Secret Pop

Jul 28, 2005

SPAM continues to diminish my self-esteem.

I received an email today from someone named Grant Clay, with the subject line "bye bye big thighs." And if it weren't for the fact that I have never dated a Grant Clay, I would have assumed I was being broken up with.

Star War III: Backstroke of the West

Friends, allow me to share with you the funniest thing I have ever seen. It is this.

Thank you, Paul F. Tompkins, the Famous Comedian.

Jul 26, 2005

They want what they're not.

Poor Mary. Sickly and weak. If I cough again, I'll cry. Maybe I'm just looking for excuses.

No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.
Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful.

Jul 24, 2005

When you were a young and a callow fellow

Yesterday was hot. One of those days so hot that it's literally all anyone can talk about. Heat apparently saps our imaginations. It crowds our brains until even the sight of something truly odd has no purchase. All you can say is how hot you are and how little relief you got from the various remedies you tried. "It was so hot today that I snuck into Ralph's and spent the day in the freezer, sitting on a pallet of ice cream." "I sat in my car and ran the air conditioner until it ran out of gas." "I drank hot tea." (That's what Chinese people do.)

Extremes of weather are peculiar in that way. I guess people are relieved about it. Having something to talk about. When there's a world incident or a noteworthy weather change, all of a sudden, you don't have to sit there in silence, wondering whether the person sitting across from you speaks English anymore. And yet who really cares about current events or the weather or how your family is doing. It's a shame that people don't just say what they're really thinking. Although, if I were to do that, I'd probably have far fewer friends. My brain comes up with monstrous things only I can enjoy.

I forgot that my workshop was over yesterday, so I drove to the building on Santa Monica and opened the door to the room to find another group of people in it. Two of them on stage, clearly offput by my very quiet entrance. I excused myself and stood there in the hallway for a few seconds, processing my error. Then I went to the Smart and Final on Wilshire to buy Red Bull and other things in large quantities. Then I went home to my hot apartment where my dog was in love with me and the sweating became second nature. I've been experiencing the nag of a cold all week. A dry cough and some congestion. I was thoroughly exhausted by late afternoon, so I tried to take a nap. But it was just a series of feverish wakings and discussions with myself about whether I should just lie still or get up and see what's on TV.

In the evening, I picked up my friend Kevin, and we went and got a drink at The Dresden before catching Ron Lynch's new show "The Tomorrow Show" at the Steve Allen Theater. We ran into the impeccably-attired and always-gracious Poubelle Twins, who were attending the same performance, so we all made our way over together when it was appropriate to do so. Then we watched the show. And then it was too late to go anywhere for a drink. The problem with a midnight show. So Kevin and I raced two a.m. to get to Von's and buy booze. We did. But it was no longer of interest to anyone else to share it, so we took it back to his house and sat outside drinking and smoking until nearly five a.m. I told him stories of work. We talked about a sketch he is writing. I offered some suggestions and thought as I was doing so, "Hey, Mary, I guess you DO know a thing or two about writing." And then I was immediately ashamed that I was not writing my own sketch instead of just helping someone else with his. Always an editor, never a bride.

This past week was one of the most taxing ever. My consulting job. My freelance work. My health. My wishes. I ended the escapade feeling bruised and battered. Canceling my plans to go to San Diego to perform. Knowing I wouldn't survive it. Wanting the opportunity to sit still. Knowing that I never take that opportunity when it presents itself. I want to be so much that I'm not. Some of that wanting is so lackluster and unambitious as to be content just going back to what I recently was. I'm not greedy. I could never get away with it.

Try to remember. Try to remember. It's not the right month for it, if you go by the song lyrics. It's never the right month. It's never the right day. It's never the right time. It's never the same for you as it is for me. It's never what I thought it would be or what I keep trying to make it. I'm just scrambling eggs over here. I prefer them over easy, but I'll eat them any way they are served.

Today's not so much cooler than yesterday. It's cloudy out, but still hot and humid. Tornado weather, if we lived in a tornado state, as I said to Krissy a while earlier. Krissy, who recently learned that she is the oven for a little baby bun. I am fearful of change. It has seldom been my ally. Except in extreme retrospect, when you adopt that worldview wherein everything that ever happened to you helped you get to where you are. And that only works when where you are isn't some place you hate. Or some place too hot to stand.

Loren Bouchard was kind enough to send me some photos he took at one of the after-closing hotel room parties we both attended during Comic-Con week. I am not the star of this photo, but I love what I'm saying in it.

Jul 23, 2005

Sir Laurence Olivier never played a character of that name.

This isn't specifically intended for Bob Newhart, but I kind of think that shows where the star gets to have the same name as they actually have in real life (According to Jim, for instance) are pretty pointedly indicating that the stars of the shows are such poor actors they can't be counted on to remember to turn their heads when a co-star says their character's name if it happens to be different than their own. I guess if I ever have a son, I'll name him Hamlet. So when they make a sitcom called that he can star in it.

Memories of Comic-Con

I had what I would consider to be a largely triumphant experience at Comic-Con last week. It's unfortunate that the aftermath of it was total work swamp, the onset of a cold, and general inability to get anywhere near the business of blogging. All I can really offer is a pastiche of memory spurts. Sorry. I'll try harder next time.

Firstly, I decided this year that I would not allow myself to endure the misery of parking woes and traffic bullshit and the laziness that happens when you are staying with friends or family. So I booked a room at the Marriott and stayed luxuriously and conveniently close to all the hot nerd action for five days and four nights. That was the right choice. I will make that same choice repeatedly in the future. Because it led to me actually fully experiencing Comic-Con perhaps for the first time. In past years, the Con has always been a series of day trips, ending before sundown in exhaustion and sometimes performance obligations. If you go home after a day walking the dealer floor, and "home" is more than a mile from Downtown San Diego, chances are you're not going to go back out in the evening. That has been my experience in every previous year. But this time, tired as I may have been every single day, it was not at all difficult to drag myself out of my room and hit the town. And that is a blessing.

Beulah came down and visited with me on Wednesday night. We went out for sushi and drinks and shit talk, and then she spent the night in my hotel room. And when Martín arrived the next morning, we went down to the hotel coffee shop, where Beulah had breakfast, Martín had lunch, and I had four bloody marys -- all served with flair by our waitress Blanche. Before Beulah arrived downstairs, I phoned to alert her that I had just walked past Mark Ryden on the stairs. That was the first of perhaps thirty times I would see him in and around the hotel and the convention center. I realize that we were staying in the same building and attending the same event, but there was still an uncanny frequency to our proximity. I would literally see him enter the convention center and then see him ninety seconds later as I rounded the corner of an aisle. He was everywhere that I was. With nearly cosmic significance. And I know him to be awfully nice and sort of shy, so I didn't bother him at all. Which is to my credit, I hope.

Martín and I rounded out day one of the Con with drinks in my room (I brought a full compliment of liquor with me, of course), countless martinis at the hotel bar, a photo-taking stroll to Embarcadero Marina Park at what I call "golden hour," and then dinner at Morton's, where I ordered us an expensive bottle of wine that we drank nearly none of but then took with us to watch the screening of the special edition of Free Enterprise, during which we traded slugs of a fine meritage like hobos. Wealthy, wealthy hobos. Towards the end of the film, we snuck out onto the terrace for a smoke. And then, for some reason, we ended up venturing out into the Gaslamp to look for smaller bottles of whiskey to carry around during the next day's show. But we didn't find a liquor store. All we found was foot pain. We went from exclaiming, "Best Con ever!" between joyous bursts of laughter to whimpering, "Worst Con ever!" betwixt groans of agony. Then Martín spent the night in my room. And I think we were both grateful that that convenience was available to us.

Friday morning, Mindy arrived. And the three of us hit the Con together. It was sort of magical to be taking a Con newbie around. Especially a hot one with a passion for Star Wars and anime chicks. It's what I imagine it's like for parents whose love of Christmas is renewed by the wonder in the eyes of their children. Beulah and Yen came down that day, too, and -- as I always do for my friends -- I went to the registration area and picked up badges for them, so they wouldn't have to wait in that ridiculous line. I look at the people in that long-ass line, and I think, "Is it possible that none of you guys knows ANYONE who can hook you up?" None of my friends ever has to wait for a badge. It's part of my Con evangelism.

Jessie came to the show on Friday, too. So did Richard. We lost him when we were staking out a spot for the Adult Swim panel, which was great and also less than. My friends Tim and Eric were my heroes, but the question-askers were stupid and gay, and Cartoon Network didn't give away anything at the panel, which was a change from years past and the yearning for which is proof of my geekness. So many people to see. I have never had such a meeting-rich Con. It was grand-ish. Jessie and her friend Josh and I met at the hotel bar for a few drinks. And then I went back to the room to collect Mindy (after we caught some awesome fireworks off our awesome bay view balcony) and whisk her off to the Adult Swim party at the Wonder Bread Factory in Golden Hill. Eric had put me on the list. And that made me feel super extra special. And Mindy came as my guest. And we happened to find Jeff walking on the street towards the party when we were walking from our cab. So we all arrived together and made respective beelines for the restrooms and then the food tables. I guess it was The Prado catering the event, and there were these little Angus beef sliders that were unbelievably yummy and also tiny little deep dish pizzas that I later hated myself for not eating a hundred of.

The party was over too soon, and -- after a long curbside deliberation -- we all went over to the Top of the Hyatt for more drinks. Jeff and Mindy and I went downstairs for a smoke and ended up not being able to get back up to the club, as the elevators apparently respect last call more than most enthusiastic drinkers do. And we ended up bringing a whole gaggle of people back to my hotel room to continue with the drinking and the smoking and the general revelry. I ordered room service in the wee hours, and we ate pizza and hamburger and fries and shot craps in a drawer from my armoire and eventually had to encourage Jay and Tommy to make their way home, because the sun was coming up and we had a Con to get something from. Jeff ended up staying with me and Mindy. And he drew a picture of a giant frog. And I looked at it the next morning and said, "Oh, look, there's a little boy on his back," and Jeff said, "Look closer," and then I said, "Oh! It's me!" And it was. I could tell because of the rank insignia on the sleeve of my sweater. I'm a colonel or something when I wear that sweater that says "Destroy" on the front. You'd best watch yourself.

By Saturday, I had turned my ankle somehow. Probably the night before in some drunken situation. So every step I took on the convention floor was a bit ouchy. I had to rush in at the top of the day and get a pass for Jeff. And then I did the same for Krissy and her sister later in the afternoon. And when we went outside to find them, a guy with two ninja swords approached me and asked if he could take a picture of me. And I said, "Sure. But I'm not dressed as anyone." And I wasn't. He seemed convinced that I was. But really. I was just wearing my own clothes. Which is telling, I suppose. Later in the afternoon. Martín, Jeff, Mindy, and I were sitting out on the steps behind the convention center, and we decided to head down to that little sandwich shack down by the fishing pier, and as I stood up to leave, an older fellow with a disturbingly emotionless gaze said, "You look nice today." It took me a few seconds to realize he was talking to me. When I did, I said, "Thank you." And then I tugged my skirt down further and hurried on with my friends. We jeered the musketeers and bellydancer on the terrace. We're better than them and we know it. We ordered lunch, and I had the best nachos ever. And a hamburger that I so did not need after having eaten the best nachos ever.

By the late afternoon, we were plum tuckered out. And -- foolishly opting to miss the Tenacious D panel -- we headed back to the hotel, where we complained about our various pains and took brief naps and showers. Then we went out into the Gaslamp to find what turned out to be the worst Mexican food ever at La Fiesta on Fifth. After which, we met up with friends at Star Bar and drank cheaply until closing. At which time we headed over to the Westgate and continued on with our evening in resplendent Con fashion. Tim and Brendon performed an hilarious prank call for all of us, and I literally had tears rolling off the end of my nose. I'll never stop laughing about it. If I'm at a funeral and think of Tom Pickle, someone will surely think me rude. The same can be said for Tommy's thoughts on progressive cat math. And Jay's conviction that Mindy's sheets were made of orchestras.

By the end of the night. Mindy and Jeff and I piled into a cab with Tommy and the Poubelle Twins and made our way back to our various places of lodging. And I performed a dramatic reading from my email for Jeff and Mindy, and Mindy laughed a lot.

On our final day, we mostly just had breakfast, shopped, and went our separate ways. I took one of my favorite pictures ever of Mindy in front of a Han Solo poster. I also took a picture of Mindy with Caveman Robot, who seems to now recognize me as a friend and always wants a hug when our paths cross. When he hugs me, he grunts, "Woman. Urnh. Urnh." And I am charmed by it. One of his handlers gave me a free pin.

So that's about it, right? I yelled at the people at the bell desk. I attended one last panel. Then I got my car and my bags and drove to my parents' house to collect my dog and head home. Many pictures were taken. Many memories were made. Many opportunities were missed. I only wish it could be Comic-Con every week. I love it more than anything else in the world.

For the Sake of Comparison

Carlos Mencia is not funny. At all. That Baja California Starburst commercial where the mariachis get crushed in the guy's teeth, however, is.

Jul 18, 2005

Mind Over Mencia

I can't believe the tripe that gets on television today as compared to the much more delicious meats that don't. I'm speaking, of course, of Carlos Mencia and his new show. Perhaps Comedy Central is catering to a core demographic of the incarcerated that I'm not aware of. Those dudes will laugh at anything. And it's a shame, because it really skews the curve to the disadvantage of the rest of us. The promos call him offensive and support the claim by showing him saying the word "midget." Come on. That's not offensive. I'm more offensive when I'm plugging the parking meter in front of my office. No, really. I am. I totally pretend it's a sex act. I get all nasty about it. I finger the coin slot a little. Make it think I'm gentle. And then I lay on the racist epithets and tell it to give me what I paid for. You should see it. And if you're thinking, "That's not funny," you're right. But I also do not have my own show. Do I. And if you used Mind of Mencia as a measure at all -- however alliterative -- you might stop and also think to yourself that there's no real reason that I shouldn't.

P.S. If you are a development executive, I do not have an agent, but I have a number of friends who could convincingly pretend to be one on the phone, should you need to speak with one.

Jul 12, 2005

For the Sake of Keeping

I switched to a different handbag a couple of days ago. I buy a lot of handbags. I fall in love with a handbag and then use it completely up. Leaving it in shameful tatters. A dirty, frayed shadow of its former stylish glory. The one I am retiring is definitely ready to be put out to pasteur, if handbags can be imagined to be sent out to graze on the green hillsides of some idyllic country dell. And if that image can somehow be correlated to being hung from a hook in one of my overly full closets. The leather of its shoulder straps is cracking at the edges, its satin lining sheltering an unusually large amount of loose tobacco. It was time.

I went into the closet in my guest bedroom and found a handbag I haven't used in some time. It's in very good repair. Not as cute or stylish as its predecessor, but ideal for how many cameras I've been carrying back and forth and for the fact that I have to work in an office during the day. I abandoned it early in its life, clearly. There are none of the usual signs of wear and tear. Only five year-old pieces of flattened Bubblicious and a few tubes of lipstick in colors I don't believe I ever wore. It also contains a piece of gypsum.

This piece of gypsum was given to me by a friendly fellow at a chemical factory in Oklahoma, where I was consulting for a day. He was one of the plant managers, and he wanted to give me a token of Oklahoma goodwill to take home with me. He told me the importance of gypsum. I have long since forgotten what it was. But I was fishing around in one of the pockets for change for the parking meter, and my fingers found that smooth piece of rock, and I remembered that grueling trip, which forced me to leave a rather slapdash high school reunion early so I could fly out with all of my materials prepared. I remembered getting to the airport on time and finding that fog had delayed my flight, which led me to The Waffle Spot, where I ate breakfast and drank apple juice before heading back to the airport and embarking on a nightmarish series of trip segments, ending in Woodman, Oklahoma (Woodson? I don't know.), where I got in very late, ate Arby's in my room, woke up very early, spent the day talking about attachment-dependent cell culture, ate dinner at Chili's, and then flew back home. And had to go back to my real job the next day. I remember the after-midnight phone call in the room of the bed and breakfast. He was just making sure I got there safely. He was probably waking up the proprietor of the place, but he or she was very nice about it. It was so late that even a bath seemed an imprudent sacrifice of sleep. I didn't sleep much anyway. Time zone change. Work anxiety. The fear that my actual job would wig out if they knew I was taking the day off to fly to Oklahoma and train people in how to sell molecular biology products.

All this from my fingers brushing against that piece of gypsum. My version of The Dead Zone. He'll use the baby as a human shield. It'll end his political career.

Epilogue

Did I say gypsum? I think I meant quartz.

Jul 9, 2005

This risks breaking Krissy's heart.

It doesn't matter how much you love Michael Ian Black. Stella is not funny. At all.

Jul 8, 2005

Just smile when I feel blue.

My heart's seen too much action.

Jul 7, 2005

Blissful Detox

When my mother wants me to have things -- mail, a copy of Entertainment Weekly, batteries, a bottle of vitamins -- she leaves them on the dresser in the guest bedroom of her house. So that when I come to visit, I will see them and put them in my bag. I haven't been visiting all that much recently, but the second to last time I was there -- which was just before leaving on my New York trip -- I went upstairs and found that she had left me a book called Blissful Detox with the subhead "Over 100 Simply Delicious Cleansing Recipes." My mother makes no secret of her concern for my digestive health. It's just like in that laxative commercial when the mother asks the daughter about her regularity while they're sitting on a plane. I used to think that commercial was stupid. But then it turned into a blueprint for living. For me.

The War to End All Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg Collaborations

Spoiler alert: This movie is no good.

I saw War of the Worlds for the second time last night. Don't think that means I liked it. I didn't. I hated it the first time I saw it, but I wondered if it might just be that seeing it in a theater in Burbank where the common folk were so audibly annoying might have slanted my take. But alas, no. Last night, I confirmed my first impression. Incontrovertibly.

It's sad that this is true, but Steven Spielberg, whom I used to consider to be fairly deft at playing at the human melodrama -- is apparently just as out of touch with the reality of human interaction as George Lucas. Beyond the admittedly very good visual effects, this movie just proves that some writers and some directors really have no idea at all how people behave or how they talk to each other or -- and this is the most unbearable part -- what children do and say. If you ask me, Dakota Fanning is what's wrong with children in film and television. I mean, maybe it isn't her fault. She's a little kid who can play an emotion and memorize a line and hit her marks. And that's all right. But if you've ever seen her interviewed, it's just the scariest thing imaginable. She spends one portion of the chat showing you that she's about to lose a baby tooth and the rest going on and on about how a-MAZ-ing it was to work with so-and-so and how BRILL-iant this such-and-such is, and all in the emphatic, cocktail-party elocution of a queeny creative type in the heyday of Truman Capote. She's not just too old for her age. I would find this kind of person insufferable as an adult, too. Seeing it in a child is just too much. Maybe Spielberg was trying to recapture the charm he found in a young Drew Barrymore or that Heather whatshername who died. He does seem to have a penchant for casting pale little girls with stringy blonde hair. But Dakota Fanning has none of the naivete of a young Drew Barrymore. And god help us if she grows up to be any worse an actress than an adult Drew Barrymore.

I was listening to Paul Feig on Fresh Air with Terry Gross last week, and I just caught the very end of his interview, when he was being asked about what shows he liked growing up, what shows influenced him. And he made such a good point about how shows like Leave It to Beaver and The Brady Bunch were good because they featured children speaking the way children actually speak. Whereas shows today constantly portray children speaking in the way that their adult writers wish perhaps they could have spoken in their own tortured childhoods. The Jonathan Taylor-Thomas syndrome, in my mind. One of the trailers I saw before my first screening of War of the Worlds was for this new remake of The Bad News Bears. And it isn't just because I love Walter Matthau or because I hate Billy Bob Thornton or because I hate Billy Bob Thornton's embarrassing hair plugs that I despise the very idea of this film. There is a clip where a girl shows the taunting boys that she can pitch, and one little four-eyes says, "I think I just entered puberty." And I just wanted to crush something in my angry fists.

One of the things that rubbed me the wrong way when I was in the Burbank theater was how, to much of America, everything is apparently a comedy these days. This happened when I went to see Revenge of the Sith, too. Now, I'll grant you that Yoda is kind of funny-looking, and maybe seeing him wielding a light saber with angry resolve is a little ridiculous, but not if you are allowing yourself to believe that he is in fact a Jedi master and that some serious shit is going down, and I'm assuming you're allowing yourself to do that, as you just paid twelve dollars to see a movie called Star Wars. And yet every time Yoda was on screen, I heard swells of laughter. The same was true in War of the Worlds. Even in cases of graphic carnage or (intended) gravitas. People kept laughing. And I kept wondering what was wrong with them. Maybe it's because of movies like Blade 3, where the seriousness and humorlessness of the Blade character is inexplicably "spruced up" by the addition of Ryan Reynolds' wise-cracking, steroid-pumped, shit-talking sidekick. The Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2 syndrome, if you will. To be fair, so many of the moments of high drama in War of the Worlds are so implausible and ridiculous that it makes sense that you might laugh at them. But not for amusement's sake. But I don't think this was wry laughter. This was the same disappointing laughter I heard when Kevin James dances in the trailer for Hitch. Shame on you, America. But then, maybe it isn't America's fault. Maybe America has just seen so many of these insufferable mood-lighteners and assumes that every uncomfortable moment is intended to tickle a little bit. Maybe it's the result of generation after generation of cinematic "bad touch." Maybe we're all going to end up strippers.

Oh, I have so many issues with this movie. The first fifteen minutes? Totally unnecessary. That sandwich shuffling scene? Waste of time. Morgan Freeman's opening and closing narratives? Largely uninformative. What did those aliens envy so much? What did they want with our planet? What was the value of the blood? And if it was so valuable, why vaporize so many people instead of sucking them dry? And while we're on that topic, the annihilation methods employed by these guys were hardly the portrait of good process flow. We have droves of more effective tools for mass murder. And certainly they could look to the Nazis for some lessons on efficiency in this area. Which brings me to another point, Schindler's List was only one of the many of his own films I saw Spielberg cribbing from this time around. Also on the list were Minority Report, E.T., Poltergeist, and -- if only in the sense that Robbie looked so much like Karen Allen -- Raiders of the Lost Ark. On the list of other people's films he cribbed from are Titanic, The Abyss, and Signs. And I should further note that I wrote the following in my notebook when I was about an hour into my first viewing: "Worse than Signs." If that is even possible.

This movie is a pastiche of convenient exit strategies in scenarios that have been painted to be impossible. It is also a multiple offender of a rule I learned in improv: If you introduce something, it had better pay off. If Tom Cruise picks up a piece of freezing cold asphalt and puts it in his pocket, that has to pay off later. Did it? No. If Dakota Fanning is shown to be a claustrophobic, that has to come into play at some point. Did it? No. Even when she was in a number of cramped spaces, including a basket filled with strangers freaking out and being sucked one by one into a big red rectum. She screams for no reason many times throughout the movie. She screams. Then stops. Then screams some more. There is no halo to the panic. It is both succinct and distinct. And therefore unnatural. But when she's actually in a small, suffocating area -- utter silence.

Even the music was evocative of Schindler's List in places. Especially when you're seeing a mass exodus of sad, trudging, hope-bereft people who have lost everything and have nowhere to run. But it was in one of those scenes that I wrote in my notebook, "No one would have minded if they were only here to kill the Jews."

Lord, do I have issues with this movie. Why did that marine decide to save Tom Cruise when he was getting sucked up into the thing and not the other guy that got sucked up into it only moments earlier? How did Tom Cruise know that there would be a grenade belt in that overturned vehicle? How did the pins for the grenade get into his mouth when he was hanging onto that marine the whole time? Why did that soldier at the end provide the narrative exposition about the erratic behavior of one of the tripods before hustling Tom and Dakota along as if he didn't have time to explain everything to a pair of meaningless strangers? Why did everything stop working when the electromagnetic pulse hit -- everything except digital cameras and camcorders? Why would an adolescent boy with a huge chip on his shoulder be able to convince his father to abandon him to certain doom by quietly insisting, "I need to see this. You have to let me go?" Why did everyone suddenly want to be on that ferry when the tripods showed up? What was so much safer about being corraled on a slow-moving boat than being on the shore? How many times did Tom Cruise escape death by mere millimeters? How did he get all that man ash off his leather jacket? Was that soldier at the end really able to say "Clear!" with any conviction when that alien's gelatinous hand went limp? Is he a space doctor all of a sudden? Was that TV news crew in the van even human? Come on.

Another thing that REALLY got on my nerves was the number of times characters in the film would speak to someone who would not respond, requiring them to just say the same thing over and over again. It was almost as infuriating as watching Tom Cruise say Matt Lauer's name to him over and over again in that ridiculous interview. "Dad. Dad. Dad." "Mike. Mike. Mike." "Robbie. Robbie. Robbie." "Ray. Ray. Ray." "Get in the car. Get in the car. Get in the car." "Get out of the car. Get out of the car. Get out of the car." Are these lines actually in the screenplay? Could it have been an accidental cut-and-paste glitch?

Oh, and that scene with the tripods scouring the scurrying masses with their searchlights could just as easily have been a Moonlight Madness event at Best Buy.

Speaking of the tripods, I know it's from the book and all, but these are as lamely unwieldy as the AT-ATs in Empire. You'd think they'd have vehicles that could like...fly or something.

I am so tired of the sameness of everything that is being churned out today. The few beacons of hope on the horizon are so very few as to be lost in the gaping black maw of everything else. Batman Begins was great, for instance (although I should write about that under separate cover and explain why it solidifies my misogynistic feelings toward nearly every ingenue in the superhero/action-adventure genre). But when trying to pick something to see last night, there were just so few titles out that were not guaranteed to actually hurt. I was left nearly no other option but to see this movie again. That's an algorithm the box office trackers probably don't factor in. Come on. Rebound? I'd rather be bitten by snakes. So I ended up seeing this movie twice. And no one is sorrier for it than I am. Although I have to say there is a certain sweet vindication in knowing that my first takeaway was not wrong. To my friends whose opinions I respect and who told me this movie was badass -- especially to the one among you who saw it twice and announced that it "holds up" -- I just have to shake my head, knowing that you and I probably want different things from a film. We can still be friends. And we can still play video games together and drink booze and stuff. But I can't really allow you to bandy your film recommendations so recklessly. Let's just get high and watch movies we already know are going to be bad. It's better for the friendship.

P.S. I think I like Christian Bale better emaciated. There is something wrong with me.

Trailer Watch

Stealth. Boo. I have managed to see this trailer on the big screen at least three times now, and it never ceases to cause me to make that face. First of all, are we really meant to believe that the three top pilots in America are a white dude, a black dude, and a chick? At least Top Gun was a little more honest about this. Face it. It would be three white dudes. Three white dudes with haircuts and ego trips and a tendency towards gum-chewing. Why do we have to be so beholden to diversity in our storytelling? If this was a movie where the world's top basketball players had to stop an unmanned fighter jet that had "gone rogue," they would be three black dudes. Period. Maybe one white dude. But really, probably not. I just love the way trailers these days give you every single important beat in the story right up front. We see the plane get hit by lightning. We hear them pronounce it sentient. We see that girl's ass. The only reason to go watch this movie would be to see if Jamie Foxx and that white guy accidentally touch each other's naughty parts in the mandatory three-way scene.

Narnia. I was excited at first. But it's already all wrong. What a shame. Every book from my childhood will be plundered before the end of it all. Who's slated to make the film version of Ferdinand the Bull? Probably Michael Bay. Fuck.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This may be the worst trailer in film history. It totally makes me not want to see the movie. It's possible the movie won't be horrible (although I'm leaning in the opposite direction), but the trailer is just this halting string of close-ups of Johnny Depp where the music cuts out just in time for him to utter an unamusing one-liner. And I don't think it's playing to his strengths to have him look so much like a girl.

Bad News Bears. I already aired my laundry on this one.

King Kong. The people on the island look like those freaks in The Thirteenth Warrior. And, although I want to see this movie, again I wonder at the logic of having the trailer expose every single plot point. Maybe Hollywood is just too used to promoting remakes. It's custom now to take it for granted that the audience might not know how the story goes. If The Crying Game were being promoted today, I'm sure the trailer would show Jaye Davidson peeing standing up. Not that that scene ever occurs in the movie. And, by the way, I hope I didn't just ruin the big surprise for you.

Elizabethtown. Cameron Crowe movies are really just soundtracks at this point.

Jul 2, 2005

Free Association

The work I'm doing at the moment is very much brand-focused. It shapes the way I think about things. I watch commercials a little differently. I notice messaging where maybe I wouldn't. But it isn't a keen eye that caused me to take pause when I saw an ad for Universal Technical Institute, or "U.T.I." It's a trade school, and I'm sure they're mostly marketing to men, but isn't there someone who wants to do something engineering-related who knows what a urinary tract infection is and maybe doesn't want to go to school in one? It reminds me of those appetite suppressant chocolate chews they had back in the '70s with the unfortunate brand name "Ayds." They didn't last long. Their brand message was eclipsed by a much more popular disease with a homophonic name. You have to be careful what you call yourself. Sometimes it actually makes a difference.

Jul 1, 2005

Take my love in real small doses.

I'm gonna pull you in close. I'm gonna wrap you up tight. I'm gonna play with the braids that you came here with tonight.

I like the sound of car doors. I like the sound of them opening and closing. I like the sound of the handle being pulled. Someone's arriving. Someone's going home. People are going places. I like hearing it in movies, even. I don't know why. I don't get all giddy when I'm getting into my own car, though. For some reason, that is an exempt experience.

I have been unable to put words together. Unable to breathe at times. I have been getting a substantial taste of a breakneck pace. And in so many ways, I can't feel it or figure it out. I can't feel my fingerbones moving inside my hands. I can't cry in public. I can't write neatly. I can't stop wanting both more and less. I can't stop.

If there was just one thing to do, maybe...But I am doing four jobs and being five people and dreaming six dreams. And there is so little space in-between that I don't even have time to look forward. Plenty of good times. Plenty of them. But all in that blurry mode. The way I set my camera. The slow shutter. Light trails. Double vision. Everything gets all mushy.

It's funny. When I get like this. I don't even feel like telling the truth. About anything.

Jersey Girl is an embarrassingly awful movie. I am embarrassed for Kevin Smith. I am embarrassed for Ben Affleck. I am embarrassed for Liv Tyler. A scene from Sweeney Todd? This film is about as enjoyable as a kidney stone. I am embarrassed for me for telling anyone that I watched even five minutes of it. In fairness, I've only watched about ten minutes of it, but that's nine minutes too many.

I will stand by all this drinking if it helps me through these days.