Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When Will It Ever End?

Saw the documentary Inside Job about the causes behind the economic collapse we find ourselves in the midst of.

This is what the documentary form is for. It lays out, clearly, what Wall Street and its enablers did to, well, fuck the global economy. It names names, is non-partisan, goes to the trouble of finding the news footage of the official hearings, and nails a few bastards to the wall on camera.

This is one of those documentaries that if I were a teacher in a high school, I'd show it to all of my classes. Twice. Once at the start of the year and once at the end. To say this is a "must-see" would be nothing but an understatement.

If something like this played out in a small town, the perpetrators would have that clammy moment of terror when the squeak of brakes is heard out front of the house, the view out the front window is several men with grim expressions climbing out of the back of a pickup bristling with guns, glancing up and down the street to see who might be watching, while two of them walk to the front door. Things are not going to go well for the person in the house.

The evil done by the men and women as outlined in Inside Job is the scandal of our age. The kicker is NONE of them has been brought to justice, and given the fact that they made sure no regulations existed around what they did with derivatives and then with executive bonuses, there may be no way to do anything about it in America. Europe has already moved to regulate this shit out of existence, which may be American's only hope, since about the only thing that can be done here is to hope those in power would shun them, but that's not what's happened.

Maybe enough outrage will come from those who've seen Inside Job, or read any of the books that outline the egregious evil visited upon the world, and our legislators will do something about it. Maybe it'll take the European courts and justice system to bring these people to justice.

It sickens me to even have to write that as an American.

What sickens me more, though, is we are in the middle of yet another fuck-over by Wall Street, and seemingly nothing's being done about that, either. The current price of gas prices is due to bullshit "speculation" by Wall Street, which directly parallels what Enron did back in the day that caused rolling brownouts on the West Coast. Why do we allow this immoral, evil shit to occur? Again, if America were a small town, Wall Street would suddenly show up dead on mainstreet, and everyone would be good with that. (Btw, I'm not advocating or suggesting vigilantism; my point is the sheer wrongness would not go unaddressed were it to happen on a smaller scale.)

According to this article, we have regulations that could be invoked to stop this. Right now. So why isn't it happening? (Yes, that's a rhetorical question.) Here and here are a couple more articles of interest.

My only quibble with the flick is they regularly display information as a block of text rather than have the narrator, Matt Damon, read it. It's in teeny tiny text, as well, which would be readable in a theatre, but even on a good-sized set, it is difficult to read.

(Re the title: I quote the line in the spirit of the lyric from the Monty Python song, "Here Comes Another One," resigned acknowledgement of the silliness and seriousness of the matter at hand.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Catfish, plus other movies and ephemera

Note: Absolutely no spoilers in this post.

If this is the first thing you're reading about the documentary Catfish, make sure you read nothing else. See it cold. Do not have anything spoiled for you if you've manage to avoid any thus far. I didn't link to any other info about it for that reason. If you hunt for Catfish the documentary, chances are you'll get it. Here's what the box looks like:

The only thing I'll reveal - that is still not a spoiler - is it resonated with recent ruminations of mine around internet identity, particularly anonymity. Which appears to be a topic that's on other's minds as well: here and here.

This is one of the most touching, human documentaries I've seen in a while.

Oh, and speaking of documentaries, if you get a chance, make sure you catch How to Die in Oregon. Though, if you've lost someone to cancer recently, you may want to wait.

In other movie news, The Opinionated Homeschooler (she's back! yay!) asked why I didn't see Thor. After seeing The Green Lantern, I've re-discovered something I realized back when I read actual comic books: you like the ones you like and the rest are just lame. Or, the premise of the super hero clicks with you or not.

I didn't read many of the main superheroes as a kid because I found most of them silly, particularly Batman. A guy in a suit? With his little teenage orphan adoptee in another goofier suit? Hey, I'm here for the super powers. I read Superman, though I tired of all the alternate universes and stories that spanned two years worth of comic books, with an "Ed. note: See issue #425." every other panel to help you keep track of the story, a near impossibility. Spiderman was fun because the stories were usually self-contained and he was a smart-ass; and don't get me started about Mary Jane who probably launched her fair share of pre-pubescent boners. X-Men was and is laughable because all of their mutant powers are deus ex machina on crack. Need to walk through walls and freeze balls? We've got that mutant right here!

My favorites were: E-man (his girlfriend was a stripper!) along with Rog-2000 - a recurring co-feature, Fantastic Four (a babe, two smart-asses and a nice dad, what's not to like?), the She-Hulk (it was so soft-core, given the issues with ripping out of clothes), the Man-Thing (like Swamp Thing but uglier, scarier, and more existential - like Hamlet without the ability to soliloquy) , and the Harvey comics characters.

My brother and I benefited from the unique circumstance that my grandmother was best friends with another elderly lady who loved comic books, and she ordered so many the local drug store that stocked comics let her tack on the ones she wanted to their order, and she loved the Harvey characters. Casper was kinda interesting at times, and Hot Stuff the Little Devil was surreal, especially when some adults adopted his visage as the representation of a badass.

So, to circle around to The Opinionated Homeschooler's question, Thor never struck me, har har. I didn't like comics that had no levity whatsoever. The couple times I thumbed through a copy, it looked grim, dull, and (though I wouldn't have been able to articulate it at the time) somewhat homoerotic. Though having read "Little Dot" and "Wendy the Good Little Witch" I probably wouldn't have much of a defense of the machismo level of my reading at the time.

Iron Man? Another guy in a suit. Meh.

Now, I enjoyed the Green Lantern movie that's fresh out; his abilities have a similarity to E-man, my all-time fave. And I've loved the Iron Man and Batman movies. I even enjoyed the X-Men flicks, thought still rolled my eyes at the convenience of having a mutant who does just what's needed right when it's needed. I will see Thor when it's out on DVD, prolly.

None of those worked for me on the page, though.

I find myself synchronicitly in the midst of a Ryan Reynolds movie festival (he being the star of The Green Lantern).

I picked up The Nines simply because I've like most of his work so far, save for what was supposed to have been his vehicle to stardom, Van Wilder. His character in Blade III essentially is the movie. (In one of the most inexplicable take-downs ever published, Salon offers an extended snark on why Reynolds shouldn't even be a movie star, which skirts libel, imho.)

Anyway, The Nines was a pleasant surprise. Again, no spoilers, and this is one of those you should see totally cold if you're going to see it, but of all the unique twists in this flick, the actress Melissa McCarthy is the biggest (forgive me, Lord). You NEVER see a fat person as one of the major characters in a flick, outside of John Goodman. McCarthy is so damn funny and charming she outshines Reynolds, which is surprising since his main gift as an actor is the synergy of those two qualities. Her first line acknowledging that she's fat made me laugh so hard I had to rewind to catch the next few lines.

In researching The Nines, I came across several other Reynolds films I missed, and have them queued up at the library. I'll keep you posted.

Thus far my favorite, and my family's favorite movie this summer is Super 8. You've seen the plot before, but then again, you'd seen the plot of J.J. Abram's Star Trek reboot before, too, and that was a blast, right?

TLD: Again with the synchronicity: Elle Fanning is one of the stars of Super 8, and I had seen both it and The Green Lantern before I saw The Nines. It was weird seeing the two stars of the big summer movies together in an older one, particularly given the subject matter of The Nines.

One thing that's wonderful about Super 8 is the actors are given room to act. There are whole portions of the story that just play across someone's face without them having to spit dialogue back and forth. I hadn't seen that in a while and it was refreshing.

And, like Star Trek, Abram's writing throws the characters into situations where you are frightened, thrilled, and laughing all at the same time. That's a gift, my friend.

If it's still in a theatre near you, go now. At least put it on your Netflix queue.

I'll say it again (as it's the theme of this post) see it COLD! Don't let anyone tell you a single thing about it. Don't read anything. Btw, this movie is OK for kids 10 and over. Or even 8 and older if they're more mature, can handle some scares, and you don't mind them hearing some mild profanity that nearly every TV show drops anymore.

Which brings us to Drive Angry, apparently yet another bid by Nicolas Cage to find a super-hero franchise. And failing yet again.

Yeah, it's mildly fun, but it's such a hard R that is so obviously inappropriately directed at teenage boys, moral prudes like me will find it off-putting. One sex scene was go graphic, my wife and I both gasped, and she asked me what it was rated. This is not a spoiler, because screwing so often is not a plot point, and it ain't here.

But, here's what you see: he's sitting, clothed (which is a plot point), and she's lying on her back pistoning her hips up and down. I've surfed past the porn on the free premium channel of the month that showed less. It dawned on me later they must've digitally removed her vulva, because you see it clearly, but there's not the standard topography of the same, which would've been visible in an un-altered shot. Instead it's smooth like a Barbie doll. Still, the scene is so graphic, I wonder how they got away with an R rating.

I see on imdb.com that it was originally in 3D, which explains some of the scenes, including the one above. While all 3D movies have the gratuitous 3D scenes, this one appears to have been created nearly completely out of scenes that would look cool in 3D, but are flat otherwise.

So, if you don't mind over-the-top sex and violence with your bubble gum, and can imagine how cool it would've looked in 3D, you might enjoy the time spent. Don't expect Tarantino though.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fun Meme - Your First Album

1 - Go to wikipedia and hit random. The title of the first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
2 - Go to quotationspage.com and hit random. The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.
3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”. Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
4 - Use photoshop, GIMP, or similar (picnik.com) to put it all together.

Here's mine:

There is a band or two really named "The Now" and if you're in that band, feel free to use the above; though you'll want to get permission on the image from here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Trivial Post on Pop Trivia

Came across some new rock/pop trivia - and being the Cliff Claven of the same, thought I'd share it with you:

- Paul Simon took the phrase of “Mother and Child Reunion” (for both song title and lyric) from a menu selection on a Chinatown restaurant where chicken and eggs were served together. [RS 1130, pp. 63.] Fitting for a happy-sounding song about a dark thing: "this sad and mournful day."

- Paul McCartney is a good friend of Simon's, and called him up on his 64th birthday and said, "I'm sorry, but this has to be done," and sang "When I'm Sixty-Four." [RS 1130, pp. 56.] Can you imagine one of The Beatles calling you on your 64th and singing to you?

- "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" was about breaking up with Shelley Duvall, and the lyrics were inspired by advice from Lorne Michaels (of SNL fame). [RS 1130, pp. 63.] And here I thought it was about Carrie Fisher. However, most of Hearts and Bones (one of me fave albums of all time) is about the Princess.

The name "The Beatles" was partially derived from their love of Buddy Holly and The Crickets – they are essentially named after The Crickets. (Don't recall where I read this.)