Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Saturday, April 06, 2013
I’ve walked out of three movies in my life. The first was The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and her Lover. I would have stayed, but at some point Trash had enough and I left with her. Not that I minded much; it never bothered me enough to go back and see the rest.
The second one was just a few years ago. Chao took me to see a movie called Audition at a midnight showing at the Uptown. I had stuffed myself to the uvula at a Brazilian steakhouse earlier that evening, and some time after this sad, intimate living-room drama veered irrevocably into Japanese torture porn, I pretty much passed out in my seat for a few seconds. Which was in the front row of the balcony. Looking back, I’m kind of surprised I made it out of there alive.
Tonight I walked out of Evil Dead.
I’ve been looking forward to this movie for months, if not a year. I loved the original, both as the scariest movie I’d ever seen as of junior high and as the camp classic I saw it as in my thirties. My personal hero Bruce Campbell had been talking it up on his Twitter feed, a friend of a friend did an uncredited pass on the screenplay, and I’m uncool enough to love a good remake. It was win-win.
I invited a couple of friends to go with me tonight, knowing Trash was going to want no piece of this. But then neither did they. Instead Bitter and Febrifge and I went to dinner, called it an early night, and I got home in time to go catch a late showing on my own. Mistake.
Not because I mind going to movies alone, because obviously I don’t. It’s just not a good movie. Or maybe it is; it’s just not for me.
Call me a wuss if you want. It’s not that I was scared; I had no investment in or concern for any of these asshole characters and didn’t give a shit what happened to a single miserable one of them. Plus I knew all the main beats the story was hitting from the original and pretty much where it was going from here, and I was just…grossed out. I realized that sitting through this movie was going to be a straight-up feat of endurance, and for what? Maybe it was the huge dinner again (Mexican this time) combined with my traditional Coke Icee, but when I started feeling physically ill, I asked myself, why am I here? What am I trying to prove? I wasn’t having any fun, and I didn’t want to get sick, so I left. Fuck it.
Sorry, Bruce. Sorry, FOAF. My friends were right. We didn’t need this shit.posted by M. Giant 10:41 PM 0 comments
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Man, am I behind on movies this year. I'm also behind on reviewing them. Or, I should say, it. Given all the TV I've been covering for TWoP since January, there hasn't been much time to get out to the theater. I really miss Icees.
But I have managed to see one movie in 2013, and I apologize that I'm just now getting around to reviewing it. As you may know, I'm something of a fan of zombie stories, which I gobble up like the brains of the living. So I knew I was going to see Warm Bodies, even if I wasn't all that excited about it.
I was wrong about Warm Bodies as it turns out. Not to not be excited about it, I was dead on there. No, what I mean is that I got the impression from the ads that the protagonist, R, is a living dude only pretending to be undead so he can blend in with the shambling hordes infesting the airport he's trapped in. That's because he's also the narrator of the film, and his lucid inner monologue belies the fact that he's actually as undead as the next zombie. It's just that his articulate, thoughtful mind is trapped in a decomposing meatsack that can occasionally produce the word "hungry," although we do see from his habitat that he retains some pretty impressive fine motor skills.
Every zombie story needs a mythology, including some aspect that departs from the usual conventions of the genre. In 28 Days Later it was their speed, in The Walking Dead it's the fact that the infection resides dormant in the living, in Shaun of the Dead it was their Britishness. Here, as in Coulson Whitehead's Zone One, there are two levels of undead. One is your basic slow-moving zombies, which don't look nearly as gross as other specimens from the genre and might even be mistaken for unwashed Goths; and the others are "skeletons" to which each of them is supposedly devolving. Basically CGI Deadites from Army of Darkness. It's not a bad setup for the story.
Unfortunately, it's not that good a story. I've seen Warm Bodies compared to Twilight but with zombies in place of vampires. Since all I know of Twilight is what I was unable to avoid absorbing through cultural osmosis, I can't really speak to that. But if it's an accurate comparison, I can see why a lot of people really hate Twilight.
It's probably not giving too much away to say that in a zomromcom, love will conquer all. Things end up working out pretty well for R, even if he never does remember the rest of his name (though an on-the-nose scene at the end of the second act gives a pretty clear indication of what it probably was). Admittedly, he goes through some shit to get there, so it's not totally unearned.
I think what I keep looking for in zombie stories is something that doesn't have a totally unsatisfying ending. They always leave me wanting more, hence my continued interest in The Walking Dead, which to date doesn't have an ending at all. As for the ending of Warm Bodies, all I can say is that I'm still looking.posted by M. Giant 8:48 PM 1 comments
Awww, I thought it was cute. It did take me an embarassingly long time to realize that it's a zombie retelling of Romeo & Juliet, though.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
This is the 22nd Valentine's Day that Trash and I have been married. Our plans for the evening include me covering three hours of TV for TWoP and her having a work dinner with her boss before teaching a class. So clearly Valentine's Day isn't a big deal for us.
But in honor of the holiday, Trash had the idea of sharing some of our favorite pop songs that reflect the most effed-up perspectives on romance. And like I said, I have three hours of TV to do tonight, so this is going to be quick.
"Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes
Two reprehensible liars in a loveless relationship separately make clandestine plans to cheat on each other. This dark morality play careens inevitably to a Kafkaesque climax in which each of these human wastelands is subjected to the ultimate punishment: ending up with each other.
"All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You" by Heart
So many couples struggle with the heartbreak of infertility, and sink thousands of dollars into drastic treatments that sometimes don't work, and often lead to tragic effects like Gosselinism. Ann & Nancy Wilson propose an alternate solution: go out and get yourself impregnated by some random. This easy fix has the advantage of allowing one to avoid painful things like injections, medical tests, and conversations.
"To Be With You" by Mr. BigIt's common for a love song to be about a grand gesture, like walking five hundred miles and then walking five hundred more. In this case, the singer boasts about what he was willing to do to prove his feelings to his true love: he waited on a line. Yes, the rest of the song is basically about the narrator cheering up the unfortunate woman having belated regrets about ever agreeing to participate in what promises to become a never-ending gang bang so he can be sure to get his sloppy fifty-seconds before the window of opportunity closes, but the true message resonates: find the person who's right for you, and take a number.
"More Than Words" by Xtreme
Such sweet harmonies. Such a soothing melody. Such gentle guitar chords. All in the service of the message, "Shut up and let's have sex already."
"The Search is Over" by Survivor
Less on this list for the song than the video, which showed the lead singer daily getting out of the bed he shared with a woman, then spending his days looking for true love while she moped under the blankets on the soundstage they called home. Presumably he was holding out for a girl who actually got up once in a while, but by the end of the video exhaustion overtakes him as well and he decides to settle for her after all. Yay?
So happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Feel free to add your own twisted favorites in the comments. And enjoy the earworms.posted by M. Giant 4:43 PM 4 comments
Holy buckets, "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" is the *worst*. It usually takes me a whole five-minute speech about venereal disease and weird marriage dynamics to say what you did in a paragraph.
Omg. I remember when I first actually paid attn to the lyrics of "all i want to do" (1990? 91?) and was gobsmacked how awful they were. The music is fine for their pop phase, but jesusgodno on the bareback sex with a hitchhiker.
So glad I'm not the only one who finds More Than Words dodgy as hell. Pretty, yes, but also really quite skeevy.
Also to add my current favourite dodgy "love" song - Driveby, by Train. That is not so much "love" as a really ordinary one night stand followed by stalking. Not Cool.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
I'm a little behind on my movie blogging, in more ways than one. By this time last year, I'd seen three movies in the theater, as opposed to the current 2013 total of zero (not that Trash hasn't encouraged me to go -- I just haven't felt like it). I never did get around to reviewing any of the movies I saw in the last quarter of 2012 -- or I did, but never got around to posting the results. And here it is with scarcely a week of January left and I'm just now posting my rankings of all the films I saw in 2012. You'd think I could have at least done this before the Golden Globes, or at least the Oscar nominations. I'd feel really bad about my lateness if I thought anyone cared.
But as the saying goes, better late than never. As long as we're ranking things, you can decide for yourself if that's true.
28. New Year's Eve. Execrable.
27. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D. Naked money grab.
26. Ted. Juvenile, obvs.
25. Seven Psychopaths. Misogynistic.
24. Ice Age: Continental Drift. Left me cold.
23. Prometheus. Frustrating, gorgeous, mute-worthy.
22. Robot and Frank. Mostly not bad, but what didn't work really didn't work.
21. Frankenweenie. Burton's now so out of ideas he's mining his own back catalog. And I'm not just bitter because it scared M. Edium shitless.
20. Bernie. True stories don't always make the best movies.
19. The Grey. Downer.
18. The Woman in Black. Jumptastic.
17. The Amazing Spider-Man. Unnecessary.
16. Wreck-It Ralph. Cute. Still poor man's Pixar, though.
15. Django Unchained. Problematic. Deeply.
14. The Hunger Games. Compelling.
13. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Better than expected.
12. The Master. Virtuosically off-putting.
11. The Hobbit. Dumb, but I never got tired of looking at it.
10. Moonrise Kingdom. Virtuosically idiosyncratic.
9. Skyfall. Mostly not silly.
8. Argo. Show-offy, but it works. Amazed to see that the top of Ben Affleck's head is actually round.
7. The Dark Knight Rises. Big damn movie.
6. Chronicle. Underappreciated genius.
5. Lincoln. Overappreciated genius.
4. Looper. Probably the movie I thought about the most afterward, not counting Django and for less troubling reasons.
3. The Artist.. So damn clever.
2. The Avengers. Damn near perfect.
1. Cabin in the Woods. Perfect.
There you go. You may disagree, you may think I'm crazy. That's certainly your right. Everybody's allowed to be wrong sometimes. Why can't it be you?
Thanks, and I'll look forward to doing this again with you next April.posted by M. Giant 10:16 PM 1 comments
Monday, January 14, 2013
I was pretty pleased with myself after finishing up the bathroom-paneling project. Not just because it looked pretty good by my own admittedly unprofessional standards, but because I had materials left over. Including one uncut eight-foot-by-four-foot piece of paneling I turned out not to need now. Knowing I could now tie it back onto the roof of my car and drive it back to Home Depot made me feel unaccountably smug.
The cure for that feeling turned out to be attempting to actually do so.
Saturday morning was errand time. There were several things to return and/or exchange at several stores (not your gift, of course, your gift was awesome and we will treasure it always), and it made sense to start with the leftover remodeling materials. I had gotten three of the panels home in the first place, so I assumed it would be that much easier to get just one of them back. And this time I already knew it wouldn't fit in the cargo area even with the seat down, so having M. Edium along wasn't going to be a problem. As long as I could get him to quite fiddling with the eight-foot-long pieces of unused trim I was also returning, which ran from the inside of the back window to the shift lever.
So I loaded the remaining segment of paneling on the roof and set about securing it. I still had some twine left over from bringing it and its fellows home, but this time I also used the rope in the garage that I'd forgotten to bring along on the pickup errand. When I'd driven it home, even with twine going across the three panels and lengthwise, I had to stay off the freeway the whole way. The panels were about a foot longer than my roof, and the radio antenna sticking up in back like a dorsal fin meant I could only position them so far back, which left the ends protruding out over the windshield. Not ideal, but I managed to get them home safely. It helped that I wasn't on a particularly busy road when they slid forward off the roof, and I'd managed to ascertain that there was a clear space to pull over in the fraction of a second before they covered the windshield completely.
Which I did, and tied them on more securely, and also stuck my hand out the window to help hold them in place. So now I know how hard a freezing wind has to be blowing before it doesn't feel like I have gloves on at all.
So that was a learning experience. For the return trip, I did my best to tie the remaining panel more securely to begin with, looping the stout rope several times over the roof through the door openings (even remembering, shrewdly, to open all the doors before I did so in order to allow me to get in and out) and then stringing the leftover twine over it all from the front bumper to the trailer hitch. I still wasn't getting on the freeway, but I figured I was in good shape.
But I wasn't done learning. Specifically, I wasn't done learning about knots and how to tie them. I don't think I'll ever be done learning that.
And there's no excuse for it, really. My dad was in the Navy, back when every sailor learned every knot, and he still knows all of them and all their names and which ones to use. I know names like "half-hitch" and "bowline" and "square knot" but don't know how to actually do any of them. And I used to. Not only did I help rig stages back in my theater-punk days, I earned the Using Rope merit badge when I was in Cub Scouts. Not that I have any idea where that thing is now, which is probably just as well. It's a lie now at any rate.
So anyway, M. Edium and I were on our way in our rolling collection of grannies (the one knot I can both name and execute), and I realized a few things. One was that it was a lot windier than the day I'd brought these panels home. The second was that one piece of paneling is a lot more flexible than three are. These two facts were combining in such a way that if I drove more than twenty miles per hour, the front end of that paneling was beginning to whipsaw inside the half-inch or so of slack my frozen (and, let's face it, incompetent) fingers hadn't been able to avoid leaving in the longitudinal line.
Which probably still would have been fine, but somewhere on Excelsior Boulevard, the busiest road I wouldn't be able to avoid taking, I realized that the amount of slack had grown. The wind was getting between that piece of paneling and the wind, and trying to lift it up like a heavily starched sail, pulling loose my crappy knot in the process. Every time the front line went taut, I had to lean a little further forward to see the front end of the panel levitating somewhere above my windshield. The only thing holding it down now was a bunch of rope, a length of twine, and okay, my hand again.
It's probably just as well I had my hand up on the roof, because that way I could tell exactly when the panel snapped in half crossways.
Well, at least now I wouldn't have to lug the thing back into the store. And this was still vastly preferable to having it slide down over the windshield again, especially on Excelsior Boulevard, and even more especially with my kid in the car.
I pulled in to the very next parking lot with half the panel still on top of the car, and half of it resting on the median a few dozen yards behind us. M. Edium really wanted to join me on my expedition across two lanes of traffic to retrieve it, but there are times as a parent when you kind of have to say no.
When I got to it, I saw that the twine had sawed a gash into the front end of the panel a foot deep. When I got back to the car with it, I saw that the twine itself had been reduced to a vague collection of fibers where the panel had been sawing through it. So I guess there's something to be said for the unintentionally remarkable engineering feat of having both of them fail at the same time.
Now all I had to do was remove the remaining half from the roof, then hold up the two halves at an angle and stomp on them until they were broken into jagged pieces small enough to fit into the cargo area with the back seat up. As if the results of the bathroom project weren't sufficient evidence, never let it be said that I don't have skills with wood paneling.
The run wasn't a total failure, though. The leftover pieces of trim made it safely back to the store intact, and I got a full refund for them, as well as the other items from other stores I'd set out to cash in that morning.
And you know what else? The back half of that panel was on there rock-solid. I kind of wish I were still driving it around now, just to show what a half-bad-ass I am.posted by M. Giant 8:52 PM 0 comments
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
The old saying in carpentry is “measure twice, cut once.” However, in putting up new trim around the windows we’d replaced, I’d perfected a new technique I called, “measure nonce, mark once, cut as many times as necessary.” Not as catchy, I know, but it worked for me. I’d hold the board up to the space where it went, mark it with a pen, and take it outside to cut it to that length on my dad's power miter saw. I’d cut it a little long on purpose because I could always shave off a picometer or two if it turned out too long, which it usually did. Which was part of the system.
But the technique doesn’t translate well to paneling. It was soon apparent that this wasn’t going to work for pieces that were too big to fit into the room, let alone hold up to the spot. So I had to use a tool I normally try to avoid, namely the tape measure. I never trust those things. Always tricking me.
But there was nothing for it but to initiate my own "measure several times, cut as few times as possible” protocols. Which I did. Paneling, I also discovered, is totally different from putting up sheetrock. If I hang a piece of drywall that turns out to be too small by a anywhere from a quarter of an inch to a foot and a half, it's just a matter of filling the space with anything from joint compound to another piece of sheetrock. It's all going to get sanded and painted over anyway. Not so with paneling. If you're off by a picometer, there's no tub of fixin'-goo handy. It's just going to look like ass until you move to a different house.
What all this means is that while working on not only getting the pieces the right size but also cutting the holes for the pipes and the outlet box, it takes a lot longer to make sure you're getting it right. Even if you can't turn the water back on until it's all up and everything's back together and you've brought the sink and the toilet tank back in from outside where you stuck them a few...no, a couple...no, seven hours ago. These projects almost always take longer than I expect them to, and I was going back to work the next day and was less than halfway done. Yes, in my genius I belatedly realized that had scheduled this for a period when I had taken only one day off from work. I suppose I could have gotten a head start the previous evening, but after all that had been New Year's Eve and besides I'd still felt like ass from having forcibly and involuntarily ejected most of my food-poisoned innards the night before that.
There were upsides. M. Edium was out for the evening, so his frequent bathroom visits were a nonissue. As for my own less frequent but still increasingly urgent need for a visit, we were lucky enough to be cat-sitting for neighbors on our block so when I went to fill their bowls I emptied something else. Oh, and also I work at home, so although I had a limited window of daytime hours in which to use power tools (not to be confused with daylight hours at this latitude the first week of January), I could work on my day job at night to justify sneaking away to the bathroom during the day to cut and nail up pieces of first paneling and then trim over the next few days. It's not like I don't spend a few extra minutes of time in there on the occasional work day anyway.
And most importantly, I realized that I'd done the hardest part first. I rarely do that, never on purpose.
But I also found out why I normally save this stuff for the summer, aside from the obvious TV scheduling issues: it's a pain to have to put on shoes and schlep out to the detached garage every time I want to use the power saw. Which, new protocols or no, was constant.
And yet back on the good side, I discovered that fixin'-goo for paneling may not come in tubs, but it does exist. It just comes in tubes. Tubes you stick into a caulking gun. And you know what that fixin'-goo is called? Caulk. I couldn't be as wanton with it as I am with spackle, obviously, but the white caulk on the white paneling made the dark seams look a lot less like buttcracks. Turns out there's one more thing that can be fixed with a judicious application of caulk, which I'm increasingly starting to think of as duct tape in a tube.
So now I started to get caulky. I also fixed the sink faucet, which had been dripping, and the toilet valve, which had been running (and neither of which seemed to have appreciated their time in the sub-freezing temperatures outside anyway), and the window trim, which I had nailed up haphazardly at the beginning of the summer before I knew how to do it right. The paint I used on that trim supposedly takes 24 hours to dry, but the second coat was no longer tacky by the time Trash came home Saturday evening.
Behold my monument to my beloved. It's no Taj Mahal, to be sure. But I think the guy who built that contracted a lot of the work out. Not that I'm judging.
And here's what it would have looked like again eventually, had Exie kept doing that to the wallpaper:
I think I prefer my after to Exie's. And if his claws slide helplessly down the paneling as he tries to jump to the windowsill, so much the better.posted by M. Giant 5:26 PM 2 comments
well done. doing stuff like this is a total PITA and it looks like you did it thoroughly!
I'm pretty sure I posted this on one of the past bathroom renovations, but it's pretty eerie how much your bathroom resembles the one in our house in size and arrangement. Kind of like you broke in fixed ours up instead.
Monday, January 07, 2013
We had a bit of "Gift of the Magi" thing at our house on Christmas this year. Among the gifts Trash gave me were some nice thick books by writers I enjoy that I could read at my leisure. And then I gave her something that burned up all my leisure for the week.
She was going to be gone for a week -- last week, to be precise -- and I find that's a good time to take on household maintenance projects. The dust and noise and mess and general disruption that these things generate are less annoying to both of us when only one of us has to deal with them.
In this case, I decided to fix up the bathroom. One might think there wouldn’t be much left to fix in a room where every surface that isn’t either porcelain or metal (and some that are) has already been reprinted, refinished, and/or completely replaced since we lived there, some of them twice. We've gone floor to ceiling in there. Literally. I replaced the entire ceiling a few years ago, no shit.
But the bathroom is also the only place in the house where we have any wallpaper. Which was fine, and my mom did a great job hanging it (no, it's not original, are you insane?) except for the fact that Exie keeps digging his claws into it to get to the windowsill. I already replaced that section once right after fixing the ceiling, but it was getting shredded again and I decided the timing was right to get rid of it once and for all.
Timing has never been my strong point.
Simply tearing off the wallpaper wasn’t going to cut it, because the paper was stuck not to sheetrock, but to some hideous Masonite paneling, which in turn covered the even more hideous grout that had held up the square tiles that were installed directly over the plaster when the house was built. Sanding and painting was therefore a nonstarter. I mean I could do it, but it would take weeks and I didn't want Trash to be gone that long. Besides, the amount of dust that would generate would certainly have caused my long-absent asthma to be all, “Heeeey, how have you been? Let’s settle down and catch up.” Emphasis on “down.”
So I decided to replace the wallpapered paneling with some paneling of our own choice. And then three years later I started actually doing it.
Trash was leaving at zero A.M on Sunday and returning the afternoon of the following Saturday. Six and a half days away from my true love stretched out before me like a yawning abyss. Until I realized what I'd gotten myself into.
With the hard experience gained from replacing windows with my parents the past couple of years -- specifically the “making it look nice afterward” part of the job -- I thought turning 8’ x 4' panels into 4’ x 4’ panels would be the hardest part. Yes, my dad’s table saw is still in our garage after a summer of replacing windows, but my dad was always the one who operated it and he was also away. And yes, it was hard. Not the hardest part, though.
Funny thing about our bathroom is it’s not all that big. And it’s oddly shaped, so instead of your standard four walls, it has, say...twenty. And it turns out there’s all this stuff to work around in there, like a wall heater, and an electrical outlet, and a vanity, and a toilet.
I thought I could cheat and work around the latter two things a little bit, but by the time I’d moved them out of of the way enough to remove the old paneling, I realized I’d given myself enough access to do the new paneling properly anyway. So why not, might as well. If everything went well I could have the water in the house turned back on within a couple of hours.
Everything did not go well.
More on that in a later entry, though. And you won't have to wait weeks for it, I promise.posted by M. Giant 3:37 PM 0 comments