Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
All of which should make complete sense to anyone out there with a doctorate in physics and cosmology.
But what does this mean for you? Well, it's an extra second. Need I spell everything out for you? As commanded by the Hollywood bumper-sticker mentality that reduced Omar Khhayyam's "The Rubaiyat" to the Robin Williams catchphrase "seize the day" I think it is incumbent upon y'all to seize this second. Embrace it. Make it your own.
1. Take an extra second to loath your place in the world
2. Pause for a second before that 8th shot of Jagermeister to allow neighboring party-goers time to move their dress shoes from your vomit splash zone
3. Think for a second before sticking your tongue in that girl. Ask yourself: was she this cute when I got here four hours ago?
4. Take the time to thank God that you weren't born a judgmental, intolerant, evangelical Christian. If you were born as such, please feel free to squander this second as you have your entire life
5. Compose a film more satisfying than all three Star Wars prequels
6. Set a personal record for the number of times you can stop and start a stopwatch
8. Let auld acquaintance be forgot
9. Google "auld"
10. Post the extra second to next year's calendar, making sure to amortize it over the useful years of your life in perpetuity or until you really, really need an extra second. Perhaps to use the next time you're running for the toilet after one too many Taco Bell chilitos...
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
5. Michael Brown - Did a heckuva job managing Katrina, but really couldn't have been less funny about it. Never took the lead from crackups like Cheney (telling a senator to go fuck himself on the senate floor might never be topped in that building) or his boss Georgie (too numerous to mention). C'mon, Brownie. All those emails where people are pleading for assistance inside a SuperDome piled high with human waste? Couldn't he have made at least one doody joke? Your name is Brown, for fuck sake.
4. David Spade/Rob Schneider - These two must be part of the same scam. Certainly nobody pays to see them or laughs at anything they do or say. Spade seems to have filled a whiny slacker comedy niche which might have been an alternate career for the fey Ethan Hawke character in "Reality Bites." And Schneider would be more fun to watch if somebody would shave his head, lube him up and shove him inside that Git 'R Done Guy's fat ass.
3. Kevin Federline - Here's another guy who has yet to live up to his potential hilarity. His UPN reality show with his cheez doodle machine, Britney, only underscored the banality of celebrity. Give me Jessica Simpson-like brain meltdowns or druggy Bobby Brown constipation talk with Whitney. I realize every pairing can't match the potency for humor as Brigitte and Flavor Flav, but I think we can safely coin a term for the barrier on which you are pathetic enough to be hilarious but boring enough to be easily ignored: the federline.
2. The Chicago Cubs - In a year after the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years, the Cubs watched their cross-town rivals win their first World Series in 88 years and couldn't even muster as much as a snit fit about their North American sports league leading 97-year drought. You'd think at least someone affiliated with the team -- or maybe just Jim Belushi -- might have vomited in public or something.
1. Terri Schiavo - One of the most photographed, televised and talked about people of 2005, Schiavo inspired an unprecidented special session of Congress and sparked a national debate about the end of life. Her reaction to all of this? Nothing but slack-jawed drooling and random eye movements. Jesus Christ, Terri. Sit there like a potato, why don'tcha. You think you could have risen to the occasion just a little?
Monday, December 12, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
4. Sweet Sixteen, B.B. King
3. Cousin Dupree, Steely Dan
2. Sweet Little Sixteen, Chuck Berry
1. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Sonny Boy Williamson
Monday, December 05, 2005
So wrote Timothy McVeigh in March 2001 in a published statement while on death row for the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma. Should his request have been honored? Or did Attorney General John Ashcroft make the proper decision to only provide closed circuit viewing for victims’ families?
When discussing the vagaries of convicted mass-murderers, it’s usually beneficial to defer to the judgment of those who have been deprived of sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers as opposed to granting wishes to a man who with a single detonation destroyed 168 lives (including 19 children), sending shockwaves into hundreds of others and the psyche of an entire nation. It seems hard to believe that anyone who was victimized by the Oklahoma City bombing would agree to endorse even a nominal wish of the man who perpetrated the horror. And this position is at least obliquely supported by the fact that only 15% of eligible victims opted to watch the limited broadcast.
However, such an event would certainly be newsworthy through shear novelty. By current standards, a man incasing himself in a block of ice in Times Square musters national coverage, while there has never been a televised execution in this country and the days of public hangings ended in the 1930’s. Today, public access to witness a man put to death by the state for the nation’s most egregious example of domestic terrorism would likely garner huge ratings. And yet, regardless of whether or not networks would participate in a live broadcast, air an edited tape or stills for news coverage, concoct some avaricious pay-per-view, or allow live web-streaming, the news value would be superceded by what would be for the great majority of Americans nothing more (or less) than a ghoulish, sensationalistic spectacle.
In the late 19th century, the celebratory nature of public hangings prompted the coining of the word “gala,” derived from “gallows.” Today, it is not difficult to imagine large-screen televisions in bars packed with beer-swilling yahoos cheering on a man’s electrocution and chomping on pretzels while “Born To Be Wild” plays on the jukebox. Is this dignified behavior in a civilized nation on the solemn occasion of putting one of its citizens to death? The certainty of internet outlets digitizing and storing the moment for incalculable future audiences, only further devalues to gawking what should be simply shared witness to the gravest consequence of the most heinous crimes.
This is hardly a matter of journalistic ethics. The question is not the responsibility of news organizations that would capitalize on the ratings of public capital punishment or legitimately stand behind its newsworthiness, but the government that would permit it. Charged with formulating and enforcing the law, the government has the more fundamental covenant to keep with the common good.
As an example of such justification, proponents submit a televised execution would provide visceral advertising of the ultimate deterrent. However, if the discussion is limited to premeditated mass murderers like McVeigh, who can argue that other fanatics willing to die for a cause would be deterred in the slightest? Even before the harsh lessons learned by the evil mélange of hatred, militant extremism and large explosions on September 11, 2001, it was clear that a determined individual unafraid to die would not be impeded by anything. Certainly not by an execution sponsored by a state he has sworn to destroy, or by that state’s decision to turn his demise into a media show. For such deluded extremists looking to send a message, who is to say it would not be the ultimate prize to commit a comparably outrageous crime with the promise of similar globally televised or webcast infamy? One need only look at the rash of teenage school shooting copycats of recent years to see this pernicious fallout in action.
The only true justification for the execution—not the broadcast, but simply the actual execution—is retribution and the rights of those he has hurt to know that he paid the definitive price for his malevolence. Under the current system, victims and survivors deserve the option to witness the Hammurabic justice and closure they seek. To extend the audience (even to include citizens of the country whose laws were transgressed and whose government is administering the punishment) cheapens the sensibilities of the victims and the condemned—invites the circus to attend a private ceremony.
Already, an overwhelming majority of the rest of the planet looks at the United States as a barbaric and heavy-handed state that all–to-easily executes it’s own citizens as well as foreign nationals. While more than half of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, Amnesty International has compiled statistics revealing that out of the 1,813 known people executed in 1999, 85% could be accounted for by China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Is this the type of company most Americans want to keep? Countries sometimes refuse to cooperate in American investigations or extradite criminals for cases with the potential of capital punishment. How would the nation’s standing in the international community be enhanced with public executions airing between “Temptation Island” and “Bachelorettes in Alaska?” Not to mention what might happen if a live execution is horribly botched.
Regardless of the semblance of solemnity granted such a broadcast, the worst instincts of this nation’s desensitized and cynical culture would certainly be evident. A man’s death and his victim’s sense of retribution do not belong to advertisers, late-night comics, rubbernecking couch potatoes, scornful Europeans and self-aggrandizing pundits—whatever the motives. Whether or not one agrees with the death penalty, it is not hard to understand that as long as it exists, paramount concern need be provided to the memories of the victims, those they have left behind and the very last thing a guilty man might possess in the eyes of the world he will exit: his dignity.
Even if the fucker don't deserve it.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Friday, November 25, 2005
Um. Brownie? You suck at this job.
"Hurricane Katrina showed how bad disasters can be, and there's an incredible need for individuals and businesses to understand how important preparedness is," Brown said.
Oh, yeah? If it weren't for the flooding and all the unecessary death and suffering, the biggest disaster in the Gulf would have been you.
I'm not one to wish pain on others or tell people what to do with their lives, but if you were a government or business official in Japan and you failed this horrifically, I'm pretty sure the only thing you'd be opening would be your internal organs with a large sword.
And on a lighter note, what's with the UPS slogan "What can Brown do for you?" Seriously, try hard to watch these commercials and not think they are talking about doodie. Maybe it's just me, though.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Then read about kids in New Brunswick picking up their new trombones for the first time.
Or kids in New Brunswick learning about crime scene investigation techniques.
Or kids in New Brunswick trying to decide if they want to be automotive mechanics when they grow up.
All in a week's work.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Friday, November 04, 2005
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Monday, October 31, 2005
It's a sport for the die-hard fans. All this expansion and new rules and talk of courting the casual fan and making it more TV-friendly doesn't impress me. Hockey should be a cult sport. For Canadians and beer-drinking yahoos from Detroit and Philadelphia.
As a Devil fan, I've seen some of the best hockey in recent years. A disciplined, defense-first passionate bunch. But even with three Stanley Cups , the best goalie in the league and the best general manager in any sport, the greatest joy of watching New Jersey isn't on the ice or in the front office. It's play-by-play announcer Mike "Doc" Emerick.
In a single period of a recent game, I was able to compile the following list of uniquely precise terms he used to describe the movement of the puck:
If not for whistled stops in the action, I’m sure there would have been more.
Doc quite simply is the best in his profession. In any sport. The pace and unpredictability of hockey play-by-play make it the most demanding of all such jobs and Emerick leaves all others in the dust.
With his unfaltering command, presence and a seemingly endless supply of descriptive words and phrases at his disposal, he could provide eyesight to the blind. His polish and professionalism offer a solid foundation for welcome insight offered by the folksy delivery of partner Glenn “Chico” Resch.
Doc is eminently aware of the moment. His voice rises in tense times of exciting games and doesn’t pander to the audience with false enthusiasm during choppy play in a 0-0 tilt against The Thrashers. Unlike ESPN’s Stanley Cup voice Gary Thorne, every goal isn’t delivered with the animation of a double-overtime Cup winner.
And all of this is packaged in the honest, sincere delight with which he delivers every broadcast. “Hope you’re enjoying the game at home tonight—we sure are,” he often says with an audible smirk. And when you stop to think about the timing of these statements and the smile that certainly accompanies them, he clearly is paying more than lip service. He is paying humble respect and gratitude to the fortune and gifts that permit him to make a living doing something he loves.
And Devils fans couldn’t be luckier. Though I'm sure you haven't noticed.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
5. Cured Deli Meat - Corned beef, pastrami, salami, kippered herring. It's all evil, evil, evil. Meat that is actually meant for human consumption doesn't need to be salted and soaked in brine to make it appetizing. Give me a sliced turkey sandwhich. At least I can imagine that meat having once appeared on an animal.
4. Gefilte Fish/Chopped Liver - Oh, those crazy Jews and their inedible ethnic food. Give them points for matzoh ball soup (which doesn't exactly have a taste, though a nice mushy texture which only belongs in a soup). But explain to me the allure of gelatenous food that looks like something the cat left in his dish. And that smell...I can't even think of an analogy for something so ungodly. You would think the Chosen People could choose something better to eat.
3. ______ Salad - Fill in the blank. Egg salad, seafood salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, macaroni salad. If it appears behind a glassed-in counter at a deli, it is just wrong. There is a reason these delis need to quarantine the stuff from the customers. It smells and looks like a pile of scraps someone swept off the floor in an elementary school cafeteria and covered with vile, creamy crap (see #2).
2. Mayonaise - Completely worthless, stinky gunk. Take a healthy sandwich and add dollups of vomit-inducing putird fat. Why not just order a rotting lard sandwhich? And 2a: Mustard - No reason to subject any sandwhich or hot dog to a bright yellow condiment that triggers a gag reflex just thinking about it.
1. Canned Tuna Fish - Seriously, what is the deal here? I love tuna sushi or a grilled tuna steak. But the watery crap that comes out of these cans and the mush that results when you pour mayonaise on it for a sandwich that smells like a girl's panties when she has a yeast infection...I mean, ew. Here's a hint: tuna fish should never be served with an ice cream scoop.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Monday, October 17, 2005
Check out this classic clip from "Press Your Luck" in which an unemployed air conditioning repairman and ice cream truck driver memorized the sequence of the flashing board to rack up $110,000 on 35 consecutive spins.
And on the other side of success is this dude, who couldn't answer a simple $300 grammar question on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," even after 75% of the audience gave him the answer and he called his English teacher mother-in-law.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
The Many Shades of Ira Sachs
A Writer/Director as Colorful as his Characters
Ira Sachs won’t let me watch him bum cigarettes.
We’ve spoken for hours—about what it was like to grow up gay and Jewish in Memphis, the benefits of 15 years with the same therapist, and how it feels to have his 68-year-old father date 20-year-old women.
Sachs, eager for a smoke before noon, also shamelessly volunteers that although he bums five or six cigarettes a day, he won’t succumb to the temptation to buy a pack. And no, he doesn’t consider this habit to be bad karma. “I get good interactions,” he says, noting that when people say no, it provides helpful negative reinforcement.
But just as I’m ready to watch him carefully select the right benefactor outside of his lower Manhattan office, he politely shoos me away.
“It’s personal,” he says. “It’s like masturbation.”
Filmmaking, however, is decidedly collaborative, even for a writer-director like Sachs.
With Forty Shades of Blue, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year and sees a limited US release this month, Sachs formed the original idea in solitude but then gathered an army to execute it. His army fought some internal battles along the way and even broke apart in one instance, but as Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has said, you go to war with the army you’ve got, not the army you wish you had. And Sachs came through with an artistic victory.
Forty Shades of Blue tells the story of Laura, a Russian woman played by Dina Korzun, who has married and had a child with Alan, an older man and legendary Memphis music producer played with gruff warmth by Rip Torn. Sparked by the return of Alan’s petulant, married son (Darren E. Burrows), Laura grapples with the realization that her life has drifted into a rhythm that she can’t really dance to. Alan can be charming, sentimental and tender. Or boorish, insensitive and unfaithful. Her life is comfortable, but her spirit is restless.
Sachs always wanted to make a movie about a character who is familiar yet rarely the focus in most mainstream films. “I wanted to look at a woman who’s usually on the periphery, in the shadow of a powerful masculine man,” Sachs says, his tightly-trimmed beard and gold-rimmed glasses revealing an easy, brainy power of his own. “Turn the camera on her and ask who she is. Let’s just follow her; forget Dustin Hoffman [in 1978’s Straight Time, for instance]—let’s follow Theresa Russell.”
Sachs also chose to set his story in Memphis, the city of his youth and location of his first feature film, The Delta (1996). But most of the writing for Forty Shades fell to friend and co-collaborator Michael Rohatyn—a first time screenwriter and musician who scored the music for The Delta , as well as for Rebecca Miller’s films Angela (1995), Personal Velocity (2002), and The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005).
The relationship between Sachs and Rohatyn became prickly—more Sid and Nancy than Ron and Nancy (without the heroin and knives, of course) during the seven years of re-writes and attempts to secure financing.
“Any director who continues to work has to learn that’s part of the job,” Sachs says, speaking of skirmishes with meddling financers. “Ultimately, if you make a compromise, that’s a disservice—you haven’t been a good director, haven’t navigated the waters well. Having control and facilitating control is what directing is. I got to make exactly the kind of film I wanted to make.”
But when asked about his current relationship with Rohatyn, Sachs flashes a nervous grin and plays the “if-I-don’t-have-something-nice-to-say-I-won’t-say-anything-at-all” card. “As a collaborator, I sort of felt I was writing it for him, but not so much with him,” Rohatyn says of Sachs. “He would carefully read it and give his notes on it, and we would argue those notes. Then whenever he would leave, I would let him do what he wants.”
But there was no denying Sachs’s film knowledge and talent. “Ira taught me about movies,” Rohatyn says. “He has incredible taste and is really the most sophisticated cineaste that I’ve ever met. He would send me to look at movies by these directors, like Maurice Pialat, which was like listening to The Beatles for the first time. And then to try to write a movie like that — Forty Shades of Blue winds up being something I’m very proud of and a great tribute to Ira.”
Tellingly, Ira rarely refers to Forty Shades as “my film,” which shines a light on some behind-the-scenes bruised ego hubbub. But the film obviously has roots in Sachs and in Memphis. Sachs was born in Memphis in 1965 to Ira and Diane Sachs. His mother, a sociology professor at Rhodes College, divorced his father when Ira was three, then took Ira and his two older sisters on long trips to Europe, spending weeks at a time in England or a farm in France.
But it was his father who perhaps made the biggest impression on him, at least as far as Forty Shades of Blue is concerned.
“My father is a real original,” Sachs says. “One of the most original people I’ve ever known. He has very little superego; no shame or guilt. Luckily he’s not a psychopath.” Sachs smirks. When people ask Sachs’s father what church he belongs to, his father responds, “The Church of What’s Happening Now, Baby.”
The elder Ira has seven children between the ages of 8 and 43, from four different women, three of whom he married. But Sachs wants to set the record straight. “My father is a sweetheart—he has no temper, and he’s very generous,” he says. “The character in the film is not my father.”
Which isn’t to say his father isn’t a character. “I’ve always marched to the beat of a different drum,” Ira Sachs, Sr. says from his home in Park City, Utah, where he housed 11 of Ira’s cast and crew during Sundance. “Perhaps it was some inspiration for Ira to do the same.”
Perhaps, though his son, out of the closet since he was 16, has been through his own share of formative experiences. Growing up and especially as president of his temple youth group, Sachs says that he experienced more anti-Semitism than homophobia. While attending an inner-city high school, “boys would throw pennies at you.”
He tells such stories with a wry, unfazed smile, which is perhaps the result of 15 years in therapy. “I believe in the talking cure,” he says. “For me, it’s very much a part of my creative development—understanding human interaction. Good therapy helps you understand people better, and bad therapy makes you feel you are more important than you are.”
Sachs immersed himself in the children-run Memphis Children’s Theatre from sixth grade through high school. “It had the most diverse group of people I’d ever been involved with,” he says. “Black kids, white kids, rich kids, poor kids.”
He made his directing debut in high school (Our Town) and went on to direct mostly experimental theater at Yale. But it was during a semester abroad in Paris that he gained his most valuable education. “I was a lonely college student who didn’t speak too much French,” he says. “So I saw 181 movies in a three month period. I had never seen a Cassavetes film or a Fassbinder film. It was like baseball card collecting behavior.” Despite these influences, Sachs wound up modeling his style after Ken Loach, whose camera remains mostly fixed and observant, allowing the actors to own their space.
In 1992, Sachs made the short film Vaudeville, financed for $50,000 by his parents and with a few small grants. He returned to Memphis after a 10-year absence in 1994 to prepare The Delta, a personal film about a boy coming to grips with his sexuality and the unintended impact his privileged status has on someone even further outside society.
In happier times with Rohatyn, Sachs took the Forty Shades script to the Sundance Writer’s Lab, where he received guidance from Stewart Stern, who wrote the screenplays for Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and The Last Movie (1971). “It was comforting to hear people who knew more than you tell you that you were doing nothing new, and all you have to do is go back to basics and tell the story well,” Sachs says.
While the origin and intelligence of Forty Shades can be traced to Sachs and Rohatyn, its emotion oozes out of its actors: Korzun, Torn, and Burrows.
Burrows doesn’t have to dig deep to praise Sachs. “Ira has so much self-confidence, especially for a director new in his career,” he says. “There is often a fear with a new director that they hold on so tight it almost slips through their fingers, but he had complete control.”
Which isn’t to say there wasn’t conflict. Torn says: “Making a film is like a military operation. It’s not lovey-dovey all the time. Brothers can wrangle.”
Burrows applies a more positive spin. “I think Ira thrived on the tension,” he says. “It’s all a part of the creativity and the dance. Like a big ballroom dance, and if there’s just one guy telling everyone how to dance, it becomes stale.”
Choreographing his life and art from Memphis to Paris and New York, Ira Sachs seeks fresh interactions—not shrink-wrapped and uniform, but loose and unpredictable.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Monday, October 03, 2005
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Also, Puerto Ricans in New Brunswick mourn the death of their dearly departed armored truck-robbing, FBI agent-shooting, most-wanted criminal. He shall be missed.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
By the way, the Jets season ended yesterday with them losing two quarterbacks to injuries on their throwing shoulders. Apparently, the team is courting Tim "I've Been Sitting Comfortably For Months On My" Couch. Rick Mirer must have been unavailable.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Long before the SuperDome,
Where the Saints of football play,
Lived a city that the damned called home,
Hear their hellish roundelay...
Home of pirates, drunks, and whores!
Tacky, overpriced, souvenir stores!
If you want to go to Hell, you should make that trip
to the Sodom and Gomorrah on the Mississipp'!
Stinking, rotten, vomiting, vile!
Putrid, brackish, maggoty, foul!
Crummy, lousy, rancid, and rank!
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
And because I know you want to know how the New Brunswick high school 65-year reunion went yesterday at O'Connor's Beef & Chowder House in Somerset. Don't be coy. You're dying to hear about it. Even if I was watching the Jets win ugly in East Rutherford yesterday instead.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
His Russian spy twin is still at large, armed with a pocket knife that has over 200 functions, including a death ray.
Before cancer did him in, Gilligan previously survived a direct lightning strike that rendered him invisible, a run-in with headhunters, a haunting, becoming an allergen to his fellow castaways, a giant spider, a lion, a British mod rock band, a boat crash and countless blows to the head from a large man wielding a skipper's hat.
He is survived by a movie star and Mary-Anne. They'll have to make the best of things. It's an uphill climb.
Friday night I watched Geraldo Rivera on FoxNews grab a random baby (here! gimme a baby!) and hold him up to the camera and incoherently blubber about the face of the tragedy and why can't the national guard just let these people walk away from all this filth and death and stench and just look at this baby! and he almost broke up crying twice and I just couldn't keep from laughing at him. (Photo by Stephen Elliott)
Geraldo Rivera arrives in a Fox News truck. An elderly woman with blond hair grips his elbow. She's wearing thick dark glasses and a pink shirt. He carries her small white dog in his arms. He's wearing thigh-high waders unzipped to below his knees.
We shake hands. "Her relative called one of our stations," Geraldo tells me, explaining how that call went to another station, and then another, and finally to him.
The woman had been stranded in her home for six days. Geraldo picked up the woman and her dog and brought them here. The woman looks frail on his arm, though not as bad perhaps as a lady collapsed on a chair nearby, unable to move. Or a woman in a wheelchair being lifted from the truck, carrying her prosthetic leg on her lap.
"That's the second time he brought her here," one of the doctors tells me, nodding toward Geraldo.
"They did two takes. Geraldo made that poor woman walk from the Fox News van to the heliport twice. Both times carrying her dog."
"Are you serious?" I ask.
He says he is.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
5. Lost in the Flood, Bruce Springsteen
4. Five Feet High and Rising, Johnny Cash
3. When the Levee Breaks, Led Zeppelin
2. Backwater Blues, Bessie Smith
1. Louisiana 1927, Randy Newman
A pastor calls for hurricane aid for local residents: help families here to help their families there.
Douglass College students rally to save the only women's college on a public research university's campus. Some of them were a lot cuter than I thought they might be.
Burmese exiles march from Washington DC to the United Nations in New York to spread awareness about human rights abuses back home. I really do love Southeast Asians. And Burma is one fucked-up place.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
What has happened down here is the winds have changed
The river rose all day
President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
- John Norris dresses like a fag, but he doesn't seem gay, which makes dressing like a fag much worse
- Kurt Loder and Norris have somehow circumvented the MTV Menudo-like policy of firing anyone from on-camera duty after reaching puberty; Loder has become Old Man Legitimacy for a network fond of hiring such luminaries as Sway and Gideon Yago, so it makes some sense to keep him around; Who Norris has been sucking off to keep employed is anyone's guess
- Diddy sucks even without the P.
- Shakira can really thrust her pelvis like nobody's business; I'm also pretty sure she might have been singing or something
- I've seen or even heard of only two of the videos nominated; I consider this a badge of honor
- When did MTV turn into BET? Seriously, there were maybe 4 white people in the whole broadcast and one of them was Eric Roberts. What's wrong, MTV? Scott Baio was busy?
- Shouldn't R. Kelly be in jail? Didn't he piss on a 14-year-old girl? I'm pretty sure that's illegal, even in Chicago
- Alicia Keys would be hotter if she didn't wear those peculiar side cornrows; Did she just get back from a vacation on Barbados or something? She might as well appear on stage with her sea shell collection
- Kelly Clarkson is still kinda cute; wonder if she's a coke addict yet
- Most rap music performed live in concert comes off too breathless and frantic to be enjoyable; all energy and no style
- Apparently, Eva Longoria is a dirty, skanky whore
- Green Day has been around for 16 years? I am really, really, really old
- And the MVP of the MTV awards: my DVR, which made this ordeal mercifully brief
But check this out:
Only 40 percent of Americans can name more than four of the Ten Commandments, and a scant half can cite any of the four authors of the Gospels. Twelve percent believe Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. This failure to recall the specifics of our Christian heritage may be further evidence of our nation's educational decline, but it probably doesn't matter all that much in spiritual or political terms. Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that "God helps those who help themselves." That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans--most American Christians--are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up.I have no problem with stupid Americans. I have no problem with religious Americans. I have no problem with hypocritical Americans. It's the stupid, religious, hypocritical ones that scare the bejesus out of me. You know. The ones running the place.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Now, I have little standing to criticize. I have never lost a mother, father, brother, sister or child. My grandparents have died of natural causes.
A second cousin of mine who worked in the World Trade Center was killed on September 11, 2001. We weren't close. But when the family gets together at my aunt's house, his mother and sometimes his brother are there. He is not.
A fraternity brother of mine also died in that attack. He was three years older than me. We called him Freddy "The Bug." He made me photocopy my notes for a class we once took.
All this, and yet the tears I cried that day and since have been more for the overall tragedy. A shared grief with those who lost so much more. For our lost innocence. For the therapy of letting out what can only destroy from the inside. I have no right to criticize how anyone grieves. Grieving people often go a little insane. It's their right.
But while I'm driving in my car, and a woman whose son died in New York that day comes on the radio and demands that the city sift through every last piece of remains from the World Trade Center, full of rage that her son is doomed to spend eternity on a pile of garbage on Staten Island -- I got angry.
"It's a knife going through my heart. These type of remains deserve a proper burial and not that type of treatment," said Sally Regenhard, who lost her firefighter son Chris on 9/11 and is part of group suing the city. None of his remains were ever identified. "There is some remnant of human life there, no matter how microscopic."
Likely so. And so what? Does every person who has lost a loved one in a tragedy deserve no expenses spared for a proper burial? Is the site of every airplane crash hallowed ground? Do we sift the dirt of such disasters through an ultra-fine mesh and scan it with an electron microscope? Should we strain the oceans for every decomposed remnant of people drowned in sunken boats or eaten by sharks? Is it too late to raise the Titanic for surviving kin?
The 9/11 families exercise justified anger. At their government for failing to protect their loved ones. And even more, for continued failures to act for our protection outside business-as-usual pork barrel politics and ill-advised oversees military campaigns. Their voices and anguish have served us all, pushing for the creation of the 9/11 commission and working to see its recommendations implemented.
But they are not owed the world. Tragedies happen every day and to people without emotionally potent and well-connected lobbying groups at their disposal. The estimated hundreds of millions (or even tens of millions) needed to rake over the Fresh Kills Landfill would be money better spent almost anywhere else. Our country doesn't need more monuments and cemeteries. It needs border security and defenses for our infrastructure.
Again, I can't imagine how grueling it is not to have even the smallest physical token of my son's existence. But Chris Regenhard, like so many others, was likely vaporized in the sudden collapse of a 110-story building. More people may have breathed some of him into their lungs that day than attended his funeral. This is the cold, sad truth. Spending a fortune in public money to provide some solace to a mother who certainly could never be consoled would be an additional tragedy.
The songs and passages of our youth tell our simple story. We are stardust. Dust in the wind. From dust to dust...
Sally Regenhard, please understand. Chris is not stuck in a pile of garbage. He is golden. He is in your heart.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
But he's more than a thumb pointing up or down. The guy can write. He knows how to take different approaches to reviewing different kinds of movies. He muses about plot logic, character quirks and physics. He can describe a subtle performance with evocative language. He can be damn funny. And even though Hollywood recycles ideas wholesale, he seldom repeats himself. Seldom is he better than when the move just blows. To wit:
The worst movies Roger Ebert has ever seen.
Monday, August 15, 2005
"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
Think the feller hanging out for five weeks ranchin' in Crawford has been told this?
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Friday, August 12, 2005
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Friday, August 05, 2005
If anyone is looking for me, I'll be sitting in traffic and cursing the gods.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
SOUTH PLAINFIELD: Steve Cavico of the Kane Park professional whiffle-ball team in South Plainfield heard more than he saw. Standing stolid, 48 feet from the mound and gripping the wooden handle of his wide plastic blue-barreled bat, he last saw the hollow, hole-filled ball leave the pitcher's hand near his ankles, whipping the grass with a sputtering whistle until it quickly rose and smacked the sheet- metal striike zone, almost at his neck. Cavico could only freeze in admiration.
"Oohh, nice pitch," he said. "Whoa!''
If you haven't heard of Kane Park, it is likely you have never been in Kevin Kane's backyard, which bears that stadium-like nickname and which is where the team had its humble beginnings. And you likely haven't heard of the FastPlastic professional whiffle ball league, which had its last regional qualifying tournament of the season yesterday at Veterans Park in South Plainfield. Kane and Cavico's teammate Kris Nagy is the Northeast regional director.
"What you can do with a whiffle ball simulates high competition baseball, and the guys are great,'' said Nagy, 25, who is from South Plainfield but currently lives in The Bronx, N.Y., and works for an environmental engineering firm in Manhattan. "It's all see-the-ball, hit-the-ball with this game. Half the battle is seeing the ball.''
And this sport, moving from backyards to the big time across the country, is something to see.
Yesterday morning, Kane Park, whose four-member team wear matching blue-and-orange jerseys, battled mightily in a 2-0 loss against the pitcher from The Old School Risers, a Maryland team that traveled the farthest for this 16-team all-day tournament. In addition to that wicked rising fastball, the Maryland pitcher throws an evil split-fingered something that looks like a beautiful meatball before dropping clear out of sight.
"If you've never seen a pitcher before, he's very tough to hit and see what he's doing," said Cavico, 34, a technology salesman from Brick. "But we've hit guys like this before. Sometimes it's early in the morning, and you're barely awake."
Rather than wake before dawn, Nagy and Kane, 27, who teaches history and law at Woodbridge High School, set up the eight fields Friday, taking five hours to erect the carefully measured orange construction netting and PVC pipe that mark the backstops and outfield fences. Kane said that the materials cost about $1,500, which includes insurance to use the park, and comes out of each team's $100 entrance fee.
The top prize for this tournament was $400, with second place worth $200. But the real prize is in accumulating enough points over the season to qualify for the playoffs, and a chance to win travel expenses and the honor of representing the region at the national tournament in Austin, Texas, this Columbus Day Weekend.
Last year, The Swingers from Middletown blew through the field of 40 teams from 14 regions across the country, riding a 9-0 record to the national championship and a $3,500 cash prize. With the sport's growing popularity, this year's prize is expected to be $5,000.
FastPlastic plays six innings of whiffle ball, in which teams of two to five players compete in a game with imaginary runners. Three strikes are an out, and four balls are a walk. A pitcher and two fielders can field ground balls for outs if they catch them on a fly or handle them cleanly in front of a line painted on the ground and then make a smooth throw to the backstop. Balls that stop rolling before a fielder or that pass them are singles. Balls that roll to the outfield fences are doubles; those that hit them on a fly are triples. And over the fence is a home run.
Hits advance imaginary runners much as real runners would in a baseball game. A single scores a man on second. Doubles clear the bases. There are other peculiar rules, but mostly they adhere to those of Major League Baseball.
The average age of players hovers in the mid-20s, though Kane said that they had a 45-year-old play in a previous tournament. And although one-time San Francisco Giants pitcher Chuck Hensley played in Texas last year, these are not world-class athletes.
The Niffs, a team from New Hyde Park in Long Island, N.Y., swig from Budweiser cans at 9 a.m. and smoke cigarettes between at-bats. Does this cause them any trouble with, say, eye-hand coordination? "Right now, no,'' said Nick Tullo, who said he was "20...um, 21."
But, as The Wiffled Wonders from South Plainfield are learning, it takes some considerable skill. Playing against the Hit Men from Vineland, Wonders pitcher Jimmy Quartuccio was feeling his age: 15.
"I thought I'm gonna play people my own age," Jimmy said of his first pro game in April. "And I come here and people are driving their cars and bringing their kids. I'm the youngest guy around here."
Jimmy, who plays baseball for Colonia High School, was on the mound against the Hit Men in his green-sleeved baseball shirt and green kneesocks. As sweat fell from his brown moptop and scraggly facial hair, he slid into his wind-up again and again, throwing hard, but throwing many more balls than strikes.
After the game, Elvin Cortez, 33, of the Hit Men told Jimmy: "You've got to take your lumps. Throw strikes. If you overthrow all the time, you're gonna get hurt."
Which is just what happened to Jerry Riso, 31, of the defending champion Swingers. "I threw too much last year, and it was doctor time," he said. "I never thought I'd have to go to the doctor for whiffle ball."
But the ball itself requires doctoring to achieve that insane movement. "You've got to scuff up the ball the right way," Kane said. "You can't take it out of the box and throw.''
Dan Erhardt, 17, of the Wiffled Wonders said he buys a dozen balls at a time. "I have a two-hour ritual," he said. "I sit in my driveway and rub them against the pavement in the blazing sun and number them. One time we used a cheese grater."
As the sun receded and the Mud Ducks beat the Swingers 3-0 to win the tournament at 7:30 p.m., almost everyone agreed their sport was ready for primetime.
"This should be on ESPN," Dan "Neif" Ennis of the Niffs said between drags on his cigarette. "They have hot-dog eating contests, Scrabble and Foosball tournaments. Why not whiffle ball?"
The answer was easy to see.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Loud and raucous: with feeling
Words and music by Harley Smoot
Cars and stars and bars and buildings
Nicks and nacks and nukes and killings
Hold the phones and tolls and buildings
Right the wrongs these songs we're singing...
What is wrong with bombs and babies?
Why shoot the dog, the kid with rabies?
Why fill the world with don'ts and maybes?
How much longer must we sing these...
Songs we're singing grow longer
All the wrong muscles getting stronger
Our eyes are covered with crawlers
And the waves crash into the shore
Farts with hearts are just not pumping
The monks, the punks, the guidos jumping
Up and down the tight rumps rumping
Words for nerds and no one's singing (these)
Denim's venom holds the stripper's zipper
Stuff the string does the highest tipper
Latch-on losers, tarrif on the shipper
March the town or maybe is it hipper (to sing these)
Pain is not a fun thing.
Why would laughter come to mind
When your testicles in a blender grind?
Anguish is no good time.
How could smiles cross your face
With your head caved in by an iron mace?
Torture is not a party.
Who could dance or move his feet
When your brain, some bitch does beat?
Not a pretty thing
No voice with which to sing
Some hair, a crack, two parts
Pressure builds, then farts
Two friends, such plump amigos
They bob wherever she goes
No foe can come between us
A place to stick my ______
No nose with which to smell
Could ever live to tell
The tongue to lick the dish
The place that smells like fish
What? I cannot hear
A thing without my ear
If bad, the things you say
My ear, I turn away
Friday, July 29, 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Across the river to the Jersey side
Take my baby to the carnival
And I'll take you on all the rides
As of Saturday, I'm no longer a New Yorker. New Jersey and a new job beckon my return. And just as the city wipes clean and accepts anyone who arrives from wherever, New Jersey often stains and occasionally stings like mousse dripping from a sweaty head down a bronzed face and into your eye.
But I have no complaints. Life is good. My job is to tell stories and tell them well. With some luck and hard work, the next chapter in my story should be worth sharing. Or maybe the chapter after the next one. I hear the index promises to shape up decently. Stick around.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
- Marijuana should be legal
- Any consenting adult should be able to marry any other consenting adult outside his immediate family
- Abortion should be legal, and minors should not be required to notify or seek the consent of their parents; notification laws are innefective and potentially dangerous
- The day-after pill should be available over-the-counter; the pill's effective cancelation of a pregnancy after unprotected sex is no more an abortion than the natural ejection of any other (perhaps) fertilized egg that doesn't attach to the uterus and grow to term; According to the FDA, it is safe and would prevent countless actual abortions
- If life begins at conception, it is hardly worth fretting over; Stem cell research can save adult lives; it should be legal and supported by the government with at least as much enthusiasm as farm subsidies and energy policies favoring oil companies
- Government should not coerce citizens into following any particular religion, and government should not provide any money for religious institutions or displays; Society should not shrink from displaying the religious preference of the marjority, so long as minorities aren't coerced into practicing another religion; For example, if I live in a predominantly Christian country, Christmas can be a national holiday just as schools are closed for Jewish holidays in New York; Also, I am free to ignore Nativity scenes and tell people to go fuck themselves when they approach me on the street with a "Jews for Jesus" pamphlet
- Intelligent Design isn't science; it doesn't belong in schools; science demands evidence through experimentation to support all hypotheses; something isn't true just because you might want it to be
- Prostitution should be legal; "Why should it be illegal to sell something that's perfectly legal to give away?"--George Carlin
- Downloading music is theft, but fans sharing music for no profit can never be stopped, and it ultimately helps the artist gain exposure; unless you're already so big you don't need it, in which case you should go back to your solid gold jacuzzi and diddle yourself
- Burning a flag is stupid, but far less harmful than outlawing a constitutionally protected act; love the principle, not the artifact
- Physician-assisted suicide is between the dying patient and the physician; Why can we put dogs out of their misery but not end our own suffering?
- Like doctors and lawyers, journalists should be shielded from being forced by the government to reveal confidential sources unless a life is at stake
- Capital punishment is not a deterrent and is racist in practice. Therefore, no state should execute a citizen simply to satiate society's or a victim's family's thirst for revenge; While more than half of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, Amnesty International has compiled statistics revealing that out of the 1,813 known people executed in 1999, 85% could be accounted for by China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States; Is this the type of company we want to keep?
Thursday, July 07, 2005
WARNING! This is --NO KIDDING!-- comedy in the worst, most depraved and offensive taste. What follows are movie titles invented from the imagination of sick, degenerate reprobates with too much time on their hands during late nights at summer camp and/or other fits of boredom (too many names to credit/blame). No women were involved in the creation of any of these titles, and I hereby preemptively apologize to them all. That's right. The whole lot of 'em. Nowhere below will you find anything remotely respectful of feminism or even simple human dignity.
Just horrible, evil, downright wrong. Shame on us all.
This list dates back to circa 1992, if that's any excuse. None of these are actual porno titles, at least as far as anyone knew at the time.
So if you are easily offended by the words of juvenile strangers indulging in a game of who-can-top-me-for sheer disgusting outrageousness...then please go find a web site about bunnies or something. And definitely skip the new film The Aristocrats.
For the rest of you sickos, try not to laugh. I dare you.
Romancing the Bone
Creamer Vs. Creamer
Bright Lights, Big Titties
The Cunt for Red October
Raiders of the Lost Twat
Indiana Jones in the Temple of Poon
Free My Willy
Dirty Rotten Cooters
Stand By Me . . . So I Can Fuck You Up the Ass
Schindlers List of Whores
The Empire Sucks Dick
Return of the Red-Eye
The Smurfs and the Magic Skin Flute
When Harry Wet Sally
Come and Comer
Dazed and Abused
The Last Masturbation of Christ
Diddler on the Roof
Robin Hood: Prince of Queefs
St. Elmo’s Fire Crotch
The War of the Hoses
Full Metal Dildo
All Quiet on the Western Cunt
The Shawshank Erection
The Fabulous Boner Boys
Field of Wet Dreams
The Right Muff
Coming in America
Good Whoring in Vietnam
A Streetwalker Named Desire
Suddenly Last Hummer
The Great Train Sodomy
To Live and Die for a Lay
One Spew Over the Cooter’s Nest
Titty-Titty Bang Bang
Citizen Cunt (Starring Whore’s-son Welles)
Brighton Beach Mammaries
Prince of Rides
On Golden Shower
A Low Down Dirty Skank
Stench of a Woman
Twelve Horny Men
Eight Men In
The Hair Up There
Above the Rimjob
Blue Balls (Blue Chips)
Bush League (Major League)
Four Weddings and a Sopping Wet Pussy
In The Anus of the Father
Snow White and the Seven Whores
Crimson Tide of Menstrual Blood Oozing Down Her Leg
Only You...Can Sing The Star Spangled Banner With My Scrotum In Your Mouth
Who’s Eating Gilbert Grape’s Dingleberries?
Ferris Tooler Jacks Off
Bitch Cassidy And Her Unpantsed Kid
The Slutty Professor
Dr. Jerkoff And Mr. Hyde the Salami
Planet Of The Rapes
How To Eat An American Cooter
48 Hours...Of Continuous Anal Probing
White Men Can’t Pump
2001--Uses For A Dildo
2010-- More Uses For A Dildo
From Queer to Eternity
Masturbation Man (Demolition Man)
Red Vaj Of Courage
Riding Miss Daisy
The Color Of Pussy
Ace Vagina: Snatch Detective
The Abyss...Between Her Legs
The Adventures Of Sharon Munchmuffin (Baron Munchausen)
The Screwing Of The Lambs
The Pelican Queef
Star Trek III: The Search For Cock
Scent Of A Woman’s Cunt
Clear And Present Boner
Little Women...Wth Huge Cocks Up Their Asses
Teenage Mutant Ninja Rugmunchers
Alice Gives Head Like A Whore (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore)
Bang The Cunt Slowly
Stainly And Anus (Stanley And Iris)
Ed Sports Wood
My Cock, Your Lips—Now! (Apocalypse Now!)
Every Bitch Has A Dick In Her Caboose (Every Which Way But Loose)
Fuck Hard (Die Hard)
Fuck Hard 2: Fuck Harder
Fuck Hard With a Strap-On
Honey, I Violated The Kid’s Ass
Honey, I Blew the Kids
Catch 22 STDs
Invasion Of The Hairy Snatches
A Cock Turned Orange (A Clockwork Orange)
The Color Of My Jizz
Dirty Rotten Skanks
The Muppets Take It Up the Ass
The Great Muppet Cooter
The Joy Fuck Club
A League Of Their Bone
Mary Shelly’s Franks & Beans
My Squeezin’ Weenie (My Cousin Vinny)
My Own Private Dildo
The Neverending Orgy
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Friday, July 01, 2005
Thursday, June 30, 2005
I know, I know. You can sense my excitement. This is the last place on Earth I wanted to live. But a bird in the hand is better than taking two for a tango or some such thing. So as my days as a New Yorker are numbered, I figured I'd offer this brief little snippet from a much longer snip, extolling the proud New Jerseyite lineage.
Yes. I am attempting a self-fulfilling prophecy through positive thinking. Does this ever work?
As Jed twisted his Explorer along the winding of the Delaware Water Gap--Port Authority of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, adopt-a-highway stretches sponsored by New Jersey Kiwanis, The Greek Revival and General Ironics, Inc.--he emerges through the tollbooth with his customary middle fingered salute to the sign that greets all those who enter Pennsylvania from points east. In stately font and grandiose manner, tagged with the current governor's signature, is the greeting: "Welcome to Pennsylvania; America Starts Here."
Jed has long since abandoned attempts to explain this colossal display of sheer stupidity. It can't even be called hubris, really. What? Pennsylvania: Home of the Amish, the Quakers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the non-New Yorkers? What possible reason could they exclude the eastern seaboard when describing this country? God bless America from sea to shining...Pennsylvania?
He can recall an argument with Graham over the ramifications of this sign--a challenge really, to name one noteworthy American who proudly advertises Pennsylvania as his home state. Rocky Balboa doesn't count, he told his portly, ill-kempt Pennsylvanian amigo. Non-fictional characters only, please. The stumpy kid stumped, Jed first mentioned the sad fact that the imbecile comic Bob Sagat hails from Graham's hometown of Abbington, and this effectively ended Pennsylvania's offensive.
The Jersey list, of course, is anchored by the almighty Bruce Springsteen--Messiah of Rock And Roll, without whom The Bee-Gees might have taken over the world with a legion of trendy-dressing goons armed with hypnotic strobe lights and feathered hair. He alone, argued Jed, would make his case.
But wait, there's more and this group included Jack Nicholson, Frank Sinatra, Danny DeVito, Grover Cleveland, Allen Ginsberg, Lauryn Hill, Thomas Edison, Bon Jovi (O.K. One point for the bad guys), Whitney Houston, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, James Cagney, Norman Mailer, Walt Whitman, Jerry Lewis (That's two against), Joe Pesci, Meryl Streep, Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, Jr., Bruce Willis, Eddie Murphy, Patti Smith, and every player on the 1995, 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils (those who haven't moved, retired, or been traded).
Then there is Lucky Lindy, of whom Jersey was proud enough to execute an innocent man for his benefit. How many states are that committed? The list is long and distinguished. Jed was forced to stop when Graham stumbled away in search of more beer.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Love the principle, not the artifact. Money quote: "Real Americans don't take away the freedoms of other Americans. "
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Oh, I loved Adam West in the 60's movie and TV show. Especially Cesar Romero as The Joker, cackling like Michael Jackson at Chuck E. Cheese's and sporting a mustache under his clown makeup.
And Tim Burton got a few things absolutely right in his original Batman from 1989: The dark, dirty, surreal Gotham; the bat suit; the batmobile; Alfred. But the tone was over-the-top, a comic-y take on a superhero without the emotional weight or even a real plot. Nicholson shamelessly mugged and stole the movie from the ill-cast Michael Keaton -- an even bigger crime than his character's attempt to poison the entire city. The name of the film was Batman, after all.
I will not speak of Joel "Bat Nipples" Schumacher.
So here comes Christopher Nolan, getting every last detail almost perfect. By focusing on Bruce Wayne's emotional trauma, crippling fears, obsession with revenge and his sense of justice, we finally get a fully fleshed character behind the cowl. Some might argue that the film wastes too much time with Bruce's Far East exploration of the criminal mind and his training at the hands of The League of Shadows. But this is time well spent in a movie that promises with its title to reveal how Batman Begins.
It was always a running joke among nerds like me, trying to figure out what happened to the contractors who designed the bat cave or the technicians responsible for all his cool equipment. And finally, we have a movie that goes a long way to reveal all of this in believable detail, introducing a new character and enlisting Alfred as a more hands-on partner. If it wouldn't have stretched an already long movie out to unprofitable lengths, I could have watched even more of the evolution of this kind of stuff and Batman's crime-fighting learning curve.
As it is, though, this movie finally shows a Batman as Batman should be: a figure striking fear into scumbags, who works from the shadows and chills criminals to their bones with a ferocious appearance and all-business growl of a voice. And finally, a Batman who originated in DC's Detective Comics actually behaving like a detective. His relationship with a young (and eventually police commissioner) Jim Gordon is the stuff of giddy dreams. None of this story had ever been satisfactorily told before, and unlike Lucas's childish, sappy and illogical prequels, this Batman origin fulfills the promise of an aging geek's imagination.
Perhaps my biggest gripe (and you know there had to be one) is the fight choreography. Everything is shot up close and with quick cuts, likely because the bat suit just doesn't allow for a lot of agility or acrobatics. And maybe you can buy the excuse that the style of fighting Batman employs is the up-close-and-dirty kind. Certainly, these scenes are preferable to a CG-rendered Batman as in the Spider-Man movies. But while the wire work and fight choreography of Hong Kong Kung Fu pictures and the balletic brawls of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Kill Bill and The House of Flying Daggers have raised the bar of what constitutes an artistic achievement in fighting, Batman goes for a lot of muddled flying fists, kicks and blocks.
Oh, well. All still amazingly satisfying, though perhaps Batman Begins appeals most to the hard-core geek audience. Like me. With any luck, this will almost erase the memory of Schumacher's neon Gotham and (shudder) Alicia Silverstone squeezed into tights.
Top 10 Comic Book Films
- Spider-Man 2
- Batman Begins
- Superman 2
- Sin City
- X-Men 2: X-Men United
- American Splendor
Honorable Mention: Flash Gordon, Hellboy, Men in Black, Ghost World
Edited 6/23, 4:35 PM because I'm an idiot.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Slow News Day: The Post decides to humiliate an 11-year-old girl to sell papers
Anyone catch this story from Friday's Post? Apparently, this girl's parents want their kid's school to recall all 200 yearbooks because they printed the wrong picture. Her mother said, "For the rest of her life, she's going to have to be ashamed of that horrible picture."
Um. Michelle Maihepat of South Ozone Park? You think maybe printing it on the front page of oh, maybe 480,000 papers might be a little more embarrassing for your little girl?
Listen, I'm not a partisan in the New York tabloid wars. Not really. I read The Post for their addictive, Chicken Little sports coverage. And it's silly fun how their news coverage serves as Rupert Murdoch's conservative pulpit in America. But this has to be the dumbest, most exploitive piece of barbed fluff I've ever read.
Which wasn't alleviated by the makeover they paid for and printed in today's paper. The poor little girl still looks about as attractive as Herve Vellaichaize after a few too many mojitos.
Hey, now. I can write that because my 14 stoned daily readers don't really compare to the circulation of the New York Post. Not yet, anyway. And we here at Rolling Bones know, if anything, there's nothing funnier than Herve Vellaichaize in a prom dress.