Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Communists are red and pointy

January 16, 2007

I remember getting quite excited about an ad, ostensibly from the RIAA, meant to dissuade people from downloading MP3s.  This was about six years ago and I hadn’t really thought of it since.  But something triggered the memory and I looked it up and, yes, still funny:



Movie acting

October 13, 2006

An interesting article over at Cineaste asks “What is Great Acting? in the context of film”  While the answers it provides are perhaps a little vague, I’m glad that someone is at least asking the question.  People identify “great” and “bad” actors all the time without ever really analyzing what it is that makes them respond that way.

Is it “great acting” when Jack Nicholson shouts in A Few Good Men?  Or is it so affecting only because Aaron Sorkin wrote him some good lines.  Is great acting nothing more than choosing good roles?

Is it great acting when Woody Allen plays himself in Annie Hall?  It’s a convincing and touching performance; does it matter that the character is little different from the actor (or anyway, the actor’s public persona)?  Is there anything inherently wrong with creating an effective persona to be used again and again in a variety of roles?

And if editing does most of the work (as shown by Lev Kuleshov) and the specific role does the rest, is Sean Penn’s emoting really any better than Keanu Reeves’s blank stare?

Audience work

September 14, 2006

It’s hard not to feel like a failure as a human when you’re getting paid minimum wage to sit in a game show audience. It doesn’t help if you’re surrounded by a bunch of failed actors, a few of whom are still keeping it together, dressing nicely and bringing a book for the hours of downtime, but most of whom have simply given up on life. It also doesn’t help when the game show in question is taping its first episode and is still a technical disaster. It also doesn’t help that the game show, called “The Rich List,” seems ready to be a complete failure, with its awkward format, silly set, and mildly charming Irish host who kept asking us if we could understand him.

At least I didn’t cave and get paid $14 to watch the Carson Daly show.


August 21, 2006

One of my favorite bands, Yo La Tengo, is playing Los Angeles in October.  I’m moving out there on Thursday, so I figured my first, preemptive act as an LA resident would be to buy tickets.  Because I want my new life in LA to have at least as much Yo La Tengo as my life in New Jersey (both the band and I are from NJ, but I’ve only managed to see them once, and that was in New York).

Anyway, the tickets cost $20 each.  I tried to buy two.  Even though I’ve grown accustomed to Ticketmaster’s gouging, I was shocked at the total: $66.35.  That includes a building facility charge, an order processing charge, a convenience charge, and a delivery charge (in which I pay for them to send an email so that I can print the tickets out using my own ink and paper; to have real tickets actually mailed costs at least $15.00).  The building charge I can accept, even though it should be wrapped up in the initial price and not tacked on.  The latter three fees clearly have some overlap though.  Which part is convenient?  Isn’t the emailed delivery the convenient part?  If it’s so convenient why am I paying for it twice?  Maybe the fact that I’m getting to order the tickets while sitting on my ass is convenient.  But then “processing charge” would cover that.  Is the phrase “convenience charge” actually an admission that they aren’t really doing anything?  Couldn’t they be bothered to make something up to make me feel better?  Like “bandwidth charge” or “licensing fee.”  That at least sounds like I’m paying for something specific.

Pickup lines

August 11, 2006

My favorite ever pickup line, as written by Jane Espenson, is:

“It’s ludicrous to have these interlocking bodies and not interlock. Please remove your clothing now.”

While it wasn’t exactly conceived for this usage, the next time I’m at a bar, I’m going to try it out. I’ll let you know how it goes.

A Scanner Darkly

August 10, 2006


The latest Philip K. Dick adaptation has the unusual distinction of being perhaps the first film ever to feature half its plot development after the climax.  By which point I’d stopped caring.

I was sucked into A Scanner Darkly’s paranoid, twitchy world quickly; in the first scene we watch a drug addict try to wash himself clean of the bugs he feels crawling all over his skin.  “They’re aphids,” he says to a friend. “I looked it up.”  Having been adequately disoriented/entertained, I sat back and waited for the story to begin.

And waited.

And waited.

I got lots of background info in that time.  The story is set seven years in the future when 20% of the population has become addicted to a drug called Substance D.  We follow a group of semi-intellectual, conspiracy-obsessed burnouts, and a drug enforcement agent who is monitoring them.  But nothing particularly interesting happens to either camp.  The burnouts (Woody Harrelson, Rory Cochrane, and Robert Downey Jr.) have a few skewed, hilarious, go-nowhere exchanges about bike gears and car engines, but they could equally be seen as irritating depending on your tolerance for drug-addled idiots who won’t shut up.  That, along with the still-intriguing rotoscoping gimmick, was enough to keep me from yawning, but after an hour or so, I was thirsting for a story.

Who is this Bob Arctor character?  Why should I care?  Why does Keanu Reeves look so bored playing him?  Why does Winona Ryder not even get a character to play?

Of Richard Linklater’s numerous talky and aimless efforts, this is the worst since Slacker.

Search engine terms

August 3, 2006

One of my favorite parts of having this blog is checking every day to see what search engine terms led people here. Except for the handful who came here looking to learn about “poptimism” (and who were quickly referred to a different site), I doubt if I’ve provided a single person with the information they were searching for.

A number of people in the past few days have come here looking for some combination of the words “hump,” “sex” and “dog.” Probably they wanted something a bit more exciting than my little story, but I hope they enjoyed it anyway.

Quite a few came here by searching for “Roger Taylor.” I’m flattered that Google’s algorithm has seen fit to rank me ahead of all but two dozen pages concerning the two rock drummers of the same name (one from Queen, the other from Duran Duran; it’s quite the drummerly name), and I apologize to all those who are starting to realize that I’m not nearly British enough to be the Roger Taylor they were looking for.

The term that has led the most people to this blog is “hotsun,” which is odd, because it isn’t a word. I can only assume it was searched for by readers who’d been here before and were trying to find their way back, or by people interested in the Chinese plastic/sack maker Wenzhou Hotsun. If you are interested in Chinese plastic and sack making, I’m sorry to inform you that this blog currently has very little to do with either plastic or sacks.

My favorite so far? Two people on the same day ended up reading this blog after searching for “stupidest guy ever.” That makes me prouder than it probably should.


August 1, 2006

When I was a pre-teen and my growing brain made independent thought a more likely possibility, I first expressed my distaste for sunlight. It’s hot and uncomfortable and it hurts your eyes and it makes driving dangerous and there’s nothing particularly nice about.

“He must be going through his difficult stage,” relatives would say, and I looked down to see if somehow I’d accidently slipped into a goth outfit.

These days I’m still written off as difficult, but those around me are beginning to accept that it probably isn’t a temporary assignment.

All because I don’t like sunlight. Oh, I understand the necessity of the stuff. Life on Earth and all that. I just don’t like to be directly under it. Clouds are nice. Ceilings are lovely. I quite like nighttime, and not just because I like to boogie.

And why is that bad? How is that evidence of a disturbed personality? The amazing thing is that everytime I have a conversation about the matter with someone — and inevitably they defend the sun and call me a sour puss — the other person proves completely unable to provide any semblance of rationalization for their belief that a sunny day is a “nice” day. One opinion (i.e. mine) is based on logic and an acute understanding of human desire and the world at large. The other is based either on mass psychosis or some kind of cultural hiccup, or maybe just a desire to us the phrase “sour puss.”