Saturday, December 26, 2009
This is me with my nephew and his grandmother.
I say "his grandmother" because she is not my mother.
What looks like the beginnings of a bald spot on my head doesn't bother me at all.
(cut to Ben sobbing in a corner, "My hair! My beautiful hair!")
The blanket on her lap was her present from him which he picked out himself, and yes it is a baby blanket, but a very soft and cuddly one and she adored it.
I mean, if you're gay and a Democrat, you have every right to be pissed off because it sure looks like, down deep, the President you voted for and/or contributed money to thinks you're really kind of icky. Hell, I'm straight and a Democrat, and that pisses me off.
But you went with the GOP, and you're suprised that they took your money and then treated you like you were a fleck of snot on their shirt?
Cry me a river.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Via Think Progress:
Until recently, the Build-A-Bearville website (part of the Build-A-Bear Workshop) featured online videos telling children about manmade global warming and the dangers it holds for the North Pole. In the videos, little animals learn about the problem and teach Santa Claus about it. The right wing has been outraged over the antics of these bears and penguins. One conservative called for a boycott of Build-A-Bear, and another said the the videos amount to “indoctrination.” In response to this right-wing pressure, Build-A-Bear has taken down the educational videos.
The scientific consensus remains as strong as ever that manmade global warming is real. In the past, conservatives have also attacked the popular movie “Wall-E,” saying that it was filled with “leftist propaganda” and taught children that “human beings are bad for planet earth.”
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
1. Who would you change places with in this world if you could?
This is a trickier question than it may appear. 'Cause first I was thinking of a musician like Vince Guaraldi in the 1960s (in other words, a really good piano player).
Or one of Jack Benny's writers during the late 1940s. This is probably my second-favorite decade after, of course, the '80s.
This brings up the possibility of my being a sequencer/synthesizer programmer in 1985...
...However, I digress.
Then I thought maybe this should be somebody in the world today.
And then I further went on to think: Change places? So this isn't just about whose life I'd wish to step into, it's about who I'd wish my life upon. Which means that I could choose a crazy asshole like Inhofe, but do I really want to be the Republican Senator from Oklahoma? I think not.
Or I could just be cute and say "Summer Glau's boyfriend," but that sort of thing is going to come up in the next question...
2. With the love you show for all the ladies, who would you most like to be attached to on a daily basis.
What an odd way to phrase it. Presumably you mean, of all the lovely ladies who populate my blogs past and present, who would I most like to have a real relationship with if I could?
Well, it would have to be somebody who is of a similar frame of mind to me politically. Carville and Matalin aside, I just don't think mixed-party-marriages work.
Sexy goes without saying.
And it would be cool if she was an artist, too, only maybe I wouldn't want her to be another writer (we're terribly untrustworthy).
She should be bright.
She should like at least some of the same movies I like (the Saws, though again it would be nice, would not be a deal breaker).
Oh, and she should be gay-friendly and have a good sense of humor.
Put 'em together and what have you got?
What were the odds?
3. What would you design as a saw trap for you most hated enemy. Who would that enemy be and why so specific at death?
Forgive me, I feel a Saw-geek moment coming on. The work of Jigsaw is not to design traps for hated enemies, it's to give people who were wasting their lives a test to see how much they value that life, and what price they will pay to keep it.
It's to help people detach from the negative emotions that are keeping them from advancing. The aim is not death, but a newly-cherished life, and the most vengeful thing about a good Jigsaw trap is that it rubs your nose in the flaws of your own life or perspective.
That said...I did come up with a trap on the Saw board I read, last month, that I kinda love. It's a variation on this test in VI:
In the second test, Jigsaw's puppet informs William that he must choose to save either his file clerk or secretary, named Allen and Addy (Shawn Ahmed and Janelle Hutchison) respectively, and let the other die. In the end, William chooses to save Addy, and Allen is hanged by a barbed wire noose when his platform retracts.
In my variant, the test subject is one of those "I'm not a bigot, BUT," or "I don't hate (minority X), BUT" types. In other words: Someone who is a hateful bigot but won't admit it.
He or she must choose to save either a straight, white criminal (let's say it's something REAL hard to forgive, like a child molester) or a successful, law-abiding member of the minority group they despise.
4. What moment in your life, knowing what you do now would you most like to redo? and why?
Ah...I'm afraid I have to choose not to answer this. I do have an answer, and a few people know what it is (and actually, there's an element of a previous answer which relates to it), but it's not something I really want to get into here on a public blog and all.
5. Who would you most like to have lunch with that is living today? What would you ask them?
Shannon Marie Woodward and Liza Weil.
What would I ask them?
"You wanna read a script?"
Senate Republicans have agreed to end their filibuster of health care reform “early Christmas Eve morning, allowing for a vote on the package at 8 a.m.” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) told the Oklahoman that “the vast majority” of Senate Republicans supported ending the filibuster in order to go home for the holiday. “We’ve had all the fun we’re going to have” debating the bill, said Inhofe.
The people who are suffering and dying from something you have the power to end weren't having any fun. You crazy asshole.
This is 1986, and the last time for many years to come that my hair would be that small.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
And let's further say that your face and/or body had been botoxed and chopped up so much, that underneath it all you probably look like the remnants of a Jigsaw trap. All purely hypothetical of course.
And let us go on to say that your desperation extends to having your image Photoshopped to within an inch of its life when you appear on a major magazine cover. Now suppose someone were to notice this, and comment on same, publicly.
You protest. Your lawyers send a letter. Well, before you do either of those things or anything like them...you should make damn sure there aren't certain photos in existence. Photos that would make it obvious to an idiot that for this cover, they put your head (and possibly your limbs) onto another woman's body (a younger woman, it goes without saying).
I'm just saying if you ever find yourself in that situation, you know.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Do YOU want to be interviewed?
1. Leave me a comment saying "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview
someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them [me] five questions.
About a month and a half ago Jeopardygirl--who thinks I don't have symbols of childhood innocence--made an entry to her blog, of her Top 10 Contemporary Canadian Films (she's Canadian). I thought I should come up with an American version.
I made a rough list or two, but never got around to actually writing the post until about a week ago when I wanted to try to write something, started this and have been hoping to finish it up.
First of all, you may notice, I have played it a bit fast and loose with what constitutes an "American" film, which is my wont. For the record, my rule of thumb was: At least 50% of the financing had to have come from America.
(That is why Fellowship of the Ring is on the list, representing the whole Rings trilogy--the second two were split three ways between New Zealand, the US, and Germany.)
Jeopardygirl defined "contemporary" as within the past 20 years, my list cuts it down to between 10 and 15 (not for any particular reason, it just worked out like that).
If you've been reading this blog long I don't think many of my choices will surprise you, insofar as to what movies I like. But I hope I've said more a few or more new things about why I like them. You be the judge.
(You'll also notice there are no numbered rankings. This is deliberate)
There have been a lot of great comic-book films these past years--Spider-Man 2, Iron Man. But in my heart I think this is the best.
Unlike the rest of the illustrations in this post, this isn't an image from the film:
But come on--how adorable is that?
Maybe it doesn't hurt that it's the one whose comics I was least familiar with.
It's a story about faith (despite the name) and imagination.
I didn't like the Golden Army sequel as much as most critics (neither did most moviegoers), because I felt it failed to build on the possibilities of the first.
Good Night. And, Good Luck.
Exquistely shot through with historical context.
Lost in La Mancha. Really representing all Terry Gilliam movies of the past 10 years including Tideland, and probably Doctor Parnassus once I see it.
See, here I have a problem. I'll get to it in a minute.
If I'm talking about movies, I have to talk about Terry Gilliam. He is my favorite director, what else do you want to know?
Like the makers of the Lord of the Rings films, Gilliam knows how to have size without sacrificing acting--or writing.
According to every report I've seen, he respects writers and their role in creating his movies.
I have always assumed that coming up with five writers and performers as contentious as his Python workmates had something to do with this.
Getting back to my "problem," with including any of his recent films on this list, it is simply this: Although he was born and raised in America, he emigrated to Great Britain in the '60s and has lived there ever since.
(A few years ago he even became a British citizen, giving up his US citizenship. I think George W. Bush was the last straw).
Even so, by that rule of mine (50% financing), some of his films from the '70s through '90s might count as American. But the last one that did was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in 1998. Since then his movies have been heavily or wholly financed outside of the States.
(And to me, that's not one of his better films. It's not bad--I put Terry Gilliam movies in the category of things where there is no such thing as bad, there's good and there's better, but there's no bad. This was not one of his better films.)
So, taking all of the above into account, how can I rationalize putting Tideland, or any of his movies, on a list of top contemporary, American films?
A continuing theme of Gilliam's movies has been his response to growing up in America in the '40s, '50s and '60s. He was driven to create fantastic worlds in response to the catastrophe he saw in the ordinary world around him.
It's why it's so incredibly fitting that his attempt to film a story of the man who tilts at windmills, as we see in the Lost in La Mancha documentary, should've been the one to fall apart on him like Humpty Dumpty.
Gilliam, I believe, wanted to escape into "fairy tales," but he also knew that could never totally work, and so he left himself notes in most of them. (When he forgot, or tried to, he made The Brothers Grimm, which is also merely a "good" film.)
Tideland, no matter how "twisted" it was proclaimed by some--ok, most--idiots at the time of its release, was a love letter to childhood innocence. Where exactly was Gilliam an innocent child?
My point being: No matter where he lives, where he pays taxes, or where the money to make his films comes from, Terry Gilliam's eyes are American.
And I couldn't be prouder.
You knew we'd get here sooner or later:
Saw; including all sequels.
I am a fairly unabashed lover of most things Saw, because at their best they've asked more of their writers, actors and audience than any other comparable series.
They did this (among other ways) by giving their central character John Kramer, sometimes known as Jigsaw, just that: Actual character. As opposed to, say, the vicious dog on two legs that is Jason Vorhees.
What's weird is, by the filmmakers own admission, a lot of that has been luck. Actors like Shawnee Smith and Tobin Bell, who have become important to the series (in Bell's case, damn near indispensible--he plays John Kramer), were cast before anybody had any idea what would be asked of them in the sequels.
These movies, when they're written by writers and played by actors who take their work and their craft seriously, have actually let us see the effect that the Jigsaw character has on others.
Some of this is arguably for good, most of it for evil, but they let us see it--and they let him see, and be affected by that as well.
For these and other reasons, at their best, the sequels have actually built on each other rather than just turning into bloodier and bloodier rehashes. Even the least of them.
Although, this--along with a lot of what I've praised above-did start to slip a little by Saw IV. And a lot in Saw V, which is the least creatively succesful film in the series to date (good start, good ending, one good scene in the middle--whooooole lotta filler).
VI was a much better, even choice in many ways, film; as I've noted previously, it received the best reviews since the original. Still, I'm not exactly sorry to say that word is next years Saw VII will be the end.
BTW...this is another place where you could question the status of these movies as "American" films. Saw was created by a couple of Australians, and after the first movie (which filmed in LA), all the sequels have been filmed and co-financed in Canada.
(until VI, which actually split its money between four countries...which might explain why VII was fast-tracked: Less risk, to more financers...plus the fact that no film in the series has been unprofitable)
Moving on (I heard those of you who said, "Thank god...")
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Okay. I granted up front, including this as a contemporary American film is arguable--roughly half of the stars are from England or Australia, the director and co-writers are from New Zealand, where it was also shot.
But, it was co-financed with American money. And come on, what was I going to do, leave it out?
This is a movie that schooled Lucas--or should have--on how to make an epic without sacrificing storytelling. (I've regained much of my interest in Lucas' contemporary films-the prequel trilogy-thanks to seeing them again through my nephew's eyes. But, you'll notice that none appear in this list.)
I gotta give Fellowship mad props.
Now I want to talk about my two "animation directors of the decade-plus," Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton. Bird made The Iron Giant, Ratatouille and The Incredibles. I like The Incredibles and love Ratatouille, but Iron Giant is better than either of them.
It's a film about which I always tell people: If you read comic books when you were 10...you're gonna cry when you reach the end of this movie.
Andrew Stanton made Finding Nemo and Wall-E (as well as co-writing the Toy Story films and Monsters, Inc).
Nemo is still, for me, the high-water mark (tee hee) against which all other are judged, and Wall-E made confident strides in animated storytelling whilst (and at the same time) never, ever losing heart.
(Strange to say, I didn't realize until just when I was writing this draft of this long-in-the-works post how much the broad strokes of Stanton's Wall-E resembles Bird's The Iron Giant, another fun movie about a robot, with heart.)
As I say, I liked both The Incredibles and Ratatouille when I first saw them in the theater, but on subsuquent viewings I've cooled on The Incredibles while my affection for Ratatouille has only grown.
It's some kind of genius.
Animation is one of the few things in which I actually have a lot of national pride. I feel the best animated cartoons are and have always been made right here in America.
For the past 10-15 years or more, all the best American animated cartoons with but one exception have been made at Pixar.
As for that exception, it was Iron Giant (good guess) and Pixar themselves liked it and Bird's other work enough to bring him over to work there. It's top of the list; I consider it the last great "2D" animated film. (I hear good things about Princess & the Frog, but I haven't seen it)
Gone Baby Gone
For the love of god, see this movie.
It is the story of one man's struggle to do what he thinks is right, within a moral nightmare, and it is a good fucking movie about people, including us, who have lost their way.
I hate to think people didn't see it because Ben Affleck directed it.
He made a heartbreaking film that's at least as good as Mystic River and even better (yes, better) than The Departed.
I think Sideways is a good movie despite (because of?) the fact that it is at times a very uncomfortable film for me to watch. It's uncomfortable because, like Paul Giamatti in the movie, I like to close my eyes to reality.
My standard line, tho, is that it could've been made for me: I'm a frustrated writer who's been in love with Virginia Madsen since 1985.
And she's wonderful in it.
As an aside: Madsen is one of I don't know how many actresses, but it can't be more than a few, to succesfully "graduate" from the sexpot roles she was doing 20 years ago.
Not that she's not still hot (look down). Actually, she should be a role model in how to use things like Botox sensibly.
But in the mid-'90s, you could've been forgiven for thinking she was going to have-well, the career that Sharon Stone's had in the past decade....
Let's dispense with the story, the characters and the dialog. Cameron certainly does...
The CGI canvas is larger, but there's little you haven't already seen in better Cameron movies.
I can't claim to have seen all her films or to have liked all of those that I did, but she could be charming and beautiful, and she had legs that went all the way up to her neck. I'm very sorry for her family, friends and fans.