Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Lake House

A lifetime ago, in a college Science Fiction Literature class, I read the greatest short story. Sadly, I don't recall the name of the author, nor the title of the story. But it made a significant impression on me at the time, and since--often--I've thought about the story and it's premise.

In a very brief nutshell: In the fairly distant future (at least it was fairly distant in the mid-80s; now, maybe not so much), the world has grown so overpopulated that humans are placed in a state of suspended animation for six of seven days each week. During one assigned day each week, folks awaken and go to work, carry on relationships and do all the things people do. But for only 24 hours. Then, at midnight, back to the deep sleep.

The male lead in the story, whose assigned day is a Tuesday, gets caught up in something--I forget what--and can't reach his chamber by midnight, and arrives a little late. As he is arriving, though, he sees a beautiful woman, who is a Wednesday, coming out of her suspension chamber. And he falls immediately in love. The story is about his quest to be with her, against all the odds.


(If you know the title of this story, please tell me what it is! I recall only that it was written by a Mexican author.)




I've often thought this story would make a terrific movie, and during the past 20 years I've expected some Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks rep to find it and pitch it to the big production companies.





But, I'll keep waiting. There are lots more Mission Impossible stories to tell...





I think my fascination with this short story is one of two reasons I really liked
The Lake House. In the movie, Kate (Sandra Bullock) and Alex (Keanue Reeves) strike up a romantic pen-pal relationship that transcended time. Separated by nearly two calendar years (Reeves is in 2004, Bullock in 2006) the pair struggle with loneliness and sadness, and find a soul mate in the other. Communicating only through letters (which, well, magically travel through time) they develop an affection that turns--quickly--from friendly to respect to romantic.

(It reminded me a bit too much of this sort of dating, but I digress...)

During the course of their relationship information is passed between them that cement their spiritual and emotional bond, and some of the actions they take change the life-course of the pair permanently, and for the better.

Sure, it is a strange premise that is a bit hard to swallow. But if you can get past that for a few moments, you might easily get swept up in the romance and emotion of the plot. (At least that's what I'm told my Mrs. Film Geek; I just thought the time travel idea was way cool!)




The second reason I really liked this movie:

For the first time in years, Keanue Reeves acted!




And, I wasn't distracted by his stilted line delivery, or his frozen-stiff body language. I enjoyed him in the role, and was happily surprised by that.

So, check it out I suppose. Mrs. Film Geek cried a lot during the movie, while I smiled sweetly more than a couple of times. So, it must be an emotional heart-tugger.


UPDATE: My friend Jackie Lantern has solved my 20-plus year mystery. The short story is by Phillip Jose Farmer (an American, not Mexican. I must have been thrown by the middle name), and the title is The Sliced-Crossways Only-On-Tuesdays World. It's a terrific read, if you get a chance.

Jackie, thanks so much! It really has been nagging thing for me for years.

A Sneak Peek

Take a 2 minute and 56 seconds tour of my life.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Get Your Tickets While You Can

This just in, from an anonymous source.



That sounded so reporter-like.

(Just for a second.)




McConaughey, McG to attend Marshall’s game with UCF

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. –
Matthew McConaughey, who stars as Coach Jack Lengyel in “We Are Marshall,” and McG, director of the film, will be in Huntington Wednesday, Oct. 4 to attend Marshall University’s Conference USA football game with the University of Central Florida.

Dr. H. Keith Spears, vice president of communications and marketing at Marshall, said McConaughey and McG will be at midfield about 10 minutes before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff to lead fans from both sides of Joan C. Edwards Stadium in the “We Are … Marshall” cheer. The cheer takes place just before the Herd takes the field.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My Favorite Billy Bob Roles

Or, This Is What Happens When I Take A Sick Day

School For Scoundrels open this Friday, and
reading about it in the USA Today made me start thinking about the various roles of one of my favorite actors, Billy Bob Thornton.

Sure, Billy Bob seems a mess in his personal life. All of it--the five wives, the bizarro-marriage bonded by blood vials with Angelina Jolie, the odd phobia he talks openly about having for antique furniture...Sheesh. But, as an actor?

Brilliant. Genius.


There are a handful of actors that will make me see a movie just because they are in it. Edward Norton and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are two of those. Billy Bob is another.


That's not to say I like all his stuff. I thought
The Alamo, in particular, sucked. (Although Billy Bob was fine in his role as Davey Crockett.) Friday Night Lights didn't wow me either, although it was a solid movie, and it was interesting that he modeled the character a little after his Dad.


A great actor, with a great career. Here are my favorite of his movies:


Bandits: Billy Bob plays Terry Lee Collins, a hypercondriac con who, along with Bruce Willis' character, is one of the "Sleepover Bandits." They target rich bank managers, stay overnight with their families and then go to work with the managers the next day to rob it from the inside. Works well for a while, until they run across the wrong family. Funny dialogue, some intense acting and a unique script.





Monster's Ball: A few months ago, I wrote a post titled "5 Films That Changed My Life." I forgot to add this one. And I should have.

Cause it did.






Sling Blade: Karl Childers had me at "Some folks call it a sling blade, I call it a keyser blade." I reckon Karl was letting us know off the bat that he knew he was different, and had learned to live with it in order to find some peace. The best performance I can recall from an actor.
Period.





Bad Santa: Sweet Jesus, this movie made me laugh so hard I didn't walk right for two weeks. Especially the first 45 minutes. I laughed so hard that I could barely control some of my more basic bodily functions. Bad Santa has now replaced National Lampoons Christmas Vacation as the X-mas Eve viewing at the Film Geek's house (after the kids are tucked away, of course).



Man, I hope School For Scoundrels is just as good.

Out Of The Great Northwest...

Somewhere in Los Angeles, circa 1976, I'm certain the following television-show pitch took place:

Krofft producer:" You've gotta love this idea. We got a winner here, guys."

ABC Executive: "Let me see if I understand you so far. Bigfoot kidnaps a kid..."

Krofft: "No, no. Not kidnaps. The kid is lost in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Bigfoot finds him, and takes him in."

ABC: "Sort of a foster father, then?"

Krofft: "Sort of. Nice lava lamp, by the way."

ABC: "Gift from Don Ho. Anyway, the kid and Bigfoot fight crime. Yes?"

Krofft: "Mostly, yes. They fight poachers, take on guys hurting the environment, stuff like that."

ABC: [stroking chin] "We do have that Bigfoot costume from that Six Million Dollar Man episode, the one where Bigfoot is an alien robot. Is this Bigfoot an alien robot?"


Krofft: "No."

ABC: "Too bad. Go on."

Krofft: "I'm sorry?"

ABC: "Go on. I want to hear more."

Krofft: "That's the show. It's called
Bigfoot And Wildboy, and it will star Joseph Butcher and Ray Young. No cartoons, just a lot of action, and a little supernatural stuff from time to time."

ABC: "Well, why didn't you say so in the first place? Deal! Let's get it on the air."

Bigfoot and Wildboy was a great show, and was on Saturdays for two years. Ray Young, who played "Bigfoot", worked in TV for years before passing away in 1999. "Wildboy" Joseph Butcher did a couple episodes of The Waltons and Knotts Landing, then went into real estate (or so the legend says).

If you were a fan, take a long look at the show link. The page has episode breakdowns, and lots of cast information.

Here is a youtube video of the opening theme.

What can I say...? I warned ya, I'm a geek.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

There's Something Happening Here

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 10% of the adult population struggles with some form of depression each year. If that's accurate--and the numbers of children under 18 who have a mood disorder are added to the statistics--the total number of people who are depressed in some way is staggering.

Yet, for the most part, our society ignores it. Considers it a weakness. So, people hide it under the bed, until it's impossible to hide any longer.

And by then, it's sometimes too late.


During the last few weeks, two miners from the Sago mine in West Virginia committed suicide. From all accounts, these men were not responsible for the tragedy that occurred this past Winter, and were not family members of the men who died in the cave-in of that mine. But, they suffered, nonetheless. With grief and sadness. And with guilt.

But, who was listening?

Well, not me...

Sadly, I didn't even know about the suicides until this morning, when I heard it mentioned on Hoppy Kercheval's Metro News radio talk show. I'm notorious for ignoring news (especially local news) since I dropped out. But Lord, how did I miss that story?


One reason: The miners weren't this guy.

Terrell Owens tries to overdose, and Breaking News flashes across my computer. Co-workers talk about it in the hallways, at the water cooler and while waiting on copies. Some guys even quickly pulled up their Fantasy Football League pages, to see what substitute they could get off the Waivers List.

We couldn't escape this news.

Although the majority of the most severe forms of depression can be treated, most people who have depression do not seek treatment. It's considered an admission of weakness, and American society doesn't value weakness. The guy who pulled himself up by his bootstraps? He's a hero. Need to talk to someone about the grief you are experiencing? Loser.

No one wants to be that guy.

One in ten. That translates to nearly 21 million American adults living with some form of depression. The economical problems this causes the world is significant; the emotional distress the disorder causes each individual who lives with it is overwhelming.


Who knows how this thing with TO will turn out? I do know this: We gotta learn from the TO's, so that the Sago-type tragedies no longer happen.

UPDATE: Yeah, I know. TO says it was an accident, and not an attempt at suicide. That he has nothing to be depressed about.

Doesn't change a thing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Trivial Tuesday

Some tidbits, for a Tuesday:

"That rug really tied the room together."

Whitney Matheson reports on the upcoming Lebowski Fest, and has a podcast interview with the fest's founders. You can access it at Pop Candy, here.




I read that Christie's will be auctioning off Star Trek memorabilia
:

Seems CBS Paramount will be selling off thousands of props, costumes and other stuff from the five series and ten movies that had the Star Trek theme.

Gee...I wonder if that auction will be successful.







Heroes, on NBC: You know you watched it.

Whaddya think?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Have Some Grace

Sometimes, Nancy, you gotta show some class. This may be one of those times.

"I remain dedicated to the ongoing fight for crime victims everywhere," Grace said in a statement to The Associated Press.



"Right now, our focus is on helping find baby Trenton Duckett safe and sound, and we will pursue the case until there is a resolution."



When did solving crimes become a role of our media?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New WV Bloggers Message Board

My friend Jackie Lantern (if that is his real name!) from Saved By The Torso recently created a message board for West Virginia bloggers. Check it out, here. If you keep a web journal, sign in and say hello. It should be lots of fun.

UPDATE: The WV bloggers board has found a permanent home, thanks to Jackie and his buddies at Kanawha Design. It can be found here.

United 93

Since Spring '06, back when this movie was first released in theaters, United 93 has generated a lot of buzz. Not so much for it's plot, storyline or acting. And although there was some discussion (mostly kudos) regarding how writer-director Paul Greengrass presented the true-life drama, most of the buzz wasn't about that, either.

Nope. Most of talk about United 93 centered upon whether or not the movie was made and released too soon after the tragedy.

Ian Casselberry, who writes Fried Rice Thoughts had a definite opinion of the film when he saw it back in May. For a terrific and thoughtful review, check out his comments. After my viewing, I agree with him fully. And, I couldn't improve upon his written comments.

Greengrass presents the film in an almost documentary style. And the movie feels almost like it is occurring in real time (although I haven't read anything that tells me it was filmed that way). United 93 is most powerful, to me at least, in pointing out the absurdities of the tragedy: bureaucracy prevented the military from being able to react until several minutes after the plane had already crashed; the President and his most powerful Cabinet members could not be reached timely; on any given day there are so many air-flights that a couple planes here and there are almost as difficult to monitor as proverbial needles in haystacks; and without cell phones, it is very likely that the hijacked United 93 would have reached it's target, the White House.

Cell phones were secretly used by the passengers to call their loved ones during the hijacking. It was during these calls the passengers discovered that, earlier in the day, other planes had been used for suicide missions. Without that information, it is more than likely the passengers of United 93 would have waited the situation out to see how it ended.

The movie neither exploits or underplays the tragedy. It is what it is, and Greegrass and his cast show it honestly.

Eight Below

Lots of rain over the weekend kept us inside. So we spent it old-school: blogging, watching DVDs, doing work-related research on the Internet and catching up on some old music via my Sirius satellite radio--you know, real old-fashioned, family values stuff.

One movie playing in the Film Geek's house this weekend was
Eight Below. My ten-year-old daughter, Maddisen, loved the movie, and highly recommends it.

Here is her review, prompted by my questions:

Eight Below stars dogs as well as humans. Which--dogs or humans--were the better actors?

Humans, I guess. That's a silly question.

Which dog was your favorite, and why?

Mya, she was the lead dog and always moved forward.

Which human actor was your favorite, and why?

I don't know, they were all good.

At any time during the movie, does actor Paul Walker drive a car really, really fast?

Yes. Why?

Dogs get stranded in the arctic and must wait for humans to save them. Do all dogs get saved, or do some die? If some do, which ones?

Two dogs die, Huey, and Jack.

Did you cry?

No

Some say your Daddy is more handsome than actor Bruce Greenwood. Do you agree?

I'm not answering this question.

Which movie was Bruce Greenwood better in: Racing Stripes, or Eight Below?

I don't know which guy he is.

Should people see Eight Below? Why?

Yes! Because it's a very good movie.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Welcome

Computers and the Internet are still magic to me, so I rarely tinker with the format of this site. I sometimes try new things, and the what-seemed-like-a-good-idea goes bad...Really, really bad.

Once in a while I get brave enough to add the links of other West Virginia bloggers to my growing Blogs I Read list. I love reading blogs written by other Mountain State-ers. Most are incredibly entertaining, and others are more informational. I enjoy all of them each morning, though, with my several cups o' joe.

If you haven't already noticed, I've recently added:
Occasional Blog, an eclectic topic weblog written by a guy who can really write an interesting tale; Carpe You Some Diem, by a talented artist/teacher/writer whose work more folks should get to know; and Let Go My Ego, which is so funny and hip that it makes me feel old and out-of-the-loop.

If you haven't already, check 'em out.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Elderly Woman Behind A Counter In A Small Town

A couple of years ago, my wife and I were being seated at a table in Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House, and Phyllis Elkins was our waitress. As she poured our water and arranged the tray of crackers in the same way she has done daily for six decades, she said: "I'll be right back with the menus."

My reply? "We don't need menus. We come here just for
the water and the crackers."

Ms. Elkins didn't miss a beat. She paused slightly, then smiled politely and kept on walkin' toward that menu rack.





On the inside, though, she was thinking: "Crack a joke I haven't heard before, kid."






Thursday, after 60--yes, I said sixty--years of waitressing at Jim's, Ms. Elkins hung up her white apron and retired.

Tips aren't as good in retirement, but the hours are better. Enjoy life, Ms. Elkins. ...And thanks.

Workin' For The Weekend

Aren't we all? For some reason, I can't get that song out of my head today.

(Where did I put that red bandanna...?)



We Are...Marshall: The most recent issue of Marshall University's alumni magazine is dedicated to the movie. There are several interesting stories, and some terrific photos. It makes for some good reading, if you can get a copy.







Overexposed:
Please, ...How much longer?












Tiny Bubbles: And, a tiny pacemaker was implanted successfully in Don Ho's chest on Saturday. I used to really dig Ho's variety show on ABC back in the mid-70s. (But, I didn't know he was still up and about...)






Oscar season is coming: And soon! So soon, in fact, that USA Today just published it's first Top 10 Contenders watch list. My $2 is on Stranger Than Fiction, to show.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Packin' The Overnight Bag

Jim: " You got my skin moisturizer? The cocoa-butter one I like?"

Bob: "Yep. It's packed."

Jim: "How about my teeth whitening strips?"

Bob: "Check."

Jim: " Gotta find my latest issue of Fitness Rx For Men! Did you pack my protein bars?"

Bob: "Check."


Jim: "My Carb Solutions?"

Bob: "Packed. Can we go already? We're gonna be late."

Jim: "As soon as I find my orange sleeveless T !"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Poseidon

A friend said, recently: "I admire your ability to watch anything."

And, it's true, mostly. (Except Basic Instinct 2 which, if I recall correctly, I refused to finish.) I'm not opposed to watching almost anything, because I typically come away from a movie with something of value. An inspiration, or a new idea, perhaps. Something about a movie or it's characters that I can apply to--or compare with--my life.

(Except for most Sharon Stone movies. Especially
Basic Instinct 2, if I haven't already mentioned that.)

This rule applied a couple of days ago, when I watched
Poseidon.

Quick review: Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, an under-used Richard Dreyfuss and a gaggle of attractive people find themselves stranded on a disabled cruise ship that has been turned upside down by a tsunami. Desperate to get to the top of the ship before it sinks completely, those in the group fight rising water, nearly-impossible odds and each other in their efforts to survive.

And not all do. Which, to me, is the most interesting part of this remake.

A couple of passengers find themselves in a dilemma where they must choose whether or not to sacrifice their own lives for the safety of others. It happens at least twice in the film, and both times I was struck at the difficulty I think I would have with those decisions, should I be placed in those real-life circumstances. I'm not sure I could be the hero. I hope I could, but I worry I would be too selfish, and take care of myself first.

And if I did: Could I continue living my life happily, knowing I sacrificed another in order to live myself?

So, I'm curious about how you would react, faced with overwhelming odds and knowing that you-- or the stranger beside you-- will die with your next action. To paraphrase my boy Keanu: "What would you do...What would you do?"

How Did I Miss This?

Am I the only fan who didn't follow these online happenings during the summer?

I suppose I was Lost.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Edison Force

Recipe for: Straight-To-Video Con Carne

Ingredients:

2 Oscar-winning actors: Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey.
1 Well known character actor who always turns in fine work: John Heard
1 TV and movie star well known for his quiet passion: Dylon McDermott
1 rapper/actor who always turns in a terrific performance: LL Cool J
1 actor/singer who wants a "serious actor" label: Justin Timberlake


Package and market the film as the debut of Justin Timberlake (pre-Bringing Sexy Back edition), fill the movie with cliches and improbabilities, hire writers that have done mostly hour-long TV work and monkey with the name at least twice.

Give the meatiest, most interesting role to LL Cool J, and ignore the other, more accomplished ingredients.

Let sit for one year, as you contemplate a bit more how to package the movie.

Add sloppy editing, place into DVD -plastic and ship in bulk to Blockbuster.

Friday, September 15, 2006

That's Eclectic, With A C

Eclectic Guy is developing a very interesting list on his Occasional Blog. EG is interested--along with me, and a couple other folks--to read your list of the Ten Albums That Changed Your Life. You can create your list of what and why, and send it to him. Here is the information you'll need. It's a neat idea, and one that should generate some really fun discussion.

While you're visiting his site, check out his list of 5 Movies That Scared Me, and his post about local professional rasslin'. He's a talented teller of stories.

5 Movies That Scared Me The Most

(Or, Movies That Made Me Nearly Pee In My Pants From Fear)

I said "nearly," and I mean "nearly." Honest.

Autumn is near. More than any other season, the Fall brings with it an intangible sorta vibe that floods me with specific imagery, and memories.

Corn for example. Usually, I hate the sight of corn! (Tip o' the hat to my Des Moines buddies.) But for some reason--maybe because of some Freudian attraction to Pilgrims--I love the vegetable during Autumn. Can't get enough of the stuff.


But another thing I can't get enough of during Fall is movies. Scary movies in particular. Not the slasher-sort of flick where kids get killed while camping, nor those movies that are more snuff films than art. Nope...I'm talking about movies that send a chill down my spine by using interesting stories, atypical plot themes and great acting. Good special effects--even gore, if it is integral to the plot, and not gratuitous--add greatly to the experience.

Scary movies affect me emotionally, and usually for a long time. Some of them have even influenced small aspects of my life. When I was a kid, for instance, I slept with blankets wrapped around my neck to prevent being bitten by vampires. I recall: (1) knowing there were no real vampires; (2) knowing that if there were real vampires, a mere blanket wouldn't stop the assault; and (3) cramming the blanket tight between my shoulder and neck anyway. Just in case...

The power of film.

So, simply because it's Autumn, here are the
5 Movies That Scared Me The Most. In no particular order of fright-dom:

Rosemary's Baby: This flick made me scared--to this day--of two things. First, chicks with really short hair. Second, new neighbors. Anytime I move into a new community, I fear my neighbors are witches or Satanists who will reel me in with their faux friendliness only to use me, ultimately, for evil.



The Howling: Except for the final few minutes, when the female lead turns into a Yorkshire terrier-styled werewolf, The Howling kicked ass from beginning to (almost) end. Because of this movie, anytime I move into a new community, I fear my neighbors are werewolves who will reel me in...Well, nevermind.






An American Werewolf In London: When this movie came out in theaters, I couldn't watch the thing straight through. But, I did later on VHS. (I'm such a sissy.) It wasn't the gore as much as it was the complete loss of control and despair experienced by the lead character. Scary stuff.
I guess werewolves were big in the early 80s.





Nosferatu: Recall my earlier compulsion to stuff blankets around my neck to keep vampires from gettin' to the jugular?

Bingo.




Halloween III-Season Of The Witch
: Although this movie had a Halloween title, it wasn't really related to the earlier flicks of the same name. In this one, a toymaker plots to use Halloween masks to kills millions of kids and release some black magic mumbo jumbo. I forget the actual plot, but the damn movie scared the bejesus outta me back in the day.




You gotta list of your own? Now that I've made mine, I may need to dig out my blankie...



UPDATE: I owe Useless Drivel an apology. About a month ago he wrote a post very similar to this one, which I read at the time. I forgot about his post when writing this one, thus neglecting to give him props for having the idea first. (No hard feelings, OffRoute 75. I really did forget.) Anyway, check his out. It's a great list.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hmmm

Arsenio Hall used to do a segment on his show called something like: "Things That Make You Go 'Hmmm?."

At least that's what I've heard; I was more a fan of the other late night guys. Arsenio was too hip for me, I suppose, with that whole sittin'-on-a-sofa-and-not-behind-a-desk thing he did.

But there is a whole lotta entertainment news that is making me go "Hmmm?" today, including:



Crack Is Wack: C'mon...When they wed back in '92, didn't you just know that Whitney was making a huge mistake. I mean, Bobby was a bad boy, and we couldn't figure out why the pop diva with the golden voice was interested in the guy from The New Edition, who had legal problems involving drugs and infidelity.

Now, the couple is seperating.

Well, I caught the Diane Sawyer interview back in 2002, and I watched Being Bobby Brown, so I have only one thing to say: "It's about damn time, Bobby! Don't walk, run. And count your blessings you got out with all your limbs intact."



Coincidence? I Think Not: Tom Arnold leaves Shelby Roos, his wife of four years, at the same time Heather Locklear is splitting from her short-term beau, David Spade? Surely you see the connection. ...Don't ya?





Nah, It Couldn't Have Been That: Ben Affleck is in today's USA Today whining about being typecast...as himself !
"Modern typecasting isn't about, 'I think of you as the captain from Star Trek, therefore I can't watch you in X-Men,' Now it's, 'I think of you as yourself, therefore I can't watch you in a fictional story.' "

Sheesh...

Ben, listen...Next time you are in Taylor Books, let's have a chat about poor career choices, the effects that over-exposing your personal life can have on public perception, and about what the hell you were thinking during that whole "Bennifer" period. I'll buy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Brick

Jackie Lantern (if that is his real name!) mentioned Brick on his blog, Saved By The Torso, not long ago. I like Jackie and trust his judgment about flicks. Tomatoes? Not so much.

But that's a different story.


So, on Jackie's advice I qued up Brick. And he was right...It is bad-ass.

Brendan Fry is a high school student who has to work his way through the typical cliques of his school in order to find out who murdered the girl he has a crush on. That plot alone is a fine movie all by itself, sure. But that isn't the half of it. Although it took me a little while to pick up on the pattern of the dialogue, I realized before too long that Brick is a 1940s private eye flick set in a modern day high school.

It's Humphrey Bogart at 17. The Maltese Falcon meets Saved By The Bell.

(OK. I took that one too far. And I apologize.)

Ahem...

The dialogue is right out of the 40s, see. And it sets the tone for the whole movie. Capiche? Scenes begin with doors opening, or ceiling fans being shown up close, just like old black and white flicks. And the fists fly hard, and tough.

Oh, and the kid from Witness is back, all grown up. In a big way.

I really liked Brick, Jackie. Thanks for the tip. Now, how 'bout another slice of that 'mater?

Please Make It Stop: Part 8

Clearly I don't know for sure, but I imagine this is pretty close to the actual dialogue that occurred at the most recent strategic planning meeting of Harpo Productions:

Oprah: "How are we progressing on the goals we set to establish our world dominance?"

Minion: "Pretty well, O. We didn't given away any cars this year, but the flack we got about some of the audience members who couldn't pay taxes on the cars they got a few years ago died down pretty quickly. Kudos to Gail for the nice PR job."

Oprah: "Wonderful, wonderful. Let's go over our goals, then. (1) Dominate the syndicated TV market."

Minion: "Check. A small bump when Dr. Phil got pissy about you, but he came back around fast."

Oprah: "He'll know better next time. (2) Dominate the feel-good book market."

Minion: "Check. Small bump with the book by that addict who wasn't quite as addicted as he first claimed he was. But, we recovered nicely."

Oprah: "(3) Dominate the non-fashion magazine industry."

Minion: "Check. The fake brouhaha you created about the relationship between you and Gail possibly being romantic helped spike third quarter sales. Nicely done, again."

Oprah: "Thank you. (4) Dominate the satellite radio industry."

Minion: "Uh...We may have dropped the ball on that one..."

Oprah: "Damn it! Someone get me Maya Angelou on the hotline! NOW!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Extending Your Celebrity: 101

From USA Today's online edition. Photo by Mindy Jennings:

Jennings hopes there is more TV in his future. He's developing a TV game show with Who Wants to be a Millionaire producer Michael Davies. The concept, Jennings says, "is Ken Jennings vs. the rest of the world."





I dunno...

Frankly, I think he was much more interesting clicking a button and wagering $800 on Potpourri, Alex.

Cars

For an enjoyable and intimately personal read about Cars, check out my friend's comments on the movie (from his archived June 11, 2006 post) at Donutbuzz. I couldn't improve upon the sentiment, nor the writing.

For me, though, the film was wonderful for one, simple reason:

While watching Cars with my son Jaden (who, I've said before, is rarely still) the three-year-old snuggled up onto my shoulder and watched the movie with me. Calmly, and quietly.

For a short while, it was nothin' but magic.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Click

Living in the present can be a bit difficult, especially when many of us live in a fast-paced society that values setting and achieving goals. We get reinforced for looking toward the future at work and school: we pat five-year-olds nicely on the head when he or she announces (s)he wants to be a teacher or a doctor when (s)he grows up, while at work our daily duties are developed from the annual goals someone down the hall established for us back during the first week of January.

Live too long in the past? Recall too easily the poor choices made, or the dreams never realized? You're gonna get meds, my friend. Not "medicine," which people get when they have the flu, but "meds." The sort folks give you, then watch you as you swallow it down.

Just to be sure.

Once in a while, we gotta be reminded to live in the moment. It's then, after all, when we can pause to ensure we are making good decisions (and living with less regret), and the time to evaluate the status of our life-goals. The moment is the real time to figure out if we are moving in the right direction.

Click, starring Adam Sandler--yes, damn it, I said Adam Sandler--helped remind me of that this weekend.

You know this movie and it's premise: Sandler plays a husband-father-architect who can't seem to meet all the professional and personal obligations he feels. He happens into possession of a magical remote control, a clicker that controls the universe. He can manipulate his life by fast forwarding through the challenging times, muting arguments with his wife and pausing during emotional times for reflection. It lets him meet all his needs, or so he thinks. Along the way, Sandler's character realizes that he has been living for the future and, as a result, disregarding the present.

It isn't a perfect movie. It's predictable, and the conclusion seems a bit contrived. But it is a powerful movie in the message it delivers, if we pay attention.

I was reminded of this message Sunday morning, the morning after watching the flick. While eating lunch with the family at a restaurant in Cincinnati, my three-year-old son was not on his best behavior. He wasn't being terrible, just a bit difficult. And I was annoyed. Strongly, increasingly annoyed. I must have looked it, because my wife leaned near me and, very quietly, whispered: "Do you need a remote control?"

Nope, I don't. Thanks. I'll take the moment and the memory, please.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Own Private WallyWorld

The Film Geek family loves coasters. The Top Gun at Charlotte's CaroWinds, The Flight of Fear and The Beast at King's Island. We love 'em all. So much so that we head to the Paramount parks six to eight times each season. We usually visit King's Island in Cincinnati about four times a year, and travel to CaroWinds three or four times each summer, too. You can't beat the rides for small kids either, and we all love the water parks.

Usually we make a trip to King's Island just after Labor Day, during a weekend when the kids aren't involved in any community sports related activities. Those types of weekends get more rare as the kids get older, so you take 'em when you get 'em.

This weekend, we took 'em.

Even though I got off work a little late Friday, we packed up the van and drove 175 miles or so to Cincinnati. It was a tiring trip; there was lots more traffic than usual, and the kids were a bit cranky. I considered it a real achievement that we made it to the hotel and had the kids in bed by 11:00pm.

It was that kind of night.

But worth it for the next-day-fun. Flight Of Fear. And Face/Off. And all the kiddie rides you can handle, with shorter-than-summer wait lines. We ate a quick breakfast, and headed out to the park. The kids were excited, and spent the final mile or so deciding--rather loudly-- which rides were their favorites, and why.

As I pulled into the parking gate, I commented that there were far fewer cars than I expected. Mrs. Film Geek figured that it being 10:00am and post-Labor Day played a role in that. I agreed, and giddily commented that the lines would be even shorter than we originally thought.

I rolled down my window, and handed the parking attendant my season pass. Then:

Me: "Hey, good morning. Do you guys have any premier parking slots available? I'll upgrade if you do."

Parking attendant: "No, those lots are full."

Me: "Too bad.' [Noticing she hasn't yet taken my card.] 'Don't you want my pass?"

Parking attendant: "Are you a GE employee?"

Me: "I don't know what you mean..."

Parking attendant: [perplexed] "Are you an employee of General Electric? Or, a family member of a General Electric employee?"

Me: [Looking at Mrs. Film Geek] "I don't understand what's going on."

Mrs. Film Geek: "I think there's a problem..."

Parking attendant: "The park is closed to the public this weekend, it is reserved for GE employees and their families."

Suddenly, the theme song from National Lampoon's Vacation popped in my head:

I found out long ago
It's a long way down the holiday road
Holiday road
Holiday road




A couple of options popped into my head. (1) I could argue like hell and insist we get in. After all, we drove 175 miles to get there! But, I knew that wouldn't work. Capitalism rules; (2) I could gun the engine and ram my mini-van through the barricade. I checked that one off fast, too. I settled on #3:

Me: "Where can I turn around?"

Parking attendant: "Turn left at the security guard, and you can leave the park."

Well, The Cincinnati Zoo loved our business. For seven hours of family-style fun...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Whatever Happened To...Kaptain Kool And The Kongs

It's Saturday morning and a lifetime away from 1976.

The memories you forgot you had ...

In 1976 I knew little about the glam-rock movement that had taken place a couple of years earlier. That stuff happened in New York and other cosmopolitan places, not up the holler.

But, I sure knew about Kaptain Kool and the Kongs. Fronted by Michael Lembeck (Kaptain Kool), Kongs Superchick (Debra Clinger), Turkey (Mickey McMeel), Nashville (Louise Durat) and Flatbush (Bert Sommer, who left after the first season) put on glitter and belted out tunes in between their main duties, introducing Saturday morning cartoon shows.

And the shows they introduced! We're talking Wonderbug. Those groovy superchicks, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. And Bigfoot and Wildboy, my all-time favorite!

Brilliant shows, when you are eleven.

Lembeck had the most career success, I suppose. He co-starred later in One Day At A Time, and directed lots of sitcoms for TV. Superchick's career in show biz seems to have fizzled out around the Hart To Hart years. Turkey hasn't been heard of since 1980, and Nashville continues to work doing voice-overs. Flatbush, who may have been the smartest Kong (in that he bolted after the first season), apparently went into some other line of work besides acting. He has no other credits listed on his bio.

Where did 30 years go?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

We Are...Marshall Trailer

Yahoo has this link to the We Are...Marshall trailer.

Enjoy. It made me cry. I know I'm a homer on this flick, but it looks damn good!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

1...2...3...ROLL IT !!!

Man, I wanted to be on the Mr. Cartoon Show in the worst way when I was a kid. Along with Camden Park, WSAZ's Mr. Cartoon Show was the pinnacle of childhood fun-dom.

But, I never made it to a taping.

I did, however, once attend a drunk-fest where a family member of Mr. Cartoon's alias, Jule Huffman, came dressed as the shows costumed mascot, Beeper. The sick bastard--whose identity shall remain anonymous for his own well-being--drank as Beeper, danced as Beeper and puked as Beeper. And he did all those things a lot.

Jule Huffman is being inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame on September 16, 2006. I'm older than I thought; in addition to the work he did at WSAZ as an announcer, weatherman and all-around-on-air-celeb, he hosted the Mr. Cartoon children's show for nearly a quarter of a century. Most of those years the show was on for an hour, from 4pm until 5pm. Until the Queen of All That Is Unholy took over that time slot in the late 80s. Huffman and Beeper then took their song and dance to Saturday mornings.

Here's an article from Wednesday's Charleston Gazette about Huffman and his career.

Mrs. Film Geek, who grew up in the region, says she once attended the Mr. Cartoon Show, along with children from a church or synagogue of her choice. (That made sense if you ever saw the show even once.) Anyway, to hear her tell it, back in the late 70s, kids in the live studio audience couldn't even see the cartoons shown between cut-ins. They were entertained with games and music until the live portion was cued up.

I say she's a-lyin'. Mr. Cartoon don't play 'dat game.

...Did he?


Post-Labor Day Musings

It's Wednesday already!?!

Three day weekends mess with my head...


Something Diff'rent Strokes-ish seems to be happening over on the set of Lost.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays Mr. Eko, was recently arrested for what appears to be some minor traffic violations and disobeying a police officer. Considering the arrests of the actors who portrayed Anna Lucia and Libby (may they rest in peace) for DUI, why the Lost producers have not hired drivers for these actors may be the greatest mystery of all. Somewhere, Todd Bridges is having a nice chuckle.





I'm not a fan of major news productions, nor Katie Couric. But, Couric deserves some props for becoming the first woman to anchor the network news solo. Fact is, it's sort of embarrassing (to me, at least) that America had to wait until: (1) 2006, and (2) a period of time when network news has become irrelevant, to finally reach that gender milestone.

And the comment I heard most today, about her initial, first-night performance? "She wore white after Labor Day."

Pathetic. (Not that she wore white, but rather that our society thinks... that is an OK criticism...nevermind.)









Sure, she's cute and all, but...Was it really worth the wait? And the obsession? At least she isn't wearing white after Labor Day.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Rollin' With Saget

"You are now about to witness the strength of Bob Saget."

I've been wanting to mention this video for a while, and either forgot or got caught up in all the college football hoopla. But, this song and video, by Jaime Kennedy, is hilarious. Most folks know Bob Saget from his days on Full House. Before that, though, Saget had a well-deserved reputation as one of the filthiest comics in the business. This video pokes a little fun at that reputation.

"I'm Bob Saget, it's what I do. "

It's a hoot. And pretty blue (so turn the volumn down and dim the lights), with loads of inside gags about Full House and Saget's rep.

It's All Fun And Games, Until...

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin got too close to a stingray, and was killed Monday off the coast of The Great Barrier Reef. You can read about it here.

Update: I realized after I posted this news that my friend Jedi, who writes This Is Not My Blog, also commented on the story. His post contains some links you might find interesting.

Running Scared

Running Scared--not the 1986 action-comedy starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines, but rather the 2006 kick-ass-fest written and directed by Wayne Kramer--is a dark and disturbing look into the desperate lives of adults willing do whatever-it-takes to get theirs, and one kid who has, finally, had enough.

From the opening scene, Running Scared is scene after scene of over-the-top desperation, action and violence. Joey Gazelle, played by lead actor Paul Walker, is a local mob grunt who finds himself chest deep on trouble when a gun he is supposed to have hidden--the same gun used to kill several dirty cops in the opening scene--is stolen and used in a crime. To complicate matters, the thief who took the gun is an eleven (or so) year-old-kid named Oleg (Cameron Bright, from Birth), who took the gun to stop his father from further abusing and terrorizing his family. After the gun is used to wound his Dad, Joey realizes that the police will trace the gun back to him (and figure out it is the weapon used earlier to kill the dirty cops) if he doesn't recover it.

Problem is, Oleg has taken off, forcing Joey to search for him. That trip is disturbing. Incredibly, horrifically disturbing.

Running Scared is a film about how people deal with, overcome or embrace despair. That theme drives the movie, and is one of the main reasons I couldn't fully embrace it. I simply cannot enjoy a movie where children are placed in situations of perversion, or where kids are the object of graphic, no-holds-barred violence. And this film has that, and more. That's too bad for me, because otherwise I really liked the plot, the interesting visual manner with which Kramer tells the back story and the nail-biting action.

So, if you can get past my issue with the kids, you may really like this movie.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Diary Of A Big Green Refugee

Dear Diary:

8:30am. Mrs. Film Geek and I slept in this morning. We arrived in Morgantown a little late, so the extra sleep was refreshing.

When I awoke caffeine was whispering in my ear, Dear Diary. Loud.


So I walked down to the area where the hotel serves it's Continental Breakfast. (It's funny how that phrase always reminds me of The Continental, the running character Christopher Walken plays on SNL.) Geez...I'm so old, Dear Diary. And sorta lame.




Anyway, there were more Green hats and shirts in the breakfast area this morning than Blue and Gold. So, I stuck around a few minutes and talked to a few Herd fans.

We are all scared. So very, very scared...

10:00am. After a shower and shave I'm ready to hit the road for the tailgate. As we drive, Mrs. Film Geek realizes that WVU's color scheme isn't really Blue and Gold. It's Blue and Yellow, she says.

And she won't stop saying it:

Her: "Notre Dame is gold. This ring is gold. That color is yellow."

Me: "Yeah, well they call it gold. So don't be smarting off the Mountaineer Faithful about their color scheme. That isn't a good idea..."

Her: [perplexed] "But, it's yellow. They're wrong to call it gold."

Me: [eyeroll] "Let it go."


12:00 noon. We arrive at a Marshall tailgate party, Dear Diary, and I've never been happier to see a gaggle of total and complete strangers. Because these strangers wear green, and smiles on their faces. And they offer us hot dogs, and beer (for the low, low all-you-can-consume price of $10). So far, so good Dear Diary. So far, so good.

1:15 pm. I've lost Mrs. Film Geek somewhere in the crowd.

So, I politely excuse myself from the conversation I'm having with my new friend Carl in order to search for her. It takes a few minutes, Dear Diary, and then I hear in the periphery:



"I mean...Notre Dame wears gold. Everyone knows that! This color is yellow."

...I found her.



2:45pm. We make our way into the stadium by shuttle, Dear Diary, and were so excited to run into an old friend, by accident, on the bus. She and her kid will be sitting near us, as it turns out. Thank God! Lots of Marshall fans comment that they are getting strange looks from folks wearing those other colors. Looks of amusement. Maybe. Or evil anticipation. Someone suggests it is going to be a long afternoon.

Our friend and her 12-year old son settle in near us. Within minutes, some ass wearing a Sugar Bowl Champion T-shirt taps the kid on the shoulder, and says: "Marshall swallows." Yep, that's a classy way to interact with a kid.

Have another beer, buddy.


5:00pm. Dear Diary...This looks pretty bad for The Herd. WVU is just too fast, too good. That Slayton kid is phenomenal, and Pat White is going to be. This team is special. And Marshall's isn't. Yet. It might be later, but not now. Not today.





5:45pm. The Herd Faithful have abandoned the team. Why, Dear Diary, are fans so fickle?









8:00pm. Well, Dear Diary, my team lost. It was whipped soundly by a better, more dominant team. Too bad, but the event was fun. It is only one game, and the season is long. The Herd will be OK...There's always next year!


Friday, September 01, 2006

Good Idea / Bad Idea: Part 2

Most folks who stop by here probably know I'm not a fan of our current President. This President (the phrase used during spin-chats these days which, depending upon the type of inflection used, clues in the listener as to whether the speaker is a fan of The Prez or not) just ain't my cup of tea.

Still, I find myself a bit alarmed upon reading that a British TV network will air a fictional documentary about the assassination of W.

According to this article in USA Today, This President's assassination will be the main plot of Death Of A President, which will focus on those involved--the anti-war protesters, the Secret Service agents who try and protect The Man and those suspected of being involved with the assassination.

I'm hardly a fan of censorship, and I don't think art should be limited. My question is, though: Does this idea push (or cross) the boundaries of good taste? Is it a good idea, or a bad one?