Monday, October 29, 2007

PBB Capsule Movie Reviews

Saw a lot of films this weekend, so I'm gonna run through them quickly:

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.

mindsludge, nonsense, faux-poetic rambling, etc.

i wish i could cut You out of my mind, but the plastic knife's too dull and my hands shake too much, i got the jitters baby, i got the cold shakes, i'm all busted up inside, piles of broken pieces in plastic bags with all the sharp edges poking through, making a small hole, then a tear, then a rip, then a mess. and when i say "You," i don't mean "you" specifically because "you" specifically are no longer of any interest to me. i'm talking about the abstract of You, baby, the eternal shining woman, the symbol, the other, the lady that all the poets write about when they want to write but haven't been seeing anybody recently. i love that girl, love her from my guts, from my soul, from my dry bones, but i've never met her, because every dame i've ever crossed eyes at has been stained by the seed of Adam and tainted by the blood of dead soul skins. so please ignore me, and don't take any of my singsong personally, for the person you be is not the person i see when i see Thee with me. the sweet lady i'm referring to is too abstract and unrealistic, which is what makes her so safe, because if she were to show up in my life, i'd be dumbstruck and unmoored and scared out of my never-lovin mind. i don't want to love, but of course i want to be loved because i'm selfish and childish and squeamish and embarrassed by everything that reeks of me. i'm hiding, baby, in my mind, hiding in my fat suit, hiding in my dead flesh, because the moment i meet you--not "You" the abstract ultimate, the perfect unknown, but you the real down-home flesh and blood, skin and bone, anger and fear and creativity and timidity and deep deep need to be loved as much as me--when i meet the real yougirl i don't know if i'm man enough to do what a man's got to do when he meets the woman he's destined to die for. i don't know if i have it in me. i don't know if i'm ever going to measure up to that. in fact i'm pretty sure that i'll destroy everything i touch, and if i don't it's only by the good favor of God. i'm broken, honey, broken in every place i can be, by the things i couldn't control and the things i could but never tried to change, bearing the scars of self-inflicted stupidity, spraining my neck as i swivel to look backwards at the things i should have left long behind me. i feel messed up and dried up and strung out and crushed down, sweetie pie, i'm no good no good just like your mama always told you about boys who read books and write nonsense poems that don't even have the courtesy to rhyme. i want to find you. but i'm afraid that if i do, i'll have to look you in the eyes, tear my ribcage open with bare hands, and say "take your best shot, because i'll never know what it's like to love you until i feel you wound me." i'm keeping my armor on, baby, keeping my ribs knit tight, and trying to be satisfied with my dreams of abstract unwounding "You," because "safe" is the only currency i buy and sell with these days.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blog Quote Update?

Every once in a while, things need to be spruced up or replaced.

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)

Fa La La La La

I'm not a "Christmas Music" guy. My mom is big into Christmas music. She's one of these folks who eagerly anticipate when the local soft-rock station switches over to nothing but Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day (or earlier, if you can believe that). And believe me when i tell you, if you switch the channel anytime before December 26, you get the stink-eye and possibly a punch in the arm.

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

Wednesday Linky-Love and Video View

Something to keep you folks occupied during my busy meeting day.
  • 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.
And finally, some video magic:

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.

Hold stillllllllll....

Pick it up!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

PBB Movie Review: "Lars and the Real Girl"

The Hook: A bizarre and unique indie love story about loss and emotional recovery, which is supported by a host of really great performances and beautifully desolate cinematography.

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

Musical Confessions that Will Rightly Get Me Made Fun of for a While...

Based on my extended viewing of live concert footage on PBS' "Soundstage" program, I still apparently enjoy:
  • Dashboard Confessional.
  • emo music in general.
  • Rob Thomas and/or Matchbox 20.
I know, I know. I guess I'm still a mopey boy at heart.

(...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

Beautiful Girl.

This could be a fun discussion starter.

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.

Random Bloggeration

1. More of you people need to post. If I'm expected to entertain you with more than just video dumps, you could return the favor. Just sayin'.

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."

Monday, October 15, 2007

PBB Hall of Awesome (Birthday Edition)

Steph: For two burned CDs sent, along with a handwritten note, about a month ago. I've enjoyed all of them. Thank you very much.

Manders: For the birthday mix CD with the Sufjanian title. Awesome. Thank you. You are the Walrus. Koo koo katchu.

Manders and Kelly: For the phone calls on my birthday, neither of which I was able to receive. Thanks for actually leaving a message. Made me smile both times.

My folks: For buying me a bike to use for sweet jumps.

My "fellow laborer" Andrew: For calling me out on expressing my convictions in an unloving manner. My communication skills still need some work, and he had the courage to point it out to me. On my birthday, no less. Thank you, sir.

Everybody who wished me Happy Birthday by email, IM, Myspace, or Facebook: Thanks for thinking of me. It does mean a lot.

Things I Learned at the Wedding/Reception

  • Don't miss the irony of the ritzy antebellum villa being across the street from the Salvation Army soup kitchen. The poor ye shall always have with you; don't pretend like they're not there.
  • Churches can be de-sanctified by the Catholic church. This doesn't stop people from using them to enter into holy matrimony. Don't make any assumptions based on these facts.
  • Take a hint from mid-nineteenth century German church construction: worship was not intended to be a comfortable, consumer-friendly experience. No padding, no reclining, no individual stadium seating. Sit up, face forward, and listen.
  • Children + somber events of any kind = squawking, crying, gabbering, stage-whispered questions, and other distractions. If you invite friends who have young children, just expect and accept it. It's the price you pay for including these loved ones in your special event.
  • As funny as it would be to see the larger man who's sitting in the wooden folding chair with the cracked leg fall backwards and cause a ridiculous scene, it is indeed the right thing to do to switch out his chair when he gets up for another glass of wine. Kindness always matters.
  • The woman with the tatoo of the Chinese character between her shoulderblades and the excessive decolletage is invariably hitting the open bar the hardest in the opening hour of the event. There is probably a mathematical formula for this.
  • When a bunch of college students/grads/ex-pats sit around and bag on their former university for no good reason, it really does sound like a bunch of petty whining by pseudo-disaffected upper-middle-class kids. And yeah, that's pretty sad.
  • Your stories are less interesting to everyone else than you think. Take it as a clear sign when they decide while you're mid-sentence that they suddenly need their drink refreshed and get up from the table.
  • If you take a date to your friend's wedding, don't ditch them for a half-hour at a time. Especially when they don't know anybody there. And even more especially when they flew a great distance to see you. Because really, it just shows how much of an utterly classless jerk you are.
  • When the music shifts from generic country and standard wedding-reception fare to the likes of 50 Cent and Flava Flav, it's time to embrace the bride, shake the groom's hand, say goodbye to your friends, and beat a hasty retreat.
  • Being happy for others is not so hard after all. The first step, as it is for so many good and useful tasks in life, is just to get over yourself.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Have a great weekend.

I'm working until about 9, and then i'm out for the rest of the day. Looking forward to a mini-Daveapalooza.

Until then, please accept this with my sincerest et cetera et cetera:

(p. s. it's not actually "Gordon." Go ahead, press the button, it's worth it.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Serendipity Now!

What was I saying yesterday? Trouble feeling happy for others?

Seems I'm not the only one.

*cue creepy music now*

"Get out of my head!!!" [/Angela Petrelli voice]

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Tomorrow, we can drive around this town..."

[I'm not a Xangadult; I'm just a little emo from time to time. There's a difference.]

So I've noticed something about my character that's ugly, and I want to change it. I need to change it, I think, because it may be one of those impediments from future growth and happiness.

See, I have trouble being happy for other people, when it comes to relationships. New relationships, advancing relationships, engagements. (I'm not so bad with marriages, usually because I've resigned myself to the engagement for long enough that it's not a big deal.) But that whole "rejoicing with those who rejoice" thing, I'm still having trouble with in this area.

And it's not because of any feelings I have for one of the parties involved (...usually). I feel this way about people I haven't even "officially met"--internet friends, people on the street, people in movies and on TV.

I think one of the reasons may be that I envy the feeling they're experiencing. The rush, the thrill, the excitement of it all. I find myself getting envious of that. And green is not a good color on me.

Sometimes, a moment's feeling of jealousy does rest momentarily on the person. Reading on some blog written by a girl I used to know a post about her new boyfriend, I'll feel a random pang of jealousy. I'll chuckle at a quote from their cute little conversation, and a sudden, brief thought of "That should be me" arises, even when it's someone I've never been interested in before or since. But for that moment, I feel the sting.

It sucks. It's lousy. It's ugly for me to feel this way. But I do sometimes. I miss being in love. And instead of "doing something about it" (like what? mail-order?), I pout. (And blog, unfortunately for you.)

There's sometimes another reason I can't be happy for people who find themselves in new or deepening relationships: the fact that things will change.

True story: I got together with two of my oldest friends not too long ago. These are my boys. We've been close since high-school, even before. And while many (most?) of our classmates and friends have gone off and gotten married or whatever, we three have remained singles. Bachelors. Los Tres Amigos. Whenever I start feeling blue about sitting on the bench, as it were, I could always take a small bit of solace in the fact that I wasn't alone.

Well, when we were setting up plans to hang out and play video games (because some things truly don't change), one of them said, "Is it okay if my girlfriend comes too?"

I beg your pardon?

See, I guess I knew there was a girl he had started seeing, and whom he liked quite a bit, but using the "g" word? I tentatively said yes, and then asked if she will mind that we're playing video games. He replied, "Honestly, she probably will. Maybe we should have a back-up plan." I joked, "Wow, man, she's a non-gamer? I don't know if I can approve of this union." There was a pause from his end of the line, then a matter-of-fact "...Um, yeah you can."

The girl came over. And she was cool. And they sat on the couch together and were all leaning against each other and crap. And no video games were played! Our video game night, and none were touched! The outrage! The horror!

And what stunk the most, my friends? She's a cool chick. I mean, I don't have the hots for her, but we got along well. And for all I know, she's going to be around a while, which means she will dominate this guy's time and attention (as I suppose she should). And the status quo will change.

I don't like change.

So here's my confession, blog-world: If you tell me you've started dating someone, or it gets serious, or you get engaged, I'll try my very very best to be happy for you, and tell you that I am. But if for a split-second you see something in my eyes bitter and green-shaded, I ask you in advance to forgive me. Believe that I'm working on it.

But when it comes down to it, most of the time I'm a selfish cuss. And in your moment of joy, I can't help but think about myself. It's wrong, and I'm sorry. But it's there.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"The Sun is Up, the Sky is Blue": A PBB Review of the film "Across the Universe"

The Concept:
"I saw a film today, oh boy..."
The film is essentially a theatrical, highly imaginative romantic musical set in the 1960's, in which each player is a character from a Beatles song. It is, at its core, the Beatles discography brought to life. There is a Jude, a Lucy, a JoJo, a Sexy Sadie, a Dear Prudence, and countless others who are woven together in a storyline set in the turbulent Vietnam era. The result is something...well, pretty remarkable, no matter how you slice it.

The Disclaimer:
"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
I love the Beatles. Despite my very protected childhood, I discovered the Beatles in earnest at the very tail end of college, but my deep love for their music came in the last few years. I listen to Abbey Road or the White Album or best-of compilations or the trippy "Love" concept album, almost daily. So I'm reviewing this film--a celluloid love-letter to the band and their music--as a fan. Obviously YMMV.


The Plot:
"Ah, look at all the lonely people..."
Jude is a shipyard worker from Liverpool (natch) who leaves to find his real father, an American GI who met and impregnated Jude's mom during the war. Jude finds him at Princeton (as a janitor, not a professor), but also meets Max, your typical loveable, upper-class scaliwag. Jude easily falls in with Max's group of friends at school, but when Max drops out of school and decides to move to New York, Jude's along for the ride. So is Max's sister Lucy, who is mourning the death of her boyfriend in Vietnam. She finds comfort and love in the arms of Jude, as they build a life in New York with Max and a ragtag bunch of misfits and beautiful freaks. These include their night-club-singing, dead-ringer-for-Janis landlady, Sadie; a pseudo-Hendrix guitar player named JoJo; a misfit named Prudence who's always pining for someone she can't have; and many more.

This idyllic scene begins to unravel when Max is drafted; Sadie leaves the band, and her man JoJo; Lucy joins a militant student protest group, and Jude becomes jealous of her relationship with its leader; and a series of events leads to Jude facing immigration worries.

Can there be a happy ending, with all of these once-perfect pieces flying apart? Of course there can. Remember: all you need is love. And drugs. Lots of drugs.

What I Liked:
"Take a sad song and make it better..."
Strike that--here's what I loved: almost everything. The plot, while pretty basic, was still enjoyable. Elements that some would call "predictable," I considered comfortable and inviting. The actors were nearly perfectly cast; the singing was spot-on. I loved the Sadie-Jojo storyline as much as I did the Jude-Lucy storyline. There were certain musical set-pieces that gave me chills. The script was full of verbal and visual references to other Beatles songs, and elements of Beatles trivia (from the Abbey Road cover to the Apple record label image). And it was incredibly uplifting. It made me laugh, cry, and smile. I walked away feeling good. Most of the people walking out with me at the end were singing along with the credits. And that's really what the film's about--feeling. Emotion. Not logic. That's where so many critics went wrong, complaining about the film's simplistic presentation of the political and social issues of the era. That wasn't the point; the point was--how do these characters and these situations make you feel? And that's what the movie got right.

What Didn't Work for Me:
"Don't Let Me Down"
What didn't work artistically was the entire Mr. Kite sequence with Eddie Izzard. This upsets me, because I like Eddie. However, it seemed like he was "phoning in" the entire performance. First, I'm assuming he can't sing--the only actor who couldn't. So he sing-speaks the lyrics of "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite," while adlibbing some inane carnival-barker patter between lines. So that took me out of the moment. Plus the fact that, while we had just been on Dr. Robert's acid-wash magical mystery bus ride (starring side-burned BONO!), going from psychedelic freakout to a total-CGI world (a la "Mirrormask") was jarring and unnatural. Up to that point, even with the drug effects, it was a very comfortable, natural film. Stylistically, the transition just didn't make sense. This was the only moment when the movie went off the rails for me. As soon as it returned to an a capella ensemble version of "Because," it was right back on track.

"Helter Skelter"
Obviously, the film was anti-Vietnam, and had some unflattering views of the military and the war. (One sequence in particular involves a group of soldiers carrying a giant Statue of Liberty as they trudge across a small-scale model of the jungle, singing "She's So Heavy." The intent behind that is probably worth some pondering.) At first, the anti-war protesters are presented in a rather positive light.

However, there is a point at which things start to turn. Lucy and Jude have an argument about her involvement in the organization and particularly with its leader. And Lucy makes some comment about how it might take bombs going off "here" before people listen. Later, Jude storms into the protest group (which is a transparent reference to the SDS) headquarters and starts singing "You say you want a revolution..." At one point during the song, we see the doors in the back open up to reveal a meeting between a Black Panther member and the protest leader and some others, and on the wall there is in fact a picture of "Chairman Mao." Ultimately, we find out that the protest group is building bombs and moving to more "radical" forms of revolution, and one of those bombs accidentally blows up the group members building it (just as one did with the SDS/Weathermen in 1970). So, from "Revolution" onward, the group and its activities are seen in a bit more negative light. Not entirely negative, but there's clearly a statement about how far is going too far. The political bent of the film is definitely left-leaning, but guardedly so.

Ratings Issues and Morality Questions:
"Why don't we d-do it in the road?"
There were some things that I didn't particularly like, and it behooves me to mention them here. One problem was the random nudity, which was infrequent but unneeded. Another was Prudence's being a lesbian, which was also unnecessary but thankfully not highlighted and made a huge "issue" in the film. I didn't need to be preached at. However, it's there, and tacitly approved. Obviously, one big issue in the film is drug use, which is frequent and celebrated. So there are red flags here that should not be ignored. Being a film about the sixties, sexuality is handled casually. Characters sleep around. The only marriages portrayed are the strained WASPish marriage of Max and Lucy's parents and the "settling" marriage of Jude's friend and his ex-girlfriend. There is no mention of the prospect of marriage among any of the leads, and it doesn't get a fair shake overall in how it's portrayed (or ignored).

So there are subtle messages here that should not be ignored, folks. Every piece of art is talking to you; it's up to you to realize what it's saying. And the message here is clearly, "All you need is love." And that's not entirely true.


Final Verdict:
"Here Comes the Sun"
I loved this film. The visuals and music were breathtaking and emotive, the acting was engaging, the plot was familiar but enlivened by the music, and the overall feeling of the film was very emotionally moving and satisfying. There are some moral questions that should not be ignored, as I've outlined, but there is also a lot of good in the film. So, if you are a Beatles fan or can appreciate their impact on music and culture, I'd strongly recommend this film (keeping the other issues in mind).

If you're a Beatles purist, and can't stand the thought of anyone other than John, Paul, George, and Ringo singing and playing this music, I'd encourage you to see the film anyway. It's a love letter to the band and what they meant, and after seeing a screening, Paul McCartney himself said, "What's not to love?"

However, if you can't stand the Beatles, movie musicals, or feeling happy, or if you are incurably cynical and/or jaded, stay away from the film. You'll be sorely disappointed.

[For another--and for my money, better-written--review of the film, see Trav's blog.]

Monday, October 08, 2007

"We can build a beautiful city, yes we can..."

So Sen. Obama was speaking at a church in Greenville (home of the oft-maligned Bob Jones University, in case you forgot), and makes an interesting statement:

While discussing how Republicans don't "own" faith and values issues, Obama concluded his remarks by saying, "We're going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth."

Stop for a second and think about that. In fact, we'll do it Matthew-McConaughey-"A Time to Kill"-style:

Imagine a presidential candidate giving a stump speech at a church, and talking about his party's commitment to faith and values. Concluding by saying that they will create a Kingdom here on Earth. Now imagine it's a Republican.

[Amen, brother, I saw that involuntary shudder there in the back, hallelooyer.]

Okay, I'm being flippant. But I find it interesting that of the same people I've known who have complained about the marriage of church and state in several candidates on the right, more than a few of them support a candidate who makes an ambiguous but similar statement from the left.

In fact, Beliefnet lists Obama as one of the Democratic candidates most vocal about faith so far.

"But Dave," one might ask, "as a Christian, why does this bother you? Wouldn't you be happy to hear candidates talking about faith?"

Generally, sure, I don't mind it. And the whole church-state balance is a tricky one, worthy of its own blog post sometime. But I have to ask: what does "faith" mean to these candidates? How does it affect who they are and what they do? Because the current president also talks a lot about faith, and clearly the public aren't sure they like that. So here's the question: is God-talk always okay or not okay? Or does the speaker matter?

What caught my eye is the way Obama said what he said. We can build the Kingdom. Wait a minute, Senator--what kingdom? Whose kingdom?

My bet? Continue the lyric: "...Not a city of angels, but finally a city of men."

Maybe I'm being too suspicious. But if a Repub candidate made this statement, they'd be dead in the water. The usual suspects from the left side of the webiverse would cry, "Theocracy!" and wig out like forty cockatiels in a too-small cage.

Don't look at me like that, you know I'm not far from the truth here.

So what do you think about this? Especially you Obama supporters. Do you mind his use of religious rhetoric, or do you think the great church/state divide (btw, the phrase is still not in the Constitution) should be sacrosanct?

Comment below, in my little blog kingdom.

Friday, October 05, 2007

You don't want to talk to me? That's fine, I'll talk to myself.

I found an interesting term, while looking up information about generational classifications. (I'm never quite sure where I stand on the whole "generation label" gig. I'm too young to be Gen-X, but not young enough to be whatever the next group is. Some stupid name that I forget.)

I've heard the term "adultescent," which refers to singles in their late twenties or early thirties, predominantly male, who still live with their parents and seem to be enjoying an extended adolescence. These are the guys who blow hundreds or even thousands of dollars on intricate electronic and gaming equipment, yet can't seem to make their own rent and have to live with the folks.

[Disclaimer/disclosure for the easily excitable: Stop right there before you think that I'm dismissively labelling all twentysomethings who live with their parents. I'm not doing that, Sensitive Sally, so quit being such a baby and grow a thicker hide. I'm talking about the people who are perfectly capable of making their way in the world and refuse to because it's too "hard" or "scary" or "boring and un-fun." Heck, I lived with my parents for about a year after college myself, until I made enough money to strike out on my own. Granted, "on my own" started out just a mile down the road from my parents. Look, if it's good enough for Thoreau in "Walden," it's good enough for me.]

We all back now? Good. Yes, the adultescent. The subject of books and movies and blogs and commentary.

(Here's a fun term I just made up: the Xangadult. The mopey young adult who can't seem to grow up past the whiny self-centered emo-ness of youth. And yes, I know, I'm sometimes like this, too. Yeah, I'm claiming that one before anyone else does. Xangadult. Mine.)

Well, during my web research, I found out that the Japanese culture has a different term for this type of creature. Are you ready for this?

"Parasite single."

Wow. Doesn't that just smack ya in the chops? Parasite single. A single person, living off of others and contributing nothing.

I suppose you could posit that the reason the same phenomenon is so differently named is because our culture is more about feelings and non-offensiveness and psychoanalysis, while Japanese culture (at least the segment that gets to name stuff) is about production and results.

So now, gentle and easily bored reader, the question: which culture has a more realistic and healthy approach to this lost group of young adults? I'm torn, personally. Because while I can empathize, being somewhat lost and confused post-college, I have to say that there is a brutal poetry to pinpointing the parasitic nature of such a person as we are describing. Granted, it's not as clever as Xangadult, but it's something.

What do you think? Is "parasite single" too harsh? Is "adultescent" too soft? Isn't "Xangadult" the awesomest thing you've heard in weeks?

Lemme know with a comment below. Go on, I dare ya.

I know I promised no video for a while...

...but this was too good to pass up:

If you're not aware, the commercial is a parody of this event from a June 2 game:

Attention Musical Theatre Geeks

What's that? Haven't seen the new trailer for Tim Burton's film adaptation of "Sweeney Todd"?

Now you have!

[Fun game--how many "Harry Potter" actors can you spot? I've got a count of 3 so far.]

(Baseball sidenote: My ulcers now have ulcers. Friggin Arizona.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Brown-Bag Poetry (10.4.07)

"A Day in the Life" style.


wrinkled flags wave, crowded together
on sidewalks like onlookers
at the scene of an accident.
the silent crowd of flag-bearers stand vigil,
stoney-faced, bearing the weight of loss
like the burden of the pall-bearers
carrying the fallen officer to his final rest.
a lone patrolman walks down the line
not looking at the citizens
he and his fallen comrade swore to serve
and protect, and the unmourning wind
catches his black tie and pushes it
to the side, waving, like a dark and
wrinkled flag.


like a rock in the river bed,
the back of his shaved head rises out of the water,
a peninsula attached to the dead flesh, the dead earth
floating prone in the opaque liquid.
it has stopped bleeding,
this body that stopped being his. the wound
will not heal, not even with time.
the robes, sodden and stained and
dark-soaked, trail away like a scarf.
in division, dissention, death,
he has achieved oneness
with the world. oneness in place,
oneness in matter, as he lay
unmoving, rocklike, surrounded by
bare reeds
and brown water.


when Norman jumped,
we thought he was crazy. but
there he went, feet apart, arms
stretched out behind him, like a
webless Spiderman looking for a
safe place to land. no way we could have
guessed that he would take flight,
no way he'd jump off a
third story balcony and into the open
air, we said, it's just not normal. yet
there Norman went, over the rail,
off the balcony, down to the
garage and ground, like a scared cat.
(though not as cleverly, as we learned later,
'cause he sprained his ankles when he couldn't
stick the landing.)
when the man on the ground with the camera
caught Norman (first on film, then in flesh)
and pinned him, the flighty
fleet-footed fool wriggled and pulled to
worm his way out of the cameraman's grasp.
I just wish one of the officers who read Norman
his right to be silent and not run like a danged idiot,
would have thought to ask him,
"Norman, did you really think you could


'i'm not dead,' harry said, but the sculptor
chuckled, ' m'boy, listen, that's no big thing
when you're talking about sculpture. it's never too early
or late for a eulogy.' the young prince scowled.
'why the vulture?' 'it represents'
'why the flowers?' 'aren't they lovely.'
'i like the ears.' 'don't get too attached, i'm
selling those on the internet next week.'
'who's the vulture again?' then the sculptor scowled.
'but i'm not dead' harry said, most emphatic, trying
to be understood. the sculptor shrugged. 'it's about war.'
'but they won't let me fight!' 'doesn't matter, you're a symbol.'
'I'd rather be a person.' 'if it was good enough
for your mum, it should be good enough for you.' 'but she
was a person, too.' the sculptor winked. 'sure, but symbols
are easier to remember.'


[and finally, a topical haiku. apply directly to the forehead. wakka wakka.]

Dear D-Backs pitchers,
Is Webb your only real ace?
I really hope so.

NLDS Game 1 Post-Mortem

If you wish to commiserate with me, feel free to do so in the comments below.

Here's the breakdown:

1) Brandon Webb is the best pitcher in the NL. I didn't want to believe it, but it's true. We ran into a buzzsaw for 7 innings yesterday, and couldn't get any offensive momentum.

1b) This is not to say our lack of hitting is excusable. If we want to get anywhere in the playoffs, we need to be able to hit against good pitching. There are better pitchers in the junior circuit who we could end up facing if we get to the dance. (Hello, Josh Beckett? Can I tell you how sick I am of that guy?)

2) Zambrano pitched six brilliant innings of 1-run, 4-hit baseball. Seriously, only 1 walk and 8 strike-outs. He was a stud last night.

3) However, Lou's thinking long-term and decided to pull Z after 85 pitches, because he was expecting a Game 4 and wanted to put Z out there on short-rest. This is the much-debated moment of the game, at least on this morning's talk radio. I would posit that, had it worked out, Lou would have been hailed for his managerial genius and machismo. (Okay, maybe not machismo, but definitely the managerial thing.)

4) Carlos Marmol has been automatic all year long, with an absolutely sick 1.43 ERA during the season. There is no reason that Lou should have doubted Marmol last night. And had he pitched as well as he has been all season, it would also have been hailed as a great move.

5) I have to say it again. We needed clutch hitting and got none. The Riot was the most clutch player, and even then, not much.

5b) We will not win playoff games if we keep stranding baserunners.

So there it is. I knew there was a chance we could lose this one, and I don't feel too bad, considering how Webb threw. But there's no reason not to pick up at least the next two, and with authority. Arizona's rotation is pretty much one-deep, and we've got Lilly (the Stopper) up tonight. I'm hoping the bats wake up.

Side-note: I had to turn off the audio last night around the 7th inning. I'm used to hearing dismissive game commentary on non-WGN stations (ESPN, i'm looking at you), but the absolute sloppy lovefest the TBS announcers were giving the D-backs just about turned my stomach. At the same time, everything the Cubs did was second-guessed or dismissed (all the more reason I wish some hitting could have shut them up). I know it sounds simpering, but I really wish the Cubs could be taken seriously by SOMEONE in broadcasting not named Len and Bob.

Anyway, that's it. I'm not devastated, because I went in cautious. I do feel my ulcers starting to kick in, so a win tonight before the day off would be really helpful.

Go, Lou. I'm still behind ya. Go, Marmol. You'll be amazing next time, I promise.

Go Cubbies. Cut off the heads of the snakes. So to speak.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

And now, your Wednesday moment of Cubbie pride.

Cuz we've got enough insanity with the beginning of the PLAYOFFS!!!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'm back...ish.

Thanks for sticking around. I have to admit, I'm a little tired from playing parent for 5 days, but it wasn't office work, so that was a welcome change.

Unfortunately, I've got mucho work to do today, as you would expect, but starting tomorrow (after the Wednesday insanity post--I still can't get enough of them!), I'll be posting actual text-based content (GASP!), so be sure to check in every once in a while for that.

Today, I am going to update the loserblog, but it may be later this afternoon.

I guess that's all. Talk to you later. more thing: