Monday, December 28, 2009


Minutes turn to hours, counting seconds tick away.
Another day tomorrow, tomorrow's just another day.
Days turn into years, and time goes by, over and over,
Again and again, and then, years turn into decades.
~Joe Walsh, Decades

While flipping through TV channels earlier this week, I caught a portion of a show dedicated to the Best and the Worst of the Decade.

I'm dense...I'd not yet realized the decade was coming to a close.

For good and bad, it was a hell of a decade: two of my children were born during the last ten years; the word "terror" came to mean something in America other than a reaction to horror flicks; politics became more divisive and petty; I entered the decade young, healthy and fit, and exit on a different note; the important relationships in my life are stronger, and happier, than they've ever been; being "social" came to include a cyber community of people I may never meet, but can still call "friends"; blogging was fun and interesting, then wasn't anymore.

Here's hoping 2010, and the next decade, brings some joy and peace.

I am calling, across a field, from far away, far away.
This is my calling song; I am worried, I am concerned.
There are reasons, can't be explained.
And there are questions, that have no answers.
That's the reason I want to know: how long, how long, can this go on?
I want to know how long, how long,
When so many things happen, nothing gets done.
So many wars, no one ever won one, and no one ever will,
No one ever will.
I am calling, this is my calling song.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Don't You Forget About Me

Four Canadian filmmakers produced the film, Don't You Forget About Me, to document their efforts to meet and interview producer/writer/director John Hughes. A legendary recluse before his death in the summer of 2009, Hughes last granted an interview in 1999.

Although the filmmakers fail to meet Hughes, those interviewed for the documentary--including director Kevin Smith, actor Judd Nelson and dozens of current high-school-aged teens--provide insight into why the 80s and 90s audience was so attracted to Hughes' films.

His characters, and the situations in which they find themselves, were genuine and real, unlike most modern teen flicks which tend to exaggerate the sophistication of adolescents.

People identified so easily with characters in a John Hughes movie, especially those who represented socially awkward outsiders. The truth is, even the most confident-appearing teen thinks privately he or she is an outsider; Hughes knew that, and was able to successfully display that insecurity on-screen.

Who among us, after all, isn't really Ducky on the inside?

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Annual "No, Peter Billingsley Did Not Do Porn" Post

Dear Lurker(s):

First, let me say "Happy Holidays" to each of you.

Despite Bill O'Reilly's assertion to the contrary, my salutation is not intended to be part of any cultural war. In fact, it's the opposite. I see from Sitemeter that many of you come from places other than Huntington, West Virginia; some are even from countries other than the U.S. of A. So, I presume this open letter is going out to a fairly diverse group of people.

I'm nothing if not inclusive!

Anyway, as I mentioned, I have this Sitemeter thing which gives me data about how people find this blog. Although it's really useless information, I still look at it every couple of days because I'm curious. About the interests of other people, how those interests intersect with what I might have written, etc.

You get the point: I look at the data pretty often, and it tells me a lot.

Lately, I've been noticing a trend. It might be that the trend is due to the holiday season, I dunno. But I realized today I can save a great many of you a lot of time by telling you, right now, this small bit of information: Peter Billingsley, the child actor from A Christmas Story, did not work as an adult porn star.

Due to the heavy traffic of folks asking this question, I want to repeat this part again: "...he did not work as an adult porn star!"

Now, Jack Baker on the other hand...Well, Sitemeter tells me many of you know that already. Very, very well.

So, dear lurker(s), I hope the extra three-to-five minutes I've just saved you from frenetic Internet searching is valuable to you. Extra time in today's world is a rarity, so put it to good use. And think of it as a holiday present from The Film Geek.

For whatever holiday you observe.

P.S. It was Scott Schwartz, the kid who played Flick. See here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Xmas Expectations

Generally, I'm a Christmas-is-better-if-simple sorta guy, appreciating the season as a period of reflection and family more than an adventure into commercialism. It's not that I'm cheap or a scrooge, and the perspective has nothing to do with religion.

It's all about a gift I received from a classmate in 6th grade.

Teacher Jed Castelbaum worked the Christmas season hard at Zela Grade School. Included in the festivities was a gift exchange among classmates. I'm sure there was a dollar limit attached to the exchange, but I don't recall the amount. Considering this was central West Virginia circa 1977, chances are the amount was set pretty low. At the 6th grade Christmas Party we students--minus Ricky, who as a Jehovah's Witness wasn't allowed to attend--opened up our gifts.

Boxes ripped open to revealed toy trucks and dolls, Christmas ornaments and T-shirts. Kids squealed with excitement, and rushed throughout the room to show others what they had gotten. I read the tag on my gift, and nodded to the kid who gave it to me.

In it was a small box of chocolate.

Our eyes met. Worried I wouldn't like or appreciate the gift, he walked over to my desk. "My mom said that's all we could afford." I thanked him, popped open the box and offered him some candy.

We sat together and ate the entire box.

I don't recall if the candy was very good or not. But, even though we had Christmas parties every year I was in elementary school, this small box of candy is the only gift I can recall opening. Ever.

I received others, but none was as memorable as the small sacrifice this family made for a classmate.

Here's hoping your holiday season is peaceful, memorable and rich with happiness.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


"You've never seen Bully?" Mrs. Film Geek asked. The movie came up during a conversation about movies that give me The Danny Gut. I explained I'd missed it somehow, most likely because I was watching some really bad horror flick she chose to Netflix.

"You gotta see it," she said. "It will leave you disturbed for days."

She was right.

Larry Clark's take on the real-life murder of bully Bobby Kent provides insight into the decay and individual selfishness of American society. While Kent was more than a bully--he often behaved violently toward his friends, and raped two women in the movie--Clark's film really focuses on Kent's friends, who decided as a group to kill him. None of them had the guts to act alone, and none had the insight to reach out to an authority figure for help to stop Kent's bullying. Very simply, these shallow, pleasure-seeking teens wanted Kent gone, and wanted him gone quickly.

So they immediately jumped to murder.

Bully is raw, well acted and not for the squeamish. Mrs. Film Geek was right; it is a movie that gave me The Danny Gut. But it's also a well written insight into a culture of wasted youth.

And it's brilliant.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

Bruno, the eight-year-old son of a World War II German commandant in The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, serves as an allegory for humanity's awakening to the horrors the Nazi regime.

Through his developing relationship with Shmuel, an adolescent imprisoned in the concentration camp administered by Bruno's father, Bruno--like the rest of the world--realized too late what atrocities were being carried out by people he loved and trusted.

The film is powerful in its simplicity, and has an ending that is highly emotional.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


"Two tickets for 2013," I told the cashier. Mrs. Film Geek snorted.

"What?" I asked. I figured this was my one shot at some fun for the next two-and-a-half hours, considering I expected
2012 to be mostly Lloyd Dobler-meets-Twister-meets-Titanic.

"Isn't that the name of the movie?"

Mrs. Film Geek looked away, embarrassed. The cashier gave me change and pretended she didn't hear me. I thought it was funny.


2012 is very much a combination of disaster movies and John Cusack roles. He's a bit of s shlub, but finds redemption in the love of his ex-wife and family.

(While, of course, he high-tails it to China, dodging lava-blobs and falling buildings and man-made landmarks along the way.)

The effects are amazing, even if they are predictable and cliche. The politics involved in how people are chosen to be saved from catastrophe make for an interesting debate. In the end, though, Cusack overcomes unbelievable odds to save his family and win back his ex-wife.

Lloyd Dobler would be proud.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Please, Make It Stop: Part 18

As if Tiger Woods didn't have enough trouble in his life at present, Oprah--The Queen of Self-Involvement--has come callin'.

Tiger's image stands a better chance after 12 rounds with an angry wife than it does if he cozies up to O.

Play it smart, Tiger. Sometimes the best way outta the rough is to pitch it, and not hit for the green.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Funny People

Adam Sandlers performance in Funny People is Oscar worthy, in my opinion. And I'll be surprised if he isn't nominated for the award.

This film is, by far, Judd Apatow's most matre and complete work. One can tell it's his most personal; family and friends make up most of the cast. The writing is excellent and the acting is poignant.

I admit I cried at least twice between the snorts and laughs brought on by the rest of the movie.

The aspect I enjoy most about a movie like Funny People is the opportunity for reflection it allows. Apatow seems to be working through conflict brought about by his recent success through this film. (That, or I'm reading too much into what the writer-director-producer did with this flick.) Success sometimes causes people to become isolated, and Sandler's character George Simmons is certainly that. Too often it takes a monumental event in our lives--the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or, as in this movie, the onset of a potentially terminal disease--to jar us out of that rut of isolation.

Apatow reminds us we're often happiest when we embrace others rather than hide from them.