Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tales From a Night of Pointless Corporate Consumption (II)

Later that very Monday night, I decided that I was sick of the damn grading and I went to do my laundry. I don't do very well staying inside laundry places. They're kind of depressing. I see these scraggly 55 year old people in there and think, God I hope I have a washing machine in 20 years and then realize that I probably won't and some young buck will be saying the same thing about me. So I didn't stick around. Instead I ran to a large corporate store that will remained unnamed to run an errand. I needed new socks, in addition to cat litter which has nothing to do with the socks. I'm looking at socks and I am absolutely shocked, and I mean shocked, to see that there is like a whole section of socks designed for people with diabetes. That's fine and all, I'm glad companies are making products for their needs. But holy shit, have we already reached the point that whole sections of stores are going to be dedicated to selling goods for people suffering from diseases that a lot of people have got from their own poor living and eating habits? What are stores going to be like when I get old? Will products for people who are healthy be confined to a dark, dingy corner?

Then on the way out I bought a bag of Fritos which I proceeded to finish in the next 2 days.

Tales From A Night of Pointless Corporate Consumption (I)

I think I know one reason why the University of New Mexico football team sucks.

I teach classes in the evening. I get out at 6:45. That's a really bad time to finish up on the dinner front. I don't want to cook that late, I'm tired, and plus I'm lazy and cooking for myself anyway. So the incentive isn't really there. Compounding this problem is the fact that there is a Sonic literally 30 seconds from my office.

So on Monday night I go over after class to grab a bite so I can go back to my office and grade. Next to the register is a list of football players names. This list reminded that I had first noticed this phenomenon about a month ago--the football players can eat at Sonic for free. It's covered in their scholarship or something. Anyway, both times I have seen this, about 40% of the players on that page had eaten there--and that was just for dinner! 40%! On Monday I didn't actually see the football players there--just saw their signatures. But the other time I did and it wasn't some big ass offensive linemen there--they were like cornerback and receivers.

Somehow I am thinking that a diet consisting of something other than cheeseburgers might help this team suck just slightly less.

And if you're calling me a hypocrite for writing this after going there myself, just let me remind you that no one is asking me to play Division 1-A college football for them either.

Erik Has Trouble Dealing With the World (II)

I go out and have a slice of pizza today for lunch after sitting through a seemingly never-ending talk on oral history. I thank God I don't do oral history but that's a matter for a different post.

Anyway, I'm eating this pizza and I run out of water. The glass is already 1/2 full of ice. The woman working takes my cup and puts 2 more huge scoops of ice in there. So now it's like 90% full of ice and my water is gone again in about 3 sips. Do people really like giant cups of ice with their meal?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Erik Has Trouble Dealing With the World (I)

Why is it that 2 of the 3 libraries that I frequent on campus continue to ask me if I'm checking out the books I bring to them? What the fuck else am I doing with them? Do people answer this question in a way other than "yes"? I mean, there are drop boxes for checking back in. I suppose you could bring them to the counter to check them back in, but is it so common that you actually have to ask if I'm checking the books out?

Lou Dobbs is a Goddamn Idiot

What the fuck is the deal with Lou Dobbs? Or I guess another way of asking is, what the fuck happened to CNN? Not that I expect that much from a schmuck like Dobbs or CNN, but at least for awhile CNN was resisting O'Reilly like figures from having their own shows and so saving at least a small piece of cable news from the gutter. Not anymore! No, now CNN has turned loose their own personal nativist on America and, at least according to this New York Times article, he has a real impact on American policy. Great! Now we have Lou Dobbs telling the nation that these immigrants are a burden on our taxpayers, our economy, and our society. Most importantly, he is saying even though there is not a shred of evidence that this anything is saying is true.

What an asshole.

Caspar Weinberger

Well, the world is a little less evil today.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Worst Movies of 2006, Early Nominees

Just been noticing how bad some 06 movies seem to be. Here's 3 early candidates for worst movie of the year.

In the more conventional category, we have Failure to Launch, which likely will describe the movie's box office totals as well. Now, any movie with Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker has to be bad. But what will make this one of the worst of the year is the casting of Terry Bradshaw in a major role. God, Kathy Bates must be desperate for work. I do have to wonder if Bradshaw's acting will be worse than his country albums or his Christmas album.

For the most bad and pretentious movie of the year, we have Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, which is supposedly, or at least was originally, going to be spoken in the originial Mayan language. Interesting, given that this is a dead language, but hey, who cares? When you have the sure hand of Mel Gibson behind the camera..... The early previews make this look not only bad, but potentially one of the worst movies ever made. I can't wait. And isn't Apocalypto the direct Mayan translation of Apocalyse. I thought so.

Finally, in the worst remake category, we have Hairspray, with John Travolta in the Divine role and Queen Latifah in the Ricki Lake role. Sorry, I have to go vomit now. The Internet Movie Database is saying that this will be 2007 so I guess it may have an early lead on that year's worst movie.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More Crash

I have it from a very good source that the success of Crash has led to a rise of screenwriter classes in Los Angeles about why this worked so well and how to write similar ensemble scripts. Given how much I hated this movie, I can't fucking wait.

I can see it now--Crash Northwest. Starring Gary Busey, Max Von Sydow and whatever other pale actors can be found. Finns, Swedes, and Norwegians all are forced to confront their stereotypes about one another. Riots ensue when a Swede calls a Norwegian a herring choker. Academy Awards abound.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Top 10 Movies of 2005

This is probably the last top 10 of 2005 to be posted. After watching virtually no films for the first 2/3 of the year, I have made a semi-furious attempt to watch as many 05 films as I could before the Oscars. I didn't succeed to the extent I wanted (never did get to Saraband, A History of Violence, or Me and You and Everyone We Know) but I did what I could and here's my list. The order should be taken with a grain of salt because if I did this list tomorrow, it would probably be different.

1. Brokeback Mountain. I can't really say anything that hasn't already been said. I would recommend the article in the recent New York Review of Books which argues that, unlike what well-meaning critics are saying, it is in fact a profoundly homosexual story, a sentiment I agree with. Unfortunately, I can't remember who wrote the article but it was quite good. What wonderful emotionally powerful performances. It is one of the 3 best films of the decade so far, along with In The Mood For Love and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and is no doubt one of 4 that will make my decade Top 10 list (add Yi-Yi to the previous 3).

2. 2046. This is a great movie. It may even be as good as In The Mood For Love, its prequel, and that is really saying something. It's hard for me to describe movies about relationships without making them all sound the same. But this is just amazing on many levels--acting, cinematography, story, script. Some have complained the ending is too abrupt but it makes perfect sense to me. This is so good, it almost beat Brokeback and I wonder in 10 years which I will cherish more. Just a great film. Wong Kar Wai is perhaps the best director working today.

3. Tony Takitani. This is a film that almost no one has seen. One of the few advantages to Santa Fe is screenings of films like this. The Jun Ichikawa adaptation of a Haruki Murakami story is nearly flawless. It's a heartbreaking portrait of loneliness. Not a whole lot happens, but what does is absolutely devastating. Probably not for those who need killing or sex to be interested in a film, but definitely for those who like exploring human emotions. Incidentally, like Annie Proulx's Brokeback story, this Murakami piece was originally published in The New Yorker. They sure do publish some great fiction.

4. The Squid and the Whale. This film was completely robbed at the Oscars. Not only should it have won best original screenplay, but it should have been nominated for Best Picture (over Crash and Munich definitely) and for Best Actor (Jeff Daniels). The opening scene is one of the best in recent film. Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. Honestly, it was hard to watch at times because of recent events in my own life but that only amplifies the excellence of this film.

5. Downfall. If the Oscars had any integrity at all, Bruno Ganz would have won Best Actor for his performace as Adolf Hitler. That's a hard role to play and Ganz does it so well, you almost care a tiny bit for him. Ganz is one of the world's finest actors (see also Wings of Desire and Eternity and a Day among others) and he brings it all here. The movie is about 15-20 minutes too long and is profoundly depressing, but it is a very solid piece of work.

6. Capote. A very good though not great film. Worth an Academy Award nomination. I honestly don't care about Truman Capote very much but Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener both do excellent work here. I'm glad Hoffman won Best Actor though I wonder if anyone will care about this movie in 5 years.

7. Good Night and Good Luck. Perhaps I'm ranking this a bit high. But I love David Strathairn (see Matewan for reason #1) and I am very glad to see him get some publicity. The movie is straight forward about its goals and accomplishes them without a false step. This is the mark of the solid movie. Most movies can't reach this solidity. They are not great movies but they provide quality entertainment and you leave the theater pleased with your investment of time and money. There's something pleasing, almost in an Old Hollywood sort of way, about a film that delivers exactly what it intends to, nothing more, nothing less. Also, I somehow think Fred Friendly was as charismatic as George Clooney, but what can be done?

8. Junebug. A movie that makes you still appreciate a few independent films. I have a long-standing loathing for independent films as a genre--most are absolute trash. But when they deliver, they are fun. This one delivers quite well. I always like Embeth Davidtz. Amy Adams deserves the accolades she got, if for no reason than she took me back to memories of Tennessee. A little of that character goes a long way for me. I don't understand why Alessandro Nivoli's character was so little used. Not that he's a great actor but you'd think something less than 1/2 of his scenes would be him sleeping. Maybe he's really good at it. We all have to play to our strengths.

9. Caché. Again, a movie that delivers just what it promises. Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche are both solid as always. A good psychological thriller that never goes over the top, never steps over the line. What do you think this movie would look like in an American remake? Can you stomach the thought?

10 (tie) Paradise Now. This is not a great film. And to be honest, I had been drinking too much beforehand so the first half is a little shaky. Was it one of the best 5 foreign films of the year? Of course not. Hell, it's only #3 on this list. But nonetheless, it is a nice look at what drives a suicide bomber and the hopelessness of living in Palestine. Though, and maybe this was the alcohol talking, while Palestine was clearly poorer than Israel, it didn't look that awful. Anyway, well acted, well directed, points well made.

10 (tie) The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. I enjoyed this film a great deal. It's far from flawless, beginning with the fact that Barry Pepper is way too old to play his role. He is 35 years old and his character is supposed to be about 20. It's not as bad as Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but it's not far off. But Tommy Lee Jones should direct more westerns. He's a good actor who doesn't get a lot of good roles these days. He has a pretty good touch as a director. This is the best border film since Traffic. He holds the rights to direct Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. I hope he can get the funding to do it.

Honorable mention goes to Match Point and Be Here To Love Me. As for more widely acclaimed films, Crash, Munich, Walk the Line, and Syriana are all bad films to one degree or another. It's hard to imagine anyone watching any of them in 5 years.


What a total fucking joke that Crash won. An absolutely horrid film. I am completely disgusted, even 24 hours later. I know that the Oscars routinely reward undeserving films. But considering the sheer quality of Brokeback Mountain, how could Crash win? A racial fantasy that beats us over the head with a 2x4, teaches us nothing new, and has about 12 scenes that are laughably bad (let's start with every scene with Sandra Bullock) defeats a profound film that is beautifully shot, well-written, wondrously acted, and solid from beginning to end. Profoundly depressing ending to the Oscars.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Historians Have Political Sway? What?

The National Archives just ordered the nation's intelligence agencies to quit reclassifying previously declassified documents after complaints from historians. The reclassification effort was stupid. Many of those documents had already been used in books and so just on the face of it, it was pointless exercise. The paranoia of government in classification is laughable anyway--OK, I can deal with not declassifying our most recent developments in keeping our nuclear arsenal safe, but 50 year old documents should be declassified no matter what information they have in them.

But the real story here is that people in power evidentally care what historians think. This is truly amazing. I think we should next demand a massive pay raise for all historians in the country and that the nation pay for a series of America's most prestigious historians to teach George W. Bush something about the history of the country that he governs.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What Happens When You Combine A Religious Wacko, A Huge Ego, And A Ton Of Money

This is the answer. Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan is planning his new planned Florida community Ave Maria where not only could you get an abortion but you couldn't have access to contraception either. The town also has the largest crucifix in the nation, something the fine residents of Groom, Texas will not be happy about. Naturally Jeb Bush spoke at the groundbreaking of this fine town. Now if there were only a way to keep blacks out of the town....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I Love How Sensible and Humanitarian The American Penal System Is

Check out this story about US prisons shackling female prisoners as they give birth. This makes a lot of sense. What better time to flee than in the middle of labor!

Pointless Maps, Part 2

Need some pointless maps to fill your time. Check out these where you can fill out which states and countries you have been to. What a waste of time. I like my states map better than the countries one though.

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Pointless Maps

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Phil! Phil Connor!

The best part about Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle, is that Ona's boss who forces her to sleep with him is named Phil Connor, which of course is Bill Murray's name in Groundhog Day. In the novel, everytime Jurgis, the main character, sees Connor, he tries to bite his face off. The next time I watch Groudhog Day, I hope that the insurance salesman who Phil went to high school with kills him by biting off his face.

"Phil! Phil Connor! Come here and let me eat your nose!"