Thursday, July 31, 2008

Judgement Call

TOWARDS the end of the day, the Wifey and I, discussing movies we might see later in the summer, had the following exchange:

'imself: Dark Knight is still hanging at 94% fresh on the Tomatomometer.
The Wifey: well
TW: good movie
': Yeah
': And, Heath Ledger, dead, y'know.
TW: yeah
': And in addition to his reaaaaaally having been the star of the thing . . .
TW: mostly
': Fame-wise, dying was just the icing on the cake!
TW: ouch
TW: yeah
': Yep, straight to hell for me.
TW: ah well
TW: easier when you don't believe in hell
': This is most certainly true.
': And when you do believe on hell, ironically, you tend to believe in a whole lot of whacky shit for which you are most likely going to hell.

So, whayddaya think? Is it "wacky" or "whacky?" I know that the colloquially preferred (and etymologically sanctioned) is "wacky." But I kind of think I prefer "whacky." Allows me to put some oomph into it. "Whacky!" I know that's how I spell it in my head when I'm saying it.

Any input is welcome, but probably won't make any real difference. I will go ahead spelling it with the extra "h" for the rest of my life, and I doubt anyone can stop me, even if the rest of the world says my spelling is wrong.

The rest of the world can go to hell.

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Advanced Physics

That's actually something of a deceptive statement. If you ordered this in a restaurant, in all likelihood, what you see here is what you'd get: layer of fries, layer of chili, layer of cheese. What you DON'T see here is there's a layer of cheese BETWEEN the fries and the chili. A layer almost as thick as the layer of chili. This is the way things ought to be. Screw Rush Limbaugh.
(No, screw Rush Limbaugh. I know he looks like he might have an appreciation for chili cheese fries, but when a man is as soulless as that, you almost have to assume he consumes all his meals in a drug-induced haze, and has no idea he has consigned a Guatemalan toddler to a fiery, painful, conscious death.)
There is no movie of the day. The movie of the day is Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List, which I am watching (read: sentient in the presence of) while I work on a short story. Except for right now, when I am sentient in the presence of Kathy Griffin while I eat chili cheese fries and drink Kona Longboard. (And in case you were wondering if you were seeing things right, the Longboard pictured there was unopened at the moment the picture was taken. This has since been remedied. As we are fond of saying in this household: SECOND DIRGE!)

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Do Not Recommend This To Anyone

"THAT looks terrible."

This is what I expected the Wifey to say upon my presenting her with this image. She did not. She said, and I quote, "yowza," which is equally appropriate, oddly enough.

This is one of the newer Hungry Man XXL meal dealies, the "Hamburger Hero" (as they call it; Der Unterburger, as I call it). It is definitely a guilty pleasure. I know it can't be any good, frankly. It is the epitome of processed foods. It's a fine Swanson product, inventors of the Rubber Chicken. It's a Hungry Man meal, for crying out loud. (My niece Cayla helped throw this into relief last weekend; when I announced that I was planning on eating a Hungry Man product, she twisted her freckled little face into a scowl and went "Grrrr!", explaining that's the noise that comes to mind whenever she encounters a Hungry Man product.

On the other hand, since none of the schmucks who spend their time lambasting Swanson products (or, more specifically, Hungry Man brand items) on the internet have touched this so far, it can't be that bad. And I am taking a kind of a reverse-word-of-honor here: these idiots are looking to revile, to be shocked at the nasty, naughty, greasy, unidentifyable, and clearly just plain wrong kinds of things they can stuff into their slavering maws, and compound that with the fact that they all spend vitually as much time describing their craven, vermin-infested hovels (or dressing up camp photos of Swanson meals flanked by bottles of decent wine and candles in silver holders and napkins in onyx rings), and, well, these people are clearly looking to make trouble, because they're geared for it. If they couldn't find a reason to be absolutely outraged at this product, there can't be much wrong with it.

Of course, there clearly can't be anything specifically right about it. Swanson, after all.

But I love it. I do. As with all things, they key is in the futzing, which in this case is minimal: a little extra cheese, some ketchup and mustard, some fries on the side, and it's a good ol' hunk of processed cow. And sometimes, well, that's just exactly what you want.

Or what I want, anyways.

The beer I can recommend. The Kona I had heard of, but it just now showed up in our market, and it was on sale to boot. The Longboard Island Lager . . . Well, first things first. This is an extremely hokey brand-- proudly serving you since 1994!-- and while beer is easily associated with surfing and surfers, the labelling clearly enunciates that their target audience consists of people who have never surfed, and thus associate surfing with something that has not been regularly practiced since 1958. On top of which, why this would be "Island Lager . . . " Well, it's just that lager is a German thing, and so why it would be made on Waikiki (or Kona, for that matter) . . . Now, maybe if it hailed from Guadalajara . . .

But the lager itself is just lovely. Lovely body, solid hop notes, lovely ligering aftertaste . . . Just lovely. I can wholeheartedly recommend it, regardless of the marketing.

The film of the day I also cannot recommend.

I remember hearing about this around the time people were finally conceding that The Kids In The Hall were more or less a defunct entity, and about the time that those same peoplke were concedeing that News Radio was a pretty good show, and probably would not, as they had been silently hoping, crash and burn, sending Dave Foley screaming back to his Canadian pals for a revised version of TKITH (or Tkith, which is a fifth level Scientologist or one of the lesser minions of Gozer). I did not see it when it came out, because a) I had no money, 2. This spent maybe 30 seconds in our market, and +, It looked like the kind of thing that the Wifey, who at that point was still The Girly, would reject out of hand.
Which, I don't know, maybe she would and maybe she wouldn't. It is pretty silly, and while it is clearly a vehicle (not only for Foley, but also for Dave Higgins, who co-wrote it and has an extended role as a cop thoroughly exploiting his investigative resources for personal gratification, as well as the dozen or so A-minus-list comic actors who have small, if meaty, parts) it is genuinely funny most of the time. Additionally, it just keeps moving on, so the bits that do fall flat (and there are but a few, MHO) pass under the wheels like pebbles. Also, it is good to see Jennifer Tilly get a role that requires her to be something other than a jaded movie star or a raging nymphomaniac, recently lobotomized. (In this case she plays a narcoleptic, and it is a genuine treat to watch her work it.) (Yeah yeah yeah; this was back in 97-98, I know, but still, good to see her get good work, past or present.) Also, Enrico Colantoni has a bit part, with one of the best line sets ever: "Know how many gunmen were involved in the Kennedy assassination? NONE! No guman at all! Kennedy's head just did that!"

Also, the 80's era cliche mining that was rampant in the films of the late 90's is represented, but with a tad more wit and subtlety than was common for the time. And while there is definitely a harking back to the TKITH esthetic-- a handy subtitle would have been "Heccubus Goes On The Lamm!"-- it's also removed enough from that not to taste like imitation, bitter, bitter imitation of youthful success.

(Or at least not to me.)

So I cannot recommend it. If you love Dave Foley, Second City, mistaken identity comedies, late 90's comedy in general, then maybe I can. But I can only conclude that it played an excellent balance between the perfect pleasure of the Kona Longboard Island Lager and the filthy, dark, lowdown, soul-dimming guilty pleasure* of a great big ol' chunk of processed cow.

Now that's good eatin!

*Chuck Klosterman can now, officially, get bent

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yesterday's News

THIS was yesterday's lunch. Today's lunch was a bacon cheese-burger at one of my favorite local joints. This particular model came with barbeque sauce, two kinds of cheese, lettuce, onion and tomato, fries on the side and a Red Hook ESB.

Yesterday's lunch was ramen noodles with soy sauce and chili-garlic Cholula, along with the items you probably can't make out in the background there. Those are Kahiki brand lemon-grass "chicken stix," which, honestly, taste like something you might have found of a good Chinese buffet. Honest. They came with their own dipping sauce, which was on the sweet side, and the day I bought them, I used it as an excuse to purchase a jar of Chinese style mustard. Seriously, people, there's like 135 different tastes at work here, once you include the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. (Which, obviously, I did.)

It was also not the accompaniment to the film of the day, which was Wet, Hot American Summer. This is also yesterday's news, in many, many ways.

It was recently re-reviewed by the guys at the Onion AV club (it wasn't this review, but one of Nathan Rabin's My Year Of Flops bits, which is, unfortunately, not indexed in a way that I am finding easy to access). (To.) (At any rate, the combined weight of the MYOF review and the one linked there said I had to see this flick.)

The basic saw is that teen flicks are bad and that's funny. So making fun of teen flicks must be funny, especially if you make it clear that you love the bad/funny teen flicks that you're making fun of. And then of course, if you hire half the cast of MTV's The State, which all hipsters agree was funny, despite the fact that no one who wasn't completely stoned ever laughed at it once, well, that's gotta be even better!

The clock read 3:04 by the time the DVD had loaded and the flick was ready to play. During the opening montage, which portrayed the kind of loud, stupid teenager bonfire parties I used to hate when I was a teenager-- it's summer, people. This is the WRONG TIME OF YEAR TO BE STANDING AROUND A HUGE OPEN FIRE!-- I figured I would give it 15 minutes to get funny.

I made it to 3:15 before I shut the damned thing off.

I could see why they thought it might be funny, but . . . I mean, no. It . . . it just wasn't. Maybe with the proper kind of re-inforcement I could have watched the whole thing, but it was way too contrived, the acting was ham-fisted and squirmy, the joke premises were creaky to say the least, and the basic plot device-- take the moral-sexual ambiguities of adolescence, boil them into concentration in a Petrie dish, and smear the resulting compund over each character in a thick layer-- was obvious. I knew from prior experience there was a fairly funny montage piece coming up-- it was posted on Nabin's review-- and another one with a pay-off that you might not have seen coming from a mile away, but it just didn't seem worth my while.

Oh, well. Maybe some other day. I ended up watching Lewis Black's History Channel special The History of the Joke. Much better. Much better.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Book of Revelations, Chapter 3: Footwear


So I spent all day yesterday waiting for FedEx to deliver these, and the driver finally showed up at 6:23 last night. (The time stands out because I was smack dab in the middle of feeding the dog her evening treat of deli-sliced turkey. Is she spoiled? How deep is the ocean?) As I knew to begin with, the SL72's are pretty substantial shoes, and they are going to require some breaking in. They are canvas tops, but they were designed for an olympic park which-- if memory serves-- was structured mostly on concrete, so the under-sole is extra substantial, and is attrached to the upper via a leather under-cradle. Progress report: the right shoe is coming along nicely, after a couple of bouts of lace-adjusting. The left one, well, let's just say I'm still working on it.

Which brings to mind a couple of revelations:

1. I vastly prefer canvas top shoes, specifically nylon canvas uppers, and I tend not to like leather shoes as much at all. There are several exceptions to this rule, notably the 2 pair of Adidas Samoas I own, and two pair of Nike Oregon Waffles, one in black and grey suede with purple swoosh (the Batman shoes) and one in black leather with yellow swoosh (the Official shoes, Official as in referee).

2. I have no allegiance, when it comes to shoe brands. I own Adidas, Pumas, Nikes, and Tigers, all of whom were at each others' throats back in the 70's and 80's, when sports were becoming big business. Eh. I like 'em all, for completely different reasons, and they all have their own best uses.

3. I have been searching for the Ford Prefect quote "Never underestimate the value of good footgear" for ages, and I cannot find it for the life of me. (From, I thought, Douglas Adams' novel Mostly Harmless.) Perhaps I dreamed it.

4. These new shoes, although not entirely in blue suede, will henceforth in this household be know as The Ford Prefects. I am sure that, were he not fictional, Ford would entirely agree.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm Not A Vegetarian, But I Play One On TV

AMY's Organic Soups. Love 'em. This is the Black Bean Soup, which the Wifey reccomended to me as something that she found she could not bring herself to have for lunch in her office, as it is loaded with garlic.
Hoo baby.
When I opened the can, the whiff of garlic I got actually threw me back six inches. And then I added the Cholula. (I am incapable of not futzing with packaged foods, not matter how reasonable they seem on their own.) The beer is a Cottonwood Brewery Pumpkin Ale, which you cannot get where you are. It's pretty weird stuff, as you might imagine, a tad sweet and spiced like pumpkin pie, still fairly ale-hoppy, and it's going pretty nicely with the soup, to which I also added some shredded cheese and topped with a generous glop of sour cream. (Incapable. I swear it.)
Which is all, in fact, because today I am grounded. When I checked the FedEx tracker this morning, it listed them as "On FedEx vehicle for delivery." SO I am not going anywhere until they bring me my new shoes.
On a related note, last night we watched a flick called "Just For Kicks," which came up when I went looking for books about sneakers. Basically it consists of a bunch of sneaker-heads, chiefly people who were involved in the 80's Hip-Hop scene, talking about how much they love sneakers. Yes, we watched an hour and a half of this. I spent the majority of the time declaring to my wife that these folks were far sicker than I am, sneaker-wise.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go prowl the culd-de-sac. Those Fed Ex drivers can be wiley.
(Hell. I might as well be sitting on the porch with a shotgun.)

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Department of Aquisitions

Gaze. Gaze upon them.
These are the SL72's Adidas developed specifically as a trainer for the Munich Olympics. I had seen them around in a couple of different color combinations, but not in my size. I ordered these from SportieLA for 65 bucks, free shipping via FedEx Ground. Which means I didn't pay the 90 bucks they were asking at Finish Line. Nor the 100 to 125 bucks I saw at other online outlets,-- plus shipping, of course.
On the down side, I will probably have to wait an entire week before they arrive.
Gonna be a long week, folks.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

So, Can I Take You To The Pilot? Because That Is Your Song . . .

AND TODAY's offering is . . . Nope! Hey! Whoa, you missed it!
No? Well, I thought it was funny.
(It was a cheesebuger and fries.)
Today's movie, of course, was Control, which I swear I meant to watch back to back with the documentary Joy Division, but I simply don't think that can be done. And if anybody else out there wants to try it, fine by me. If you manage it, I'll give you a @#$%ing medal.
Control was good, if a bit stark, the way alot of biopics are, especially biopics in which the subject dies by the end of the story. This was also bleak, in a way that was a little more stark and quiet than I thought it ought to have been. But that is a minor quibble indeed. Also a minor quibble: I thought they made Ian Curtis out to be a bit more of an ass than he might have been in real life. That's based mainly on the way he was treated in Joy Division, which, of course, didn't make him out to be an angel either, so it's a doubly minor quibble.
So yeah, it was good, but I also think you'd have to be a pretty big fan of Joy Division (or have been a pretty big fan at some point) to appreciate it on all the different levels the filmakers provided. Otherwise, it's basically the story of a talented, charismatic, haunted guy who basically lost control over his life, eventually spiraled downwards into despair, and offed himself. Alot of the other stuff-- the Manchester music scene, the Sex Pistols, the DJ/manager, the role of the media in late 70's/early 80's music, the trans-european scene-- operated on a level of subtext such as to be only understandable via the kind of shorthand that fans of the band, or of the British new wave, would have available.
The major quibble that the mainstream reviewers seemed to have with it was that there wasn't alot of story to work with, so Sam Riley, as Ian Curtis, really didn't have alot to do. I disagree with that. Insofar as Riley's portrayal of Curtis was uncanny, that in itself would hvae been enough to watch. But he was also capable of thowing up some major subtext of his own, in the way that a character like Curtis would have been saying with his eyes all those things he wouldn't be albe to bring to his lips. Nicely done, I thought.
One last thing: I meant to mention int he review of Joy Division that one of my favorite uses of "Love Will Tear Us Apart," Joy Division's signature song, was in the flick Series 7: The Contenders, where it is intended to convey the romance between two of the would-be assassin characters as high schoolers. In the end it conveys not only their romantic entanglement, but also something both deeper and shallower: the faux-despair of two essentially selfish people who are more than willing to swear romantic love for each other, but completely unwilling to live up to it. There wasn't anywhere really apropos in the previous missive to tack it in, though, and since there isn't anywhere really apropos to tack it in here, either, I'll just stick it on the end, like using a feather boa to counter-balance a badly hand-made kite.
There. That'll do it.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008


By which I mean to say, YOWZA!
I got addicted to this stuff (the hot sauce, Cholula) years ago while living in the mountains. There was a Jamaican joint (for about a half a year) that put bottles of it out on the tables as a part of its bag of Cheap Authenticity Tricks. (What, if anything, it has to do with Jamaica or Jamaican cuisine, I have never fathomed.) It's basically a nice, solid, slightly smokey hot sauce, what Sud-Americanos of most stripes would call a salsa, if my sources are to be believed.
The speciment you see before you, moreover, is a new variety, or at least new to me: chili garlic. I tried it first in doctoring up a batch of canned chili, which was mighty snazzy. I used it today to dress up a bowl of Ramen noodles, along with the usual healthy dose of soy. And WOW, what a difference. I mean, it almost completely transformed the entire experience of viewing the documentary film Joy Division.
This film is about the band Joy Division. It arrived in the mail today, one day after the biopic Control, which is about Ian Curtis, Joy Division's lead singer/driving oddity/alchemist. I decided to watch the doc first, on the grounds that it would be easier to pick the biopic apart having done so. As it turned out, I was only able to watch the one film, due to time constraints, so that hypothesis must remain, for the time being, null.
As a documentary, it was nothing terribly special: talking heads, footage, factoid, talking heads. it does have the advantage that Joy Division had a fair amount of film shot on them during their somewhat brief run, and Ian makes for a fascinating subject, who is either more or less fascinating for the fact that he was pretty much gonna knock himself off one way or the other, no matter what anybody had to say about. (I guess I oughta temper that, as I find myself straddlingthat fence even as we speak.) It probably also makes a huge difference whether you were a fan of the band back in the day, or if you discovered them as some sort of down-and-out oracles, or if you have a Josie and the Pussycats lunchbox. (I have no idea what that last bit is supposed to mean.)
And again, I guess I am somewhere in the middle there as well. I appreciate the genius, such as it is, and the sadness, and the sickness that drove Curtis to his death. But I also remember the kind of pathetic twerps who listened to this band seriously back when I was in high school, and say whatever else you will, Curtis also made it possible for countless kids, British and American, to wallow in self-pity for no particularly good reason.
Also . . . Well, here's an antecdote. During my college years, I wandered into a colleague's dorm room to talk about one thing or another, and she was playing the album Closer-- just happened to be what was on. After a few minutes, after a couple of numbers in fact, I said "I don't know that I can listen to a whole album of this."
Amy-- her name was Amy-- cocked her head, smiled a little wistfully, and said "Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can't." And that about sums it up for me too.
But the documentary was worth watching at any rate. I learned probably all there is to know about Curtis and Joy Division. I had questioned whether I would need to watch Control having seen Joy Division, and part of me thought that seeing them both the same day would answer the question the critics had been putting out-- which is whether, having seen one, you would need to see the other-- but this question will have to wait for another day.

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