Sunday, April 30, 2006

Tired

Baby Doll
The Night of the Iguana
Tristan + Isolde

I went to bed around one lst night and woke up, stone cold up at four. I left the bedroom begrudingly around five, and watched some TV until eight when I finally crashed out for two hours. I'm dead right now, and I've been off all day. Which has made Aili kinda grumpy with me. She wanted to do our Sunday evening out, and I'm exausted and sweaty, and unhsaven, and dead to the world. I was doing okay until about four, and then the energy just left me. Now here I am trying to stay awake for a few more hours, so I don't totally screw up my sleeping patterns, while I also don't want the wife to know that it was her cooking that messed up my sleep. I'll hopefully konk out soon enough.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Celeb Sightings

The best of the last couple was seeing Kenneth Johnson of THE SHIELD a couple days after the finale of Season 5, but I just saw Jennifer Love Hewitt on Franklin in front of Birds. What does it matter? Nothing. There you go.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Film Criticism I Hate

getting it/not getting it: Sure, there are some instances of this, some I could draw easy links to, it's just films often are open to interpretation. If someone proves to understand a narative for what it is and then doesn't like it, then they get it.

overrated: The lamest criticism in the history of the world. It says nothing, other than it suggests (as the previous does) "others were fooled." Good not great is a better alternative, but suggesting that is the end of the discussion is frustrating beyond words.

Then again, she's half undressed...

Fists in the Pocket
It's Always Fair Weather

Went to a bachelor party last night. I was running late, as I barely had any time to watch what I had to watch, and showed at the dinner as it was wrapping up. I get there, and the man of Honor, Dave, was already drunk. He had called cause I was running late, and the thought of flaking had occurred as I still hadn't finished everything I needed to (sorry, Dave), but I showed and it was great. Dave's drunk and some guy shows up saying "Hey I saw you were looking at my wife's ass in the bathroom. Let's go." Dave, taking it in stride said "Okay, let's go." The dude kept pressing, and Dave said shit like "I'm looking at you and your wife can't be that hot, so let's go." As I was sitting next to him, all I could do was laugh. Dave stood up and the people there held him back, and the dude back, and then other friends of his, and the manager of the restaurant came over. The dude looked kind of familiar, but I didn't say anything, and as it turned out it was a practical joke on David. It was this guy who I kinda thought it was. And I said to the person sitting next to me, "A dildo, not your dildo." And as we found out later, I was right.

We went back and played poker, a little Texas Hold Them. Thirteen at the table, many drinking or amateurs. Not knowing the lay of Silverlake so well treated me right as I was unwilling to drink all that heavily, and knowing the game put me in a bit of an advantage. We were playing tournament style so top three we money winners, and knowing that I played fast and mostly tight. Getting a suited Ace Eight (DEAD MAN'S HAND), I pressed my luck, and pulled an all in win to get me into heavy chips, though I never got the lead (there was someone there who seemed the best of the lot). I knew that I had chips, and that with so many at the table it was simply a waiting game. People were going to and did take hot chances on okay cards, not waiting for the flop to press their luck, you get that many people going, the table had stages where it went from thirteen to eleven, and then to seven, and then five. There it got cutthroat, but being a chip leader I was able to do some bullying - when you have high chips (not that I'm saying anything new) you put people in positions where they feel the pressure. I had one bad lay where I had trip fives, and the river netted my opponent a flush, but otherwise, I played strong and steady. I had a Rounders moment where I told my fellow player exactly what he had and what I was doing. I could tell that riled some people, but it sort of worked to my advantage. Towards the end, I was running in second, and the chip leader and myself did what was best, which was let the two at the end fight amongst themselves. Doing so sort of tied me with the third best, so instead of splitting the pot 50/30/20, we went 50/25/25, because playing it out at 2 am was just getting wearisome. But that's poker. It's not how you start. So I went out and made a profit by going to a bachelor party. NICE.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I know I talk about fucking my wife too much...

Sorry. My life, as it has been since we got married, tends to revolve around me working from 10-12 hours a day during the week, coming home, watching a movie or some TV and having sex, sleeping, and then going back at it, with some time conceeded for eating. Weekends revolve around errands, watching whatever titles I got from the J, some down time/writing time, and more sex. Sometimes seeing friends, but not as oft as I'd like. Though it looks like I might be getting bumped up at work due the shuffles, so I might have some more free time. We shall see. Also, I'm desperately in love with my wife, so it sort of takes hold of things, and we're kinda cute together. We banter. I like it. There you go. Sorry, again, I'll try and cut it out. Especially since, as I've realized with the previous post, the underwear and the neighbors fucking thing, that essentially I like to present or think of myself as a hedonist, I'm actually rather boring and plain when it comes to this stuff. I like my married sex.

I've been doing this for a year?

And what have I gotten out of it? Nothing. No free toaster. Nothing. Mr. Pill popping rock star... Nothing.

My work situation, which I've chosen not to talk much about for various reasons, is in some tumult because (within the last two weeks) two people have quit to go on to bigger and better, another uncerimoniously resigned, while word is another will be leaving our department in the nearer of futures. All of whom had been with the company for much much longer than I have. Last night some coworkers went out to celebrate one of the happier leavings, and I finally showed around tenish. Mostly because I had just gotten out of work after pulling a sixty hour week. Things were wrapping up, and the person leaving was hammered in such a way that was very cute for a girl, though she was having balance and perception problems, and when I showed up she was happy to see me in that drunken way that immediately intrudes on your personal bubble. This isn't a good or bad thing, it just is, and it was interesting to me to note my reaction to it, which is that I kinda recoiled. What interests me about this is that I can be an outrageous flirt, so I guess I'm better at giving than taking this. The shoe was on the other hand, as it were. It also made me think that most of the people I tend to drink with don't get all cute drunk. Cause they're men and they tend to drink regular, and don't get all flittery. I drink with the wrong people, I guess.

I also did the farewell lunch. This is something I'm not that fond of when you get paid hourly. It's not that I don't want to wish the person well (though in other instances I could give a shit [in that I felt showing up would be a empty gesture as we hadn't worked together very long, etc. etc.], and it feels like the sort of thing best personified by the cake scene in Office Space), but that usually it costs me both time and money to have lunch at a huge table where everyone you work with is spread out and you find your niche and talk with the people talk with, who may or may not be the person who is going away. I ended up at a table with some friends, and that was cool, but I felt sort of bad because it kinda defeated the purpose. I guess, though, the purpose is showing that the majority of your coworkers who are available will sit next to you and think of you fondly. Like class pictures, I guess.

At the drinks setting it was fun, but I had spent the whole week essentially working and sleeping for the last couple days, and with the Tylennol PM I used a coupletimes that week (sore throat, congestion) by the time I got there I couldn't drink because I wouldn't want to drive after, too dangerous sounding, and of course, I'd have to come home to the wife, who was already annoyed I'd had such long days lately.

We got into a tif the other day. I caught her smoking. I didn't really say anything, and she was ashamed, but it pissed me off, and that sort of tension takes a while to disipate. So I'm a little annoyed and then later - when I'm mostly over it - the wife gets mad at me because I called her my Finnish Princess. "That's racist." "Being Finnish is a race?" "Would you call me your African Princess? Your Jewish Princess? Your Chinese Princess?" "No, because you aren't." "So you don't see how that could be offensive?" "Aili, are you fucking with me? I can't tell sometimes." "What do you think?" "I think I need to take your clothes off and have my way with you." "You think too much." "Too much... or not enough?"

Sunday, April 16, 2006

And all the people were singin'

Okay, I watched SNL this morning. They had a digital sketch called "Laser Cats," which makes me wonder how long it's going to take SNL to getting around to parodying Snakes on a Plane. But they seem aware of what I think will be the next evolution of comedy films: intentionally bad movies. Take a ludicruous premise and flesh it out to feature length. And who wouldn't want to see a giant elephant do some bullet time kung fu again terrorist planes? "Laser Cats" was exactly like Ali G's "Spies" though PG rated, with the same sort of sloppy editing. Sadly, they copped out on the ending, which should have been Lorne Michaels (having watched the piece of shit) saying 'We gotta turn this into a feature!" and then showing the marquee. This, though, may have been too close to Lorne (producer of such great films as The Ladies Man and Lassie) Michaels hellashitty cinematic career, or the fact that Hollywood is now making these movies. Alas, it will take a leap of faith for a studio to really embrace bad filmmaking. Hopefully, SoaP will change all that.

And the bells were ringin'

The Black Belly of the Tarantula
The Complete Mr. Arkadin
The Damned Dirty Apes!

Aili's brother and his lover are staying with us. I haven't been on much bro-duty excepting yesterday, where we all went out and did some shopping and - smartly - the duo rented a car. As such they were out until three last night, and the wife and I got to have some "quality time" (or, that is, a chance to have sex by ourselves... which was completely obvious from the quotation marks, but I think overexplanation is funny). I've been put in a weird position because Aili can't drink or smoke (well, she can, but she shouldn't), and so I've been about 75% successful in matching her. Three months ago there wasn't a night we wouldn't add to the recycyling bin, and I wonder if this means we're settling down, because it's not like two days after she pops we're going to do some E and drink ourselves unconscious. It isn't painful at all, though, which is nice. And so anyway, I was stuck in a position where I felt I had to join Aili's brother and partner on Friday after our dinner out, because she really can't be tearing it up and I wanted to at least show hospitiableness. I got that weird uncomfortable feeling while out, and it's because I did and didn't want to dance without Aili. It felt sort of rude to her, you know. She's at home, catching up on the Hitchcock box set (it was great to come home and hear that she watched Marnie and loved it), and I'm out clubbing. It felt disrespectful. Which I didn't want to make obvious to her brother, because that would be doubly disrespectful. And of course, he was like "show us your moves, Houxy!" and so I'm dancing with Aili's bro and partner, and it was pretty fun. We got home around 2:30, and Aili was still up, and I was told I could be an honorary fag. So, at least that's something, if the marriage doesn't work out.

What amused to no end is that the moment Aili gets me alone, she starts in with the "honorary fag" business, which of course leads to other things (I've already made the obvious commentary joke once here, and so I'll meta-make the joke here by not making it, which by doing so has meta'd the meta-meta, and if you cook that at 400 degrees it should be ready in 30-35 minutes). And so my wife and I tried to quietly have sex as her brother and partner were obviously trying to do the exact same thing. Thankfully we have two bathrooms, though the water ran out after Aili got her turn. And I'd like to say we went longer. FACE, Aili's brother!

Watching Arkadin, as I did a lot of in the last week, the thing that I love about Welles is the joy he brought to his craft, even in his weaker efforts. He could never stop being Welles. And it's that love of form that I hope I bring to my writing in all its forms. I hope the reader giggles as much reading my stuff as I do writing it. That's the goal.

Something I wrote a long time ago...

I wrote this for the J back in the day, and the editor decided we didn't need the length on the film, and also, it was (what?) five years ago and I was still developing into the J style (my style for it might have been called the dishy style), and I was developing as a writer. Anywho, here it is, warts and all:

The summer action movie has no greater fathers than partners Jerry Bruckheimer and the late Don Simpson. Though the genre had it's earlier models, ranging from 1968's Bullit to 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (one could argue Edwin S. Porter's 1903 film The Great Train Robbery was the first), it was the release of Top Gun in 1986, which safely removed any political or philosophical underpinnings and modified action movies into the thoughtless visceral "Event Films" we know today. In comparison, a film like 1971's Dirty Harry is more a film noir, with its morally compromised main character, than a modern day action film (and one can see the effects of the Bruckheimer & Simpson style on the more recent James Bond films). As Star Wars revolutionized special effects, it was Tony Scott, and — perhaps more importantly — Bruckheimer & Simpson that made a film totally of the moment, with little to interfere with the visceral kick — never mind the homoeroticism.

Bruckheimer & Simpson found the perfect director to work with in Michael Bay, who made a name with the famous Aaron Burr "Got Milk?" ad. Bay is a Tony Scott without subtext (who'd a thunk it?), creating beautiful imagery free of meaning or relevance, meant to be consumed and forgotten. His first film was 1995's Bad Boys, a surprise hit for him and for Buckhiemer & Simpson, so the three followed up in a year later with The Rock , a more extravagant endeavor meant to fulfill all summer expectations. It was a hit and grossed more the $360 million worldwide, making sure Michael Bay could do whatever he wanted to — which became 1998's painful Armageddon.

The Rock was Don Simpson's last film after years of hard living, and the film — a monument to his work and life — is absurd from the get go: Frank Hummel (Ed Harris), a highly decorated Army General (and Black Bag operative), feels that too many of his men have died in vain and with no proper burial, so he gets a group of his loyal men to steal some deadly V-X poison (it kills you in strange and disgusting ways), and makes Alcatraz his base of operation using tourists as hostages. Hummel's demand: 100 million dollars from the Pentagon's slush fund to be distributed as he sees fit to the families of the men he's seen killed and his men, or he'll send out rockets filled with the nasty gas into the metro area of San Francisco.

To stop Hummel and his his top-notch trained killers from completing their mission, the government assembles Stanley Goodspeed (Nicholas Cage)- the FBI's best poison disarmer (or the rough equivalent thereof), John Mason (Sean Connery)- the only man to ever escape from the Rock, and a group of Navy Seals (headed by Michael Biehn) as the governments second to last resort — the last resort being blowing the island up with Thermite Plasma Bombs. Mason, a British spy, was incarcerated for stealing the FBI's microfilm on the answers to what happened at Roswell and who really killed JFK, and has since tried to escape every prison he was put in, so he's more than likely to try and escape rather than fight Hummel, but he's the only man alive with working knowledge of how to sneak around Alcatraz, so he's a reluctant hero. Stanley and John then become fast friends forced to work together as Hummel's deadline approaches, in the "too old for this shit" old cop-rookie cop fashion we've seen in many movies before.

Is it exciting? Sort of. Bay loves the quick cut style of commercials and he's a cinematographer's director, so the film has no substance but looks pretty; the plot is shopworn (it was written by 3 credited writers, at least four uncredited writers, the audio commentary mentions a polish by Robert Towne, and Nicholas Cage's takes credit for rewriting practically all his dialogue: it's amazing to think that this was the best all these people could come up with), and everything is so clearly telegraphed from the outset (do you really think they're going to kill everyone in San Francisco?) that the fun is in the delivery of what is expected. Jon Spencer, playing the head of FBI sums up the film best when he delivers a speech about how dangerous Mason is, and then has to close on the line: "And he's the best shot we've got!" It's a speech that always works well in film like this, and it points out the appeal of the film is based on our familiarity with the genre, the "last resort" films made popular by the likes of Escape From New York.

The themes of The Rock operate from two diametrically opposed positions: one is a that you can't trust the government as it does nasty unpatriotic things (cinematic backwash from JFK), and the other is the fetishizing of all things military, and the aggrandizing of military and governmental action, so one doubts that anyone connected to the film is opposed to the government for what it does in any way: this is the kind of film that questions the government in a way that the government would feel safe to endorse. The film doesn't have time to question politics (even if it suggests that the country does messed up things), it's too busy getting ready for the next set piece. That emptiness of purpose is the quintessential element of the Bruckheimer & Simpson partnership, and their ultimate achievement: it is all meaningless pop culturalisms, and therein lies its charm (because really, how many Oliver Stone's do we need?)

Everything in the film hinges on absurdity: at one point during the audio commentary Bay questions why Connery would have to roll through a giant furnace that's flames keep flickering on and off (designed by the Galaxy Quest people, one assumes) that would have no reason to be working, since the prison is just a tourist facility. Bay's suggestion is that "it's just entertainment folks, and it looks cool." My question is: why would Connery's character know the timing for something that he'd only have to roll through to get into the Rock, not out of? The Rock requires the viewer to believe that president would destroy Alcatraz with Thermite-Plasma bombs to save San Francisco, (and BTW kill all 81 hostages/tourists) instead of paying Hummel slush-fund money. One would think the Prez would happy to give up someone else's hidden money to hide the fact that one of his greatest military men had turned traitor, and not kill the 81 people with lives and family (like you could keep that a secret), but the Prez says it's one of the hardest decisions he's ever made (to send off the jets that will more than likely to be stopped in the nick of time by our hero), and since he's though long and hard we're supposed to be on his side — but never you mind, it's Entertainment! One, then, has to not only suspend one's disbelief, but forgo thinking for the entire course of the film to enjoy it. It's so hyper plotted that the film feels like a tale told by a fifteen year old after a Mad Magazine and Pixie-Stix binge.

If any one sequences captures this spirit and explain the appeal of the film, it's the chase scene where Mason steals a Humvee, and Goodspeed steals a Ferarri to catch him. The Humvee crunches through any thing in its way destroying cars, water trucks, and eventually a trolley — hey, it's San Francisco — that flies into the air from a fiery explosion (an electric powered trolley!), yet never manages to kill anyone. Basically, the "Fruit cart gag" is endless repeated (as Roger Ebert [who also wrote the liner notes] has sighted in almost all car chase scenes there's a "look out, fruit cart" moment), but it's the size of the cars, the explosions, the expense that makes it hard not to enjoy — as Nicholas Cage says — the "Oh well, why not" flavor of it all. The Bruckheimer & Simpson style is that things are destroyed, not people (though military in films like this are relegated to object roles — summed up by one of the nameless bad guys: "killing marines is one thing.") It's fitting that when Bay wants to show the danger of the rockets on San Francisco, he shows buildings to represent the threat, not people.

As in Top Gun, the real violence of warfare is kept to a minumum of impact, but explosions are kept at maximum. Does it make sense? Who cares? There are some tense moments and some good Spielberg steals, but everything in The Rock is meaningless, and any dramatic event is forgotten ten minutes after the fact, but the film is anchored by three good actors: Cage, Harris, and, of course, Connery. This film was the turning point for Nicholas Cage, as it turned him into the action star he's become (for better or worse). He brings some interesting moments to the film for it, since he's the comic relief character and he gives the film any depth it has. Ed Harris has the hardest role, and bespeaks the problems of action films in the 90's. He's a tragic villain, forced into villainy by the American government: he doesn't want to do what he's doing, but will gun down marines if need be. The idea that only the faceless grunts are killing machines makes him somewhat saintly in his fumbled quest, and that strangeness of his goals gives the film an energy that I don't even think Michael Bay understands. Connery, as always, makes a fun leading character, and he understands the silliness of it well enough to rise above it. If nothing else it's nice to see him return to Bond-mode, even if one wishes it were under better circumstances. The supporting players are also the kind one likes to see in films (to name a few: David Morse, Tony Todd, William Forsythe), and the women, though little used and little seen, are — bluntly — Hot.

Arguably, the film is junk, the writer also likes to drink beer, and likes it a lot. Though I wouldn't advocate the filmmaking style of Bay or Bruckheimer & Simpson (nor the drinking of beer while underage — unless, of course, at a real bitchin' party), I do like watching things explode, and this may be Bruckheimer & Simpson's ultimate achievement. On that level — and that level only — I appreciate the spectacle, as it's familiarity makes it an amusing ride, even though I'd probably argue the world would be a better place if Michael Bay were never born. We don't want to shake our indie credibility, but in terms of what it accomplishes, and what it set out to do The Rock succeeds better than Michael Bay's other films, and other films of its ilk.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Quick question

Is there a heirarchy of huffing? Do rubber cement huffers look down on spray paint huffers? Is the gasoline huff a cleaner high? The world wants to know. Or, that is to say, I do.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I just heard my neighbors fucking

I went outside to make a phone call, and then enjoy a cigar, and stood on the porch of our common area. The walls on this place seem thick enough, but the doors are not entirely sealed, so sound from the hallways can be monitored (our two bedroom has a master room [the second bedroom] and a bedroom bedroom, which has the most distance from the door, though it does have windows, and I've wondered on hot eve's if Aili and I have been heard). The building is quaint but the space is nice. I've always assumed that if people with one bedrooms and studios were fucking, eventually I would be in a postion to hear someone get their coitus on.

Well tonight was the night. As I read through The New Biographical Dictionary of film, I could hear the neighbors playing Green Day. As "Welcome to Paradise" kicked in, I heard arhythmic moaning. "Yup, that's fucking" I thought. But much like the "finding someone else's panties in our laundry moment," my amusement ended quickly. In some way it sort of makes me not want to have sex with the wife tonight. I think though my mood will change depending on what she's wearing to bed. I've become enraptured with my wife's flesh right under her belly, where I guess my kid is growing, but there's just something sexy about that area, and why belly shirts are so popular.

Aili and I are not drinking. I have mentioned that before, but it's weird. I've never been someone who likes to quit things, because it almost intonates a problem. But it's 11 and I kind of want a drink, but I'm not going to have one. And I hope I don't have that feeling tomorrow, but I might. And it's not that I have a problem (isn't that what they all say), but habits are addicting because routine is soothing. But also because of this break, I felt like I could treat myself last night, and woke up with a pounding headache. I binged, or I had as much as I might normally on a Saturday night, but it felt different. I feel very uncomfortable with the whole process, but mostly for what it says about me. I think the big war is that I don't think it's a problem, so it's hard for me to stop myself. The imaginary rule factor, which makes the thing become covetable. So 100% gay.

I'm young and healthy...

The Busby Berkeley Disc

In a year or two or three, maybe we will be too old.

Currently on the shelf

Alfred Hitchcock Presents Season One (still unwatched)
Battlestar Galatica 2.0 (all)
La Bete Humaine
Big Train Season One (which I've finished) and Two (haven't started)
Election (To version)
The Great Yokai War
King Kong (05)
Last Days
The Lords of Discipline
The River
The Squid and The Whale

For review I've got two out of three versions of Mr. Arkadin (AKA Confidential Report) to watch.

High Five!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Three things would make me post more

1) working less and/or working nearer to my computer all day. Or that is to say, if I was sitting at a desk at least 50% of the time, I'd post about bullshit 100% of the time. SCIENCE!

2) having less good movies to watch when I get home. That also includes TV. Like Sports Night. And Battlestar Galatica. Today I got Brokeback Mountain and Quick Change, which goes on the stack with King Kong '05 (which I'm not crazy about, but I wanted to give it a second chance) and about ten other titles, and then stuff I have to review, like the three versions of Arkadin. Where the fuck do I start?
and

3) If I wasn't so seriously gay for my wife. You know that feeling you get when you talk to someone and you realize that you're crazy about them and that you can't remember what you were talking about? Generally this happens early on in a relationship and fades. But I get to have sex with that person. We've been getting stuff in order for Aili's brother, on top of my hectic sched, which has been gruelling, overlapped with losing an hour to Daylight Savings Time plus a newfound sobriety that points out that I have been a causal drinker for almost ten years now. Crazy. But the sex helps salve the wound, as it were.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I have no idea who your daddy is

Dames
Get Rich or Die Tryin'

Sports Night is good. Not as good as The Shield, but what is.

Best google search that's turned up my blog: "cavity search fantasy"

A Nice, Sweet Handjob

Isn't that the best you can hope for after taking a girl to FAILURE TO LAUNCH?

Levity, ah. This is hard to write. Um. My wife tripped the other day in front of me. No, it's not that. But I spent about an hour crying, just crying. I lost all control of myself. I can't write this without tearing up. She's fine, the baby (baby, it's three months along now, is that even a baby?) I have never felt this fragile in all my life, and that's the scariest part about becoming a father for me. You really do, you really do just want to vacuum pack your loved ones in nerf and I wish I could say something original about this phenomenon.

I'm totally gonna get all boring on this blog. It'll just turn into picture pages and my innane sub-Paul Reiser ramblings about fatherhood. You've been warned.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I <3 Lying

And yet I don't like this holiday. Maybe because you can't get away with shit. I am thinking of seeing Basic Instinct 2 tonight, which seems to qualify as an April Fool's joke.

Aili's bro is coming to stay with us for a week. Why he's not doing this after the baby I don't know. The other problem is that Aili and I have been getting pretty clean and sober lately. She's pregnant and all, and I think its unfair for me to drink around her. Like Sam Jackson said it kind of makes me a vegetarian. So how hard can we party? And he's bringing his partner. They are also both chimneys when it comes to smoking. I forsee myself getting in some trouble with my girl over this one.