Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Still Life With Goyim

Spicy Noodle Bowl with 8-1/2 minute hard boiled egg.

Of course, the egg makes all the difference in the world, but the real reason I was so blase with the previous Spicy Noodle Bowl entry was multi-fold, and had nothing to do with the absence of egg, as that day I simply had not considered adding the egg in the first place.

Spicy Noodle Bowl is good. I know it is good. People all over the world eat Spicy Noodle Bowl everyday, and indeed, many can consider it part of their culture. But there is something inherently crappy about fast food. Always. Something. Part of the problem, maybe the whole problem, with Spicy Noodle Bowl is that it is so clearly manufactured. And, to quote Carlin, "I don't eat bicycle tires."

But still. Spicy Noodle Bowl is good-- I'm right there with ya, Annikins-- and it's a perfectly reasonable thing to have for lunch. And the egg does help alot. The name helps too: Nong Shim Picante Bowl Noodle Soup. The other one was Nong Shim Shin Bowl, which was also good. But the shin bowl, sadly, hailed from Cincinnati, which, I, well, I just don't think you should get your Oriental noodles from Ohio. Don't ask me why; it just seems wrong.

This one was made in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Much better.

The selection of the lunch of the day comes with the revelation that I have been having a hard time picking lunch the last few days due to the fact that I don't have beer in the house. Some of the lunch choices currently crowding my larder-- hell, most of the choices on hand-- are meals that don't actually require beer, but would be better off with. Fried potstickers and chicken wraps? Beer. Mexican Saltillo meal (mixed enchiladas, beans & rice)? Beer. Chili? Most definitely beer.

Pizza? Oh, come on.

In other news, Oh, my dear sweet Lord!

Every so often I actually forget this exists. AMC-- that's American Movie Classics, mind you-- is playing it right now as part of their Halloween Week lineup, which bodes extremely well for their Halloween day fest hosted by Rob Zombie. Now, I have no use for Rob Zombie, but one thing I have to admit is that the man does know his shlock horror flicks. Motel Hell is an extremely bad movie. It is awful. It is ofal. I sat through the whole goddamned thing myself, from the lousy opening title card to the crappy credits, and everything in between. It's full of badly drawn sterotypes, cliched characters, clearly fake gore, and fake scare tactics that don't work. And oh, did I mention that it's badly acted?

Love it.

If this is the kind of crap AMC is planning to show before Halloween rolls around? No limit to how low they are willing to go. There is no bottom.

Last night's movie was Executioner's Song, which I was going to write about, but I'm not sure I have a whole lot to say. The acting was uniformly excellent, and all the characters full realized. Spicy Noodle Bowl, on the other hand, has 380 calories per bowl. And while Tommy Lee Jones really makes a meal out of playing Gary Gilmore, including plenty of revelatory nuanced reactions, the advantage to adding boiled egg quarters to Spicy Noodle Bowl is that the longer they sit in the soup, the more the yolk soaks up the spicy, briny broth. And while the cinematography, showing off the glorious Utah mountain basin, was both lovely and lovingly done, at several points even giving me that lovely artificial chill that I sometimes get from watching such things, Spicy Noodle Bowl has that spicy broth that gives me a cough-inducing, back-of-the-throat bite that I love. I am glad I watched it, I would gladly watch it again, but I just don't know that there is anything to say about it. The only thing I brought out of it you could call a revelation is that sometimes people who act like assholes for no really good reason are not actually assholes at their core.

He he. Later, on AMC: Jeepers Creepers, a truly wretched flick, followed by Bride of Chucky. No. Bottom.

PS: The Spicy Noodle bowl also had ersatz pieces of fake-crab tofu pieces scattered about. Genius!

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Things I Owe People I Don't Know

THIS ENTRY is not about the movie "Factory Girl."
It's about the film "American Beauty." (And enough with all this crap about the distinction between a "film" and a "movie." They exist on film and the pictures move. If it's really something that alters me at an existential level, then I think I can still call it a movie if I feel like it.) Part of the impetus is that "American Beauty" is a scam job that someone oughta de-bunk, and, as far as I have read, no one has to my satisfaction. The nudge that sends me over the cliff, however, is that the last two times he has commented on my blog, Joe has insisted that I expand on my criticism of it, on the grounds that he saw it and hated it and wants someone to help justify his nearly uncontrollable rage before he is moved to commit crimes involving property damage and the violation of certain very explicit state statutes.
I remember "Factory Girl" generating alot of heat when it first came out, mostly by people who thought the flick's subject, Edie Sedgwick, was given short shrift. Also, there seemed to be a fair number of people who thought Andy Warhol came off as to much of a self-involved prick. So when it came on night before last, after the Wifey had toddled off to bed, I watched it.
Truth is, there isn't much to this film. It's pretty and ugly at the same time, and in that, it captures the time period and social set it is depicting pretty nicely. But that about all there is to say about it. New York was rapidly becoming a cesspool, and these fairly shallow people were having a great time being famous for knowing Andy Warhol and taking drugs to distract themselves from the fact that Warhol had a tendency to be a self-involved prick. To quote my President: Mission Accomplished. So the @#$% what.*
One of the better reviews of this is by my non-pal Nathan Rabin (not to say that we are enemies, but more that I have taken up the habit of calling him Nabin, which he probably really hates) at the onion AV Club (I also ought to point out that I don't actually know him) sums things up rather nicely by calling this a "dreary cartoon." I fell asleep almost precisley before the "talking heads" summation that runs thought the credits, so if those offer some contradiction to my critique, I would gladly accept it, considering they were there and I was not. But until I am told otherwise, this film is a successful failure: an acurate depiction of of a time when things were rotten. Blech.
Now: American Beauty. Spoilers follow, not that it matters.
Let me first explain why I am not including a picture of the poster. I do not know why I am not including a copy of the poster. I just don't want to. Probably because it is the fist part of the scam the viewer will have been aware of. Yeah! It's a movie about beauty! Virgins and flower petals! Not about a smarmy blackmailing "writer" and his @#$%ed up family. Let the baiting and switching begin!
I have known alot of fake writers. Alot. And the first thing that is true about them is that they secure positions from which they can arbitrate what is and isn't writing. And then they feel all empty inside because what they're doing isn't really writing, and they go and foul up other people's writers' clubs or workshops. Or else they sit around wishing they could quit this crap job, which they would, except the money is really good. And they're convinced--convinced-- that the real reason they can't write is this crap job, which, ironically, they took because they couldn't write and wanted to pretend they can. So I am primed not to like this chracter.
Now, Alan Ball claims-- and I have no doubt it is true-- that the central inspiration came when he saw a plastic bag caught in a whirlwind on the Plaza at the World Trade Center. So naturally, the plot involves a writer whose skills are wasting away at a corporate job finally growing the balls to blackmail his boss, throw dishes across the table at his wife, and revert to his youth by smoking pot lifting weights, and wishing he could @#$% young girls.
I very often explain that I could not enjoy this movie because, as a writer, I could see all the seams where this Frankenstein piece is stitched together, and I maintain that this, too, is true. If this had been a manuscript at a workshop, by the time the scene came up where the ex-Marine tried to kiss the writer, I would have finally had to call Bullshit. Back about the same time period as this was being written, people were developing and launching computer programs that they claimed would allow pretty much anybody to write a novel or screenplay just by sticking in a few key elements and clicking "Begin." The first time I saw this I realized that there is no way such a program could have put this bastard together, because computers simply are not that smug.
Someone MUST have got there already, but I have to do it anyways: this is like Walt Disney Presents: Lolita!
Which is yet another level of the bait-and-switch: we would all love to think that we are redeemable, and alot of us would love to think that we have deeper souls than we are commonly allowed to demonstrate in American society, that we are better than the hundreds of acres of conformity and mediocrity in which we live. But screwing teenagers is just icky! Unless you're another teenager, of course. So the appropriate way to explore this theme of having a deep appreciation for youth and beauty without becoming irredeemable is to cop out at the last moment.
The one thing I did really like was the envelope: having the story being told by a dead guy. I really liked that. But everything in between came right off a component's shelf at Narratives R Us.
I watched this once, after it came out on VHS, and I just felt robbed. Great performances, good title, neat images, cool metaphors, funny in spots. But it all just seemed like a State of the Union address: no matter how credible it seemed, I couldn't help but know I was being lied to.
*No one ever says it, but the "Mission" that was "Accomplished" was the occupation of Iraq, so given that they hadn't actually planned anything beyond that at the time, they could pretty unironically have that banner displayed for the moment.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Things Not To Mess With

The title say it all.

Really. Don't mess with the Zohan. And not because it could be hazardous to your health. More because it's just not worth it in the long run.

We messed with the Zohan because we had a couple of hours to kill before the Wifey was due to board a plane on a Sunday afternoon. This is kind of analagous to watching a movie on a long flight. (Not that there's any way in Hell any airline would ever show this flick. It's just too offensive.)

They Wifey's two comments were most astute. About 45 minutes in: "And yet we're still watching it."

About an hour and ten minutes in: "And it just keeps going."

I have to admit that I laughed out loud many times, but about two thirds of that laughter was the kind of morose laughter that comes from knowing that anyone who said something like that out loud in a public place would almost certainly get the shit kicked out of them. Some of that laughter was, however, the kind that comes from acts of pure comedic genius. There were many nuggets of such mired in the muck here, but I don't really think that it was worth wading through all the muck to pick up the nuggets.

Another thing not to mess with is a permanent crown. Which is not to say don't get one. It is to say if they give you one, LEAVE IT THE @#$% ALONE. I had this thing installed a shade over two weeks ago, and I have been probing it with the tip of my tongue almost constantly since then. First just because it was sensitive, and then because I am hugely paranoid and I keep expecting to reach back with my tongue and find the thing has popped off.

So this is why I have not been blogging lately. I simply haven't felt very interesting.

This is also the reason there has not been a lunch of the day recently. What I have been making at home has not been very interesting, and I have been forced to go out for lunch fairly often to make up for the lack of caloric intake at home. The closest thing to "interesting" I have had at home recently would probably be the Hot Noodle Bowl, which goes like this:


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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Can't . . . Do . . . Plaid!

THIS was not the lunch of the day. This was the lunch of yesterday. That was the day before I went in for the installation of a permanent crown, so I figured I would have something both substantial and dear to my heart. So this is an over-sized portion of fries with gravy, one of my all time favorite things, and about which more at the bottom of this posting.

THIS was not the film of the day. It almost was. I had been meaning to see it, since it got rave reviews, as much for the substance of the film as the music within it. I managed to catch it just in time to catch the scene in the music store when the two leads perform the song "Falling Slowly." It was lovely. It was poignant. Dammit, it was good. But then after that I couldn't watch it. After that it's a celebration of a lower class multicultural melting pot that I just didn't buy. And what's with the guy auditioning via scratchy, crappy cassette tapes when he's right there in person. And why'd he @#$% up that otherwise perfectly fine Takamine six-string? I didn't get it. I just didn't get it. And I mean it sincerely when I ask that anybody out there who gets it-- or maybe has some idea why I don't get it-- please, speak up.

THIS ended up being the movie of the day-- and again, this was yesterday-- not only because I got it, but because there is something perversely fascinating about watching Casino on the USA Network. Not only did they have a whole heaping, steaming TON of @#$%'s to dub over, they were absolutely precious about doing it. I started trying to collect examples of what they were substuting for various profanities-- not just the @#$%'s,* but also the few &^%$'s and $#*&'s scattered here and there-- but I found myself quickly losing track. I mean, after all, the thing is almost a year long, and the profanity flows freely throughout. But it was just about exactly what I was in the mood for. Suffice it to say: Yippie Kai Yay, Mellon Farmer.

"Mellon Farmer" was going to be the title of this entry, but I thought the quote from the Chameleon from the super-hero satire The Tick was funnier, under the circumstances.

The concept or fries with gravy is something I first became aware of through the movie Diner. As far as I knew, it was a Yankee thing, but it sounded . . . Well, it sounded good. I think I first managed to try such a thing while in college, one of those classic situations when they just happened to have both fries and gravy available in the cafeteria on the same night. (This is the same way I found out that a sausage and cheese omlette could be topped with chili, which I would have thought I would have come around to independently, but there it is.) A few years back, I discovered that the crappy little local diner where I usually had breakfast on Saturdays would serve fries with gravy if I asked for it, so it became a fairly regular option if I stopped in there for lunch. Since them, I have found that I can do this at home, and it provides quite the substantial comfort meal, especially since when I make it at home I get to control the portions, the proportion of fries to gravy, and I throw in a layer of shredded cheese. Perfect.

The beer of the day was Saranac, a Black & Tan followed by an IPA. 'nuff said.

* @#$% is my euphemism for "fuck." I seem to think it's funny because I use the exact same symbol for each letter every single time. I don't think anyone else has caught on to this gag yet, so it's only funny to me, especially since, having dissected it, I no longer have a viable frog.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

The Non-Political Post

I don't do political posts here. Not that I don't have leanings and sympathies and issues, but by and large my political commentary can be summed up thusly: "See? Idiots!"

Lately I have been coming closer and closer to wanting to do a political rant. The selection of Sarah Palin by the McCain flotila was sheer genius: those who aren't bowled over by her beauty will be attraced by the sheer perversity of putting a know-nothing, vendetta-hungry, gun-toting bullshit artist* up for veep. (Yeah, perversity. Republicans, y'know. They are mucho fond of perversity. Ask Lee Atwater.) (Ohp! No, wait. He's dead.)

Fortunately, my pal Lauren has saved me the trouble.

(I also no longer read the New York Times, nor do I comment on it's tone or content. The result would largely be "See? FUCKING IDIOTS WHO THINK THEY KNOW EVERYTHING."**)

*Artist is not the word I am looking for. "Bullshit artist" really doesn't do it. Kind of the same way that "sex worker" doesn't mean "prostitute." Semantics can be tough.

**Lauren corrects me in correcting herself that the article was in Time, not the NYT, but the same logic still basically applies.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


This is your brain on drugs, with turkey, ham, bacon, minced onion, chopped basil, 4 cheese blend, with (inside) cracked green peppercorns and chili powder and (outside) black pepper and Celtic sea salt. (The potato side is a hash brown made from deconstructed tater tots, with white American cheese and a schmear of barbeque sauce.)

There has not been a movie of the day for-- what? Two weeks? Three?-- because we have been in the middle of watching a couple different series on DVD.

First, Dead Like Me. This is something I had caught a little of one night in a hotel room while out on a business trip, which is to say I didn't get the best glimpse of it. It seemed interesting, but turned out not to be something that we just didn't happen to catch when it was on. Typically, with HBO series, they are scheduled such that I catch them around the time the Wifey is headed to bed, which is what happened with John Adams and Generation Kill. I don't recall her saying why, but she stuck this in the queue, and so far we have quite enjoyed it. Some of the story arcs are less than gripping-- although never boring, truely-- but the performances are adorable, especially Ellen Muth as the sullenly blase teenager learning the lessons of life in death, and Mandy Patankin as the zen task master of the worldy purgatory.

Then, of course, there is the Boston Legal.

James Spader. Bill Shatner. Candice Bergen. And, this season (last season), John Laroquette, chewing most delicately on the meatiest role the man has had in recent memory. And don't get me started on the vets playing the judges. In our household, this is known as candy. Sweet, sweet candy.

I will probably get around to posting about movies-of-the-day in another couple of weeks, but before that, I will be on hiatus. Not just due to the Boston Legal-- caaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnndy, sweet, sweet caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnndy-- but also due to the fact that I am wrestling with a temporary crown on the lower left rear molar, to be replaced by a permanent crown a week from tomorrow. So, in the mean time, most of what I have been having for lunch has been less than spectacular. On the other hand, thus the omlette. Speaking of which:

Really, this was more like three of your brains on drugs with etc etc. Which, of course, defies literal interepretation, but actually goes a long way towards explaining, by way of metaphor, the magic of the omlette.

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