Sunday, December 30, 2007
The full ballot is now available, and voting will now be extended until January 6. This should give you time to vote and re-vote as need be.
Thanks again for participating, and I look forward to recapping the results for you next month!
Happy New Year, all!
Last year, "Superman Returns" won the coin-toss over "X-Men III" (though, in retrospect, I have to call both of those choices into question). This year was a great year for movies, and I know, for me, it will be tough to pick just five, let alone the one best film of the year.
Good luck, Slackie Academy voters.
Will "Smallville" be unseated from its throne this year? Hey, anything can happen.
Do your part, and vote below!
Which book that was published this year (or that you read this year, I'll even allow that) should be given the 2007 Slackie? You decide!
Which item/product/work of art or genius do you think should deserve more recognition this year? Enlighten us, with your vote below.
Which event/item/product (any medium) will get your vote this year?
Which major news event gets your vote this year?
Which non-story has gotten too many headlines this year? Write your letter to the editor and vote below.
Pull the lever for your "favorite" below.
Which lingering celebrity earns your ire this year? Vote now!
Which new celebrity are you already sick of? Vote now!
(My personal vote: Paste Magazine for their "pay-what-you-want" subscription drive this year.)
Make your voices heard below.
What tasty beverage will slurp up the prize this year?
(Note: The term "non-adult" is meant to refer to drinks that don't require an age limit to purchase or consume, not drinks that you would give to children. Thus, coffee drinks are okey-dokey.)
Saturday, December 22, 2007
(So tempted to make an Alana Davis reference here.)
When you vote, provide a link also if you can, so that others can check out your choice.
Friday, December 21, 2007
This year, the contest rules have again been updated and improved, and I think most of you will better appreciate the new set-up.
In the past, you (the readers) have suggested nominees and have voted on your favorites, but the winner has always been decided by our panel of judges--namely, me. Then we tried allowing your votes to "count" or whatever, but the nomination process became tedious.
Your cries and complaints at the injustice of this set-up have landed on deaf ears--until now.
To review yesterday's post, here's how the NEW new system is going to work:
- I'll post the category, and you'll cast your vote. If you can't think of anything, you may copy someone else's. If you vote and then change your mind, you may change your vote if you make it clear that you are doing so. The phrase "VOTE CHANGE" is very helpful.
- The nominee with the most votes wins. The only exception is what I'm going to call the special "Judge's Choice" award. I will be allowed up to 3 overrides to be used when I think a vote is lopsided and a more worthy choice does not receive the award as it should. If I use the "Judge's Choice" option, I'll also list the popular favorite.
- All ties will be decided by a fair and balanced coin toss.
- Nominations DO automatically count as votes.
- Votes from all over the world are eligible, but no spam-bot-like voting to make sure your favorite science fiction TV show about robot races trying to crush humanity wins the category. I'm looking at you, Trev.
The voting begins... NOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOW...
FIRST THREE CATEGORIES ARE BELOW!!!
Note: All voting is still for entertainment value only, but still has bearing on actual contest results. Contest winners are decided based on the majority/plurality of reader votes, except in the case of "Judge's Prize" vote overrides. The voting will be overseen by the PBB panel of expert judges, and all results will be verified by the accounting firm of Fine, Howard, and Fine. All ties will be decided scientifically (a coin toss). Unlike previous years, the method of picking a number between one and ten will not be used, since most of the nominees are works of art and/or inantimate objects, and cannot pick numbers or communicate their choices. Winners will be notified within three years via Pony Express. The management and staff of PBB/ATDTT, Inc. waive all responsibility of any injuries, arguments, or hurt feelings that may result from this contest or the ensuing voting in the comment box. Don't say we didn't warn you. You must be at least 5 years old in order to vote in all categories. Wyoming voters are now eligible. Contest is still void in New Hampshire, because you people get all pissy about election primaries. Who cares what you think, a full year before the election? Consider yourself voted OUT.
ADDENDUM: That last comment was not meant to insult or demean Iowans, who are equally pissy about election primaries. But the fact is, I'm not sure if you folks are eligible to vote in this contest yet, because you haven't decided among yourselves if it's pronounced "Eye-oh-wuh" or "Eye-oh-way." Get your own house in order before you come calling 'round here.
Any genre, any format. Give the name of the character and what they're best known for.
Any genre, any format. Give the character's name and what they are best known for.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
--Some of the Christmas cards have been sent. The rest will be sent tomorrow. You'll get them...sometime next week. Hopefully.
--The usual "end of the year" posting you have come to expect and endure here at PBB will be slightly modified this year. I'm going to be travelling and doing other things, so the year-end book list, mixtape soundtrack, and other such things will come eventually, but it may be during the first couple weeks of 2008. And yes, that includes my much-delayed Boston pictures.
But the key thing is, the Fourth Annual PBB "Slackie" Awards (TM) will be conducted in a different way. No more confusing "nomination vs. actual vote" process. Over the next ten days, I'll be posting the categories, and you will be asked to vote in each category. If you vote and then find a better choice, tell me in the comments to change your vote to your new selection. Your final answer will be the one counted. All voting closes at midnight on December 31, so make sure to check back daily so that your voice can be heard and your vote can be counted.
Hopefully this will help clear some things up. Expect the Slackie "intro" post and the first few categories to be opened up tomorrow. [If you've never experienced the PBB "Slackies," feel free to read up.]
I just finished watching The Prisoner last night. Thank you for a compelling and bizarre television series. It really was one of a kind--and in a good way.
I simply loved the concept and the way it was carried out. Your portrayal of Number 6 was often hilarious and exciting. The rotating carousel of "new Number 2's" kept things fresh (though my favorite was, of course, Leo McKern). The writing was at times very crisp, the symbolism was thick without being pedantic, and the stories were often very gripping.
I do have to say that I started to lose a little faith toward the end. While I was willing to forgive the bizarreness of "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling," the episodes "Living in Harmony" and "The Girl Who was Death" were a bit too stagey for me. The show was most entertaining when it was firmly grounded in the pseudo-"reality" of the Village itself. Dream sequences and other cutesy machinations only served to distract from an otherwise great show. And really, "Death" was just a waste, slipping sadly to the level of an Adam West "Batman" episode, but without the helpful "BAMs" and "POWWWs."
Which brings me to "Fall Out." I was at once thrilled and perplexed by this episode. There were so many unusual visual and aural elements to take in and organize. So many images carried some sort of symbolic weight, though I had trouble really "getting" them on the first run through. I love the kangaroo court that ensues. I love No. 48's character. I love the hallucinatory feel of the episode.
But I hated the ending. I thought the reveal of No. 1 was a bit of a cop-out. I really would have preferred that there was no reveal of No. 1, or it's revealed that No. 1 was a machine, or that he wasn't really even there at that location, and was some desk clerk in London. Maybe one of those alternatives was really what you meant, and I just didn't get it. But the overthrow of the court, and the ensuing escape seemed very odd.
I loved that the butler stayed with No. 6, and that the number on his (self-opening) door was "1." Maybe that tells me all I need to know.
It was an odd way to end the series. Something tells me that was outside of your control, and I sympathize. I'd like to think that you weren't pleased to have to end it that way either. There's a sense of tension and disquiet in the ending. Perhaps that was just my projection upon the episode.
Despite my criticisms, however, I have to say that your program was one of the best television stories I've ever seen, and that all of the best TV storytellers currently spinning their tales owe you a great debt of gratitude for opening up the medium to the idea of a series being a difficult, abstract, and ultimately rewarding journey. Thank you for your artistic vision.
Be seeing you,
(call me No. 52)
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I've gotten mellower now, and have developed more of a tolerance. I'm not quite at the "non-stop from Thanksgiving to Christmas" level yet. (My mother lives at that level.) But I can definitely appreciate Christmas music a whole lot more.
However, that doesn't mean I like all Christmas music. In fact, certain songs still just annoy the tar out of me--so much so that I feel it's my duty to unofficially indict these musical crimes and misdemeanors.
Here they are, then: PBB's List of Christmas-themed Musical Crimes.
[A Word of Disclaimer: If you like these songs, that's cool. If you think I'm being unnecessarily grumpy or negative, that's fine. Whatever, maybe I am, so what? These are the five songs that I avoid like the plague. Songs that make me turn the radio dial immediately, or off completely if they keep popping up. I'd rather listen to my truck engine idle than sit through these cheesefests ever again. But maybe it's just me, so whatever.]
#5: "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano
I almost didn't list this one, becuase really, it's harmless. But the sad fact is that this song is the "Margaritaville" of Christmas carols--everyone knows the words, everyone sings along with the song, and then everyone is deeply embarrassed afterwards. No Christmas carol should cause this much shame. And honestly, the lyrics aren't that inspiring. No magnificent angelic host, no inspiring star, no world laying pining in sin and error, no captive Israel. Just some dude saying Merry Christmas over and over and over. He doesn't even wish us a prosperous New year "from the bottom of his heart." What's up, Jose? Did you run out of sincere sentiment halfway through?
#4: "Jingle Bell Rock" by Billy Idol
Normally this song would be okay, but I hold against it that it turned Billy Idol into this:
I have no words for how much this disturbs me.
#3: "Santa Baby" by anyone who thinks it's still sexy.
Memo to everyone singing this song ever: You are neither Cynthia Basinet* nor Eartha Kitt. You will never sound like Cynthia Basinet or Eartha Kitt. Attempting to sing this song as if you were Cynthia Basinet or Eartha Kitt only demonstrates how ridiculous and incredibly annoying this song sounds. Plus, it makes you look sad and desperate. Please stop. For the love of Christmas, please stop.
*Thanks to Ash at cynthiabasinet.com for the correction. (But I still hate the song--no offense.)
#2: "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney
First, take everything remotely awesome about 80's synth music. Okay, ready? Now smash it with a candy cane until it's completely unrecognizable and repulsive. Once you're done with that, let it rot for about a year, and then set it on fire. Put out the flames with old pondwater, and then smother it with about 15 gallons of watered down vanilla frosting. What you'll have will still be more palatable than this turd, produced by one-fourth of the greatest band of the twentieth century.
The video is frightening and may in some subconscious way be intended to dissuade kids from doing drugs during the holidays. The disembodied piano-playing hands and the star people freak me out. At about 1:45 into the video, the Spanish Inquisition shows up (unexpected, natch). There's duelling Pauls, some kind of fire, angels vandalizing buildings. I'm giving you the high points here.
What stinks is that there is actually a decent version by Jars of Clay, but I can't enjoy it, because Sir Paul's original is forever tainted.
#1: "Christmas Shoes" by Newsong
If there were ever a tune deserving of criminal prosecution, it's this one--and I say this with absolutely no exaggeration. I can't even express how much I loathe this song. Some of these tracks annoy me, or stick in my mind like a burr that I can't remove. But this one makes me angry, to the point of minor violence. Why? Because it's expressly created to make you cry. A little boy is buying new shoes for his mother, so she'll be pretty when she dies and goes to Heaven tonight.
Holy. Freaking. Crap. And the kid can't afford the shoes, and a stranger buys them for him. For his mom who's dying of some unspecified disease. Because apparently Daddy can't get his butt to the store with his young son to buy the frigging shoes.
The stage-whispery vocals. The telegraphed musical swells at the bridge. The FREAKING CHILDREN'S CHOIR SINGING THE CHORUS AFTER THE BRIDGE!
AAARRRRRGGGGGGHHH!!! MUST SMASH!!!! MUST SMASH!!!!!!!!
I hate you, Newsong. I hate you very very much.
Monday, December 17, 2007
The entirety of "It's a Wonderful Life" in glorious black and white (no offense*).
Consider this a top-level Teacherdave/PBB recommendation. Watch this before you watch any other film I've recommended to you this year. It's a beautiful film that's unfairly pigeon-holed as a "Christmas" movie. It's not. It's just a masterpiece, no matter what time of year.
[*If you got this throwaway reference, give yourself 5 bonus points and an Abbie-Normal brain.]
- If you haven't already done some investigation on the author and intent of "The Golden Compass," here are two articles (from Christian websites, so obviously a little biased) on the book series and its opinionated author.
- Here's a dose of C. S. Lewis to cleanse the palate: the trailer for the new Narnia film, "Prince Caspian."
- Arm yourself: here's Wizard Magazine's list of the 50 coolest weapons.
- Leave it to the Onion to perfectly capture the unabashed narcissism of the blogger.
- The Georgia Baptist Convention approved a resolution denouncing Baptists who blog, stating that blogging "has become a tool for personal attacks on Christians and promotes a negative view of the SBC." My response? That guy's a turd. (Just kidding.) [h-t: BHT]
- Speaking of church: Have you ever gotten the feeling that some of the people promoting the seeker-sensitive approach to church may be going a bit too far? [h-t: TeamPyro's meta]
- Want some scoopage on the new Indiana Jones movie? Ta-daa. (Not the Drama Bug.)
- Honestly, this was bound to happen sooner or later, wasn't it? I just hope it's the start of a new emphasis in law enforcement--an era of arresting and prosecuting anyone caught singing Guns-N-Roses songs who is not immediately identified as "1980's" Axl Rose.
- LOST! Back January 31! Here's the newest trailer! (The big shocker of the trailer is...*spoiler in red Pig-Latin* Arlie-chay is ack-bay? Aaaaaaaaang-day.)
- For some reason, I didn't realize the Oscar nominees for Best Song were drawn from such a large list. Personally, I'm pulling for songs from Dan in Real Life, Music and Lyrics, and Once (which I still haven't seen!).
- "Dark Knight" updates: New posters. New Trailer. SomeRandomChristmas.
- More anticipated movie-ness: Cloverfield! video scoop.
- Anybody remember watching the old children's show "Today's Special"? No reason, I just enjoyed the awesome 80's flashback. That was a great show.
- Stereogum has named this bizarrely awesome video the third-best music video of 2007. I think it's hilarious and can't stop watching it, but unless you are nominally familiar with the comedian Zach Galifianakis, you won't enjoy it as much as I do. (Also, since it's a Kanye West song, there is some bad language, so be advised.)
Thursday, December 13, 2007
And all through the 'Nets
All the PBB readers
Were placing their bets.
"Do you think that ol' Teacher
will really come through
With Noel cards for me
And with cards still for you?"
"Well that all depends,"
said one lad. "Now, confess:
Have you yet sent Teacherdave
Your home address?"
Said his mate, "No, not I!
Oh, say there is yet time!
I can't miss out this year
On his clever rhyme!"
The wiser boy cheered,
"There is hope, don't dismay!
Email him your home info,
For you still have one day!"
And throughout the webiverse
There rang peals of glee!
For one day remained
To get Dave's poetry.
So, write slackerlitgeek
at gmail dot com.
List the numbers and words
that help mail find your home.
And soon, very soon,
(well, a couple of weeks),
you'll hear from the clown-prince
of slacker lit-geeks.
I have to add one thing,
and then I must be gone:
I won't dress like Santa
and I jiggle for no-one.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
(to ask for a christmas card from teacherdave.)
Just a reminder. Need your mailing addresses by Friday. I'll be sending out my cards this weekend, hopefully.
Gimme a holler, as the old folks say.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Aimee Mann, "Just Like Anyone" (another tribute written for Jeff; best version I could find)
If you don't know Buckley's work, you owe it to yourself to check him out.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I'm making my 2007 Christmas card list. (Yes, I'm actually going to do them this year...unlike the last two years. Ahem.)
Do you want a Christmas card from me? If so, email your mailing address to slackerlitgeek-at-gmail-dot-com. (Not literally to that hyphenated phrase, but you know the drill.) If you get it to me before, say, next Friday, I'll send you a Christmas card with a little message inside. Personalized? You betcha. Maybe even a poem or a drawing. Who knows.
By participating and emailing your address, you are agreeing to the following conditions:
1) You won't spam my email inbox with forwards or mailing lists that I don't ask for, because that's not nice; and,
2) You won't use the return address on the envelope to stalk me. Seriously not nice.
If you agree to these terms, email away. And you'll get mail! From someone you've probably never met in real life! How awesome is that!
--three kinds of cheese (Camembert, Roquefort, and something else)
--bone marrow (it had the consistency of chicken fat)
--Fois gras (goose liver pate)
And now that I'm back home, my culinary adventures are over, at least for now. Eating this way all the time is expensive!
Monday, December 03, 2007
My three coworkers and I just came from the most amazing meal experience of my life.
Meal "experience," Dave? Yes.
During every business trip, we try to go to one really upscale restaurant and blow a lot of money on a fancy dinner. This trip, it was what we were assured was the best restaurant in Boston.
Ain't no lie, my friends.
The decor seemed hip/classic. Lots of dark woods. Medium-dim lighting. Good music (Imogen Heap was a favorite). The menu was very self-assured and ostensibly snooty. I was going to go with the "fish and chips," since it was 1) the cheapest entree, and 2) the most normal choice.
One coworker said, "I wonder what the five-course taste meal is." I could tell you what it was--four times the price of my first selection.
Turns out the five course meal was a special chef-prepared feast, with all of the flavors and choices specifically planned to blend together. But it could only be ordered for the full table. Everyone was immediately on board but me. I finally acquiesced. Good choice, Dave.
My only concern at the start was, "No sushi." I have a standing policy against raw meat. The waiter, who was the spitting image of Omar Epps, went and asked the chef about this. Turns out there would be sushi. Feeling adventurous, and at the urging of all three tablemates, I agreed. Bring it on, I'm ready to go for it.
The idea of the five-course taste menu is to use small portions, so that lots of different flavors can be experienced. I was worried that I'd still be hungry, after a meal of what I expected to be miniature dabs of food. I was working with a media-fed expectation of "snooty restaurant food." My boss assured me we'd go find real food afterwards. That wasn't necessary.
I wish I could remember every detail of the symphony of food we experienced tonight. I can only give you the highlights. [Sara, you'll have to fill in what I missed, if you can remember.]
First dish: A miniature fish taco, essentially. Very tasty. Very small, no more than two inches long. Cute, but it didn't give me confidence that this meal would be worth the price. I kept eating the rolls, just in case it was more of the same. I had too many rolls.
Second dish: A trio of sushi choices. My boss told me afterwards that I stepped up and tried "graduate-level" sushi, instead of working my way up. I will say that I'm not likely to pursue further instruction; but the experience was good. I don't remember the exact details, sorry, though I know one was a tartar, one was a roll, and one was just a two-square-inch piece of flaming red fish. The first bite of each was okay. The second bites of the slab and the roll kicked in my gag reflex a little. But I got it down.
Third dish: More sushi. This was apparently my boss' favorite. It was topped with bits of real bacon, a fried quail egg, a few other things, and caviar. Caviar. Seriously. There was also a really tasty sauce. This bit of sushi was actually good. The warmth of the egg helped.
Fourth dish: Grilled fish. A halibut, I think. On a pile of veggies, with two different kinds of sauces ringed around, one buttery, one lemony. YUM. Not so yum: among the veggies were a few anchovies, which I'd never had before and didn't rave about, but the sauces cut some of the strong flavor down.
We thought that there would be one more to come. I said, "It wasn't a lot, but it was a good experience, and I tried new things. This was good." But then the brilliantly-skilled and top-notch waitstaff layed out forks and knives. More? There's more?
Five courses. Not five dishes.
Fifth Dish: Venison, medium-rare. More veggies. Venison reduction. Other things going on. This dish was a little too sweet, but I didn't want to miss it, so I ate a good bit of it.
Sixth Dish: Watermelon champagne sorbet. Cleansed the palate (though I'm not jazzed about the slight champagne-y aftertaste).
Seventh Dish(es): For the grand finale, four different desserts. I can't remember all the detail, but there were two cannolis, a butterscotch pudding, chocolate beignets, a praline ice cream with an amazing psuedo-cookie platform, and some kind of custard I couldn't pronounce. We all shared these amazing desserts, and then I had a cappucino afterwards.
I haven't done this meal justice; there were so many flavors and combinations and little touches that made it amazing.
We sat at the table for just over three hours. My share of the bill came out to more than my family of five would spend for a meal together. But I have to tell you, my friends, the shared experience was worth every penny.
New things I tried tonight:
four types of sushi;
a few new types of desert;
and various veggies that until now were little more than spelling words to me.
I don't think I'll be live-blogging the rest of my trip, but I am doing something creative offline (with paper! and ink!), so I may share that when/if I think it's ripened enough.
I'll be back by the end of the week (or by next week, at the latest) with my usual brand of inanity. And hopefully, Boston pictures! (It snowed last night!!!)
And I'll also tell you about a book I finished last night that has become my all-time favorite book about music. That's your teaser.
Take care, and be excellent to each other.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I think it was a fair question, actually, and some of the candidates were quite, well, candid about their thoughts.
Turns out, this brig. general was also a Hillary Clinton campaign supporter.
Not just a supporter, but a national co-chair for the "Veterans and Military Retirees for Hillary" committee.
I don't think this is really a big deal--like I said, it's a fair question worth an answer.
But it's just funny, because this sort of thing seems to keep happening from the Clinton camp.
And really, as soon as I heard, I thought of this movie, and had to post something about it, just to justify the title.
Insta-Grow Update: Turns out there were MANY plants in the questions last night. At least three other "undecided" questioners were in fact VERY decided Democrat voters. [h-t: Say Anything.]
In the words of Gomer Pyle: "Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise!"
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I was almost sprinting to the beverage fountain to keep from snickering in front of her.
I wonder if they teach the recognition of irony in med school?
On second thought: The very best part of this anecdote is that the contestant never actually said "and like" a single time. She did break out the "like-such-as" twice, but that's it.
Here's the video.
Pretty forthright, eh? I won't comment on the particular candidates' answers. Instead, I'd like to answer it myself.
Yes. I believe that every word of the Bible, faithfully translated from the original text, is what God intended for us to have as His divinely-inspired and revealed Truth. I believe it is perfect, without error, consistent, and applicable to this or any age. I believe it's the best and most specific way to understand who God really is, and to know what He expects of us.
Parts of it are history. Parts of it are poetry. Parts are symbolic and prophetic. Parts are hyperbolic. For example, Jesus doesn't want us to cut off our hands or pluck out our eyes; he wants us to treat sin as seriously as the Father does.
So to say "yes, I believe" doesn't mean that I literally follow every word, because I don't think that's what was intended. But I never doubt the truth of the Bible. As for the most fantastic parts--the six-day creation, the prophet-swallowing whale, the parted sea--I accept them as fact, because I have no reason other than my human incredulity to believe otherwise. If I believe in a God powerful enough to create the world, I'm not going to say, "Six days? Now you're putting me on. Be more realistic." The miraculous parts of the Bible are easy for me to believe, because I believe in a God who can do miracles.
So yes. That's what I believe. I'm not afraid of it, or ashamed of it.
You will write your books, Dave, and they won't be bestsellers, but you will get them published and they will sell a few copies to a small, devoted following. Some of the rest will end up on this wall, marked down to one or two dollars. But that's okay, because then someone like you will find them and love them and share them with their friends.
And then one day, someone like you will stand right here, running their fingertips across the spines of your work, the work you sweated and cried over for years and that's now been reduced for quick sale, and they will realize that they too will never write bestsellers, but that the books they publish will be bought by a devoted following, and will end up on this rack too, to be enjoyed by the next generation of mediocre but passionate writers. And so it will continue.
And I was okay with that.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
This morning was an adventure in emotional babysitting. I'm so predictable. If I'm not sleeping enough, if I'm not eating right, if I start forsaking any sort of spiritual discipline, I get cranky and self-absorbed and petty and depressed.
Pour me out
Til there's nothing left of me
Pour me out
Thankfully, I've started to recognize when this happens. I'm able to press "save as draft" instead of "post" when I write narcissistic blog-rants about how misunderstood or unaccepted or unappreciated I am. (I've got too much ego to just delete them. Every writer secretly thinks he's brilliant, whether he admits it or not.)
Pour me out
So that someday I might see
Pour me out
My greatest needs right now are to learn to connect better with others and to become more generous. I've gotten too insular and comfortable with my life. I need to start stretching. Stretching is hard. And I've become afraid of opening up to others, and giving myself away to others. The irony is, these two things are vital to the working out of my faith. If I stop reaching out to others in love and service, I stop acting like a Christian. These two characteristics really captured how Jesus lived on earth.
I want to lose myself
In finding You
Embracing grace and facing truth
Tear down these walls that dim
The shape I'm in
I used to teach Bible study every week, but in the last six months, I've had the benefit of having a co-teacher. This is a blessing, but it's also a bit of a hinderance. Only being responsible to teach once every two weeks opens up the opportunity to be lazy. To not commit myself to study and prayer as deeply as I had to when I was responsible for teaching each week. And I'm a phenomenally lazy person. "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it." Lately, I've been wandering a lot. I'm ashamed of this.
Pour me out
From my river to Your sea
Pour me out
Pour me out
Let me ride on waves of peace
Pour me out
Days like today, I lose sight of the fact that I'm very small, and God is very big. That my plans are tiny and short-sighted, and that His plans are great and wide and far-reaching. That my minor emotional drama often has little or no place in His epic. Perspective. That's the word for it. And I start to realize that my efforts and emotions and words and actions have of late been spent on things that don't last, that don't matter, that don't help me grow. It's easy to fall into the quicksand of "total entertainment" that beguiles so much of my generation. To live my life with the focus of being happy and well-fed and never ever bored. I've got to get out of this mindset. To broaden my view. To live for something higher and lasting. These days, I'm not doing much of that.
I want to understand
This greater plan
How character can shape a man
Your image surrounding me
Pray that will be
I often write posts like this. Observational, confessional. But there's a twinge of dishonesty in posts like these. I probably make it sound like I'm coming to some great and life-changing realization, and that my life will never be the same again. Most of the time, it's just talk. This is what I do. This is my business. Words and sentences. Emotional appeals. Clever turns of phrase, and tightly-knit conclusions. I want what I write to be true, but I'm no good on follow-through. So in the end, it's really a curse. To him who knows the good he should do and doesn't do it, to him it is sin. And that's how it is for me. I know what I'm supposed to do. I know what I need to surrender, so that Christ can change it in me. But I don't. I just talk. So here you go, kids. More talk. Hope it helps you. It's not helping me much.
Monday, November 26, 2007
turn the knob, clear the image, and begin
to relive something so far behind you
that 1000x magnification is needed to
detect the soft outlines of its arc?
stars are only pretty when they sparkle far away.
is your plan to place that insult on a microscope slide,
those small words from that small person,
and twist-turn the wheels and line it up right
so you can see inside all of its mitochondrial spite?
don't flagellate yourself with the cruelty of others, kid.
would you rather dig a hole with your past mistakes, and then
keep on digging till the walls cave in above you,
because you think it's too late for forgiveness and
past due for love, and there's no one who will accept you
without judgment, without disdain, without changing you first?
quit using those old bones to dig your grave. let them rest, and rise up.
or will you help me find my way back to self-respect,
so that i'm not ashamed every time I look in the mirror,
every time i hear myself speak, every time i remember how
i never told any of the women i loved that i loved them?
i don't want to make the same mistake with you.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
"Stuttering" by Ben's Brother [Dentyne Ice Gum]
"The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson [Gap--sweaters, i think]
"You are My Face" by Wilco [VW Jetta]
"Molly's Chambers" by Kings of Leon [VW Jetta]
"This is the Day" by The The [M&Ms]
Monday, November 19, 2007
If you haven't been keeping up with the Hollywood writers' strike, or need an overview, the following is submitted for your perusal:
Two weeks ago, the Writers Guild of America--the creative artists union that is comprised of writers from television and movies--decided to strike. The key issues related to the renegotiation of their contracts were focused on the question of residuals--how much of a cut an individual involved in the process gets on the resale of the product. This is akin to novelists' royalties.
Back in the late 80's--the last time there was a writers' strike--this was also the issue. At that time, the home video market was struggling, and the WGA agreed to take a smaller-than-requested cut on the residuals from something called a "VHS tape." Some of you older readers will have to fill me in on what that is. (Kidding.)
This time, the union wants their cut--which translates into literal pennies per DVD--to be doubled. Also, they want residuals for the other media platforms that their work could be transferred to, such as online paid viewings (e.g. iTunes), mobile phone broadcasts, and other formats that were unthought-of in the era of the previous contract.
The producers and studios are having none of this, insisting that the writers are getting enough, that they're receiving their fair share already. The deadlines for arbitration passed, and on November 5, the WGA was on strike.
The opening impact of this strike was obviously felt on the late-night talk shows and weekly shows like SNL--shows that are constantly writing that night's or week's scripts and don't have a stack of scripts already completed. But the ripples are already starting to spread.
Most TV shows were halfway through production, so many will have shortened seasons. Some were prepared with hastily-written season-ending stories, while others just ended. Some shows slated for 2008 premieres are going with a much shorter season, are airing the episodes they have in the can and hoping for quick resolution, or are not starting at all.
So the question is: how many episodes left do I have of my favorite TV show? Look for your answers here.
So what does TeacherDave think of the WGA strike?
Historically, I've been anti-union. My dad has been management for practically all of his professional life. And he's one of the good ones. But he's had to deal with unions for years, and strikes that happened back when my dad was in the grocery business back meant that he had to do practically any and all jobs in the store to keep it running. It was a miserable time for him, because like everyone else, he was just trying to do his job. So seeing and experiencing that, I have a natural distrust of unions.
That being said, I have to side with the writers on this one. A writer should get royalties or residuals for their work. Same with print media. If I write a book, and agree to terms for paperback and book-on-tape royalties, I'd want a cut if there were three new media formats that my work was being translated into. The next time I negotiated my contract, I'd insist that I should get compensated.
Something I notice about a lot of these discussions is that many folks who side with the companies against the strikers cite the fact that they should just be happy they have a job, or just be happy they are being paid to write at all. There is often an undertone that, if they don't like it, they should get a real job. This type of thinking gets under my skin. I work at a computer all day, but it doesn't negate the work I do. Just because I don't sweat and get dirty and have calloused hands doesn't mean I work any less or contribute any less. Some may disagree, and that's fine. I would argue that the work of the artist makes the life of the laborer more worthwhile and enjoyable.
The other argument I've seen is that this move by the WGA is motivated by greed, and that these "fat-cat" writers shouldn't be so money-grubbing. It's interesting how it quickly becomes a class issue--a matter of "those rich people" just trying to get richer. (How dare they!) The fact is, the average writer makes enough money to be classified middle to upper-middle class at best. Sometimes it's months or years between paychecks. Residuals for these writers are bread and butter.
Here's an interesting editorial about the strike. The author sides with the WGA and provides what I think is a fairly reasoned argument.
A few links for those who feel strongly:
- There's a petition of TV viewers supporting the WGA. It costs you nothing to sign it, if you agree.
- And if you feel really strongly, a more hands-on approach is being taken. Viewers are mailing boxes of pencils to the CEOs of the companies, on behalf of their favorite shows, as a sign of support for the scribblers.
It hurts me, this strike does. "The Big Bang Theory" has already gone dark. "How I Met Your Mother," "Chuck," "Heroes," and "Journeyman" will quickly follow. "Smallville" will last until February, but that's mainly because the next two or three episodes will be spread out over the next three months. And all that leaves me are "The Biggest Loser" and "Kid Nation" (my new, fascinating "guilty pleasure" show), which are both more than halfway through their seasons.
But it doesn't matter. The writers should get paid. It's the right thing to do.
Friday, November 16, 2007
In Which TeacherDave Takes a Moment from His Busy Schedule to Go Off on a Rant about the Recent Plot Twist of One of His Favorite Television Programs
To anyone with the barest knowledge of four-function math, Julian can't be more than 18!!! Grant is clearly in his middle-late twenties!!!!
And he's supposed to be DEAD!!! That was the whole point of Lex's character arc in Season 3 (which was the best storyline of the show's entire run, by the way). Finding out that his mom had post-partum and smothered his brother was a CRUCIAL plot point and character moment.
And now, with this colossally stupid "Ret-DISCon," you idiots have destroyed that last bit of unblemished coolness in the show's history.
Grant is Julian. Unfreakingbelievable. I hate you, Smallville writers/producers. I hate you very very much.
And Lana stinks too. Nyah.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
- Former "Blue's Clues" star Steve Burns is still not dead.
- Don't know whose blog I snatched this from, but this blog makes my little punctuation-Nazi heart happy.
- Good news out of Iraq last month, as Iraqi soldiers decided to help Americans out.
- Amanda T. sent me this video. Prepare to cry. Good stuff.
- Not sure if I've posted this, but fans of "Heroes" might enjoy Adrian Pasdar's (Nathan Petrelli's) home videos from the set. Come to think of it, I probably have posted it. But it's still cool.
- Just a note for fans of "How I Met Your Mother": Slapsgiving is less than a week away.
- Topics that I've taken too long to comment on and are now barely registering on the pop culture radar: Ann Coulter's allegedly anti-Semetic comments, and Dumbledore being gay. Sorry. I may post on them anyway, but at this point it's almost a retrospective look at the topics.
- Here's an easy opportunity to win a free private screening of the upcoming "Sweeney Todd" film for you and fifty friends. BUT if you win, you have to promise to save a ticket for me. I'm not kidding.
- I want to get this chair for my living room. The perfect falling-asleep-reading chair.
Before week's end, I hope to post on the Hollywood writers' strike. But you know how it goes. With my luck, it will be resolved before I post on it. Then I'll just file those thoughts along with Ann and Albus.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Didn't start out well, though. We were running late, which required skillful and speedy driving. LittleSis gasped, "Mom's wrong--you don't drive like a grandma." She should see me on I-45 and I-35, on the trek from Houston to OKC, as I break land-speed records.
The concert was at the Berry Center, the brand-new sports uber-complex that was built for all the high schools in the district to share. We're talking top-quality football stadium and basketball arena. Very nice.
We took our seats at the top of one of the lower level sections, pretty close to the stage. The opening band, Thousand Foot Krutch, had already started playing. I used to be really into this band (and would gladly throw up the rawkfist), but I haven't really listened to them lately. They played a pretty good set, and the crowd was pretty into it. We only heard four of their songs, but we didn't get there terribly late, so I'm guessing it was the typical 6-7 song "opening act" set. I'm probably going to check out their new album. Good stuff.
You know, I've always wondered what goes through the mind of a musician when he used to be more of a headliner (or, at the very least, a second-bill act like TFK), and you find yourself warming up the crowd as the opener. Is it one of those character moments where the humble and wise man says, "It's a blessing to even get to perform," while the foolish man says, "I used to be awesome, what the crap happened?" My dad recently saw Blues Traveller playing a corporate retreat on one of his work trips. A band that used to be on the top-ten charts, playing for a bunch of management dudes at a crappy conference center in Orlando. Do you think John Popper has those moments where he is confronted by the unmistakable arc his career has taken? When you find yourself on the backside of your popularity peak, how do you cope?
No time for more contemplation, though: the next band takes the stage. The three-sister band, Barlow Girl.
Now I have to confess--I wasn't particularly jazzed about seeing this band. I was in it for the headliner; but the sisters like Barlow Girl, so I was willing to put up with it. The last time this happened was when I sat through a ZoeGirl set at the beginning of a Newsboys concert. But seriously? Those Barlow girls rocked the house. Granted, I have a predisposed weakness for rock-chicks. But those girls can play up a storm. No pop in their rock, in other words.
And what I liked best about them is that, between songs, they were making strong statements to the crowd about the importance of living with integrity, not sacrificing your principles, and choosing a life of purity and modesty. I felt myself switching to "dad mode" a little, as I was hearing and cheering these words for the sake of my dear sisters. I pray they took those truths to heart. It's a dangerous and sick world. They need to be strong and prepared to face it and make their stand.
But yeah, a great set from Barlow Girl.
Finally, the headliner: Toby Mac.
I've seen TobyMac perform in concert, with DC Talk and then solo, probably four times, but this was the best of them all. I had to keep reminding myself that the man is 43, because he had more energy and style than performers half his age. If you're not familiar with his music, think of a clean Justin Timberlake, but with more funk and soul. He and his "Diverse City Band" put on a phenomenal show.
The cool part about this is that you don't have to take my word on it forever. The two concerts here in Houston were filmed for a live DVD that will be released in the future. So you'll get to see the show I saw. (And if I'm somehow seen in a frame or two of the DVD, you'll be the first to know.)
I can't remember all of the setlist, but it was primarily from the last two solo albums. He did perform a version of J-Train that segued into "No Ordinary Love" (I think). He also did a medley of 70's hits from "Rollercoaster of Love" to "That's the Way I Like It."
One of my favorite points of the show was when a little old-school DC Talk made it into the show, at the end of the song "I'm For You":
The stage show was great. The choreography of the entire crew was impeccable. Toby has two guys and one girl who danced and took turns with the lead and backing vocals. The guitarist/trumpet player was fantastic. There was a bass player, a keyboard/electronic music expert, an amazing drummer, and the fabulous DJ Maj on the turntables. There were light bars on stage set up like the "levels" on a stereo going up and down. These would flash different colors. There were strobes on stage, and a disco ball above the floor seats surrounded by blue spots, so there was a beautiful strobe effect for "Atmosphere."
We left at the end of the first encore, because the girls were tired, but from what I've read, Toby performed another half-dozen songs or so, including "Jesus Freak." I'm sorry I missed it, but I'm glad I'll get to see it on the DVD. We went down to the swag table, and I bought them little mementos. BiggerSis got a Barlow Girl necklace. LittleSis got a Barlow Girl wristband (which I'm pretty sure she hasn't taken off since).
My favorite part of the entire experience was seeing my baby sister jumping up and down, banging her head, waving her arms, clapping and generally going nuts. I'm learning new things about her every day. I'm pretty sure, with a little coaching, she's going to be a rocker like I was.
The older one was opening up a little too. She's still a teenager, and as such is afflicted with the unnecessary self-consciousness of that age. I hope she'll soon fully believe that she really is cool, no matter who says what, and that she should just be happy with who she is.
BiggerSis wants to get tickets down on the floor in front of the stage next time, with all of the crazies. Little Sis quickly said that she wanted to sit there next time too. I promised her, as we slowly walked back to the truck, that once she gets bigger and stronger, I'll take her down into the pit in front of the stage. She looked up at me, eyes big. "Really???" "Yup." "That's gonna be awesome."
Yes it will, kiddo.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Work's been kicking my butt this week. Extra projects on top of usual duties. Lots of stress. I don't know if I'm coping well.
At least I haven't plunged into too many destructive behaviors as a result. Oh--check that. Today's menu for me has consisted of soft drinks and vending machine sweets. That's probably not very healthy.
Speaking of not very healthy, no I haven't been updating the Loserblog for a few weeks. I'll do that tomorrow. There's a reason I haven't been weighing-in or discussing my progress, of course; no progress has been made. Meanwhile, my TV counterparts have put up astounding numbers, and their lives have been changed for the better. I'll talk about that some, in that other writing venue, as well.
I need to refocus. Resurrect some dying habits. Reconnect with people. Read more.
I need to sleep more too.
Right now, I ought to stay and take care of business, put in some extra time and get some things done.
But instead I'm going to go home. Rest. Eat some real food.
You go do the same. Eat at a table, with knife and fork. Play with your pets and/or kids. Kiss your loved ones. And when you lay your head down at the end of the evening, ask Jesus to help you feel more alive tomorrow. I'll be praying that too.
Have a good evening, friends.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
long after we've parted. i want to impress
myself upon your sensibilities. i want to find
strands of your hair on my jacket. i want to smell
a stranger's perfume in a crowded supermarket
and be crushed by the thought of you. i want to laugh
at your jokes hours, even days, after you've told them.
i want to bask in the afterglow of your admiration.
i want you to feel in your bones the same ache that i feel in
mine. and when that happens, i hope we both have the
good sense not to wait for more signs and symbols and figures
to tell us what we both know is true. when that happens,
let us tell our folks and choose our rings and get on
with the business of marriage and kids and arguing and
making up and building beauty and breathing poetry
and destroying our narcissisms, each for the other, so
that we can make it to "as long as we both shall live" with
some life left with which to enjoy it all
Monday, November 05, 2007
There is, in fact, a fundraising drive by Ron Paul's fans, fashioned after the Fawkesian folk hero. Their feat is to raise $10 million via 100,000 donations today, the fifth. As of this writing (12:38 p.m.), they are falling shy of $2 million. Not quite a fearsome figure, sure, but no flop either. There's still fewer than 12 hours left, so it could be a photo finish.
Frankly, I still find this funny in a way. It's a fiesty slogan, the "remember, remember" fragment, but does it fit? The character V is a terrorist--oh, pardon me, "freedom fighter." In the comics, he is fairly felt to be an anarchist (a perspective the creater Alan Moore seems to foster). Is this the image that Paul's faithful followers feel best fits?
All facts point to the affirmative. At least, this fan-video seems to fashion Paul as such a figure.
Furthermore: Fascinating. Fearing feedback, the technophiles fueling Paul's fanblog have followed this baffling fundraiser with a veteran-friendly focus for their efforts. Fair play to them, though it faintly freshens up their foul formula.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Yes, I'm a fan of the show. I love the Superman story, so this retelling of the adolescence and young adulthood of the iconic hero is interesting to me. And this show has been truly awesome, at times.
In last week's episode, the town of Smallville was invaded by Hollywood, as they chose the quiet Kansan hamlet as the location for the big-budget film version of the "Warrior Angel" comic series (a transparent nod to Superman himself). In the WA comics, the hero's girlfriend is killed by his mortal enemy; however, this film version was going to rewrite the story. Suddenly, someone tried to kill the female star playing the girlfriend, and Clark and the gang have to protect the girl and find out who the culprit is.
Turns out the culprit is an obsessed fan working on the film crew, who frequently commented on Warrior Angel message boards and fansites about the girlfriend's survival not being part of the comic "canon." He's shown as a lunatic, so obsessed with the comics that he can't tell reality from fantasy. His cries of "stay true to the icon and the mythology" are seen as deranged at best and homicidal at worst.
There are quotes from Clark like, "Message boards, fansites--this stuff is pretty extreme... How do we find out which psycho would actually try to force things to change?"
This episoded was supposedly a "gentle" tag at fans who vehemently oppose Clark's continued adoration of Lana on the show. But it felt like a pretty harsh slap at a substantial portion of the show's devoted fanbase. Talk about biting the hand that feeds; without the "obsessed" "psychos" that so often post and argue and discuss on the fansites and message boards (including yours truly), the show's ratings would have tanked, and it would have gone the way of failed superhero series like "Birds of Prey."
I think the ire directed at "Smallville" by the anti-Lana contingent of fans is justified, because the series has shown time and time again that it is precisely Lana that is standing in the way of Clark becoming Superman. And while I'd hate to see my favorite program go, it's been 7 years--time to move on already.
This week's episode was so rife with logical inconsistencies and plotholes that I felt compelled to talk about it on one particular fansite. Suddenly, I was met with a backlash of poorly spelled replies.
When I started posting on the main Smallville fansite, I'd talk back and forth with people who were knowledgable of the series and comics, mature enough to deal gently and fairly with newbies like myself, and had good insights into the stories and themes of the show. Now I find that the fansite is populated with a bunch of friggin kids who can't spell and whose critical grasp of the show is decidedly lacking. Constant polls of "Which coupl do U think is hottter?" and "Isn't this the BEST SEASON EVAR???" fill the boards. When I dared (!) suggest that the show was disappointing these past few weeks, their replies were usually thus: "Its just a TV show, get over it!"; "It cant be perfect, what's ur problem?"; "If U hate it so much, stop watching!"; and "Why all the hate? Its a great show, just watch it for entertainment and stop being so critical!" (I'm only slightly exaggerating.)
So this is my rant of the week: my favorite TV show has lately been equal parts insulting and poorly, poorly written; and the fansite that I usually go to for insightful commentary has been overrun by ignorant kids with no critical thinking skills who consider challenging something to improve as tantamount to "hatin'."
(And no, the irony of sounding like "a grumpy old man" when talking about the internet fansite of a scifi TV show has not escaped me.)
Thursday, November 01, 2007
One of the prominent folks in the front was wearing a "V" mask.
I tend to think Paul's an isolationist nut-bar, but he's also a vehement constitutionalist, so I found the juxtaposition of symbols rather entertaining.
I've tried in vain to pull this off before, so this year, I decided not to officially "participate." However, I'm still going to try to write more creatively, both on this blog and elsewhere. So hopefully, you'll get to enjoy a little more original content here.
This doesn't mean I won't flood you with reviews, commentary, links, and videos for the next month. It just means that I'll be adding a little more Dave to the recipe. And that's why you come here, right?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to tackle a great big pile of work stuff for the next 6 hours or so. And I'll post something cool tomorrow.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Surf's Up!: This animated movie about surfing penguins looked kind of dumb at first blush. I got flashbacks of the hideous "Shark Tale," as I saw what appeared to be another weak knock-off of an animated blockbuster film. But the more I watched the trailer, the more it grew on me, so I spent the dollar to rent the film, and watched it with my little sister. Turns out, the movie was surprisingly funny--not a brilliant cartoon movie, but enjoyable. The "frame" of the film is a surfing documentary, where many of the characters have on-camera interviews with the filmmaker throughout the story. This tended to keep things fresh by shaking up the pace. The character's themselves were endearing (if often one-note), and the running gags involving the minor characters paid off. (How many times can one baby penguin almost drown?) Ultimately, the "very special message" of doing things because you love them and not just because you want to win is an okay one. The voice actors were pretty good, though I only recognized three of them (Shia LeBouf, a.k.a. this year's Morgan Freeman; Jeff Bridges, channelling a flippered version of The Dude; and Jon Heder, who pulled the same breathy sage-cluelessness from his character in "Feels like Heaven" instead of his more famous role). So, harmless, fun, made me laugh. Dave approves.
Meet the Robinsons: Another kids movie watched with the sister. Wasn't as jazzed to see this one at first, but it grew on me. Lots of funny one-off gags, and the ending was a little predictable, but not completely (thanks to the reveal of the bad guy's true identity). Good animation. The story was okay. It has nothing on "The Incredibles" to be sure, but it's harmless. Won't kill you to watch it, but there's no need to purchase the 37-disc Collector's Edition either. Give it a go for a buck or two. Dave approves.
The Invisible: A high school senior about to graduate is brutally attacked and left for dead, thanks to a series of unfortunate misunderstandings. He "wakes up" to find that he's sort of a ghost, and after haunting the people responsible for a while (and venting some angst at his distant mother), he realizes that SPOILER (he's not actually dead) END SPOILER and decides to help the police find his body. There's blatant symbolism throughout about poor, misunderstood teenagers not being "seen" by the people around them, but even that anvil-clanging Very Special Episode message doesn't take this fascinating and suspensful film off the tracks. The ending is interesting and well-carried-out. Not a scary movie, but certainly one that will keep you interested. Dave approves.
Urban Legends: Is stupid and a waste of time. Seriously. Don't bother. Quick tip for "Six Degrees..." players: It features Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), Joshua Jackson (Pacey from "Dawson's Creek" OR Charlie from "Mighty Ducks," take your pick), Jared Leto, Robert Englund (Freddy Kreuger!), and Tara Reid. And some other dumb people. Dave disapproves.
The final two films, "Dan in Real Life" and "Bella," I think I'll save for slightly-longer reviews later. But here's the spoiler: I HIGHLY recommend both, so check them out.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I was thinking about changing my blog template last month (to coincide with the anniversary), but decided that it'd be too much work at this time. And of course, I'm sticking with the blog title. Nothing's changing there. PBB pretty much fits like a comfy sweater.
But I've found a song lyric that may end up replacing the much-beloved Eliot quote above.
Here it is, gentle readers. Let me know what you think, and if it should replace the lovely "Prufrock" quote above. Personally, I think they're both pretty keen.
"And I am a writer, writer of fictions,
I am the heart that you call home,
And I've written pages upon pages,
Trying to rid you from my bones..."
(from "The Engine Driver" by The Decemberists)
Me? Not so much. I think the last Christmas album I was REALLY into was "Yo Ho Ho," which happened right at the cusp of my burgeoning appreciation for early 90's Christian rap.
I do love some Sinatra or Bing Crosby, and I liked Sufjan's Christmas collection, so it's not that I hate Christmas music. But I'd never really been a "fan" or said, "I can't wait until I can pick up that album!"
But I have to admit, the new Relient K Christmas project, "Let it Snow, Baby... Let it Reindeer," with its really neat original songs, is a project I'm looking forward to picking up and enjoying through the season.
You can listen to it here on AOL. It's the fifth album shown there on the scroll bar, with the baby-blue cover.
Check it out. Get in the spirit of the thing. It's not that early for Christmas music, is it?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
- A Hayden Christenson sci-fi movie that could actually be good? Say it ain't so.
- Slashfilm lists their must-see movies of NEXT year. Because it's never too early to geek out about Iron Man... or Cloverfield... or Prince Caspian... or Indiana Jones... or Dark Knight... or Half-Blood Prince... dadgum, 2008 can't get here fast enough!
- Speaking of 2008, still unsure about a candidate? Take this handy quiz and achieve a little more clarity.
- I've heard some dumb things said by Christians, but these are downright painful.
- If someone steals a base during the World Series (which begins tonight--Go Rox!), then everyone in America gets a free taco. Sweeeeeet.
- What do the stars of "Heroes" do between takes? Well, if you're Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli), you make bizarre videos and upload them to your Youtube account.
Kasabian's "Clubfoot" as performed by Legos.
"Your Best Teeth Now" [h-t: Cent]
"A Little Priest" from Sweeney Todd, performed by the original stars.
Pick it up!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The Story: Lars (Ryan Gosling) is a 27-year-old living in a small northern town, who is unable to have a normal relationship. He lives in a converted garage of his parents' old house, while his brother and sister-in-law occupy the house. Lars goes to work and church, is beloved by his community, but is clearly lonely. Yet in spite of everyone's encouragement to find someone special--who is obviously his lovely and adoring coworker Margo--Lars won't interact with women. So everyone is shocked when he announces that he's found someone on the internet. Shock turns to astonishment and dismay when his "girlfriend" turns out to be a lifelike mannequin whom he calls Bianca. Lars' brother and sister-in-law fear he's finally flipped his lid, as Lars treats Bianca as a living breathing person, with a complete life story. However, with the assistance of a psychologist (Patricia Clarkson), they agree to play along with Lars' delusion and accept "Bianca" as a member of the community.
Where It Could Have Gone Wrong (and Thankfully Didn't): "Bianca" is not just a life-sized mannequin--she's a sex-doll that Lars ordered from the internet. HOWEVER, he never uses her for her intended "purpose." That was my first concern when I heard about this film, because otherwise that would have just been sleazy and gross. However, Lars' relationship with Bianca is "PG" rated throughout, with the most intimate physical interaction being a sad kiss near the end of the film. In many ways, Lars' romantic relationship with Bianca is like a child's understanding of love and romance. Bianca is his friend, his trusted confidante, whom he adores and tries to impress and make happy. There are a few veiled and glancing references to Bianca's true nature made by other characters, but the dialogue never veers into unsavory territory. The film has a PG-13 rating, but I think that's more for the premise and plot points than for anything in particular that's said. Point of fact, Lars asks if Bianca can stay in the guest room of the house with his brother and sister, since it wouldn't be right for two single people to stay in the same garage apartment.
Where It Goes Right: The film is about love, but not just Lars' love for a plastic/silicone doll he sees as a person. The strongest displays of love in the film are the love that Lars' brother and sister-in-law have for him, and the love that the community has for him. This was a point of contention for reviewer Richard Roeper, who was disappointed that everyone played along. He was hoping for an "emperor-has-no-clothes" moment. But it's hilarious and heart-warming to watch this small community (which knows Lars and his family's history) stand with him and treat Bianca as a real person, as he does (to the point at which she has her own "schedule" and interactions apart from him).
One of the many moments in this movie that I loved was when Lars' brother and sister met with the elders of their church and tried to explain what was going on. While some of the men were appalled, the priest quietly said, "In this situation, as in all situations, we must ask ourself one question: what would Jesus do?" The audience in my theater all laughed; but I smiled because I knew that he was on to something there. The next scene showed Bianca sitting in church with Lars and the others, holding a hymnal. Ignoring the gawking stares of the parishioners, the priest welcomed "all our visitors." Maybe it's a weird situation to break out the WWJD, but you ask yourself, what can I do that is most loving, for someone who has a harmless but unusual delusion? I think he found the right answer there.
Of course, you expect that Lars will end up with Margo, the sweet, caring, slightly goofy coworker who makes moon-eyes at him throughout the film. The fascinating thing is watching Lars realize that he could love her back, and wrestle with whether he can risk it (or whether he can "cheat" on Bianca). Their chemistry is fascinating to watch, like two timid deer slowing approaching each other but always ready to retreat.
The Heart of the Film: The final act really gives the film its real punch. Spoilers to follow, in red:
Lars "discovers" that Bianca is in a coma, and is unresponsive. They take her to the hospital, and there Lars tells them that Bianca is dying. When his sister-in-law demands of the psychologist, "How could you let this happen?," she replies, "I didn't. This is all him." See, Lars never knew his mother, who died giving him birth. Lars was raised by his father, a man who by all accounts was broken by the loss of his wife and never recovered emotionally. Lars' brother ran away from it all as soon as he could and only returned when his father died. So Lars was raised in a "house of sorrow," so to speak, and never had any loving female influences. His relational development was so stunted that he cannot endure the touch of another person; it actually gives him pain, like a "burn" of a numb hand thawing. The scenes in which the psychologist and Lars are working through this are painful and heart-wrenching to watch.
So when Lars announced that Bianca was dying, it came clear for me. He needed to mourn her, as he could not mourn his mother. Without getting too Oedipal here (because I think it would do a disservice to the film), Bianca was in a sense his making up for not having a relationship with his mother. The single mouth to mouth "kiss" they share was practically a kiss goodbye, as he knew her time was coming to a close. Once he was able to mourn Bianca (with a full funeral and burial that the townsfolk gladly participated in), you saw a change occur in him, as if he was finally able to shake off the shroud that had been hanging over his life. And the last moment, with Lars and Margo at the graveside, is lovely. Lars, having been released from the weight of his guilt and sadness, turns to Margo, smiles, and says, "Do you want to take a walk?" She's stunned, and thrilled, and barely sputters out, "Yes." As the credits roll, you know that these two kids are going to be okay.
Final Analysis: "Lars and the Real Girl" is a bizarre film with a somewhat shocking and unusual premise. There are even a few moments in the film where you wonder if it will turn into a horror film about a "quiet man" who goes nuts. But in the end, it's about love: the love of children for parents, of siblings for each other, of a town for its members, and of a lonely man for a lonely girl.
If you can get past the concept, it's well worth your eight (or ten) bucks. Go see it with someone you love (or want to love).
Monday, October 22, 2007
- Dashboard Confessional.
- emo music in general.
- Rob Thomas and/or Matchbox 20.
(...this isn't a filler post, no sir, no way.)
COMING SOON THIS WEEK: A sneak preview of the thrilling conclusion of the heretofore unfinished "Taylor House" series; and possibly a new Bible Redux. Plus other stuff, whenever I get around to it...
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Watch the following music video, start to finish. The song is Pete Droge's "Beautiful Girl," and it's a great track from the soundtrack of the film of (almost) the same name.
The video itself, however, is really what's interesting to me.
I won't say anything else, except that it is about perceiving beauty and feeling beautiful.
Watch the video, and comment below--how do you initially react to this video? How does it make you feel? I'm particularly interested in how the different genders respond to this video, so please comment.
And for those of you who "never watch my videos," humor me and play along this time.
2. I haven't mentioned it before, but since my Cubs lost in the NLDS, I kinda jumped on the fast-moving Rockies bandwagon. I'm a sucker for underdogs, man. And their past two months have been nothing short of spectacular (20-1, including 7-0 in the playoffs). You gotta hand it to them, they're playing their hearts out.
3. I don't know what the cafeteria did to add the funky taste to these biscuits, but they have ruined my biscuits-and-gravy experience this morning. It almost tastes like they used the leftover bacon/sausage grease as part of the recipe. Not. cool.
4. I accidentally cut my nose with my thumbnail. Go ahead and laugh, but you've done it too. And it irritates me.
5. I told you this would be random.
6. Of the four risen Supermen, I like Superboy the least, but the "deadly justice" one with the shades scares me the most. I'm definitely a Man of Steel fan.
7. Speaking of: One of the things I'm enjoying greatly is the "hip" cultural references that date the 15-year-old comic book. There's a good deal of interaction with President Clinton, and Hillary looks a little chunky (like Monica with Hillary's hair). I think my favorite reference, however, is the issue in which Jimmy Olsen is wearing a partially-concealed Spin Doctors tee-shirt (the band whose album "Pocket Full of Kryptonite" included the song "Jimmy Olsen's Blues"). Well done, artists.
8. Your mama don't dance, and your daddy don't rock-n-roll.
9. "Chocolate Rain" performed by Chad Vader is only truly appreciated if you are familiar with both "Chocolate Rain" and Chad Vader. This raises the question of whether or not the in-jokes of the internets have become so reflexive and self-referential that only those folks like myself who are longtime observers of this Youtube sub-culture will appreciate any of it anymore. (Case in point: the BNL video I posted last Friday, which starred nothing but Youtube "celebs." Another such video would be the song "Internet People.") To re-phrase: Is there going to be a threshold crossed in which no one outside of committed Youtubers or Farksters or other such interweb afficianados will be able to approach the humor of the jokes; that the inside jokes will be so far "inside" that they will develop their own "language" in which to communicate it?
10. "I like turtles."