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    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Unintentional Analogies

    So, yesterday I found myself at a stoplight behind a car with an Obama bumper sticker. Not one of the small ones, but one of the big ones. The driver was signaling a left turn, but when the light changed, he actually turned right. This struck me as a perfect, though unintentional, analogy for the entire Obama campaign.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    Speaking of Dogs

    I have been a dog owner for over six years of my life and a cat owner for over six years of my life. Thus, I feel I am qualified to comment on the differences between cats and dogs. The truth about cats and dogs, if you will.

    Anyway, here is the biggest difference between cats and dogs (besides cats being much more of a pain to take care of than dogs - a fact most would dispute but, if you've ever had to take care of both at the same time, you know is indisputable). If you are sitting down, and a cat is sitting next to you, and you get up to go to another room to get something, the cat will look at you disdainfully for disturbing its comfort but otherwise ignore you. If you are sitting down, and a dog is sitting next to you, and you get up to go to another room to get something, the dog will follow eagerly, because the dog is deathly afraid he or she is going to miss something important, probably food related, but possibly related to going outside.
    And that's the biggest difference between cats and dogs.

    You Tube Fun - Triumph Edition

    On Hollywood Squares

    With Bon Jovi

    2004 Presidential Debate

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    Here's The Thing

    Don't know your feelings on the writer's strike, but I wholeheartedly support it. Here are some links to some posts outlining the issues at the always great Kung Fu Monkey. Be sure to read through the comments as well. Other good posts can be found at Ken Levine's Blog, and the unofficial official blog of the strike can be found at United Hollywood.

    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    Across The Universe

    (Note: This was written as a message board post, but I think it's good enough to post here as well. It's not like anyone is reading anyway.)

    Across The Universe - see it. Now.

    It's a movie - a musical that, like Moulin Rouge and Singin' In The Rain before it, uses pre-existing, not original, music for the musical numbers. However, unlike those two films, the music is all taken from one group - the Beatles. In fact, the more I think about it, the best way to describe it would be to say the movie takes place in the universe of the Beatles catalog.

    The main characters (and many of the minor ones) all take their names from characters in Beatles' songs. Our lead is Jude, a young Liverpudian shipbuilder who comes to the U.S. to find his father, a U.S. soldier stationed in England during WWII. While here he meets Max (Maxwell), Max's sister Lucy, and several others who all make their way to New York City. Some of the Beatles connections are obvious - we are introduced to a character named Prudence, and yes Dear Prudence is eventually one of the songs. On the other hand, though we see Max at one point banging on a fan with a big silver hammer, that song never appears. Some of the other Beatles connections are not so obvious, or at least force you to be paying attention. Jude's girlfriend in the opening scenes when he is still in Liverpool is named Molly. Near the close of the movie, Jude has returned to Liverpool and is once more working on the docks. Molly, has married Jude's co-worker Desmond. Desmond's name isn't mentioned at the start of the movie; Molly's name isn't mentioned at the end of the movie.

    The film is set in the mid- to late 60s (though the timeline is a little loose and, ultimately, not that important to the tale) with events that mirror the 60s in the real universe. One of the best things about the film is how those events are presented in a way that makes it impossible not to relate them to our current world situation, yet at no time is the viewer hit over the head with that connection. It's just there. (As Ebert says in his review "It's not political, which means it's political to it's core.")

    The performances are first-rate. The main cast is mostly unknowns, with Evan Rachel Wood being the biggest name among the leads. The leads do almost all of the singing as well, and they do it quite well, especially when you take into account that many of the musical performances used in the film were recorded live on set, a rarity in a time when most film musical performances are recorded in perfect recording situations and then dubbed in. There are three guest appearances that are absolutely perfect. Joe Cocker sings Come Together as three different characters - a homeless street singer, a pimp, and a hippie. Bono shows up as a Ken Kesey pastiche and sings I Am The Walrus. Eddie Izzard is Mr. Kite, singing, well, Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite. (Bono also sings Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds over the closing credits.)

    The film is beautifully photographed, with a bright mix of colors and several extended pyschedelic sequences (one after the characters drink the Kesey characters red Kool-Aid). It's also spectacularly choreographed. The director, Julie Taymor (director of several broadway productions, including The Lion King), does most of the choreography herself.
    The songs are used wonderfully; some are presented in a straightforward manner much like most musicals. For instance, I've Just Seen A Face takes place in a bowling alley right after Jude meets Lucy, and it could almost be a music video, it's such a literal translation of the song. On the other hand, the aforementioned I Am The Walrus begins with the main cast having just drunk the acid, slowly transforms into a psychedelic dream, melts into all the characters on the Kesey-esque bus as merry pranksters, and ends at the farm of a Doctor Geary.

    The arrangements also vary, from straightforward versions that are remarkably faithful to the originals to radical reinventions that bring out meaning you might not have seen before. One of the best examples (I was reluctant to use it, as Ebert mentions it in his review, but it is one of the best examples) is I Want To Hold Your Hand. That song takes on a poignancy, a deep sadness, when the hand belongs to a person the singer can never hold hands with.

    Like most musicals, it's not a film for literalists. It's a film that forces the viewer to commit, to relinquish themselves, to almost become a part of the film in much the same way that live theatre forces audiences to become part of the proceedings. (Yeah, that's vague - you either know what I mean or don't, and if you don't, I can't explain it any better than that.) I can't think of a film I've seen recently that had me smiling as much, that hit me as hard emotionally in the painful spots, that had me cheering inside as much that the two main characters would get together while still having doubts about whether or not they would. In spirit and energy it reminds me most of Hair, though in execution it is a far different animal. As I left the theatre I immediately set out to make two purchases - the Across the Universe soundtrack and a copy of Hair on DVD. I found the former (there were two versions, a 16-song version with selected songs and a 31-song two-disc version with all the songs from the film, which is the version I got and have listened to more or less non-stop since buying), couldn't find the latter.

    I would assume that if the film is still playing here in small-town Iowa then it shouldn't be difficult to find anywhere bigger. I intend to see it again this weekend. So you should see it. Now.
    So see it. Now.


    Ebert Review
    Film Ick Review and Essay

    Sunday, November 04, 2007

    My Friend Ethan and His Spider-Man Pillow

    Ethan's gone, back with his mother, now in Delaware. More later. I just wanted to share this: we were standing at the Southwest ticket counter at Midway. Ethan was holding his Spider-Man pillow, and the attendant said "That's a cute pillow." She turned away and he motioned that he wanted to tell me something. I leaned down, and he said, exasperatedly, "It's not cute - it's cool." Which, as far as I'm concerned, is both cute and cool. That's my boy.

    Saturday, November 03, 2007

    An Open Letter To The Host Of The Golden Harvest Hawkeye Huddle Post-Game Radio Show

    Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shutupshutupshutupshutup shut the fuck up you fucking fuck. No one - NO ONE - wants to hear you interrupt the discussion of the key defensive plays of the game with your little story about you and your wife watching We Are Marshall. No one.



    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Scent Of A Woman

    There is a scent you find in all strip clubs. (So I am told. I do not speak from personal experience.) It's a strange mix of a floral-scented baby powder and a sharp perfume. Every dancer smells of it; the next day you can pick your shirt up and still catch the scent from where the dancer pressed herself against you during a private dance. (So I am told. I do not speak from personal experience.) You very rarely smell it outside of a strip club, and you never expect to encounter it someplace like, oh, the Children's Museum, where it radiates of the very hot mom who came in as you were leaving. (So I assume. I do not speak from personal experience.)