Monday, March 31, 2008

March Movie Reviews

After a bit of a hiatus, I’ve finally started going to the theater again. Feels good, actually... surprisingly good.

Anyway, got a couple of films to rant about, including some older ones I happened to catch on TV recently.

First up is Vantage Point. Hugely, hugely underrated. What else can I say? Yes, there’s a rather annoying gimmick involved in the "8 Points of View" which no doubt led to many of its bad critical reviews (Rashomon, this film is not), but the payoff is well worth it. Fantastic ending, if completely contrived.

Next up is Semi-Pro. Will Ferrell. Dumb comedy. Avoid at all costs. Enough said.

Finally, we have The Other Boleyn Girl. Surprisingly good. And despite bad English accents by both Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, the film was rife with excellent performances.

Yes, I’m being a tad contradictory today.

Going back in time a bit, everyone needs to check out Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. I realize that the MTV generation will like the Young Guns series better, but Peckinpah’s take on the story is quite simply the best Billy the Kid film I’ve ever seen.

That’s all for now... I think I have a Monday case of ADHD.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Spring 2008 Television Season: a Quick Review

Okay, so this is more of a "first three months of 2008" review, rather than a Spring 2008 one, but who the Hell cares?

At any rate, the WGA strike is over and television will soon return to some semblance of normalcy (provided SAG doesn’t strike next). Until then, however, we were left with a rather chaotic early 2008 season. Here are my humble opinions:

The only show I watched on ABC this year (so far) was Lost, and it is pretty damned good, if you ask me. Still, one can notice a certain "rush to finish" (next season is reported to be the last) and the new "flash forward" gimmick has already proven itself too weak to support the season in its entirety, but it still rocks.

On CBS, I was convinced by a friend to watch Jericho, which, thankfully, has just been axed. Great concept, but a definite "rush to finish" mentality (not entirely the writers’ faults, mind you), but extremely sub-par execution. This is not suprising, however, as CBS is rife with sub-par execution (anything without CSI in the title).

The best thing on CBS so far this year was Comanche Moon, the final chapter of the Lonesome Dove saga. Great series, second only to the original. Steve Zahn was near-perfect as Gus McCrae.

Moving on the NBC, I forced myself to suffer through that hack Knight Rider update. Ugh... it’ll get picked up for series, I’m sure, where it won’t last a full season. Think Bionic Woman and you’ve got the right idea.

Let’s see... off the top of my head, I can only recall watching one series on ABC, one on CBS, and not a one on NBC (still waiting for Life and Chuck to come back). Which brings me to Fox... ah, thank the television gods for Fox.

There was Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, New Amsterdam, and American Idol. T:TSCC was rather interesting, and I did rather like it.

Unfortunately, the entire premise is based on a continuity error (explicitly identified in the pilot episode), and it’s really hard for me to keep watching. Still, with the surprising addition of former Beverly Hills 90210 loser Brian Austin Green as a fairly convincing soldier from the future, the show still has my interest. Now we just have to see if it gets picked up.

New Amsterdam has a concept that I really, really like. But, as with many new shows, the series hasn’t found its groove yet (which isn’t an excuse), and it may not make it. Sucks, too, since I have a connection to the lead actress. Ah, well... here’s hoping it gets much better... and fast.

American Idol is, well, American Idol. I can honestly say that I’m tired of the purposefully-goofy auditions, and would much rather watch a serious show. I can also honestly say that the current contestants see themselves far greater than they are (with one or two possible exceptions). And, to wrap it up, I can also honestly say those concert-going posers in the audience really annoy the fuck out of me when they stand up and sway during ballads. I get that they’re all 14-year-old girls, but for fuck’s sake... It’s gotten to the point that I fast-forward through the singing because I can’t stand to watch.

This blog is getting long, and there is no clear train of thought, so let me just add a few things:

HBO’s John Adams is undeniably the miniseries of the year (sorry Comance Moon). It’s a must-see. And, if you don’t like it, or at least find yourself not having a little more respect for our flag, then you need to get the fuck out of my country.

BBC America is addictive. I pretty much watch everything Gordon Ramsay, and am now stuck on yet another kitchen show: Last Restaurant Standing. Fantastic. I can’t wait for an American network to import it and fuck it all up.

I’m sure there are more shows I’ve been watching that I’ve missed, but oh, well... I’m sick of typing.

Have a nice day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Nothing Much to Say About the World

Here I am, with absolutely nothing important to say about anything at all. I do, however, have a few observations, such as the one about how racists, sexists, and ageists are probably really upset about the presidential race at the moment. Not that I’m implying anything, but it is a little funny.

I also observed that I’m bordering on being broke. Normally I wouldn’t care, but when some half-rate musician who also doubles as a hooker suddenly sells nearly 7-figures worth of downloads, I feel a bit worthless. Any lady governors out there looking for a depressed gigolo? No? Okay, fine... I’ll settle for lady Senators who want their own stain on their dress in order to get back at their husband.

Ouch... maybe I shouldn’t have written that. What’s-his-nuts still has his Secret Service agents, after all. You know, those agents supposedly more involved in protecting our colorful new $5 bill, yet somehow finagled their way into Presidential security detail. I haven’t checked, but was there a new bill put into circulation in 1963? Hmm... conspiracies abound.

Speaking of conspiracies, anything think that Heather Mills is an Al Qaeda agent? She just screwed Sir Paul out of $50 million, you know. For some reasons such as "I can’t live without that much money" and "the $15 million I’m already worth isn’t enough to support my child." Seriously, the woman’s a cunt. But I know the real reason she needed that dough: bin Laden’s assets have been frozen, after all. Nothing like a one-legged Dancing With the Stars reject to give your terrorist group a good name.

Halle Berry had a kid. Big whoop. One more spoiled brat to grow up, pretend to be charitable, marry a widowed rock star, then take as much of his money as she can in order to finance stupid shit.

Wait, no... I haven’t started my Lindsay Lohan rant yet.

Speaking of skanks, did you hear the one about... never mind, I did the New York prostitute bit already. How she ever became a member of the Mickey Mouse Club is beyond me. Oops, she did it again. Yep, wrote another bad song, watched as her baby children ran wild, and somehow managed to save Neverland from being auctioned off.

Who am I talking about again? Fuck... I can’t remember. They say memory is the first thing to go. I personally think that’s awesome, because I don’t think I want to remember the rest of the shit that goes after it. I’m just confused, I guess, but you can’t blame me, because I watched The Fountain yesterday for the first time. For the life of me, I’m trying to figure out why the Hell that movie was made. Worse, I can’t honestly say if it was a good or a bad movie. That ever happen to you?

Doesn’t matter... the actors are probably going to follow their writer kin and strike this year. Which will save us from both good and bad movies. I should be considering a career change.

High-class gigolo comes to mind.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

An Age of Friends

His coffee didn't taste good to him tonight. Nor, for that matter, did his cigarette. It's as if decades of his old reliables had eroded any pleasures his pleasures had afforded him. But he didn't mind. He knew the time was coming. And, so, he wrapped himself up in his ragged Army blanket, barely noticing the pain in his chest, and returned his attention to trying to keep warm in front of the roaring fire.

His memories wandered as the flames ebbed and the embers cooled. Family would have been on his mind, but he had none to speak of. Instead, he remembered his friends. His ages of friends.

When he was a little boy growing up in a San Diego suburb, he remembered that all he had to do to see most of his friends was walk a few hundred feet west or east, down a few houses on his block, and ring a doorbell. Sometimes a mother or a sister who he would feel attracted to would answer the door, and his shy little voice would ask, "Can he come out and play?"

Occasionally the question would be answered with a seemingly heartless "no," usually on Sundays when one of his overly religious friends had to read from something referred to as "the Good Book" or some such nonsense. His agnostic upbringing couldn't discern the concept, so he would continue down the street and ring another doorbell.

Usually, though, the answer would be yes, and he and his friend or friends would revel in a game of street ball (either baseball or football, both of which often resulted in broken living room windows or dismembered rearview windows from an unluckily parked car) or mock costumes consisting of blankets for capes and last year's Halloween masks in an imaginary world of superheroes.

Later on in life, through high school, college, and the military, he remembered that hanging out with friends required a bit more effort. Plans had to made, times had to be coordinated, and walking places was generally out of the question. Everybody had to drive, since everybody lived in different parts of the city. Being friends with neighbors was in the process of becoming an afterthought, and camaraderie seemed to belong in the realm of the workplace or the classroom. Back then, though, he didn't even notice. It just seemed natural.

Despite being older and more "free," hanging out with friends was more limited. Occasional movies, more than occasional drinks, and frequent loud, crowded, yet ultimately boring parties rounded out his repetoire. Sometimes he and his friends would get more creative and actually go away somewhere for a while... perhaps a camping trip, or an overseas adventure, maybe a skydive or a scuba dive or two... or both.

Still later in life, his friends were even farther away from him, as most moved away, or back home, or to one of those countries they might have visited during the overseas adventures. Neighbors once again became "friends" of sorts, but only because his mobility was becoming more and more hampered. Acquaintances, more likely, as he knew who his real friends were. Those men and women he grew up with, when friends were made without prejudices, and those men and women he served with, when friends were made in spite of prejudices. Everyone else, it seemed to him, were just faces in the crowd. Touched and gone, as it were.

Walking was definitely out of the question this time, as was driving... at least most of the time. Usually, seeing a friend involved a few hundred dollars and an uncomfortable plane ride. He went through a period of time in which he avoided them, under the auspices of saving a little cash, but when the destinations starting becoming funerals... well, he had too much respect for his friends not to go.

He remembered how he used to love hopping into an airplane, either on his way somewhere exotic or new, or on a one-way trip to a drop zone. Now, he hated them. Airplanes merely became a symbol of seeing a friend that one last time... only the friend wouldn't remember him coming, or even know he was there, laying the flower on the casket, throwing the dirt into the freshly filled grave. His tears went unnoticed... so much so that he soon quit shedding them altogether.

The fire had died long ago. The coffee long cold. The cigarette burned to ash down to the filter.

He remained there, curled up in his chair, underneath his blanket. His face seemed peaceful, serene, and had a hint of a smile.

A smile one only has when with friends... forever.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Insane Insomnia

Wondering why I'm not asleep? I'll tell you, as you think of how Froot Loops transcended just being orange, lemon, and cherry when you were little. I'm bored, basically... too bored to sleep. Well, maybe not, but I'm afraid my dreams will be boring, so why waste the time counting sheep that would taste better on a kabob instead of hopping some stupid fence that popular culture put into my head?

Then again, I could just play sudoku and waste even more time on worthless crosswords, racking my brain for a three-letter synonym for the word "fuck," all the while wishing I had my old TV back so I could fry my brain watching less-than-B movies on late night HBO and ShowTime. After all, I do waste a lot of money on premium movie channels that I rarely ever watch because my current television is too small and my home theater is in boxes somewhere in the Pacific Time Zone.

Ah, the Pacific Time Zone. The best time zone in the world, even if all of the "live" shows are prerecorded because people on the East Coast can't stay up late enough to watch a proper live telecast. Then again, if television really were based in NYC like New Yorkers like to claim, this wouldn't be an issue, but it isn't... it's based in Los Angeles. So lick me, you East Coasters... lick me like the owl trying to get to the center of the tootsie pop. Just don't bite on the last one. I have a sneaking suspicion that would hurt.

Pain... yet another reason I don't sleep at night. Why? Well, because my fucking foot and ankle hurt all the fucking time. But, since you're busy giving yourself a pedicure with those flesh-eating Japanese fish, you probably don't want to think about feet too much.

Anyway, I'm off to dream of sex and violence.

Because abstinence and peace are just too fucking boring.

Irreview, Book Review: The Story of Earth

I've been a science nerd for a long, long time.  Physics was probably my favorite science subject in high school (perhaps other than oce...