Friday, September 30, 2005

Things to do if you like space cowboys.

- OK, if any of you are surprised that the first thing I mention to do this week is SERENITY, then you obviously haven't read my blog in the last month. Prior to buying the DVDs for the space Western FIREFLY, I was interested in watching this movie because it's the first Joss Whedon-directed movie. And since the show FIREFLY completely ruled beyond even my expectations, then this mention should come as no surprise to you. From what I understand, the plot of FIREFLY is summed up in the first few minutes of SERENITY so that those of you who are going in it without previous knowledge of the show should be OK. The reviews say it's better than the latest STAR WARS movies, which I expected, and that the dialogue and character development are as strong as anything you'd expect from BUFFY creator Joss Whedon. Plus, the movie seems to be all about the ENDER'S GAME-ish story of River Tam, a prodigy who escaped a government facility after they were experimenting on her for unknown reasons. Besides, there are plenty of hot-looking people in this. This movie, more than anything, should be lots of goofy fun. (And all it needs to do to become a franchise to recoup about $40 million, which isn't much in box office terms, so you can all do me a personal favor by going to the theater this weekend and finding SERENITY.)
- I don't know why I think it would be fun to get lost in a cornfield with my friends, but I'm always looking for unique things to do around the city. This definitely qualifies. Cagle's Dairy Maize, located north of Atlanta outside the Perimeter, has reopened its giant cornfield maze for the season, and I really, really want to get a group of friends together to traverse it. I think Edmondson's in. And Shalewa. (I'm not suggesting that we all do some sort of CHILDREN OF THE CORN thing - though, if we accidentally become a murderous clan that, I'm totally gonna be Isaac or Malachai.) I was thinking that this was the closest we were ever going to get to visiting a hedge maze, which I've always wanted to do. And the Maize, in this case, is 50 acres, which is amazing. There's bound to be several good anecdotes created by placing a group of my friends together in a maze of corn. We have to go.
- Gregory Maguire's SON OF A WITCH, the sequel to his almost-perfect WICKED, gets us back to his version of Oz this week. This one, though, doesn't follow the Wicked Witch of the West, for she's already melted. This book, obvious from the clever title, follows her rumored son Liir as he tries to discover if he has any of her powers. (The Liir portions of the first book, to me, were when WICKED started to go downhill, so I haven't gotten the book yet. Still, WICKED was rather good, so the sequel should contain some rather good parts, too.)
- CITY OF FALLING ANGELS, the new nonfiction book from MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL author John Berendt also came out this week, and I hear Berendt, investigating the arson of a famed Italian opera house, turns Venice into a setting as enchanting and bizarre as his version of Savannah. The author is due at the Margaret Mitchell House next weekend for a signing of his new book, so you may want to go. In a funny twist, though, I can't go to the John Berendt signing because I'll be in Savannah.
- The new David Cronenberg film A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, starring Viggo Mortensen and a freaky-looking Ed Harris, opens at the Landmark this weekend. It's gotten a lot of good reviews, particularly for Mortensen's work as a man with a haunted past. The story looks, at first, like a simple story of a small town plagued by one man's secrets, but Cronenberg usually has a couple really sick twists up his sleeve. Consider this one a must-see.
- As a storyteller, Neil Gaiman's a genius, and this week we're lucky because there's a lot of new stuff from him. MIRRORMASK, a new, fantasy movie written by Gaiman and directed by his illustrator Dave McKean, also opens at the Landmark this weekend, and its visuals look absolutely stunning. The film, envisioned as a follow-up to LABYRINTH of all things, follows another teenage girl trapped in a mysterious world of witches and goblins. (I'm thinking that Jim Henson fans, particularly the crowd from Center for Puppetry Arts, would find MIRRORMASK dazzling.) Gaiman also recently released his new novel ANANSI BOYS, which is a sequel to AMERICAN GODS, and friends who've read the new book say that it's pretty good.
- INTO THE BLUE probably sucks, but everyone in it is so damn pretty. And, knowing their audience, it looks like the filmmakers have kept Jessica Alba in a bikini and Paul Walker shirtless throughout the entire film.
- In anticipation of the new season of VERONICA MARS, I picked up the Dandy Warhols' excellent old album WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE this week. Good stuff. I recommend it.
- As for this week's question, I'm gonna go back to SERENITY and its acrobatic psychic genius superheroine River Tam for inspiration. If you could have only one freaky superpower, what would you choose, and how would you use it? And, honestly, do you think it'd be more fun to be a superhero or supervillain? Most people will probably say they'd like X-ray vision, but what's the fun of looking if you couldn't always touch? And, ummm, what if you couldn't turn it off and were forced to X-ray-vision everybody? I've always thought that, if I had a superpower, I'd want telekenesis, the ability to move objects with your mind. That way, whenever I got upset, I could wreak havoc on annoying people and destroy stuff. I guess that'd make me a supervillain, but I think I'd be cool with that. What superpower would you choose?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cleaning house.

Last night, I sorta cleaned out the main room of my apartment so that Brad could come over and watch TV. The room is now clean, sorta. I mean, it's still technically horrible and still technically messy, but there were places to sit after I was done with my "cleaning." And you could walk a couple feet, I think, without stepping on something - other than shoes, which cultivate in my living room for some reason.

I need more people to come over. The only time the apartment remains clean is if I have regular guests, thus allowing myself to avoid my overt, hermit tendencies.

Of course, I can't figure out how to get a steady stream of regular guests.

Maybe I should host a TV night.

Ack, Blogger glitch won't allow me to post again. This sucks.

Monday, September 26, 2005

50,000 hits.

Sometime in the last week, I apparently received Hit #50,000, but I'm not sure when it was.

Probably happened when I was trying to check the glitch on the site myself.

There was a glitch.

There was a "Things to Do" list written on Friday, and attempts were made to publish it on Friday. But some error in Blogger kept it from being posted here.

Instead, I posted it on my makeshift LiveJournal account. Sorry, though, to those folks who like to read it, came to find it here and couldn't.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Things to do when you're not on Wisteria Lane.

- Since I didn't go to a screening of it a couple weeks ago, I suppose I could use the cliche and say that I'm dying to see TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE this weekend. I mean, I'm a fan of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, to the degree that I can be heard singing "Kidnap the Santy Claws ..." at random points during any given week. Beyond that, the stop-motion animation looks great, and the story is just weird and sick. And the cast of voices is intensely talented. So, yeah, this is my top destination at the movies this weekend.

- Even though DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES returns on Sunday - and I am excited about that, I am more excited over the fact that the second season of the genius show VERONICA MARS begins on Wednesday at 9 on UPN. Because it airs opposite LOST, which is good but frustrating as hell, I'm going to beg you to watch Kristen Bell's stunning mystery show - and tape or TiVo LOST - because they're launching the new mystery on Wednesday. (It's got a new, big mystery every season - like BUFFY and her Big Bads.) It's a great show. Kevin Smith loves it. Joss Whedon loves it. I love it. You should love it. Kristen Bell's outrageously pretty. And it has cute boys. The makers of VERONICA MARS need about 2 million viewers more than they have, so please, please, please watch it. At the very least, it should be the most popular show on UPN, next to EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS.
- This week's list came late, for I was busy writing an in-joke short story for some friends. They then delayed me from writing the list further by showering me with accolades. Beyond that, Lupo came to visit for lunch. And I'm seeing Vic tonight. This was, like, the best Friday in ages.
- Perhaps inspired by those odd credit card commercials, omeone's finally written an identity-theft novel, and it's supposed to be pretty good. It's called USER I.D., and Entertainment Weekly recommended it.
- Oprah's Book Club has selected a new book for all the yentas to read, and this time it's not really a classic. It's also not a novel. Nor is it punctuated with any semblance of order. Oprah has picked James Frey's A MILLION LITTLE PIECES, which I've probably mentioned on this site before. It's about a guy who nearly kills himself through drug use, then decides to buck conventional 12-Step Programs in favor of sobering himself up. Oprah, frankly, hasn't picked a book this hip since Jonathan Franzen's terrific novel THE CORRECTIONS.

- Sometimes, and I know this is probably just me, I like to watch old French murder mysteries. Not just old French movies, but old French murder mysteries and thrillers like QUAI DES ORFEVRES, EYES WITHOUT A FACE or PEPE LE MOKO. This week, the Landmark is playing Louis Malle's ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS, and the plot sounds twisted. A guy murders another guy in an office building and escapes, leaving behind the perfect crime. But the murderer's made a mistake, leaving a clue, so he heads back to the guy's office to fix his 'perfect crime.' Then, of course, he gets stuck in the elevator. Sounds like fun.
- Reviews of Martin Scorsese's new documentary NO DIRECTION HOME: BOB DYLAN have been great, and my Dylan fandom has been growing for the past couple weeks. It came out on DVD first, but PBS is showing it starting on September 27.

- PROOF, which I saw a couple weeks ago, opens at the Landmark this week, and you should see it for Gwyneth Paltrow's performance. It's a pretty good movie, if not a great one, and the acting is uniformly strong. I think its release, which was delayed, signals the start of this year's Jake Gyllenhaal-a-thon. Stay tuned for every gay man's dream movie,BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, and JARHEAD. Gyllenhaal's in so many movies this year, he's this year's Jude Law.
- Every time I see the ads for FLIGHTPLAN, I yell, "WHERE'S JULIA?!!!" whenever Jodie Foster does. Is that weird?
- Clean your apartment.
- Get a Savannah tourism guide so that you can come up to things on your trip to see Lupo.
- Take out the trash.
- Do laundry.
- Go to the bank.
- Check last week's list.
- Yesterday, my office, for a moment, took out the walls of my cubicle, and it was a humbling experience. All of a sudden, you could see everything I do (and don't do) at my desk. How much of our lives are spent doing things we wouldn't do if people were watching?
- AMC offered no-questions-asked refunds earlier this summer to anyone who attended yet remained unmoved by Russell Crowe's well-made bomb CINDERELLA MAN. Of course, if you don't like a movie enough to walk out of it, you can complain to management. Most people only try to utilize the refund option, though, when the moviegoing experience was bad (i.e., crying babies, ringing cell phones, etc.) I read this article, though, which prompts me to ask this week's question. Have you ever walked out of a movie in the middle - because the movie was so bad it was unbearable - and demanded a refund? I've done this twice, for ENOUGH and for THE CAT IN THE HAT. Has an awful movie ever prompted you to complain to theater management? If no movie has ever been unbearable for you, what else led you to complain to management at a theater?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Favor for a friend.

My friend Chris is going to run his first marathon in Chicago in a couple weeks and, to make the moment more special, he's registered to run in the name of a charity, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Apparently, the group raises money for people living with HIV and AIDS.

I was going to give something, and I thought that I might better serve his cause, though, if I mentioned this work on my blog and to you guys.

Give if you want. Give if you can. Give here.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Gimme that, Felicity!

Apparently, Marcia Cross felt she was robbed at the Emmys, too!

(OK, they're all joking, but this is a great photo.)

Emmy redux.

Did you watch the Emmys? During the announcement of nominees for "best writing for a variety program or talk show," I could swear that DA ALI G SHOW superimposed its writers' names over cumface shots from gay porn. Swear to God ... funniest thing EVER.

Did anybody else see this? I called EVERYBODY immediately after it, and no one was watching.

OK, Brad just e-mailed me to say he saw it. I didn't hallucinate.

Also good was S. Epatha Merkerson, who used her impromptu speech for LACKAWANNA BLUES to explain that the speech she'd written was originally in the bosom of her dress ... but that it fell down and she couldn't find it.

And I laughed out loud during William Shatner and soprano Frederica von Stade's re-enactment of the STAR TREK theme, which was so goofy and absurd that it was comic genius.

And, though I was rooting for Marcia Cross, I loved when Felicity Huffman won for DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, cried, berated herself for becoming "one of those actresses" who cries, then mentioned David Mamet, then mentioned SPORTS NIGHT (!!!!!!!!!!!!) and then mentioned that William H. Macy first kissed her in a cow pasture when she was chubby and 22.

Alas, poor Kristen Bell, who is absolutely genius on VERONICA MARS, was saddled with an '80s-style outfit and a dance number during her "Emmy Idol" performance of "Fame." The dancer almost dropped her, and, um, I think if you embarrass yourself during an awards show dance number, you don't ever get to win an award. It was like Rob Lowe and Snow White at the Oscars that time. Which sucks for her. Because I love Kristen Bell. VERONICA MARS is amazing, and this second season is going to rock. Watch VERONICA MARS!!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Things to do while getting advice from Stephen King.

- I've been trying to come up with new story ideas for the past couple days. I even bought a new loose-leaf notebook in the hopes that I'd actually write something down into it. (In high school, I used this one collection of loose-leaf notebooks to write a 400-page, cheezoid soap opera I made up with Vic. It was called HORIZON. And it was awful. But I wrote it all the damn time. I wish I was like that now.) Lately, I've been reading Stephen King's ON WRITING, for every published author I know recommends it. Well, every published author I know beyond my friends who've self-published poetry books, like Ash or Brad and Larry. I don't want to self-publish. But lately, as a writer, I've not come up with anything really great or nothing that wouldn't benefit from a significant rewrite.
- Yesterday, my manager Maureen asked me if I could help a customer come up with a good "birthday theme gift" for a guy turning 30. I'm 29. Is 30 the birthday where people are allowed to start buying me black balloons and "You're an Old Man" cards? I thought that was 40. I told Maureen I had no idea.

- How cute do all the young kids, including some Brit guy named Julian Morris, look in CRY_WOLF? Seriously, it's like a slasher movie cast by BOP Magazine. Since they're all actually over 22, I don't mind coming off like a creepy old man.

- Screenwriter-director Andrew Niccol has been involved in some really good movies (GATTACA and THE TRUMAN SHOW) and one really, really annoyingly bad one (S1M0NE). His new one, LORD OF WAR, looks like it'll be pretty good. It's got Nicolas Cage in it as an international arms dealer, and usually they're the antagonists in big movies like this one. Niccol's name is enough to get me to the theater, so long as there's never another S1M0NE.

- Reese Witherspoon's new romantic comedy JUST LIKE HEAVEN is getting decent reviews, and it looks harmless enough. I like Mark Ruffalo, though I usually like him when he's edgier (outside of that one Meg Ryan movie), so it's on my list of movies this weekend. It's from Mark S. Waters, the director of MEAN GIRLS, and it looks like an excuse for me to embrace my inner chick.

- The Margaret Mitchell House, one of the most fun places in the city and a gathering place for bibliophiles, is now taking reservations for the fall session of its adult writing class on Monday nights. The class starts in October, and I've already reserved my spot. It's a great, great class that gives you an opportunity to read a lot of new, good stories from other aspiring writers. Some stuff's good. Some stuff's bad. All stuff's discussed. You can be a new writer or an experienced writer to join up. The whole thing's moderated by a kickass college prof named Sarah Anne Shope. There are still some slots available, and we need the class, which has only 15 slots in it, anyway, to fill up. If you're a bad writer who wants to get better, if you're a good writer who just needs an excuse to devote more time to it or if you don't know what kind of writer you are but feel like writing, please join my class. We're good people, and it's a strong group constantly in search of new blood. Beyond that, if you just want to become a member of the Margaret Mitchell House, that works, too. Go there if you're a GONE WITH THE WIND fan. They also have upscale book signings there all the time, including upcoming visits to promote new books from John Berendt, Candace Bushnell and Alexander McCall Smith. Do me a personal favor, and please check it out. Make no mistake. I am begging.
- You might want to clean your apartment. People actually want to visit.
- Buy groceries. You can buy perishables now, for the refrigerator actually works.
- Check last week's list.
- The TV season begins in earnest this week, with a lot of new shows debuting. The first of the alien-themed ones begin tonight. THRESHOLD, with Carla Gugino and Peter Dinklage, airs tonight on CBS, and the reviews have been pretty good. INVASION, with Eddie Cibrian, airs on ABC next week after LOST. Both shows appear to be about otherworldly visitors. Both appear to be dark and complicated. (Don't even ask me about NBC's SURFACE. Aside from her one-note part on MISS MATCH from a couple years ago, that Lake Bell girl can't act.)

- Britney Spears gave birth on Wednesday. The baby's name is Sean Preston Spears Federline or Preston Michael Spears Federline, depending on where you look. "Sean Preston" looks like the official name. Of course, if we could get rid of any aspect of the baby's name, I would prefer to lose "Federline," but that's only because K-Fed's apparently a jackass loser. (Britney, word of advice, never get engaged to a man who already has another girl pregnant. Read "Dear Abby," for Chrissakes. Last year, it was like you were following the JULIA ROBERTS GUIDE TO COURTSHIP. Oh, and Britney, get K-Fed to take the damn hat and/or 'do rag off, and cut his hair.) I used to love Britney. I even took Doug and Kacoon to a showing of CROSSROADS, an evening that became a moviegoing highlight of my life. Watching Britney become this decade's Tiffany, though she was trying to be this decade's Madonna, has been difficult. Dear God, I hope she never produces another album, movie or - more than anything - reality TV show.
- Maybe, to get over my writer's block, I need to get out of town. In a couple weeks, I'm set to visit Lupo in Savannah, and he, Kenn and I are going to a Ben Folds concert, which should be fantastic. Savannah may inspire me, like it inspired Berendt and Forrest Gump. (Of course, I doubt I'll do much writing while I'm there, but maybe it'll help me clear my head enough for ideas to pop back into them.) Or maybe I should just lock myself in my room here in town until I come up with a really good story. Or maybe I make things chaotic on purpose because that's how I work best. But that's me. Any advice you guys could give me? What do you guys do to clear your head when you're blocked? Or where is your place of escape?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Kacoon and I see the original TRANSPORTER.

After watching the original TRANSPORTER with Kacoon in 2002, I wrote the below review on, where the review has since been banned due to inappropriate language and content. I think what I wrote then's in the spirit of last week's overview. And I hope it shows why we went back to the theater for the sequel.

Dude, this was so damn funny. Take a friend. (SPOILERS), December 18, 2002

Oh my God, THE TRANSPORTER was incredibly funny. CROSSROADS funny. ORIGINAL SIN funny.

It works like a parody of one of those '80s action movies, where the villain has henchmen who shoot machine guns at the hero but don't hit him. Meanwhile, the hero finds ways to effectively use a random object, like a sweatshirt, to subdue large groups of people.

Seeing Jason Statham in SNATCH and LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, I was not prepared to see him completely ripped, cool and awesome. And the whole movie plays like one of those Clive Owen BMW ads, except without the deep emotional resonance or without the obligation of having to make any sense.

After the first two action scenes, including the kickass opening chase scene, I looked over at Kacoon and said, "My God, I want that man ... now."

Unfortunately, in the movie, his love interest is Miss Horrible Asian Stereotype (whom he gives noodles and, strangely, chopsticks when he first entertains her at his home).

She apparently can read and follow an English cookbook recipe despite not being able to read it aloud. Her broken English line-readings are, I think unintentionally, the funniest damn thing in the film.

"That ... is ... point of romantic swim ... No ... witnesses..."

There are also the typical moments. The cheezoid rap music that segues into the romantic violin music when a fight scene ends with the hero encountering Miss Asia. A villain walks into every scene with the same facial expression. A cop walks away from the hero's seaside home castle but isn't able to hear or return to the scene when it's attacked by a barrage of cruise missiles and machine-gun fire two minutes later. (When the first missile flies toward the house, I laughed out loud.)

Then comes the scuba-diving escape scene. Kacoon told me that the hero probably keeps two full diving suits and equipment under his house for just such an occasion. I told Kacoon it was lucky that Miss Asia was a certified diver.

We were 40 minutes into the movie, and Kacoon turns to me and says, "You know, we still haven't figured out what the hell this is about."

Soon, another guy shows up in the film, wearing so much pancake makeup that I told Kacoon he looked like Little Richard.

When you do realize the plot, though, it's so wildly implausible that I was asking Kacoon. "OK, so the hero's trying to stop people from smuggling illegal Asian slaves in the back of MACK trucks through the French Riviera? Where are they going? Who keeps Asian slaves in Europe? I thought Asia was the only place where they could employ Asians under deplorable conditions at a slave wage."

(Later, I mentioned to Kacoon that the scene where Miss Asia frees the slaves reminded me of the time when Catherine Zeta-Jones saved Mexico single-handedly in THE MASK OF ZORRO.)

At one point, during one of the hero's slow-motion, shirtless running scenes, I pretended to be running with him. And Kacoon howled.

"No, it gets more gay!" Kacoon said to me. "Soon, he's going to be covered in oil!"

It did. At one point, the hero, shirtless and doused in barrels of oil, deeply kisses a dead man underwater - to stay alive. (Yeah right.) I almost fell on the floor I was laughing so hard.

This reminds me, where can I hire myself an evil henchman? You know, someone who only exists to run at my more heroic enemies only to get killed?

And the ending, when Miss Asia frees the slaves (while I was wondering why they weren't all sick from being stuck in the back of a truck during an elaborate, multi-accident chase scene), also has her deliver what must be the worst line in the history of film.

"He ... was ... a bastard. But he ... was ... my father."

Kacoon and I laughed so hard that we both cried. We're going to gather a group of people to see it again later this week. I suggest you do the same.

A bit of the ultraviolence.

I didn't see CORPSE BRIDE. I wasn't really in the mood since Syd and Abby couldn't come. And Stephen was hoping I'd "hold a seat" for him while he ate, which would've been fine if it weren't so crowded, so I called him and asked if it was OK if I got out of line. We ended up chatting and hanging out at my bookstore until the wee hours.

Jenipher got hung up with her visiting grandparents, and I unfortunately didn't get to see her. (Though I speak to her constantly, I haven't actually seen her since the week THE MATRIX RELOADED came out. But our friendship isn't based upon physical presence. I don't need her in front of me to feel her love. A lot of my friendships are like that, actually. Some of my best friends are people I never *see.*)

In the CORPSE BRIDE line, I was standing alone in a gigantic group of mostly college kids in goth makeup. The line was twisted around the inside of the building, feeding in a bit at a time. Some people were in costume. Or at least, I think they were supposed to be in costume. I mean, white shirts and black bowler hats, like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. I hope that was intentional.

I used to think kids like that in college were precious, embracing Alex from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE or SCARFACE or characters from CASINO like they were merely misunderstood anti-establishment role models and not murderous, rapist criminal sociopaths.

In film class, I always thought guys who talked adoringly for over 10 minutes about Scorsese's "best use of violence" were a little creepy.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I don't know.

I never made the decision to write less about my actual personal life on this blog, but, since stuff happened back in March, I've just found that some secrecy is essential.

Still, at the same time, part of me feels like I shouldn't see the need to edit my journals, like I did when my mom read my diaries when I was in the eighth grade.

It's not that nothing's going on in my personal life anymore. It's that I don't know so much how to talk about it or what to think about it. I also came to the conclusion that talking about my personal life, over and over and over, didn't really ever lead me to resolve anything. It was just my way of sounding interesting.

I don't know that I'll never write in depth about who I'm seeing when I'm seeing someone again. I just know that, well, all this silliness has started to matter less.

I'm being vague again. Sorry.

The politics of flirting.

Talking to Dena on the phone about someone I flirt with, I said, "I want to be that thing he wants but can't have."

"Yeah, more often, you're the thing men can have but don't want," Dena said. "But don't worry about it. Happens to the best of us."

Jenipher burns Atlanta.

Jenipher's coming to town, and I get to see her at her parents' house on Wednesday, after I go see CORPSE BRIDE with Syd and Abby.

Wednesday's going to rock.

Today, though, I am cash-poor, and Lupo and Jenipher aren't around to e-mail. Today sucks.

'That's what love is.'

I just found this in a article on Steve Martin's SHOPGIRL, which just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"I often think all that thinking we do and that emotional pain is some kind of evolutionary flaw. Why? Why are we neurotic? What's the purpose?" Martin said. "It's something like evolution going too far, and we end up so worried about things that don't matter. That's what love is. It's like this whole side effect of mating that got really complicated."

An evening of the improv.

I got to work with my friend Shalewa three times this weekend. Shalewa and I, in my opinion, are pretty good together, and our customers are pleased by our assistance.

Plus, there are fun moments like when we ogled a cute guy named Jack by putting Rolling Stones tongue bookmarks over our mouths.

Or when we were both swatting a fly that zoomed around Shalewa's head on Saturday, and I said it probably looked, to passersby, like we were performing a scene out of WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT.

And immediately, Shalewa said, "But I don't want any cake, Ike!"

Shortly after that, this group of girls inquiring about the headsets in the music section asked us if they could scan the DVDs on the technology and watch previews or scenes from the selected movie.

Shalewa and I told them that scenes from the movies weren't available through the headsets. But then one of us, I forget which, said that we could re-enact a scene from any DVD they selected.

"Oh really," one of the customers said.

"Yeah," Shalewa said. "You just missed our rendition of WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT."

The customer was intrigued.

"What about ICE PRINCESS?" she asked.

I said I could do it, then grabbed a calculator and spoke in my best Michelle Trachtenberg voice, "Well, if my calculations are right, I could land that perfect triple-axle."

Then, I did my best figure-skating pose. I put my arms out to my side, stood on one leg, leaned back into the form and flashed my best smile.

The girls applauded, and Shalewa told them that we were the 'Barnes & Noble Players.'

Later, the girls asked us to do a scene from 50 FIRST DATES, and we obliged them.

Channeling Adam Sandler, I walked up to Shalewa and said, "Hi, do you remember me?"

"No," she replied in a deadpan voice.

And Shalewa and I took our bows.

After the girls left, for some reason, I was relating the completely absurd plot of ICE CASTLES to Shalewa, then I performed a scene from that movie.

The impression from ICE CASTLES looked a lot like my ICE PRINCESS impression, actually, except that I closed my eyes for the ICE CASTLES skit to impersonate the blind, ice-skating Lynn-Holly Johnson part.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Things to do while avoiding 9/11.

- Last night after work at the bookstore, I headed to Wal-mart, despite my need for sleep, to price some DVD box sets. My priorities are occasionally freaky like that. I did, to be honest, intend to actually buy another DVD box set, just to give myself something safe and all-encompassing to do this weekend, but Wal-mart's DVD prices, usually quite nice, did not impress me. Thus, I didn't end up buying the twisted, genius second season of NIP/TUCK, the first season of LOST, the initial miniseries of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, the first and second seasons of ONCE & AGAIN or the "Hey, let's introduce four obnoxious new characters!" sophomore-slump season of THE O.C. I'm not entirely sure yet what I'm going to buy, for I probably shouldn't buy anything. Still, the glory of NIP/TUCK is calling to me. I heart its second season. I heart Dr. Troy. I heart Joely Richardson. I heart that the show brazenly rips all of its central relationships apart by the fourth episode of the season. I heart that Famke Janssen, Vanessa Redgrave and Jill Clayburgh appear multiple times on the show, and Famke in particular kicks all kinds of ass. (Watch it, and you'll see that Famke was ROBBED when she didn't get an Emmy nomination.) I heart the episode with the Kimber doll. I heart the episode that's set entirely in Julia's mind. I heart when Dr. Troy dumps blind Rebecca Gayheart because of a freakin' hilarious incident involving his Lambroghini. That episode alone is worth the price of the box set, actually. Oh dear God, in writing this, I've just convinced myself to buy NIP/TUCK's second season. Thank you, Dr. Troy.
- Sunday is September 11. It's been four years. And all the stuff on the news now, though unrelated to 9/11, is carrying the same tone and feel to me. I'm going to embrace escapism this weekend.

- Kanye West is supposed to appear on another telethon tonight, and he's received tons and tons of press (both critical and praising) for what he said on last week's telethon. And he has the top single on Billboard's Hot 100 chart with "Golddigger," which Shalewa tells me all about. His album Late Registration received a lot of great notices last week, and his debut album was praised just as much if not moreso. Around the VMAs two weeks ago, Suge Knight was shot at a party West hosted. Given all the stuff I've read about him lately, it strikes me as incredibly strange that I personally have not, you know, heard any of his music yet. Perhaps I should remedy that this weekend. My store has his stuff on sale.

- Last week, I picked up my copy of Chuck Klosterman's SEX, DRUGS AND COCOA PUFFS again, and I read five or six pop-culture-centered essays out of it. Great book. Great, great book. My favorite essay, thus far, has been Klosterman's absurd, hilarious piece about going on a road tour with a Guns N' Roses cover band named Paradise City. Aside from the whole Chinese Democracy "comeback" debacle, Axl Rose does merit a little worship even now, doesn't he?

- The sixth season of GILMORE GIRLS begins on Tuesday. Will Luke accept Lorelai's marriage proposal? What the hell is wrong with Rory, stealing a boat, dropping out of Yale and moving in with her grandparents? Why why why do I love Logan so? And why on Earth was Lauren Graham not nominated for an Emmy? Most of these questions, which have perplexed Lupo and I all summer, will be answered. Lorelai, you have my undivided attention.
- For those of you who've not read the angry, angry yet still very funny posts over at The Black Saint lately, SER's been in rare form this week in addressing issues surrounding the New Orleans flood. Barbara Bush is a bitch for what she said.
- Clean the apartment. The bathroom looks like swampland.
- Check last week's list.
- Vic and I are both interested in THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, which opens in theaters today, and the reviews of it have been solid. Though the film's previews make it look like it's your average freaky horror movie, the cast, including Laura Linney, Campbell Scott and Tom Wilkinson, suggests it's something more substantial. From what I understand, the story's told RASHOMON-style, and it's got a lot of courtroom drama infused in it.

- The films of the great, beautiful movie star Greta Garbo are finally available on DVD this week, in honor of her 100th birthday. Many of them, including some great ones like the hilarious NINOTCHKA, CAMILLE and QUEEN CHRISTINA, were only available on VHS until now. GRAND HOTEL, where she appeared alongside a cast full of stars, was an early winner of the Best Picture Oscar. There will never be another movie star like Garbo. In fact, there cannot be. She started in silents, where her stern, odd, harsh, amazing face expressed a thousand emotions and she always looked like a goddess, and she was one of the few who was able to carry her fame into an extremely successful career in "talkies" of the '30s. (In QUEEN CHRISTINA, at one point, the camera spends an ungodly amount of time just studying Garbo's beauty, as though daring you to find a single flaw.) And then, suddenly, Garbo retired, essentially disappearing from public view and becoming the subject of speculation and legend. Because of all this, she was great. Garbo had an unparalleled mystique about her, both onscreen and off, because of her talent and because of her face. If you love old movies yet you've never before watched Garbo, then you're in for a treat.
- Finally, the new fall TV season begins in earnest this week. I've already mentioned shows like EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER here, but is there anything else anyone's looking forward to? I'm kinda looking forward to MY NAME IS EARL because Jaime Pressley's on that show. And COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, which a lot of people are looking forward to, just looks silly to me, mostly because somebody jacked up Geena Davis's hairdo. What's on your Must-See TV list this fall?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Kacoon's TRANSPORTER theory. And other notes.

Kacoon and I regaled in the joy of all things Jason Statham last night at the Regal Medlock Crossing, where we laughed our asses off during the 8 p.m. screening of TRANSPORTER 2 and then discussed the finer points of the film afterward for about an hour.

We basically agreed that TRANSPORTER 2 paled in comparison to the hilarious original - and that Miss Broken English was much missed - but that TRANSPORTER 2 did live up to our low expectations.

Some points we discussed, from primary to secondary:

* Kacoon has decided that the TRANSPORTER series must've been written by racist homosexual pedophiles, even though I'm fairly certain that Luc Besson is heterosexual.

Her theory is contained herein:

a) Kacoon asserts the homosexual pedophile aspect because all of the women in TRANSPORTER 2 - especially the gun-toting, mascara-smearing, lingerie-wearing Pink-lookalike character that Kacoon nicknamed 'Crack Ho, the movie's pathetic excuse for T&A' - all seem to have the build of an emaciated 14-year-old boy. Additionally, when these skin-and-bones women like Amber Velveeta transparently throw themselves at The Transporter and/or pin his lusciousness against a wall and/or licks his face, he usually rebuffs them and does not even kiss them, saying things like "I respect you" or "I'm confused."
b) Kacoon suggests that the makers of the movie are racist because of the horrible, racist generalizations and inherently biased choices that The Transporter makes when dealing with ethnic people. In the first movie, when Miss Broken English Asian Stereotype was hungry, for instance, The Transporter quickly remedied her situation by making her a BOWL OF NOODLES and ... HANDING HER CHOPSTICKS instead of a fork. In TRANSPORTER 2, continuing her assertations, Kacoon pointed out the scene where The Transporter subdues an African-American assassin by beating the man to death with WATERMELONS on his fists. Oh, and this time, the white-suited, main Colombian villain was doing some impression of Ricardo Montalban, and Kacoon admits that she wasn't able to understand a word he said. I lied and said I only understood when he spoke of 'the finest Corinthian leather.' (Oh wait, we did understand when he said, "I ... am ... the ... antidote.") At the end of the film, when the dread-locked Jamaican cab drivers with bad teeth showed up as comic relief, Kacoon shook her hands at the screen.

(NOTE: The views expressed by Kacoon are her own and do not reflect the views of Riley McCarthy or those of us at the 'Life of Riley McCarthy' staff.)

* I think we both laughed out loud about seven times at TRANSPORTER 2, but we never laughed louder than we did when The Transporter flips his Audi in the air so that he can unhook the bomb attached to the bottom of it using a crane that he's driving by. We also laughed during the climactic plane crash, for neither one of the characters involved seemed particularly concerned that the plane they were on was crashing into the ocean.

* One of my favorite parts was when Crack Ho, in lust over having a gun in The Transporter's crotch during a lengthy, elaborate car chase, ho-hums about getting out of the car and says goodbye to him by dragging her tongue from his defined chin to his eye socket, like a grateful dog. Frankly, I completely don't blame her. I probably would've done the same thing. Kacoon was impressed when, after the movie, I re-enacted the scene by giving a speech and then licking my own entire arm.

* At several moments, while driving, The Transporter looks out the window - to the camera - and makes an "I'm the most kickass man on Earth" face. Midway through the film, I glanced away from the screen to Kacoon, did the same face, and she laughed and laughed.

* Five seconds after the cute little boy showed up onscreen at the beginning of the film, right after he delivered his first precocious, sweet line, I looked at Kacoon and said, "I want him to die." Kacoon cooed to me, "But he's so cuuuuuuuute." And I said, "Exactly."

* During the first car chase, I looked at Kacoon and said, "You and I have GOT to sign on as 'extras running out of the way of the car' in TRANSPORTER 3."

* During Amber Velveeta's slo-mo run toward the sealed refrigerator holding her son, I once again looked at Kacoon and did my own slo-mo run, like I did with the first movie.

- Kacoon and I decided that Jet Ski Girl, whom The Transporter quickly grabs by her bikini bottom and flips over his head into the seat behind him before commandeering her Jet Ski for a chase, was the luckiest woman character in the film and maybe the luckiest woman on Earth for getting to appear in that scene. Plus, she appears to be the only woman in the cast who was allowed to eat.

* Thanks to Lupo's prompting, Kacoon and I were able to cherish the one, brief moment when The Transporter takes off his shirt in TRANSPORTER 2. We hugged and sighed while gazing at the screen, knowing that this was the best the movie was going to get.

All in all, a fine time was had at TRANSPORTER 2.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Gilligan's dead.

He must've finally caught an episode of THE REAL GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. I know I died inside myself when I saw it.

Jenipher does impressions.

My friend Jenipher, who is about to relocate to Orlando, has been steadily building a repertoire of random pop-culture-moment impressions since I met her at the Gwinnett Place B. Dalton when I was 14, two or three days before her 16th birthday.

One of the first impressions I'd ever heard Jenipher do was the Girl in the Pit's "Precious the Dog" monologue from THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

"Don't you MAKE ME hurt your dog!," Jenipher would emote with conviction at the conclusion of her get-me-out-of-this-damn-pit soliloquy.

(Come to think of it, now that she has a little furry white dog of her own, I bet Jenipher's pit girl speech would be even better. Maybe she and I should work together on Halloween costumes, even though Jenipher's not at all a size 14.)

Coupled with my personal version of Buffalo Bill's "It rubs the lotion on its skin, it does so whenever it's told ..." speech, it's a wonder to behold.

(In fact, I did my Buffalo Bill voice at a barbecue this weekend. People were STUNNED.)

Jenipher, of course, is also able to do a spot-on rendition of the song "When You're Alone," as performed by that annoying little girl with the nasal voice in HOOK. Jenipher's version is a work of sick genius.

Lately, Jenipher has added her take on "Danny from THE REAL WORLD: AUSTIN discovering his mother has died" to her repertory.

"Don't be playin', Dad ... DON'T BE PLAYIN' ...," Jenipher sobs.

Oh, and she can sing the title of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" over and over with uncanny skill.

If I could get her to do it for sound files, you guys would be plenty entertained.

Listen without prejudice.

This weekend I went to see THE CONSTANT GARDENER at the Hollywood 24, and this young couple was sitting next to me during the first 10 minutes, talking softly through the movie.

Eventually, they got bored with their conversation and looked up at the screen. Then, I heard one of them say to the other, "OH NOW, WHY DO THERE HAVE TO BE ONLY DEAD BLACK PEOPLE ON THE SCREEN???"

If they'd been paying attention to the movie, they probably would've realized that the scene was set inside a Kenyan morgue.

But they left.

LOST found.

It's on DVD as of today, and, though I know it's never going to end with any sort of real explanation or resolution (for it can't because that'll give away the whole show), I'm tempted to buy it to catch the episodes that I missed.

I'm more intrigued than frustrated by the show, so maybe it's worth the investment.

Who's your favorite LOST character? Are you a LOST fan? What do you think is in the hatch?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Please don't sue me, DC Comics.

My co-worker Will reads the blog. And yesterday he complained to me that all my movie-related posts usually say something like, "Oh, I've heard this movie's good, and this guy's hot."

So, with that, I would like to say that I've not heard much about SUPERMAN RETURNS, but Brandon Routh, who I used to watch on ONE LIFE TO LIVE, is hot. And that suit is really tight.

Admit that the waters around you have grown.

Last night, doing the whole depressed-about-national-affairs thing that makes Jenipher say I sound like Eeyore when I call her, I went from CD to CD in my collection, trying to find something that would fit my mood. (Some TV station showed New Orleans footage intermixed with Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," which I despise.)

One of my bosses, in hearing me speak of the disaster yesterday, called me a weirdo liberal when I said that I cried over the situation and couldn't concentrate on work.

With the idea that I was all liberal in mind, I put on my copy of Bob Dylan's greatest hits, and I found the song to fit my mood.

I don't usually just post song lyrics, for it doesn't usually carry the impact that you want when you repost "how I feel" through song on a blog. But this one has, to be fair, fantastic lyrics written in metaphor that carry for me, now, a literal meaning. Plus, the song's hopeful. And Dylan wrote it when he was 22.

Long story short, Bob Dylan's a genius.


Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Wherein I do something.

If you can donate any money to the Red Cross, do so now.

Click HERE and donate.

I'm not trying to be preachy, for I did that yesterday. I'm just linking over. I was only able to donate five bucks for now, but I did that.

Things to do while the Big Easy has it bad.

- Some friends of mine were planning to go to Southern Decadence for Labor Day weekend, but Katrina and the waves have ruined their New Orleans plans. And pretty much ruined New Orleans, which is completely horrible. In spite of how much this situation calls for tact, though, I can't get these lyrics to "New Orleans" from THE SIMPSONS "Oh Streetcar!" musical out of my head.

New Orleans!
Home of pirates, drunks and whores
New Orleans!
Tacky overpriced souvenir stores

If you want to go to hell, you should take a trip
To the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Mississip'

Even though cities have been destroyed and people have been killed and gas prices will likely skyrocket, the first thought I had was about my friends' thwarted circuit party trip and funny song lyrics. What the hell is wrong with me? I feel like the world's ending, and my response to that is detached amusement. Wow, I should really go back to therapy. Of course, in my defense, that is a really good episode of THE SIMPSONS.
- Of course, you may be able to help out New Orleans by donating clothes, money or blood through the Red Cross - if they'll let you donate blood. Or you could open up your home to a friend of yours from there who needs a place to stay for about a month. Or you could use this as an opportunity to recall New Orleans during simpler times by reading books about the city, like Walker Percy's THE MOVIEGOER, John Kennedy Toole's A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES or, if you want to be really escapist with your New Orleans reminiscence, Anne Rice's INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE.

- THE CONSTANT GARDENER, which has received across-the-board fantastic reviews with many critics calling it the best movie so far this year, opened this week at the Landmark. It's based on a John LeCarre novel, and I've heard LeCarre is able to do spy and intrigue stories like no one else can. The cast is strong, and the previews - though they gave away a lot of the plot - are intriguing. The movie stars Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, which is also a plus.

- This past week, I became addicted to the logic puzzle Sudoku after picking up a book on it for beginners. Larry had a dinner party on Sunday, and I brought my Sudoku book to it. While everyone else was engaged in conversation, I was busy filling in numbers on my Sudoku puzzle. Eventually, Brad became annoyed at me, saying that I should just take up quilting if I was going to become an old lady. But this game is simple to learn, helps you hone your logic skills, and it's seriously addictive. All you really have to know how to do is count to nine. Find a puzzle, or just do the one above. Try it. I dare you.

- Kacoon and I are sure to head to the movies sometime this week, for our hero, Jason Statham, has returned in THE TRANSPORTER 2. If there's any justice in the world, the sequel will be just as horrible and just as preposterous as the first movie, if not worse. I just want more spectacular car chases, more ridiculous plots, more horrible dialogue and more skin. The first movie had a scene where Statham, shirtless and covered in oil, dispatched two villains with his sweatshirt. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it looks like the first movie's Miss Broken-English Asian Stereotype has been replaced by Amber Valletta and some annoying kid. But I'll be satisfied as long as Statham's shirt comes off for no reason while he's killing people. I'm a man of simple tastes.

- I became persona non grata in my office this week while co-workers were discussing the UPN reality show, "R U The Girl?" They were talking about TLC and how the group is played out. But when I asked if T-Boz still had sickle cell and if it keeps her from doing the new dance routines, they got all mad at me. (Yeah, I know sickle cell doesn't go away. I didn't know that it's not funny to tell sickle cell jokes.) The women also were not pleased when I suggested that, to replace Left Eye, TLC should have all the new girls compete by setting fire to bathtubs and/or hitting on members of the Falcons lineup. And when I said TLC should run credit reports on the new girls to see who had a history of bankruptcy and then said Pebbles should come on the show and try to make the competitors cry and then asked if they were making the new girls wear condom wrappers on their clothes, well, the women in my office stopped speaking to me. (For the record, TLC had the best "VH1 Behind the Music" maybe ever.)
- After reading all of the coverage of the VMAs last week, I came to the realization that I've not watched MTV in at least a year, in spite of Jenipher's pleas that I tune in to LAGUNA BEACH and MY SUPER SWEET 16. I don't get why they hold the VMAs anymore. I mean, they don't show uninterrupted music videos on MTV anymore, do they? Flipping through channels, I only ever see moments of things called VIVA LA BAM or PUNK'D. (Oh wow, using Amazon, I found there's a softcore gay movie called LAGUNA BEACH, too.)
- Clean your apartment, seriously.
- Check last week's list.

- JUNEBUG opens at the Tara, and I've already seen it. The cast, particularly Amy Adams, is fantastic, playing all the characters that make up a Southern family without turning them into cariacature. Alessandro Nivola, Celia Weston, Benjamin McKenzie and the underrated, brilliant Embeth Davidtz are in it, and I highly recommend it.
- I bought the Gorillaz album "Demon Days" this weekend, but I only ever listen to the one song on it that I already know, "Feel Good Inc." This reminds me of an old argument Ash and I used to have. Ash, you see, was an album person. Driving in his car, he could just put on a CD and let it play, going from songs he knew to songs he didn't. He appreciated the skill that went into crafting an entire album and longed for the glory days of concept albums, when a band would use a full record to communicate a mood or idea. Examples of this kind of album are everywhere in the earlier days of rock, of course, from The Beatles' "White Album" to Carole King's "Tapestry" or The Who's "Tommy." Concept albums still exist today, like Green Day's "American Idiot" or Sufjan Stevens' "Illinois," but they're no longer the trend. Nowadays, the music industry is all about the single. And, fittingly, I consider myself a song person. (I was going to call myself a 'single person,' but I realized that's pretty well understood by the readers of this blog already.) Being a song person, I'm all about the instant gratification. I buy my CD, put it in my car stereo and skip track after track until I get to something I know or something I like. And I can listen to the same song over and over in my car without much bother. Very rarely do I ever listen to a full CD, and I don't think that I could ever listen to one album in one sitting without going insane from all that passive listening. We're in the iPod age, though I don't have one, so we're all becoming song-oriented. So, to this week's question, are you an 'album person' or a 'song person'? Even if you're a song person, is there an album that you could sit and listen to without skipping around on it?

Thursday, September 01, 2005


I wrote this e-mail to a philosophy professor during a discussion of the "gas crisis" panic that I saw yesterday. It started out brief, but then I started to vent. I needed to vent. I'm posting it here, for I'm wondering if anyone else needs to vent. If it's incoherent out of context, forgive me.

I think it's an aspect of human nature to panic, but it really, really disturbed me yesterday when I was waiting in a gas line at a station with cars lined down the street. All the regular unleaded was gone, so I had to buy the more expensive than generally expensive gasoline because my tank was already low. I'm not sure if it's, what's the word I'm looking for, easy to maintain reason when everyone's fake panic causes a real one. The idea of self-fulfilling prophecies making worst case scenarios into reality make, in the words of a friend of mine, "my mind's eye go blind."

I called my mother yesterday to ask her if this feeling that the world's ending, that I'm not being paranoid, had ever occurred to her before, since she's seen more national disasters than I have. I imagine the fear and dread I've felt over the past few days aren't uncommon, and the world continues in spite of our collective fears that it won't.

Still, what's happening? Is our quality of life diminishing, or is it just the lowering of our standards regarding what we're willing to accept in behavior from our citizens, our government, our world and our higher power?

I'm sorry to bug you with this, but I really need to talk to someone about it. I've been very stressed the past couple days, ever since Katrina flooded a city, ever since gas prices have gone up. It reminds me of the dull pain I felt in the weeks after September 11, 2001, where catastrophe changed the landscape. Maybe I'm naïve or just scared, but people are panicked. And the world feels different. And I don't know what to do.

I have no faith. I have little ambition. I have responsibility over no one but myself, and I feel I'm failing at that.

I feel like I should abandon all I know and flee to a safe place, but where is that anymore? And, keeping perspective, where have safe places ever been?

Please don't think me insane for writing you this, but you're a professor of logic. And I'm comforted when questions have real answers. I want hope, or at least to believe there's hope, and I can't find it anywhere in these moments we're now going through.