Thursday, July 31, 2008

The X-Files: I Want To Believe

My take on The X-Files: I Want To Believe was gonna be: [cue cymbals from the series theme]


Whoo-whee-whoo-whoo-whhhiii-whoo
Whoo-whee-whoo-whoo-whhhii-THUD

But the dead goose effect didn't seem to really work in print.


Then I talked to my friend, Hoyt about the flick. Coming off his back-to-back viewing of The Dark Knight and X-Files, I wanted to know his thoughts. And as usual, Hoyt was able to put it all into perspective. Here's his guest review:

I love Ritz crackers.

And watching the X-Files sequel was like eating a plate full of Ritz crackers after not having anything to eat all day. It's very satisfying, and every bit as good as I would have expected.

No, it's not a full course steak dinner with a baked potato and peanut butter chocolate ice cream for dessert like Batman is. But I enjoyed the X-Files because I finally got to see my favorites like Mulder and Scully (and maybe another someone, too) for the first time in years.

That, my friends, is why he's The Man.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Please, Make It Stop: Part 15

Being pampered just hit mega-drive.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Ready for the latest in spa pampering? Prepare to dunk your tootsies in a tank of water and let tiny carp nibble away.

Fish pedicures are creating something of a splash in the D.C. area, where a northern Virginia spa has been offering them for the past four months. John Ho, who runs the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon with his wife, Yvonne Le, said 5,000 people have taken the plunge so far.

"This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet," Ho said.

He said he wanted to come up with something unique while finding a replacement for pedicures that use razors to scrape off dead skin. The razors have fallen out of favor with state regulators because of concerns about whether they're sanitary.

Ho was skeptical at first about the fish, which are called garra rufa but typically known as doctor fish. They were first used in Turkey and have become popular in some Asian countries.

"I know people were a little intimidated at first," Ho said. "But I just said,
'Let's give it a shot.' "

First time customer KaNin Reese, 32, of Washington, described the tingling sensation created by the toothless fish: "It kind of feels like your foot's asleep," she said.

The fish don't do the job alone. After 15 to 30 minutes in the tank, customers get a standard pedicure, made easier by the soft skin the doctor fish leave behind.

Ho believes his is the only salon in the country to offer the treatment, which costs $35 for 15 minutes and $50 for 30 minutes. The spa has more than 1,000 fish, with about 100 in each individual pedicure tank at any given time.

Customer Patsy Fisher, 42, of Crofton, Md., admitted she was nervous as she prepared for her first fish pedicure. But her apprehension dissolved into laughter after she put her feet in the tank and the fish swarmed to her toes.

"It's a little ticklish, actually," she said.



Monday, July 28, 2008

Amazing Grace

My second grade year at Zela Elementary was an important one for me. It was the first time I saw a lot of kids paddled in front of the class--"You're in second grade, now. You should know better than that. Now, bend over for three swats!"--which greatly influenced my behavior by making me realize I had better be really good at hiding my misdeeds.

It was the year I first began to appreciate diversity, becoming aware that not all the students in the class were like me in terms of culture, beliefs and perspective. And second grade was important to me because it was the first time a teacher would allow us free time to stand up in front of the class and perform in some way.

We did it regularly, and it was enjoyable. It also helped boost my self-confidence.

"Sing Amazing Grace," my classmate Conard would request, when my turn came to march to the front. And I would. Once in a while I'd mix things up with "The Old Rugged Cross" or John Denver's "Country Roads," but most of the time I stuck to the old standard I knew really well from church.

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see


As a kid I always found it odd that one would experience "grace" as a sound. Later in my adult years, I realized that John Newton was really writing about a very holistic experience: he describes the grace he experienced in several sensory-based ways throughout the song, using words like "sweet," "sound," "lost," blind" "fear" and "see."

He threw the whole kit-and-caboodle in terms of human experience into the song in order to demonstrate the completeness of his conversion.

I belted out "Amazing Grace" during those second grade talent periods with passion and conviction, just like I'd heard the song sung in church. It seemed to move Conard; he'd sometimes mosey up to me before we loaded onto the bus home and mention how he really liked the song, and that I sang it well. (Conard always whispered this quietly to me, or waited until no one was around before he brought it up. Even then, he realized the ass-beating that would come if an 8-year-old boy showed too much emotion.)

In my teen years, I arrived at the conclusion that "grace" is something one can experience without a supernatural deity gifting it upon us. While attending a .38 Special / ZZ Top concert in 1983, during the song Tube Snake Boogie, I felt the same feeling of "grace" that I'd experienced in church, and during those second grade class performances.

Surely, I thought, God wouldn't bestow the same feelings upon me during this classic rock song as he did upon me when I'm worshipping him through hymn.

It was soon after that I began to realize that, for me, "grace" is from within. It comes from the way I experience life, and the way I interact with others. "Grace" is in the small moments of life as much as in those efforts most dramatic, and exists there for us to experience if we pay attention. It's there when we teach our children, when we notice a beautiful flower, when we take an extra moment to show appreciation and when we work to help improve the lot and life of others.

And yeah, it's even there when we hear and appreciate a thinly-veiled song about getting it on with some chick on the hill.


Amazing Grace, starring Ioan Gruffudd as British parliamentarian William Wilberforce (a champion of the movement to abolish slavery), demonstrates "grace" in the same way I've experienced it during my lifetime. It's true that Wilberforce was devoutly Christian, and by all accounts a true evangelical. But as the movie depicts the man, Wilberforce recognized that one's life can be improved greatly by working to improve the lives of others.

The movie shows the lifelong effort Wilberforce made to convince his country to outlaw slavery, how he carried out his effort with conviction and persistence. and how his actions improved who he was as a man and a citizen.

Amazing Grace is an interesting bio-pic about a man I didn't know anything about, even though it's not a great movie.

But it was good enough: it was the first period piece I didn't sleep through in years.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Jacknut Chronicles' Sunday Edition: Jacknutty Priorities

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

"A man police say left his 2-year-old son in his car to watch a midnight showing of The Dark Knight was charged Tuesday with child abuse.

David Farnham, 23, was charged with the class A misdemeanor in 3rd District Court. Police say he left his two-year-old son in his parked car Saturday night at the Century 16 Theaters, 125 E. 3300 South in South Salt Lake. After a movie patron called police, officers found the toddler around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday sitting in his car seat, crying and sweating, according to court documents.

Farnham, of Salt Lake City, left the child in the car with the windows rolled up "so the child could not be taken out," according to a jail booking statement. The temperature inside the vehicle was 87 degrees, the statement said. Police stopped the movie showing to arrest Farnham, who told police that he left his son in the car for more than two hours while he watched a movie because Justin was asleep, according to court documents. Farnham is being held at the Salt Lake County Metro Jail on $20,000 bail.

The toddler, who was thirsty but reported in good condition, was released to his mother, said detective Gary Keller, of the South Salt Lake Police Department."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mighty Big Expectations

Watchmen, the 2009 film based on the Alan Moore / Dave Gibbons masterpiece, is getting a lot of buzz. A lot of buzz.

Hell, I've written about it twice this week!

Some of the strongest reactions are coming from regional comic conventions, like the Comic Con in San Diego, California. Take this blurb from USAToday:

“I came here only for this; everything else was just icing,” says William Strong, 27, who drove with three buddies to San Diego from Austin for their first Comic-Con. “Keep your Batman and Spider-Man and Iron Man. This is the only comic-book movie a lot of us have been waiting for.”

That talk both inspires and terrifies director Zack Snyder.

“People love that book like the bible,” he says. “I’m honored to be doing the movie, but I also hope people [understand] that it’s just that. A movie. It won’t be exactly the book. I hope they give us the benefit of the doubt. Or I’ll be making romantic comedies the rest of my life.”

Uh oh...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Confessions Of A Carny


Only after the first Ring Toss contestant threw the 4 rings she got for $5 did Leon realize he'd forgotten to "plant the stake."

Aw, shucks. I'm just joshing. The World's Strongest Man contest is a-comin' to Charleston.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Top 5: Reasons I Wanted To Believe

I loved The X-Files. For all the reasons you did, and more. My ass was in the seat every Friday (and later, Sunday) night, tuned in to that show on the fledgling Fox station.

Here's My Top 5: Reasons I Wanted To Believe.

My massive crush on Gillian Anderson, which grew only stronger each week while watching Skully cling to her skepticism while facing aliens, and staring down inbred freaks hidden under the bed. It was just. so. cute.

The Cigarette Smoking Man.

My wife's massive crush on David Duchovny, which grew stronger each week as he strutted through scenes with an air of confidence and coolness I had only for a three-week period during the summer of '82.

The cool I Want To Believe poster that hung in Mulder's office. I tried once to find one on-line as a Valentine's gift for my wife. I couldn't find the exact one. I think I got her an envelope opener instead. (What?!? It was a brass envelope opener, motherfucker!)

The Lone Gunmen. Now, this was a club I could belong to. Maybe even be the President of.

The complex, inter-woven plot lines and conspiracies. It was Lost before Lost was cool.

(Oops, that's 6 reasons! See what I mean? It was a great, great show!)

The X-Files: I Want To Believe opens this Friday, ten years after the release of the first X-Files flick, and six years after the TV series went belly-up.

My Top 5 Reasons To See The New Flick?

Sadly, I can't think of even one... I may be over this one.



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's Uncanny

45 years, and 500 issues.

Damn..., where did the time go? I remember reading issues in the double digits under the pine tree in back of my house.

Happy birthday, today, X-Men. Penny for penny, you may have been the best entertainment value I ever had.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Kingdom

After a horrifying terrorist attack on a community of Americans living in Saudi Arabia (which results in the death of a federal agent), FBI special agents beg, bribe and blackmail their way into the country in order to find those responsible for the killing.


Led by Ronald Fluery (Jamie Foxx), the group of four Americans are taken through the kingdom by Colonel Faris Al Ghazi, a native who is sympathetic to the American mission, but realistic about the political implications.

The Kingdom, directed by the increasingly impressive Peter Berg, is an old-fashioned action/thriller set amid modern political dynamics. The good guys are clearly good guys, and the bad guys are obvious as well.

While most of the characters are stereotypes--Chris Cooper plays a Southern-born forensic expert who likes to sneak up on people Matlock-style-- the stereotypes aren't offensive, or even annoying. The Kingdom is a fast-paced adventure that plays out to a very satisfying finale.

Although there are some subtle political messages throughout the film, it's the final statement before closing credits that's the most urgent, and the most powerful. Watch the scene, and think about it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight



I wasn't around to read Bob Kane's original version of The Bat-Man. The Golden Age hero was ruthless, even using a gun at times against his enemies. He was dark, mysterious and frightening--a lot like the decades of the late 30s and early 40s, when he was created.







The 1943, 15 chapter seriel, Batman was the first time Batman was seen on film. Lewis Wilson starred as Batman. Mirroring America at the time, Batman fought a Japanese spy in the seriel.

I wasn't around for this one, either, although I saw an edited version in the 80s.









My first Batman fix came when I was three, during the run of the ABC series Batman. I was too young to care that the show was camp; Batman and Robin were heroic (albeit, over the top) and they never lost. I was hooked.







Batman, as presented in the Silver Age of comics, was written more as The World's Greatest Detective than anything else. I read Batman comics on a monthly basis during the 70s. While I loved the character, it seemed the mystery was more important than the character. Batman of the 70s and early 80s was simply the narrator of the story, not the focal point.







Batman of The Super Friends was all batarang and no balls. And my younger brother kept asking: "Why does Robin sound like Shaggy, from Scooby-Doo?"





I. Hate. Bat-mite.

(Although I watched The New Adventures of Batman every week.) Bat-mite, the 70's version of Scrappy-Doo, nearly ruined the Batman character for me.





1986.

Frank Miller.

The Dark Knight Returns.

Yes, he did. And then some.

This was how it was supposed to be, all along.







I was so excited for Tim Burton's Batman. The 1989 flick was good, and I liked Michael Keaton in the lead. I thought Burton's visual depiction of the world Batman lived in was awesome, and that he made clear the psychological aspects of the character that are vital to why Batman does what Batman does.

But Jack Nicholson as Joker?

I prefer Bat-mite.




Batman Begins, in 2005, gave me hope that the character can be portrayed seriously on film. No bat-nipples, no Mr. Freeze, no cool casting stunts, ala Jim Carrey as The Riddler: just a great story, great effects and a great actor in the lead.





I want more.





The Dark Knight is all that, and more. All the bells and whistles of a summer blockbuster plus top-shelf acting plus The Batman the way fans of The Batman want to see the character.

Brilliant.

And Heath Ledger as Joker is as good as advertised. Better, maybe. He drives the movie with an effortless control that is beautiful to watch. This is more than just a great comic book movie. This is, simply, a great movie.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Jacknut Chronicles' Sunday Edition: The Art Of Robbery

Jacknut Quote Of The Week: "At the time she had good intentions but made bad decisions."

~Defense attorney John H. Tinney Jr., who maintains former West Virginia art-teacher-turned-bank-robber Melissa Brown simply made "a terrible mistake" by robbing two banks while trying to help her brother with a problem.



Photo by: Jeremy McKnight

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Watchmen Trailer

Thanks to JDB at Infinity Ranch for pointing out the Watchmen trailer is available. The film is due for release in 2009.

The trailer looks good.



Friday, July 18, 2008

A Ba-'CON-a-ter With Cheese

My grandfather--my mother's father, who we called "Pa-Paw"--was one of the most important people in my life. He was an odd duck, but something about that made him appealing to me. This summer marks 20 years since he died. I still think about him every day.

Pa-Paw clearly had an obsessive-compulsive personality: he was very fussy about the order of things, and tended to become moderately anxious if he wasn't in control. I have a lot in common with him.

A lot.

One of the other things I share with him is his sense of humor. It was strangely quirky, and I can rarely recall anyone really appreciating it as fully as did I. Pa-Paw didn't really tell jokes as much as he loved goofing with people. And he always thought they were in on the joke. Most times, they weren't. His antics lead to a lot of embarrassment for most of the family.

But I was in awe.

One of the bits he would wear out was when he would take us to Pizza Hut for lunch. Every time--really, Every.Single.Time.--he would cozy up to the waitress and say: "We'd like a large peperoni pissa, and a large picture of Spike."

The waitress, noticing something slightly odd about the words he'd just verbalized, would ask: I'm sorry, what is your order?" He'd smile this subtle little smirk, and say:

"Large pissa, with pepperoni. Picture of Spike."

To make sure she had it right, the waitress would read back the order, making sure she enunciated "pizza," "pitcher" and "Sprite" correctly for the old man. He'd tell her she nailed it, and smile. He never let on like he knew better, even though it was obvious he did.

(Like I said: it wasn't the sort of joke that was "ha-ha" funny. It was funny in a performance art sort of way. He wasn't afraid to let others think he was stupid in order to put a smile on the face of his grand-kids.)

My kids never had the chance to know the man, so I tend to tell lots of stories to them about him. It's important to me they have some understanding of who he was as a person. So in recognition of the 20th anniversary of his death, my kids and I drove through Wendy's. I put down the window, and leaned into the speaker:

Clerk: "May I take your order?"

Me: "Yeah, thanks. I'd like two kids meals, please. And a Baconator." (Except I didn't pronounce it "Bacon-'A-tor. I pronounced it "Ba-'CON-a-ter.") "A Ba-'CON-a-ter with cheese, please."

Clerk: "I got your kids meals. But what's the other sandwich you ordered?"

Me: "A Ba-'CON-a-ter." (I had to shush the kids in the back, they were laughing so hard.)

Clerk: "You mean, a baconater."

Me: "Yeah, a Ba-'CON-a-ter."

Clerk: "It's pronounced "Bacon-'A-tor."

Me: "Oh... I bet you get that mispronunciation a lot, huh."

Clerk: "No, not really. Pull around, please."

I wish somehow Pa-Paw could have heard that exchange. He'd have peed himself laughing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

He'd Never Be King Of Late-Night

USAToday reminds me today that Jay Leno will soon be gone from The Tonight Show, leaving the iconic late-night talk show in the more-than-capable hands of Conan O'Brien.

Thank God.

I've watched The Tonight Show with Jay Leno only a handful of times. Leno's joke-telling rhythm annoys me, and I'm of the opinion he stole quite a few of his standard bits from David Letterman. I mean, really: his "Headlines" is a blatant rip-off of Letterman's "Small-Town News." And can you believe Leno had the guts to book Stupid Human Tricks?

I figure most late-night watchers are either Letterman fans or Leno fans, but not both. (Although Conan, by far, is the most entertaining of the three now that Dave has embraced the mainstream.)

Am I right? And if so, who's your favorite, and why?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's All In The Name

Andy Dick was arrested, again, recently. Pulling down the tube top of a 17-year-old girl and exposing her in public really ain't all that funny. Especially when the yanker-down-guy (Dick) has weed and Xanax in his pocket, which are later found by cops called by the tube-top-girl.

Jeeze, what a dick.

Andy Dick hasn't been funny for years. He stopped doing bits long ago, and now just carries out acts of immaturity and stupidity.


Hell, even his mug shot says: "Look, more attention!"

I wish he'd just go away. Where's Jon Lovitz when you need him...?

Just saw Don't Print This has weighed in on the Andy Dick dick-ness, too. Bill Lynch may hate Dick more than I do. (That didn't come out right...)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ants In My Pants

EW.Com (the online Entertainment Weekly site) has a review of The Dark Knight, for those interested in getting a preview.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Film Scenes That Matter: To Kill A Mockingbird

This scene should be a primer for law school students.

"In the name of God, do your duty."



Sunday, July 13, 2008

Film Scenes That Matter: Brokeback Mountain

It's subtle, and it's powerful. And it's a love story that people should relate to.

Regardless.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Count Your Blessings, Honey

Dear Kristy (AKA: "Mrs. Film Geek"),

Traveling alone for business isn't something that I enjoy, and I was so looking forward to you coming along with me to my conference in Orlando. I know you were looking forward to it, too. When it became certain I was going to central Florida, you spent hours on-line planning our trip here together. Where we would eat, where we would play and where we would stay.

Then you got a little sick, and I was forced to travel alone. While you recuperated, at home. With the kids.

Sick.

While I've been here this week, I realized that it is best that you didn't come with me. The place is just awful, and you wouldn't have any fun. Honestly, you wouldn't enjoy it. Really.

Here's why:


The hotel / convention center / spa where I'm staying this week is just too big to really enjoy. You and I really like smaller hotels, so we can have that intimate, community-like feel where we stay. This place is so very, very big--filled with malls, and shops and big restaurants--that it's just no fun.

I know you: you would hate it!

This is one of four atriums inside the compund. Four! That's way too much greenery. My allergies are acting up, so I'm snottin' and sneezin' and snortin'. Sure, the place is pretty. But being around me while I'm having these reactions would be awful! You'd have a terrible time if you were here.

You're lucky to be still at home.


The rooms are waaayy too small. You'd be miserable.

Trust me.

The pool area--at least this one, nearest my section of the compound--has water that's too cold! It's at best 68 degrees, and I know you prefer more lukewarm water for swimming and playing around in.

I'm so envious of you being at home. You have no idea how difficult this is for me.

I'll endeaver, of course, as always. Don't worry about me. It'll be difficult, but I'll perservere. Kiss the kids for me, tell them I'll be home soon and remind them how lucky they are to be there and not here.

Count your blessings, hon.

TFG

Friday, July 11, 2008

Whatever Happened To...Michael Gray


During the first half of the Shazam / Isis Hour (Saturday mornings, from '74-'77 on CBS) I couldn't wait for teenager Billy Batson to say the magic word, turn into the adult Captain Marvel and kick some criminal bootay.

My sister, on the other hand, was interested in Billy staying Billy.

Played by Michael Gray, Billy had that Tiger Beat quality: a deep tan, long hair and great looks.

Ahem... At least, that's what Sis told me.

A couple of actors played Captain Marvel during the series. But it was Michael Gray who ruled the female tweener crowd of his day, along with the Osmonds and a one or two of the Jackson 5.

After Gray grew up he had some difficult times finding work as an adult in the biz. Along with his wife, he opened up a successful floral shop in Beverly Hills.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hancock

I dig my heroes anti, so Will Smith's Hancock appealed to me the minute I first saw the trailer. A fan of Peter Berg's since Very Bad Things, I expected the dialogue to be tight and the scenes to emphasize the base humanity of the superhero.

In that regard, Hancock didn't disappoint. The dialogue and super-powered gags were the best part of the flick, along with Smith's ability to evolve his character from an unlikable bum to a sympathetic and endearing personality. In addition, Jason Bateman continues to out-do himself in recent flicks; his Ray Embrey may have been the best developed character in the movie.

Much has been made of the plot twist involving Charlize Theron. Although I won't discuss what the twist is here, I will say I thought it was unnecessary, and even detrimental to the film. I understand how the twist was used to explain Hancock's past and powers, but I prefered not knowing. I also preferred Hancock flawed, which he wasn't after the plot twist was uncovered.


Although the movie was entertaining throughout, I thought it's potential was greater than the final product.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

3 Minutes And 53 Seconds Of Your Life You Won't Get Back

A fairly typical example of what a day-in-the-life is like in The Film Geek family.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

WALL -E

I'm not a fan of special effects. I was the guy you heard in the theater during Forrest Gump, grumbling to my wife about the use of a blue screen to make it look like Lt. Dan had no legs.

"Act!" I would semi-yell at the screen. "Use an innovative camera angle, or something. Quit taking the easy way out!"

And, truth be told, I don't take animated flicks that seriously either. I can be entertained by them, and I can even really enjoy them. But I think of them as kid's movies first. I can't think of one animated movie that's on my Top 10 list of favorite films.

What are the chances of a computer animated film-- using new, innovative effect techniques-- ending up being a real favorite of mine, and possibly the best movie of the year?

Before seeing
WALL -E, I'd have said: " Peshaw!"

After seeing WALL -E? I very well may be adding a new film to that Top 10 list.


The animated dystopian movie about the garbage robot with heart is just that damn good. And the message behind the flick--that we humans have to be better stewards of our home--isn't preachy, but subtly powerful.

WALL -E will melt your heart.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Fantastic Four (1994)

If you've kept up with the headlines, you know all too well the scandal that recently befell West Virginia's most famous religious leader, the Reverend Elvis Drinkmo.

Being the middle of an Emma Frost / Elektra sandwich doesn't sound too much like a problem to me; however, the good Reverend maintained his innocence and, according to his blog, a jury of his peers believed him.

He's back in the pulpit, preaching the good news of DC Comics and Star Trek.

Can I get an "Amen?"

During the cleaning of the hotel room where the good Reverend wasn't, a copy of the Roger Corman-produced The Fantastic Four was discovered. The Fantastic Four wasn't intended for release, and was made simply to protect the copyright.

(Although the cast never knew.)

In his effort to reduce further temptation, Reverend Drinkmo is purging himself of any and all objects of sacrilege. Because he knows of my interest in super hero movies and my steely will-power, the good reverend shipped me a copy of the flick.

(Not that he had it in his possession, of course. I think it must have come from evidence in his trial.)

The Fantastic Four isn't a very good movie. The effects are awful, the acting is sub-par and the editing makes some porn flicks look like Golden Glob winners. But the movie is wonderfully fun, and a terrific way to spend a rainy Saturday morning. I thought the flick stayed pretty close to the comic (I actually kept a running list).

And I maintain that the Thing from the Corman production has a better look than the Thing of the recent Fantastic 4 flicks.

I feel kinda bad for the drama that's recently happened in the Reverends life. But, it did result in my getting the benefit of a really cool DVD.

Thanks, my friend.

Now, if only he'd give me the scoop on that threesome!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Strangers

I can no longer watch movies that might fall into the torture porn category or --to be perfectly honest--those that are the slightest bit scary. I'm a sissy, after all. I'll stick to super-hero fare, animated flicks and Ed Norton movies.

But Mrs. Film Geek loves the horror. She likes it so much that she'll watch it alone, if need be. Which was just how she watched The Strangers.

Here's her take on the flick:

1. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "Not at all" and 10 being "Jesus, a whole helluva lot!" where do you rank The Strangers in terms of scary?

MFG: "3."

2. Does The Strangers compare to Hostel? If so, how?

MFG: "Not really. The killers in The Strangers seemed to get more thrill out of scaring than killing for the most part."

3. Is torture porn true art?

MFG: "Torture isn’t art. Porn isn’t art. The 2 together-- not art. However, the plot twists and turns of the Saw series are art, even though they involve torture. "

4. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "Not at all" and 10 being "Jesus, a whole helluva lot!" where do you rank how much you are in love with me?

MFG: "10."

5. If you had to watch The Strangers again alone, or Iron Man again with me, which would you choose and why?

MFG: "Iron Man, because Robert Downey, Jr. is extremely hot… er, I mean, because you are extremely hot."

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Savages

Late at night, when everyone else in the house is asleep and I'm lying awake trying to get there, I do the math. And it scares me.

If I'm alive when my youngest son (now 5) is my current age, I'll be 81.

I've spent a significant portion of my professional career in nursing homes. I've seen the really bad ones, and I've spent time in the ones that are savvy enough to pretend to be safe and homey during visiting hours. I've carried out professional workshops and educational trainings to the staff of long-term facilities, and witnessed first hand the glazed-over eyes that come with people forced to sit and listen to something they don't care about, or that they don't believe in.

So, growing old --and needing cared for-- scares me.


It's tragic, when you think of it: we parents raise and care for our children until they become adults, then rely on them, many times later in life, to care for us.

What if we didn't teach them to care?

What happens if we parented our kids so poorly that they become emotionally distant, and selfish?

What sort of adults will our children become if we fail to teach our kids to appreciate and respect family?



The Savages answers those questions.


In my late-night fears about growing old and frail, I think I worry most about being processed.

Being forced to live in a facility that has visiting hours, or that has regulations about the types of cleaning solutions that can be used in day-to-day maintenance. I worry about eating from a menu I didn't create, and being fed by someone who has no investment in me as a person. And I struggle with worries about being cared for by people who not only don't know my life story, but who have no interest in learning it.

The Savages is a well written, wonderfully performed flick about two middle-aged siblings who are forced into shepherding their father through this end-of-life processing. The experience, although emotionally difficult, provides some insights that the relationships one builds over the years effects our quality of life throughout the lifespan.

Particularly near the end of life, when we may need people the most.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Quarter-Effin'-Century

Most of the time, I'm in denial about my age. The denial isn't intentional, nor is it the product of real delusion. Mostly, it's just that I don't perceive myself as middle-aged. If fact, I'm always caught off guard when someone mentions that I'm no longer in my early 30s.

Because I think I am.

It's been a quarter of a century this month that I left the home of my parents. (That's 25 years to you and me, Russ.) Nearly three decades have passed since I packed up the U-Haul and headed a couple hours down routes 39 and 60 to college.

Swear to god, it seems like just last month.

It's been twenty-five years since I hugged my Dad goodbye, and saw him cry for the first (and only) time in my life.

A quarter of a century has passed since I said "I do" out loud to my high school girlfriend, even while on the inside I was screaming: "I don't!"

It's been twenty-five years since the last day I can recall not having at least one real worry in my life, and since I last rolled up a comic book, stuck it in the back pocket of my jeans and shimmied up a tree to read it in complete, peaceful privacy.

Twenty-five years of evolution has caused the question: "What are you going to do with your life?" to now become, "What do you do for a living?"

And it's taken nearly twenty-five years for the answer to: "Where are you from?" to change.

25 freakin' years. Un-be-lievable.


They've come and gone in a flash.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

High School Quotes I Remember: Quote # 6

(I make no judgements about content. I'm simply purging some of the clutter that's been inside my head since 1983.)


"Listen, Chuck. Uh...you don't know what a dingleberry is, do you?"

~Me, to my friend Chuck, just after a gorgeous blond walked past us in the lunchroom during our sophomore year. In a failed attempt to impress her, Chuck loudly expressed his desire to kiss her on something that's not typically on the list of things people pucker up to.