Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Jamborees and hootenannies

My brother has a new site for his blog. Look at it and learn about Jimmy Buffett impersonators and tambourines.
In an unrelated topic, I was thinking about my rant about what makes certain movies great art and others not. I was thinking specifically about a handful of directors I also love who don't share my aesthetic, who are in some cases completely opposed, and who I love anyway. I'm talking directors who are interested in one or more of these things: heavy symbolism, tricks and games, dislike of characters, big spectacles, etc. In some cases, such as Lars von Trier, who flits in and out of loving and hating his characters and seems to make both stylistic exercises and slippery, mysterious artworks about people, I just don't know where to put them. But I love them anyway:
David Lynch, Takashi Miike, von Trier, Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, Jean-Luc Godard (1960s and a handful of the others), Claude Chabrol, Quentin Tarantino (not a love, but a big like), Todd Solondz, Paul Thomas Anderson (though I think "Punch-Drunk Love" fits with my original great art definition), and several others. So, I guess what I'm saying is I'm a very contradictory person.
By the way, I highly recommend HEB's honey jalapeno rotisserie chicken, especially when it's dipped in homemade salsa.

Oh yeah, I watched these movies over the weekend

Hey hey,
Rabid (David Cronenberg) If you're as freaked out about disease and the untrustworthiness of your own body as I am, you'll love Cronenberg's movies. Or hate them. Depends how squeamish you are. I love them. As an interesting aside, the star of this movie, Marilyn Chambers, is an ex-porn star.
Singin' in the Rain (Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen) I used to hate musicals. I was dumb. This movie is so good.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Nagisa Oshima) The only other film I've seen by Oshima was "In the Realm of the Senses," which was about a dangerously obsessive sexual relationship and was basically two hours of unsimulated, bizarre sex. It was very interesting to see an Oshima film that wasn't wall-to-wall fuckin'. I'm not sure how successful this is, but I like most of it. The cast is really interesting: David Bowie, Takeshi Kitano, and Ryuichi Sakamoto.
L'Argent (Robert Bresson) Bresson made this when he was 80 years old. It's a great, great movie. I probably won't be alive when I'm 80. Life is so unfair.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Movie attack/rambling diatribe

I worked a miserable telemarketing job for a month in the early part of my second year of college, and during orientation on the first day, the trainer asked each person to name his or her favorite kind of music during one of those forced getting-to-know-each-other exercises that are supposed to ease us into the job and create a bond but only breed contempt and distrust between manager and staff right off the bat. We answered the awful question and my mood became especially surly when at least five people said they didn't really listen to music, two people answered "Phish" and another guy said "Dave Matthews Band." I must have been away from my desk when those two bands were declared their own genre. Anyway, a vaguely indie-looking guy seemed to be as uncomfortable as me, and when he answered "punk rock," I figured I might actually make a friend at this job. When we were on break, I walked over and pretended to be casual, though I probably looked like the utter 19-year-old dork that I was, and said: "Hey, I heard you say you liked punk rock. Are you into the Minutemen?" The guy looked at me like I was dipped in three layers of shit, then kept looking at me that way, silently, for several seconds. Finally, he spoke, in a tone meant to strongly suggest to anyone listening that it greatly pained him to have to explain something so glaringly obvious. "The Minutemen are a college-rock band. I only listen to punk." I'm proud of myself for realizing immediately that this guy was an utter, fucking moron with a ridiculously narrow view of punk and for sowing the seeds that blossomed into my intense hatred of scenesters, hipsters, and indie kids everywhere. I am no longer 19, but I am still a dork who likes music and is enthusiastic about it. And the Minutemen are punker than any 500 generic hardcore bands you can squeeze into a blender and reduce to a Tupperware container full of bloody goo.
I don't know why yet, and I've been thinking about it for two days, but this memory latched itself into my brain and wouldn't let go after I watched a documentary about Hollywood production designers on PBS late Saturday night when I was lying in bed flipping through channels. Over the last seven years, I've slowly become as obsessive about movies as I've always been about music and books, and, in the last four years, I've become aware, mostly by accident, of certain things I look for in art, and a philosophy I have about what makes great art great. I've been trying to articulate this in my head for a while, but I don't think I can do it on paper yet. The way I watch things has changed greatly since I was in college, and I feel like a whole world has opened up and sort of whapped me on the back of the head. But I don't really know how to explain this to anyone other than forcing you to sit on my couch and watch the movies I consider to be the supreme masterworks, the ones that have the most to do with being human and the lives we actually live, over the course of several weeks at gunpoint, while I jump up and down and yell, "See, isn't this changing your life? Changing the way you think? Not just about movies, but about your own life, and everything in it?" So you see, I get really enthusiastic about the stuff I like to the point of mania and obsession, but I don't know how to articulate it and let you know why. I just know what I don't like, and, Jesus, I didn't like this PBS documentary. The production designer for "The Graduate" was talking about all the heavy symbolism he used in the movie and how Benjamin's parents' house and Mrs. Robinson's house were exactly the same because the lives of the wealthy suburbanites were so similar, except that since Benjamin was male, his parents' home was a "male" house with square doors and a straight staircase, and since Mrs. Robinson was female, her home was a "female" home with round doors and a curved staircase. The production designer for "American Beauty" bragged about how he used red as a motif for freedom and enlightenment, and when a character in the film was breaking out of his/her role in society, the character was dressed in red, and when he/she was trapped or stuck, the character was dressed in grays and browns. Much more of this kind of bullshit was trotted out in a reverential, unquestioning tone, and the production designers congratulated themselves on their supreme, artistic achievements. Is this what we consider our crowning glories in film art? Is every character a cipher with a big sign around his/her neck telling us who they are and what they feel? So many film studies programs focus on ideas like these, and it sucks. They teach students to decipher all these metaphorical clues and congratulate each other on how smart they are for figuring it out. It's a parlor game for pseudo-intellectuals, and it ignores real art, the kind that can't be compartmentalized. "See, he's wearing blue because he's sad." How does shit like that help us become better people and teach us anything about being human and being alive? Isn't that what great art does, or at least attempts to do? I watch a lot of stuff just for entertainment and I have a good time doing so, but I don't assign it an importance it doesn't have. Too much credit is given to films that have Big Ideas, Big Metaphors, Big Generational Signifiers, Big Symbols, Important Subjects, and Majestic Sweep. It's late, I've had some drinks, and I'm really shooting my mouth off incoherently now, but I will put my money where my mouth is and name a bunch of directors I think are great artists and whose worst moments have more to do with my life than anything ever done by any overpraised piece of junk full of Important Ideas, beautiful cinematography and beautiful production design. P.S. I don't hate production designers. Some of them are subtle, wonderful talents. P.P.S. When I say "having to do with real life," I'm not talking about realism. Some of the directors' films are close to real life, some are exaggerations and fantasies. But all of them confront what it means to be human, they have respect for their audiences, and they have respect for their characters. It's not stuffy art for art's sake, and it's not dumb, loud filler that treats you like a human ATM machine. It will not make you feel like it took two hours of your life and refused to give it back. It will make you feel like your life is just beginning. Christ, I'm all fired up tonight. Here's the people I like. If I didn't turn you away with my bizarre rant, rent as many of their films as you can.
John Cassavetes, Howard Hawks, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Robert Bresson, Marx Brothers, Mike Leigh, Preston Sturges, Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio de Sica (early stuff), Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Tom Noonan, Nicholas Ray, Werner Herzog, Jacques Tati, Yasujiro Ozu, Ingmar Bergman, David Cronenberg, the dance numbers in "Singin' in the Rain," Elaine May, Jim Jarmusch, Aki Kaurismaki, Larry David, Andrei Tarkovsky, Gus Van Sant (except for the shitty ones), Harmony Korine, Carl Dreyer, Frank Capra, Monte Hellman, Wim Wenders (until 1988), Robert Altman, Wes Anderson, Jafar Panahi, Abbas Kiarostami, Kenji Mizoguchi, Kateshi Kitano, Sam Peckinpah, Su Friedrich, Shirley Clarke, Claire Denis, Luis Bunuel, Morris Engel, Jean Renoir, Terry Zwigoff, and a bunch more I'm forgetting because I'm tired. Goodbye, everybody.

New Robot of the Week Contest

Everyone say hello to our new Robot of the Week. You have until Monday, September 6 to name he/she/it.

Robot of the Week winner

Hello, humans and man-machines,
I had a tough time picking a winner this week, but I have finally decided. I was pleased with the level of participation, especially after my browbeating, and I was equally pleased with the quality of robot names. Good job, everyone. I will now recap the week's robot names for those of you who missed it:
Nick Krauter: Electro-Jaundice
Scott Stanfield: Gigapawn
Kristy: Confusomatron
W: Foosbuddy
Amy S.: L'ilbuddyatron
Anonymous: Curly
Angela: Betsey Gollan
Mary P.: Flavious 'Nanerbot (surname Matsuko-Taji)
Zoomletta: Denny Zelazny
Archivaria: Lemon Fresh 3000
Stinky: Lancebot (pronounced like Lancelot)
Joolie: Mr. Roboto
And the winner (by virtue of a coin toss in sudden death overtime) is ... Nick for Electro-Jaundice. Congratulations, Nick. For those of you who will allege nepotism since my girlfriend won last week and my brother this week, let me retort that my brother could have lost the coin flip and my other favorite, Curly, would have won, and also pick a better name, jerk. In addition, Can-Smashing Robot is an open, loving Web community where all my readers are the equivalent of my girlfriend and my brother. You're all family to me. In conclusion, you're all a bunch of jerks. Thank you, and god bless.

Friday, August 27, 2004


I had two tacos for breakfast and two tacos for lunch. Let's hear it for tacos! Yeah! Tacos! Posted by Hello

Today nothing awesome is happening

I'm bored. Maybe if I was more like this person, I would not be bored.

Bad Movie Night

Another bad movie night went off without a hitch. I'm only a little hungover, but two bean, potato, jalapeno, and salsa breakfast tacos took care of that. Blackenstein was even more of a colossal piece of shit than I had dared to dream. My favorite line: "He won the Nobel Peace Prize for solving the DNA genetic code." Second favorite line: "You have pretty hair. Do you like it touched?"

Thursday, August 26, 2004


For anyone who's reading this and already knows where my apartment is, or is capable of sleuthing it out, you are welcome to come over tonight and watch "Blackenstein." Bring your favorite intoxicant. That is all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Robots, people, robots!!!!

I just wanted to remind everyone that there is a robot-naming contest going on. After an excellent start on Monday and Tuesday, no one entered the contest today. If you read this blog and haven't entered the contest, you are a pantywaisted wimp and should hang your head in shame. Unless you are brainstorming the perfect robot name and are biding your time before the contest ends on Monday, you have no excuse. Will I be forced to browbeat you further? Come on, people. Robots! What are you waiting for? Need I remind you that one lucky person will receive a prize of a baffling and inconsequential nature some time this month? Doesn't that make your motor hum? Huh? Doesn't it? Huh? Everybody likes getting free stuff sent to them. Even if that free stuff is totally useless and slightly shitty. Am I right? Besides, this is a free contest. I repeat, it doesn't cost you anything to enter. Did you know that some highly reputable institutes of higher education charge a fee to apply to their precious and hallowed grounds? Did you know that most reputable houses of worship pass out a collection plate, and, if you don't divvy up some cold, hard green, the parishioners stare at you with nothing but cold hatred in their eyes? It's a sick and disgusting world, isn't it? Everybody's out for your money. Everybody's watching their own backs without a care in the world for yours. Not this guy, jerks. I love each and every one of you. And I will go to the mat for the one who comes up with the best robot name of the month by sending some free junk to a residence of their choosing. So, come on, assholes, put up or shut up. Thank you and god bless.

Them what can translate real nice

Since I'm nearing the end of weeks and weeks spent slowly watching the 15-1/2 hour Fassbinder miniseries "Berlin Alexanderplatz" (which I in no way, shape, or form purchased illegally on bootleg DVDs from eBay), I was trying to read this German website about one of the film's stars, Gottfried John, who is simultaneously one of the most amazingly ugly and beautiful people in the world. Since it was all in German, I hit the translate button and got an intensely garbled version of English. The site kept referring to John as "it" instead of "he," and it even bizarrely translated into English the last names of several directors of German and Austrian origin. So, Rainer Werner Fassbinder became Rainer Werner Barrel Binder and Billy Wilder became Billy of Savages. I think they also got way too literal in translating some German film titles. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing "Police Call 110 Arms of Pigs" and "In the Visor of the Bad One" are not the actual titles of these films.

Amy S.'s Robot Photo that it wouldn't let her post on comments, so here it is, suckas. Posted by Hello

Maybe someone can help me understand my conflicted feelings about the Pixies

Dear Internet and other nets,
Can someone explain the absolute devotional worship most people seem to have for the Pixies? People just go apeshit for the Pixies like they are the only band that ever existed. Let me say for the record that I think the Pixies are a very, very good band. I have all their albums, I still listen to them, and I think they have a handful of truly great songs. But, and this is a big but, I don't think they are one of the all-time greats. All of their albums have a lot of filler and the production on some of the albums is pretty damn slick. I don't see what distinguishes them as the leader of the pack in that mostly great group of 80's post-post-punk, pre-alternative college rock bands like Sonic Youth, Throwing Muses, Dinosaur Jr, blahbitty blah. Also, I think the Breeders and the first two Frank Black albums are miles better than anything the Pixies ever did. I know I am (deeply) in the minority on this one. I like the Pixies an awful lot. But I just don't get the love. Can someone please explain the love?

The Man Who Refused To Take His Gorilla Mask Off, Part 4

Steve sits at his kitchen table, a sharpened No. 2 pencil in his right hand, a glass of iced tea with lemon in his left, staring at a heavily marked-up piece of notebook paper and last week's edition of the Fancytown Sentinel-Express, the local alternative newsweekly. The paper is opened to the personal ads, which Steve has been reading intently all week. Steve thinks he has finally cracked it. He's written a personal ad that will not only catch a young lady's eye, but also will entice her with its mystery and seductive promise. Steve is pleased. He takes a sip of tea through the straw poking out of his mask and resumes reading the personals, particularly the more risque section known as "Irregularities."
"Oh my," Steve says aloud. "What will they think of next?"
He chuckles politely at an ad entitled "Big Game Hunter Seeks Trophy to Mount" when an excited tapping on the door interrupts his perusal. He sets down his tea quickly, spilling a small amount, which he wipes up with a nearby handkerchief. He opens the door and is pleased to see Timmy, a blonde, mop-topped nine-year-old boy who lives in the apartment next door.
"Hello, Steve," Timmy says. "Whatcha doin'?"
Steve bends down so the mask is level with Timmy's face and says, "Well, Timmy, I'm writing a personal ad so I can meet a nice young apewoman. With all the hustle and bustle of life in Fancytown, it sure is hard to meet a suitable companion of the opposite sex."
"Gee willikers," Timmy says, recoiling. "Your ape mask is starting to smell, Steve."
"Ha ha," Steve says. "Timmy, you're alright. I merely smell like a man, son. An apeman. You'll understand someday."
"Got any candy?" Timmy asks. Steve grabs some black liquorice from the cupboard and hands it to the boy.
"Gee whiz," Timmy says, looking down at the liquorice in disgust. "You got any good candy?"
"Beggars can't be choosers," Steve says. They stare at each other for several seconds. Timmy shrugs and pops the candy in his mouth.
"Well?" Steve asks, looking at Timmy intently.
"Well, what?" Timmy asks back.
"What do you think of my personal ad idea?"
"Aw, shucks," Timmy says. "What do you want to get mixed up with some dame for, Mr. Steve? Girls have cooties. Plus they like dolls and they walk around all day going 'you're so pretty.' 'No, you're so pretty.' 'That's so cute.' 'Isn't that cute?' Who needs it?"
"Ha ha ha ha," Steve laughs, shaking the mask. "Timmy, you're the tops. I wish I was in the same boat. But I'm not. I'm an apeman, not an apeboy, and I've got specific ape needs. And specific ape urges."
Steve takes the hand-written personal ad from the table and smooths it on his leg. "You mind if I read you my ad, Timmy?"
"Nope," Timmy says. "Fire away."
"Ahem," Steve clears his throat for dramatic purposes and begins reading. "It's entitled 'Welcome to the Jungle' and it goes a little something like this: 'Ladies, have you been going bonkers over the lack of good men in your life? Well, go ape instead. Tall, dark, and handsome apeman seeks sexy, vivacious apewoman to swing from the trees with in this crazy jungle we call life. Must have positive attitude and enjoy classic rock music. No Scientologists.' What do you think?"
"Holy moly, Steve," Timmy says. "That should get you all kinds of chicks. Can I have some more candy?"
"I thought you weren't too wild about my choice in candy," Steve says.
"Ah, jeez," Timmy says. "It's not that bad."
"Here you go," Steve says, handing Timmy the candy and rubbing the top of his scruffy head. "Now run along, you little scamp."

Next week: Will Steve find success on his first date? Tune in and find out!

Dave Matthews Band + Human Waste = Hilarity



Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Damn it

I did some Internet investigation about the whole Gallagher and Don Knotts thing and discovered it was a neat little hoax perpetrated by the filmmakers. They even fooled the usually reliable Internet Movie Database. I'm disappointed that Gallagher and Don Knotts are not starring in a movie together. Then again, I'm relieved. Very relieved.

Monday, August 23, 2004

I swear to god I am not making this up

I was reading a news blurb about the cinematographer on "The Blair Witch Project" getting killed in an accident when I stopped to wonder what the hell the directors of "Blair Witch" are doing now. They seemed to disappear from the face of the earth. I checked imdb.com and discovered something I can't put into words because no words have been invented yet explaining just what it is I found. They are finishing up a new film, Heart of Love, starring Gallagher and Don Knotts.
Don Knotts!
Don Knotts!
Gallagher and Don Knotts!

Not-so-fun Fact

Hmm. According to the "Big Book of Truth," human beings are "not immortal" and "will die someday." I wish my parents had told me something about this. What a shock.

Fun Fact

Irving, Texas' sister city is Espoo, Finland.

New Robot of the Week

Hey, peeps. I've changed my mind again. The new robot of the week will be updated today, not Friday. You have an entire week to name this guy. I will pick a winner next Monday. My reasons for moving the Robot of the Week to Monday are threefold: 1. Giving people an entire week to name the robot may encourage more than four people to participate. 2. Friday's good enough by itself. It doesn't need a robot. Monday sucks. It needs a robot. 3. I like the word "threefold."
Click here for the Robot of the Week. Note: The small Asian girl is not a robot. You may name her if you like, but it is not part of the contest.

Robot of the Week contest winner

Hey everybody.
I would like to thank all four participants in our first ever weekly robot naming contest: Joolie, Kristy, Emily the Tyrant, and Anonymous. I would like to congratulate our winner, Kristy, for naming the little guyborg. He will now be known as Immobilebot. Remember, she's shacked up with me, so she's ineligible for the monthly prize. The three of you big, fat losers are still eligible. I would also like to thank Anonymous for his mention of that future hit from yesteryear, "Sadbot." Possibly the finest song ever recorded by B.O.K.A.R.R. even though I didn't even play on it, it is available on Fat Fran Records' excellent compilation "B.O.K.A.R.R. Unplugged: Jesus, This Microphone Smells Bad." Don't look for it in record stores near you.
Congratulations, Kristy!

Weekend Movie Blah Blah

Yo, muchachas and muchachos,
These are the movies I watched this weekend:
Saw Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano) at the Arbor on Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a highly unusual samurai movie with echoes of Charlie Chaplin, Clint Eastwood, and Akira Kurosawa, with gushing fountains of blood, dry slapstick, musical numbers, a transvestite geisha, and a critique of the samurai genre that gets stranger as the movie progresses. Good stuff.
Here's what I rented:
Parsifal (Hans-Jurgen Syberberg) In my need to see every movie ever released (with the exception of most Hollywood movies from the past 20 years), I sometimes torture myself by renting a film such as this one, a four-hour filmed Wagner opera. I don't even like opera. I was pleasantly surprised, though, because Syberberg's film is visually interesting and hardly ever boring, though the last hour made me slightly irritable and impatient. Syberberg uses actors, puppets, back projection, break-apart sets, and anachronistic symbols from recent European history to get around the fact that you're basically watching a performance confined to a stage. Plus the entire set is an oversized replica of Wagner's death mask. Pretty cool, am I right?
Shane (George Stevens) I have a lot of reservations about this film. It's always aware of its own perceived importance, advocates revenge as a moral solution to a problem, spends too much time on a cute little kid, and follows the stereotypes of the classic western to a T. The bad guys wear black. The good guys wear light brown. But there's a lot to admire in the film. The acting is wonderful and rarely sentimental. There's a lot of sexual tension and ambiguity in the air. And the character of Shane is such a mystery that the film could withstand repeat viewings.
Passion (Jean-Luc Godard) I love Godard's sixties films, almost without exception. His extraordinarily difficult seventies video work gives me a headache. And I've fought with his nineties films so much, I don't know what to think of them. This is the only Godard film from the eighties I've seen, but it gives me hope that I may like some of the others. It's just as difficult as his other post-sixties films, but its touch is lighter and its subject less obscure. And it's funny and beautiful to look at.
The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese) I've been kicking around a crazy, crackpot idea for awhile that this is the first of an unofficial Scorsese trilogy, along with "After Hours" and "Bringing Out the Dead." I think these three films share similar styles and themes. All three are dark comedies; are nervous, paranoid films that owe a lot to cocaine and urban dread; and are attempts to take the ideas behind "Taxi Driver" and push them into satire.
Okay, I quit.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

More robot of the week contest info

Hello, Earth people. There has been a slight change in the prize-winning portion of the contest. I previously suggested that whoever wins three times or more wins a prize. I've changed my mind. That makes it too hard to win a prize, dammit, and I don't like stuff that's too hard. So, here's what we're going to do. I will pick my favorite robot name of the past four weeks, and that winner will receive a prize of an inconsequential and baffling nature. Every four weeks, a new prizewinner. And my girlfriend is eligible for the weekly contests, but ineligible for the monthly prize because we're shacked up and it would be no fun to send her a prize. So if you don't win one week and she does, you may still be in the running.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Spreading the good vibes, smelly hippy-style

Hey everybody. A few people said really nice things about the Can-Smashing Robot yesterday, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy, like a stuffed animal baked in a wood-fired oven until it bursts into flames. I don't believe in karma, but I do believe in that concept of the things you do coming back to you. What's it called? Karma? Yeah, karma. So here are some nice people I know who have interesting web sites that you should look at if you have access to the "information superhighway," a new invention that was invented last week by a team of world-class computer experts, focus groups, Al Gore, three hyper-intelligent Rhesus monkeys, and Jake Phelps, creator of the world's largest hot dog.
The previously mentioned Oh, my stars and garters is still worth checking out, even though it has been previously mentioned.
My friend Peter has a very funny site with illustrated true stories.
My brother, Nick, has a blog that he needs to update more often. Read it anyway. It's good.
My brother's lady friend, Mary, is the sole tour-de-force behind Pretty Good Things. Buy some of her hand-crafted items and check out her artwork and blog. Then buy some more of her stuff. There's also a link to my friend Jake's artwork on her site.
My lady friend's former coworker and friend to both of us, Traci, has recently jumped into the blogging game. Check it out.
My friend Angela has a sort-of blog, sort-of all kinds of stuff website about her life that is also worth checking out.
Finally, Receptionista is a stranger to me, but she said some really nice things about my site, and her site is very smart and funny, so look at it, too.
That's enough love to spread around for now. I will probably have to go kick a puppy so I can realign my evil half back to its former power.

Also, the robot-naming contest is on until I decide a winner, so submissions will still be accepted on Monday if I haven't picked anyone yet.

Let's all name our robot of the week

Hey, everybody. Remember the good times we had announcing the robot of the week? Those were classic times, my friends. And now it's time to name our little robot friend. If you wish to participate, leave a comment below the robot of the week post stating the name you wish to give our robot. A biased jury of one (that would be me) will pick a favorite and announce it sometime on Monday, giving credit to the lucky winner of our prizeless contest. If you win the contest three times or more, I will send you a prize of an insignificant and baffling nature. C'mon gang! Let's start naming robots!

Robot of the Week (new weekly feature)

Hello, everyone. Friday is a great day, generally, but what could make it even better? That's right. A robot of the week feature. Here's our first ROBOT OF THE WEEK.

More shameless self-promotion

I love making mix tapes. It's a great stress alleviator, and I usually end up making at least a couple a week. At times, my mix-taping making has bordered on the weirdly obsessive, and I think I made 10 or 11 in a week once. That's why the whole MP3, download, iTunes, CD burning revolution thing going on now makes me a little nervous. I drive a 1989 car with a tape deck, and that's where I listen to my mixes, usually. I want to be able to buy cassettes for the rest of my life, because I've honed my craft and perfected my skills on the 90-minute cassette format. Two separate, 45-minute sides. That's how I operate. That's my metier. That's my raison d'etre, baby. Mix CDs don't work for me with their measly, one-sided, 80-minute running time, and I can't afford an i-pod. Also, I like leaving my apartment, going to the record store, seeing actual people, buying CDs with cover art and liner notes, and lots of blank tapes. I even enter my mix-tape track listings on the Art of the Mix, a website for freakish mix-tape makers like myself.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Rocking Rock

Caught a rocking rock show last night. A. C. Newman, better known as Carl Newman from the New Pornographers, played a short but sweet set at the Parish. I wish I could write great songs, sing, and perform in front of adoring fans. That seems like a good life, doesn't it? I'm sure I would hate it after a couple of years. The opening bands didn't really blow me away, but, dammit, they showed enthusiasm. They enjoyed themselves. I am a big fan of enthusiasm, though most hipsters seem to disagree with me on that one. If you're lucky enough to be performing for a large crowd, it would be very nice if you occasionally jumped up and down and smiled. That's all I'm asking. Quit trying to be cool. Nobody's cool. Nobody's ever been cool. Nobody will ever be cool.

I would also like to give a shoutout to Oh, my stars and garters for mentioning my site on her site. If you're one of the five people who read my blog and not hers, please check it out.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I will have a band and they will be called...


The Man Who Refused To Take His Gorilla Mask Off, Part 3

Steve sits quietly in the therapist's office, stroking the hair on his gorilla mask. His therapist, Dr. Jenkins, patiently waits for him to continue speaking. She hopes he will say something about the gorilla mask during this session. He hasn't mentioned it yet, which makes her uncomfortable. She scratches the inside of her palm and looks at her fingernails.
"My father never really understood me," Steve says, finally. "He didn't like ELO. He made me turn down my ELO records when he was at home. He even called them queers once. I mean, come on, 'Livin' Thing?' 'Evil Woman?' 'Mr. Blue Sky?' What's not to like?"
Steve exhales disgustedly. "My old man didn't get it. He didn't understand what life was all about. He'd never survive in the jungle, believe me."
Dr. Jenkins looks up excitedly. This might be the breakthrough we need, she thinks. She's surprised and confused by the horrible sound that immediately follows Steve's statement. The gorilla mask shakes while a series of yelps similar to a dog's burble out from the holes in the mask. Frightened, Dr. Jenkins jumps on top of her desk, holding a paperweight in front of her like a sword.
"Oh my god," she shrieks. "Please don't kill me!"
Steve is oblivious to his therapist's terror. He breaks down into deep, throaty sobs. Dr. Jenkins sits down, puts the paperweight back on the desk, and smooths her skirt. She silently thanks the building's architect for the lack of a window in her office and hopes her secretary hasn't heard her cries. Steve is still weeping intensely.
"I thought being a strong, self-sufficient apeman would be enough," he says between sobs. "But it's not. It's not."
He pauses for several seconds while his sobbing slowly ceases. Then he looks up.
"Goddamnit. I need an apewoman!"

Next week: Steve places a personal ad in a local alternative newsweekly!


I love Achewood. It's the best comic strip ever written. Please read it. If you do, start at the archives and work your way up to the present. It's a continuing story, and much funnier if you read it that way. Also, seven or eight of the characters have their own blogs, which are all very funny. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The post office blows

The post office is bad.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Rock show

I saw the mighty Oneida last Wednesday. They don't update their website much, but they do rock my socks off. In stark contrast to Oneida's skull-pummeling rock fury was opening act, This Microwave World, a shitty, derivative, snide, sarcastic, pretentious, inconsequential, posturing, local pustulent sore of a group. The sound: Joy Division and Gang of Four retread with discoey beats and caterwauling, screamy indie vocals. The stage presence: If they printed a manual called "How to Be Pale, White, and Skinny; Dress Like a Precious Twat; and Never, Ever Show Any Enthusiasm" this band would not only own the manual, they would have bound it in leather. If you see the singer on the street, punch him in the face. It WILL get you into heaven. (He's the guy in the middle, but the photo does not even approximate the sheer nausea of seeing him in the flesh.)


I'm not saying my job is ridiculous, but I was trying to eat a tangelo when I was interrupted to proofread a resolution honoring a lawn mower shop for its "unswerving integrity."

Sunday, August 15, 2004


How's it hanging, jerks? Here are the movies I watched over the weekend while I nursed myself back to health:
White Dog (Samuel Fuller) Some of the acting in this film is atrocious and the script is kind of spotty, but somehow this manages to be a weird, flawed masterpiece about racism, especially the American brand. Fuller's direction is sharp and ingenious, particularly in his use of color and the probing, aggressive camerawork, and the question the film asks --if you could deprogram racist tendencies, would the hatred, fear, and violence behind it shift somewhere else-- is a disturbing one.
Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator (Helen Stickler) I was never a skater, but my cousin, my brother, and a lot of my friends were. My cousin even built a few small skate ramps in my front yard (he lived in the country and no girls would see him skate out there--I lived across the street from the high school) and he and his friends launched themselves off it. I read my brother's Thrasher magazines, so I was familiar with most of the skaters in this documentary about the rise and fall of ramp skating and how its decline in popularity fucked a lot of pro skaters up, culminating in the rape and murder of an acquaintance by the subject of the film, Mark "Gator" Rogowski. It's a very well-done documentary, and that's a real achievement. Most of the skaters interviewed come across as uncharismatic, self-absorbed, boring and, in a few cases, borderline retarded, a startling contrast to their moves on the ramps. The story is compelling, though, and the old footage is great.
The Searchers (John Ford) This is a great western and a nice coincidence that I watched it on the same weekend as "White Dog." Both films have a lot to say about American racism. This is a much-written about classic, so I'll just say that it's good and leave it at that.
The House on Sorority Row (Mark Rosman) This is a complete piece of sleazy trash, a slasher movie about a killer in a sorority house, and so much goddamn fun to watch. If you want to see a severed head in a toilet and a colossally stupid actress unintentionally and hilariously mangle the line "What if she is alive," I can recommend this highly.
Identification of a Woman (Michelangelo Antonioni) I really liked this one. The scene in the fog alone makes this worth seeing, but it has many other virtues. The theme is, of course, alienation (big surprise there), but Antonioni takes it in weird new directions, implicating himself, film directors in general, art-house audiences, movie obsessives, the way men look at women and their images, and, finally, big-budget blockbusters and their audience, for contributing to a lot of human alienation and disconnect between people. And it's beautiful to look at, though there are a couple of silly, cringe-inducing moments. Alright, I'm done shooting my mouth off about that shit.

Bloated Boozebag

Yesterday I swore that I would never drink again after having the most lingering hangover of my life. Not the worst. Not the most intense. Not the most debilitating. Just the most persistent. I was nauseous all day, but it wasn't in my stomach. It was in my head. How can you have nausea in your head? No good. It was peppermint tea and Ibuprofen all day. All I've had since my declaration was a glass of red wine a few hours ago. I'll probably be back to boozing it up booze-style next weekend, but, sweet Christ, I've gotta tone it down a notch or two. Also, I couldn't keep my fucking mouth shut. I always think I'm being witty when I'm drunk, but actually I'm just drunk. Maybe I should start doing drugs again. Yeah, that's it. I will begin a fortnight of copious drug binging on the morrow. I think I always overdo it at get-togethers because I don't know what the fuck to do with my hands. Do I put them in my pockets? Clasp them in front of me? Behind my back? Hang them limply from my sides? Swing them back and forth? Clench them? What? Putting a constant stream of beers in them, removing the bottle caps, placing them in receptacles. This solves the problem. But it creates others. So nauseous. So sleepy. So obnoxious. Goodnight, everybody.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Man Who Refused To Take His Gorilla Mask Off (Part 2)

The drive to the grocery store is fraught with peril. The gorilla mask seriously impairs Steve's vision, save for a limited area directly in front of him. Steve operates solely on instinct. He clips a couple of parked cars, knocking the driver's side mirrors off. They'll understand that it's hard to drive in a gorilla mask, Steve thinks to himself. He narrowly misses colliding with a bus when he turns into the grocery store's parking lot. He stops the car in the first place he sees and turns off the engine. He's parked sideways in two handicapped spots. He runs into the door on his way inside and grabs a cart. Two small children run away from him and wrap themselves around their mother's legs. He makes monkey noises at them and they start crying. The woman gives him the stink-eye. He throws a few items in his shopping cart and notices the store manager walking toward him. The manager's name tag says "Marty."
"Excuse me, sir," Marty says.
"Yes," Steve says through the ape hole.
"Excuse me, sir," Marty says again. "But I'm going to have to ask you to remove your mask while you're inside the store."
"No can do, babe," Steve says. "I'm an apeman. This is who I am. It's what I'm all about. It's like asking me to take off my skin. You wouldn't ask someone to do that, would you?"
"Well, no," Marty says. "But you're scaring the smaller children, and, anyway, it's not really done. We don't have customers wearing ape masks who shop here. It's not really our thing."
"Is this your thing?" Steve says, and pulls out his wallet, cash, and credit cards. "I'm going to spend a lot of money on various food items, and I'm going to spend that money as an apeman."
Marty glances nervously at his shoes.
"Okay," he says finally. "You have a half hour. And try to stay away from any kids. I'm not going to cut you any slack. I'll be keeping an eye on you."
"And I'll be keeping an eye on you," Steve says. "To see if you've got what it takes."
"Yes, well, knock yourself out," Marty says.
"He's alright," Steve says to the woman buying grapes next to him. She smirks and looks in the other direction.

Steve waits in line at the checkout counter. The woman behind him is older, gray-haired, and heavily perfumed. She leans in close to Steve and whispers into his eye holes.
"Are you from the radio?" she asks.
"What?" Steve says.
"Are you the guy from the radio? I figured you were with the radio because of the get-up. Did somebody win something?"
"Sorry, ma'am," Steve says. "I work for the state. I do enjoy listening to the radio, though, especially Timmo and the Wolf on KLBZ in the morning. That's some fine programming."
"Huh," the woman says. "I don't know them. I like Paul Harvey."

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Hall of Overrated Losers

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Hall of Overrated Losers. I will occasionally induct new members, as appropriate, into the hall. To be eligible, one must (a) suck and (b) enjoy a favorable critical reputation. In other words, I'm not going to pick on Carrot Top and Justin Guarini. I'm going to save my ire for those who really deserve it, those who are praised by (at least some of) the hipster tastemakers and/or mainstream critics. Alright, gang. Enough of my yappin'. Let's induct some losers! Yippee-ki-yi-yay!

Overrated Loser #2
Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)
Guilty of whining, sucking, being the worst singer in rock history, and tricking legions of journalists and indie hipsters (who, let's face it, are pretty goddamn easy to trick) into thinking he's some sort of new Dylan. He's not even a new Al Stewart. Posted by Hello

Overrated Loser #1
Oliver Stone
Guilty of making lousy, ham-fisted, overbearing swill. When I say ham-fisted, I am talking enormous, honey-glazed Christmas hams. Posted by Hello

Monday, August 09, 2004


I consider myself lucky to live in the same city as this American hero.

Weekend movie report

Yo, doggs. This is what I watched over the weekend:
Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton) Finding-tastic! Nemo-riffic!
The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Paradjanov) Mmmph (shrugs shoulders and stares confusedly). I didn't like this movie, but the fault may have been with me. The film traces the life of Armenian poet troubadour Sayat Nova in a series of painterly images drawn directly from the poet's work. My background with Armenian history and literature is pretty much zero, so the images meant little to me and I quickly became bored and surly. Two critics I greatly admire, David Thomson and Jonathan Rosenbaum (who despise each other, by the way), both love this film, but I can go my whole life without ever seeing it again and die happy. Not that I'm going to be happy when I die. I'll probably be in intense pain and scared to death, but you never know. Either way, happy death or agonizingly miserable death, I probably won't see this again.
Rififi (Jules Dassin) Dassin was an American director blacklisted during the McCarthy era. He basically said "fuck this shit," which I believe is a direct quote, and moved to France. This is his first French film, a jewel heist noir with a spectacular 35-minute robbery scene that is completely wordless. It has all the cliches of the genre (the sickly and aging yet suave criminal mastermind fresh out of prison, the ex-girlfriend now hitched up with a rival gangster, the perfect crime, the criminals unraveled by their own petty, human weaknesses), but it does it with panache, my friends. Maybe a little pizzazz, too.
God Told Me To (Larry Cohen) Quite possibly the finest mass psychosis/murder spree/detective thriller/alien abduction/artificial insemination/hermaphroditic Christ figure movie ever. Plus an Andy Kaufman cameo!

Friday, August 06, 2004

Celebrities are people too

A mother-fixated, overly happy man named Craig Mitchell moved to Sherman Oaks, California in 2001. He has carefully logged every celebrity sighting since then with his own folksy blend of excitable and poorly spelled prose. My personal favorites:
Connie Selleca and John Tesh -- Mitchell can say no wrong when it comes to his interactions with celebs. Even when Pat Boone cut him off in traffic, Mitchell was enthralled with his kind smile and friendly wave. However, he does report that when he and his mother encountered Selleca and Tesh on the street, Selleca gave him a "total look of distain."
Gary Busey -- Mitchell ran into Busey outside the Washington Mutual Building. Apparently, Busey pulled up in a jet-black Mercedes and "slowly limped inside."

Ladies and gentlemen, our president. Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Here's a photo of my old army buddies from 'Nam. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Human waste

Some living bag of human shit who apparently works in the same building as me directly preceded me into the bathroom talking on his cell phone the whole time about all the fabulous places in the world he's visited. He continued talking while he pissed at the urinal, at one point uttering, "Dude, I'm trying to book it for Leone, because the Mexico City airport blows." I could hear the other voice on the line, and, despite referring to the callee as '"dude," he was talking to a young woman. I was in the stall next to the urinal, and I proceeded to attempt the loudest piss of my life. I backed up as far as I could go and aimed dead center for the bowl full of water. I had been holding it for several minutes, so I had a lot of ammunition stored up and ready to go. I was pleased with the results. He quickly left the urinal without flushing or washing his hands, continuing to talk on the phone the whole time. Did I mention he looked like a rat-faced weasel? I hope he's murdered in Mexico by bandits who steal his phone and sell it for some top-shelf tequila.

The Man Who Refused to Take his Gorilla Mask Off (First Installment of New Weekly Serial)

"Tupac Shakur was my dad," the greasy little white kid says at the Halloween party. "My stepdad doesn't let me talk about him anymore."
"Who's your stepdad?" Steve asks through the mouthhole in his gorilla mask.
The kid points to the deli tray table, where a short man with glasses is heaping salami and cheddar cheese onto a paper plate. He takes a closer look at the kid. There's a strong resemblance.
"Was Tupac Shakur really your dad?" Steve asks, giving him a chance to come clean.
"Yeah," the kid says.
"Really?" Steve asks.
"Yeah," he says again.
Steve backs up a few feet, sprints toward the kid, and delivers a devastating kick that connects with the youngster's groin. He doubles over in pain, tears and snot streaming down his face.
"Lying is a bad thing to do," Steve says through the mouthhole. "Be true to yourself."

Steve pushes a slice of Camembert cheese through his ape slit and gets another beer from the keg. The man from the deli tray table walks over with the greasy little kid, a teary, dried snotcake on his face.
"That gorilla kicked me in the nuts for no reason," the kid says.
"Did you kick my son?" the man says.
"He said Tupac was his dad," Steve says. "I had to teach him a lesson."
"Who's Tupac?" the man asks.
"A black rap artist," Steve says.
"Erm," the man says, sweating. "Glug ach fwerp."
"What?" Steve asks.
"Nothing," the man says.

When Steve returns home at party's end, he removes his shoes, socks, shirt, and pants. He leaves on his boxer shorts and the gorilla mask.
"I'm an apeman," Steve says. Then he untucks the sheets and slides into bed. The mask feels like a warm cocoon for his human head. He falls asleep quickly and wakes up happy, the fake gorilla head still covering him. In the shower, Steve keeps his head away from the water's spray and concentrates on scrubbing his lower extremities with peppermint soap.
"Mmm, tingly," Steve says. He thinks about what he needs to do today. It's a Saturday and Steve usually gets groceries on Saturday. After drying off, he looks at his closet and decides on a buttoned shirt. It may be too hard to slip a t-shirt on over the mask. He finishes dressing, enters his kitchen, and opens the refrigerator and cupboards to see what he needs to buy.
"Out of milk, tomatoes, tortillas, and snack cakes," he says. His face under the mask begins to sweat, but he can't bear to take the mask off. "Let's go to the store, everybody," he says to himself.

Snafus gone fubar

This won't mean anything if you don't work the same job as me, but I'm sick and fucking tired of people asking piddly little shit edit questions on things that don't fucking matter. I just want these documents off my fucking desk. If it's not a substantive question, then fuck it. Are you trying to win a fucking gold medal? Jesus.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The power of positive thinking!

11 things worse than my job:
1. Being crucified (I mean this in the literal sense, not the figurative way society has crucified me because they're jealous of my perpetual motion machine).
2. Having someone shit in your mouth while someone else shits on your bare stomach simultaneously.
3. All your good relatives die in a tragic plane/car/tugboat/orangutan accident, and you have to spend every holiday with the ones you don't like.
4. Getting terminal cancer and your least-favorite cousin decides to nurse you back to health.
5. Getting terminal ass cancer.
6. Eating a bucket of chum.
7. You wake up to a bunch of raccoons biting your testicles.
8. The film "The Big Chill."
9. The Barenaked Ladies' entire oeuvre.
10. A punch in the groin from the late Strom Thurmond.
11. Waking up and your groin is completely missing.

Weekend Movie Report

Word up, bitches. Here's a rundown on the movies I watched this weekend:
First up, the lady and I caught Gremlins (Joe Dante) at the Paramount on Saturday afternoon. I hadn't seen it since I was a kid, and it didn't disappoint. Dante is a really inventive, anarchic director, and the movie was much darker and nastier than I remembered, with lots of film buff in-jokes. And, even though it starts out cutesy and gooey, this is not a cutesy and gooey kids' movie.
Last night at the Alamo Drafthouse downtown, we saw Ashes of Time (Wong Kar-Wai). I loved Kar-Wai's "Chungking Express," and was expecting something similar, but "Ashes of Time" was a lot different, both visually and formally. Both films focus on multiple viewpoints rather than a single protagonist and share an interest in shifting identities and the passage of time, but "Ashes" was a period martial arts story with intentionally choppy, confusing dialogue and editing, and cinematography and music that veered from beautiful to ugly to wildly inappropriate to something out of a perfume commercial. It took nearly half the movie to adjust to its rhythm and content, but once I did, I think I ended up liking it. I'm still not entirely sure, but I definitely wasn't bored. As a bonus, a local karate school showed off some of their moves before the film. The pair that fought each other were great, and the woman who demonstrated her strength in the fields of agility and flexibility was probably the highlight of the demonstration. She could bend over backwards while a dude sat on her stomach! She made me even more aware of my beergut. The other demonstrations of karate moves were just boring, though. I mean, I've seen "Flashdance,"* people, so I've seen it all before and better.

Here's what I watched on video:
The Aviator's Wife and A Good Marriage (Eric Rohmer) The first two installments in Rohmer's Comedies and Proverbs series. Both excellent.
Pinocchio (Hamilton Luske, Ben Sharpsteen) Another one I hadn't seen since I was a kid. A little too moralistic and preachy, but who cares? I really liked it.
Red River (Howard Hawks) Hawks is one of the best. This isn't one of my favorites, but it's still pretty great.

*I haven't seen "Flashdance."