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January 30, 2008
Snippet of Dialog I am Parking Here Until I Get Around to Writing That Screenplay
Guy 1: What have you been up to?
Guy 2: Looking and lots and lots of pictures of gunshot wounds.
Guy 1: What for?
Guy 2: I'm studying. Pre-med.
Guy 1: Ah. Going to be a doctor, eh?
Guy 2: No, I meant premeditated murder.
The Presidental Race Tightens
Two candidates abandoned their bids for the White House, today.
First, Rudy "9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11" Giuliani, who was the national frontrunner as recently as four months ago:
Some say that he ran a poor campaign, but I think the whole thing was a painstakingly orchestrated business move. Having learned, in wake of September 11th, that he could make astronomical speaking fees for being associated with disaster, he figured another debacle on his resume could only help.
And we also bid farewell to John "Wait, you're running for president?" Edwards:
Edwards said the decision to withdraw was a tough one, but he wanted to devote more time to his 2012 presidential campaign.
January 29, 2008
What X is For, According to Squiggle's Reading Primers Written by Authors Who Apparently Dismissed "Xylophone" as Hackneyed
The 2008 Create Your Own Oscar Pool Page
The 2008 Create Your Own Oscar Pool Page is live.
If you notice anything amiss-bugs, broken links, wrong nominees, typos--mention it in the comments, or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 28, 2008
Sometime people who read my site ask for advice. I guess that's redundant--obviously anyone who asks me for advice would have to be a reader, as anyone who has met me in real life would know better.
Long time reader here... I'm in SC and an pretty much an independent in terms of politics. I chose not to vote in the Republican primary as all of them turn my stomach and will vote in this Saturday's Democratic primary instead. I am thinking of my vote as more of a vote against Hillary than a vote for anyone. What are your thoughts in terms of this and who do you think is the lesser of two evils: Edwards or Obama? I am leaning towards Edwards, the bajillionaire attorney suckling on the teet of Big Tobacco vs Obama. Anyway, I actually find your insight on politics more understandable, interesting, and insightful than the most pundits. So if you could spare a moment and share your thoughts, that'd be great. :)My reply:
Hi!At least I was conscientious enough to send my advice today, after South Carolina primary, to make it unactionable.
By the way, I'm completely sympathetic to the idea that people ought to be able to vote for whomever they choose, even for someone (like Edwards) who seemingly doesn't have a hope of winning. I agree! People ought to be able to do that! But the point is largely academic until this nation implements instant runoff voting, something I would love to see in my lifetime.
January 24, 2008
AFI 100: King Kong
I'm only and hour into the 100 minute King Kong, but I'm so bored that I figured I may as well start typing. According to the AFI, this film is one of cinema's "greatest," but, to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, I do not think that word means what they think it means. I'm guessing that, in this case, the ol' double-k got the nod for being one of the most influential films of all time, but lord knows that 's not the same as greatness. Needless to say the special effects are outmoded, but I don't hold that against the film. After all, the quality of a movie shouldn't be judged by the caliber of its effects--which is exactly the point: strip them away from King Kong and you're not left with much. The acting ranges from workaday to wretched, and while the plot is moderately interesting, the middle third, which serves only to showcase the Amazing Stopmotion Animation!!!, is interminable if you don't find the f/x breathtaking. I will give the film props for lethality, though: I assumed that all death in this film would take place off camera, if at all, but, no, kong fucks up half a battalion of folks with extreme prejudice. The subtext of the film--that the real monsters are the humans, while Kong just wants to live in peace--is intriguing; too bad the filmmaker doesn't do much with it. Maybe Peter Jackson utilizes the material better in his 2005 remake. 5/10.
Yeah, chickened out of watching Sophie's Choice this week. I will try to work up the nerve to do so next.
January 22, 2008
Oscar Pool Page
Yes, I'll set it up the Do-it-yourself Oscar Pool Page again this year. It will be online Friday. Ha! Who am I kidding? It will likely be online Monday.
January 21, 2008
Thank The Maker
To: Matthew Baldwin
I made this last night after walking past the movie poster for Fool's Gold and thinking there was something odd looking about Kate Hudson. When I suddenly figured out what it was, my partner wasn't buying my theory, so to make my case I had to "augment" the image to bring out its true spirit.
Now I'm no photoshop wiz, so I was pretty pleased with the way this one came out. I wanted to share it with more people, but it's so nerdy! Also, I don't have a blog. Anyway I thought you'd appreciate it! Feel free to post it as a reader contribution, though please don't credit me if you do.
I don't understand why someone would decline credit for this, but I'm not one to say no to free content.
January 18, 2008
AFI 100: Bringing Up Baby & City Lights
It was Ye Olde Tymey Romantick Comedy night in the Baldwin household this evening.
Bringing Up Baby: Knowing nothing about this film beyond the title, I assumed it was just the "oh no, we're pregnant!" film of its era, a 1938 version of Knocked Up minus the lingering shots of Seth Rogen's ass. As it turns out, "Baby," in this case, is a leopard, which the brother of Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) has sent from Brazil to Connecticut as a gift to -- ahh, you know what? The leopard doesn't really matter. It's really just one of this screwball comedy's endless MacGuffins designed to throw Vance and Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) into a succession of zany situations. Lots of funny scenes (this restaurant bit, particularly from 5:37 on, is particularly inspired) and great lines ("Susan, you've got to get out of this apartment!" Huxley exclaims when he discovers the leopard in her room. "I can't," Vance explains, "I've got a lease."), but very little plot to tie it all together. Hypothetically the narrative is Huxley and Vance falling in love, but as Vance loves Huxley at first sight and Huxley is never given a reason to want to spend another moment, much less the rest of his life, in the company of Vance (aside from the fact that she's Katharine Freakin' Hepburn, obviously), this framing device is paper thin. Thus, the film feels less like a long, funny story and more like a standup comedy routine, a series of setup-straightline-punchline scenes just gummed together with a resolution tacked onto the end for the sake of closure. Which is fine, but wears thin at around the 45 minute mark--about half this film's running time. 6.5/10
City Lights: I was prepared to stoically endure this Charlie Chaplin "comedy" for the sake of checking it off my list, but holy smokes, I can't remember the last film that made me laugh this hard. Chaplin is so masterful that the gags succeed even when you see them coming a mile away--you know what the joke is going to be, but nothing can prepare you for Chaplin's sublime execution (e.g., the "Spaghetti Scene", which starts at 2:10 in this clip). Slapstick usually leaves me cold (I've never understood the appeal of the Three Stooges, for instance), but Chaplin imbues each pratfall with so much humanity that you feel like watching a close friend fall through an open manhole--now that's funny! I could level the same charge against City Lights that I did against Bringing Up Baby--it's more of a collection of sketches than a cohesive narrative--but the central premise, Chaplin falling for a blind flower girl, is so bittersweet that it pervaded every shot, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Plus, the final scene is amazing. 8/10
The next film in the AFI 100 Project will be ... oh, god. Sophie's Choice. If I'm going to break this resolution, I guess now's the time to do it.
January 17, 2008
Raising an autistic child is a little different than raising a neurotypical. For instance, the other day The Queen and I had this exchange:
Me: Squiggle is getting really good at talking to strangers.And today there was this:
Me: How was the library?In other words, we work hard to inculcate in Squiggle the same behaviors and emotional responses that the mass media seems determined to eradicate from everyone else.
January 16, 2008
Books: A Day In the Life
So I'm at a get-together the other day, and someone mentions The Beatles, and someone else asks, "When did 'The Beatles' really start to exist? Is it when Ringo joined the group? When John, Paul, and George got together? When John and Paul met?"
And I said, "Really, The Beatles, as an entity, consisted of five people, and would be 'The Beatles' in name alone without any one of them. Those five people were John, Paul, George, Ringo, and George Martin, who produced most of their albums, as well as scoring the orchestral backups and often playing instruments on individual songs. Martin enters the equation in 1962, and The Beatles' first recording session with him was in November of that year. One month later the "Love Me Do" single was released. So, in my opinion, The Beatles, as we now know them, began in late 1962."
Whoa! Check out the big brain on Baldwin!
It helped, I suppose, that I'd just finished reading the book A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles the day prior to this conversation. Truth be told, a month ago I knew pretty much nothing about The Beatles. I was born a year after McCartney announced the dissolution of the group, and although I owned the White Album while attending college (as required by law), never really listened to it much.
In fact, it was the commission of a mortifying Beatles-related faux pas on my part that inspired me to read the book in the first place. I casually mentioned that I thought "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" was pretty catchy and received a fusillade of derision, with comments ranging from "you know, that's pretty much universally acknowledged as the worst Beatles song" to "I really like McCartney, but that one makes me want to beat him with a tire iron."
Humiliated, I resolved to listen to hundreds of hours of The Beatles compositions until I, too,developed a highly refined appreciation of their discography and legacy. Or, read a book about them. One of the two.
Fortunately, in opting for the latter option, I picked a book that served as a passable substitute for the former. Author Mark Hertsgaard bills A Day In the Life as the only book that focuses foremost on the music, rather than the celebrity, of the Fab Four. He does this by alternating between chapters devoted to specific albums and chapters covering some other aspect of Beatology. For example, chapter 13 covers the Rubber Soul album, chapter 14 discusses the role George Martin played behind the scenes, chapter 15 looks at the 1966 release Revolver, 16 investigates their drug use, and so on.
Though the topics are arranged semi-chronologically (their experimentations with mind-altering drugs really did began between their Rubber Soul and Revolve LPs, for instance), each chapter is largely self-contained. Thus, the book reads like a collection of essays rather than as a single narrative, a format I preferred. It's unlikely I could have pulled off that "let me tell you a little something about George Martin" stunt if all of the information pertinent to my argument has been strewn over 400 pages instead of confined to chapter 14.
Hertsgaard sometimes gets a little carried away in his enthusiasm for the band--reading some of his fervent descriptions of their early pop singles and then listening to the songs in questions is like a summer of overhyped blockbuster movies that fail to meet you wildly unrealistic expectations. And his "album-chapters" occasionally got a little too in-depth for my liking, sometimes going so far as to rhapsodize about a single note or passage in a song. And yet the non-album chapters were uniformly riveting. In fact, A Day In The Life was a compulsive read for me. When the fractures between The Beatles began to appear, I was less sad that the band was going to break up than I was that the book was going to end.
In conclusion: YOU SHUT UP OB-LA-DI OB-LA-DA IS A GREAT SONG!!
January 15, 2008
These Fancy Feast commercials are essentially porn movies for lonely librarians. The idea that your cat would condescend to sit in your lap and be cuddled after receiving some cod-flavored glop is about as far-fetched as the Comcast guy having sex with a beautiful woman because he fixed her cable.
January 14, 2008
defective yeti is six years old and still going
January 11, 2008
AFI 100: The Last Picture Show
Plowing through all of these old movies, I expected most to be tame and staid. Perhaps the rest are, but The Last Picture Show sure ain't. Larry McMurtry meditation on sex and death in a small, Southern town is pretty much just a hodgepodge of scandals all intertwined into a two hour narrative. The black and white cinematography and stilted delivery of lines in the first 15 minutes made me think this movie has been made shortly after the day in which it is set, 1951, but it rapidly becomes far more risque than that era would have allowed. (In reality, it was made in 1971--a fact that became apparent to me when I started recognizing actors, such as an impossibly young Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd.) Featuring a stellar performance by Ben Johnson, a fine balance of humor and pathos, and the most awkward sex scene I've seen on film, I can see why The Last Picture Show (just barely) made the AFI 100 list. 7.5/10 ... but I'll throw in another .5 for Cybill Shepherd's cans.
January 10, 2008
I had a racquetball game this afternoon against an opponent I was sure I had faced before on the ladder. He said otherwise. "No, I'm good with faces," he assured me. "I'd remember if we'd played."
Still, I was fairly confident that, not only that we'd met prior, but that there was something distinctly memorable about him, some unique characteristic that was eluding me at the moment.
Five minutes into the game it all came back to me.
And so, an open letter to the U.S. Racquetball Association:
January 09, 2008
The AFI 100 Project
I just discovered that, late last year, the American Film Institute revised their List of the 100 Greatest Movies of All-Time [pdf]. Looking over the list, I was a little surprised at how many I have never seen.
Here's the breakdown, with films I've seen in green, films I haven't seen in red, and films I have seen but don't really recall well in yellow:
January 08, 2008
The Queen IMs me at work:
January 07, 2008
The Iowa Caucuses
How about them Iowa Caucuses, huh?
In victory speech, Barak Obama called last Thursday "a defining moment in history"--presumably because it marked the first occasion in which a political prediction of mine actually came to pass. Although I said he'd win by "a significant (if not sizable) margin in Iowa," and winning by eight percentage points strikes me as fairly sizable, so perhaps I'm still batting .000 after all.
After Obama's speech, the NPR pundits were predicting GOP fratricide in the wake of Huckabee's victory, and I had a lovely little daydream about all the Republican candidates turning on one another with such virulence that they somehow all lose, allowing Obama to waltz into the Oval office unchallenged. Sort of like a modern day "Millions Of Cats":
Hell, maybe he could just adopt that as his campaign slogan.
Many assumed that my calling the election for Obama implied that I was rooting for him. Well, I am, kinda. But only because my first choice, Gore, has decided to spend this election home playing Blocksum on his three 30" monitors; my second choice, Dodd, has, after a year of campaigning, managed to become as widely known as the gaffer on Daddy Day Camp; and my third choice, Edwards, has as much chance of getting elected president as I do of opening a line of Southern California Taco Trucks called "defective yummy" ("We Put The Eat Into Burrito!").
Edwards was my man in 2004, and I still contend that he c
Still, of all the contenders (now that Dodd and Biden have dropped out), I think he'd make the best president. (Well, perhaps not as good as Hillary, but I have ruled her out for other reasons.) He has the experience Obama lacks, and the seriousness that just about everyone on everyone on the Republican side, save perhaps McCain and Paul, openly eschews. By "seriousness," I mean that he has clearly thought about what he would do as president, and not just about how to get to be president. Check out this recent New York Times Interview with Edwards, for instance, or the issues page on his website. I get the sense that Edwards views the presidency as a job, and not just a plum.
Sadly, the media has this completely backwards, dismissing him as the lightweight in the race. And Edwards has largely brought this onto himself, with his relentless smile and a "sunny optimism" shtick that's easily confused with blinkered shallowness. That kind of showmanship may have worked well in the courtroom, but here it has proven a total dud.
Anyway, I think Edwards may have served his purpose in this race: by edging Hillary out in Iowa by a fraction of a percent, he relegated her to "third" and made Obama seem much, much more the frontrunner than if she had come in second. That's of enormous significance to the dynamic of the race, but probably the only thing of consequence Fate has in store for the Edwards campaign. He's not going to be the protagonist of this story, alas, just a plot device.
I'd be happy to see Obama in the White House, though perhaps as a vice president first. Much of my reservations came while reading his book, The Audacity Of Hope, which is mostly written in the "Cowardly Journalist," on-the-one-hand, on-the-other style of using a lot of words to say very little. His dissertation on the filibuster, for instance, is, like:
By the way, I tried to read Al Gore's most recent book, FATAL REASON ASSAULT IV: THE DUMBENING or whatever it's called, and gave up on page 30, when I hit the line, "It was the new technology itself that empowered Galileo to describe a reality that was impossible to perceive so clearly until the new technology of the telescope made it possible," one of many that was so bad that I could have written them. The guy has an Oscar and a Nobel Prize--you'd think we could rustle himself up an editor as well.
"It's really impossible to overstate Chuck Norris' impact on this race," one pundit opined after Huckabee's win in Iowa. And it's also impossible to overstate the impact of Chuck Norris jokes in re-elevating Chuck Norris to the public consciousness.
This is the most influence an Internet meme has ever had, at least until Obama names Leslie Hall as Secretary of the Treasury.
I don't know if you saw it, but before the Iowa Caucus Rudy Giuliani released the most fearmongering ad of the campaign.
After coming in fifth there, though, he decided to release this new ad, to really drive home the central theme of his campaign:
NO WAIT STOP DON'T WATCH THE ABOVE VIDEO!!!!
It's ... okay, I'll just tell you. It contains Screaming Zombie Lady. You know, that asinine clip where you watch something relaxing and then all the sudden it becomes a scene of a ghoul shrieking at volume 12 and you shit your pants and have to leave work early to go get a new pair of Dockers? Yeah, it's that one. If you insist on watching it, set the youtube volume to as low as it can go and still be audible. I wanted to spring it on you, but ... I couldn't bring myself to do it. Bah. I'm such a pussy.