Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

Because I'm such a good friend to the environment, I'm doing a quick little post about Earth Hour. If you didn't read the link, the deal is tonight (Saturday 3/29) between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. wherever you are, you should turn off all your lights for the hour to conserve energy and show the world that you give a damn about conserving energy and all that jazz. I saw it on Google today, so I thought I'd help spread the word, too. Y'know, because I have a reach bigger than Google.

Anyway, if I'm home and remember, I'll definitely go for it, and if I'm not, well, I'll have the lights off anyway, so I'm good. But anyone reading this should, too. Come on, just think of all the fun things you can do in the dark for an hour. And it doesn't say anything about no TV or computer. Just lights. Your porn is safe.

Anyway, go for it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Gone, Baby Gone is Crap, Baby, Crap

I Netflix'd Gone, Baby, Gone the other day, and finally got around to it. It wasn't something I really would have paid for, but the reviews were good and I'm always curious about Boston-set movies. However, five minutes in I realized that I usually hate Boston-set movies. I hate the way they make everyone from Boston sound, and the way they always make Boston look like the crime capital of the world.

Of course, there is crime in Boston, just as there are crimes everywhere, and it would probably be a pretty boring movie if they didn't make it seem like there was a criminal underworld. But this movie made it seem like Chicago 1920. As did The Departed, which was a very good movie, but the fact that it was based in Boston was kind of superfluous. It could have been any city and still been a good movie. That's what bugs me about movies like Gone, Baby, Gone. I intentionally set my screenplays in locations that could appear in any city (bar, restaurant, wherever), because I personally don't want the city to become a character because I want the story to be the focus. But if a writer or director chooses to have the city be a character, at least do it right. They were in Dorchest-ah, Chelsea, the Quincy quarries (Do those still exist?). Man, there's no way that these criminals were travelling that far just to score some blow and hide a kidnapped kid. There were just so many little problems with the city locations, and I really expected better from Ben Affleck, since he was from here. It's fine if you're filming a movie based in Ancient Rome and have a few problems, but it's not Boston is some distant land.

So, that brings me to my second major problem with these movies, and basically with anyone in any movie or TV show that is supposed to be from Boston: the accent. I'm from Boston, and I personally don't know anyone who talks like the Kennedys, except the Kennedys. I mean, isn't it like saying that everyone from New York has to talk like Rudy Guiliani? But why do they exaggerate it so much? Why does every citizen of Boston have to sound like some idiot who drops his R's. I will admit to sometimes lazily saying "Ah-lington," but I always say "park" and "yard." Real Boston people don't usually talk like that. It's just a few idiots from Southie that ruin it for the rest of us.

And Casey Affleck is about as good a hero as Bozo the Clown.

So, anyway, thumbs down on Gone, Baby, Gone.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gotta love Google

So, this may be a result of a happy drunken Easter celebration, but Google likes to put ads up based on your content, right? So, this was one of my ads:

"Right now, you are probably feeling as though someone has either punched you in the stomach or stabbed you in the back -- or even both.
You are not alone."

It was for

I guess my life ain't so bad. It's actually quite amusing. I mean, when I write about shit that spurns this kind of ad, maybe I can help people after all. Funny thing was, it was on a post about Keri, and, okay, I may have committed slight infidelity when I was with her, but, Jesus, this site treats it like spousal abuse. So, I made out with someone else. A few times. With tongue. And meant it. So what?

In reality, and any one of my friends can attest to this, she did far worse to me, and that's the damn truth. So, I'm a bitter asshole, ven five years later. Sue me.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Aren't all Fridays Good?

I was joking with my friend Heidi today about not eating meat and all that, because she mentioned she shouldn't be eating red meat (an aspiring vegetarian), and I asked, "Says who?" and she responded, "Jesus." When I inquired about any new found Good Friday-ness, she said "Are you nuts?" She didn't even remember that it was Good Friday. And that's why she's my friend.

When I was a kid, Good Friday meant a day off from school, so Hell, yeah, I was into it. But, come on. Think about the history; the way I heard it, the real reason people give up meat during lent is because hundreds of years ago, the fishermen went to the Pope and complained that these new ways of cooking meat were cutting into their business, so Popey declared that people couldn't eat meat on Fridays as a sacrifice to Jesus, who died on the Friday before Easter. Lazy modern Roman Catholics have backed it off to just during lent. Personally, I only eat food that had parents on Fridays as a sacrifice to myself, and boy is it good. I mean, why do people do this? Are they eating Jesus or something? I mean, they have the whole body and blood of Christ thing. That Catholic Church sure has some crazy shit.

I don't mean to offend a whole religious sect or anything, because I really wanted to tell a funny story with this post. years ago, I went to Papa Gino's (They come up a lot in this blog), and they had a sign for a "Lenten Special" that offered deals on their barbecue chicken pizza, and I think even their Hawaiian pizza (although I may be making that one up). I asked the guy at the register if that was for lapsed Catholics, because, y'know, chicken? Ham? He responded: "Well, I'm not Catholic, so, I really don't know much about it."

Amen, brother.

I just don't understand some of these silly traditions. I found some odd ones on Wikipedia. For example, "In Bermuda, kites are flown. They are often handmade with wooden sticks, colorful tissue paper, glue, and string. The shape of the kite and the use of wood is meant to symbolize the cross that Jesus died on." Are the kites predominantly red, by any chance? Maybe some thorns to decorate them? I mean, isn't that a morbid tradition?

Apparently, a lot of folks have renamed Easter Spring Holiday, because it removes all of the religious crap, even renaming the Easter bunny the Spring Bunny, which is kinda dumb because the Easter Bunny is about the least religious thing in the world (unless they were Mary's eggs.) Again, from Wiki: "Some Christians view the use of this term as part of, or as an expansion of, the secularization of Christian holidays and claim that renaming this Christian holiday is an overzealous application of political correctness." I'm no religious zealot, but I gotta agree on that one. Who wants to celebrate Spring Holiday? What do we do to celebrate? What we do every holiday, Pinky: Drink!

Maybe it's time we do away with religion. It just causes disaster most of the time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Selling the Comics

The other day, I ordered pizza from the nearby Papa Gino's. It came around 8:00, and I consumed it. A little after 10:00, my phone rings, and it was someone from Papa Gino's. He seemed rather unsure of himself and said she was conducting a survey on customer service. He asked if my pizza arrived and if everything was okay, and I assured him it was. He asked who the driver was, and I answered, "I don't know. Some girl." "Oh," he responded, "Was she wearing a red jacket?" I said she was, and suddenly started getting suspicious about the whole thing. Then he asked if she gave me a receipt, and I said I didn't know (who cares about a receipt for pizza?) Then he thanked me and hung up. Suspicious. After recounting this story to my friend Lauren, she said, "This would only happen to you." Priceless.

Anyway, what I really was wondering was if my three readers had any thoughts on selling old comic books. I'm really broke, and the only thing I have that is of any value (that I haven't already sold) is my comic collection. Plus, comics one day may go digital, and who knows how the value will change? Be that as it may, I'm broke now, so, I'm wondering what to do.

I've recently started trading some of my comics on with some success (I even traded in some old, really crappy ALF comics which I never thought I'd be able to get rid of). I used to trade them in for cash, but the site gives you much more value in credit, and I am trying to acquire every issue of Strangers in Paradise, so trading behooves me at this time. The other option is eBay, but it seems like unless you have a variant cover of Superman #1 graded 9.8, you have to sell huge lots of comics, and even then you're probably not going to make back what you paid for them. but they're the only game in town, so...

What I'm looking for is a place that sells comics the way or amazon sells them. You list that you have a copy of a comic, and if someone wants it, they buy it from you. used to have a service like this (before they got sued), and I sold a few books that way. The only drawback was that some people would give you crap about the condition of the book. Still, it seems like the best way to do it. Does anybody have any idea if a site like this exists? or some way to get rid of these books in a profitable way? Or, let's face it, should I even do it? I mean, it's nice to have a collection, but you can't take it with you, and what am I really going to do with every issue of Ultimate Spider-man?

Except the ones that are worth the most money, of course.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Be Kind Rewind Thoughts

I saw Be Kind Rewind tonight with my good friend Lauren, who oddly enough tends to agree with me on movies (Although she is far less cynical about them than I.) So it was a good person to see this with. The only other person I think I would have really enjoyed seeing this movie with was John, because we have a shared history with things like this, but I'm not complaining.

For any one who doesn't know, my job history (well, the important ones) reads: Grin n' Bear It (Ugh, kiddie restaurant), Cameo Theater (Small town, two-screen movie theater), Video Showplace (Mom and pop video store), Fried Films (Pronounced "Freed," although the way you read it the first time is probably more appropriate), and then BU, where I show tons and tons of movies every year. Oh, and of course, there was the four years of film school.

Of course, during all that, there was also Dursin the Firestarter, the little opus shot on video in Abington with basically anyone we knew, and some we didn't. And really, while it certainly had its faults, I've seen worse. So, I've always been on the fringes of the movie industry, literally on the ourside looking in. This is why Be Kind Rewind struck a chord with me, I think. Not to give myself too much credit, but John and I worked at Video Showplace together for a couple years, and I think if all the tapes in that place were somehow erased, and we had to film our own Ghostbusters, I think we would have done a fairly good job. That's one of the ideas Michel Gondry is trying to get across, I think. It's a satire of the film industry as a whole, obviously stating that the "Sweded" versions of the movies are better than the orginals (and with Rush Hour 2, they are probably correct).

But the film is also saying something that we realized while filming Dursin the Firestarter all those years ago. And that is that necessity is the mother of all invention. Because we obviously had no money, we came up with so many ways to make it appear that I was shooting fire out of my hands that it was scary (literally, since they were always my hands.) We burned many GI Joes. We bought cap guns. We bought fake blood at Halloween. We had so many people involved that people started to get to know us outside our circle of friends and were asking us to be in it. I mean, I really wish Youtube was around back then.

And not to spoil the plot (it's all in the trailer anyway), but a similar thing happens in Be Kind Rewind, and people start to get into this ricockulous idea of these two guys filming their own versions of real movies, and they even want to be in them. It really brought me back to those days shooting Dursin. I really wish I been able to appreciate them then, because they're certainly gone. Every time John and I have tried filming anything since has failed. I guess we're all grown up now (well, it was about 15 years ago). But they were magical days.

That's also in the film. Besides being a smart little satire, it's also an homage to the magic of filmmaking, when you were given lemons and were forced to make lemonade. There was no way to make CGI lemonade (because honestly, I fucking hate CGI). Michel Gondry, who also didn't use any CGI in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is once again showing us how and why it's not always necessary to have the best-looking girl at the party on your arm, but it's really cool if you can have one who can down a few beers with the boys. He'll never make Cloverfield, but really, who the Hell is going to remember Cloverfield in a year? This one is one to remember.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Review of "Love is a Mix Tape" by Rob Sheffield

I don't usually do reviews, but this book really compelled me to write about it. Sadly, not in a good way.

Love is a Mix Tape was recommended to me by Amazon because I said I liked Chuck Klosterman IV and Killing Yourself to Live (also by Klosterman), and the cover was kind of kitschy and kid-ish, so I thought it would be a fun li'l read. When I was a lad (About 150 years ago), loved making mix tapes for people, and even myself. I put a lot of thought into them, like you couldn't repeat the same artist twice on one side, and you had to hit that pause button at precisely the right moment to connect the two songs in a way that almost made it seemed like they were being played live as apart of some medley. And speaking of which, John and I eventually become masters of the 80's medley, even going so far as to have a yearly 80's Mix Tape Contest, a struggle to see who could make the worst 80's tape. I think we both won our fair share. Sadly, I don't think any listener to one of my mix tapes ever put as much thought into it as I did.

The other great thing about the mix tape was to try and attract girls. This is not a joke. I made a tape for Keri before we started dating, and she swore that it was more of a "I want to fuck you" tape than a "Here's some music I like" tape, and thus, the next four years of my life were plotted by R.E.M. and Matthew Sweet.

I thought that this book would have those kinds of bits in it, and it would take me back to those glorious days. Not so much, in fact. We find out at the very beginning of the book that Rob Sheffield's young wife is dead, and he is going through her stuff and has unearthed several old mix tapes, and is reminiscing. This fact, while evocative, tends to take the wind out of one's sails if they are expecting a nice, fun read. My opinion has nothing to do with the fact that I don't like marriage, so this guy going on about how wonderful his wife was isn't what bothers me. It's the fact that this book has very little to do with actual mix tapes, but covers in depth how his wife used to sew a lot, and was Southern, and drank Zima(!)-and-Chambords, and (I am not making this up) was getting wider hips as she got older. Hence the sewing, y'see. She could no longer find clothes that fit her, so she sewed her clothes, as I learned, for page after page. Rob, bud, I feel for you, dog, but what does your wife's sewing skills have to do with mix tapes.

Sheffield does cover a lot of music, and as a editor of Rolling Stone, he does have a wealth of knowledge. However, he does it in that way where he seemingly likes everything from every genre. his "mix tapes," which open each chapter, but sometimes don't have much to do with the chapter itself, are filled with completely-out-there choices, like L7 next to some country shit and then Aretha Franklin and then some band called Yaz, who I had never even heard of, but Sheffield apparently loves because I think they are on every tape. I got the impression that he made these tapes and saw fit to tell us about them.simply because he wanted people to know that he knows a lot of songs.

The book never invokes in me that nostalgia I had hoped for when I bought the thing. All it really amounts to is a 220 page love letter to his wife. And while I feel sad that his wife died and am glad he is dealing with it, in the end, all it amounts to is some weird guy-chick-lit combo that doesn't actually do anything except go on about how great his big-hipped wife was. And Chuck Klosterman never did that. I think basically I'm tired of people using pop culture to chatter on about their personal shit. If you really want to read about that, Nick Hornby did it first, and a lot better and was a lot more accessible.

Anyway, sorry for the downer of a review, and don't hate me for getting on this poor widower. I just didn't want anyone making the same mistake I did.