hourly rotation, with each single charting maximum airplay. It saturated. And as Incesticide was simply a collection of songs, with a couple worth savoring, it felt like a stop gap. But where there was always a dark side to Nevermind, In Utero offered a rawer version of the band/Cobain. Going from Butch Vig to Steve Albini stripped the pop sensibilities to a minimum, but this was also the way of the band and Cobain, or at least it seemed. Though Cobain never abandoned his hooks, In Utero still feels primal, naked, and deeply personal. When Cobain died, after In Utero, death sadly felt like what had to happen, something preordained. Perhaps it was in retrospect, or the mindset of my age at the time, but In Utero felt like an album qua suicide note.

So what do I make of Gus Van Sant's Last Days? I don't know yet. A tone piece (I've used the phrase "tone poem" too often, I must find a worthy surrogate) , it follows a Cobain surrogate named Blake (played by Michael Pitt) as he stumbles around his Northwest estate (or New York, where it was filmed, it could be meant to be either) in a deep fog. Whether the fog is caused by Heroin or a deep depression, or just being spiritually wasted, it's hard to say. But Blake is scattershot and mumbling, swimming in cold waters, building fires, having problems sitting, and crashing out almost narcoleptically. He fears most of those he knows and speaks the most to a Yellow Pages salesman, and only to the hangers on (Scott Green, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Nicole Vicius), who come to his place to (it appears) do drugs and have sex with whomever is closest at the time. Blake also spends time hiding from a friend who has brought a Private Detective (Ricky Jay) to find him.

The film is still and quiet, only letting us get so close to the smacked out Blake, who wanders like a ghost throughout, and barely speaking coherently when spoken to. He is also visited by a mother figure (Kim Gordon, serving two purposes in motherhood) who delivers the most pointed line of the film when she speaks of what he says to his daughter: "Do you say, 'I'm sorry, that I'm a Rock and Roll cliche?'" Unfortunately Gordon, like the late appearance of Harmony Korine, is not much of an actress, but her presence in the film feels so right.

It seems Gus Van Sant intimately knows this state of being, and observes it from a distance, using (as he did in the pretty but vacant Elephant) time schisms that cause overlaps and a sense of disconnect. It feels more appropriate here. We, like Blake, are lost. The film then builds to it's most emotionally charged sections as twice Blake purges with two songs, one a collection of noises, the other the song "Death to Birth." The second piece is a sequence that caused me waves of goosebumps, and to cringe as if watching someone getting stabbed in slow motion. Which was sort of like listening to In Utero shortly after Cobain died, or Where Did you Sleep Last Night as it constantly repeated on MTV.

It's hard for me to qualify Last Days at this point, it's more of an experience than film right now, and I have some reservations that I can't articulate. But that noted, what has been accomplished is a deeply felt work by Michael Pitt and Gus Van Sant that shows someone in such decline that they are gone before the body has stopped working.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Third act problems and the Whoops that Trick them

Would it be too obvious to compare Craig Brewer's Hustle and Flow and Curtis Hanson's 8 Mile? If so, call me Capt. Obvious.

Hustle and Flow is a very engaging film, though a film that works within its limitations successfully. I do not wish to denigrate what Brewer has done, it's a fine achievement, something any mother could be proud of, and an entertaining film until it has to reach both of its obvious next steps. Terrence Howard commands the screen in a role he must have salivated when he read as D Jay, a pimp who - when word reaches him about a Crunker who's hit the big time (Ludacris) coming back to town - gets his shit together to record a demo. Using his ho's to make him the dolla to afford it, he recruits an old high school friend (Anthony Anderson) to be his producer, while Anderson drags a keyboardist with beat skills (DJ Qualls) in to provide the music. Of course DJay's dreams rest upon some seriously teetering hopes, and thus leads to some huge third act problems due to the filmmakers hoping to tie up some shit in a rather commercial way. This rubs poorly as the film is built on authenticity, which it willfully abandons towards the conclusion. On some level it would have been more satisfying had would be crunker DJay been considered a joke, but his "test" (Spoilers: failing to impress the Cris) leads to his salvation after a strong but unsuccessful hustle.

The interesting comparison to 8 Mile is that in Eminem and Hanson's vision of success comes from total autonomy. Eminem/Rabbit must make it on his own, and take no one with him (a rather dire but not unrealistic view) while Hustle and Flow hits its zenith (in fact I almost wish the film ended at this point) at the hour twenty point (and I checked my watch to clock it) when Anderson's character's wife enters into the DJay home and listens to the work. For this vision, success comes from a society working together to push itself forward.

It would be interesting to suggest that this has to do with one being a "white" vision, while the other was a "black" vision, but writer/director Craig Brewer is, in fact, white. Where then does that leave us? On some level, I think I enjoy 8 Mile more, not because - though I think it is arguably true -that the character of a hustler is more central to urban mythology than suburban mythos, but due to Hanson's direction which offers an appropriate sense of hunger and loss, which I think elevates it above its formulaic setting, but also because it builds to its third act as a payoff, whereas H&F hits that section with the steam out. Still, Whoop that Trick, indeed.

Third act problems and The Baxters that inhabit them

In romantic comedies there is usually the other. The Bellamy, the Baxter (as Michael Showalter has labeled him), the Pullman. The character who's sole purpose is to show that the female (or in some cases the male) is attractive but not available immediately, allowing a narrative to stretch from meet cute to relationship. This is evident from the credit sequence, as this character is usually fourth or fifth billed.

Many writers take to marginalizing the character. Nora Ephron's solution was to give the guy three scenes, and then have him gracefully bow out as his finance runs off for Tom Hanks. Much as in how Team America still seems discussion worthy even though it's not a great film, this sequence achieves a certain poetry. One wishes they spun off this character, so we could see who this guy is. Perhaps that's just the definition of bad writing, but Ehpron created a character so interesting in spite of herself, that I can see why Showalter was interested in exploring this archetype.

The other way to go is the direction of Wedding Crashers, a film that makes the secondary love interest so repellent, that we can't help but root for our hero to fuck up their relationship. Of course the film then asks a bigger question: if our heroine is with this lout, then maybe she's not as awesome as the film makes her out to be. "She's perfect, except she's dating a total retardo... But she likes me." Lubitsch always managed to work around these problems. Then again, he was a genius, something I don't think could be leveled at Ephron or the men behind The Wedding Crashers (in Showalter's case, a wait and see method is probably best), which in the later case is a perfectly fun though disposable romantic comedy (I think it'll end up more like Old School than Caddyshack).

But the problem with the character is that by its nature it must be a straw dog. To give them any depth would be to open the door to hurt feelings. It's a fascinating conundrum.

College teaches you so much

Tomorrow is going to be a heavy writing day. You learn how to prioritize what needs doing in college. Today was a wasted day in some respects, though I got a lot done in others. I may also be going to Portland this week, but I have a story due, and some works needs to get done on another commisioned project, though I feel like I can sit down and get some good stuff done on that. But it's in college where you learn the value of deadlines and how to ride them. Deadlines become fetishistic in their way as each offers its own pleasures and pains. The rush of not having what you need until hours or minutes beforehand. The studied stall.

On top of that I think I finally got the feel of my next solo venture, which is going to be known as The Basics. I know how it starts, I have the right feel. I'm at that point, a point I love where it's going to be working in the back of brain for a while, rolling around as if in a snifter. Hopefully this one won't take three years to emerge.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

A film I find it hard to talk about

Finally finished My Own Private Idaho, I started watching it with my friend Chris a couple months ago and I think I was sorta waiting to finish it with him, but that didn't happen. Tonight, though, I finished it.


When I was in middle school, I want to say seventh grade, they were filming Drugstore Cowboy and it interfered with my bus route. I never caught My Own Private Idaho being filmed, but it created quite the stir when it was released. I was in high school, it didn't do much for me. Now, not only do I get it, but having lived away from Portland for a couple of months now, it's a magnified nostalgia, as it's early ninties Portland, the era to which I began high school. And, as is the case with - I'm sure - many people who live in towns that have been filmed only marginally, it fucks with me. Which is magnified by how many people from Portland on both sides of the camera that I know who were involved with the film. Watching the credits, it's like... Jesus. "I lived with x!" "I used to drink with y!" "z still owns me money!"

And now, it's easy to see how great and influential the film is, jeez Louise, could Wong Kar Wai have made Happy Together without this? But again, this film has become a part of me, because it is a part of my past. I'm happy this film exists, and I'm happy it's a good movie.

If you make sure you're rejected, the writing's on the wall.

Watched an appropriate midnight showing of "The Devil's Rejects" last night, and had as much fun as one can hope to have in a theater, without, you know, doing it. Who knew a hard core, exploitation film could be that much of a hoot? I guess that means Rob Zombie isn't as crazy as someone like Tobe Hooper seemed while making Texas Chainsaw Massacre, perhaps with all the familiar faces (that have and will be lining comic con signing booths for years to come) you don't have the sneak attack greatness that anonymity provides. And if I am to be critical, one is aware from the outset where Zombie's sympathies lie with the Firefly fam. Those minor caveats noted, it becomes obvious from the nude presence of Kate Norby that Zombie was always a Nancy Loomis fan, and for that, my hat is off. Where many derivative horror films make you cringe, the love apparent here is so genuine that the occasional samples don't ever effect the text, and in fact one had me laughing out loud, when one homage turned from sci-fi to Kubrick (if that's obscure enough not to spoil, and yet be understood by those who've seen it). Where House of a 1,000 Corpses had moments, but descended into a state of interminability by the end, here Zombie really does pull something off. There are so many great sequences and situations; the film has easily the best opening credit sequence in years. I think - though the ending has been compared to Bonnie and Clyde - in the end it is more Thelma and Louise in that there seems hope in the impossible, and I wouldn't be surprised if Zombie returns to this well again. And, scary as it may sound, I wouldn't be surprised if he was able to top himself with the next one. But if so, run.

This makes the fourth movies I've seen this year that would make a top ten list alongside Land of the Dead, War of the Worlds, and Kung Fu Hustle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'm trying to figure out if this is flattering or not

Phillip Seymour Hoffman and
Jim Gaffigan.

These are the peeps I get compared to.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

SDCC: Episode V: The anti-climax

Sunday was an early morning, considering. We got up and got all our stuff in order. One of our party had a noon meeting, but otherwise the gameplan was to get out at one. Then Puff Daddy got a call from some friends in town, and one became two, and two became 3:15. Wandering around, I kept running into people I knew, people I had in some cases come to the con to see, others I had bumped into on my trevails. I tried scoring an Old Boy T shirt, but no dice. I mostly came that day to just wait around, but in my absolutely drained state I slogged through, bouncing around while still trying to keep walking, which was just getting to be painful after five full days of feet pounding, and eighteen to nineteen hours days. We hit the road around fourish, and I fell unconcscious in the back seat for about an hour. Traffic was horrible, so we stopped at a Jack in the Box and just ordered drive-thru. I finally got home at around eight, collapsing onto my sofa, finding a cat who wasn't particularly happy with me for my extended absence. I then drew up my computer, and spent a couple hours playing catch up with the world, as I listened to the Cry Baby commentary. Yesterday was spent cleaning house and running errands. You almost need a vacation from your vacations.

Monday, July 18, 2005

SDCC Part IV: Ran and Fractured Kidney

Saturday began as a total waste. The big room was decidedly full, and I wandered around looking first for food and then for friends. I made contact with David Walker (of Badazz Mofo fame) and planned to hang out. I walked around the floor thinking it might be fun to wear a shirt saying "The Make Out Professional," riffing on an idea from Dinosaur comics ( and finally found David. We hung for a bit as he made the rounds with Jim Mahfood and Reggie Hudlin. This came to end when he took off, and I ran into some other buds, who had just had a mini-epic sleb encounter. We ran around, ending up at some bar, where we met with other friendlies, and from there we got to the Bruce Campbell party, which also had free drinks. This was cut short by another rendezous for dinner, where I hung with a bunch of people I mostly didn't know and talked up shit. Had a great time, though it was an expensive dinner all things. The thing about a con is that four days into the mess you're beat as all get out, but you feel like, especially Saturday, that you have to live it up. So we did by staying out until 3:30 again, but it was mellower for me. I didn't really even feel like talking, but I felt like I should be out. I didn't attend any of the panels that day, and was getting tired of everything. My legs had already begun aching (as they are want, you walk the shit out of everything at the Con), but there were two Lisa's we were hanging with and that was cool, and it was great hanging with one as I hadn't really seen her since the last Con I attended two years ago. She's a great human being, and I wish I had more chances to spend time with her, but it's one of those things where the con allows me the chance to hang with people from all over the world who are cut off from their daily lifestyles and are up for having fun. I have friends - from Boston, From Georgia, from New York, from Australia, from Texas, from Los Angeles, from Portland - that I know will probably be there, and it's pretty sweet like that. On the walk home from our epic hang out Piff Daddy and I tried to call a cab, but the son of a bitch told us our destination was a couple blocks away. Bastard. We got home at four, and got up at eightish, nineish. BASTARD.

Highlights of this day included seeing a slave Leia girl who obviously couldn't be wearing underwear, and hanging with Jimmy a bit after the night before, which should become a euphemism. Meeting Lincoln and Summer was also fun.

San Diego (which means Whale's Vagina) part 3: tan and plastered Mimsy

Friday. The heat is on. Run into some friends and the floors were packed. We walk, and then do lunch. The secondary purpose of my trip was to try and understand something, something I've been wrestling with for a while. I grew up a geek. And I still side myself with that, but I've grown contemptuous of those who have not evolved. Who dress up and want to be a 24/7 dork. It's just not my thing. But by hating geeks, am I a self hating nerd? Or have I flipped the script and joined the jock side? Where do I now fit in the schema of this world. A friend, Dave, said to me on the last day there "So, do you like comics?" and I told him I didn't. "Wow, you must really hate this, then." But Comic-Con (also referred to a nerd prom) has become about way more than comics, and has been for quite some time. Where do I fit in this spectrum, and do I have real contempt, or what is it? What does it all mean, Jerry? And again, the mixture of the different people is fascinating. There are the attractives and the unattractives. Do I class myself with which one, etc. etc. Where do I fit in the nerd divide? I have no idea. Should I be hating on people who make elaborate beautiful costumes, should I hate on the posers who wear ghetto outfits with no real care? Isn't the whole point of being a geek being yourself? I guess that's what I'm struggling with. But when dressing up in elaborate costuming as a character from fiction... And here's the fucking eye on the prize rub... Aren't you denying yourself? More on this as the Con coverage goes.

After wandering a bit, we decide on lunch, and I get a quesadilla which leaves much to be desired. And some Guiness (two in fact). But Q and I must head off to the Masters of Horror panel, as our friend Scott (who has a picture of me hugging a mutual friend on his blog, which is a great read, BTW) we heard was to be a part of the panel. That didn't happen. Which was a mild disappointment, though the speakers consisted of John Landis, Mick Garris (whom we met a bit earlier), Stuart Gordon, Don Coscarelli, and William Malone. Landis hogged the spotlight but was rather amusing, though when we waded through the questions I buried my head in fear of some jackass tossing out a Vic Morrow reference, which thankfully never happened. After this we ran into more mutuals, and headed over to the Marriott for another beer and some snack food, which then led to The Fountain event. Open bar ladies and gents, some more friends, Elizabeth Berkley, Rachel Weisz and director Darren Aronofsky. I simply socialized and drank heavily, bouncing from group to group.

This wrapped up and the posse made their way to the Masters of Horror function, which also involved more booze, and food. On the way in I made an ass of myself with a faux pass. Unfortunately I'm one of those people who obsess over their mistakes and spend hours thinking about how stupid I've been. Nothing came of it, but it made me feel like a weenus, and wanting to do penance. This is a simple problem of mine, though I'm sure it effects others as well: When I do something wrong, I want to talk it out, when often the best thing to do is just let it drop. I'm like Stumpy in Rio Bravo to most people's Dean Martin.

Otherwise we got inside and hung with friends, met a guy who supposedly hates some of my friends but made nice, and who had a wife who was rather sociable, and met up with our friend Scott, whom I got to talk to and who told people that I'm working on something for him. Highlight of the trip, but the music was so loud he had to tell me after. We got out of there around midnightish or later and headed to another bar where there was going to be an afterparty at a floor suite. More drinking ensued, and other friends showed up, leading to an even bigger gathering as people waited for something to happen, which didn't until somewhere around 2 am. A gang of us go up and it's mostly a sausage hang... Sadly, though again more free booze. Though I had been drinking heavy and steady all day, the effects didn't really hit me until around 3:30 am, and at that point, I had to walk myself home, which to call what I did walking is something of an exaggeration. I stumbled, and clumsily made my way to our hotel room where I found a bed waiting for me, and I quickly passed out, not to wake until noon the next day. Stone cold out. But fifteen hours of drinking kinda does that to a body.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

San Diego Part 2: manufactured Flimsy weaponry

Woke up 8:30. Couldn't help it. That's the way it works. Nothing really to get to, but I'm up. Get showered, head over to the Con. One main objective for the day besides the DVD producers panel (which was kind of a clusterfuck) and that's the David Cronenberg signing. With me: Dead Ringers CC and Videodrome CC. Do some wandering, get to the panel, and it kind of sucks, but due to some stuff I know some of the guys on the panel, so I end up at lunch with the DVD gang, and some guy who writes for the Digital Bits when the editor can take it. It's Thursday, but the service at the Sushi bar is horrid, and we sit for almost three hours as I wait for my Udon, and I'm stuck with a total douche who thinks he's involved with things he's got no connection to, while others take off to go to their respective panels. I think we got there around one and left around four, enough time to run into Kristi Turnquist and my friend Q the Winged Serpent right before the Cronenberg thing. I play catch up with Kristi (hell, she may quote me in her piece for The Oregonian) and we sit down for the thing, but Cronenberg is being interviewed by David Poland, who doesn't know how to to talk about the movie without spoiling the film or talking about Cronenberg's ouvre. Sorry, Poland, you fucked it up. My friend Q spent a couple minutes with David C. and got a good interview, so Poland must not know Cronenberg as well as Q.

Sitting there, I realized the Cronenberg signing is gonna be a clusterfuck, so I figure instead of sitting through the nonsense, I should head over. Which was smart, Cronenberg had to take off at 6:30, and I got my stuff signed at 6:26. I've done some interviews with people I think are pretty cool/bad ass/whatever, but standing there waiting for Cronenberg, I mean seriously, I had to tell him how much I respected him, and how happy I was he was making movies. I got psyched out. I love his films, and meeting him... was hard.

I hit the floor, and ran into Dylan, a guy I used to work at a video store with. It was great, we play catch up, and cover much of the last couple years of our lives as we drank vodka at his hotel and relaxed to find that little has changed between us, we still hit our rhythms, and so he joined up with me when I returned to the Blarney Stone to hook up with more friends, some of whom went to the New Line function where Cronenberg was at (why he had to leave). And then I called another friend who showed up, and then also had another group of friends at another location. Most of moved outside the BS cause a couple of our party liked smoking, so there we were, outside, when even more people we knew walked by. I felt spread out, and then we headed to another bar, where I knew even more people; in some ways it's the closest I've come to throwing a party since I left Portland. I felt sort of embarrassed, but some of my friends got along with other autonomous groups, and there was way too much "Shit, not this Marriott, the other Marriott" (three within walking distance) but eventually we all got together, and I think I got home by around 2 am - after missing some of our group watching the Superman trailer pre-con screening. (BTW, I missed the Superman panel, so I still haven't seen the trailer). I felt thin, but I had a fucking great time. True drunken immorality would be reserved for Friday....

Manufactured Whimsy: The SDCC Comic Con report

Aight, here's how it broke down. We left noonish after I picked up Other D coming with us, and stopped at Del Taco, A San Diego tradition for me. We finally got there around fourish, and checked in, then headed over to the Con. Like numerous times after we cabbed the ten blocks, knowing that our feet would be killing us shortly. OD was there as press, and it pointed out that I could have gone as press and gone for free, but alas. I waited with him, as others in my gang waited for their special badges. Then we did the floor walk. There was nothing that jumped out at me, but then again, I'm not a comic dude to begin with. We did dinner nearby, and then revved off to another club, the Blarney Stone where I ended up three days in a row. I hung mostly with the coworkers, and then we got a call to go to another club. We thought it might be close, but it wasn't, and there was some confusion: there were two clubs, one on one side of the street, which played goth music including Danny Elfman score selections, and then the hipper bar. I was down with the hipper bar but they wouldn't let half my group in for wearing shorts. They ended up bailing before I could rally the troops, so I was stuck there for a bit, but dancing and gratuitous nudity more than made up for it (half naked okay, shorts not). I love to dance, and I love tits, so there you go.

As the club is closing up, OD makes friends with a man who quickly became known as the Gaisian. He was fucked on E, and had just broke up with his boyfriend, and showed most of my group video of his boyfriend jerking off. He also promised us similar drugs if we to go to his afterparty. There's also a crazy girl who flashes us, promises free pussy and says she got cock blocked by a guy with Cilantro pussy. Ladies and Gentlemen of the court, I could not make this up. Half of the remaining party isn't down with more, but OD and I decide to make a night of it, and go to the Gaisian's. There most of the straight men end up hitting on the crazy girl, who I am able to single out, and am working some mojo when her husband comes up, and keeps coming up. I don't know how that works. She then bails, and leaves shouting the her husband is going to fuck her in the ass. Couldn't make it up, swears I couldn't. WE hang for a bit, but the lack of better drugs for OD, and the cheap beers makes an "early" (read 3:30 am) night and easy call. We head back to the hotel, and cram in with the other guys we're staying with.

The fun, it has just begun.

SNEAK PREVIEW of THURSDAY: Drinking, hugging, old friends.

There you go. Posted by Picasa

Wait, here's two more for your love Posted by Picasa

Look, I'm tired, I'm not really up to talking SDCC tonight, but here's a taste of what my week was like. And yes, that's Rachel Weisz. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"I'd also like the story to have a happy ending, but I don't know how to write it..."

2046 for the third viewing. This may be my favorite meta-film, moreso than something like Adaptation. There's the levels that 2046 works that are so appealing to me, the artist commenting on his art, and how art unfurls, and how the unconcscious directs the grace notes. I can see how people hate it, it's WKW making a WKW film, and there's that whole other movie that keeps popping up, and if you know the production history its insertion seems jarring, but now, fucking now, god damn I'm in love with this film. I can't wait for SPC to release the DVD so I get to write about it at length for the J, if I get it (which I will fight for). The film works as a commentary on art, on the wounded male psyche, and on regret. And it keeps getting better and better. Wow. I love this film.

Johnny Depp

Jesus, you're so cool, I can't stand it. I got the Cry Baby SE, and he's in the interviews, a nice 47 minute featurette that talks to more people than you'd expect for a film that didn't do that well and costs $15.

BTW, I'm going to San Diego for the Comic Con from tomorrow until Sunday. I don't think I'll be updating. But I'll keep notes. Oh, for those who care, I'm doing well, but walking a precipice. One project I'm working on is going along swimmingly, the other is touch and go. I may be heading to Portland in a week and a half for a brief sojourn. Live it, live it.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

This week's work for the J

La Notte Bianche

Live it, live it!

I was flipping through Afterglow for bathroom reading, and the late Miss Kael was talking about how great it is to write about things that get you going. Thankfully, this was one of those weeks for me. And it was a Visconti I hadn't seen before. Life can be good.

What is too personal for this blog? A linty trip inside the author's Belly Button

I wonder, though I know there is a fine line, and I know there are certain things I'm just not going to talk about. There is some stuff I would talk about that may be too personal - though I obviously don't have a problem with some things - because I know too many of my readers too well (such as they are, I have no idea who reads this and I sorta don't want to know, except when someone tells me they liked something). I don't like commenting on things that may effect them, and I get sorta weird about talking about things they may have been witness to too much - it depends on the encounter; to a certain extent I'd hate for them to think I was being aggrandizing, or self-deprecating or whatever for show. I try and be as honest as possible even when I'm lying.

I guess I have no problems revealing things about myself, but when it starts to comment on the real world too much, it just isn't going to make the cut. The strange thing about my life is that most of my closest friends, pretty much the majority of people that I've become close to over the last three years or so, is due entirely to the internet. Now that I'm settling into Los Angeles, and working relatively steady (though there is always the invisible axe that seems lingering in the horizon) there are work friends who are becoming friend friends, and that's nice, but this blog is a sorta secret. There are people who don't know about it, and I probably wouldn't want them to. The internet is a weird place. But even though this blog is close to members only, there's also a part of me that would like to have a secondary blog that would serve as the hole I fill with dirt (back to In the Mood for Love again, I know) that would be even more anonymous. The unfortunate side effect of that is that like anything, I would want to show it to someone. And then maybe that person might be involved with something I'd want to talk about, and then I'd have to make another blog. There is something so appealing about anonymity, something equally balanced with the desire for approval. It's that artist/art dichotomy thing. I am both much more and much less than what I write.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Fantastic Four... Is it too obvious to make a joke on the fantastic?

I have been busting ass at work for the last couple weeks, going from a story on circumcision, to another long form story for Jail Babes on different dildo varieties (the management seems to be happy with my work... Larry Flynt said recently "I'd masturbate to that if my junk worked"), so with my free ticket from the Man on Fire SE, I decided I needed a break from my shit, espesh since I came home to writing a disc up for the J as a DOW (Disc Of the Week for those not in the know), which I did this morning, and before picking a friend up from the airport, so I saw Fantastic Four, while also working on another project.

Okay. It's not great. It's mostly mediocre. But... Michael Chiklis has a moment in the beginning where he looks at outer space and I bought it. And the film never bored me. I know peeps who thought the film was kinda dull, but I was never bored. I also got a kick out of the extreme sports stuff, it was nice to see the film be transgresive to the fanboys. The film isn't great or anything like that, but as two hours of film, I didn't mind it. And there are a couple of moments that are pretty good: Dr. Doom kills a guy in a scene that seems lifted from a splatter film, and Chris Evans is fun. The film suffers from Jessica Alba being an unwilling suspension of disbelief (serious, she'd work if she got naked in the film, otherwise...), and I was thinking Linda Cardenelli would have been a better fit in the age range, but all things considered (though the third act stinks), they did do one thing absolutely right: they focused on the heroes and not the villains. I don't think I ever want to see the film again, but it reminds me of Men In Black II - it's not much of a movie, but it didn't hurt to watch, and it was kinda enjoyable.

Are you there God? It's me Damon.

God: What it is my foxy Houxy.
Damon: I'm awake. I got that going for me.
God: Caddyshack references 25 years after the fact?
Damon: I'm still waiting for "Exxxxcuse me!" to make a comeback.
God: Aren't you though.
Damon: So how are you?
God: You know, same old same old, went with the boys to a gentleman's club last night.
Damon: With Mordecai?
God: Yeah, dude's gotten religious about not drinking. He's really good. Unfortunately he's been on Lot about his problem. Oh, though now he smokes a lot more weed. But he's not an alcoholic.
Damon: Heh.
God: I heard you've been slammed lately.
Damon: Fucking like a motherfucker, yeah. Work's been kicking my ass. I go home tired. I'm also trying to cut down my caffeine, since I drink at least six Diet Pepsi's a day.
God: You picked a bad time to stop sniffing glue.
Damon: Twenty five years after the fact?
God: On topic, Damon.
Damon: But the worst was yesterday, me and some coworkers went to a nice Italian restaurant, and it kicked all our asses, and then dealing with lack of caffeine, lemme tell you I was passing out. But after work we went out for some Sushi and drinks.
God: How'd that go?
Damon: Fine. When you're with coworkers, you want to get the buzz going but not a full intoxication, if you know what I mean.
God: For sure.
Damon: And then of course, this town and driving.
God: You are being so felt.
Damon: So after Sushi we go to a bar, and some other people we work with are at the bar, and the cute girl from the elevator story was there.
God: The one who farted?
Damon: No, the other elevator story. The one I was like "God Damn." about.
God: You want me to damn her?
Damon: No.
God: You want me to hook that up?
Damon: Nah, dog, I got it if I'm getting it. But it was funny to try and bust a mack in front of my boss and coworker. She was not in a position for me to get a lot of talking done when we came inside, and it seems she was with a guy.
God: Pressure's on.
Damon: But she remembered me from the elevator, so I got that.
God: Pussy.
Damon: Dog, I wasn't going to call my shot in front of coworkers, damn.
God: So what you're saying is that you're a sopping wet vagina.
Damon: You gonna drop it?
God: No.
Damon: The best part was that I was walking back to my car, and I was lost in thought. I don't know the Valley all that well, so I ended up walking about ten blocks past my car, though I must admit the walk helped sober me up a bit. And I ran into someone I know while walking. I guess that's the sort of guy I am.
God: It's a strange world.
Damon: ....
God: What's the gameplan for you this weekend?
Damon:Thinking about Fantastic Four.
God: I wouldn't go if I were you.
Damon: Fair enough. Like I said, thinking. And I got a friend coming in from out of town tonight.
God: Rock on with your bad self.
Damon: I will. And you?
God: Maybe War of the Worlds. I'm thinking about it.
Damon: Eh. I should catch it in the next week or so.
God: Luck to that.
Damon: Indeed.
God: Peace out.
Damon: PEACE.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

There's something about eleven hour workdays...

that really kick the shit out of you. I wasn't even up for poker, though I went anyway as I haven't for three weeks, and I lasted all of an hour and a half before I decided, "Fuck it." Then again, I'm going out of town next Wednesday, and I didn't want it to be a full month without stopping by. Perhaps the next Wednesday I go I'll actually get in on the first table and play a while, until then it was good to say hi, and call it a night. I'm crashing and it's still early.

Let me sum up my day briefly: Today was one of those days where coworkers above me bought my lunch and dinner. I think because they both knew I had been burning some midnight oil and banging my head against concrete walls without so much as a helmet. When you're new to an organization it's hard (especially when you are titularly unclassifiable) to throw your weight around (for instance if I was known as the Northwest Regional Manager, shit, it'd be over), so most of my approach has been to play nice cop. Ultimately, I don't have a choice in the matter... I have no clout, so my only defense is "Like me so much you don't want to fuck me over." Well, that only gets you so far before someone tries to fuck you. Fortunately everything has worked out mostly, as it were, and today I got accomplished what needed to get accomplished. I just get the feeling that the project I'm working on (which has a due date of tomorrow) is like Jason Vorhees and shit. Tomorrow Night, regardless, I'll be singing Ballads of miscreants.

Fantastic Four this weekend? Maybe so.

Lines I should put in stuff

"I'm going to be on you like a George Foreman Grill."

"He knew smarter cereals."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My thoughts on The Family Guy

I finally saw a couple episodes, though only four recent ones. The show has come up a couple times as some are rabid loyalists, while others devoutly hate the program. I guess that makes it the definition of a cult show, though my thoughts seem to align with my buddy Q the Winged Serpent on this one. I can see why it has fans: There are some wonderful right turns throughout that often take their time and go far enough to be truly inspired. Alas, the show, by the very nature of The Simpsons and South Park, feels a bit like Victor Salva's Jeepers Creepers in that I think its effective for what it is, it decidedly has moments... But it can't escape how derivative it is and will always be a little second run. I mean, in one of the episodes the baby character (often a comic ace) drinks someone's tears for sustenance - and steals perhaps the greatest punchline to a South Park episode. And like many of its contemporaries, often the reference is the joke (though paying their respects to Rocky III and Revenge of the Nerds makes me sympathetic).

Speaking of, hasn't South Park jumped the shark now? The last couple seasons have had their brief moments, but the show doesn't hold up outside of a handful of truly great episodes, while their Passion of the Jew episode may very well have been the shark jumping moment. I'll still watch whatever Parker and Stone do, but their time may have passed. Or maybe that's just my leftover resentment towards the poison pen letter that is Team America.

Oh, also, I watched Revenge of the Nerds last night, in a last minute "I just had two references made to that film today, sign from God" moment. Speaking of, I should call God, it's been a while. That said, I think I first saw Nerds when I was nine, and I think it played a big role in my sexuality. Not in that I so identified with the nerds, or whatever, but the moon room sequence is probably tied up in my psyche - something probably enhanced because Robert Carradine dresses as a pseudo Darth Vader. Wow, that's way too personal. I do think Nerds is a really great formula picture. We empathize, and then we enjoy their revenging, and they win by using their smarts over strength, and there's just some nice moments and jokes. I like the nerds getting high and having a great time. It's the moment the audience gets to really love the characters - they just want to have a good time and get laid.

Monday, July 04, 2005

A Third of July story

As is the case around the country, a lot of parties were thrown all over this weekend, as a Monday holiday day means work, and often catch-up work on Tuesday. Today there will be barbecues all over, but more of the "four o'clock, have three beers and call it night" variety. I was at a fourth of July party with some friends yesterday at the house of a dude who's on a TV show and he's got a nebulous collection of buddies, many in the industry, others hangers on, and others just strange people who seem to show. I don't know how all these people were brought into the fray, but they all tend to come out for his parties. My introduction was that he was a friend of a friend and has become a friend. Though we're more like advance acquaintances; not true friends, but more than co-workers. As a fourth of July thing, there were numerous people swimming and some dancing, it was a right good time. But on arrival I went down to the grill area, and saw people I hadn't seen since the last big party though I also kept meeting new people. A girl introduces herself to me, and from then on she was flirting with me, perhaps because I said something suggestive when we met, though not intentionally. But she seemed interested.

A friend pulls me aside and says "You know her? She's a porn star. I've had some fun with her. She's a fun girl." In this was provocation. By right, I had to converse more with this porn star, and I told her that I've been stressing cause of some work related stuff, and she's tells me something like "Stress is bad... You don't need to worry." Which sort of makes sense, but I've got some real deadline material shit on my plate these days, and it isn't exactly what I want or need to hear. But she kept going on and on about how she doesn't let things worry her, and concocts a bad bumper sticker of a motivational slogan that went something like "Remember yesterday, live today, worry tomorrow." She said it like five times and thought it was like, deep, you know.

Sex, like many things in life is about weighing the pros and cons. Perhaps I had a shot with her, perhaps not. But to get to some sort of completion, it would involve continuing to talk to her.

The day involved a couple instances of cockblockery, it was a strange day; men have the habit of talking down "friends" in front of girls. This scenario, something I've witnessed too many times previous, makes me think of a loop of drowning people pushing down on the person in front of them to breathe. Rarely have I seen this sort of one-upmanship translate, but it belies the predatory nature of dating/fucking. As a relative geek, when meeting someone new I tend to stick to the light but interested banter, erring towards humor. That is my way in normal conversation, but it can feel slightly mannered when meeting someone new and someone I might possibly want to have sex with. But aren't all meetings of this nature auditions?

While chatting up a girlie, there was another gentleman who was of a heavier build who had a similar, though more "funny" kind of spiel (don't the quotation marks make it evident that he was more miss than hit, but that his punchlines were more obviously punchlines? If not, then well, there you go) - frankly it made me want to change up my game, and made me wonder if that is the MO of most nerds and ex-nerds. I think it is, we've all seen too much Woody Allen and probably self-deprecate too much. But what I tend to focus on is eye contact in those situations. How engaged is the other in what you're saying, because I like to segue awkward "I don't know you so we're talking bullshit" talk into "I'm learning stuff about you and I'm interested" talk, which can be equally flirty and less mannered, but that transition is difficult in a group setting and better for one on one. And again, humor becomes its own one -upmanship. So many games played simply to try to talk with girls, girls - who like guys - have more than likely made up their mind if they'd consider making out with you or not. "It's a strange world," said Jeffrey Beaumont.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Erratic Thriller Flashback

I just read a old issue of Video Watchdog from 1995. I discovered the magazine a year later with the issue on Dawn of the Dead that opened my eyes to all sorts of random Italian, Hong Kong and B pictures. I was rather religious in my collection of VW's until recently. In Portland I got many of my issues for free and when I moved I bought an issue or two, but frankly, the world has been streamlined. Ten years ago you needed magazines to know what was coming, how transfers looked, etc. etc. Most of those needs have been surplanted by the internet, with its greater immediacy. But ten years ago, the internet was still in its infancy. I mean, I was working off a shitty old mac until I upgraded to a iMac in 1998 after graduating from college. I have since converted to the PC, to the contempt of my Apple sensitive friends. Most of my computing was done at school, though I was emailing a plenty by 94, and had friends who were creating websites, etc.

But in the early ninties, if you wanted to see a film in its original aspect ratio, you had to have a laserdisc player. Though some discs ran you $25, a Criterion was around a hundred and sometimes more. Few retail and rental locations stocked them, so it often meant driving to Lake Oswego, or Northwest Portland to get my hands on them... and those few stocked usually a selection that wouldn't match my current DVD collection; we're talking 500 titles, though as time went on some got near the thousands. Portland was not a harbor for LD collectors, though in its time, if you were down with LD, it meant you were down with me. You'd wait for an announcement sheet from Ken Crane's, or Laserviews, or a sign up on the local Tower to find out what was coming. And if you hadn't seen the film, but only read about it, well, it was going to cost you some serious coin.

I spent the majority of my high school years employed doing grunt labor part time (read: Fast Food), which meant getting a widescreen copy of Little Big Man ($69.95), with maybe a 10% discount at Ken Cranes (but then... shipping costs sort of equalized that out) was working two shifts on the weekend. The Star Wars Trilogy Box Set... $250 back in 1991? Shit, man, that was a huge investment. Like many of my compatriots, there was lots of listing that went on, which was all done manually, and every new addendum meant a new list, with the lists often listing the discs specs, though those lists were shown to people who already knew said specs. But because of the bulk of their size, and my temporal living arrangements (I was in college and had at least one new place every year, often two) my collection never got above a hundred for long.

I should also add that I didn't get a drivers license until I was 20, so many rentals were made at the insistence of having friends or family drive my ass around (a thousand pardons) or involved precarious bike rides in college. In 1992, as I was starting my summer job at the unmentionable Fast Food joint I worked at, Jaws came out widescreen. I can't remember exactly where it was that had it (you couldn't always count on the local shops to stock lasers on release dates, I think back then video dates were on Wednesdays, which shifted in the mid 90's), I think Tualatin, but we got it, and I got to watch it the next day, since I got off work around 1 am.

And in rereading the language of the transfer was so important. Framing issues were constantly brought up, image quality, sound quality (it should also be noted that it wasn't until around 1996 that AC-3, which became 5.1 surround was meant for home use, and around the same time DTS also became a possibility - I didn't have 5.1 at home until the begining of 2000, though I had six speakers at that point. Meta note: the first film I watched at home in 5.1... Mystery Men) at best you were rocking a 2.0 surround mix. While often the laserdisc had a second audio commentary on the analog right channel (mono mixed, of course). Transfers were relatively better, but color noise, especially with reds, was a constant problem. Laserdisc were easy to dupe to video, though required expert timing with the pause and record buttons, and the longer I had the player, like my friends, we'd make our own cuts of films, especially films we felt were flawed. You'd make a 94 minute cut of The Fugitive, a 103 minute version of Jurassic Park (melted ice cream scene... You're GONE). When you had some spare coin, you'd take a gamble on an expensive Criterion. Adventures of Baron Muchausen ($125), Sid and Nancy ($100), Dr. Strangelove ($100), and if you sold it, you'd be lucky to get twenty. But if you couldn't rent it (always a problem) that's the way you had to go. And there were always cool rumors circulating... Criterion Bullet in the Head... Criterion Polyester... A widescreen version of The Road Warrior... etc. etc. You'd salivate at the thought of the Elite SE's of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the eventual WS Vertigo, A widescreen edition of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2! The Hidden from Lumivision! And again, not many of these were available for rent.

By 1998, I was graduating from college, and DVD's were beginning to hit the marketplace, and us LD people viewed them with skepticism and contempt. Kevin Smith famously said "Fuck DVD" on his Chasing Amy commentary, but now almost all of the old schoolers have either boxed up or sold off our discs. But in 1998, DVD's were still trying to figure their shit out, and anamorphic transfers were not the norm. That noted, DVD's were hard to ignore. Universal put out a widescreen version of Videodrome, and it ran $20. I got it the same day I got The Thing SE, and DVD did push the prices down on SE's of Laserdiscs, albeit briefly (the format was dying and we all knew it though we swore the greatness of LD's as we watched the ship sink). Image Entertainment had a deal with Universal and thus came widescreen versions of They Live and Prince of Darkness (though at the hefty price of $35 a piece... Hefty for DVD then and now), while stuff was coming out that had supplements heretofore unthought of. By 1999 it was dead, I was leaving the video store, and moving on to my next gig, and as I left, it was decided to cut down the LD area of the store. I had about 40 DVD's at that point, and about 150 LD's. But I could see the tide turning, and I sold off more than half to replace those version with their DVD counterparts.

By 2000, I was writing for with my first review being for The Graduate (if memory serves), leading to me joining the DVD Journal team in late 2000, and I worked double duty until earlier this year when I abandoned my BF post out of apathy, and the general shittiness of the titles I was getting. Good Christ, have I been writing for the J for five years now? Richard Scary.

Untitled #7

When you move, you clean. Generally a home only looks as clean twice. When you move in, and when you leave. When you see the place, now emptied and as spotless as can be, it's not ghosts, nor anything supernatural, simply the knowledge that days earlier, your stuff was there. Weeks earlier, your entire existence was there. You were watching movies, fucking, sleeping, crying, jerking off, talking to friends, hanging out, drinking beer, cleaning when you felt like it, and dealing with occasional problems (in my case a basement that had drainage issues that were covered by my policy, but just the same). A place covered in your stuff, your things, your odor. The innate knowledge of its space, when to duck your head, where you put your glasses in relationship to the bed, where you stashed things. Every place you stay, you learn these rules. How things work to work, the quaint failings, especially if like me you've mostly lived in places that had some mileage before you got there (I lived in a new apartment for a couple months in college until my roommate got us kicked out on a noise complaint). Now I also worry about my cat, where she likes to stay, what her favorite nooks and sleeping places are. What she likes to play with.

And when you do the last walk through, not out of nostalgia so much as making sure you haven't left anything behind, nostalgia has a habit of creeping in. Fewer things in life feel as definitively end chapterish as moving.