WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 32

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 32nd WWW:

1) Gods and Monsters:
Ian McKellen does an excellent job portraying James Whale, homosexual film director best remembered for Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Based on the novel Father of Frankenstein, Gods and Monsters is a speculative account of the last days of Whale's life, as he struggles with increasing mental “storms” in the wake of a stroke. Old memories can overwhelm him at any time, and he laments the fact that his mind is dying before his body. He forms an unlikely friendship with his gardener, a brutish ex-marine played by the versatile Brendan Fraser. The film is a series of awkward, uncomfortable moments, between the film itself and the audience, as well as between the two leads. Fraser's character initially agrees to sit for Whale and model for sketches, facing both fear of his alignment and fascination with his fame. Whale's loyal housekeeper, played by Lynn Redgrave, stands by her employer, though she feels that his sin is the “worst sin of all”. Fraser slowly adopts a “live and let live” attitude, and Whale becomes something of a surrogate father to him. His own was an alcoholic who berated him for not lasting with the marines. Still, it's a difficult relationship for him to process. As we catch glimpses of Whale's own military career, the horrors he saw there as well as the social ones he faces as a forgotten famous person, the title of the film becomes more than just a line taken from Bride of Frankenstein. Which people are gods and which are monsters? More often than not, we make this decision based on outward appearances. More often than not, we're wrong. Whale speaks of giving the creature in his film a nobility to contrast his hulking frame and patchwork facade. In the end, no matter how monstrous any of us appear to others, we all have a little bit of nobility inside. And no matter how beautiful some might appear, we all struggle with monsters inside as well.

2) Bounce:
I'm not sure who thought this was a good premise for a movie, and I'm about to spoil the opening set-up for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Ben Affleck plays a hotshot young ad executive on a business trip fresh off scoring a major client in a large airline. While waiting for his delayed flight in a bar, he meets another man trying to get home to his family, as well as the beautiful Natasha Henstridge. So when his flight comes in and the others are still delayed, he opts to do a selfless and selfish deed in one by giving his ticket to the family man while he stays behind to hook up with Henstridge. The plane crashes and everyone on board dies, and Affleck struggles with guilt upon his return home, especially when his company helps the airline put a good spin on the situation. After spiraling down into alcoholism, he seeks rehabilitation and gets himself cleaned up. But he decides to visit the widow(Gwyneth Paltrow) of the guy he switched places with, to see how she and her sons are doing and express his sorrow for the unfortunate turn of events. When he meets her however, he instead falls in love with her, and now has the moral dilemma of being in a relationship with someone who doesn't know he's indirectly responsible for her husband's death. The two do have good chemistry together, and it's actually not bad watching them get closer and watch Affleck bond with her two sons. He does deliver the occasional corny movie line that would never work in real life(“I don't have a last call of the day!”), but he's definitely done worse. It's just that the whole situation exists on the thin and slightly creepy ice of the dead husband, so you can't get too invested in this relationship without realizing that sooner or later the truth is going to come out and the ice is going to break. And at that point, there's not really a good outcome. Either it all falls apart and we get a depressing ending, or it falls apart but somehow they work through it to an unlikely happy Hollywood ending that rings hollow. I don't need to tell you which route they took, but they definitely painted themselves into a corner with the whole concept to begin with. Joe Morton, Johnny Galecki and Jennifer Grey show up in supporting roles and do a good job, but beyond that you wouldn't be missing anything if you skipped this one.

3) Dance Flick:
The quickly-produced parody movie genre is definitely out-of-control, and the humor is aimed at high school kids and younger. There was a time when it was possible to do a “dumb” satire and still have intelligence in the humor. The most recent example of this for me was Black Dynamite, which was absolutely brilliant in its send-up of ‘70s blaxploitation, right up to the grainy film, obvious stunt doubles, visible boom mikes, and recycled stock footage. The attention to detail was immaculate. In any case, slapping “Movie” after a genre has led to these mass-produced spoofs well below the caliber of the people making them. After the terrible Scary Movie 2, David Zucker took over that franchise, but while his films were marginally better than the second installment, it was hard to believe that this was the same guy who brought us Airplane! or The Naked Gun. With Dance Flick, we see a return of the Wayans family to the film genre satire business, this time picking on an easy target, those absurd films with choreographed dance “battles”. I had low expectations, and only checked it out after learning the male lead was Damon Wayans, Jr. Sadly, either that apple has fallen VERY far from the tree, or he still has a lot to learn. Various other family members show up in the film, with Keenen giving a surprisingly bad performance and Marlon and Shawn giving surprisingly good ones. It's saying something when those two are the strongest Wayans in a movie, and though Marlon has proven he has great potential with his dramatic role in Requiem for a Dream, he always seems to take a step backward in his collaborations with Shawn. Here, his over-the-top drama teacher has some winning moments, while Shawn gets some laughs as a deadbeat dad. If you've seen the trailer, you've probably seen the bit where he shows up to pick up his son, picks the kid up for a second, then puts him back down, telling the baby's mother, “I'm out. I'll be back to pick him up again next week.” More importantly, if you've seen the trailer, you can skip the film. There were one or two laughs beyond what was shown, but that was the best stuff. Even worse, the trailer was better edited, and scenes end on logical high notes. In the movie, they go on just a bit too long. Damon Jr.'s delivery and comedic timing need work. And I don't understand what David Alan Grier was doing slumming in a fat suit here. He's better than that, and I guess was just doing a favor for his old friends from In Living Color. Remember In Living Color? Remember when they were all better than this? Though several Wayans I never heard of were involved in front of and behind the camera, Damon senior was conspicuously absent. Maybe he didn't want to steal his kid's limelight, or maybe he distanced himself from what he knew to be a bad picture. It's not all bad, and does take Twilight down a peg, one of the few good scenes that wasn't in any of the trailers. And I liked Affion Crockett as the main character's friend A-Con, who gets into an argument with him about there being no “I” in team and mispronounces the word “Iensemble” to try to win the debate. His line delivery cracked me up consistently throughout the film. Ultimately, the problem with this genre is these end up either being a collection of sketches that might be funny on their own for 2-3 minutes, or a 2-3 minute sketch stretched to an hour-and-a-half. The Wayans are funny and talented, but perhaps their strength does lie in the sketch comedy. Perhaps they need another In Living Color. Unfortunately, if they keep going back to these manufactured low-end spoofs, no one is going to give them another TV show.

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



Welcome to Paradise

It's time for another exciting ”Answer in Song” adventure, this time brought to you by Green Day.

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, the idea is to cleverly answer these questions without repeating a song title. Here's the latest variation of this exercise I've come across along with my song answers:

Your Artist: Green Day

1) Are you male or female?
Nice Guys Finish Last.

2) Describe yourself:
Working Class Hero.

3) How do you feel about yourself?
Know Your Enemy.

4) Describe where you currently live:
Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

5) The first thing you think of when you wake up:
The Simpsons Theme.

6) If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

7) What is your favorite form of transportation?
Hitchin' a Ride.

8) Your best friend is:

9) What is your favorite color?

10) What's the weather like?
Walking Contradiction.

11) If your life were a TV show, what would it be called?
American Idiot.

12) What is life to you?

13) What is the best advice you have to give?

14) If you could change your name, what would it be?
Geek Stink Breath.

15) What is your favorite food?
Poprocks & Coke.

16) How would you like to die?
When I Come Around.

17) Your soul's present condition:
Wake Me Up When September Ends.

18) The faults you can bear:
Give Me Novocaine.

19) How would you describe your love life?

20) What are you going to post this as?
Welcome to Paradise.



I Did Not Know...

...that you could open (and create) PDF files in Adobe Illustrator.

...that the now deceased Andrew “'Boner' Stabone” Koenig was the son of Walter “Chekov” Koenig.

...or that he portrayed The Joker in Batman: Dead End.

...it was possible for so many diverse weather patterns to strike one area. New York City got snow on Thursday while Nassau got slush and freezing rain and Suffolk only got rain. By the time I drove home, there was an inch of slush and ice near my job, and no accumulation at my house.

...you before I did.

...chewing gum could prevent or reduce crying while peeling onions.

...111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

...Rob Liefeld was drawing a new Deadpool book for Marvel. It's kind of funny how the popularity of the character is inversely proportional to his creator.

...it was possible for me to run more than 7 miles in the course of an hour. I'm not sure I could before the other night.

...the Batman of the 1940s would not let a p***y near the Boy Wonder. I mean, we all suspected, but I never knew it ever appeared in print so blatantly....



I'm living in a very interesting time in my life, when I start to see things resolved and work out, and in the larger picture realize that things do work out if given enough time. Beyond last week's good career developments, I also recently got a glimpse of what might have been, that made me very glad for that which never was. To explain, I'll need to go back to my college years.

I had my share of dream girls and hopeless crushes when I was in school, but there was one girl in particular with whom I thought I might actually have a shot. She wasn't one of the ridiculously hot girls on the school dance team who made playing in the pep band a lot more bearable, nor a sorority girl, nor one of the rich girls who had attended a fancy private high school. She was cute, but just a regular person like myself, a fellow art student. There was definitely something a little off about her, a vacant Luna Lovegood glassy stare as though she were seeing pixies or some other magical creatures that the rest of us could not. But if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, or ever spent any time with me in real life, you'd know that I'm a little off myself. Quirks and idiosyncrasies are the norm for geeks and/or artists; over the years I've decided that the qualities that make me an outcast also make me kind of interesting. So I found this girl....interesting.

She'd occasionally question me about the music I played during class, probing inquiries about what Metallica was “about”, what the meaning of their lyrics was. Honestly, I just liked the guitars and voice and drums, how the combination helped me focus while I was drawing. I think I came up with something about war or anger while she just nodded and focused on whatever creature she saw perched on my shoulder. I think I was just happy a girl was actually speaking to me, thought she was making conversation. In hindsight, I think she was complaining about me playing those tapes.

I was in my junior year when I met her, and over the course of three semesters I made three attempts to ask her out. After being the least popular kid in school for 8 years and then spending 4 years in an all-boys Catholic high school, my game was worse than ever. But I'd made some good friends in college, and we had each other's backs in such matters. My buddies came up with a plan in which a group of us would go in to the city to see the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. One by one, everybody else would end up having conflicts and canceling, until this girl and I were the only ones left. It wasn't a date exactly, but it was an opportunity to converse and spend some time with her outside of school. Unfortunately, I didn't know my way around the city in those days, and I was too proud to ask for directions. So we kind of just walked around for 2 hours and never made it to the tree, but we did have a great talk. She dropped some hints about a hot dog place in the area, and I'm guessing she was talking about Gray's Papaya. We didn't find that either, which is just as well since I barely had enough money for the subway ride back to campus. Her mom picked us up at the station and dropped me off back at my car, and I was pretty sure that was the end of that. Life Lesson #1: Always have enough money to buy a girl food.

We'd continue to speak in class occasionally, and sometimes she'd share some newspaper clipping about a show or a movie that she was interested in. I started to wonder if she was being polite or dropping hints that these were places she wanted me to take her. So one night while working in the computer lab, when I saw she was leaving I ducked out to catch her in the hall. That time, I made the classic blunder of the vague invitation, asking if she'd want to catch a movie or something “sometime”. Life Lesson #2: Always have a specific plan of what you want to do and when before asking a girl out. I was nervous and I think that may have even been the first time I formally asked a girl out, so I think the words came out in one breath with no spaces in between. I think she said sure and quickly excused herself, and while she fled down the hall I sauntered back in the lab, too proud of myself for getting the nerve up to ask to realized she'd run away before I could make concrete plans. My friends were just staring at me incredulously, shocked that I'd finally grown a pair.

Time was quickly running out. I never really could get her alone after that to talk, and I never got a phone number. The first semester of my Senior year would be my last, as the second semester would be spent at some company as an intern. I was quickly reaching the now-or-never stage, and on the last day of the semester I invited her to my friend's Christmas party. This was it, the culmination of a year's worth of pursuit, and finally a direct question with a concrete plan and timeframe. It was going to be just like the movies, the scene where the nerdy but nice guy confronts the pretty but quirky gal, and kindred spirits finally get their act together.

I'm pretty sure I've shared this story before, so the next scene in this tale might seem familiar. I asked my question, enunciated, relaxed, and confidently. She wrinkled her nose, furrowed her brow, and vigorously shook her head back and forth with the disgust of a small child refusing to eat her vegetables. It was the dreaded “broccoli face”. I didn't know how to react. I think I stammered an “A-are you sure?” or a simple inquiry of “...no?”, but she only shook her head harder and took a step back. I'm not proud of this, and I'll always regret getting angry in that moment and snapping, “What'sa matter; don'tcha like me or somethin’?!” in a Joe Pesci-like manner. Her revulsion and disgust changed to fear, and the second I saw that look I was afraid too; I'm generally not an angry person, and anger definitely wasn't going to change her mind. I muttered an apology, and left the classroom to find an empty stairwell in which to sit and mope. Life Lesson #3: Never respond to rejection with anger. (Thankfully, that’s one mistake I never repeated)

My friend, the one who was throwing the party, happened upon me sitting on the steps and asked how it went. He knew my plan, and had encouraged and supported it. I told him what happened, and he suggested that there might be hope, that she might have felt awkward with me inviting her to someone else's house. He had invited most of our class, but left her to me. He said he'd talk to her and invite her personally, and maybe she'd show up. Against all common sense, I began to feel hope. I raced home to wrap presents for my friends, and figure out what I could give to her. I didn't have much money in those days, nor apparently imagination. I remembered in one of our conversations how she wished she had a Ford Bronco. I couldn't afford a real one obviously, but I did have a toy version that I was willing to part with if it finally got me a girlfriend. So I wrapped that up, loaded two boxes full of gifts for just about everyone going to the party, and drove back out to Queens. I enjoyed the party to some degree, but part of my mind was elsewhere, nervously looking up every time the stairs to my buddy's basement creaked and more people arrived. But not her; never her. In the end, I took my truck and went home, accepting that I'd never see her again.

In the months that followed, I adjusted to a new life as an intern, and a new routine. It was difficult not seeing my friends everyday, as well as getting used to what it would be like to spend 7-8 hours sitting at the same desk. But I learned a lot, and for the first time got a sense that I might actually get a job related to my studies. About halfway through the semester, all interns had to report back to campus for one day to give our professor an update and present what we were working on. Afterwards, since we hadn't seen each other in a while, a few of us headed over to one of our old haunts, the computer lab, to chat and share our experiences with some of the underclassmen who were still there. That girl was one of them, and neither of us made eye contact or acknowledged the other person was in the room. The only time she looked at me was when she was leaving, when she got up, planted a big kiss on another guy, and did that thing where she keeps one eye open to see if I'm watching. It was awkward, moreso because I'd been friends with the guy. We weren't close like some of my friends whom I consider brothers to this day, but he was definitely a fellow geek and probably the only person to ever maintain a lengthy conversation with me about something as obscure as The West Coast Avengers. So I felt bad for hitting on his girlfriend, a possible violation of the “bro code” though I had no idea at the time.

Life went on. I graduated, and got a job at the company where I'd interned. I remember telling one of the editors there, a girl two years older than myself, that I'd gotten the job and she'd still be seeing me. She seemed genuinely enthusiastic about that, refreshingly so. Over time, as I went to lunch with her and some other coworkers, I began to develop a new crush, though I was sure the feelings wouldn't be mutual. I didn't speak too much about my past experience or lack thereof, save for one mention of some “crazy girl” that I had a bad experience with. One of the designers I worked with defended her, saying that not going out with me didn't make the girl crazy. I wasn't saying that at all, but it was really hard to explain to people who weren't there, especially giving a very terse account since I didn't like talking about my personal life. Meanwhile, this copy editor continued to be friendly toward me. Against all odds, after dropping strong hints practically to the point of literally asking me to ask her out, we ended up getting together, and I spent two-and-a-half of the best ego-boosting years of my life with a sane, intelligent girl who was older and had her master's degree, but still saw something in a crazy, overweight artist. It was probably the best relationship of my life, and my only complaint about her was that she broke up with me. It took a while to get over and we haven't spoken in years, but I was genuinely happy to hear that she was doing well, now a married teacher up in Massachusetts with twin sons.

The one person I hadn't given much thought to when I look back on my love life was that crazy girl from college, until I heard from one of my college brothers that she'd recently contacted him on one of those social network thingys all you non-blogger kids are into. He wrote a bunch of us to basically warn us that she was still nuts and he regretted reconnecting with her. After 14 years, she just started e-mailing him all of her problems. It was kind of funny, since she always had a social awkwardness. It may have run in her family, since she once told me about her sister taking some guy on to a trashy daytime talk show because he wanted to kiss her. “That's...it?” I asked, not comprehending, while she was genuinely wide-eyed and concerned about the whole “crisis”. My buddy didn't do justice to her current problems until he shared a few excerpts of what she'd written to him. She told him how her current boyfriend was perfect for her, that she couldn't believe her luck, and that she would have married him if she didn't get scared. But she said they would “definitely have children” and maybe she'd consider marriage if they were still together after that.

So there were definitely a few loose threads in the reality bin, and it only got worse. She next told my friend how nightmarish it was for her to be with a crack addict(presumably the same guy that was “perfect for her”), and how she also didn't like his racism. Apparently he likes going to gated communities and calling old people “f*gg*t honkies” and “crackers”. It's probably racist to assume her man is African-American; she could be dating Marshall Mathers. My friends had a theory she preferred black men: the guy she chose over me in college was black, the crackhead at the very least uses black slang, and my buddy that she's dumping all this on right now is also black and she said he looked handsome. She herself is Polish, not that any of that really matters. The important thing here is that she's with a racist drug addict, mainly because he's supporting her while she's out of work right now. She's also been eating a lot of ice cream and gaining weight. And then, if I'm following the jumbled ee cummings-esque narrative's chronology correctly, she went to some beach with another guy and stayed out until 5 AM, so she may be done with the crack addict. But ultimately, her plan is to move to California and open her own spa.

It's funny how the big picture looks over time, isn't it? The drama in her life now is way more Jerry Springer than that non-issue of her sister not wanting some guy to kiss her. I do feel bad for my friend having to hear all that, but I also find it all freaking hysterical for some reason. I don't think it's as evil as the sense of relief I felt last week when I heard that an old supervisor who took advantage of people and took credit for things not his own finally was laid off. I take no pleasure in anyone's misfortune or messed-up lives. Lord knows I have my own problems. I think the laughter, beyond the extremeness of it all, also stems from relief. I mean, imagine if she had said YES when I asked her out? Imagine if I wasn't reading the crazy now as a distant impartial observer, but living that drama firsthand? She used to be one of the girls I'd think of when I listened to Something I Can Never Have. It now seems very silly that I spent any time alone feeling bad over her. I might have ended up locked up in her closet wearing a ball gag. She might have ended up boiling one of my cats. I went on to do better than I thought possible, and all things considered I'm not doing so badly now. Everything worked out for the best. I'm luckier than I realize.

And, best of all, I still have my toy truck.


PBW: Caumsett Sub-Zero

It has been one cold February, culminating in some brutal snow accumulations. I'm not a fan of the freezing rain we're getting right now either, but if it washes all this snow away, more power to it, especially if a Spring-like March is around the corner. Earlier in the month, before the snow hit, I let my GPS guide me back to Caumsett. I've been there many times of course, more than once for a Photo Blog Wednesday outing, but I wanted to see how my new toy would guide me. It took a shorter route, albeit up some insane winding hill, and when I missed a turn, it led me down a dead-end. If I followed the instructions explicitly, I would have driven in to the woods, so at that point I turned around in the driveway of some rich folks and got the hell back on the roads I was familiar with. And though it was still before the big storm, it was quite freezing that day. I bundled up, and as you look through the photos, perhaps some of you will understand the title of today's post:



MCF's Old School 100

I don't think I look it, and I certainly don't act it, but I am getting old. A lot of signs point to this, from my thinning hair, to the fact that my married friends with kids outnumber my single ones. Perhaps the biggest sign of aging however, are nostalgia threads, discussions with my contemporaries about what we consider “old school”, what we remember from our collective childhood. The older we get, it seems like we take more walks down memory lane. My memory lane takes place largely in the ‘80s, although bits of the ‘70s and ‘90s invariably sneak in there. In no particular order, following pretty much my own unique stream of consciousness, here are 100 things I remember from my youth:

1) Breakdancing competitions in my elementary school gym/cafeteria. A version of the Worm was named after me because I could never do it right.

2) Kids calling Channel 11 and shouting “PIX! PIX! PIX!" over and over to shoot aliens on the screen and win some kind of prize.

3) Popping wheelies with ease on my banana seat bike, sometimes with too much ease leaving me sitting on my asphalt while the bike kept rolling down the street.

4) Watching Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends every Saturday morning, often followed by The Incredible Hulk, both narrated by Stan Lee.

5) All ‘80s cartoons. Voltron and The Mighty Orbots which first stirred my love of transforming gestalt machines. The Transformers, greatest of those robot shows which became my favorite, and its natural companion G.I. Joe, with whom it shared some voice actors and background music. I remember racing home after school each day to watch an hour of those two shows back to back. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was one of my first ‘80s cartoons, and taught me many moral lessons, while Thundercats represented the ‘80s cartoons at their peak. And of course they were all toy commercials in disguise.

6) Woolworth's, which my mom called the “Five and Ten”, because she was really old school.

7) Odd-Lot, a now defunct chain of discount stores for clearance items that I got mad cheap, like the next item on my list...

8) Intellivision, my first game system. Not only did I get a console for less than 50 bucks, but by the time I was getting cartridges from Odd-Lot they were only two for a dollar!

9) Selling my mom's plants out of a little red wagon down at the end of my block, and using my cut to buy the aforementioned video games.

10) 75¢ comic books. They went up to $1.00 shortly after I started collecting, and were twice as much by the time I stopped 8 years later. I think now they're $3.99 or something absurd.

11) LOGO, my first drawing software which I studied in 7th grade. You'd type a command like “CIRCLER” and a little turtle on the screen would draw a clockwise circle. The computer didn't even have a mouse yet.

12) In elementary school, the computers were connected to tape recorders and regular audio tape was used to store data. If you put it in a regular tape player, it made a horrendous sound.

13) And of course I remember BASIC. 10 PRINT “MCF”, 20 GOTO 10....

14) Caps. My mom thought the realistic silver pistol my friend gave me for my 6th or 7th birthday was too realistic and she hid it, but not the rolls of caps, red paper with black dots of gunpowder on them. My friends and I used to hit them with a rock to make them go off.

15) A few years later, Snaps took their place. We'd prove how tough we were by flicking them with our fingernail rather than throw them to the ground. Occasionally we'd unwrap a few and put the contents all in one piece of paper for a bigger snap.

16) In home economics class in 7th or 8th grade, we weren't interested in sewing but we were interested in the combination of pins and floor outlets. We'd drop a pin in and jump back to avoid the blue spark that would shoot out. Kids do dumb things.

17) In high school, since I commuted by train to a private school, the other kids and I would occasionally place a nickel on the train tracks, then retrieve it after it was pancaked. Again, kids do dumb things.

18) Shouting “CAAAAAAR!” any time a vehicle interrupted our game of football, frisbee, or whatever else we played in the street. Often in baseball a manhole cover would serve as homeplate, a tree in front of a neighbor's yard would be first base, and so on.

19) The new Volkswagen PunchDub commercial is great, but I remember when it only pertained to one model and was called Punch Buggy.

20) A spiral of neon letters resolving into the word “SPECIAL” right before CBS would air A Charlie Brown Christmas, Puff the Magic Dragon, or some other animated show in prime time.

I'm just getting started! I'll have another 20 items from my good old days next week!



Phantasmic Links 2.22.10

I have to say, this time of year, I generally don't mind a quiet weekend. As anticipated, my friend was still sick on Saturday morning so we postponed our Atlantic City trip for another weekend. So I was definitely feeling a bit bored on Saturday, only because I was mentally geared toward flashing lights, electronic sounds, dancing girls, and alcohol, and instead got napping, going to church with my mom, and eating Burger King, a more typical Saturday. I did get a call on Sunday from the son of one of my band leaders, and I'm now booked for nearly every weekend in March as well as a few gigs in April, June, and July. So I'll enjoy the quiet weekends while they last, and not complain about having a free day to nap, or extra time to savor PHANTASMIC LINKS:

(1) Astronaut Soichi Noguchi uses Twitter from space. Here are 15 beautiful photos he's shared while up there.

(2) Four little people relay race against....a camel. Now I've seen everything? Probably not...

(3) The Lost Art of Inglourious Basterds features several artists' interpretations of the film.

(4) Ants and other insects stick to ceilings and other surfaces with ease, and scientists study this ability for our future advantage.

(5) ImmorTall is less of a game and more of a bittersweet journey of an alien and the one human family who befriends him, even if there are different outcomes depending on your choices.

(6) If I wasn't planning to see it before(I totally was), then the red band trailer for Kick-Ass has guaranteed my attendance.

(7) Logorama is an Oscar-nominated short film featuring nearly every corporate logo imaginable. Normally I don't like to see product placement or commercials encroach on entertainment, but this is genius.

(8) These Watchmen-inspired games may not be appropriate, but they sure are hilarious!

(9) Will Joss Whedon join forces with Morgan Spurlock for a Comic-Con documentary?

(10) G-Switch can be played with either a mouse click or a single key, and it's a lot of fun! 1 to 6 players just keep running until they run out of track or strike an obstacle, but you can help keep them moving by reversing the direction of gravity! Multiplayer is a short run, while the single player mode offers 8 challenging levels, culminating in the following ending:

Have a link to a game, movie, article, or anything else you think might be “phantasmic”? E-mail me and it just might appear in an upcoming PHANTASMIC LINKS!



WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 31

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 31st WWW:

1) Murder By Numbers:
“By numbers” indeed. Sandra Bullock gives a good performance as a homicide detective with a secret past trying to solve a murder committed by two high school students, but I never really got the sense that she facing as big of a challenge with the case as she was with her own inner demons. This makes for a compelling character study, but a plot that doesn't deliver what the trailer promised. The kids don't outsmart her for long, and their youth and emotions make them sloppy. It becomes less about her figuring out that they did it and more about her trying to prove that they did it, so half the movie turns into a series of flashback explanations like the wrapup sequence in any given Psych episode. The two friends, who have an implied “more than friends” relationship that's never really explored, manage to fool everyone but Bullock's character. Even when the film throws in an “aha!” moment in which she realizes something about one of her suspects, it's no surprise to the audience. There was a lot of potential in the idea, but I thought the detective connected the brooding, brainy kid and the good-looking popular kid far too soon in the story. By keeping a few details hidden from the audience a little bit longer, I think it could have been a twistier, more suspenseful story on par with Wild Things, instead of an average police drama.

2) Hurlyburly:
When a film is based on a play, there's always the possibility that there won't be much action and that many of the scenes will take place in the same location with a small group of characters. Hurlyburly is one of those movies, and the biggest development happens off screen. That being said, while it's not exactly Glengarry Glen Ross, there are still some powerful performances here, particularly from Sean Penn. He's an absolute mess in this movie, as is everyone, and only part of it is his out of control drug use. That's just his coping mechanism. Others, like Kevin Spacey or Garry Shandling might rely on sarcasm and/or sex to cope with life. Chazz Palminteri struggles with his marriage and his violent tendencies, and is the one person Penn's character keeps in his life to feel better about himself. Palminteri manages to play a dumb lug and a tragic character to perfection. Life, the world, and relationships are all a mystery to these people; they're all broken and out of control, and it's a bit depressing. Even the women in the film are a mess, from Anna Paquin as an underage drifter okay with being used for sex if it puts a roof over her head, to Robin Wright Penn, who keeps her options open and can never really decide on any one thing, be it food or a man. Palminteri's wife berates him until they have a baby, and then divorces him. He foolishly thought the baby would save their marriage, and finds himself instead in a deeper, more depressing hole than before. Meg Ryan plays against type as a call girl and single mother, and in one of the few sober moments in which Penn isn't strung out on cocaine, he recollects an occasion in which they had her perform a sex act on one of their friends while her daughter was in the car. Things like that brief moment of horrifying clarity, his inability to fully connect with Wright-Penn, and the state of the world on the evening news keep driving him back to the drugs as a coping mechanism. Everybody seeks some kind of release, some worse than others. Again, these are broken, broken people. I'm not sure what the film actually says when it's all over, if it's just a study in a percieved meaninglessness of life or a rambling “blah blah blah” as Penn frequently utters through the course of the piece, but it might make your own life seem better, and it's probably not something I could watch twice. These actors do a fantastic job immersing themselves in these self-destructive roles, effectively generating feelings of revulsion and pity for them.

3) The Yards:
Mark Wahlberg plays a guy who gets out of prison and, feeling tremendous remorse at disappointing his ailing mother, tries to make an honest life for himself. His uncle tries to get him a job at the train yards, but his cousin's boyfriend, played by Joaquin Phoenix, soon leads him down a dark path that puts him in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wahlberg does an excellent job with what he referred to in one of the featurette's as a “dumb face”; he has this blanked, dazed expression throughout most of the movie, and really comes across as someone painted into a corner, beaten down by a lack of options. Phoenix seems slick and together, but he's not as in control as he seems, and tragedy strikes whenever he loses control of his emotions. Dividing the two is Charlize Theron as the aforementioned cousin/girlfriend, while James Caan plays her stepfather and Wahlberg's would-be employer. But his employees, including Phoenix, do his dirty work, including sabotaging rival trains in order to procure contracts. Wahlberg never has a real chance at the honest living he craves, and soon finds himself without any real choices. It tends to be a quiet film, and the scuffles throughout are very realistic, not big choreographed Hollywood-style fights. Queens, where the the film was shot and takes place, becomes yet another character, aerial shots and steamy side streets all too familiar to this Long Island native. It's a film early in the career of Wahlberg and the other young actors, but definitely showcases both their ability and potential, and it's worth checking out.

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



Up Fate's Sleeve

I was really looking forward to my return to Atlantic City this weekend; I'm pretty sure I dreamed about it more than once. I learned a few things from my first visit a few months ago, and I was ready to avoid old mistakes and make some new ones. I now know that, while all games are ultimately losing games, slot machines offer the least enjoyment to money spending ratio. I learned not to order mixed drinks that contain every type of alcohol imaginable. I learned that if I'm going to take goofy pictures of myself with some random girl in a bar, I probably should use my own camera and not hers. It would make for a great story if I stumbled on those photos online 20 years from now, though.

As of right now, it probably isn't happening. The friend I was going with has been fighting a cold and has no voice. He's hoping to feel better Saturday morning, so I've held off on ordering any train tickets, but it probably wouldn't be a good idea. It's not as much fun to go if you're under the weather. Also, sitting next to the guy on a train for 3 hours might make me sick too. So it's more than likely this will be postponed, which kind of sucks since I might not have time to go until Autumn. Next weekend I have a dental cleaning early Saturday morning, so theoretically the rest of that weekend would still be free. We'll see.

I'm learning to trust fate a little more after the day I had Thursday. I don't find it difficult to believe God has a plan for me, as He does for all of us. It's just nice to see some positive returns from whatever that plan is for a change. I did make one honest mistake this week and eat meat for lunch on Friday, forgetting that it's Lent. The first Friday after Ash Wednesday is always a tough one to remember, especially since it's only two days after another no-meat day. Late in the afternoon, as the roast beef and bacon rumbled in my stomach, I suddenly realized my oversight. It was an honest mistake, and honestly I've done worse. I may well have done worse this weekend had I gone on that trip, at the very least missing a mass.

I drove home Friday night exhausted after a long week and thinking about the strange events. The week began with a holiday and a snowstorm, ended with big changes at my current and former companies, and on Friday I also stumbled upon an anti-geese system. Walking back to my office after lunch, I heard the frantic cries of an entire flock. I saw nothing. I looked around, then up at my building. Were they on the roof? “It sounds...electronic almost...” noted one of my friends. It was then that I spotted the two pairs of speakers mounted on the roof's edge. At last I knew why there was a maintenance guy walking around up there the other morning. I can only guess there are motion sensors, which triggers the recorded sound of geese in distress, which tells the real geese to vamoose, which humanely keeps them off our lawn. It's not too shabby.

So, with all this on my mind during my last commute home, it was a miracle I spotted the dark shape in the road and slowed down. As my headlights illuminated it, I saw stripes of black and brown as the frozen creature was spurred in to movement once more, and finished crossing to safety. And, not ten feet later, concealed in some underbrush with all its lights out, sat a police car. Now, chances are I wasn't speeding, or if I was I was only 5 or 10 miles above the limit. Still, when I consider the odds that, on a section of the road where there was no light, I spotted an animal that made me slow down before reaching a hidden cop? That just blows my mind.

I don't know what's going on with fate lately, any more than I usually do. Maybe it's best that I don't make it to AC this weekend, or maybe things will work out and I'll go anyway. Maybe something great will happen there, or maybe something great will happen as a result of me staying home. I never know what fate has up its sleeve, but for once I'm looking forward to finding out....


Turn Turn Turnaround

Every dog has his day, and karma catches up to everyone eventually, good or bad. In my improbably improbable existence, my luck seems to be bad more often than good, but a lot of times that has to do with my outlook on life and the things I focus on. It's the old glass half-empty versus the glass half-full.

I thought 2010 was going to be my year, even though I think that every year. Will a new year bring a new girlfriend? My first house? One year brought a new job in the ashes of an old one. It was sad to be let go along with so many other good people, but with good timing and good friends I more than landed on my feet, and it ended up being the push I needed to get into a much better situation. It's not that I didn't love my old job, but the workload had increased exponentially over the years and one individual took advantage of my speed and good nature. I'm wary of elaborating, even in this anonymous setting, but it was nice to start over with people who were fair, who both appreciated and recognized the work I did without taking credit for it themselves.

So 2010 didn't bring a new girlfriend, only a new female friend who inexplicably lost interest after a few e-mails. Maybe I didn't try hard enough and didn't make the sale right away, even though I thought I'd made a good first impression. Maybe I tried too hard. For whatever reason, it was not to be, and it nagged at me for about a month before I accepted that I'd never know why, and should still be happy with a casual new online friend. 2010 also didn't bring me a new house, although I casually looked at a few, and it's gone by so fast that parade and feast season are right around the corner. Soon free time will be a luxury I'll give up until October. 2010 is bringing my dad's 80th birthday, and I'm thinking a Yankee Stadium tour might be an awesome gift, in addition to or instead of going to a game. So except for that one disappointment, this year isn't shaping up too badly.

You never know when things are going to turn around. When my boss asked me to close the door to his office on Thursday, there was definitely that sense of apprehension even though he rarely has anything bad to say. But it definitely brought me back to two-and-a-half years ago at my old company, when my supervisor there called me in to tell me I was being let go. I kind of had a feeling what this meeting was about though, since this is review time. Sure enough, he handed me a slip of paper with my annual salary increase on it, telling me in the process how much he and all the VPs above him recognize and appreciate the work I put in. In fact, they appreciated it so much that I got the largest raise of my life. I stared in disbelief at the number while my boss beamed.

After I shook his hand, thanked him, and got back to my office, I did some math and realized it was a 20% increase. Of course, since everyone gets different raises each year and some people don't get raises at all, such things are always confidential. I sat in my office with the cheesiest grin, and it killed me that I couldn't share my news with anybody. I thought about how the increase was almost as much as my entire salary at the first job I got out of college, and that didn't help the grin. I did some more math to figure out how much of an increase it would be in my weekly paycheck after taxes, and that definitely helped bring me back down to reality. I'm pretty much happy with any increase until I divide by 52. And of course, the more I make, the harder it becomes to find a new job that would start me at a comparable salary. I've been fortunate in my career that, both times I've changed jobs, I've gotten more money in the process.

At this point, one of my friends stopped by with some news from our old company. Unfortunately, more layoffs struck, claiming a few people we knew including one very nice lady close to retirement who'd been there over 20 years. It's always rough to hear stories like that. But it seemed that karma had finally caught up to one individual who never did any actual work, who presented the work of others as his own and made his own hours. I can't say I take pleasure in the misfortune of others, and I do feel bad that he has a wife and young daughter who will be affected by this. But he survived so many cuts in which honest, hardworking people disappeared instead. It never seemed fair, so I do take some pleasure in the scales finally balancing out. He had a good run, all things considered, and I wish him luck. I wish that, wherever he goes next, he learns to survive on his own merits, though I doubt he'll change tactics. And of course, I wish I never have to work with(or for) that guy again. One of my friends joked about the guy coming to my current company next, which isn't even funny, because all my current bosses are awesome. I do realize that my experiences with them are tinted by my one bad experience, but they're great people on their own nonetheless.

Man, Thursday was such a great day. I got cake, and I got icing. Will my lucky streak continue? Have I said too much in my post, even though I didn't mention my real name, the names of any of these companies, or the individuals? I didn't write anything specific, and I didn't write anything false. Just to be safe, I think I'll hit the casinos again this weekend, while my luck seems to have shifted. I know how this particular pendulum works....


37 and 1

37(!!!) questions! 1 word answers! Yes folks, it's another one of those posts:

1. Where is your cell phone?

2. Your children?

3. Your hair?

4. Your mother?

5. Your father?

6. Your favorite?

7. Your dream last night?

8. Your favorite drink?

9. Your dream/goal?

10. What room are you in?

11. Your hobby?

12. Your fear?

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years?

14. Where were you last night?

15. Something that you aren't?

16. Muffins?

17. Wish list item?

18. Where you grew up?

19. Last thing you did?

20. What are you wearing?

21. Your TV?

22. Your pets?

23. Friends?

24. Your life?

25. Your mood?

26. Missing someone?

27. Car?

28. Something you're not wearing?

29. Your favorite store?

30. Your favorite color?

33. When is the last time you laughed?

34. Last time you cried?

35. Who will repost this?

36. One place that you go to over and over?

37. One person who e-mails you regularly?


PBW: A Snow Day's Night

I’m just about DONE with Winter. I can’t believe I had to shovel for an hour-and-a-half on Tuesday morning before I went to work, or that no one else on Long Island seemed to get that much snow. I barely had time for a shower, and I had no time for breakfast. Hopefully no one noticed my stubble after three days of not shaving; I’m surprised my dad didn’t call me a “tramp”(which he uses in the “hobo” sense...hopefully). I guess I can’t complain about 5 or 6 inches of slush when I had over a foot of snow to contend with last Wednesday, which I didn’t defeat until Thursday morning. I think I spent over 9 hours out there; it just wasn’t stopping. That was rough, but it did set up some pretty photo opportunities for a Photo Blog Wednesday:



MCF's Manic Mind

My mind is all over the place, and has been for as long as I've been listening to it. With tangents, daydreams, and distractions, it's a wonder I function at all in normal society. I suppose that could be the nature of all subconscious experience, since I've never heard anyone else's thoughts. Maybe I'm not as jumbled and disorganized inside as I think, but I'll toss out some arbitrary musings and let you be the judge:

* The guy playing the traitorous brother of the Islamic president on this season of 24 looks a lot like Jason Schwartzman to me, almost distractingly so. I think it's the hair. Meanwhile, the hair on the guy playing his brother make him look like Wayne Newton, so it's interesting casting all around.

* I saw an elderly couple in matching tracksuits jogging on the boardwalk this weekend; they were hunched over and not going very fast, but it was ridiculously adorable. I want to still be running when I'm in my 80s, and hopefully not alone.

* That new Harry Potter movieconfused the hell out of me. Dumbledore was now a centaur played by Pierce Brosnan, Hermione was the daughter of Athena, and Ron was some wisecracking black dude with goat legs. It's like they didn't read the books AT ALL.

* I believe that a steady cardio routine is not only key to surviving a zombie apocalypse, but also a 9+ hours of shoveling snow.

* I found it an unsettling coincidence that the day I inadvertently wore a shirt that was missing a button, my company sent out an e-mail reminding everyone about the dress code policy.

* I wish I was someone just a little more funky.

* I woke up on February 2nd and saw my shadow, but I didn't get to sleep for another six weeks. What's up with that?

* I'm still waiting to find out if the true source of the numbers on LOST is none other than Ralph Buckley, the NY State lotto guy.

* I wonder if, somewhere, a percussionist is thinking, “I don't want to drum; I just want to work in this office all day.”

* I believe in living every day like it's my lunch.

* I've been in my mind; it's such a fine line.



Phantasmic Links 2.15.10

It feels good to have survived another Singles Awareness Day, and just in time for Presidents Day! Wow, we have way too many ****ing holidays in this country. On an unrelated note, today is the day of the week on which we always celebrate PHANTASMIC LINKS:

(1) Newsarama offered some great spoofs of that recent ”I Am An Avenger” campaign, and even Geoff Johns got in on the act. But it was Chris Sims' take on the Secret Avengers ads that really had me rolling this week.

(2) Speaking of spoofs, don't get lost or be late on your way to watching Jimmy Fallon's LATE. Brilliant.
Hat Tip: Rey.

(3) I don't know if I'll understand David Lynch's Goofy Movie when it's over, but I'm sure it will creep me out and leave me speculating for years about what it all meant.

(4) Check out one artist's take on the retro robots that once might have been.
H.T.: J-No.

(5) Selleck Waterfall Sandwich, as the name implies, features a series of composites of Tom Selleck, a waterfall, and a sandwich. I don't know why.

(6) One Button Bob proves that a game played with only one button isn't as easy as it sounds....took me 377 clicks.

(7) A mosquito death ray uses precision lasers that hone in on the little fiends' buzzing.

(8) Two guys and 222 t-shirts engage in a stop motion battle.

(9) There are few things I can imagine more beautiful than a Witchblade costume made almost entirely of body paint. Now there’s a dream canvas for any artist.

(10) Master your skills at Abduction, upgrading your ship to harvest humans and cows through five entertaining levels of fun!

Have a link to a game, movie, article, or anything else you think might be “phantasmic”? E-mail me and it just might appear in an upcoming PHANTASMIC LINKS!



WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 30

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 30th WWW:

1) Windtalkers:
This has to be one of Nicolas Cage's better roles, in which he portrays a World War II soldier with a difficult assignment. After being the only survivor in a brutal campaign, he gets himself back in the field by concealing some hearing damage he suffered. In order to keep the Japanese from intercepting our message, we apparently employed the aid of some Navajo Indians. They spoke in their own language, which also had coded phrases. So even if you knew the Navajo word for “turtle”, you might not realize they were using it to refer to a tank. So valuable was this code, that America couldn't risk these assets falling in to enemy hands. Cage and Christian Slater are each paired with a Navajo, but they're protecting the code, not the men. They keep them alive, but if a situation would arise in which capture was imminent, they were sworn to kill them rather than let the Japanese take them. This task becomes increasingly difficult as the men bond in battle and share stories about their families back home. It's probably one of the more brutal depictions of war I've seen, with explosions, limbs flying off, and people burning. It's not pretty, but it's pretty powerful. The Navajo actors are solid, as are Cage, Slater, and Mark Ruffalo. Will Cage be able to carry out his duty? Will he find peace and redeem himself for his first loss? The film does run a little long, but it's other than that it’s not bad.

2) Antwone Fisher:
This is the way to adapt a true story. The real Antwone Fisher survived a traumatic childhood in foster care and spent time in the navy before becoming a security guard on the Sony lot. It was there that he was discovered, and his autobiography adapted by FOX for the big screen. Derek Luke did an outstanding job portraying Fisher, with LOST's Malcolm David Kelley playing him in childhood flashbacks. The film's Fisher is a troubled young man, always getting in fights and on the verge of discharge. Denzel Washington plays the navy therapist who eventually gets through to him, and learns what childhood events shaped and scarred him. Their therapist-patient/surrogate father-son relationship reminded me a little bit of the dynamic in Good Will Hunting. Fisher was born while his mother was in prison, and his father was killed before he was born. He was beaten and abused while in foster care, and never had a true sense of family, only a finite hint of it from a best friend. Washington's character reaches out and breaks through to him, while Fisher helps him as well, becoming like the son they never had. In the end, Fisher is strong enough to seek out not just the people who abused him, but his real family. I won't spoil what happens, but there's a very moving scene that made me appreciate the warmth some families have toward one another. It's a film about finding home in places you didn't expect, and being welcomed in ways in which you could never dream.

3) Against the Ropes:
This is not the way to adapt a true story. The plot, though a decent enough dramatization of the real-life tale of the rise female boxing manager Jackie Kallen, was someone flat and predictable, but it was the script I really had problems with at times. “The world is your oyster and you're a pearl, pretty and tough, and pretty tough can get far in life.” “If he's the gum and you're the shoe, then why does he walk all over you?” I'm roughly paraphrasing because I've already hurled the DVD back into the mailbox, but lines like that had me silently mouthing “Whaaat?” more than once. Meg Ryan portrays Kallen, picking up a gruff accent instead of her usual dulcet tones. As a little girl, she was inspired by her boxing uncle(the guy with the aforementioned corny oyster line), but finds little satisfaction assisting another boxing promoter. It's a man's world, and like characters out of 1930s cinema the villains of the piece are quick to remind her of that fact. Tony Shalhoub is one of these sexist fiends, a mobster with a couple of boxers in his stable, and the only real male support Kallen finds is from a reporter friend who'd be more than friends if she'd just let down her tough exterior. Tim Daly plays the reporter, so we do get a small Wings reunion here. It's not all bad. Kallan gives Shalhoub's character some pointers, and he's so amused and irritated by a woman telling him what to do, he offers to sell her one of his boxers for a dollar. Daly quickly steps in to agree to the deal for her. She's a little nervous about going to a bad neighborhood to meet her new acquisition, so her friend from work (Kerry Washington) comes along for, as her character puts it, “black-up”. Yeah. So they get to this boxer's apartment, and he and another guy are both craving cocaine and demanding, “bitch, where's my ROCK?” because, apparently, black folk. Then out of nowhere, Omar Epps punches down the door and beats the crap out of the two crackheads while Ryan and Washington look on. Rap music plays over this scene because, again, black folk. The ladies flee the scene, but Ryan doubles back, because Epps had a mean left hook. She bails him out of jail after he's arrested, drops him off back in the projects, then hangs around until she can convince him to hear her out. They go grab a bite to eat, and if you guess that they go to a fried chicken place, you already see where this whole sequence is going. Seriously, every racial and gender stereotype imaginable is called upon in this film, rendering both the heroes and villains of the piece ridiculous caricatures of real people. Charles S. Dutton lends some dignity to the piece as Epps' trainer, who leaves his job at the DMV to return to a job he gave up after having a stroke, because he knew Ryan's uncle. Dutton also directed the film. In the end, it's certainly not Rocky or Cinderella Man, but Ryan, Epps and Dutton do give decent performances when not delivering ridiculous lines. There was real potential for an interesting story, especially if they'd followed Kallen's actual life story instead of focusing on a cliché that even includes a slow clap scene at the end, in which even the vilest foes give in and put their hands together for our heroine. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars, but only barely.

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



Yes. No. Maybe?

72 questions.

3 possible answers.

0 elaboration.

Simple enough meme. Have you ever....

1) Been arrested? No.
2) Slept in until 5 PM? No.
3) Fallen asleep at work/school? Maybe.
4) Held a snake? No.
5) Ran a red light? Maybe.
6) Been suspended from school? No.
7) Experienced love at first sight? Maybe.
8) Totaled your car in an accident? No.
9) Been fired from a job? Maybe.
10) Fired somebody? No.
11) Sang karaoke? YES.
12) Pointed a gun at someone? Maybe.
13) Had a gun pointed at you? Maybe.
14) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? Yes.
15) Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? Yes.
16) Caught a snowflake on your tongue? No.
17) Kissed in the rain? Yes.
18) Had a close brush with death (your own)? YES.
19) Seen someone die? Maybe.
20) Played spin-the-bottle? No.
21) Sang in the shower? Yes.
22) Smoked a cigar? Yes.
23) Sat on a rooftop? Yes.
24) Smuggled something into another country? No.
25) Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes? No.
26) Broken a bone? No.
27) Skipped school? Maybe.
28) Eaten a bug? Maybe.
29) Sleepwalked? No.
30) Walked a moonlit beach? Yes.
31) Rode a motorcycle? No.
32) Forgotten your anniversary? No.
33) Lied to avoid a ticket? No.
34) Ridden on a helicopter? No.
35) Shaved your head? Yes.
36) Blacked out from drinking? Maybe.
37) Played a prank on someone? Yes.
38) Hit a home run? No.
39) Felt like killing someone? Maybe.
40) Cross-dressed? No.
41) Been falling-down drunk? Yes.
42) Eaten snake? NO.
43) Marched/Protested? Yes/No.
44) Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? No.
45) Puked on amusement ride? No.
46) Seriously & intentionally boycotted something? No.
47) Been in a band? YES.
48) Knitted? No.
49) Been on TV? Yes.
50) Shot a gun? Maybe.
51) Skinny-dipped? No.
52) Caused someone to have stitches? No.
53) Eaten a whole habanero pepper? No.
54) Ridden a surfboard? No.
55) Drank straight from a liquor bottle? Yes.
56) Had surgery? YES.
57) Streaked? NO.
58) Taken by ambulance to hospital? Yes.
59) Passed out when not drinking? YES.
60) Peed on a bush? No.
61) Donated Blood? Yes.
62) Grabbed an electric fence? No.
63) Eaten cheesecake? Yes.
64) Eaten your kids' Halloween candy? No.
65) Killed an animal when not hunting? No.
66) Peed your pants in public? No.
67) Snuck into a movie without paying? Yes.
68) Written graffiti? Maybe.
69) Still love someone you shouldn't? Maybe.
70) Think about the future? Yes.
71) Been in handcuffs? No.
72) Sleep on a certain side of the bed? No.


My Future Commercial Star Five

God bless Betty White. And Abe Vigoda. I loved seeing these celebrities in their late 80s appear in that Snickers spot; it's genius. I love that both actors are not only still alive, but still active, and it makes me feel old when I make an Abe Vigoda reference and younger people in my office don't know who I'm talking about. It did get me thinking about stars, and generations, and who might show up in a commercial 30 years from now that I'll recognize, but people who are the age I am now will not. If I had a wishlist, these would be My Five future commercial stars:

1) Tom Welling for Real Firewood™:
In the future, when all homes are powered by small nuclear fission reactors and heated by microwaves, there will be a small movement for the natural nostalgia of just tossing a log in the fireplace. Could there be a better spokesperson than the wooden actor who spent 20 years of his career playing a superstrong farmboy on Smallville? He'd be bringing home pre-chopped wood to that familiar farm set, and maybe use his heat vision to light the fireplace, just as Erica Durance showed up on his doorstep for a romantic evening.

2) Robert Knepper for Cocoa Puffs:
With sugary cereals suffering catastrophic losses in a more health conscious environment, you'd have to be crazy to buy any in the year 2040. Enter the 80-year-old former star of Prison Break, Heroes, and an ill-conceived shortlived whitewashed remake of 227. In a bold move, Sonny the Cuckoo Bird would find himself behind bars, and sharing a cell with one Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell, who would lick his lips and utter, “I'm creepy for those Cocoa Puffs of yours, Pretty...” in that cajun accent of his. Yeah, it'd be odd and disturbing, but if Robert Loggia could show up in a Minute Maid commercial, then anything is possible.

3) Keifer Sutherland for Halls Cough Drops:
His voice stuck in a whisper after 18 years of alternately whispering and screaming “DAMNIT!” as Jack Bauer in 24 and the 7 theatrical films that followed the hit television series, he would credit being able to speak at all without being in excruciating pain to the new extra-strength cough drop, with 50% more alcohol.

4) Neil Patrick Harris for Discount Armani:
Thanks to God's strange sense of irony, Neil might not appreciate all the females Barney Stinson might attract in his trademark suits, but when a failing economy makes the most expensive ones finally affordable to the average Joe, you can bet he'd be the perfect spokesperson for single, overweight 65-year-olds improbably still living at home. With an Armani, I'd be surrounded by fawning women just like that guy in the commercial!

5) Evangeline Lilly for LOST Mudd:
I know she looks good now. I know she's probably still going to look good at 60(sidenote: I'm older than her too? WTH?) I know she's done cosmetics ads before, and I know she looks good covered in strategically placed bits of mud on the island. So it only makes sense for her to promote some skincare product purportedly taken from the rare soil of the fictitious island, mixed with water from that island's fountain of youth or Lazarus Pit or whatever that is in the weird temple. It could probably inspire a whole line of beauty products based on a show that people continued to talk about 30 years after it went off the air. There could be a black smoke facial steamer, or DHARMA branded vitamins. The possibilities are as limited as my pop culture-addled imagination and Ms. Lilly's timeless beauty. Of course, with my luck, she'd probably still prefer Neil Patrick Harris. Maybe by 2040, they’ll sell Android Evangelline Lillys too...