December 23, 2005

One more thing about King Kong

"Beauty killed the beast?" I've never understood this line from the King Kong films. What did she have to do with it? Other than being used as bait?

More like, 'show business killed the beast,' I think. But whatever.

Posted by Chris on 12/23/05

I read that Mr. Jackson was also enamoured of Faye Wray after first seeing King Kong. He wrote her a fan letter and received a letter back all those years ago, and more recently he visited her and got her blessing before remaking King Kong.

I'm don't think a crush on a screen siren counts as ghey, perhaps if Chris' crush was on Robert Armstrong or Bruce Cabot...(unless I've completely misunderstood what ghey is)

Happy 2006

Posted by: simon at January 1, 2006 9:37 AM

December 22, 2005

Expressions I'd Like to See Catch On

Here are a handful of phrases I'd like to see catch on. They are basically unrelated, and one of them is not mine.

People, if we all start making an effort to use them at least once a week, I think there's a chance they will work their way into the vernacular. Please. This is what I want for Christmas.

  • When I see a strange film that I do not care for very much, and someone asks me what I thought, I like to respond in deadpan that I felt it was far and away the "Raging Bull" of its very specialized category.

    For instance, when I saw "Mimic" starring Mira Sorvino and was severely underwhelmed, I described it as the "Raging Bull" of big bug movies.

    Another: I just saw "Melinda and Melinda" and I would call it the "Raging Bull" of Woody Allen's late-career, awful, unfunny movies. Also: "The Patriot" starring Mel Gibson is the "Raging Bull" of historically inaccurate, shamelessly manipulative historical epics. You get the picture.

    (I would like to say that "Cinderella Man" is the "Raging Bull" of lesser boxing films that take their cues from "Raging Bull," but that is not really true - the movie's actually pretty good, and it's nothing like "Raging Bull." But how funny would that have been?)

  • If ever several unfortunate factors combine to create a massive unfortunate net result, I like to refer to it as a "Perfect Storm" of that thing.

    For instance, at the grocery counter the other day the man ahead of me was paying in pennies, holding everyone up. The cashier made it worse by sighing heavily and then having to change the tape out on the register after the man was through counting the coins out one by one. And then the manager came over and compounded the problem by demanding to know what the problem was, so that the cashier had to relay the whole issue, after which he just walked away and contributed no help whatsoever.

    When someone asked me what took so long in the grocery store, I told them it was a Perfect Storm of Dumbasses.

  • The other day during a random conversation that is far too complex and filled with obscure references to recount here, Friend Jessica suggested that truly, a mutual friend of ours belonged amongst the clouds with Billy Dee Williams. It made me laugh all day long. I have decided, what could be a better way of expressing to someone that they deserved some rich, rich reward, than to tell them this?

    "I saw that your tank was near empty so I stopped by the gas station and filled it up for you."

    "How kind! Truly, you belong with Billy Dee Williams amongst the clouds."

    Posted by Chris on 12/22/05

    I loooooove the Lando line, and will do all in my power to use it whenever it may apply. Thank you!

    Posted by: klugula at December 26, 2005 12:43 PM
  • The Loyal Citizen's Contract With the American Government

    Head over to the Rude Pundit's site and print off your copy of The Loyal Citizen's Contract With the American Government:

    "I (the undersigned) believe President George W. Bush when he says that the United States of America is fighting a 'new kind of enemy' that requires 'new thinking' about how to wage war. Therefore, as a loyal citizen of President Bush’s United States, my signature below indicates my agreement to the following:

    "1. I believe wholeheartedly in the Patriot Act as initially passed by Congress in 2001, as well as the provisions of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act. Therefore, I grant the FBI access to:

    "a. my library records, so it may determine if I am reading material that might designate me an enemy of the nation;

    "b. my financial records, including credit reports, so it may determine if I am contributing monetarily to any governmentally proscribed activities or organizations;

    "c. my medical records, so it may determine if my prescriptions, injuries, or other conditions are indicative of terrorist activity on my part;

    "d. any and all other personal records including, but not limited to, my store purchases, my school records, my web browsing history, and anything else determined as a 'tangible thing' necessary to engage in a secret investigation of me.

    Why wouldn't you do that? Do you have anything to hide?

    Posted by Chris on 12/22/05

    December 20, 2005

    King Kong

    "King Kong" is not the study in sustained perfection that Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" was, but I think he can be forgiven for the attention he has given to this classic, and for providing another major movie thrill.

    The movie is slightly long - I think Jackson may have skipped the theatrical version and submitted his extended DVD release already. I enjoyed the backstory of the characters in NYC, but let's face it - we're all dying to get to Skull Island. Maybe if Ann Darrow's story started later, like when she arrives at the theatre to find it's shut down? Maybe if Carl Denham's story started with him tearing out of a screening room with his stolen film cans, the executives hot on his heels? And I think maybe I could have done without the subplot of Hayes and Jimmy with their "Heart of Darkness" quotations altogether.

    And then we see Kong and the movie begins to be fairly perfect. Jackson has shown us that for digital characters, it is best to use the CGI merely as a mask applied to a real, live actor - as Gollum was in "Rings," and as Kong is here. Andy Serkis makes Kong a real, breathing creature that you are first terrified of, and later that you begin to empathize with. I didn't think about CGI at all during the movie, not even when they did closeups of the ape's hair (something digital artists love to talk about on the making-of features.)

    The initial rush through the jungle, with Naomi Watts clutched in his hand and being wildly tossed around, was terrifying. The only element missing (which I am thankful for) is Watts throwing up all over herself when the ride was done. Kong seemed for the first time less like a movie monster and more like a giant ape.

    I wanted there to be maybe one more scene between them before she asserted herself with him. I wanted the brontosaurus stampede to be cut in half, (And no more raptors, please) and I wanted a lot less bugs - but still, brilliant. The Empire State Building sequence should be studied frame by frame - it is absolutely perfect. As I watched it I was thinking how absolutely thrilled Cooper and Schoedsack would be if they could see what came from their original seventy years ago.

    Something I forget about this story is that for all the cliffhanger movie-monster fun on Skull Island, the moment Ann Darrow is rescued from Kong, it's all downhill for our title character. The last few reels of the movie are like Ol' Yeller X 100. I remember being deeply upset by the '76 version, and this one is no different. I'm not positive I'd bring a kid.

    Posted by Chris on 12/20/05

    does Kong look like Marge a little bit?

    Sort of?

    Posted by: friend jessica at December 21, 2005 9:07 AM

    all I can say is somebody with initials CAMcC knew who Faye Ray was when he was a toddler!

    Posted by: annie mae at December 21, 2005 2:19 PM

    *cough* ghey *cough*

    Posted by: friend jessica at December 21, 2005 8:09 PM

    December 19, 2005

    Brokeback Mountain

    Too bad many might skip this movie because of its subject matter, because Heath Ledger has totally redeemed himself from his strange turn earlier this year in "The Brothers Grimm." I often don't remember a whole year's worth of my impressions of movies and performances, and I certainly don't write about everything I see, but his and Jake Gyllenhaal's performances have to be the best of aught five. And Ang Lee has also been totally forgiven for "Hulk."

    In this movie Ledger is not only playing a 1960s cowboy dealing with his feelings for another man (tough enough), but doing it with a bare minimum of dialogue. We also see the character age believably maybe a decade or more through the story. I had no doubt we were watching him turn into an old, sad man before our eyes. Maybe not everyone is ready to watch a story like this yet, and if you aren't I'm not one who's going to say you definitely should. But it's a beautiful and heart-breaking movie.

    I think Michelle Williams - who plays Ledger's wife - also deserves a nod in this movie. It was not long ago that she was a WB cutey, but here she is completely submerged as a sweet, somewhat mousey wife, totally clueless about how to deal with her husband's secret.

    Posted by Chris on 12/19/05

    On my way home from work yesterday, I was listening to 97.9 The Loop (Chicago's Classic Rock station). And they were having a contest on the air offering $50 cash to any guy that would call in and admit that he saw "The Gay Cowboy Movie" and could prove it with a ticket stub.

    They didn't qualify it by saying that the contestant had to be a straight man. So I guess they weren't being discriminatory. But I kinda felt like it was 1982 and that I was still living in Toledo, Ohio.

    I'm still not sure if I should be embarrassed or offended. Or... maybe it was funny. I just don't know.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at December 20, 2005 6:56 AM

    Brian, I'd be offended. "Gay Cowboy" is redundant.

    Posted by: simon at December 20, 2005 11:48 AM

    Citizen's DNR

    I am calling for the establishment of a "Citizen's Do Not Resuscitate" program.

    Much as ordinary citizens sometimes require the power of arrest, I believe there are some people in life so unworthy of extraordinary measures and care, that, should they in fact go into some sort of medical duress or perhaps require much hustling about over a gurney by EMS, with shots being prepared and replacement organs being flown in, that you should be able to step in and say, you know what, doctor? Thanks anyway, but you can put the paddles down. This one's not worth it.

    I mean, God forbid and all that, and we'll never actively wish anything bad on anyone, certainly, but, let's be honest. It's time to let them go. They weren't meant to linger long in this world. God has called them home, etc., etc., so put away the atropine. You did all you could. Or rather, you did all that I, as issuer of Citizen's DNR, think you should, considering the person in question.

    And maybe it will not surprise you to learn that the first people I am placing on the Citizen's DNR list are - the new Landlords.

    Yes, there has been another Landlord incident, sort of a jumbo one involving not only New Landlord(s) but Old Landlord all within minutes of one another one night.

    I don't think they were actually in collusion but I do think a sort of low-grade psychic link exists between people of this sort, so that if a chance comes around to combine their crapulence into one unified assault on logic and fair play, they will be subconsciously moved to do so.

    It was the kind of multi-incident that makes one search through the remaining unpacked boxes to find out where the hard liquor is stashed. I am not going to recount the details, because this is already close to becoming a single-issue blog lately.

    (And I have spent much mental effort in the last weeks trying to determine if my perennial Landlord Woes are something that I repeatedly bring down upon my own head. I ask myself, am I the tenant equivalent of the airline passenger who shows up to the gate drunk and disorderly, and then complains bitterly when he gets bumped from a flight or makes the ride in handcuffs? No, I don't think so.

    I WILL admit to being slightly over-sensitive around these situations. But I also think we have drawn the Old Maid card perhaps a bit more than our share in 10+ years of renting.)

    So, without getting into too many details, let's say that there was a maintenance issue in new apartment, and when we brought it up we were responded to with a high level of condescending idiocy on the phone (as I have reported before in these pages); that even though the faulty appliance was our own, Landlord was sent for, because I wanted to be sure; that he arrived and was immediately defensive, rude and, yes, condescending, making it very clear that he thought we were trying to bilk him in a spectacularly shoddy manner; and, having misjudged my own tolerance for such behavior on this particular night, my outrage dial quickly went from around 2 right up to 11, and I told new Landlord loudly and with some unfortunate word choices what I thought of his attitude.

    It was the kind of incident where everyone gets really quiet for a few seconds after your comment. It was the kind of response that he richly, richly deserved, but which I still wish I hadn't let fly with quite such vehemence. Three weeks into our 52-week obligation at the House of Five Owls, I have firmly established our relationship with Landlord(s) as contentious and adversarial.

    I am bothered that I lost my temper, but more than that, I am bothered that I am so easily bothered by these people. When will I be able to spot someone for what they are and then never expect anything but the minimum from them? Instead I always feel surprised, like the rug has been pulled out from under me.

    Dealing with people like this is always like calling someone, getting into a conversation, and then realizing you've been talking to their answering machine. OH, you think. I've been wasting my time on a device totally incapable of higher emotion. Someone left this message here that was meant to FOOL me into thinking there was a reasonable human being on the other end. How silly I feel!

    The call from Old Landlord came not two minutes after this unfortunate episode, I swear to you. And if you had told me on that morning that I would end the day considering HIM the more reasonable of recent landlords, I would have laughed - but there it was. I was almost comforted by his relatively civil words, even though he was still pushing this no-deposit thing.

    I had just put Professionally Threatening and Certified Letter in the mail to him that morning; but I admit that, faced with enemies on both sides, I decided to take the easier way out. I asked him to come up from his earlier "offer" to at least 3/5ths of the deposit, so that we could both avoid unpleasantness - and he did.

    Well - at least I've closed on that one. Now we just await what further drama may come our way in the next 49 weeks.

    Posted by Chris on 12/19/05

    You are not alone in your sh-- house luck - believe me, we could fill reems. Hang in there and good for you! There have been times in my life when a certfiable sh-- fit has paid off. Yours may as well.

    Posted by: Vickery at December 20, 2005 9:36 AM

    December 16, 2005

    Quote of the day

    An old one, and from one of my least-favorite sci-fi writers, Robert Heinlein, but it IS a great one:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

    To this I would add, "perform one magic trick, and tell a knock-knock joke that amuses kids."

    Posted by Chris on 12/16/05

    yeah, I'm not that big of a fan of heinlein either. however, that is a GREAT quote. especially if you're in a specialized occupation like we are. oh, the irony.

    Posted by: olmy at December 19, 2005 10:25 AM

    What ever happened to "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan....etc." that's a skill set I've always aspired to....

    Posted by: Vickery at December 19, 2005 1:23 PM

    December 15, 2005

    Jay Pinkerton

    Hilarious site:

    Check out his origin comics. The "Superman" origin is hilarious (Somewhat R-rated - this is an editor of the National Lampoon), and the Spiderman dailies - wow.

    Posted by Chris on 12/15/05

    December 13, 2005

    Questions and Answers About the Construction Work Going On Next Door

    I mentioned earlier that right after we moved in here they started construction next door. A bit of bad luck, since this has been a source of six-day-a-week early-morning noise, with the grinding and the hammering and the digging and the yelling, but it has also been a source of much fascination.

    My window looks right out on the site and I've had a great, steady view of how so far an empty lot has been changed into a big, neat hole in the ground. I've never watched a construction site for ths long, and it's kind of cool. In fact, my inner Three-Year Old wishes to make an observation at this point:

    My Inner Three-Year Old: Truck! Truck! BIIIIIG Truck! Yellow! Yellow Truck! Dozer! Dozer dig holes!

    Indeed. I am fascinated by this part of the process, such as how they shore up the sides of the foundation they are digging, how deep they have to make it, etc., and where it will go from here. My Inner Three-Year Old has many questions about it, which I will list here, along with the answers which I have chosen to make up based on nothing, which of course is fun to do to children.

    Q: How do they make it so level along the bottom?

    A: That's what those men with tripods are doing - shooting lasers back and forth that determine how level it is.

    Q: But then how do they make sure the ground is going to be sufficiently packed down when they're done? Won't there be tons and tons of weight on it? How do they know it won't settle down once they get to the fourth story, for instance?

    A: They have taken core samples up to a depth of one mile. That's what that particularly big noise is right at 7 AM every morning - it's them hitting the magma level.

    Q: BIIIIIIG truck! Yellow!

    A: It is technically a bulldozer, but yes, it is big, and it is also yellow.

    Q: Where are they taking all the dirt that they remove? Is there an inverse to this sort of construction process, one where they actually need MORE dirt and earth?

    A: Yes - they use it for burial mounds and also to create island chains in the Pacific for the rich.

    Q: Oh God - this isn't going to be one of those corner malls or something, is it? It's bad enough if it's going to be a mega-apartment building because we lose the small view we have, but a bunch of shops...

    A: I don't think this is the right "zone" for that, so don't worry.

    Q: Do you think those guys down there have to go through some kind of training to teach them to recognize bones or relics, should they hit any of those in their digging? If they do, they have to stop everything, right? And then somebody has to come in and figure out if it's a crime scene, or worse yet, and archeological find? And they probably don't like that, because it would mean all work would stop, so, do you think sometimes one of them might come across some bones, and he's like, "DAAAAAYUM," and then he calls over the others in a real low voice, doing it very carefully so as not to get the attention of that one guy who seems like he'd be the type to call the University or Police Department immediately, and they all look at the bones, pretending they're talking about what's for lunch or the scores from last night, and then one of them says "It's a dog leg - that's all it is," and they all kind of look at each other sideways like, "That ain't like no dog leg I ever saw," but what they say out loud is "Yep, right," and one of them quickly rolls over it with his truck wheel so it's just dust and they can stop thinking about it and move on?

    A: For every construction site, there is one undercover person from the Department of Antiquities, and you never know who that person is. Sometimes this mole will plant fake bones just to see how the rest of crew will handle it. This is why friendships are so tough to make on construction sites. Because who wants to get close to a guy and find out he's one of those Antiquities snitches?

    Q: I see they have left a dirt "ramp" for themselves to be able to drive out of the foundation they have dug. But how do they eventually get rid of that ramp? Doesn't it get bigger and bigger, and wouldn't removing it mean the bulldozer was stuck down in the foundation?

    A: Yes, that is exactly what happens. A little-known fact about construction is that you have to sacrifice at least one bulldozer per project. It's just simple physics. Whether or not there is still a man inside it when you pour the foundational concrete over it is a matter of site politics.


    A: Yes, we covered that.

    Posted by Chris on 12/13/05

    Very Entertaining! There is actually a childen's book where that really does happen, the bull doser does get stck and they end up using it as the boiler or something. I will try and think of the book - Annie Mae will know.

    Posted by: Vickery at December 13, 2005 1:29 PM

    How often art imitates life...

    Posted by: Chris at December 13, 2005 3:00 PM

    I KNOW what they're doing with the extra dirt! Filling in all the earthquake holes!!

    Posted by: lvm at December 16, 2005 8:42 AM

    The name of the book is "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" and it was made into a video - we rented it many times.


    Posted by: Jim Fitz at December 17, 2005 7:37 PM

    Idea for business

    Merry Christmas, World of Business. Here's my present to you: a great new idea for you to exploit, which I give freely in the spirit of the holiday.

    Every photo-organizing software tool I've seen has a feature to take the red out of eyes so we don't look like dogs or demons in our pictures. So how about a setting to make our teeth look whiter?

    How about a slightly-slimming option? How about something to draw pupils on my eyelids when I have my eyes closed?

    Just throwing it out there.

    Posted by Chris on 12/13/05

    Don't forget the turkey necks and crow's feet...wardrobe tweaking ...hairdo could go on forever!

    Posted by: lvm at December 16, 2005 8:45 AM

    December 12, 2005

    It's Landlord-Suin' Season Again

    God, is it that season again? Isn't it strange how time just seems to FLY the older you get! The days are getting shorter, the leaves are starting to change, there's a chill in the air, the Landlord tries to keep the security deposit... Ah, the cycle of nature. So comforting in its regularity.

    It seems like only three years ago that we had to sue Landlord, and of course two years after that that our money plus some more came back to us. How does the song go? To everything there is a season! Turn! Turn! Turn!

    Old Landlord says, you guys were such good tenants. But oh! I cannot give you this money back because... uh, you were late on giving me notice that you were leaving. Um, I mean, you messed up the counters. I mean, these holes you left in the wall were too big. Yeah, that's it, that's the one I'm going with.

    I says, you do what you have to do, I'll do what I have to do, I'm not arguing about it.

    Old Landlord says, what do you mean by that? Let's not let this get ugly. Tell you what - it took $2200 to repair all the damage you people did, but I am generous and I will return half of your deposit.

    I says, no, I'll take the whole thing.

    Old Landlord says, do you want to see the pictures?

    I says, no thanks, we took our own pictures, which we're giving to a lawyer.

    Old Landlord says, if you want to handle it that way, you'll get nothing.

    I says, you do what you have to do, I'll do what I have to do, I'm not arguing about it.

    Old Landlord says more but it all amounts to the statements above. (This is the Radio Shack Landlord - he repeats himself a lot.)

    And so it begins - again. Stay tuned.

    Posted by Chris on 12/12/05

    Again with the crooked landlords. Cripes.

    Somewhere in heaven there is a place for you where nothing is broken, you don't have to pretend that you share your apartment with the people living above you, things don't roll off of tables because the building is falling over, there is no water leakage, doorframes are wide enough, security deposits are due to YOU, and all of your services that you pay for as a tennant are handled without question. And in that place, all of your old landlords are your tenants.

    Not to mention... the alleys are free of stray couches and shoe stealers.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at December 12, 2005 11:19 AM

    Jesus mary and the lord. What the hell is up? It's like you're flypaper for bad landlordery! Anything we can do to help? (I like to say that when I know there's nothing I can do)

    Posted by: friend jessica at December 12, 2005 12:07 PM

    I am equally flabbergasted by this new (old) news. I would like to offer my vast legal renter's knowledge to assist you. But, I don't have any. I guess you're SOL. Good luck. Anyone know of a good place I can dump a used sofa?

    Posted by: KLUGULA at December 12, 2005 1:29 PM

    Don't you know that you're not supposed to sue landlords after Labor Day?

    Posted by: relpek at December 12, 2005 3:44 PM

    SC is at the bottom of every list ever posted, BUT the state does have a Landlord/Tenant Act that completely protects the tenant's rights. Call your State Board of Realtors and see is something like that exists in a progressive state like California. They should have some good suggestions on getting YOUR deposit back. annie mae

    Posted by: annie mae at December 13, 2005 7:06 AM

    Here's what you do - in addition to upgrading the photo shop software, write a book on landlord management - oh, I forgot who I was talking to! - write a book on landlord MISmanagement. You'll make a fortune and will be able to send lots of money to Alabama!!!!

    Posted by: lvm at December 16, 2005 9:02 AM

    December 8, 2005

    You'll take my Baby Jesus when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers

    So I guess this "War on Christmas" talk is going to be an annual event, then? Are we to add it now to our list of Christmas traditions, like watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and midnight Mass? Can we expect to hear this on the airwaves every year along with Nat King Cole and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Silent Night?"

    Maybe this is just what the Christmas season needs, though - a little life breathed into it through some artificial drama. I think a reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" is going to have that much more significance if we all pretend that at any time the ACLU is going to break down the door and demand we stop.

    And how much more fun will putting up the plastic Nativity be if we can act righteous and martyred while we do it? Remember what Ann Coulter said "Merry Christmas" meant to her last year - we can all hold that thought in our hearts as we defend our traditions.

    I guess I feel about the R.R. and their "War on Christmas" the way I feel about a meter maid when he slaps an $85 parking ticket on my windshield. Congratulations on having rid the entire city of crime, I want to say. Thank God you now have the kind of time to deal with infractions like this!

    Posted by Chris on 12/ 8/05

    To be fair, the ACLU might consider laying off the Christmas lawsuits, it only gives the right wingers something to whine about and belch up another pointless argument to distract us from things that matter. Christmas is only three months of the year after all. I don't care so much about having Christmas or other religious displays on public property, so long as tax dollars aren't going towards it - I can't imagine Jesus would want money spent on housing plastic ornaments celebrating His birthday instead of using the money housing and caring for the needy (i.e. doing His work).

    And let's be honest about who's censoring "Merry Christmas": big business. Wal-Mart told it's employees to say Happy Holidays. Coca Cola replaced Santa with polar bears. These aren't liberal hippies gone PC wild, these are cynical capitalists afraid of losing a few bucks because not everyone celebrates Christmas. On this note, I don't see the RR getting upset that Wal-Mart is open on Sundays, forcing its employees to violate the commandment explicitly stating to keep the sabbath holy. I wonder how many of the RR break that commandment themselves participating in business transactions (purchasing goods) on the sabbath.

    My favorite part in the war on Christmas nonsense has been Bill O'Reilly himself. With all his moaning about the offensive tyranny of words like Happy Holidays and Seasons' Greetings (both of which I can recall seeing on Christmas cards when I was a wee lad, so they're nothing new) he didn't notice that Fox's own bland merchandising were featuring "The O'Reilly Factor Holiday Ornament" for your "holiday tree". Fox has updated the item now but you can see the original image and article here:

    Sorry for long posting and another link.

    Yours in Christ,


    Posted by: simon at December 8, 2005 6:06 PM

    Never apologize for long replies! And I think you're right about the ACLU - it kind of reminds me of Michael Newdow's case against God in the Pledge. Technically correct, but... come on.

    And I don't get O'Reilly Christmas ornaments, no matter what they're called. Who puts this kind of thing on their tree?

    Posted by: Chris at December 9, 2005 9:45 AM

    Bah humbug! The Puritans were the first folk to eliminate Christmas, because they didn't want it to be "merry", and now those same folk (rather descendents) are wringing their hands that Christ is gone from Christmas. Is their no justice????

    Posted by: annie mae at December 12, 2005 8:13 AM

    December 7, 2005

    Things My Landlord Actually Said

    "Stoves are for cooking." - The gas stove in our new apartment is extremely old and has small flames that are actually visible right down in the middle of each burner - something we have not seen before with pilot lights and which we only discovered after we left a cookie sheet on top of the stove to let something cool. When the cookie sheet wound up scorched even though the stove was off, and when an accidentally-placed dishtowel nearly caught fire, this was LandLady's response.

    "Have you been in your bathroom?" - Five days after we'd moved in, Landlady came by to ask if we were missing a toilet paper spindle. When I responded in the negative, she looked puzzled and asked me this.

    "Nobody even uses that machine to be buzzed up." - LandLady's response when I asked for the third time to have my phone programmed to be able to buzz people up through our security gate. Ironically when I left my apartment minutes after she said this, I found the cable man had been trying to buzz me for ten minutes.

    Posted by Chris on 12/ 7/05

    What is it with you and the landlords?

    I have never known anyone to have so much trouble. It's just not fair!

    You are flypaper for freak-landlords!

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at December 8, 2005 6:37 AM

    Friend, I simply present the facts - I let you be the judge.

    Posted by: Chris at December 8, 2005 9:21 AM

    December 6, 2005

    Do not miss

    There is a new "Brackenwood" movie out.

    These are short movies done in Flash by Adam Phillips - but they're not little cheeseball jokes. They're full-fledged stand-alone pieces of animation, and most of the stories - "Bitey of Brackenwood," "Prowlies at the River," "Littlefoot" - take place in an amazing, weird sort of fairy-tale world. Very good. Check out the animation and his whole site.

    You may have to install a new version of a Macromedia plug-in to see the latest, but it's worth it.

    Posted by Chris on 12/ 6/05

    Thanks for telling us about the new one, I love the Brackenwood shorts. They have a Miyazaki quality and are strong, well-made little films. Great design and color too. They're the first Flash films I saw incorporating 3-D animation.

    Here's a link in return, a new podcast from the Guardian that you might like:

    Posted by: simon at December 6, 2005 5:54 PM

    December 5, 2005

    At This Time We Do Ask

    If the airline industry requires their flight attendants to read a guidebook on how to make announcements during the flight, it is called At This Time We Do Ask.

    Except for Southwest - they'd require their employees to read At This Time We Ask That You Do Us a Favor.

    Posted by Chris on 12/ 5/05

    December 1, 2005

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

    Burton's film is perfectly shot, perfectly designed, and perfectly soulless. What a surprise.

    There is almost no motion by the actors in this film; Burton positions them against his trademark colorful, warped creations, where they mug to the camera over Depp's outlandishness - and then they are shuttled to the next crazy, wacky Burtonesque set, for the same close-ups to be repeated. That's it.

    A few of the actors (Johnny Depp of course, Freddie Highmore as Charlie) manage to insert something into this process that sparks compassion, but it was clearly achieved in spite of their director, not because of him. David Kelly ("Grandpa Joe") is getting on in years and if this ends up being his last film, it will be a travesty.

    Burton has completely missed the blackness of the Charlie Bucket story, which is ironic considering he is the go-to guy in Hollywood for palatable gothic visions. It's not a dark fairy tale, it's a child's nightmare. And Willy Wonka is not a sympathetic character to have some lame father-son backstory tacked on (nearly identical to the useless backstory in "Sleepy Hollow"), he is the inventor of a special Hell for Children, which he has populated with fiendish imps that help him torture impure kids according to their particular faults. He is the Virgil to Charlie's Dante, and the tour through the factory is nothing less than Charlie enduring a candy inferno to achieve paradise - the salvation of his family from destitution.

    But in Burton's hands "Chocolate Factory" is nothing more than the wispiest visual confection, something without substance that dissolves in seconds. Why do you people prize his work so much?

    The only thing more disturbing than watching something like the Violet Beauregard scene - a grotesque parody of a child choking on chewing gum or in the throes of an extreme allergic reaction - is watching it in the hands of a director who completely misses the horror. Burton lazily hands the scene over to the CGI people (almost with a visual jump cut as they switch away from the human actor), and that's it. The only time the film comes close to what it needs to be is the image of Veruca Salt seemingly being devoured by rodents - but how could you miss with that?

    The score? At this point in the Elfman-Burton collaboration, I see no sign that the two men even bother to confer about what particular project they're working on at the moment. The music is interchangeable and generic, and could have been created and applied by a clever program.

    Still: even in this nothing movie, even though I know he's barely running at 5% of his capacity, Johnny Depp is completely watchable and hilarious. Although I was disgusted by the film, I still queued the DVD back up to some of his choicer moments of revulsion and unease with the kids. And in Deep Roy's multiplied performance, the movie does achieve something like the lunacy it should have had throughout.

    Dear Mr. Burton:

    "Ed Wood." "Beetlejuice." "Nightmare Before Christmas." Those were perfect films, but then you became less a visionary and more a marketing inevitability. Not that you care, but I'd say the next time a project comes to you from an executive with an attached note reading something like "We just think you'd be PERFECT to revive this one!" then that's a sign that you should go another way. You've ruined enough franchises. Thank God you weren't the one to end up with "Superman."

    Posted by Chris on 12/ 1/05

    I agree completely. We watched the film for the first time last week and were both disappointed. It's as if the movie studio said "Here's a bunch of millions of dollars - go take a dump on it". As far as I'm concerned the only decent scene in the whole movie is when the robotic children catch fire when the group is about to enter the factory for the first time.

    You just can't beat Gene Wilder. Even with all the 'action' in the new boat ride it doesn't even come close to evoking the reaction the original conjured out of you.

    As a side note I remember watching the original a couple of years ago and thinking about what a scam artist Uncle Joe was - he laid on his ass for years and years pretending to be an invalid' not doing anything to help the family out and once he found out he gets to go to the chocolate factory all the sudden he's Fred Astaire.

    Posted by: Ben Jammin' at December 2, 2005 6:48 AM