Thursday, December 31, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Repost

Merry Christmas Y'all. Enjoy all the presents, food and guilt that comes with the holiday. I'm spending the day with the family and some friends, so if you're bored and have 16 minutes to spare, here's a repost of a short film I mentioned a while ago.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

Almost time



Yay! Tomorrow's Christmas. Don't forget why we celebrate it or God will pop a cap in you. That's how he rolls.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Returned!



I have returned from the sunny climes of California. All went about as reasonably well as could be expected. The memorial service was well done, including the ukulele player. A fitting tribute to Faye. My grandfather was very depressed for the first few days, but on our last day there, he perked up considerably. I guess the finality of the service allowed him to take the next step forward.

Now that I'm home, my sister is arriving with her brood in about 2 hours. Then it's Christmas, New Years and back to work. Nothing like having the next few weeks all planned out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I flew out of sight.....



Time to pack up to leave for California for the memorial service tomorrow. It will be a sad weekend, though I won't mind the 73 degree temperature that is forecast for most of my stay. I'll be back home on the 21st, just in time to receive all the cards and presents everybody sent me, or not.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dispatch from the Front



My God, they're getting brazen. Conducting training exercises out in the open in a public park. I fear they may be getting ready to mobilize before Christmas. The holidays this year may be colored gray and vicious.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Their plot begins



Surreptitiously photographed, here is proof of what I've been suspecting for years. National Underground Troops of Squirrels have finally gathered enough materials to begin their assault on the human race. I will try to keep abreast of further developments.

Review- The Lovely Bones

Continuing my attempts at bettering my review writing, here is the next one. Sadly, it's another misfire.

A plethora of seamless CGI effects and period details cannot save Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones from being a complete bore to sit through. Narrated by young, murdered Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) from the “in-between”, the film charts the after-effects of her murder while Susie…well, just kind of waits around for….something to happen.

The trouble here is the fetishistic attention to detail. Set in 1973, the film gets all the period trappings correct. The “in-between” that Susie inhabits is filled with constantly shifting landscapes and amazing visuals. All this detail attention leaves less time to tell a gripping story. The movie flips back and forth between Susie observing the grieving of her family, her murderer’s (a decently creepy Stanley Tucci) follow-up moves and her own adventures in this “in-between”, which, given the visuals, is a cross between What Dreams May Come and Disney’s Afterlifeland; yet none of it registers emotionally enough to capture an audience. Susie just walks around doing not much of anything. Given the fact that the audience is told who the killer is early on, it takes an inordinate amount of time for the family to catch up. This leaves a second act that just sits on the screen so people can check their watches. Even a decent chase through the killer’s house, as Stanley Tucci goes after Susie’s younger sister who was looking for clues, leads nowhere. The film just slowly peters out.

Saoirse Ronan does manage to pull out a good performance, investing her character with the proper amount of wonder and angst given her situation. After Atonement and this film, she is one to watch for the future. Mark Wahlberg, as Susie’s father, grieves well enough as first, but then turns into the crusader and interest drops. Susan Sarandon, as Susie’s grandmother, blows in looking like Jacqueline Susann, performs a comedy routine, then is given nothing else to do.

The book of The Lovely Bones is supposed to be a searing and emotional read (I have not read it). As pretty as the film’s visuals are to look at, poring over pages with your imagination would be a much better expenditure of time than sitting through these 122 minutes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

We're Not Successful



This is one of the more unsuccessful PSA's in my opinion. Those ragamuffins are so adorable, if I ever saw an open bottle with bluish pills peeking out, I'd gobble them up and wait for them to sing in my tummy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Invictus Review

As my first real attempt at movie reviewing outside of my class, here is my dissection of Clint Eastwood's new film Invictus.

Well-meaning but ultimately too heavy-handed, Clint Eastwood’s Invictus gets lost in the scrum. Nelson Mandela and the South African Springbok’s 1995 Rugby World Cup victory may be an inspiring story, but the constant need to show how inspiring it all was makes the film dramatically inert.

It all starts to falter when the movie presents Mandela’s (Morgan Freeman) vision of uniting white and black through the victory of the World Cup as the ultimate answer to South Africa’s woes. The thought that a sporting victory would somehow heal the wounds of the past few decades is laughable. Invictus though, treats Mandela and the idea with utmost seriousness. A bodyguard says of him: “He’s not a saint, he’s a man;” though that concept is certainly not conveyed as any hint that Mandela or his ideas might be less than perfect is not to be seen. Senses are gradually deadened as every scene turns into another opportunity for a speech about inspiration or the need to adapt to change. Mandela recruits Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), the captain of the Springbok’s, as the person to inspire the team to victory. Since the team starts off the movie as a joke, a little explanation as to how the Springboks turned it around should be warranted, but none is offered. I guess when you have star power like Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon on your side, great things just happen.

In an attempt to create tension, a sizable amount of screen time is devoted to Mandela’s security detail and their worries over a possible assassination attempt. After returning to these worries over and over, the final payoff involving a jumbo jet is so ludicrous, it plays as a parody of Black Sunday.

The true hero of the film turns out to be Eastwood’s D.P., Tom Stern, who manages to make the Rugby matches exciting to watch, especially since no attempt is made at explaining how Rugby works. Nor is there ever any dramatic obstacle to overcome; the movie’s theme runs roughshod over the Springbok’s opponents, so the outcome of every match is never in doubt.

Invictus is a Latin word that translates as “unconquerable”. The film, however, makes one want to wave the white flag, as two hours of being fed unbridled piety and inspiration feels like being beaned in the head by a rugby ball.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I've Done Stuff! The Class

Since a teaching job has not been forthcoming (the past three years), I've decided to attempt something different involving my other love, movies! To that end, I enrolled in a class offered by NYU's Continuing Education School. It's called "Becoming a Film Critic" and is taught by a critic from Time Out New York Magazine, Joshua Rothkopf.

It has been a really kicking experience. I've always fancied myself a decent writer to begin with (ever since I won a short play writing contest in 5th grade), and the class has helped me focus on how to write a more publishable review than I usually do. The teacher is very entertaining to listen to (and thankfully is also quite attractive), and gets right to the heart of how to go about trying to make a go of this as a career; so I feel as if I've come away with valuable information. It's not easy breaking into media, but the course and the feedback I've received gives me the confidence that I have a decent shot at doing so, even though it still might take quite a few attempts. Confidence has always been my issue, so it's pleasant to finish a class feeling it. I've still got 1 more session to go and have a final paper to write for it, but I'm not too worried. This might be the most enjoyable final paper I've had to write, definitely more fun than a 24 page English final.

After it's over and the holidays wrap up, it will be time to see if I can put what I've learned into practice. Maybe an article on filling out my ballot for the Independent Spirit Awards or something.....

Best of all, I hope to take another class taught by Josh over the summer in horror film (if it's offered, have to wait for the catalog). Spending summer watching my favorite genre? What's not to love?

So the past few posts hopefully explain my absence over the last month. It's been hectic, and December will remain hectic, but I have a bit more free time coming my way than in November, so I probably won't disappear again.

I've Done Stuff! The Deaths

Oof, I got hit with a double whammy just before Thanksgiving. I got home from driving the taxi early Monday morning to discover that something was eating all the available hard drive space on my...um...hard drive. I was up until 4AM trying to fix it but no luck. So off to bed.

8:30AM the phone rings. It's California. My grandfather's wife passed away a few hours earlier. This would be my Grammy Faye. Not technically my grandmother, but my grandfather was married to her for 24 years, so de facto, she was. This throws everyone for a loop. My grandfather has been essentially wheelchair bound with 24 hour care for the past few years. Grammy Faye saw to every aspect of the household, including his care. Everybody thought he would go before her. Unfortunately, she developed congestive heart failure over the summer, and while she had been doing ok, it appears that that shortly after November started, everything went downhill fast. Still though, she had 93 great years on the planet, and I am very happy I've had the time to get to know her. My twice yearly visits to Pasadena to spend time with her and my grandfather were always highlights.

While phone calls were being traded between the coasts, I was talking to a computer expert who finally got my computer up and running. Just an incompatible program with Windows 7 that had to be uninstalled and reinstalled. Once the computer was up, I checked email to discover that the wife of my father's best friend (who I've known all my life), passed away early Sunday morning. This was more expected, as we had received word that she had been given only weeks to live. Again, you couldn't ask to know a nicer person.

So after word of 2 deaths in 5 hours, I'm sort of glad no other bad news has come down the pipeline. I'll be heading to California from the 16th-21st of this month for Grammy Faye's memorial service and to spend some time with my grandfather. I've put a moratorium on further deaths until after the holidays.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I've Done Stuff! The Job

Tutoring has been slow this year. Only 2 students that have lasted beyond a week. One showed up only periodically, and now is finished. The other cancelled the last few weeks due to being in a late term pregnancy and just had the child, so I doubt I'll see her for the next few weeks.

That leaves just one new student. A less than beloved school district I know decided that a student under its care needed a special education tutor since the teacher he's had for the past 5 years isn't certified. The child is profoundly mentally retarded. This is not the type of population I usually work with or really want to work with. I declined the job but was asked to attend an update meeting at the district since his regular teacher couldn't make it. This I agreed to. At the meeting, the district pulled a bait and switch. The meeting wasn't about any update, it was a meeting about conducting the NYS Alternate Assessment Test for the child. Since I was there on behalf of the student, I'm now the one who has to conduct this test. (The test assesses a student's ability to process information on their grade level when they are too cognitively deficient to take the regular NYS Assessment Tests.) My issue with this is that I was told the student must pass the test. I'm not allowed to hand in anything that implies that student cannot pass. However, the student does not have an eye-gaze (not blind, but he can't focus on anything), he does not have the ability to speak or understand written or oral language, nor does he have voluntary control of his movements, so no ability to write or point or gesture. His mental development is that of a one-month old baby. How do I assess this? Essentially, I was told that when he performes one of his involuntary twitches, I'm to say that he moved in response to my questioning and he understood me. How is that ethical? I'm still hoping I'm able to pass this off to someone else. I just feel very wary about putting my name to something like this.

Ok, long ranty paragraph over. I'll update this later this week after I make some calls.

I've Done Stuff! The Cold

So the past few weeks have been both busy and frustrating for me. It started with a cold I caught about a month ago that turned into a cough I'm still trying to get rid of. It's that type of cold where you just kind of sit and stare straight ahead with no ambition to do anything. Many a night I sat before a blank page for a new post and just had no thoughts running through my mind. Then I'd realize I was looking at the computer screen for 20 minutes and go eat some cookies. Copious amounts of Dayquil, Tylenol and doctor recommended xithmyergkfovklin also added to the empty feeling. Hopefully the cough is gone in another day or two, then I'll be back good to rights.

White Diamonds



So I caught the annual airing of this commercial today. How old is this thing? I feel like I've been seeing this ad since I was 3. And the lighting? My goodness, I know its been a few years since National Velvet, but Ms. Taylor couldn't have looked that bad when it was shot. I'm going to hedge a bet that this will still be airing 60 years from now. Anyone take me up on it?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

C'est Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving all. I'll update on the past month I've had that has kept me abnormally busy, but in the meantime, enjoy this WKRP Thanksgiving classic.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

최고 호쾌한 미친 회의 밤

Once Upon a Time, Craig, Josh, Enrico, Chris D. , Dave S. , Kari, Dave, Jere, Polt and myself......

A day was set for a Puntabulous meetup. Polt and Dave S. had been contacted secretly to appear as surprise guests. What wonders (and horrors) would await in the night?

The walk across town was uneventful, save for Polt yelling out "Signal!" every few minutes. At first, I thought he was in awe of traffic lights as his hometown sadly has not yet gained electricity; however, it was his message that a guy he found to be attractive was passing by. Given the number of times he spun around to point out various signals, it's clear that Polt has a future in Ballet.

The karaoke place was reached. Eventually all filtered in. The surprise was sprung and surprise was attained. The night began.

At first, things started off slow as David was confused by the microphone:



Hmmm....Polt thought to himself. Time to take advantage of the situation.....:



First, a photo with Enrico was taken. The two then disappeared outside and were gone for 7m33s:



Upon their return, a photo with Josh. The two then disappeared outside and were gone for 12m53s:



Upon their return, a photo with Jere. The two then disappeared outside and were gone for 7m21s:



Upon their return, a photo with Craig. The two then disappeared outside for infinity. Shortly, a woman ran past screaming: "My eyes! My eyes!" Connected?:



Upon their return, a photo with me. However, as you can tell by the photo, I had recently watched a blank VHS tape and received a call telling me "Seven Days...", so Polt was hesitant to go outside. No matter, the singing began!



Dave took the microphone first and wowed us with his rendition of the instrumental theme to "Peanuts":



Kari was up next with his take on a Bubbi Morthens classic: Kannski Varð Bylting Vorið:



Next up was Josh singing some forgettable pop song released in the last 5 minutes. At least his voice is mellifluous:



Craig took his turn with his take on the theme song to "Small Wonder":



Poor Enrico just realized that Mariah Carey will not be nominated for "Precious". Polt comforts him while Dave S. mocks from afar:



The "Lady Marmalade" number!. Everyone did a fine job until Jere took the microphone, channeled his inner Young Jeezy and busted forth with a rap that had the power to reignite the West Coast/East Coast feud. If in danger, he can always move to Kalamazoo to live with Tupac and Biggie (also Elvis and James Dean.):



Sadly, my awesome spoken-word poetry version of "9 to 5" was not to be. Time had run out. We moved outside for a group shot:



Then it was off to dinner. (Well, at least for Jere.):







After dinner at the restaurant, we headed downtown to go to....another restaurant. On the subway down, I had the opportunity to listen in to Enrico and Josh's conversation. Paraphrase follows:



"So I'm totez going to buy a churchez, and gutz it and make it a house. Then I can adoptez 3 kids."
"3? Like Britney's 3? It's number 1!"
"Defferz, so I can adoptez a little white girl, a little black gurl and a little asain gyrl."
"OMG, it's a rainbow of colors!"
"Totez! It's like I'm adopting a bag of skittlez."
"What would happen if Pink chokez on skittlez?"
"Noez! I would so cry, then die then get dragged to hell."
"Totez dragged to hell."

And who would drag them to hell? Kari!:



Proving what that crazy guy on the street told me. "Icelandiandians are evil."

Back to Enrico and Josh, I can only imagine them as friends during my growing up era of the 80's:



"So I'm totally going to buy a church, then gut it apart and make the most gnarly house out of it. Then I'm going to adopt 99 kids."
"99? Like Nena's 99? That's number 1!"
"Awesome! So I'm going to adopt from every country I can think of."
"Tubular! It's like you're adopting a pack of Dynamints."
"What would happen if Martika choked on a Dynamint?"
"Barf me out! I would totally cry, then die, then go Back to the Future."
"Totally Back to the Future"


We reached the second restaurant of the evening: Room Service. Their attempt at different came in the idea that 1 chair at every table should have an entire actual door acting as the back of the chair. I was the lucky one to sit at the special seat, and it was extremely comfortable for a monk. Meanwhile, once we got to the restaurant, Polt took a picture of himself. He then disappeared by himself outside for 2m12s:



A few last rounds of drinks were consumed. Craig was engrossed by a discussion on the semantics of---HOLY CRAP! His hand is huge! That thing could swat a mouse to death:



Josh took advantage of a break in conversation to practice his version of "Blue Steel":



Sadly, Jere is oblivious to the creeping hand from the mirror dimension in the background headed to snatch his soul:



Eventually though, all good things must come to an end. Hugs were shared, as were taxis, apartment floors and hotel beds. The evening concluded and we all made our way home while telling the person next to us what we really thought about the others who were now out of earshot.

What did I take from the evening?

Well....

Irish people dress funny (and look homicidal):



Kari was birthed from a 1980's European perfume commercial:



Polt's smile never stops, mostly from all the (CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED) he engages in.



Josh and Enrico have developed their own language to be studied by future anthropologists:



Chris D. and Dave S. can wear anything and make it look good:



Dave will punch those who are not B-52's fans:



Jere will never get a break from law school work:



This night could only have happened in NYC!:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Question



What is it about the Canadian Penny? I understand that Canada is right next to the U.S. and is on relatively good terms with us, however, their penny is technically foreign currency. Still, nearly every store I go to is more than willing to either take a Canadian Penny from me or give one back in change, as if it's interchangeable with our Lincoln Penny. I've never found any other currency that will work this way. Our neighbor to the South, Mexico, doesn't have coinage that works it's way into the cash registers. I don't see Euro cents or other European coinage ever appear in cash registers, but I come across more Canadian Pennies that I can keep track of. What bizarre hold does this foreign coin have on the retail workers of America that is can be used so easily? Color me confused (which I believe is a shade of fuchsia).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NYFF Schedule

So I've set up my schedule for the NYFF this year. Between my weekend job and an impending visit by a cousin from out west, I've had to curtail the number of films I see from roughly 20 down to 7 this year. Oh well. If anyone (by some magic chance) happens to be at the films or in the vicinity of Lincoln Center, say hi!

Friday, September 25: Wild Grass 6pm

Saturday, September 26: The Wizard of Oz 11am

Saturday, September 26: Eccentricities of a Blond Haired Girl 5:30pm

Saturday, September 26: Vincere 8:30pm

Monday, September 28: Police, Adjective 9:15pm

Thursday, October 1: Lebanon 9:30pm

Friday, October 2: Antichrist 9:00pm

Farewell, Mary



Jeez, this song still can bring a tear to my eye.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Well, that blew.

So my trip down to the city for the Kathy Griffin signing turned into an unmitigated disaster. After checking the Barnes and Noble website to make sure the event was on, I made my way down to Manhattan.

First stop was Lincoln Center to pick up my tickets for the New York Film Festival. I paid last Monday (8/31) and was told the tickets would be at the box office waiting for me. They weren't. Nobody had brought any of the tickets down for pickup. In the only nice thing that was to happen that evening, Rob, the point man for the tickets, personally came down with just my set to hand them to me and chat for a few seconds. That was incredibly nice of him, I was half expecting to be told just to come back another day.

I then hopped on the subway and made the 30 minute trek down to Warren Street and the B&N. Upon arriving, we were told the following. 1. We HAD to purchase a copy of the book prior to attending the event. 2. If we wanted a book signed, we had to have a colored wristband in order to stand in line. Well, neither of those stipulations were mentioned on the website. It turned out that people had been buying books and lining up since 6:00AM. There were nearly 1000 people in line, and the chances of a signature were almost nil. Undaunted, I hopped on line to get the book. With only 4 people left in front of me, the store announced that they had run out of copies of the book, but I could buy an audio copy if I wished. No thanks, I'll wait until I'm blind for audio books.

Ok, I figured I'd still stand by the crowd and watch the event, just not be able to get anything signed. Sigh. The line for the event snaked in and out of nearly every aisle of the store. Then it turned out that the event was being held in a small corner, one that was unviewable unless you were directly in front of it, which the people aced out of books could not get to. So I stood there and listened to Kathy talk for only 6 minutes before sitting down to sign.

Dejected, I made my way back uptown and went to the Barnes and Noble on 67th Street and bought a copy of the book there. I got home and went to look through it only to discover that a printing error covered a number of the pages in large ink blotches, rendering the book worthless. I'll need to exchange it.

So basically, I blew $50 on a trip to the city to listen to Kathy Griffin speak for 6 minutes without being able to see her. Not a pleasant evening.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm There!



Finally! I hear about an event before it actually happens. I've lost count of the number of concerts or book signings from people/groups I like because I didn't find out about it until after it took place.

So Kathy Griffin will be signing her new autobiography at the Barnes & Noble on Warren Street somewhere in NYC (must be in lower Manhattan, I've never heard of it)next Tuesday the 8th. This I can make. Who wants to come?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oh man



WTF? The tennis has barely started and Tipsy's already out? I need to find better players to follow. Jeez, Wawrinka's out too. Hopefully Safin or Roddick can make a serious go at it this year. I'm attending Thursday night, fingers crossed for somebody good to watch.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Too good to pass up.

Well, at least one person won't be seeing Avatar.

I'm somewhere else.

So today I can be found over at Craig's blog Puntabulous. This will mark my second guest appearance over there this month. The first appearance happened while I was out of town, hence the lack of mention.

Basically, a description of today's guest post can be boiled down to me acting as a total dweeb. Head over and enjoy.

Ph3ar my dweebiness.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

ingergay ogersray

Starting at the 1:38 mark , I have absolutely no idea how she managed to pull it off. I would have broken down crying if I had to try to learn this version of the lyrics.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Simplicity Itself

Amazing how sometimes the simplest thing can provide such pleasure.

Sad Trombone

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NYFF!

And the list is up. I already see about 15 I'm going to get a ticket for...maybe 4 or 5 others. Ah...so many choices.....


OPENING NIGHT
Wild Grass / Les herbes folles
Alain Resnais, France, 2009; 113m
The venerable Alan Resnais creates an exquisite human comedy of manners, mystery and romance with some of France's - and our - favorite actors: Sabine Azéma, André Dussollier, Emmanuelle Devos and Mathieu Almaric. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

CENTERPIECE
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Lee Daniels, USA, 2009; 109m
Precious is sixteen and living a miserable life. But she uses all the emotional energy she possesses to turn her life around. Director Lee Daniel's audacious tale features unforgettable performances by Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. A Lionsgate release.

CLOSING NIGHT
Broken Embraces / Los abrazos rotos
Pedro Almodóvar, Spain, 2009; 128m
Almodóvar's newest masterwork is a candy-colored emotional roller that barrels from comedy to romance to melodrama to the darker haunts of film noir and stars his muse, Penélope Cruz, in a multilayered story of a man who loses his sight and the love of his life. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

36 Views of Saint-Loup Peak / 36 Vues Du Pic Saint Loup
Jacques Rivette, France, 2009, 84m
The legendary Jacques Rivette returns with an elegiac look at the final days of a small-time traveling circus.

Antichrist
Lars von Trier, Denmark, 2009, 109m
Surely to be one of the year's most discussed films, Lars von Trier's latest chronicles a couple's efforts to find their love again after a tragic loss, only to unleash hidden monsters lurking in their souls. An IFC Films release.

The Art of the Steal
Don Argott, USA, 2009, 101m
Bound to be controversial, this intriguing account of the travails of the legendary Barnes collection of art masterworks and the foundation set up to protect it raises vital questions about public vs. private "ownership" of art.

Bluebeard / La Barbe Bleue
Catherine Breillat, France, 2009, 78m
Two sisters reading Charles Perrault's 17th century tale of perhaps the first "serial killer" becomes a meditation on the enduring fascination with a character who has served as inspiration for countless novels, plays and films.

Crossroads of Youth / Cheongchun's Sipjaro
An Jong-hwa, Korea, 1934, 73m
The oldest surviving Korean film, this recently-rediscovered masterwork will be presented with live musical accompaniment as well as a benshi (offscreen narrator).

Eccentricities of a Blonde
Manoel de Olivera, Portugal/France, 2009, 64m
One hundred years young, director Manoel de Oliveira returns with another gem: a wry, moving tale of a pure if frustrated love adapted from a novel by Eça de Queiroz.

Everyone Else / Alle Anderen
Maren Ade, Germany, 2009, 119m
The ups and downs, joys and jealousies, frustrations and fulfillments of a young couple on a summer holiday provides the premise for this brilliant meditation on modern coupling.

Ghost Town
Zhao Dayong, China, 2008, 180m
A revealing, one-of-a-kind look at China far away from the glittering urban skylines, this portrait of a contemporary rural community in China offers extraordinary insights into everything from the role of religion to gender relationships to the place of social deviants.

Hadewijch
Bruno Dumont, France, 2009, 105m
A young woman searches for an absolute experience of faith-and in the process grows increasingly distant from the world around her.

Independencia
Raya Martin, Philippines, 2009, 77m
Maverick director Raya Martin offers a kind of alternative history of the Philippines and its struggle for nationhood in this stylized tale of a mother and son hiding in the mountains after the US takeover of the islands.

Inferno / L'Enfer
Serge Bromberg, France, 2009, 100m
A film buff's delight, Serge Bromberg film resurrects the surviving footage of Clouzot's aborted, experimental film L'Enfer, revealing a slightly mad but beguiling project that will always remain one of cinema's great "what ifs."

Kanikosen
Sabu, Japan, 2009, 109m
Kaniskosen is a highly stylized, stirring, manga-flavored update of a classic Japanese political novel, with labor unrest aboard a crab canning ship evolving into a cry of a younger generation aching to break the bonds of conformity.

Lebanon
Samuel Maoz, Israel, 2009, 92m
Debut director Samuel Maoz takes us inside an Israeli tank and the emotions of its crew during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

Life During Wartime
Todd Solondz, USA, 2009, 96m
Preparing for his bar-mitzvah, a young man must deal with his divorced mother's prospective fiancé as well as rumors that his own father is not really dead.

Min Yé
Souleymane Cissé, Mali/France, 2009, 135m
A work of startling originality, Souleymane Cisse's first film in over a decade insightfully and incisively chronicles the dissolution of an upper-middle class African marriage.

Mother/ Maedo
Bong Joon-ho, South Korea, 2009, 128m
Convinced that her son has been wrongly accused of murder, a widow throws herself body and soul into proving his innocence. Kim Hye-ja in the title role gives perhaps the performance of the year.

Ne Change Rien
Pedro Costa, France/Portugal, 2009, 103m
A shimmering valentine, Costa's latest is less a portrait than a kind of visual homage, to the artistry of actor and singer Jeanne Balibar.

Police Adjective / Politist, adj.
Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania, 2009, 115m
Discovering a teenager with hashish, a young policeman hesitates about turning him in. But his supervisor has other ideas in this beautifully acted, provocative modern morality play. An IFC Films release.

Room and a Half / Poltory Komnaty Ili Sentimentalnoe Puteshtvie Na Rodinu
Andrey Khrzhanovsky, Russia, 2009, 131m
Former animator Andrey Khrzhanovsky combines scripted scenes, archival footage, several types of animation, and surrealist flights of fancy to create this stirring portrait of poet Josef Brodsky and the postwar Soviet cultural scene. A Seagull Films release.

Sweetgrass
Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, USA, 2009, 105m
This breathtaking chronicle follows an ever-surprising group of modern-day cowboys as they lead an enormous herd of sheep up and then down the slopes of the Beartooth Mountains in Montana on their way to market.

Sweet Rush / Tatarak
Andrzej Wajda, Poland/France, 2009, 85m
Celebrated master Andrzej Wajda returns with a bold, experimental work that juxtaposes a story about a terminally doctor's wife rediscovering romance thanks with a heart-rending monologue written and performed by actress Krystyna Janda about the death of her husband.

To Die Like a Man / Morrer Como Um Homen
Joao Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal, 2009,138m
This touching, finely-etched portrait follows Tonia, a veteran drag performer confronting younger competition and her boyfriend's demands that she undergo a sex change.

Vincere
Marco Bellocchio, Italy, 2009, 129m
Mussolini's "secret" marriage to Ida Dalser, afterwards completely denied by Il Duce, along with the son born from the relationship, becomes the springboard for this visually ravishing meditation on the fascist manipulation of history. An IFC Films release.

White Material
Claire Denis, France, 2009, 100m
A handful of Europeans try to make sense of-and survive-the chaos happening all around them in an African country torn apart by civil war.

The White Ribbon / Das weisse band
Michael Haneke, Austria/France, 2009, 144m
The Palme d'Or winner at this year's Cannes Film Festival, this is a starkly beautiful meditation on the consequences of violence-physical, emotional, spiritual-in a northern German town on the eve of World War I. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

The Wizard of Oz
Victor Fleming, 1939, USA, 103m
The 70th Anniversary of the timeless classic, presented in a spectacular newly-restored edition makes the film a new experience even for those who practically have it memorized. A Warner Bros. release

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Outta Here! (in 48 hours)


I'm turning in a day early here. Heading down to Atlantic City, NJ on Friday for a 1 night stopover, then onto Ocean City, NJ for a family vacation. A family vacation that now also includes my sister's in-laws, their daughter, their other daughter and her husband and a couple they know. I think the peace and quiet may be in somewhat short supply. At least I won't look as Casper the Friendly Ghostish when I get back.
See everyone on August 10th!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

American Idiocy--Bikini Edition

Bikini Carjacker

Thank goodness she didn't have a gun on her, there's only one place I can think of where she could have concealed it, and that's just nasty.

Gasp!

This....got an official DVD release? Yay! I loved this show. Watched it every time Nickelodeon showed it on "The Third Eye". Now I can retire my crappy bootleg version. And why is it every time I buy some bootlegged curio at a convention, it shows up on DVD later? I'm looking at you, "Voyagers".

Besides that, this was a fabulously creepy British sci-fi series from the late 1970's. It's about a scientist father (Professor Brake) who, along with his son (Matthew), moves to the town of Milbury to study an ancient circle of stones there. The stones were rumored to have some sort of power, and as the father studies them, he and his son realize that all is not right in the town. Person by person, the townspeople are turning into "Happy Ones". Death and mystery ensue.

Can Professor Brake and Matthew discover the secret of the stones and save the townspeople before becoming "Happy Ones" themselves? You'll have to either buy the DVD, or ask me to make you a copy off the set I own to find out.

P.S. Ooooooh. "The Tomorrow People" on DVD also? My day is made. All's that left is for the USA to put out a version of the blog's namesake "Into the Labyrinth."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why wasn't I told about this?

City Chase NYC

Oh my God. This type of event is right up my alley. I would have loved to do something like this today. Why am I never up on these things before they happen? I need some new NY friends.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Place To Vent

Customers Suck

I worked retail for 14 years. All at Blockbuster Video. Generally, most days were quite pleasant. I was usually able to defuse most situations pretty quickly. However, there were times when all one could do was shake with anger after a customer left. Luckily, I found the above outlet. Customers Suck. It's a website devoted to retail workers, teachers, IT people, whoever, telling their stories about the sucky customers that make it harder to get through the day.

Even though it's been 4 years since I've been in retail, I still enjoy heading over there to see what others have to put up with. It makes me feel a little better knowing I'm not dealing with customers like that anymore. The best stories, of course, are the ones where the customer gets pwned.

So if anyone reading this has a job where you deal with the horrible public, head on
over, create an account, click on forums and share your stories. It feels good to get them off your chest, and the others posters will offer sympathy.

(Someday, I'll share some of the more interesting characters I met while working at Blockbuster.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

10%



Yay! I finally got my 10 percent key chain from Weight Watchers! I actually earned it a few weeks ago, but the stellar employees there had a little trouble realizing that 10% of 200lbs is 20lbs and not 25lbs. Oh well. I have it now. That leaves only about 13 lbs to go before I reach my goal. After that, I guess it will be my personality that repels the guys I am attracted to.

Time to celebrate. Bananas with Hershey's Chocolate Syrup! (Lite syrup, of course)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reasons for Dorkitude #23: Large Animal Statues

For some reason, I can't resist posing in front of large statues of animals.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Answer

Sorry all.....the answer to The Man was.....SCHRANK

It was John F. Schrank that shot President Theodore Roosevelt in Milwaukee.

The Story:

The Bull Moose
Cattle Rancher, Commissioner of Police. Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York. He was also the youngest president in American history, rising to sudden and unexpected power at the age of 42 when President McKinley was assassinated.

Roosevelt is most famous today for two things: the 'teddy bear', which is named after the man himself, and his dream project, the Panama Canal.

A canal across Central America had been a dream of travellers, exporters and explorers since the early 16th century. Roosevelt, a sometime explorer himself, certainly knew the cachet that such a project held. Before the canal, a ship sailing from the Atlantic to Pacific had to sail around the very dangerous Cape Horn, at the very southern tip of South America.

It took ten years, hundreds of millions of dollars, and cost hundreds of lives, but Roosevelt's army completed the impossible: The Panama Canal, linking the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, opened officially on August 15, 1914, and American troops have never left 'the Free Republic' of Panama since.

Roosevelt declined the opportunity to run for a third term, nominating his friend William Taft, to represent his party. He was later convinced, however, to run against Taft, even though he had to form a new third party, the National Progressive Party, in order to do so. The party was more often called The Bull Moose Party, because Roosevelt, when once asked whether he was in shape enough for another campaign, remarked that he was 'fit as a bull moose.'

The campaign was one of the most bitter and dark in American political history, with Roosevelt fighting more against his 'old friend' Taft than either of them fought against their common enemy, Woodrow Wilson.

But it could be said that Roosevelt's vision protected him in more ways than one. It was in Milwaukee, at the height of the campaign, when he was hit by a gunshot from a barkeeper named John Schrank.



The Barkeep
John F. Schrank, born in Bavaria, came to America at the age of 13. His parents died soon after, and Schrank came to work for his uncle, a New York tavern owner and landlord. Upon their deaths, Schrank's aunt and uncle left him these valuable properties, from which it was expected he could live a quiet and peaceful life. But Schrank was heartbroken, having now lost not only his second set of 'parents', but his first and only girlfriend, in a ferry accident in New York's East River.

Schrank sold the properties, and drifted around the East Coast for years. He became profoundly religious, and a fluent Bible scholar whose debating skills were well-known around his neighborhood's watering holes and public parks. He wrote spare and vivid poetry. He spent a great deal of time walking around city streets at night. He caused no documented trouble.

It is unclear when his interest in domestic politics so flared that he would attempt to kill Roosevelt. It is known that he was a staunch opponent (to say the least) of a sitting President's ability to seek a third term in office.

He claimed, later, that he had nothing against the man himself, and he did not intend to kill 'the citizen Roosevelt', but rather 'Roosevelt, the third termer.' He claimed to have shot Roosevelt as a warning to other third termers, and claimed further that it was the ghost of President McKinley that told him to perform the act.

It didn't take long for Schrank to be declared insane. The doctors that examined him reported that the man was suffering from 'insane delusions, grandiose in character.'

While millions of Americans wanted him executed, Schrank lived on in a mental hospital. He died there, many years later.

The Bullet
Schrank's bullet, which struck very close to Roosevelt's heart on that cold Milwaukee night, was deflected by the glasses case in his pocket and lodged itself 'harmlessly' in his ample chest. It may also have been cushioned somewhat by the speech that Roosevelt was carrying, neatly folded, in the same breast pocket.

Roosevelt went on to deliver that very speech, that very night, before visiting the hospital to have the bullet removed. As it turned out, the bullet was lodged in his fourth rib, and doctors decided to treat the wound and leave the bullet in place. It remained there for the rest of Roosevelt's life.

His vision couldn't save him twice, though. His third-party split the political right, and he collected only 4,118,571 votes, compared to Woodrow Wilson's 6,296,547. (Taft placed third with 3,486,720).

Retiring from politics, Roosevelt led two expeditions into the Amazon jungle in 1913 and 1914, returning only when he succumbed to malaria.

In 1919, though he was weakened by his sickness, deaf in one ear and blind in one eye (he lost it while boxing at the White House), he was still widely rumored to be planning another run for the Presidency. He didn't live long enough to make any such announcement, however.

Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth president of the United States and the protagonist of everyone's favorite palindrome, died unexpectedly of complications resulting from a blood clot in his heart, on January 6, 1919.

©Rod Bruinooge

Saturday, July 18, 2009

WATCH THIS NOW

Treevenge

The less I say about this masterpiece, the more you will enjoy it. Go to the site, start it, make it full screen and enjoy. Best short film I've ever seen. Also NSFW, no nudity though.

Friday, July 17, 2009

1916-2009



I've spent many an hour at the Museum of Television and Radio watching old broadcasts of his. I have vague memories of Cronkite growing up; I was only 8 when he retired from CBS news. Still, as a lover of pop culture, it's always sad to see one of the greats go.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Man

Puzzle today. Explanation later. Can anyone solve?

5:3 The Man

Find the question above, and the answer will follow. Begin.

(The picture can be embiggened by clicking on it.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I will hunt these people down.



As I've previously stated, I am a child of adoption. No clue who my birth father is, but I do enjoy wondering from time to time. Somehow, I managed to combine this line of thinking with my love of game shows and have concluded that Jim Perry would make a great father. (Hmm....I should do a rundown soon of my favorite shows/hosts...see how my thoughts match up with the other 93% of people who read this blog for 0-5 seconds a day.)

Anyhoo, imagine my horror when I came across this clip on You Tube. I do not appreciate anybody dissing on my imaginary father. I can only hope that whoever these people are, they suffered greatly after committing this slight.

$1400

That's what I need right now. Maybe I should set up one of those web sites pleading people for money. There's always a few who seem to respond to requests like that.

Avoided!



Back in NY in one piece thanks to the crew of American Airlines. Posting of random crap to resume.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Up, Up and Away



Off to Pasadena, CA this weekend for a visit with the grandfather. I shall return next Tuesday. May all have a great weekend!