Monday, September 29, 2003

I want to learn how to make Muppets, just so I can make a video for this song. Okay, so this is a sorry excuse for a non-post, but I'm getting more tipsy by the moment, as I watch (or not) the Bears lose their opener at Soldier Field. Might I add that the best two analogies to the "new Soldier Field" are:

*"George Jetson's spaceship landing in the Flintstones' living room"
*"A cruise ship crashing into the Parthenon."

Anyway, try and come up with a video in your head for this song. I've always thought it'd be great with Muppets, or preferably something like the puppets from Crank Yankers. This is Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' "The Curse of Millhaven" off of the Murder Ballads disc, and it was also issued several years back on a Details magazine CD, which is how I first heard Nick Cave (barring "Red Right Hand" which was featured in Scream):

I live in a town called Millhaven
And it's small and it's mean and it's cold
But if you come around just as the sun goes down
You can watch the whole town turn to gold
It's around about then that I used to go a-roaming
Singing La la la la La la la lie
All God's children they all gotta die

My name is Loretta but I prefer Lottie
I'm closing in on my fifteenth year
And if you think you have seen a pair of eyes more green
Then you sure didn't see them around here
My hair is yellow and I'm always a-combing
La la la la La la la lie
Mama often told me we all got to die

You must have heard about The Curse Of Millhaven
How last Christmas Bill Blake's little boy didn't come home
They found him next week in One Mile Creek
His head bashed in and his pockets full of stones
Well, just imagine all the wailing and moaning
La la la la La la la lie
Even little Billy Blake's boy, he had to die

Then Professor O'Rye from Millhaven High
Found nailed to his door his prize-winning terrier
Then next day the old fool brought little Biko to school
And we all had to watch as he buried her
His eulogy to Biko had all the tears a-flowing
La la la la La la la lie
Even God's little creatures, they have to die

Our little town fell into a state of shock
A lot of people were saying things that made little sense
Then the next thing you know the head of Handyman Joe
Was found in the fountain of the Mayor's residence
Foul play can really get a small town going
La la la la La la la lie
Even God's children all have to die

Then, in a cruel twist of fate, old Mrs Colgate
Was stabbed but the job was not complete
The last thing she said before the cops pronounced her dead
Was, "My killer is Loretta and she lives across the street!"
Twenty cops burst through my door without even phoning
La la la la La la la lie
The young ones, the old ones, they all gotta die

Yes, it is I, Lottie. The Curse Of Millhaven
I've struck horror in the heart of this town
Like my eyes ain't green and my hair ain't yellow
It's more like the other way around
I gotta pretty little mouth underneath all the foaming
La la la la La la la lie
Sooner or later we all gotta die

Since I was no bigger than a weevil they've been saying I was evil
That if "bad" was a boot that I'd fit it
That I'm a wicked young lady, but I've been trying hard lately
Oh, fuck it! I'm a monster! I admit it!
It makes me so mad my blood really starts a-going
La la la la La la la lie
Mama always told me that we all gotta die

Yeah, I drowned the Blakey kid, stabbed Mrs. Colgate, I admit
Did the handyman with his circular saw in his garden shed
But I never crucified little Biko, that was two junior high school psychos
Stinky Bohoon and his friend with the pumpkin-sized head
I'll sing to the lot, now you got me going
La la la la La la la lie
All God's children have all gotta die

There were all the others, all our sisters and brothers
You assumed were accidents, best forgotten
Recall the children who broke through the ice on Lake Tahoo?
Everyone assumed the "Warning" signs had followed them to the bottom
Well, they're underneath the house where I do quite a bit of stowing
La la la la La la la lie
Even twenty little children, they had to die

And the fire of '91 that razed the Bella Vista slum
There was the biggest shit-fight this country's ever seen
Insurance companies ruined, land lords getting sued
All cause of wee girl with a can of gasoline
Those flames really roared when the wind started blowing
La la la la La la la lie
Rich man, poor man, all got to die

Well I confessed to all these crimes and they put me on trial
I was laughing when they took me away
Off to the asylum in an old black Mariah
It ain't home, but you know, it's fucking better than jail
It ain't such bad old place to have a home in
La la la la La la la lie
All God's children they all gotta die

Now I got shrinks that will not rest with their endless Rorschach tests
I keep telling them they're out to get me
They ask me if I feel remorse and I answer, "Why of course!
There is so much more I could have done if they'd let me!"
So it's Rorschach and Prozac and everything is groovy
Singing La la la la La la la lie
All God's children they all have to die
La la la la La la la lie
I'm happy as a lark and everything is fine
Singing La la la la La la la lie
Yeah, everything is groovy and everything is fine
Singing La la la la La la la lie
All God's children they gotta die

I just love that song.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Abused Advanced-Placement English Skills

I've been in need of a writing exercise worthy of the three and a half years of AP English I was sentenced to back in high school. For those of you who don't know, AP English basically gives you a short little piece of literature and a prompt that says, "Here's a completely asinine topic: Discuss." So, I've been looking around for something totally moronic like finding instances of Christ-imagery in a particular passage of a random literary semi-classic So, while watching my weekly DVD purchase tonight, I came up with something so utterly fatuous, I almost don't feel the need to expound upon it, since the very act of coming up with the topic was an act of genius. Or insanity. I'm not sure which. So here it is:

The Two Towers as an Allegory for World War II

-----------(I might add that this is an unpolished first draft, there will be no second draft, and it's all complete and utter bullshit, so don't start IM'ing me to say how I'm wrong and that the books were nothing like this. because I never read the books and I'm just filling space, here, so my two readers don't think that I've gone and abandoned another page)----------

If you ignore the majority of the movie and cut the heart from the story (such as the misplaced thing between Aragorn and Eowyn) and take The Two Towers as a film that is strictly about war, the astute viewer will find a film that parallels the actions of certain countries during the second World War.

For example, the Shire represents Switzerland. During the War of the Ring, the Hobbits are, by and large, completely neutral and/or oblivious to the coming war that will end their existence. They just sit around in the Shire the whole time and none of them care, because the Shire is the last damn place that Saruman or Sauron want. Of course, if the Scouring of the Shire sequence was actually in the movies, I might have a different opinion.

That unimportant example out of the way, Sauron and Saruman represent the two major countries of the Axis powers, those being Japan and Germany. Really, Saruman himself can represent both, of the countries' armies, while Sauron represents the Axis' political ties. Sauron is represented in the film as being as close to pure-evil as inhumanly possible, and Saruman is just this guy whose army goes out to whoop some ass. Of course, the Orcs represent the general Axis army, while the Uruk-hai represent the elite forces (perhaps the mechanized infantry or stormtroopers).

The Ents (tree-people) represent the United States, which maintained an official sort of neutrality during the war, until the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941. By this rationale, the Ents stay out of the war until they find their forests have been... well, deforested. This pisses them off to no end, and they go out to whoop the asses of the aforementioned ass-whoopers. They succeed in their battle and put an end to Saruman's war-machine in a way that the humans were incapable of doing.

Sixteen minutes into the film, Saruman can be seen talking to a group of men who look like a cross between the torch-wielding villagers of the Universal Frankenstein and rejects from the Unabomber School of Personal Hygiene. Their opinions are easily swayed by Saruman and he needs to offer nothing but real-estate, to be taken from the people who currently live in Rohan. These guys represent countries like Austria that went, "Yee-haw!" when Germany annexed them, and then supplied plenty of soldiers for the Axis' takeover of Europe.

Theoden and the general populace of Rohan represent Western Europe. Brad Dourif represents Vichy France, which was only affiliated with the Nazis due to the occupation of France by the German army, and the fact that the French were just pansies to begin with. However, a number of the French army got across the English Channel at Dunkirk at the beginning of the war, and they are represented by Eomer and his banished horsemen. Or, perhaps they represent the American army, and the battle of Helm's Deep represents Omaha Beach on D-Day.

The Elves represent the Soviet Union, of course, because the Elves could really give two shits about the war; at least until it threatens to show up on their doorstep. That's when Elrond finally grows a pair and decides to commit some troops to fighting back, rather than just bailing for far-off lands like Siberia. With Russia handling the Eastern front of the war and the Western front being fought by Europe, there was little hope for the Axis to win in Europe.

I have no idea what to classify Gondor as. On another tremendously minor note, I'm going to come up with the completely bullshit suggestion that Frodo and Sam Gamgee represent the Manhattan Project, in that there is a certain job that must be done in order to end the war, and they are the only two who can do it. Battles can be fought forever, but the forces of Sauron could never truly fall so long as the One Ring is in existence. Hence, Hiroshima needs to be bombed, and that is the mission of these two Hobbits. Never mind that they're from Switzerland.

It's now five-thirty in the morning, and I need to go to sleep. If there's anyone I missed (like Gollum), then they're not that important, anyway. Maybe before I go out to see the band tonight (shameless plug for Five Year Jacket), I'll watch Daredevil, which I also got on DVD tonight. Gotta love the 2 for $20 deals at Hollywood Video. Haven't gotten a bad disc from them yet, whereas you're lucky if you get one from Lackluster (the Apollo's Coffee of video-rental chains), you're lucky if the damn thing's not shattered.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Quoteworthy Monday

Affleck just follows me everywhere. I'm here for three days and already he's followed me. Bastard.

Since I'm not in the mood right now to make an actual post, I'm going to quote the movie Almost Famous, from a scene in which Philip Seymour Hoffman accurately the state of music in the early-70's, and actually manages to describe my opinion of it today.

"Here's a theory for you to disregard completely. Music -- you know, true music, not just rock 'n' roll-- it chooses you. It lives in your car, or alone, listening in your headphones, you know, with the vast scenic bridges and angelic choirs in your brain. It's a place apart from the vast benign lap of America. Did you know that "The Letter" by the Box Tops was a minute and fifty-eight seconds long? Means nothing. Nil. But it takes less than two minutes to accomplish what Jethro Tull takes hours to not accomplish. (gestures to a copy of Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick" LP) You see this? This is fatuous, pseudo blubber! But, to foist it off as art... Or The Doors? Jim Morrison? He's a drunken buffoon posing as a poet! Aw, give me the Guess Who. They got the courage to be drunken buffoons, which makes them poetic! Live 'American Woman'? The most brilliant piece of gobbledygook ever!"

With the exceptions of Springsteen, Mellencamp and Five Year Jacket (shameless plug for my friend's band), rock and roll is dead, yo. They're the only ones left who write songs that are actually about something.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

No-Post Sunday

I was considering the number of excuses I could potentially use for not putting up a real update today, of which my favorite was, "Because today is the Sabbath day," because referring to Sunday as "The Sabbath Day" is just fun. You can get away with all kinds of crazy shit like that: If you get called in to work and you don't want to go, you can just say, "But it is... The Sabbath..." and they'll generally leave you alone because they think you've got some kind of connection to God that would immediately send all of your co-workers to Hell if you set foot inside your workplace on The Sabbath Day.

In all honesty, I picked up Madden 2004 and started playing the Franchise mode. I never play any modes in any of those games but whatever sort of career or management mode is offered. If that mode wasn't offered, I'd have no reason to upgrade from Tecmo Bowl.

And you thought all I did was watch movies? I'll think up something for tomorrow. In the meantime, do what I do and spend a moment thinking about movies in a way you generally don't think about them. Example: Why is Treat Williams the greatest box-office poison ever to hit film exhibition? Discuss.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Rules of Attraction

Okay, so you may or may not know who Roger Avary is. And you may or may not know who Bret Easton Ellis is. But it’s more than likely you know who James Van Der Beek (do I capitalize Van Der? van der?) and Jessica Biel are, so we’ll start with them.

Jessica Biel, as you may remember, was on television’s Seventh Heaven, a show so wholesome it makes me want to vomit, and yet I can’t stop watching the show once it’s started. And then she was in Summer Catch with Freddie Prinze, Jr. (whom I may or may not refer to as ‘Chico Jr.’ unless I can come up with a better name for him), which totally bombed at the box-office. And then you hopefully won’t see her in the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, for the simple reason that some things just shouldn’t be remade, and I’ll probably go on that rant some other time.

James Van Der Beek, on the other hand, played Dawson on TV’s Dawson’s Creek, a show notable for being renewed year after year as the show gets worse and worse, like some kind of twisted experiment on the part of The WB programming staff to gauge viewers’ tolerance for shit. Due to the fantastic results of the third and subsequent seasons of Dawson’s Creek, we have this year’s programming. Onscreen, his finest hour was playing himself in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.

So now we bounce back to Bret Easton Ellis. He writes novels. More specifically, he writes satire. He wrote American Psycho, which was stylish as hell and hugely entertaining, basically because of Christian Bale’s performance. And then there’s Less Than Zero, which was probably hugely entertaining back when any movie with Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jami Gertz could be termed as even remotely entertaining. Beyond that, I really can’t comment on his work, since he’s one of those authors (like Don DeLillo) who I’ve been meaning to pick up and start reading, but I never actually do.

Finally, you’ve got Roger Avary, who’s probably best known as “the other guy who wrote Pulp Fiction,” which is to say that he gets to capitalize on that fact for the rest of his career, and thus Rules of Attraction was marketed as being “from the creators of Pulp Fiction and American Psycho,” which is technically true, just as long as you’re not expecting a Tarantino film. Which is what happened when Avary did the movie Killing Zoe around 1996 or so, which Tarantino executive-produced (which is one of those things in the movie business that means virtually nothing other than you can capitalize on the name of someone who’s for all intents and purposes not involved in the movie in any way, whatsoever), and which featured a cameo by Ron Jeremy as a bank security guard. Anyway, Zoe is available on DVD at a lot of places in a two-pack with Chris McQuarrie’s Way of the Gun (which makes me think that I should do a budget-DVD day or something sometime), so you should pick ‘em up if you’ve got ten or fifteen bucks to drop on movies that you could potentially hate. Anyway, Avary’s got style. It’s not Tarantino-style, but it’s gotten a lot better over the years. I think Avary did a movie with Wil Wheaton after Killing Zoe, but since I didn’t see it, we’re just going to pretend it didn’t happen.

Let me just say this: Rules of Attraction is absolutely the most fucked-up movie I have ever seen. That’s from a story-point and stylistically. The plot doesn’t really start until fifteen minutes into the movie, and then it’s the sort of movie that you’ve got to pay attention to. It features characters you basically shouldn’t care about. The DVD has a fucking commentary track by Carrot Top, who’s not involved in the movie in any way. It’s told out of sequence, features some terribly interesting cinematography, has Fred Savage playing a junkie, and all of the performances are over-the-top by about fifty percent (which I suppose is a good thing for this movie), all of which –in my expert opinion- generally would add up to absolutely nothing.

I was watching the movie this morning, and finished it just before I had to leave for work, and there were probably about ten instances where I almost laughed so loud that I thought I was going to disturb someone. A couple of these instances were just camera shots during sex scenes. And it’s got an absolutely, astoundingly, insanely great soundtrack, which I enjoyed to no end and will be picking up after work tomorrow. And then the rest of it probably has to do with how completely fucked up and self-centered all of these people are (including the hospital staff), because I figure if there’s any single word to describe the movie, it’s got to be “removed.” These characters are removed from each other, from themselves, from everything but sex and drugs. Typical college life, from what I hear.

But it’s just so damn entertaining. If my mother ever sees this movie, there’s no way I’m ever going back to college. See it. Rent it if you must, but watch the movie.

“It’s toe-tag time in Teenville tonight. Again.”

"I only did it with her because I'm in love with you. ... Since when does fucking somebody else mean I'm not faithful to you?"

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Friday, September 19, 2003

It's a bit of a rarity in this day and age that a film comes out that actually gets you to think. ... And listen to me now; I sound like Leonard Maltin, Gene Shalit or one of those other "critics" who say things solely as part of a metaphorical dick-measuring contest over who can get their names in movies' ad-campaigns more often.

So here I am, having just finished watching Bowling For Columbine, trying to think about what the hell it is that makes America so violent, and why I'm not living in a more civilized country right now. Granted, America might be the best country in the world, but we're certainly not the most civilized. And the fact that I even came to this realization means that Michael Moore has done his job properly.

And I'm sure that there are a lot of people who are going to read this (actually, I'm not sure that anyone at all is going to read this) who are going to say, "Michael Moore's an asshole! He's against the President! He's against the war!" and all of that crap. And to those people, you're entitled to your opinion, but you got Ken Starr. Michael Moore's all we've got.

Now, it's not really a one-sided movie. Michael Moore just asks questions, and even members of the Michigan Militia come off as generally sane individuals. Charlton Heston, on the other hand, is a little off-kilter. Terry Nichols' (Timothy McVeigh's partner) brother is absolutely insane. Really, the power of any documentary lies in the editing process. As long as someone has the capacity to fuck up on their own, there's always the capacity for entertainment.

And it's not all funny. The movie is certainly, at some times, absolutely hysterical. But then you've got black and white security footage from Columbine High School and 911 calls, and it runs for what seems to be a very long time. Between the security and news footage, it's five minutes where you just sit and and watch and you can't say anything.

Is it fair and balanced coverage (sends a nickel to Fox News Network) of Second Amendment rights? Not really. For the most part, it tries to understand why it is that things like Columbine happen. Joe Liebermann blames Marilyn Manson (which is why he's too stupid to be elected President next year). Matt Stone (co-creator of South Park) blames the society he grew up in, which happened to be Littleton, Colorado. Ranking as the most coherent individual in this whole movie, Marilyn Manson himself.

One of the best laughs I got out of the movie was during an ad for school metal detectors, a kid pulls (I'm counting here) twelve guns out of his pants, including a shotgun he had stuffed down his right pant-leg. Now, with two or three guns, this kid could probably move around fairly normally, but this kid's not going to be able to bend his right leg and probably wouldn't be able to put his (probably explosives-laden) backpack in his locker without blowing his dick off.

At one point, about an hour in, the film explores racism in the media. Susan Smith drove her car into a lake, drowned them, and then said a black man took the car and the kids. Everyone bought it. Guy kills his wife and a black man takes the blame. Killer bees are known as "Africanized bees." Hell, I remember a couple of months back when a rapist or something was running around Chicago and he was described by a police spokesman (and then repeated by the media) as "looking like rapper Ice Cube." So, for a while, the film explores the way that the media perpetrates the bullshit notion that black people are generally dangerous. After all, it's my personal belief that people are dangerous on an individual level, and I've never heard of a black man who did anything like what Timothy McVeigh or Jeffrey Dahmer did.

The media doesn't give two shits about the news they report. This is never more painfully obvious as during a little girl's memorial service when a reporter does his thing for the network, then -the second the camera is off- starts bitching about his hair and technical difficulties. They just don't fucking care about the news they report. It's all about getting the news out to the viewers, making sure the viewers keep viewing so the sponsors can keep paying. The media just reports what gets the best ratings, which is the same reason why Howard Stern and Mancow do whatever they do on the radio. It's all about the Benjamins.

And, regardless of whatever they'd say if you asked them, they don't just investigate and report. The media is not a neutral entity. There's a rule in Physics that states, "anything you observe, you inevitably change." Violence sells in the ratings, so they report more violence. Fuck, I don't know, maybe there are so many shootings in the U.S. because the shooters just want a collective 14 share in the Nielsen ratings.

In the end, I don't think there is a single answer to the film's question of why Columbine and other shootings (in-school and not) happen in America. I think that Matt Stone probably came closest to an actual answer, at least as far as high school students go, in that Stone felt that in high school you get forced into this situation and this thinking where everything you are today and anything you accomplish today has direct bearing on the rest of your life. And if you remember being a freak or how the freaks in your high school were treated, it's a wonder they didn't go on a shooting spree, too.

Actual IM conversation:
Unravel UI: I saw Underworld. Very cool-looking. OK movie besides.
THerbMcC71: I saw some documentary on the History channel that started out being about vampires, and I went, "Who's narrating this? This sounds familiar..." and then two minutes later, it goes into werewolves, "sometimes known as Lycans," and I went, "Oh. It's an advertisement, trying to pass itself off as something else." After all, no one in the history of man had ever referred to a werewolf as a "lycan" before this movie got written.
Unravel UI: Lycan? For some reason I thought they were calling them "lichens"
THerbMcC71: lol
THerbMcC71: Dude, that was really funny.
Unravel UI: Sad thing is, it's the truth. Until three minutes ago.
Unravel UI: Makes so much more sense now.
THerbMcC71: That doesn't change the mental image I had in my head of lichens.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.
So. This is it. It’s not pretty, but it’ll do, since I’m going for something more academic than stylish, anyway. And, by ‘academic,’ I mean I’m going for something less internal than my last webpage. Which I took down in a fit of jealous rage. Which brings me here.

Bio: My name is Tom, I’m twenty-five years old, and I’m not quite as much of a loser as Harry Knowles. Okay, I’m not nearly as much of a loser, but then again, I’m also not as popular with the fanboys. Which is probably a good thing. I work for a coffee chain which shall remain nameless and faceless for the time-being, and I spend my free time at bars and watching movies. It’s the watching movies part that’s important to this page, since that’s what the page is about. Okay, so I might occasionally step into the realm of television or music, but it’s essentially about movies. What do you expect from a guy whose earliest memory is watching Empire Strikes Back?

I don’t get out to the movies much, and it’s not due to excessive amounts of work, or even excessive amounts of drinking. It has mainly to do with the fact that Hollywood has been putting out excessive amounts of complete and utter crap for the last couple of years, and my non-contribution to the pockets of the filmmakers is about as close as I can get to civil disobedience; although I don’t think this really matters a great deal, since the lemmings line up in droves to plunge themselves over the edge into the plethora of adrenaline-driven, testosterone-laden, shoot-em-up bullshit that has consumed every summer since at least 1996.

And I think it’s a wonder that Jim Cameron and Ben Affleck and all of those gaffers and painters and concession-stand employees aren’t making a public service message to get (the few) people like me out of my house and into the theaters, because it’s people like me who will put Hollywood out of business. I’d consider being a movie pirate if I wasn’t sitting on a connection to the internet that’s … well, I’ll put it this way: If I started downloading a Star Wars movie off of the internet today, it would be done just in time to watch before the midnight premiere of the next one… eighteen months from now.

So, of course, that said, it’s more than likely that I’m going to end up writing about some classic movies, which does not necessarily mean “old,” since I loathe most movies from the pre-Rocky era. Not all of them. Just a majority. And it also doesn’t mean “Best Picture Winner” because I tend to get bored to hell while watching some of those.

Or I’ll end up writing about movies I hate, just because I can, or because I didn’t have any other ideas that day. Not that I’ve got the time to update this on a strictly daily basis. But, I figure that if this can keep me out of the bar a little bit more, then it’s probably worth my time. Not to mention the Blogger front-end is pretty nice. It’s no Gray Matter, but it’ll do.