Sunday, September 28, 2014

Random Blogamathing Post

Wandered out on a camping trip this weekend with Shyam.  It's the first we've taken just the two of us.  It's been a busy couple of months (couple = 19, I think).  We wandered up to the mountains and just enjoyed each other's company.  We also wanted a day or two away from the crush of humanity.

2014 has been kinda hard for me.  I've tried not to let myself get too down, because it's all seemed like those things that have to happen in life.  And they are.  But they've been weighing on me a bit.  I've really felt it the past couple of months.  Stolen truck.  Dad's getting downsized.  One of my (by way of my folks) dogs dying.  Work keeping me from doing a couple of things I'd looked forward to.  And one of my best friends moving away.

That last one feels weird to say, especially at age 37.  But it is what it is.

Whatever it is, right or wrong, it's been weighing on me.

So.  Went out into the woods for a couple nights.  Get away.  Hit the reset button.  See if I can cut that moping shit out a bit.

A good trip.  Near perfect weather all weekend.  Very few neighbors.  Able to sit down, read a book and enjoy a campfire.

The book was Cherie Priest's Maplecroft.  A Lovecraftian take on Lizzy Borden.  A well-done epistolary work that manages to maintain a good energy the whole way through.  Multiple first-person narratives are tough to pull off (i.e. keep interesting, keep moving all while maintaining unique voices).  I dug the aspect of it that left you questioning some characters, and whether they were falling down the monstrous rabbit hole.

It's Priest's best since Boneshaker, which was her best, for my money.  I'll take a little while to digest, but it may end up surpassing Boneshaker as my favorite.

But I digress.

We camped.  We stayed away from people.  One set of neighbors within eyeshot our first night.  The second night featured an RV pulling into the site across the street.  The RV's bug me.  Not that tailgate camping makes me any kind of man's man, but if you need a TV and air conditioning while travelling?  Why not just stay at a hotel, instead of dragging a 7 mile per gallon behemoth up to Chilhowee?

Anyway.  The campsites share community water spigots.  I couldn't guess how many are around, but I figure for the 25 or 30 sites, there's probably one spigot for every four to six sites.  The spigot across the street from our site we shared with three or four sites.  The RV folks, with tags right from God's Waiting Room, hooked the RV's water hose up to the spigot.

Multiple times, we and the other campers near us had to ask to unhook the water.  This morning?  We just unhooked ourselves.  I have a funny feeling we did it right in the middle of somebody's shower....

Gonna be an interesting couple of weeks at work.  I've been having a difficult time with the job.  The aforementioned problems getting to me, on top of a work schedule that makes me want to go back to 2007 and explain just what "working like a botard" means.  Currently scheduled 11 out of the next 12 day, but there's a light called vacation at the end of this particular tunnel.

Anyway.  It was a good weekend.  I'm gonna make a conscious effort to stop moping about the little shit.  A good weekend like this one made me realize just how lucky a fellow I am.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tommy's Mindlessly Stupid Project, volume 3

In which I continue my alphabetical journey through my movie shelf.

I'm averaging between 30 and 45 minutes a day per movie, which means each one lasts between two and four days.  Aside from the occasional movie that I've found or made time to watch from start to finish, this little project (which has been going since around Memorial Day), might take me up past Independence Day 2015....

Big Fish   (2003, D: Burton)

I've got something of a love-hate relationship with the movie.  It's almost a Liberty Valance issue....whether the value of the story has more importance than the value of the truth.  Maybe a bit of a personal struggle coming to life there.  That, and Burton's seeming daddy fixation coming to life, sometimes makes this a difficult movie to watch.  It just depends on the day I watch, I suppose.  Didn't care for it this time around.

The Big Lebowski    (1998, D: Coen)

It's up high on the list of favorite movies.  Had to sit and watch this one, because there's so much that sucks me in.  Walter's energy is still my favorite.  The machinations, with The Dude, at the center.  The tumbleweed vibe.  The check at Ralph's.  Yes.  Too much not to like....

Big Trouble   (2002, D: Sonnenfield)

A little bit of a guilty pleasure, I guess.  Dave Barry managed to write a more Carl Hiassen-esque novel than Carl Hiassen.  The movie's a fair adaptation.  Good?  Zooey Deschanel, Patrick Warburton, Jeanine Garofolo, Dennis Farina, Johnny Knoxville, Tom Sizemore and especially Andy Richter's brief appearances.  Bad?  Tim Allen.  Man, I hate me some Tim Allen.  Still, the movie itself is zany enough.  It's one that pops up on Comedy Central or the like every now and then.  It makes me smile.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I wrote some

I wrote a little tonight.  Mostly about that thing.

Didn't turn out well, but at least I wrote.  I'm a Lazy bastard.

Been bumming about work, lately.  Not enjoying the job.  Again.  Too little work/life balance.  Not getting to do stuff outside of work.  Missed the summer trivia finals.  Didn't hit a Braves game all year, because it was too hard to string a couple days off in a row, or even snag a Sunday off.  Timing was part of it.  How the fuck did they manage to be on the road for all but a couple days of vacations I took during baseball season?

But I digress.

Not getting to see friends and family.  Sucks to have my sister ask about several weekends for camping trips with her and my nephew, and having to shoot them all down because I'm working.  The one I have free?  They're busy.

Being a grownup sucks.

But?

I wrote a bit.

I'd like to write more.

I'd like to find a position with a more regular set of hours, to set myself up a routine.

That might be a cop out, my brain says.

It might not be, my other brain says.

I have two brains.

Or, I have a kidney that thinks a little much of itself, and thinks it's capable of doing more than helping filter and flush toxins from my body.

Anyway.  I wrote.

Here's what I listened to:

"Sara"             Fleetwood Mac
"Birdplane"        Axis of Awesome
"You Put the Hurt on Me"     Sara and the Tall Boys
"House Where Nobody Lives"      Tom Waits
"I'm Free"        The Who
"America's Dreaming"      Old Man Markley
"The Revolution Starts Now"      The Mahones
"Counting"  Jherek Bischoff, featuring Carla Bozulich
"Karmageddon"      Hank Williams III
"Jump Around"       House of Pain
"If  You Know What's Good For You"      Dale Watson
"The Transformers Theme"       White Lion
"The Americans"         John Mellencamp
"Dying of Another Broken Heart"          Lindi Ortega


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tommy's Mindlessly Stupid Project, volume 2

You can read here part one of my little project, where I wind my way through my movie shelves as I get ready in the mornings, and go to bed at night, with occasional pauses to sit and truly enjoy what I've got on my shelves.

The rules?  Running alphabetically through my movie collection.  No pausing to fret about what's next.  Just pick up the movie, and go on.  With a small handful of exceptions in my collection (gifts, etc) I've picked out every one of the movies on my shelves.  Why I'd hem and haw over what to watch is quite the vexing bit of personal bullshit.

Anyway.  Thoughts concerning what I've watched:

Armageddon  (1998, D: Bay)

I'm the douchebag, by the way, who undermines his own system of alphabetical organization by keeping the few Criterion Collection discs he owns on their own shelf.  I'd originally planned to include those at the end, because the bulk of them will take their own viewings on the good TV, and not be simply background noise as I get ready.  Part of this is logistical...if it's a foreign language flick, it doesn't key to my ear well.  Part of it is that some flicks just deserve the attention.  Anyway, I watched this one out of alphabetical order...I'll try to keep up with the Criterion stuff as well as I can....

That said, I'm not going to argue that Armageddon is a great flick, though there's part of me that acknowledges the argument about all key characters being introduced and fleshed out early on.  Beyond that, all logical parts of my brain say that this is the stupidest movie ever, and very much one to point at as not only what's wrong with movies in general, but America as well.  Still, I'm not sold that Armageddon's a bad flick.  It's a fun flick, and a very pretty one.   It's not without its verbal charm:  I still think that Billy Bob Thornton walks around his house saying "it's what we call a global killer...."

Back to the Future  (1985, D: Zemeckis)

I generally pull this one out once a year, or so.  It came out when I was 8, and out on video right about the time we got a VCR when I was growing up.  We taped it off HBO (I believe).  This one's gotta rank up there with the Star Wars movies, Ghostbusters and Batman with movies I've seen most.

I've always thought about what a mindfuck the whole bit's gotta be for Marty, but we never see the biggest mindfuck of all.  If you can overlook the bit where Marty returns to a different 1985 than he left, and that there stands a good argument that there might be another Marty floating around at the end of Back to the Future 1, you have to ask yourself how many different things would have happened to the Marty of the new time line, where George McFly decked Biff, that original Marty would have no memory of.  Maybe Marty and his brother and sister were destined to be, if George and Lorraine got together.  But would all their life events be the same?  Hey Marty....remember when we went to Disneyland a couple years back?  What are you talking about....I've never been to Disney....

Back to the Future 2    (1989, D: Zemeckis)

Back to the Future 2 and 3 might have been my Dad's and my first joint fanboy experience...we both wanted these movies to be so awesome.  And you know what?  even 25 years later, I'm satisfied with the outcome.

It also contains my favorite sequence...Biff's dark 1985? That shit is awesome!  The bit where Marty ends up on former principal Strickland's porch, and they mention that schools aren't part of the Hill Valley agenda gets me thinking that Biff may be a little bigger than Hill Valley.  How do you circumvent county, state and national schooling agendas?  Biff money.  That's how.

Also, Lorraine's big fake dark Biff cleavage is still the favorite of 12-year-old Tommy.

Back to the Future 3    (1990, D: Zemeckis)

Okay.  This only started bugging me a few years ago.  So, Seamus and Maggie McFly are George McFly's great grandparents (William, is called Marty's great-grandpa, so William would be George's grandfather).  The McFly name follows that line down to Marty, so it stands to some reason that Marty might look like Seamus.

Why does Lorraine look like Maggie?  She's not descended from the McFlys.  Or is she?

Recent investigations into my family history have revealed that my great grandparents William and Florida were second cousins.  I guess it's not all that odd, or implausible.  Just something that pops into my mind, now any time I see Lea Thompson as Maggie in this flick....

Also of note:  Dub Taylor makes Tommy's Movie Shelf Appearance #2 in this flick....

Batman   (1989, D: Burton)

I could write and write and write about the 1989 Batman.  I can tell you where I was when I saw this flick the first time (the 1:15 show at the Plaza Twin on Saturday, June 24 with my friend Lindsey....my folks wouldn't take me out to the much ballyhooed June 23 opening....my friend Nigel went and I was jealous).  I could tell you that I saw this movie five times in the theater, that summer (if you include a viewing at the Swingin' Midway Drive-In).  This was the first pre-recorded VHS tapes that my family ever owned.  Everything else, up until then, was rentals or stuff taped off TV.  This might be the only movie that I burnt myself out on.

I love Batman.  Still.  Have since the fifth grade, or so.  So, this movie was Big Shit for me.  Watched it at least once a week for a couple of years.  And once a month after that, for a long time, all the way up into college.

I hit a point, though. Don't know.  Maybe when you memorize a flick.  I honestly went seven or eight years between viewings.  It wasn't until I picked up the DVD.

You know what?  It's still solid, for what it is.  I feel like, even in 1989, that DC was at a loss for what a millionaire playboy was, but I still like Keaton's Bruce Wayne best.

Batman Begins   (2005, D: Nolan)

I remember looking forward to this flick when it came out, but being dubious about the Christian Bale casting.  In fact, I am still dubious about the Christian Bale casting.

Batman Begins isn't a bad flick.  In fact, it's a pretty fucking good flick, perhaps better put together and truer to the mythos than any of Nolan's later works.  It touches on a lot of the same bits that made Frank Miller's Year One and Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale's Long Halloween work so well for me.  It's just a more solidly put together movie than its sequels, too. (Dark Knight Rises doesn't hold up, and later viewings of Dark Knight make me realize how much Joker's villainy holds that flick together).

The Ken Watanabe/Liam Neeson Ra's al Ghul okey doke is pretty cool.  And I like watching Cillian Murphy wallow around as Scarecrow.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm    (1993, D: Timm, et al).

For many years, this was my favorite Batman flick.  It's the one that hit both Batman and Joker as close to the versions in my head as possible, and it's still the case with Batman.

Mark Hamill doesn't get enough credit for his work as the Joker.  Just an all around good flick, one that I'm glad actually got a big screen showing...

Batman: the Movie    (1966, D: Martinson)

There was a period where I just ATE that 60's Batman show up.  Then, I denied its existence.  I've only recently wandered back to the way of thinking that allowed me to enjoy the show.  What goofy fucking fun.  The bit with Batman trying to get rid of the bomb?  That's funny, funny stuff.

Baxter     (1989, D: Boivin)

This is a good movie to watch when you're down on humanity, on the whole.  Which I have been, lately.

Beerfest    (2006, D: Chandrasekhar)

You know, Super Troopers was a home run for the Broken Lizard guys, and I call Club Dread a solid triple.  Beerfest?  Meh.  Bloop hit?

Really didn't think much of it with this viewing.  Jurgen Prochnow is probably the best part of the movie.  This one's probably going to get traded in the next time I cull the shelves.

Beetlejuice    (1988, D: Burton)

Just a fun flick.  Michael Keaton, Geena Davis and Catherine O'Hara are all favorites.  Big.  Loud.  Whimsical.  Dark.  Right up my alley.

Best in Show   (2000, D: Guest)

This one makes me think of my buddy Steven, if only for the fact that we did Harlan Pepper's nut-naming routine for years.  His and Janet's attachment to the dog show scene, despite being such a big part of their lives, somehow seems secondary to that one throwaway bit.

As Guest movies go, this one ranks after Waiting for Guffman, and probably after A Mighty Wind, despite the characterizations ringing more familiar to me than either of those previous two.  All I can think of is that one joke about Eugene Levy's character having two left feet...I don't know why I hate the bit, but it ruins a good bit of the movie altogether.  And somehow, Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins just bug me in their roles.

Still, definite charms.  The left foot joke notwithstanding, I love Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, and the bit with the credit card decline at the hotel front desk is somehow endearing.  Jane Lynch hits the nail on the head (as she almost always does), and I really enjoy Christopher Guest as Harlan Pepper...

Best of the Best    (1989, D: Radler)

This is the best bad karate movie ever.  I once joked that it starred the less talented siblings of both Sean Penn and Julia Roberts, though I'm just not sure that's the case on either count.  Not that I think either Chris Penn or Eric Roberts are any great shakes...I'm just no longer convinced Sean or Julia are the shit, either.

I love this movie.  Despite everything.  It's a horrible movie.  But I love it.  Especially the slo mo shots.  Especially when Sonny has to inform everybody that he's Italian.  Multiple times.

Do they coat Eric Roberts in a layer of slurm before each shot?  A double coating for fight scenes?

I love when Chris Penn, as Travis Brickley, yells "Drop him like a toilet seat."

LOVE.

Beyond the Mat    (1999, D: Blaustein).

Barry Blaustein's love letter to pro wrestling.  I hadn't watched this one in years.  It made me late for work watching Terry Funk's retirement section.  Made me sad and a little mad at myself watching Mick Foley get destroyed by the Rock.

This flick was the genesis of my bias against The Rock.  It's unfair, perhaps, to make a judgment based on one event and one perceived lack of caring as it involved both Mick's safety while taking chairshots, and lack of concern afterward.  Watching this made me realize how slanted against The Rock that shot was.  Blaustein goes out of his way to make Mick Foley a teddy bear.  It's an easy stance, because Mick seems like a hell of a good guy.  Maybe it showed a bit of truth, but it wasn't the best basis of judgment on my part, against the Rock, anyway....

I guess what I'm trying to say is:  I'm sorry Rocky.

Anyway.  Jake Roberts' section is still a kick in the gut.  Jake's wavered, and is currently supposedly on a path of the good right now, thanks to Dallas Page and others.  Based on everything this movie presents, and all the news after?  I'd never have guess Jake would have made it to 2014.....

------

Taking a break writing, now.  I need to get my ass in gear writing, though.  I'm all the way up to Cold Mountain....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dave

The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead....they weren't doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do.  As I understand it, and my understanding of this is vague at best, another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings.  We're told they were zealots fueled by religious fervor...religious fervor.  And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any God damn sense?  ---David Letterman

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

I (might) have the Kingslayer blood in me....

A bit of cross posting....this was a review of Susan Fern's The Man Who Killed Richard III over on Goodreads.com.


When I heard about the discovery of Richard III's remains under a parking lot, I thought it was an interesting story, but didn't give it a great deal of thought.

Then, earlier this year, after reading John Ehle's Trail of Tears, I started digging around my own family history. My maternal grandmother's family, the Reece Family, had the same name as a chief mentioned in Ehle's work. My Mom had a family history she'd worked on, but had run into a couple roadblocks which led to gaps into our knowledge.

Well, I joined up on ancestry.com. Played around. A lot of fine work has been done, and to those people, I owe a tremendous debt.  I discovered that my line of the Reece/Reese family wasn't descended from the chief mentioned in Trail of Tears. We may have been related, but I didn't come from him, at any rate. My Reece/Reese family game to Polk County, Tennessee by way of Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and, as far back as I can see, Wales.

(Let me add here....working on ancestry.com is a mixed bag...there's a lot of good work done there, but there are also places where there's a leap of faith being made based on family tree info, rather than there being a concrete paper trail, and along a couple of other family lines, there are places where the math just doesn't work.  So, you have to be careful.  I take it with a grain of salt, and it might not be wise to take it as gospel.  That said, the work done along the Reece/Reese/Rhys line seems solid, and has multiple sources).

I went digging to see how far back I could go. I was impressed with the work of folks on the other side of the pond, who'd traced the family history back until before the year 1200. In my zeal to see just how far back the family name went, I didn't preform my due diligence to see just who these grandfathers were.

I'll admit to getting sidetracked by finding out that another great (x13) grandfather was the man who founded Pennsylvania.

It wasn't until early in August that I started reading to see who exactly these people were.

Well, Rhys ap Thomas is my great (x19) grandfather. And this book tells his story, as well as presenting evidence that he was the man who slew King Richard III. Interesting work, including Rhys's place in the reign of Henry VII, and his family's role in the life and reign of Henry VIII.  

The book itself is a quick, dry read with a lot of information packed within. I'll be going back to it in the future....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

10+ Favorite Simpsons Episodes

I was happier than I perhaps should have been about realizing I do indeed get FXX on my Cable system.  Tomorrow begins the massive marathon showing of every Simpsons episode ever.

I was a fan.  Still am, I reckon, though it's been at least five years since I've watched regularly, and probably more.  The show stopped being appointment television somewhere around season 10, truthfully, and stopped being DVR worthy somewhere around season 14 or 15.  (And yeah, I kept watching out of some odd loyalty even after that).

It's hard to say what's changed, necessarily.  Different writers, mostly.  A lack of understanding behind the keys to Homer's humor (the transition from mostly well-intentioned oaf to just a jerkass) and a need to give way to the cutaway style of Family Guy (hey, we'll mention an odd concept, and then show said ridiculous concept in action immediately after since your Mountain Dew reduced attention span can't remember a concept...).

Your best bet for the Simpsons marathon will likely come in the first three or four days of the marathon.  Still, there's interesting stuff here and there beyond....

So, in alphabetical order, my top 10+ favorite Simpsons episodes:

22 Short Films About Springfield, Season 7, 4/14/1996

Seymour!  The house is on fire!
No, Mother.  It's just the Northern Lights.

And Maggie Makes Three, Season 6, Original Airdate 1/22/1995

Winter/Spring 1995 was a good one for Simpsons.  This is one of Homer's best, and I think best exemplifies who he is.  Best Gag:  Homer drumming up business for the bowling alley.  I suggest copying his idea for my store at least twice a year....

Bart gets an Elephant, Season 5, Original Airdate 3/31/1994

Another well quoted episode.  Homer's cruelty speech.  First appearance of Cletus.  I love that.  Reminds me of elephants....

Bart vs. Australia, Season 6, Original Airdate 2/19/1995

This one is the opposite of Family Guy humor.  A lot of okeydoke misdirection.  Again, didn't realize the air mattress gag referenced something else until reading bill Bryson's book on Australia...

The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,  Season 9,  Original Airdate 9/21/1997

This one grew on me.  I think it was Homer's homemade car that put this one over the top.

Homer at the Bat, Season 3, Original Airdate 2/20/1992

Baseball and the Simpsons.  The favorite wavers, but this might be my favorite episode at the moment.

Homer's Barbershop Quartet, Season 5, Original Airdate 9/30/1993

I still sing songs from this episode.  And Barney's toothpick gag still gets a laugh.  Every time.

Homer's Enemy, Season 8, Original Airdate 5/4/1997

I like this one because I've been in both Homer's and Grimey's shoes.  Homer's power plant model is a thing of beauty, too.

Homer Goes to College, Season 5, Original Airdate 10/14/1993

Damn.  I was 16 when this one came on.  I've used Homer's description of hiding under a pile of coats to describe a co-worker or two....

Homie the Clown, Season 6   Original Airdate 2/12/1995

I think this might be the episode I quote most for the line:  those pants were supposed to be baggy!  That, and the Joe Valachi gag, which I didn't realize was a real thing until much later....

Hungry, Hungry Homer, Season 12, Original Airdate 3/4/01

Dancing away my hunger pangs...

Marge vs. the Monorail, Season 4, Original Airdate 1/14/1993

Another one that gets me singing.  Leonard Nimoy.  I call the big one Bitey.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Deletion...

Had to delete a post where I was not clear about a point in Ferguson, and it sounded like I was defending the actions of the police.  I'd like that clear:  I'm not at all condoning the killing of an unarmed person.  That's wrong, and to my mind there needs to be accountability there.  My point was that both sides of the argument have some right, and a lot wrong in this situation.  And there needs to be a lot of accountability on both sides. With the community, and with the police.  Absolutely.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The listens, this day, 13 August 2014

If you'll forgive my saying so, it's a fucking beautiful morning in my little corner of East Tennessee.  It's my first day off in a week.  I took advantage of the morning to take a walk.  I'd intended to start the Jeff Shaara Civil War book I'd downloaded off Audible (takes place in and around Chattanooga), but instead popped on the music.  It was a good walk:

"Love Roller Coaster"        Red Hot Chili Peppers
"15 Million Light Years Away"       Shooter Jennings
"Maxine"      The Traveling Wilburys
"Say It Ain't So"      Weezer
"In the Hearts of Men"        First Aid Kit
"Hide Me"         Hayes Carll
"Radio Gaga"      Queen
"Holy Roller (Hallelujah)     Portugal, the Man
"the Organ Donor's March"       Kim Boekbinder
"Put Down that Weapon"      Midnight Oil
"Under African Skies"     Paul Simon
"Wilting Flower"       Ten Bartram
"Play the Game"      Queen

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

Robin Williams died yesterday.  A stocker told me.  I sat down to drink a bottle of water, and thumbed my way through the Twitter, hoping a lot more than I'd have thought that it was a twitter hoax.

A conversation at work among several folks had us trying to create a consensus around several actors and actresses in the broad term of whether or not they were funny.  We said we needed a chart.  There was debate, and many of us came away appalled at the opinions of others.  Benjamin made himself a pariah by stating he was not a fan of Bill Murray's.  A name that didn't bring as much debate as I'd have thought was Robin Williams.

Personally?  I had mixed feelings. I thought he could be a camera hog, and that his volume came from the school where loud = funny, but ultimately I liked him.  I especially liked the silly.  But I also appreciated the dark place his humor came from.

Shyam and I talked about it Sunday night.  In recent months, I've wandered across Death to Smoochy and Insomnia.  I enjoyed both, especially the latter.  I considered both a small attempt at Robin to look into that dark place that his humor came from.

I also caught Jack on tv one afternoon after getting off from work.  It's not a great movie, but I always enjoy watching Bill Cosby ham it up.  I could also note that the flick was the genesis of a crush I carried for Jennifer Lopez for a time.  I was especially struck at what a perfect role it seemed to be for Robin Williams.  A guy who, at 40+, still had the ability...or the need...to play, to be silly.

It's not a great movie.  Flawed in many ways.  If you haven't seen it, Robin plays the titular character as a 10-year-old whose aging process is sped up.  10-year-old mind in a 40-year-old body.  IMDB lists Tom Hanks as the first choice to play the part, but I gotta say that Robin seemed to be the embodiment of that spoken ideal.

I hadn't seen the movie in years...maybe since it came out for rental in 1996 or 1997.  I watched, and was struck by the school scenes.  By Jack walking alone on the playground.  

I think my favorite scene was Bill Cosby, as Jack's tutor, trying to keep Jack's attention, as he is distracted by the boys his own age.  Jack wanting to fit in, and reaching out in the only way he knew how...by being weird.

I hated to hear about Robin's death, especially since it's reported he's taken his own life.  Given that Shyam's and my conversation about the dark place his humor came from came the night before.  It resonated as I sat in the office at work.

I didn't think it'd feel like a punch to the sternum.  But it did.

Thanks, Robin.  Thanks for the silly.

I wish it had gone down differently.

I would like to share this, from Rob Delaney, who is also silly (but quite correct in this) right here:  On Depression and Getting Help

A few favorites....mostly for the silly:



(I still love Baron Munchausen, which I watched a month or so ago as part of my Big Stupid project....it was another flick perfectly suited to Williams.  Everybody is in a scenery chewing contest in that movie.  Loud, colorful.  Perfect for Robin....)



Sunday, August 03, 2014

Big Stupid Tommy's Mindlessly Stupid Project

In the mornings, I watch movies or TV on DVD as I get ready for work.  It's just a habit I've gotten into.  I've found that, for some reason, watching the news or Sportscenter tends to slow me down.  I'll stop what I'm doing to watch a highlight, or catch a weather report.  If it's a movie or a TV show I've seen, I'll just follow along aurally as I go about the business of finding just the right pair of boxer shorts to go along with the black pants, socks, white t-shirt and green, blue or white dress shirt that I wear every day of my life.

Or so it seems.

Please excuse the free floating hostility.  Your old pal Tommy's working like a botard again.

Anyway.  I watch movies or TV.  Usually it's old favorites.  I go in series.  The Star Wars flicks.  The Star Trek flicks.  Harry Potter.  Or by director.  Kevin Smith.  Mel Brooks.  Wes Anderson.  Or, I'll go with a TV show.  Amazon had a good deal on the whole Seinfeld series earlier this year.  I watched those.  Seinfeld was trouble, because there were episodes, especially in seasons 8 and 9, that I hadn't seen since that show's original run, and in one case, never.  Those sometimes slowed me down, made me late.

Should I mention that it's all DVD, in the mornings?  I can't stream Netflix to the bedroom TV (old house, old TV, not worth the effort, when I can watch Netflix in the living room, or on the computer, or on the Kindle or on my phone so much more easily).  So, I just pop a DVD in the player.  I press stop when I need to.

Occasionally, the picking of the next watch became an issue.  I'd stand there at my DVD/BluRay shelf, staring at the 450 or so movies and the 75 or so seasons of TV shows I've accumulated in the 14 years or so I've had a DVD or BluRay player, and just be completely unable to make a quick choice.

Which was stupid, I decided.  I wasn't picking something to sit and watch.  I was picking familiar stuff for background noise.  So, I just decided to go in order.

I'm not too anal about much.  But, I do keep my movies in alphabetical order.  Just easier, that way.

As such?  Easy to pick an order.

I've been on this particular project for a couple months now.  Most flicks, it takes about 3 days to watch.  Usually, it'll run for a half hour in the mornings, and maybe another 15 minutes at night.  Some movies have ended up not taking as long.  There have been a couple flicks that I'd forgotten their charms, and ended up moving them from the bedroom TV to the big TV to give them their proper attention.

Most of what I've watched?  Pretty familiar stuff.  But, there were a couple movies I put into the DVD player, remotely curious as to what exactly made me pick that particular movie up.  So far, both movies made me remember what I liked about them.  This will be a long post, because I want to say a couple words about each movie.  A couple flicks might even warrant longer posts.  

Anyway....what I've seen so far?

8 Heads in a Duffel Bag   (1997, D: Schulman)

Not a great flick, by any stretch of the imagination. I could never find a way to argue such. Still, it's not a bad flick, for a ham handed dark comedy, where Joe Pesci doesn't lapse into parody so much as he wallows in it.  I like it for individual performances.  Pesci, David Spade and Andy Comeau both make me smile.  I think I saw Comeau in a cell phone commercial not long ago....

13th Warrior    (1999, D: McTiernan)

I love this movie.  I have always loved this movie, from the day that I saw it one late summer afternoon on a day off from work.  This is a movie best seen on a cloudy winter day.  I watched it on a summer morning in June.  Yeah.  Hammy.  But I love ham.

28 Days Later   (2002, D: Boyle)

I hadn't watched this one in five or six years, if not longer.  It's not a bad movie, but outside of Brendan Gleeson (making Tommy's Movie Shelf Appearance #1) and Christopher Eccleston, there's not a lot in this movie that I really enjoyed.  The next time I do a cull of what I own, this one probably won't make the cut.

30 Days of Night   (2007, D: Slade)

Another I hadn't watched in a while. Except for the fact that it wasn't wrapped in cellophane, there isn't much that makes me think I'd watched this since I saw it in the theater. That said?  I liked this movie. Plus, I've had some time to get past my "Ugh, this guy again?" thing with Josh Hartnett.

the 40-year-old Virgin   (2005, D: Apatow)

I've gone sour on Apatow's stuff.  In fact, I'd really felt like I'd watch this, and end up taking to trade at McKay's or just donating to Goodwill.  Still, there's a heart to this one.  Somehow, outside of an odd scene or two (waxing scene...), there wasn't much that sounded particularly flat to my ear.  I ended up especially liking the stuff with Steve Carell and Kat Dennings, and Steve Carell having to bail Romany Falco's character out of a tight spot with his girlfriend was still good.  Not an A-movie, but still my favorite of Apatow's stuff....

61*    (2001, D: Crystal)

I hadn't watched this one in a little while.  I can remember calling this one a favorite baseball movie way back in the early days of my Blogamathing.  I still liked it well enough, but I don't put it in my top 5, nowadays.  Pepper's good, and Anthony Michael Hall and Bruce McGill are fun as Whitey Ford and Ralph Houk.  Somehow, I couldn't quite cotton to Thomas Jane drawling his way around this flick. 

300    (2006, D: Snyder)

As much as I want to sneer about Zach Snyder, I own four of his flicks.  He knows how to translate and create a visual for the big screen.  I ended up putting this one on the big TV, with the sound on mute, and listening to Metallica's S&M album.

1941   (1979, D: Spielberg)

I can't call this one a great movie, but I admire its scope and ambition.  Still, I think it's worth noting that I wouldn't have paid much more than the $1.95 I did for it.  It's got ham.  I think we've established that I like a nice hammy comedy, every now and then.   This movie features Dub Taylor appearance #1.

2012    (2009, D: Emmerich)

I like movies with Destructo.  Show me a National Landmark being destroyed, and people running from it in your trailer?  I'll be there on opening day.  (At this writing, Into the Storm is opening later in the week, and I'll be there with bells on).  As Destructo Movies go?  Lots of it.  Still, it's a badly paced mess.  It's almost like Emmerich wants to channel Altman in his flicks, but doesn't quite understand the need for chemistry or even good words to put into their mouths.  There's much cringeworthy here.  Still, I'll pop it into the DVD player once a year.  Another one maybe to put on headphones and watch.

Adventures in Babysitting    (1987, D: Columbus)

Another cheap purchase, picked up after a conversation with Shyam about Vincent D'Onofrio.  Prior to that conversation, I was unaware (or I'd forgotten) that he plays the mechanic in this flick.  I'd forgotten much about this movie.  Major plot points, I remembered, but the one-armed mechanic?  Or Penelope Ann Miller's adventures in the bus station?  Completely forgot. Nice nostalgic rush when the "don't fuck with the babysitter" line pops in there.  My folks had a conniption when they heard that line while 11-year-old me and 7-year-old sister watched and laughed.....

Adventures of Baron Munchausen   (1988, D: Gilliam)

Until I saw Brothers Grimm, I always said Terry Gilliam would never have to apologize for anything he did.  This one isn't a great movie, but I love its fairy tale energy, the huge colors, the seeming scenery-chewing competition that erupts.  Oddly?  I like Sarah Polley's ability to ground the larger-than-life characters.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence    (2001, D: Spielberg)

Didn't really know how well I'd like this one.  I've always considered it a meandering mess.  Still, there are plenty of creepy visuals.  This movie contains Brendan Gleeson Movie Shelf Appearance #2)

Alien    (1979, D: Scott)

Damn, but this a beautifully put together movie.  Scary as hell, still.  I'm a bit claustrophobic, and this is one of the movies that makes me need to go out and take a walk in an open area after I watch.  I ended up putting this one on the big TV.  Because it deserves it.  I hadn't sat to watch in a couple years, which is a pity.  Every time I watch, it vaults back up into my personal top 20.  (Also a pity?  I owned Aliens, at some point, and I couldn't say where it is.  I don't know if I lent it to Dad during his convalescence a couple years back, or I've lent it to someone else.  I need to rectify this situation.  It is also great, but for completely different reasons).

the Alamo   (2004, D: Hancock)

Another movie I would not own except for the fact I found it at a closing Hollywood Video for two dollars. And if I judged on the basis of performances from Dennis Quaid, Patrick Wilson and Jason Patric, I would probably have overpaid by nearly $1.91.  Still, there's something I like about Billy Bob Thornton's Davy Crockett.  Billy Bob seems best in roles where he's ill-at-ease with public perception.  And the cheesy fiddle scene?  Yeah.  I like ham.

Apocalypto   (2006, D: Gibson)

Had to put this one on the big TV.  It's not an aurally friendly movie, if you're trying to get ready for work.  I like this flick.  Gibson's a raving, racist lunatic with a persecution complex.  That man against the world vibe works in his favor in this flick.

the Aristocrats    (2005, D: Provenza)

I hadn't watched this in years.  Maybe since I first bought it.  Made me want to try standup again.

Army of Darkness   (1992, D: Raimi)

Heh heh heh.  This one is still so much fun.  Boom Stick.

Arsenic and Old Lace    (1944, D: Capra)

Cary Grant has maybe the best double take in all of cinematic history.  

The Avengers    (2012, D: Whedon)

You know, the logistics of making this movie are still amazing to me.  Good on Marvel for getting this one done, and done well.  I still get a Fan Boy grin whenever the heroes are in a circle for the first time.

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I'm going to end this particular post here.  The baseball game I'm watching is going off, and my butt's tired.  Currently, I am watching Bridge on the River Kwai.  Between Avengers and that one, there's maybe 15 more movies to write a quick capsule for....it'll come....



Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014

I'm really not caring much for 2014.

Not sure why.

Not enough stegosaurus, probably.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night, Part CXVII

An Insomnia Post?

Once a staple of ye olde blogamathing.  It doesn't seem to happen often, anymore, a sleepless night.  Once a month, I'd wager.  A regimen of Valerian Root before bed seems to help, trippy dreams and all.  I've moved over to Advil PM for about a week, though.  I've had a shoulder that's been bugging me off and on for a bit, and the past week it's been shouting a little bit. Took a couple before bed last night.  It's cut the shoulder pain, but here my ass is, wide awake since getting up to take a leak around 2.

Random thoughts?

Shyam came over Sunday and we watched the World Cup Final.  I can say without any exaggeration that I've watched more soccer in the past month than I have in my entire life put together.  I wrote a brief post about it a couple weeks back, when the tournament was still in Pool Play.  My feelings are much the same as then.  I have a better appreciation for the game.  It's still not my cup of tea (shorten that field, dammit), but I can see the appeal for you folks.  Like I said, a few billion people can't be all wrong, and in this case, are most likely not.

----

For the first time in a long time, I'm optimistic about the Cubs' future.  Shyam was talking about the prospects of the United States ending up in a World Cup Final in her lifetime, and comparing it to the Cubs' history.

Toward the US in the World Cup, I can see it happening, though it'll be difficult.  It'll take a bit of a philosophical change for the Unites States' program, but I can also say that as a country, soccer's moving more into the limelight.  With so many sports available to athletes, it's hard to say that soccer will be able to influence the best athletes away from American football, baseball, etc.  But, I think they'll have an easier time of it, especially given the exposure the game seems to be getting, lately.

As for the Cubs?  I'm optimistic.  I think the core of young offensive talent in the high minors is exciting.  Very much so.  I think Theo and Jed have done much toward reshaping the organizational philosophy around talent development.  I think it's going to bear fruit, and quickly.

I'm not going to tell you the Cubs are going to win a World Series in 2016, or anything like that.  I am going to tell you that over the next 5 years?  I think they're going to be very much in the conversation.

-----

A lot of my time awake tonight has been spent thinking about work.

Truth be told, the job's been difficult the past few months.  I wish there were one thing I could spell out that were the particular bugaboo.  It's a lot of things, though.

Scheduling is the biggest concern.  The inability to get weekends off, or even two days in a row, is a pain in the ass.  Not sure what exactly has changed in the past year.  I went back and looked at the schedules since last July.  I've had 3 weekends off that weren't associated with my taking a vacation.  And I'd call bullshit, except that my boss is in the exact same boat.  And we both have vacation time where it averages out where you get your weekends, but in the end, that's exactly part of the problem.  I wander into this week, covering for his vacation.  In two weeks, I'll be having to cover for another.

I'd asked for next weekend off to go to a Braves game with the family.  With him on vacation, it's a no go.

I guess that's the frustrating thing.  There have been plans for camping, or for baseball games or some other manner of event over the past year that I've had to give up because of work.

I'm a grownup.  Or at least, I'm trying to be.  I understand that you don't get what you want all the time.

Family and friends understand (I think).  They ask if I can attend things well in advance.  It's tough saying no.  Especially since we're all grownups, and the window to be able to get together to do things opens and shuts pretty quickly.

Other concerns?

Having to depend on people who don't give a shit.  Such is life in the minimum wage world.  And it's where the weekends get tedious.  Had two call-ins on a Saturday night shift.  And we couldn't get anybody to come in to cover.  The call-ins themselves are enough of a pain.

Can I just say this?  I haven't thrown up 3 times in the past 5 years.  However, if you find yourself sick enough to puke 3 times in 5 weeks?  You've got a problem that you need to see a doctor about.  That, or you're full of shit.  Can you guess which one I'm leaning toward?

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Lastly, it occurs to me that it is Bastille Day.  And I still wonder, after all these years, if my friend Julie gets nostalgic for prison breaks on this, her birthday....

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Come to work

Come to work.  How about it, America?

Maybe not act like an upstanding populace, instead of a 2500 mile wide landfill filled with putrid garbage people.

Come to work.

Even on Saturdays.

We have a problem in this country.

Somewhere along the lines, we decided it was a bad thing, something for other people to do, to work weekends.

I've mentioned in the past that we don't have an unemployment problem.  We have an unemployable problem.

I leafed through work applications tonight.  The number of people who list themselves as unavailable on weekends?  Roughly 50%.

It's a service industry.  It's not always fun, but it is what it is.  That means working weekends.

Still.  Some of us botards end up working more than our share.  It wouldn't be such an issue, if everybody pulled their weight.

I'm a big believer that if everybody works hard, nobody has to work too hard.

Not everybody shares this view.

Your old pally Tommy is a tired asshole tonight.  Covering for two people will do it to you.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Link Dump

I'm just going to leave this here:

Presidents with Boobs on their Faces.