Monday, December 31, 2007
The other thing I did was rearrange the furniture in my living room. I had this trunk/coffee table in the middle of the room, but I never used it as a table, it's pretty much just a place for me to pile books on. As a result, it just sat in the middle of the room, taking up a lot of space and making the various seating options seem distant and uninviting. I finally owned up to the reality of the situation and moved the trunk off to the corner of the room (where it can continue to serve it's function as a place to put books). I also moved the chair and loveseat to new locations. The room is much more open now, and I think I'm much more likely to sit in the chairs.
I'll post a photo soon. Still have to sort through some of the clutter that resulted from all the rearranging.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I can't decide if it's amusing or creepy when someone who clearly has a fetish marks one of my photos as a favorite on flickr. Let me point out that the photos in question are all definitely non-sexual. The first time I noticed this was with this photo I took at a friend's magic show. Three people added this as a favorite, and when I looked at other favorite photos by these users, I found that they were nearly all photos of women wearing boots, or stepping on someone, and sometimes the boot was being licked.
The next one to get this kind of attention was a scanned photo of me and a friend, about 10 years old, wearing shorts and knee socks. This was favorited by two people, one of whom seems to have a fetish about knees and/or shins, the other of whom seems to have a more specific children-wearing-knee-sock fetish. This is definitely more on the side of full blown "creepy." Enough so that I keep trying to tell myself that maybe there's some other explanation for having tagged 122 "favorite" photos of sports teams, class photos, and other little boys and girls wearing knee socks. This one creeps me out enough that I'm not even going to link to the photo.
The latest is kind of the most amusing. I love watches, and I seem to be particularly drawn to watches that are kind of impractical (in other words, hard to read for some reason or another). I took a bunch of photos of them, and created a flickr set. Last year, one watch/wrist fetishist left some comments on one of the photos. That account has since been deleted. But recently another person has taken up the thread. Who knows, maybe it's the same person. All I know for sure is that he (I know, I'm being presumptive here) has 465 favorite photos of women's wrists, arms and hands. Many of them wearing a watch or bracelet.
The weird thing about these watch people (if they are in fact two different people) is that both of them have tried to engage me in participate in their fetish activity. None of the others left comments, but both of these people not only left comments, but also asked me something along the lines of "Do you have any other watches?" The recent one peppers in some innocuous seeming compliments about the beauty of the watch, and the wrist it is on, but I'm not falling for it. If you must fetishize my watches, people, you'll have to do it on your own.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
See, I bought the first two issues of the magazine. It wasn't brilliant literature, but it covered a lot of the kinds of things that I like, and it looked pretty slick. So I bought a subscription - $39.95 for a year, which was six isues (see, despite being called Geek Monthly, the magazine was only coming out bi-monthly). The first issue I received in my sub was issue #3. It arrived so much later than it appeared on the stands that I had already bought a copy at the store, but that's not entirely their fault, I suppose.
However, at the same time they announced that they were truly going monthly, and I immediately noticed that the new subscription price was $39.95 for 12 issues. Surely they'd give me the rate that was active when I received my first issue, right?
Issue #4 came out. Then, for no apparent reason, the next issue was considered a double issue. It was the exact same size, but numbered issue 5/6. Inexplicably, issue #7 was only given out to people who went to Comic Con, and somehow I missed it. Oh wait, apparently you can also get it with the final issue of some magazine called Rocket... but it wasn't sent out to subscribers of Geek Monthly. So the next issue I got was issue #8. Where I learned that the subscription price has now gone down to $19.95 for a year (12 issues).
Now, it's come to my attention that issue #9 came out last week. I haven't received my copy yet, and that reminded me that I should check on the status of my subscription. Tried sending an email via the link on their site marked "For questions about your subscription to Geek Monthly." The email bounced. No phone numbers listed on the site, but there is one in the magazine. So I called today.
I tell the woman on the phone my situation, and she tells me that the reason I didn't get issue #7 is: "it doesn't exist." (And yet they have the audacity to use the cover on their subscription card, above). She also informs me that my subscription is up "with the last issue." Let me recap - I've received 4 issues:
- #3 (which I had already bought)
Oh, she offered me the option to renew my subscription at half price - only $9.99 for another year. Are you kidding me? I explained that this was ridiculous, and they absolutely had to extend my subscription. She put me on hold for a while so she could talk it over with her manager. Eventually she came back and said that my subscription has been extended to March. "How many issues is that?" I asked. "Eight," she said, "it's a year." So... basically, I'm getting 2 extra issues (over the original six I was supposed to get).
I should have pushed this further, but I was at work, I was already having a really crappy day, I had already spent too much time on the phone with this woman, and I had to meet with people about work-related things.
So, I concede this round, Geek Monthly magazine. But I will be calling again. And you should probably keep in mind that your dissatisfied customers are exactly the kinds of people who would complain about it in their blogs.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
On my block, there was a group of about 6 drunk chicks, standing around what looked like a discarded bar stool. Two of them had taken off their jackets and shirts and were posing together, in their bras, on the stool. A third chick was taking their picture. I had to step over the pile of clothes on the ground and walk through this group in order to get to my apartment. They seemed about to wrap up, but as I walked through the chick with the camera says, "Oh, Karen's here! You ready Karen?"
I looked at her and said, "uh, no" and kept going. Honestly, they kinda freaked me out a little.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Well, the father is this Jewish guy from New York and he married a blonde Californian woman, but they love to eat bagels and that represents how he holds on to his roots. Plus everyone's always meeting up first thing in the morning and talking about important things and having a bagel. It's a very unique and pivotal item in their household.
Then Carla got caught up in the discussion and took it one step further, pointing out that the bagel cutter takes this very New York thing and adds a weird Orange County twist - a specially designed contraption, as if they can't just cut a bagel with a knife, like a normal person would.
Luke looked kind of surprised and amused and asked if I had thought about this bagel cutter a lot, or if I had read about it on blogs or something. I said neither, though I was aware that the bagel cutter was a beloved and significant object on the show, I came up with this analysis about it on the fly. I don't know if he believed me.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
People were lined up outside the Best Buy on 45th & 5th, waiting for the game to go on sale at midnight. Several different TV channels and shows were doing ongoing coverage of the event, including G4.
When Aaron wasn't being interviewed, I helped him hand out t-shirts to the voracious fans waiting on line. Before I knew it, I had been there for three hours!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Don't read the review if you're easily offended. And definitely don't see the movie.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The film was great. Tony Leung (one of the main reasons I wanted to see it) played a truly horrible person, who is somehow really compelling anyway. You can't help but hate him and be fascinated by him at the same time. And that's just how the heroine feels about him, too, so it's very appropriate. While I was watching it I was thinking, "There's no way this film is getting an R rating." Later I found out it's going to be rated NC-17. A little bit of violence, and a lot of graphic sex.
Later that day I saw Nightwatching, by another favorite director, Peter Greenaway. I'm not sure how I felt about this one. There were some things I really liked about it, but it was dense, and I was tired, and I wasn't following it all that well. It was gorgeous, and Martin Freeman was great as Rembrant. But if I want to know what was actually going on with all the intrigue, I'm definitely going to have to see it again.
On Monday morning I saw The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Is that the longest title in movie history? Probably not, but it's considerably longer than it needs to be, I think. The film itself is aslo quite long, and when director Andrew Dominik stepped on stage to greet us before the screening he said he hates introducing the film. He said it's long, it's slow, and he hoped we all had plenty of coffee that morning. Not a real enthusiastic way of introducing your film, I have to say. Or maybe he was just being overly modest, in reaction to the media frenzy surrounding the film's star. (And no, Brad Pitt wasn't there for this early morning screening, making it a much less frenzied event).
Anyway, he needn't have been so apologetic. I thought the movie was great. Yes, it was long (2 hours and 40 minutes), but it was very engaging. I've seen much shorter movies where I was looking at my watch and wondering when it would be over. Brad was great in it, as were Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, and many others. I'd certainly recommend it to people.
The last film I saw before heading back to NYC was probably my favorite - a film by Jason Reitman called Juno. It stars Ellen Page as the title character, a high school girl who gets pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption. She finds a good candidate family in Jennifer Gartner and Jason Bateman. Oh, and her friend/baby daddy is played by Michael Cera. The script by Diablo Cody is excellent - hilarious and very real. I was laughing pretty much the whole way through.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I stuck around for a few minutes, and the couple soon arrived, to much shrieking and cheering. They walked up and down the barricades on both sides of the street, signing things and posing for photos. Really I could only tell this by the direction people were pointing their cameras, because mostly all I could see was the back of other spectator's heads. I did catch a quick glimpse of them as they walked by. And I managed to get a couple photos (poor quality I'm sure) by holding my camera as high as I could and aiming it randomly where I guessed they were. I haven't had a chance to get those off the camera yet, but I'll post something when I do.
I suppose that was worth waiting 5 minutes for, but I still can't understand the people who waited for 4 hours.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Later in the day I saw the new Coen brothers film, No Country for Old Men. Pretty good stuff. Very violent & mysterious. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem were both pretty amazing. The story, the characters, the dynamic between them, and the rampant brutality reminded me a little of History of Violence. Unfortunately, I was sitting in the balcony, and the sound was kind of crappy, so some of the dialogue went right by me.
At the venue, though, the screening was a little overshadowed by all the hoopla surrounding the imminent arrival of the world's most newsworthy couple, Brad and Angelina. See, Brad Pitt's new movie was premiering in the same theater immediately following No Country, and the festival actually closed off the entire street in front of the theater four hours before the film, in preparation for the red carpet. When we went into the theater for the Coen Bros film, there were already hundreds of people lined up out front, waiting by the barricades. By the time we came out of the theater, the crowd had taken over the entire block.
And, of course the power couple was on the cover of most of the Toronto papers today. I thought the choice of the above image, by the Toronto Star, was kind of odd. Aside from being a really unflattering angle, they both look exhausted and miserable. She looks on the verge of tears! Maybe it's a little hard to tell from the online version of the photo, but blown up bigger on the front of the newspaper, it looks much worse.
More about the other films I saw when I get back to the U.S. in a couple days.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
This afternoon I went to a book reading/signing by William Gibson, for his new book Spook Country. Very cool - I didn't even know he did such things! It's hard to imagine the "grandfather of cuberpunk" appearing in public.
He read a chapter from the new book, and then took some questions. The questions seemed kind of uninspired, but it was still pretty fun. William Gibson wasn't really like I expected.
Also, I used a facebook event to invite/remind a few of my pals. By total coincidence, we found ourselves at the reading sitting right behind the guy who had put the event into facebook. We recognized him and said hi. He was kind of surprised that anyone else had actually used it!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
From my perspective, it took a little while for the show to get warmed up. There were some good songs at the beginning, but the show really hit a good stride when they started playing "Wrapped around my finger" about half way in, and then it was really amazing for pretty much the rest of the time.
Some of the updates they've made to the songs were a little disconcerting, I have to admit. "Don't stand so close to me" (traditionally one of my favorites) was a little too... upbeat and poppy. It should be a more angsty and tormented song, I think.
The second show I saw was at Giants Stadium. This was the last show in the first U.S. leg of the world tour. I went a second time so that I could see the show with some friends who weren't able to get tickets to the MSG show, but I'm glad I did. I think the setlist was the same, but the stage was bigger, with more lights and screens and everything. They filled the stadium just as well as they filled the Garden, I think.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Last time I saw them was at Madison Square Garden, the show that was made into the movie Awesome... I fuckin' shot that! It was an epic show, of course, with lots of costume changes, smoke machines, and hours of great music. But this was so much better. For one thing, they were right there! I could actually see them without the aide of projections on a screen. They also seemed a lot more relaxed and they were talking, joking, having fun along with the crowd.
And they played a lot of classic stuff. Some newer songs, and some really, really old ones. I love the fact that three white rap stars in their early 40s would be up on stage playing punk songs they wrote when they were kids. How incredible is that? If there are people doing that, it makes me feel alright about getting older.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
So, I was waiting to finish that before I write about the things I've done since. But I decided that's silly, so I'm going to stop doing that. I'll come back to those things when the photos are posted. It's not like I'm going to forget about them!
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
- Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
- An Inconvenient Truth
- The Departed
- Stranger Than Fiction
- Casino Royale
- Little Miss Sunshine
- Marie Antoinette
- The Queen
Plus a few that deserve honorable mention:
- Half Nelson
- Notes on a Scandal
- Last King of Scotland
- Children of Men
Man - it seems like I saw those films sooooo long ago!
Thursday, August 2, 2007
You can listen to people from all over the world read the same paragraph in English, and here what different accents sound like. It's such a simple concept for a site, but so very engaging - it's hard to tear myself away from it!
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
But this morning started out extra weird when I was woken up by incredibly loud thunder, really close to the apartment. It was one of those feelings where you wake up and you don't really know what just happened. Was it a dream? Did something explode? Oh, there's a rain storm. It was so dramatic that when I left for work, other people from the building were spontaneously talking to each other about it.
The rest of the day went pretty much as expected. I wrapped things up at work, and then met up with my mom who happened to be just finishing up work herself. We wandered around a little and then headed towards Bryant Park. We soon noticed that there was a suspiciously large number of people just kind of hanging around the park, and many of them were on their phones. Clearly we had wandered into something, but I couldn't tell what.
Turned out something had exploded, which immediately put me in mind of the storm this morning. But it was actually caused by an electrical problem under a building at 41st and Lex. Very weird.
So, my mom and I headed downtown, away from the madness. We kept our eye on the news and checked online, and even though every report said "explosion near Grand Central," no one was saying anything about whether or not trains were running. Finally I called 311 and the guy read me the same press release I had been hearing on the news and reading on the web. But then he connected me to Metro North, where a message informed me that trains were running on schedule, but people could only enter on the Northwest side of the terminal.
I walked my mom to the subway so she could go catch a train home, and then stopped at Whole Foods. On my way home, a guy at the corner of the Anthology Film Archives told me that they were showing a free preview screening of Charlie Bartlett. Totally random! I knew I shouldn't go because I still hadn't packed for my trip. But I had been wanting to see it, and it was free, so I went!
It was strange, there were not many people there, and the organizers videotaped us commenting about the movie as we left. I thought it was a pretty decent film, though it seemed to be trying a little too hard at times. I was already thinking that it was definitely going for a sort of Harold & Maude vibe (without the May-December romance) and then they started singing "If you want to sing out, sing out." I'm choosing to view it as an homage.
Several of the actors from Degrassi: Next Generation were playing minor characters. I thought that was pretty cool.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
The other night some friends and I went by the 7-Eleven on 42nd Street. It's been converted into a Kwik-E-Mart to promote the upcoming release of The Simpsons movie.
We had Squishees and everything. See some of my other Kwik-E-Mart photos on flickr.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
I happened to watch the Hot Dog eating contest today (on TV, not in person), and I have to admit that I was curious to watch the eating contest, what with Joey Chestnut poised to break Takeru Kobayashi's 6 year winning streak, not to mention a few records.
And it did get pretty exciting towards the end, when they both broke the previous records with several minutes to go, and then they were neck and neck to the finish, and then there was that moment when Kobayashi apparently lost it - literally - right at the end there.
But still, I have trouble even calling competitive eating a sport, so I really think the ESPN announcers were kind of over the top in predicting that a win for Chestnut would be "the greatest moment in sports history." I'm curious to see what my dad thinks of this.
Friday, June 29, 2007
There was so much amazing art, comix, stickers, t-shirts - very cool stuff. I got a few books, a print, a t-shirt from Squidfire, some stickers and a bunch of minicomics. I really dig the new trend of micro-mini comics!
I left my apartment this evening and saw a crowd of people with umbrellas standing on the corner, watching a perfermonance by two people wrapped in cellophane. Someone actaully told me that this has been a regular occurance on that corner for a while now, but I forget who it is that's behind this street show.
I was actually on my way to the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater to see a show called Shut Up! I Hate You! It's sort of a pop culture/current events round table hosted by Scott Brown (a hilarious guy that I used to work with) and Anthony King. The two of them also co-wrote Gutenberg! The Musical! which I think is simply brilliant. Hmm, I just noticed that they seem to like show titles with multiple exclamtion points...
Anyway, I had never seen Shut Up! before but it sounded like the kind of thing I would enjoy. It was very, very funny. It's hard to be specific, because it was pretty free-form. They showed video clips and then the panel - consisting of the two hosts plus Jason Mantzoukas, John Mulaney, Rebecca Drysdale and Josh Tyrangiel (Managing Editor of Time.com) - would comment, discuss, make jokes, do impersonations, go on wild tangents, crack up, interrupt each other, etc and it was thoroughly entertaining. The next time they do this will be end of August, I'll have to go check it out again.
After the show I ran into Charlie Todd (his weekly improv smackdown show, Cage Match, was up next). I happened to be wearing my Improv Everywhere shirt, and he seemed to approve of that.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
On Saturday I went to the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island. For nearly 7 years I have been saying that I would go. And finally I did! It was a beautiful day for it, not too hot. I got there two hours late, but the parade was still going on. When I first got to the boardwalk, I ran into two guys who I had played poker with the night before! Pretty weird, considering how crowded it was.
There were some really amazing costumes there, I have to say!
Update: I loaded up a bunch more photos. See my complete Mermaid Parade photoset here.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
See the video for a further explanation of what happened.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
This time we got the best seats we've ever had - second row! Lauren Ambrose was Juliet and the role of Romeo was played by Oscar Isaac (who was in Two Gentleman of Verona a couple summers ago). I thought they were both fabulous. In all the times I've seen R&J, in one form or another, I have never been so highly aware of how much Juliet escalated the impetuous romance.
The set was this amazing rotating thing, filled with water in the middle, and a giant configurable arching stairway that I can't adequately describe. It was quite wonderful, but also kind of noisy when it was turning. This was a little distracting when they turned it while someone was speaking, but not too bad if they turned it between scenes.
A note for Brian, one of the few people I know who reads this blog regularly - Go see Lauren Ambrose in this play! Skip work if you have to!! I won't tell anyone :)
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
It was swollen for a couple days, but I figured it would be ok once that cleared up. My regular doctor sent me to see a hand specialist, who took an X-ray and told me I have a small fracture in my elbow. It already feels a lot better, but I have to wear a wrist splint and keep my arm in asling for the next 3 weeks. This is going to be tough.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Tonight I went to BAM to see Chasing Ghosts, another Sundance film that I didn't get to see out in Park City. The film was really good: a documentary about video game champions from the '80s (think "Dogtown and Z-boys" with Pac-man). But I was kind of tired and not in a great mood. After about 40 minutes I started feeling like it was too long. If it had been an hour-long special on TV, it would have been perfect for me at that time.
When I left BAM, I saw JJ Lask riding up on a bike. His film, On the Road with Judas, was screening next. That's one that Rohanna and I actually did see when we were out at Sundance. Kevin Corrigan, one of the stars of the film, came walking along after JJ. Without realizing what I was doing, I waved "hi" at Kevin, like a complete dork. He gave me a confused look, like "do I know you?" and I quickly just kept walking. What the hell? I never do that!
The only way I can explain this is that, when I saw JJ, I wanted to say hi to him. Because, see, we did actually talk to him at the screening. And Rohanna's roommate works for him, and was an extra in the film. So I guess you could say I'm two degrees from JJ Lask. But then he zipped by so quickly on his bike and my brain fixed on the next person it recognized, who happened to be Kevin, and transferred the greeting to him. Yeah, that sounds like a plausible theory.
Anyway, Kevin probably doesn't remember it, but I did have my picture taken with him at the film's premiere, back in January.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Tonight I went to see The Pipettes at the Highline Ballroom. I got their CD last fall, on a trip to London. They're just now releasing the EP here. They were pretty damn bubbly and fun.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
I watched Bev9 until the bitter end, but sometimes it was painfully bad. For the last few seasons, until the middle of the 9th season (when Drennan stopped doing the Wrapup for a while), reading his commentary was more entertaining than watching the actual show.
If you ever liked the show, I recommend reading some of the wrapups, and check out the Wrapup FAQ. Even that's hilarious! And if you find yourself really enjoying Drennan's writing, check out his book, New York Diaries.
When it wasn't a 30-minute commercial for The Transformers, they were making awkward comments about Lindsay Lohan's latest bout of self-destructive behavior ("We've all heard the rumors."), or awkwardly interviewing Paris Hilton, out there being a professional party-attender one more time before heading off to jail. The only thing that could have made it more awkward would be asking Paris what she thinks of Lindsay's self-desctructive behavior.
I really need to never hear or read anything about Paris Hilton again. I've said that many times before, but seriously, every time I do I just get annoyed. I try not to, I really do.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Um. Luckily I had already decided to get a bigger AC this time, and it wouldn't fit in the same window. So, I can hold off on getting rid of the old one until the birds vacate. When I was installating the new one, I peeked out the window at my new neighbors, and man are they ugly! I thought baby animals are supposed to be cute! These critters are hideous!
- Kung Fu Hustle
- Czech Dream
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- March of the Penguins
- The 40 Year-Old Virgin
- Everything is Illuminated
- Good Night, and Good Luck
- Brokeback Mountain
- The Squid and the Whale
- Walk the Line
- Me and You and Everyone We Know
Friday, June 1, 2007
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Choking Hazard
- Super-size Me
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Napoleon Dynamite
- Garden State
- Harold & Kumar go to White Castle
- I Heart Huckabees
- Shaun of the Dead
And a few that deserve honorable mention:
- Last Life in the Universe
- House of Flying Daggers
- The Incredibles
So, I was expecting to like the film. What I didn't expect was Robert Redford introducing the mini-fest. It makes sense, I just didn't expect it! He said some very nice things about why Brooklyn, and especially BAM, is the perfect place to expand his famous independent film festival. I didn't realize this is only the second year they've done this.
The film was fantastic. An entire opera house full of people cracked up, numerous times. I highly recommend going to see it when it comes to theaters.
Director Garth Jennings was also quite charming and funny. That's him at right, greeting people at the reception after the screening. At one point, as I tried to make my way across the very crowded party, I realized I was walking aside Wes Anderson.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
- Kill Bill Vol 1
- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
- Shattered Glass
- Finding Nemo
- 28 Days Later
- Big Fish
- School of Rock
- American Splendor
And, honorable mention goes to:
- Lost in Translation
- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
- Y Tu Mamá También
- Monsoon Wedding
- Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
- The Château
- Igby Goes Down
- 8 Women
- Punch-Drunk Love
- Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
- 25th Hour
There were a lot of amazing films that year, so here are a few more that deserve honorable mention:
- 24 Hour Party People
- Spirited Away
Monday, May 28, 2007
A few years ago, when I was working as a web developer at EW.com, I started making my own list of favorite movies of the year, along with a few other non-journalist movie enthusiast. This seems a good place to post those lists (and future lists, when the time comes). Without further ado, here are my 10 favorite films from 2001 (in no particular order):
- In the Mood for Love
- The Royal Tenenbaums
- Moulin Rouge
- Lord of the Rings
- Gosford Park
- Donnie Darko
- Ghost World
Coming Sooon: My favorite films from 2002!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I meant to take a picture, but I forgot.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Not that big a deal, I guess except that it displayed in an ugly, illegible way, and when I tried to delete the post it wouldn't delete, and things I posted afterwards weren't showing up.
Overnight it seems to have refreshed and all is well again.
Monday, May 14, 2007
TSA guy: Did you take your older sister's ID?
It's safe to say my sense of humor was still deeply asleep at this point, and I could't even understand what he meant by this, much less comprehend that it was a joke. So, my clever comeback...
Me: Uh, what?
TSA guy: Are you going to give your older sister's ID back?
Me: Um, no?
I know I was half asleep and humorless at the time, but even now I can't imagine how to respond to something like that.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Still, as I said, the play was really amazing. Plus, when we left, we saw Matthew Fox standing outside talking to some friends. Unless he just likes to hang out outside the Jacobs Theatre, I'm guessing he saw the play, too.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I'm not usually the kind of person who thinks that a negative portrayal of a member of a group is necessarily a general statement about that group. But this filmmaker seems to have a message, and aside from the fact that it seems kind of anti-Semitic, it's presented in such a manipulative way, it made me feel insulted. I think the film used boredom and alienation - by boring and alienating its audience - to make us resent the protagonist. Ugh, I don't even want to talk about it anymore. When I was leaving the theater, a woman was on the phone telling someone how beautiful the film had been. I wanted to ask her if she was on crack, but I didn't.
The second film I saw was the Emerging Narrative Award Winner - Two Embraces. I liked this one a lot better, but I think by this point I had gotten a little burnt out on the film festival. This one actually did look beautiful. It had a sort of high contrast look, with muted colors, and a sort of dirty chromium sheen. There were two stories that take place in Mexico, and the theme seemed to be how people connect with each other. Really nicely done.
Sunday, May 6, 2007
Girl: (to clerk) Are these corn chips?
(he doesn't respond)
Girl: (to me) Are these corn chips?
(she waves the package in my face)
me: Those are flour.
Girl: Are they corn chips?
Girl: How will I know if they're corn chips?
me: It'll say "corn" on it.
Then she ran back to the shelves to find corn chips.
The film follows five crews as they get ready for the international competition called Battle of the Year. Two crews from South Korea (one was the champ from the previous year), one from France, one from the USA, and one from Japan. The dancing is incredible. The film is insightful and funny. The art direction is quality - there're some amazing graphics, especially in the beginning of the film.
The film does a great job of introducing the crews and before you know it you're identifying with them and why they all want - need - to win this competition. I'm not afraid to admit that I cried when they announced the winner. Tears of joy, of course. Afterwards, when I told director Benson Lee (pictured) that I loved the film and I cried at the end, he said, "It got you, huh?" and then he patted me on the back.
I've seen a description of the film which described the annual Battle of the Year competition as "the World Cup of b-boying." That's kind of ironic, because the second film I saw today was Michael Apted's The Power of the Game, which actually was about the World Cup, and it didn't come anywhere near having the impact of B-boy.
I think there are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, anyone who would see this movie probably already knows the outcome of the 2006 World Cup, so there's no suspense there. For another, the film is not really able to get as familiar with all of the people it introduces, so it fails to create the same feeling of investment in the "characters." But the worst offense is, I think, a serious violation of the premise of the film. I think this was done so that the film would more easily appeal to an American audience, but it seriously backfires.
See, the movie seems to be, for the most part, about exploring the positive ways that soccer (a.k.a. football in most of the world) has impacted people's lives. Usually these are social, economic, or political issues that soccer is somehow helping people to transcend. These issues include Apartheid in South Africa, oppression of women in Iran, extreme poverty in Argentina, racism and anti-Semitism in Europe, and child slavery in Senegal. These are all very serous matters, and while you may question how it could be that soccer helps combat these evils, it's definitely an interesting concept to explore.
What I can't understand is why a good fifth of the film (maybe more) is devoted to the USA, where apparently our biggest soccer-related social issue is a lack of enthusiasm for the sport. Seriously? That's what you want to talk about? Landon Donovan isn't as famous and obscenely rich as other American sports stars? Aside from the fact that this material seems frivolous and out of place with the rest of the film, there's the additional insult of an implication (by both Donovan and ex-US national coach, Bruce Arena) that it's the fans' fault that the sport is not more popular in the U.S. This film was severely disappointing.
1. A "small" soda at the movie theater is actually quite large.
2. Going to the dentist and paying someone to scrape your teeth.
3. People drinking bottled water.
But, right before we went into the theater, the best one of all, and clearly the most damning evidence of what's really wrong with this society: Spongebob Squarepants is unbearably narcissistic. Some thoughtless child was forcing this woman to watch Spongebob, and the woman couldn't stand it because "all he wants to do is take a bath and make his friends watch." She was particularly disturbed by this because she recently went through a self-absorbed phase, herself, so she refused to watch the show. By all means, no one should have to tolerate a narcissistic cartoon character.
I was happy to see that, even at the fifth screening, the director, some of the crew, and a whole bunch of actors showed up. It probably helped that most people involved in the film live around here, but I was still happy to see so many people who were excited about the project they had helped make. Here's a photo I took of Dante Han and Lanny Joon, two of the actors in the film.
Later I saw Rise: Blood Hunter, a sort of vampire thriller film. It was a lot scarier than I expected it to be. Lucy Liu plays a reporter who stumbles onto the wrong lead. She gets turned into a vampire and then seeks revenge on the people that did this to her. Some parts of the story don't make any sense, but it's loud, dark, gory and exciting, and Lucy Liu is half naked several times during the movie, so I'm sure it will do alright.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
I'm not even sure if this was a comedy or a drama, a dark comedy, maybe a funny drama? It's kind of different and interesting, but sometimes the pacing was way too slow.
Tomorrow I'm taking a day off from the film festival.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
This significant device seemed to trigger something in the audience, because when the lights came up, people on all sides couldn't even wait to get out of their seats before they fired up their own blackberries and started texting. This reminded me of when I saw a midnight screening Dazed and Confused, many years ago, and nearly everyone in the audience lit up a cigarette as soon as they exited the theater door. At 2am, the streets were completely deserted except for a group of about a hundred people standing outside a theater entrance, smoking.
Tonight I saw two films. The first was Watching the Detectives, a quirky, wonderful comedy written and directed by Paul Soter (sitting on the left in the photo). It stars Cillian Murphy as a video store owner and movie enthusiast, and Lucy Liu (standing on the far right in the photo) as his eccentric love interest. I'm not even sure what to say about this film, because you should really just see it.
It's weird and adorable, and even though the characters are kind of off-the-wall, I never had the feeling (like I so often do with comedies described as "quirky") that the screenwriter was trying too hard, that the characters are all just a little too wacky and interesting. I think this is because their personalities are unusual, but at different volumes. Like real people. The mistake so many movies make is that everyone is equally weird. This film has some people that are mildly strange, some that seem interesting but very normal, and some that seem completely absurd. But they all interact like it's totally normal, and it seems somehow kind of realistic, at the same time that it's clearly a complete fantasy.
Since it was the premiere, Paul Soter and much of the cast were there to talk about the film and answer questions. Man, Lucy Liu is stunning! Some celebs not in the movie were also in attendance, including Ajay Naidu (Office Space) and Rachel Dratch.
I almost forgot to mention the second film I saw, Suburban Girl. I think the fact that I just saw it a couple hours ago and I've pretty much already forgotten about it kind of says it all. On the surface it's like a cross between Devil Wears Prada and Shopgirl, with more literary aspirations. On a deeper level, well, there is no deeper level. The chemistry between Alec Baldwin and Sarah Michelle Gellar alternates between not that interesting and kind of creepy. Even more than Baldwin's performance in last year's Mini's First Time, which I think was supposed to be creepy. (Alec Baldwin, you are hilarious, but please stop playing guys who are dating girls in their teens and early 20s!)
Plus, I think it's going to be hard for people to put aside what's going on in Baldwin's personal life at the moment. His character in the film has some similar issues with his daughter, which, in the screening I saw, resulted in a lot of laughter at scenes which were definitely not meant to be funny.
I'm not sure if this movie will be entertaining to people who don't already enjoy watching professional poker on TV. But if you do, you will probably LOVE it. I would buy this movie on DVD right now if I could.
Then I saw a program of shorts called Taken to Extremes. These were all documentaries, mostly about people who have kind of extreme interests or lifestyles. One of the highlights was Piece by Piece, about "speedcubers" - several of whom describe their hobby of solving the rubik's cube as an addiction! There were 5 other short films, and actually all of them were really interesting and well done.
Last I saw A Slim Peace, a documentary about a weight loss group in Jerusalem that included women who were Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish American settlers, Bedouin. Some were secular some were religious, and of course they had conflicting politics. I think the idea was to see whether they would overcome these differences and find a common ground. And to some degree they did, but the premise still makes me sort of uncomfortable. Are our personal insecurities the key to transcending deeply-rooted, seemingly insurmountable religious, national, and cultural conflicts? (Well, the answer seems to be No.)
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Tonight I saw a film called Bomb It, a documentary about international graffiti art.
It started out with Philadelphia and New York, but the most interesting parts were about graffiti artists around the world. Some people do street art primarily because it's dangerous and illegal, but a lot of people do it because they have something to express, and they want/need to do it in a public way. It's a very social, political, and personal art form. So, in different countries you find that people are driven to make different social and political statements. Plus the cultural attitude towards public spaces and street art varies, and that also contributes to different dynamics around the globe.
My only complaint about the film is that some really interesting topics were touched on so briefly - I wish I could have seen more. Apparently they had many hundreds of hours of footage, but of course in editing it down to a feature length doc, there's only so much they can include. I think this would actually work really well as a series, so I hope they get to do more with it!
Friday, April 27, 2007
On the first full day of the Tribeca Film Festival, I saw two films.
The first was Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist and I loved it. It's amazing to see how much this one man did for the medium of comics, which is now a pretty major player in the entertainment industry. Not only did he invent the graphic novel (which I kind of already knew), but he pretty much came up with the model for the modern comic book in the first place. AND he innovated using comics as a more accessible way to teach people - first in the army, and then with kids. Pretty amazing.
The film was also really well put together, with lots of interviews and lots of dynamic, detailed views of some really incredible artwork.
The second film I saw was also a documentary. I didn't mean for it to work out that way, but it wasn't a bad thing. The film was called Heckler, made by Jamie Kennedy and director Michael Addis (pictured above). It seems that they set out to make a tour film, and Jamie was getting heckled a lot. Around the same time, Son of the Mask came out and it was getting panned - both by traditional critics and by pretty much anyone with a blog and an opinion.
So, the film turned into this thing where they were exploring the phenomenon of hecklers, and then critics. They interviewed a bunch of comedians and filmmakers, a few hecklers and (in some hilariously uncomfortable sequences) some of the critics who panned Kennedy's film. It definitely has the feeling of being a sort of therapeutic exercise, but it's also hilarious and pretty brave, I think.
The proliferation of online communities and publications has made the practice of criticism available to everyone, and the perceived anonymity of the internet makes people feel comfortable being vicious, especially if they can look clever while doing it. Sure, they have the right to say whatever they want, but online it's also way too easy to ignore how your words are going to affect people. The film presents the perspective of those people that are the targets, and I can definitively say that I would not want to go through what they go through.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I wasn't able to take a photo of him accepting this gift, because Barnes & Noble wasn't allowing people to take pictures while we were on the stage, but the conversation went something like this:
Me: I wanted to give you this DVD. My friend wrote and directed this movie.
Craig: Is it a zombie movie?
Me: It is.
Craig: I love zombie movies!
Me: I know! And apparently you had someone on the show and you were talking about zombie poop...
Craig: About whether zombies poop?
Me: Yes! And this movie has zombie poop in it!
Craig: Well thank you for that. And thank you for culturally elevating the evening.
Then he smiled like he was kind of teasing me, but he also seemed sincerely pleased about it. I don't even remember what I said next. I hope I said "I hope you enjoy it" or "You're welcome" but I probably said something kind of nonsensical like "thank you." I was so nervous I forgot to tell him I think he's hilarious!
Last week there was a lot of Craig Ferguson in NYC. First I saw him perform at Comix on Friday, April 13th. The show was hilarious - very autobiographical, very personal, much like his monologues on The Late, Late Show, but with more swearing! He cracks me up.
Some women came to the show in full-on kilts and gear.
The following Wednesday, Craig was doing a book signing for the paperback version of his novel, Between the Bridge and the River. He read a few passages, answered some questions, and joked that he'd be back next year to promote the book on tape. Then he signed copies of the book of course.In between, he seemed to keep himself pretty busy appearing on lots of New York based talk shows.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
People always ask me what I recommend. Well, here's what I'm going to see:
Gardener of Eden
The Power of the Game
Rise: Blood Hunter
A Slim Peace
Taken To Extremes
Watching the Detectives
Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist
Plus, I've got tickets to see the Narrative Emerging Filmmaker Award Winner and World Narrative Award Winner.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
At the end, Rohanna and I wandered into the "Future of the Taxi" exhibit. Lots of cool taxi models. I think some of them were historical vehicles, some were new models, and some were prototypes or proposed designs. Pretty cool.
There was a bar, and we had drinks in glasses that were glued to toy cars - the kind that rev up when you put it on a surface and pull it back. Very cool looking, but I think attaching a heavy glass to something that not only rolls but accelerates is an accident waiting to happen.