Monday, February 27, 2006

Movie Mon. - Just Under the Wire

Well, I'm back in Stillwater, where I'll spend the night before Rebel Monkey and I hit the road again bright and early Tuesday for the drive back to Texas. I'll try to have a post up by the afternoon, but no promises. Not much in the way of new movie watching accomplished thanks to all the travelling, so you'll just have to settle for the latest batch of additions to my Netflix queue.

House of the Dead 2: Horror sequel which can’t help but be an improvement over the dreadful original, which was helmed by Uwe “Make him stop, make him stop!” Boll.

When a Stranger Calls: Recent remake of the “the phone call is coming from inside the house!” thriller. The original only spent the first 30 minutes on the babysitting angle and then jumped forward several years for the rest of the film; this one looks like the babysitting ordeal is the whole film. Don’t know if it can capture the pure creepiness of the original’s serial killer; his “Why haven’t you checked the children?” gave me the willies.

Kitchen Confidential: Season 1: A pretty funny little show that was yanked too quickly; glad that I’ll get a chance to see the unaired eps.

Feast: The last Project Greenlight film; this time, they decided to go for the horror angle.

Lucky You: Movie set during the World Championship of Poker starring Eric Bana, Robert Duvall, and Drew Barrymore; supposed to have quite a few famous poker player cameos as well.

Ask the Dust: Depression-Era romance starring Colin Farrell and Selma Hayek

The Hills Have Eyes: Remake of Wes Craven’s “crazy killer hillbilly” classic which has added a “radioactive mutant” twist to the tale.

The Sentinel: Political thriller starring Michael Douglas and Keifer Sutherland as two federal agents butting heads over the best way to protect the president.

Scary Movie 4: The Scary Movie series is quite hit or miss, but the trailers for this one show a bit more promise than the last two.

The Wild: Animated film about a group of zoo animals on the loose (shades of Madagascar), featuring the voices of Kiefer Sutherland and Eddie Izzard.

Silent Hill: Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, a video-game based horror movie that actually looks cool. Time will tell if the trailers do the film justice.

Accepted: Justin Long (Warren Cheswick on Ed) stars in this comedy as a recent high school graduate who forges acceptance letters from a fictional college for a group of slackers who didn’t make the cut at regular schools.

In the Land of Women : Drama starring Adam Brody (Seth on The O.C. as a young man having to take care of his sickly, but spunky, grandmother (Olympia Dukakis)

Over the Hedge: Animated film based on the syndicated comic strip of the same name.

Nacho Libre: Comedy from the director of Napoleon Dynamite, starring Jack Black as an aspiring luchador, a masked Mexican wrestler.

Pathfinder: Period piece about a young Viking left behind following a raid and subsequently raised by the Native American survivors of the raid.

Brothers of the Head: Here’s a strange one for ya: conjoined twins, attached at the head, become a punk-rock sensation, but their relationship suffers due to jealousy over a girl and (the capper) a third head growing out of one of their shoulders.

Open Season: yet another animated film about sheltered animals out in the wild, this time a circus bear; this one is a bit iffy for me, as the two lead characters are voiced by Ashton Kutcher and Martin Lawrence, neither of whom is among my favorites.

Masters of Horror: John Carpenter TV DVD: Part of Showtime’s new horror anthology series, with each episode spotlighting a different horror director.

Masters of Horror: Stuart Gordon TV DVD: Ditto

Over There Season 1: The late, lamented FX series about soldiers in Iraq. I only caught the first half of the series, so I’m looking forward to getting caught up at some point.

She Spies: the first season: Tongue in cheek action-comedy about a group of “bad girls gone good”; over the top, but the few eps I saw highly amused me.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

I Choo-Choo-Choose You!

In about 6 or 7 hours I shall be piling into a car with Rebel Monkey, Rose Hips the Enforcer, and the Mag and heading off to Colorado. This means a few non-posting days, I'm afraid; still, hardly anyone checks the site on the weekend anyway.

And now I must hand the laptop back to The Mag, so I shall now direct you to the final "Singles catch up" post about our lovely Valentine's Day Party.

The Sunday before Valentine's Day the Singles dept. had a meeting to plan social events for the entire department for the next several months; Freezeout asked for three or four volunteers from each class to help out. I think my favorite of the planned activities is our "Let's Go to Ted's!" day, in which we'll be taking a day trip to Oklahoma City to eat at everyone's favorite Mexican restaurant, Ted's Cafe Escondido. Oh, sure, we plan on doing some other stuff there as well, but we'll really use just about any excuse we can get to go to Ted's. After the meeting was over, the group from my class stayed after a bit to talk about formalizing a planning group for our class (something which we had when I first started but which disappeared for various reasons a while back); during this conversation, the girls decided to host a Valentine's Day party at the Amigas' place.

More accurately, they decided to open up the Valentine's Day get-together they had already planned to include the guys in the class as well; they offered to fix dinner, if the guys would bring the desserts. The word "chocolate" was uttered several times during the dessert conversation, so when I made my last minute run to Albertsons on the way there, I grabbed the old stand-bys of M&Ms (both plain and peanut) and Hershey's Kisses (in a heart-shaped box, no less), as well as a chocolate cake. As soon as I walked into the store I became very glad I'd allowed myself some extra time for the shopping; the place was a madhouse. The regular Valentine's Day section was completely empty, with all of the remaining merchandise located on a few tables near one set of doors. It was pretty amusing to watch all of the guys with panicked looks on their faces as they searched for appropriate tokens of affection; I tried not to think too much on the fact that they actually had someone to worry about ticking off, as that would have drained the amusement factor right out of it.

With chocolate in hand I headed to Casa de las Amigas in nearby Krum, getting there right at 5:30 and instantly beginning to wonder if I had written down the wrong time because there wasn't a single other car in sight, and I had thought that Cap'n Cluck was supposed to get there early to start on the lasagna. I was greeted by Angel who confirmed that I was, indeed, on time, and she wasn't sure where anyone else was. Scubagirl got home right about then, and was followed not too long after by Cap'n Cluck, who had had a hectic afternoon and was a bit behind schedule. She put me to work finishing up the heart-shaped placemats she had made (yes, she entrusted me with arts-and-crafts work, a sure sign she wasn't thinking straight) while she and the others (which included the newly arrived Magic Pants) pitched in to get the lasagna ready. I butchered a couple of placemats, my limited dexterity hampered by trying to work on them while also having a conversation with Cap'n Disaster on my cell, but actually managed to get a few out that were only partial disasters. The final female member of our party arrived during this time, but there was probably a good hour or so before the other two guys showed up; M.D. had been held up due to the fact that he lives a good 45 minutes away, while The Cable Guy had decided that he would show us other guys up by not only baking a cake and some brownies, but also by making individual Valentine’s Day candy gift bags for each of the girls; he even made sure that Cluck’s bag was CAP’NS friendly.

Show-off.

During dinner there were a few more of those moments where The Cable Guy’s jokes went over the heads of everyone else but M.D. or me; the only one I can remember off-hand was Scream reference, but I know there were more.

It was around this time that Magic Pants revealed her nature as a competitive perfectionist. The perfectionist portion had been made evident during the cooking, when she was meticulous in her application of the ingredients in each layer of lasagna, and was later strengthened through her habitual smoothing of a foil candy wrapper until not a wrinkle remained. The competitive portion came to light through comparisons made with Cap’n Cluck’s similar foil-smoothing efforts.

After dinner Cap’n Cluck talked us into a game of “Mobster,” which only she and Magic Pants had played before. Now, where Loaded Questions turned out to be too unwieldy with more than six players, Mobster turned out to be over much quickly with six or less. The game goes like this: there’s a narrator, who has people draw cards which determine if they’re a regular player, or one of the three special roles: a killer, a doctor, and a night watchman. Everyone closes their eyes except the narrator; the narrator asks the killer to open their eyes and indicate who they want to bump off; next, they ask the doctor to indicate who they want to save from murder; next they ask the night watchman to indicate who they think the killer is. Then, everyone opens their eyes, and the narrator spins a tale about either the murder that took place or the narrow escape of someone because the doctor had saved them. If someone has been killed, they’re out of the game, and the other players can accuse someone of being the killer, at which time a vote is taken. And so it goes until the killer is discovered.

During the initial round, when the rules were still kind of fuzzy, the first murder was due to someone’s brakes being tampered with. M.D. insisted on accusing me of being the killer, claiming that he had seen me with wire-cutters, an accusation he persisted in even after it became obvious to one and all that the real killer was The Cable Guy; I was tempted to start calling him “The Accomplice.” During our second round, when poison seemed to be the weapon of choice, M.D. still kept harping on the danged wire-cutters. So, when it was my turn to be the narrator and M.D. got bumped off, I made sure wire-cutters were instrumental in his demise; apparently, my description was a bit graphic for some. *sigh* I also made sure that poor Magic Pants met her fate courtesy of a curiously smooth foil candy wrapper . . .

I could see the potential for the game being a lot of fun with a big group of people; I think I enjoyed being the narrator a bit more than being one of the regular players, but that might change in a bigger group. But while I enjoyed being the narrator, I really wasn’t terribly good at it; oh, I could spin the stories fine, but I made several little mistakes that gave people away.

After giving up on the game as a lost cause due to limited numbers, we entertained ourselves for a little while with a stack of conversation-starter cards, but for the most part, they didn’t start up many conversations. Towards the end of the evening, Magic Pants and Cap'n Cluck revealed a knowledge of musical lyrics (and in Cluck's case, the choreography as well) that probably scared most everyone else there; all I felt was shame that I wasn't able to join in on most of them.

And that was the bulk of the excitement at our Valetine's Day party, which gets us pretty much up-to-date with the Singles; our next big gathering shall be the first weekend in March, when we'll spend the afternoon watching Smooth Money's Girl become Mrs. Smooth Money and the evening trying to learn how to swing dance. I'm sure I'll have stories aplenty from the latter, although I might not want to share them.

Oh, and before I forget . . . M.D. = Monkey Dance!

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Stupor-Bowl

In a comment posted on an earlier "Singles catch up" post, Cap'n Cluck wondered how I could remember so many details; all I can say is that my mind is like a steel trap when it comes to inconsequential trivia. It's the important stuff that goes through my brain like a sieve.

Anyway, we're getting closer to getting caught up with my Singles activities (we'd be a little bit further away if my aching head hadn't prevented me from going out to Main Event with the gang on Monday), so let's head on to the next stop: the Superbowl.

Every year Freezeout encourages each class to sponsor their own Superbowl party. My first Singles Superbowl will always be burned into my mind for the moment I slipped and said "They should go for a touchdown just for the hell of it,” followed immediately by shocked gasps from most of the girls, something which Trouble didn't let me live down for a couple of years. My second Singles Superbowl was the infamous Janet Jackson half-time show; I happened to be talking to Papa Lightbulb during it and was thus facing away from the screen when the whole room exploded into an uproar. My third Singles Superbowl is memorable for the game of Texas Hold-Em we played during the second half; I was actually happy when I got knocked out; I'd spent way too much time playing with the Parkerites by that point, and playing for no money against people who have no idea what they're doing was about to drive me crazy. This year the festivities were held at La Casa de las Amigas.

As usual, the majority of the people attending the party were more concerned with the commercials than they were the game; even the die-hard football fans had a hard time mustering up interest this year. I think the most attention the TV had the whole evening was during the half-time show, which the entire room spent making fun of the Rolling Stones; so, so sad.

After half-time was over, interest in pretending to watch the game had started to wane, so our attention turned to (what else) board games. This time, the game was Cranium. Cranium is one of those nice equalizing games; yes, there's trivia, but there's also creative components, and sometimes you're only as good as your team's weakest link. My favorite categories are the word scrambles and Wheel-of-Fortune style questions, although I also usually enjoy the "act like a famous person/character" questions as well. I like the "hum a song and get your team to guess what it is" category in theory, but in practice I find that more often than not they're a bust; all too often it seems like the only people who know the song are the people on the other teams. Here's a hint; if you're playing the game, and someone is humming the same little snippet of tune over and over again with no end in sight, guess "James Bond Theme!" This was the second time that card had been pulled while I was playing, and nobody got it either time.

And speaking of nobody getting it . . . There were several times over the course of the evening when The Cable Guy would make a joke that would elicit a laugh from the guys, and nothing but blank looks from the girls. For example: earlier on in the evening we had been laughing at a picture of Scubagirl where all you could see were the whites of her eyes; a little later on The Cable Guy responded to something she said with "Okay, Emily Rose." M.D. and I laughed; the girls looked puzzled. I think similar things may have happened with quips from M.D. and myself, but The Cable Guy was by far the leader in the "Need to Know Your Audience Better" contest for the evening. That's why I don't open my mouth the first 6 months I'm around a group: research. These mini-male-bonding moments would re-occur at the Valentine’s Day get-together.

I feel like there are some really amusing anecdotes I could be sharing, but none of them are springing to mind. See, Cap’n Cluck, you jinxed me!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Here's a Little Time-Killer

Taking my cue from Diva, I set up an "Interactive Johari Window"; basically, I picked 6 words that I think describe me, then other people go and pick 5 or 6 words that they think describe me, and thus we learn just how self-deluded I truly am.

And no, self-deluded is not one of the options; neither are neurotic, obsessive-compulsive, or needy, so I really don't know how accurate it can be.

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I've Always Maintained That I Can't Act All That Well, But I Am Very Dramatic

A couple of weeks ago Cap'n Cluck and I were drafted by Papa Lightbulb to do a skit for the full Singles dept. as part of a promotional spiel for the FAITH program. Like all good performers, we had our first practice less than 24 hours before our performance. A good portion of our practice time was spent punching up the script; it was fun being able to go "Okay, how can we get this same point across while making it actually semi-humorous and mildly entertaining?” The end result probably wouldn't have won any awards, but we both felt it was a heap better than what we started with. It was the first skit I'd done for quite a while, and I was pleased at how easily I could still memorize the lines; of course, I've had a lot of practice at it, since I've been performing in front of people for about as long as I can remember.

The first play I can remember was a 1st grade safety play, where I played the main character "Dr. Wise," which I mainly remember because the teacher had actually made up a little diploma with the name Todd Wise on it which I got to keep afterwards. I was involved in various other little plays and skits through school, church, and 4-H; I remember being very upset in the 4th grade 4-H Share the Fun when my role as a dancing dog got cut out because the narrator’s note cards stuck together, but the only other elementary school performance which really stands out in my mind was my role as Rip Van Winkle in the 6th grade play. Well, to be more accurate, I played half the role of Rip; the old half. Don't know if it was because they didn't want to worry about one person memorizing the whole thing, or if they just wanted to give more kids a chance to participate, but the role of young Rip went to my classmate Punkin, and old Rip went to me.

The elder Rip role required me to sing a solo, "A Nap That Lasted Twenty Years," a ponderous song that was the source of some frustration on my part. You see, in the original script, the reason Rip sleeps for twenty years is that he drank some magic beer; well, of course they couldn't have sixth graders acting like they were drinking beer, so they changed it to "magic water," which, in turn, required a change in the lyrics of my song. This change irked me to no end; it wasn't that I was up in arms about them censoring the play for more palatable grade school consumption; I couldn't have cared less about that. No, what irked me was that the substituted lyric neither rhymed nor scanned properly; yes, that's right, even prepubescent Cap'n Neurotic got bugged by that sort of stuff. I mean, come on! Beers: 1 syllable, rhymes with years; water: not so much. But, I was a powerless 6th grader, so I grinned and bore it. Well, I bore it, anyway.

In addition to plays and skits, my time in 4-H honed my speech-giving skills as I competed with speeches peppered with facts taken liberally from my ZooBooks collection: first whales, then sharks, then spiders. This speechifying would carry over into my experience with the Technology Student Association, where I dove into the Prepared and Extemporaneous Speaking competitions with gusto; I much preferred the Extemp, since it required much less actual work and prep time, and generally involved topics like "What makes a good leader?" or "How has technology improved the world?" I joined TSA my 8th grade year, which was the same year the seeds were planted for the start of a Competitive Speech program at Wyandotte.

The legend goes like this: Mrs. S., the Jr./Sr. English teacher, was also the Student Council sponsor, meaning she was in charge of the school talent show at the time. She had brought in the speech coach from her hometown of Pitcher (a man who was known to many speech students as Gargamel), to be one of the judges. To open up the talent show, Mrs. S. had her StuCo members do a little Oklahoma Land Rush skit; somehow I got drafted to be the one who read the passage that opened up the skit. Reportedly, as soon as I was done with my recitation, Gargamel turned to Mrs. S. and told her that we needed to start a Competitive Speech program immediately. Don't know how true that is, but that's how my momma told it to me, and my momma wouldn't lie about such things, now would she? Regardless of the truth of the legend, the fact is that the next year was the first year of Wyandotte's Competitive Speech program, a program that would last a whopping four years, dying out as soon as I graduated; make of that what you will.

I had a blast in Speech, even if I only made it to State my Freshman year; I like to think that I could have made State my Sr. year if I hadn't opted to go to Mexico with my Spanish class instead of competing in Regionals: my poetry selection of "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" by Weird Al Yankovic was unbeatable, I tell you, unbeatable! Anyhoo, as I've noted before, being in Speech was a big factor in helping me start the breaking-out-of-my-shell process; I have a ton 'o Speech stories which I'll get into at some other time. To this day I can still recite Roald Dahl's "Jack and the Beanstalk" and Ray Bradbury's "October Game" from memory; also, after hours and hours of watching my classmates practice, there are portions of certain plays which are burned into my mind forever, like, say, Steel Magnolias . . . thanks, Diva!

After High School, my speech skills came into play primarily during my time with the BSU Drama Team, although they did come in handy from time to time in class. For example, during Intro to Speech Communication, my professor’s comments on my grade slips started out as "Very good; have you considered speech as a major?" with the first speech, and amped up to "You need to be a speech major!" with the final one; it probably didn't hurt that 4/5 of the class had never gotten up and given a speech before in their lives.

I also got to put my modest acting skills to work in a couple of classes. First there was my "American Drama" class; my professor split us up into groups of three: one director and two actors. The director got to pick a play from the syllabus, and select a scene for the actors to perform in front of the class; afterwards we would have to answer questions about our choices from our classmates. We wound up with Sam Shepard's "The Tooth of Crime," which is an interesting play, but one whose stream-of-consciousness dialogue during the duel scene does not lone itself well to memorization by an acting neophyte, which is exactly what my scene partner was. Getting through the performance in class was quite an exercise in mental gymnastics as I gamely tried to bring him back on-track every time he'd skip to the end of the play; the questioning session from our classmates was a bit brutal, as most of them were theater majors, who still seemed bitter that the class was under the auspices of the English Department. Our director pulled me aside after class and complimented me on my ability to stay on-book; I told him that years of Competitive Speech had trained me for just such an occasion.

My other classroom acting experience happened in my Shakespeare class; again, we were split into teams of three, assigned a play from the syllabus, and asked to pick a scene to perform; this time, we were also expected to lead a class discussion on the play as well. Our play was King Lear; at the time I would have preferred Macbeth, since it's still my favorite Shakespearian tragedy, but I have to say that doing Lear definitely gave me a deeper appreciation for it. My experience with this project was pretty much a flip-flop from the American Drama experience, largely due to the fact that this time my scene-partners were both over-achieving Honors students from Parker, one of whom was a member of the S.C.A. (Society for Creative Anachronism) with easy access to period costumes; yes, we were the only group to don costumes; heck, I think we were the only group who bothered to even memorize the lines. We even did two scenes; one from an earlier version of Lear by a different playwright, and then the corresponding scene from Shakespeare's version. It was the final scene, so I got to perform Lear's big mourning sequence:

Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so
That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever!
Oh, the drama of it all.

Of course, what I didn't expect when I walked into class that day was to find my Bible as Literature professor sitting in on the class to observe the Shakespeare prof in action; I could feel his mischievous smile on me the entire time. After it was over, he proclaimed that he had never known I was so dramatic, and that he was going to make me do a dramatic reading portraying Yahweh for his class; thankfully, he never followed through.

But after graduating that was pretty much it for my acting experience, up until the first Murder Mystery party. Oh, and I did perform “Jack and the Beanstalk” at my office talent show a year or two ago, which was one of those breakthrough “holy crap, didn’t know the Cap’n was capable of such things” moments for many of my co-workers, I think. And really, who can blame them? All must bow down before the wonder that is my revolving-British-accent.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

TV Tues. - My Head Feels Life I've Been Forced to Watch a Fran Drescher Marathon

Not feeling particularly chatty today, I'm afraid; maybe that has something to do with my head feeling like a 747 is trying to batter its way out of my skull. So, let's get one with it.

Gilmore Girls: I think I've figured it out: Amy Sherman-Palladino is trying to drive me insane. Why else would she tease me with a "Luke and Lorelei get things out in the open" conversation, only to have Luke obliviously distance her again at the very end? Because she's the devil that's why; a talented, talented devil.

Supernatural: I liked the whole "Oh, crap, it's just normal psycho killers" idea, and that little girl was mondo creepy.

Lost: I caught one! I caught one! For once, I actually caught a connection between characters (in this case, Kate's dad knowing Said) while the episode was on, and not through the Internet! Speaking of which, did anyone other than Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate pick up on the fact that it was Kate's mom serving Sawyer at the diner in last week's episode? This is definitely a show that begs for DVD viewage later on. The promo for the next ep has me jonsing for it; of course, it won't air until sometime in March *sigh*

Invasion: Speaking of DVD viewage . . . now that I've finally reached the point of being able to say "Y'know, I actually like this show," I wonder if I'll enjoy the early episodes more if I watched them again (much like I enjoyed seasons 6 and 7 of Buffy more the second time through), or if the things that drove me crazy then would still drive me crazy now. This week's ep with crazy killer Zoey Bartlett (does the president know his daughter's been taken over by aliens?) was one of the best eps so far; I can't help but think that the low-Larkin factor contributed to that.

Bones: One thing I liked about this episode was how they didn't automatically make the politician and his family horrible or overly secretive people; think writers go that direction far too often.

Survivor: Think this week's immunity challenge is possibly my favorite challenge ever on the show, a nice mixture of strategy and slugging it out.

Stargate SG-1: While watching this ep, I found myself wanting to go back and rewatch the first season to compare Daniel, Teal'c and Carter of now with the Daniel, Teal'c and Carter of then; I know there's been lots of growth there, but a part of me wants to see if I can figure out just how much.

Battlestar Gallactica: I'm so glad that they've taken care of the problem of the Pegasus commander; having two crazy/crooked commanders was bad enough, and having the crazy/incompetent commander follow them was stretching things; I was afraid they were going to go through commanders like [Pick the reference which most closely appeals to your demographic] (a) Spinal Tap went through drummers (b) Murphy Brown went through secretaries (c) Seinfeld went through girlfriends. I thought the episode was pretty good, but the trailers for this week's episode featuring Lucy Lawless (who, by the way, has been signed on as a full cast member next season) have me pretty excited; there better not be a VCR malfunction while I'm on the road to Colorado.

Dirty Jobs: Well, I was able to see the ep I'd missed, which had the benefit of putting Mike in lots of animal-related jobs, which is always fun, but man, did that Vexcon segment with the roach infestation give me the willies.

Grey's Anatomy: I had started to hope the George/Meredith thing had gone away, but no, it has returned with a vengeance. Poor George; he's about to get his little puppy-dog heart squashed by the Dirty Mistress.

24: Oh good grief. That's really all I can say about Lynne's paranoid meltdown (justified though it may be): oh good grief.

The Shield: Was I the only one wanting Vic's wife to spit in Forest Whitaker's face? Or how about slapping Dutch around for being a dork, anyone else with me on that?

Titus Season 3 Disc 3: Only one disc left, and then I'll have seen all the Titus there is to see. *sigh* Okay, folks, time to start churning out the Andy Richter Controls the Universe discs, think that's next on the "brilliant but cancelled before its time" list.


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Monday, February 20, 2006

The Creepiness Trifecta

I just read that there's a remake of the cult film Wizard of Gore in the works; never having see the original WoG, that news in and of itself didn't wow me. What did wow me was the cast: Crispin Glover, Brad Douriff, and Jeffrey Combs, a.k.a. the three creepiest actors known to man. I mean, I'd probably see the film if any one of them was in it, but all three together? The mind wobbles.

Let us all pray that they don't think to cast the creepy kid from Birth as well; that much concentrated creepiness would probably be enough to release some Lovecraftian beast from its eldritch prison, which would then go on a terrible rampage, subjugating all human life to its insatiably creepy evil.

And when it sells the movie rights, you know they'll have to get Combs to star.

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Movie Mon. - See, Cap'n Cluck, Only 3/8 Are Horror; Don't You Feel Silly Now?

At our Valentine's Day party I made the comment that I had meant to bring a couple of the Netflix that had just come in the mail that afternoon; Cap'n Cluck said "but all you have in your queue is horror movies!" I assured her that just wasn't true; only 3/4 of my queue are horror; the other 1/4 are totally obscure and quirky Indies. I did have a couple of films that I thought might have been okay for the group, but I'm glad we didn't get to watch them, partially because the evening turned out pretty well without us having to sit glued to a movie, and partially because one of the films turned out to be more intense than I expected (Proof), and the other turned out to be more annoying (Zathura).

On to the reviews (only 3 of which are horror)

Zathura: Thematic sequel to Jumanji, only this time the mystical board game has a space theme. Let me say this first of all: the little kids annoyed the crap out of me. I realize as an only child I might not be the target audience for stories revolving around sibling rivalries, so that might have colored my perceptions a bit; the fact remains that through the whole movie I wanted the older brother to stop being so push and the younger brother to stop his blasted whining. Not being able to like either of the kids really made it hard to care if they made it through the ordeal or not; the only character I really liked was the stranded astronaut. Some nice visual effects, but the movie as a whole fell flat for me. I'd recommend renting Jumanji again instead; much superior film, even with that stupid "David Allen Grier invented 90s-style sneakers in the 60s" thing.

Proof: Well done drama about the daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow) of a mentally disturbed genius (Anthony Hopkins) who is dealing with the fear that she might have inherited her father's madness, a fear shared by her control-freak sister (Hope Davis), but not by her father's former student (Jake Gyllenhaal). Well written and well acted film with engaging characters; a bit intense at times as the characters clash. I sometimes got frustrated with Paltrow's character, but not nearly as frustrated as I got with the controlling sister; afraid some of that might have been carry-over from despising her character in The Weatherman so danged much, but I think a good deal of it rests on the character itself. Despite wanting to throttle both of them multiple times while watching this, I still would recommend this film to anyone looking for a good drama.

Silent Night, Bloody Night: Not to be confused with the Silent Night, Deadly Night series of serial-killing Santa movies (which I really need to talk about at some point); this is an entirely different low-budget slasher movie. An abandoned house which was the scene of a brutal death years before has been put on the market, an act which summons the cause of the original death to return to the scene of the crime. Definitely a B-grade film, but an entertaining one; if nothing else, the flashback to the breakout from the asylum was majorly creepy.

The Prowler: Slasher film using that time-honored plot: murders happen at X, forcing it to close, the Y years later some foolish kids open X up again, causing the murderer to return to continue his/her bloody work. The film opens up well, with its WWII setting, and the initial character introductions kept me interested, but I'm afraid that once the killer struck in the present day, the film stalled out. Worst part of the movie was the "humorous" interlude involving a surly motel clerk; pointless waste of time that only served to annoy me. Pretty blah film, overall.

The Misfits: Marilyn Monroe (in her last completed film) stars as a newly divorced woman who stumbles into a relationship with an older cowboy, played by Clark Gable in his last role (he died less than two weeks after filming wrapped), a relationship complicated both by the presence of his friends (who develop feelings of their own for Monroe) and by the vast gulf between their personalities and worldviews. Written by Arthur Miller, directed by John Huston; if that doesn't get you on board, well, it should. I was impressed with Monroe's dramatic turn in Bus Stop, but she really outdoes herself in this one.

Reel Paradise: Documentary about Indie-film maven John Pierson who moved his family to Fiji for a year to take over an old movie theater and use it to show free movies; the film chronicles their final weeks there before returning to the states. I had seen a trailer for this somewhere, and it had piqued my interest; unfortunately, the film left me underwhelmed. The Pierson clan came across as very unlikable to me; patriarch John was the worst, exuding condescension at every turn, but rebellious daughter Georgia was a close second. I'm not sure if the glimpse into the Fijian culture was worth having to put up everything else.

Zombie Honeymoon: Low-budget horror film about a young couple whose honeymoon is disrupted when the groom is slain by a shambling monstrosity, only to return to life with a hunger for human flesh; after discovering his new found appetites, his bride has to decide just how far "'til death do us part" extends. Not your typical horror movie, this one spends the bulk of its time exploring the relationship of the couple; yes, there's gore aplenty, but it's almost secondary to their personal struggles. This is another movie that had me hooked early on, but stalled out about 30 minutes in; nothing glaringly jarring or grating here, it just failed to hold my interest for the full time.

Mirrormask: Feature film debut for long-time collaborators Neil Gaiman (writer) and Dave McKean (director); I could try to do a plot synopsis of this one, but describing an Alice in Wonderland meets Labyrinth plot just can't do justice to the movie; this one is really all about the visuals. Honestly, the plot and dialogue are far from Gaiman's strongest efforts, but the surreal visuals provided by his and McKean's creative collaboration are what carry the film. Honestly, if you look at some screenshots and don't find yourself filled with a sense of "Oooo, cool!" then this movie probably isn't for you. As for me, well, the movie was worth it for the sphinxes and monkey-birds alone.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

4 Non-Trivia Games, 4 Straight Losses; I Sense a Pattern Here

Continuing the Singles catch-up marathon, we zoom forward to mid-January, which found us gathered together at the Church's recreation center, the CLC, for an all-Singles game night.

Although the CLC has the benefit of housing pool tables, air hockey, ping pong, foosball, and the like, its set-up really isn't conducive to large groups of game players; at our big planning meeting last Sunday, we lobbied for future game nights to take place somewhere a bit big-group friendlier. Besides the usual draws of fun and fellowship, we were also bribed with the promise of cheap pizza. There had been a bit of confusion about what time we were getting started, so I headed over to the CLC even earlier than usual to keep anyone who hadn't gotten the revised time schedule company. Freezout and Papa Lightbulb were both there, and Trouble showed up not too long after I did. She challenged me to a game of pool while we were waiting for things to get under way; I was way off my game, and she was way on hers, so I got trounced, which she saw as payback for my beating her during the Lane Farm cookout last Fall.

People slowly started coming in, and by the time everyone had gotten their dinner eaten and started to break into groups for game playing it was already close to 8:00. Cap'n Cluck lobbied for a round of the game that gave her her namesake, Chicken Foot, but had a hard time getting everyone corralled to get started; her task was made even more difficult by the arrival of Mama Lightbulb, who was brining Baby Lightbulb to an outing for the first time. The instant they walked in they were surrounded by a swarm of lookie-loos; yes, I was one of them. Poor Baby L. looked like he about to jump out of his skin with all of those strange faces looking down on him. Mama L. said that he had dimples that showed up when he smiled, and started trying to coax a smile out of him. His reaction: eyes slit, brow furrowed, nose scrunched, chin outthrust, the very epitome of stubbornness; he looked so much like his Papa then it was scary.

We finally got a game of Chicken Foot going. I had the misfortune of sitting to the right of experienced players Magic Pants and Cap'n Cluck, who were able to successfully block my attempts to discard the dreaded double blank at least once; I wound up in dead last and, in the end, Mama L.'s sister (who had never played the game before) trounced us all royally. By the time we had finished it was time for the CLC to close, but since it was only 9:00, there were some of us who weren't ready to head home yet, so Trouble, Scubagirl, Cap'n Cluck, Magic Pants and I headed over to the Singles portable to continue the game-playing.

First, we played Loaded Questions again, which worked much better with just the five of us playing. I did much better with a smaller pool of people to choose from; my four opponents' distinctive personalities made it much easier to narrow my options down. I think it also helped that, by this point, I had spent more time with both Scubagirl and Magic Pants thanks to our Texas Dance Depot adventure than I had the last time we had played. But, while I did a pretty good job of guessing, my rolls weren't quite as impressive, and so I narrowly lost to Magic Pants. There's at least one question and answer I would love to share, but I know I would be severely punished if I did so; suffice it to say that it reduced poor Cap'n Cluck to near-hysterics of laughter so that she was unable to read the answers out loud. Some things I can share, however:

  • The question was "What's the worst thing you've ever done to someone?" I announced that it was going to be easy for someone to guess Magic Pants' answer, since it would be something like "Didn't say 'thank you' when someone held the door for me."
  • The question was "How many books did you read last year?" Sneaky Magic Pants, who has repeatedly said that's she's not much of a reader, put down a pretty high number; when questioned on it, she started counting them off for us: "Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts . . ."
  • Trouble answered an early question "Sex, drugs, and rock and roll" which became a bit of a running joke for the night; surprising just how many of the questions that could work as an answer for.

Even though it had gotten late by the time we finished up LQ, we decided to play a game of Taboo, but Scubagirl and I made a quick run to 7-11 firs, at which point Scubagirl tried to kill us; or at least so it seemed for a few seconds after the crashing stop her Xterra came to while she was backing up. I thought for sure she had backed into someone pulling into the parking lot, but she had just accidentally backed into a post which was in her blind spot; it didn't do much beside dent up her fender, but shards of broken taillight scattered around the post testified to the fact that she was not the first person to collide with it.

Since we had an uneven number of players for Taboo, Cap'n Cluck became a revolving player; she guessed with both teams, and gave clues for both teams. Trouble had an unfortunate knack of trying to help the person she was supposed to be buzzing for breaking the rules; well, unfortunate for her team, fortunate for ours. I'm a better guesser than I am a clue-giver; through the whole game I kept thinking about all of the hints I could give for each word if I was playing with the Parkerites ("This was Bubbles' major." "Architecture!") or Book Monkeys ("Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate likes to lead his own." "Parade!"), hints which, of course, would mean nothing to any of the Singles; I'm sure if I played with either one of those groups, the reverse would be true.

Favorite Taboo moment: Magic Pants is giving the clues while I hover over her shoulder to sound the buzzer if she uses one of the verboten words. Magic Pants looks at the word, and describes it thusly: "They sometimes play these at funerals." I look at her strangely but say nothing. Cap'n Cluck immediately answers "Bagpipes!" Magic Pants makes a small noise of dismay, as she realizes she's just describe the wrong thing; she instantly switches tracks, saying "No, but they sound sort of like bagpipes," to which Cap'n Cluck immediately answers "Accordion!" . . . which was, of course, the correct answer. With mind-bending logic like that actually working for them, Scubagirl and I couldn't hope to compete.

By the time we finished Taboo it was after midnight, so we called it quits for the night. Our next big gathering would take place a week or two later, at our annual Singles Superbowl Party.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Christmas Time With Cap'n Klutz

And the catching-up continues! Yesterday I talked about the All-Singles Christmas party; today we get to explore the “Young” Singles Christmas party.

One Sunday a couple of weeks after the All-Singles party, my class had our own party at Cap'n Cluck's house. As usual, I got there a little early and found out that Bruiser had gotten there even earlier and had been pressganged into helping Cluck decorate Christmas cookies. Luckily they had finished with that by the time I arrived so I was able to avoid being roped into it (I would not always be so fortunate . . .), and he and I instead started throwing the football around. As others started trickling in some worked themselves into our game of catch; we even had two balls going at once for a while. Of course, being the klutz that I am, I somehow managed to slice one of my fingers open going for the ball, something I didn't realize until I had the thought "gee, my finger sure feels damp," and looked down to see prodigious bleeding. Luckily for all, Cap'n Cluck was able to capture my retreat inside in search of bandages on film for all to see.



Thanks, Cap'n!

We had a really good turn-out for the party, about 20 people or so. After dinner we had a white elephant gift exchange, although quite a few of the people seemed to have misunderstood the concept; several nice gifts handed out, a label I don't apply to what I brought: a powder-blue frisbee bearing a picture of a teddy bear and the slogan "Give Hugs Not Drugs" and multiple copies of an issue of Fantastic Four. Smooth Money was the lucky recipient of that bounty. The package I picked had a nice little blanket, which was stolen from me by Scubagirl when it was her turn to pick. Here you can see her gloating over her prize:



My next pick turned out to be a hand-held Texas Hold-Em game, which also got swiped from me; I wasn't too saddened by that, though, because it meant I got to swipe the blanket back; I felt no remorse. I mean, Scubagirl got to pick again, and just look at the joy on her face with her new gift:


Okay, so maybe that's more of a "noooooooooo!" look on her face . . .

After the gift exchange several people had to leave, but not before the obligatory group pose with our bounty.


Those of us remaining got ready to play games, and after some discussion decided to play the game that Cap'n Cluck just got during the exchange: Loaded Questions.



The concept is pretty straight-forward: you draw a card; ask the group a question such as "What TV character do you most identify with" or "What's the worst thing you've ever done" or the like; everyone writes down their answers and passes them to the person to your right, who reads the answers out loud; you try to guess who put what, and get points for every one you got right. I'd played LQ for the first time a few years back at the Eskimo's house, and had bought a copy afterwards, thinking it would be a good ice-breaker game for the Singles. But, the two times I broke it out at Singles functions, it hadn't really been that big of a hit. But, that had been quite a while back, and with the fluid nature of the Singles group we were dealing with almost an entirely new group of people, so we dove in; there were 12 of us playing, so we split into teams of two. We quickly discovered that LQ does not loan itself well to large groups or team-play. But despite some stumbling along the way, it did serve as a pretty effective ice-breaker/getting-to-know-you type of game. Some of my favorite moments from the game:
  • The question is "What's the most painful thing that's ever happened to you?" One thing flashed into my head, but I put something else down ("animal attack") and passed my answer in. Scubagirl was in charge of collecting the answers; as M.D. (formerly known as Stunt, and no, you don't get to know what M.D. stands for yet) handed her his answer, she glanced at it with a puzzled look on her face, turned to him, and asked "What does that mean?" I knew instantly what he had put: the same thing that had initially popped into my head. My gut instinct was proven right when Scubagirl read the answers aloud: "Getting racked." As we had to explain the definition to the confused member of the group, I was surprised at how many people there weren't familiar with the phrase, although at least one other guy was, as The Cable Guy had also put that down as his answer.
  • The question is "How many of your current friends have you known for over 10 years." Since I've known pretty much all of the Parkerites since 93 or 94, my number was pretty high; in fact, it was the highest number read. But, since it was non-blog monkey Scubagirl guessing, she picked me for a much lower number; the martyr in me was secretly hoping she'd guess that I was the one who put down "Zero", but she put me at around the three-friend mark.
  • The question is "Who do you know you're smarter than?" Bruiser's answer: "Democrats."
  • The question is "If you could be any character from any novel, who would you be?" The strategy for a large portion of the group on this one was to think of some movie they had seen which had also been a novel; one person put down "The Terminator," which I suppose was technically okay since there have been novelizations of the films . . . Bruiser and I were the guessers on that one, and we failed pretty miserably; I had unfortunately forgotten Cap'n Cluck's comment on CoIM about liking Nancy Drew books, and thus missed an easy point.
After we finally finished up LQ half of the contingent headed out. Those that remained toasted with some non-alcoholic sparkling cider (which we had to practically force down Bruiser, who didn't seem to accept that it was not a prohibited substance for Southern Baptists) and then moved the furniture around for a little bit o' dancing (which is not as much of a prohibited activity for Southern Baptists as it once was) until Cap'n Cluck's dad wandered out to suggest to C.C. that it was about time for her guests to vacate the premises. We headed on home with our lovely gifts; some of the Singles got together again on New Years Eve, but I was still in OK at the time, so my next big unchronicled Singles gathering wouldn't take place until the end of January and the All-Singles Game Night.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Or, I Could Use the Time for That Other Project I Was Thinking About . . .

I spent most of last night writing the catch-up posts, almost got all of them finished. I was hit with a burst of inspiration: I could post two a day and get caught up in no time! But then a voice from deep inside yelled "You're an idiot!"

"Hmm, that inner voice has a point," I conceded grudgingly, "maybe I should listen to what it has to say."

So, after a lengthy inner dialogue, during which I said some hurtful things to myself (my inner voice can be so danged negative sometimes), I decided that I would go ahead and space the posts out to one a day; this would give me almost a week of ready-made posts, which would enable me to write other things in the meantime and build up a bit of a buffer for those days when inspiration fails to strike. That way I won't have to listen to Zinger calling me Kurtz* all day.

Of course, for this to work, I would actually have to write stuff on the days I already have something ready to post, instead of just thinking "Oh, I have a post all ready for today, no need to bother with anything else." In other words, it shall be a battle between my lazy, slacker side and my need-to-please-others side; I'm not too hopeful about a positive outcome here, but it's nice to dream, isn't it?

*Scott Kurtz of PvP is notorious for updating his website late in the day

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Christmas Time With Cap'n Claude, Trivia Geek

While working on these "catching up with the Singles" posts it dawned on me that I desperately need to update the Singles cast list; the group is way too fluid for me to rest on my laurels too long. But, that shall wait until after I get everyone up to speed on the Singles goings-ons; first up is my account of the night of the All-Singles Christmas Party.

This year we held our All-Singles party at El Guapos, which provided us with a fajita buffet, which wasn’t bad, but would have been better if (a) they had kept the meat separate so that I wasn’t forced to dig through all of the onions, peppers, etc. in search of beef, and (b) they had provided some queso. Mmmmm, queso.

While these All-Singles events are supposed to help people from the different classes mix and mingle, as usually happens the different classes tended to clump together, with Trouble being the exception the rule: "I refuse to be segregated!" she exclaimed before seating herself with the Senior Adult women. I, of course, wound up at the conversational dead zone of the table; I have a knack for that. Basically, there are separate conversations happening on either side of me, and I’m situated just far enough away from the epicenter of both to effectively take part in either.

As so often happens at these things, the All-Singles portion drew to a close before the members of my class were ready to go home, so a few of us headed over to Starbucks to hang out. When I ordered a hot chocolate, the cashier misheard my name, so my order came out labeled "Claude." Not the first time that's happened; while I was working at OSU, I was the office contact person for UPS, who had me down in their database as "Claude Anoch." Still, that's better than the library worker who seems convinced that my name is really "Ted." And then there's the co-worker who keeps calling me "Scott" for no logical reason . . . but I digress.

We sat around visiting for quite a while; it was early on in Magic Pants' time with the Singles, so she was subjected to Cap'ns Cluck and Disaster’s fervent proselytizing for CoIM; she's been one of their few successful converts. The Popular Song was mentioned, and so I was coaxed into performing it for Magic Pants and another Single who hadn't had the pleasure of hearing me perform. After Magic Pants and Cap’n Cluck finished their game of sweetener-packet-checkers, we decided to head to Cap'n Disaster's house to play cards. We played a few hands of Spoons (at which I stunk), and were trying to figure out what to play next when The Cable Guy (so named both because of his job and because he watches about as much TV as I do), who had just gotten off work, arrived with Pop Culture Trivial Pursuit. Magic Pants agreed to play, although she cautioned us that it wasn’t her forte; she’s on practically the other end of the pop culture continuum from me.

I think my favorite moment of the Trivial Pursuit game came when The Cable Guy’s team tried for a TV pie-piece; for those of you unfamiliar with the latest versions of Trivial Pursuit, you get the standard cards for regular questions, but if you try for a pie-piece you have to answer a question supplied by the accompanying DVD, which usually features some sort of film clip to go with the question. In addition, the DVD questions have a built-in time limit; after a certain time has elapsed a message pops up letting you know that anyone can answer the question and steal the pie-piece. So, The Cable Guy’s team was trying to answer a TV question for a pie-piece; as soon as a clip from an animated series started up, he said "Oh, I know what this is, they just made a movie based on it; it wasn't very good." The question popped up asking what the name of the TV series was, and he confidently answered "Thunderbirds." I sat there quietly until the "All Play" message popped up, then turned to the group and said "Actually, it's Battle of the Planets," a decree which was almost instantly confirmed by the answer popping up on the screen. This prompted Cap'n Disaster to mock me, repeating my words back to me in a stereotypical nasal nerdy tone; refusing to be cowed, I embraced my geekiness and explained that Thunderbirds was marionettes, not animation, while Battle of the Planets was an Americanized version of the old anime series Gatchman, and that it had also been released as G-Force, but that it was the presences of 7-Zark-7, who was unique to the BotP iteration of the series, that clued me in to which version was being shown. They all sat in silent horror at the unveiling of my full geekdom. Little did they know that BotP had been on of my favorite cartoons as a kid, and that I had had a BotP poster above my dresser from the time I was 5 up until, well, my parents’ house burned down; unfortunately, this is the best picture of it I could find.


Darn glare; you can't even see 1-Rover-1.

Anyway, after the game was over the others grumbled that the next time we played it should be everyone else on one team and me by myself. It was not the first time such a sentiment had been voiced (a night of trivia games with the Cap’ns and the Cable Guy right before Thanksgiving had resulted in similar comments), nor would it be the last; but don’t worry, if I ever start to get a swelled head, all I have to do is play against Zinger and my ego will be curbed.

By the time we finished up the game, it was really late, so we bid each other a good evening and headed off in our separate directions; our next big function would happen in a couple of weeks at the "Young Singles" Christmas party.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Playing Catch Up

As I was preparing a post about the Singles' Valentine's Day party, I started to make references to things that had occurred at earlier gatherings, only to realize that I had yet to record anything about those gatherings. So, I thought I'd do a quick overview of the Singles activities of the past few months, but as I started trying to summarize things so it would all fit in one reasonably-sized pot, I realized that I would be leaving out way too much. Therefore, starting tomorrow you can expect a glut of Singles-related posts over the next several days as I try to get CoIM in synch with current events.

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The Soundtrack of My Life, vol.1: I Mildly Tolerate the 90s

It's been said that smell is the sense most closely tied to memory, and I can't deny that it can be a powerful trigger; the smell of the Clydesdale stables at the Texas State Fair brought back memories of spending time at my Papaw's farm that were staggering in their intensity. And yet, for me, most of my memories are tied up in the audio portion of my brain; there are certain songs that I can't hear without associating them with certain people or places. Although, I guess when it comes right down to it, it's not always specific songs; there are certain artists that I automatically associate with certain people, regardless of the song. Now, let's take a walk down my melodic memory lane, starting with the Wyandotte years.

I've talked about my songbursty nature before; I come by it honestly, as anyone who has ever met my mother will attest, so it should come as no surprise that a lot of songs and artists are inextricably linked with her in my mind: Linda Rondstat, Anne Murray, Kenny Rogers, they all scream "Mom!" to me. Of course, those were because she listened to their albums so often; there are also the numerous songs she would sing at the drop of a hat to consider. Think of them as her own Trigger Songs; in certain situations, she couldn't help herself. Much like I find myself singing the phrase "It's been awhile" every time I happen to use it in conversation, if Mom used the phrase "I will," it would inevitably turn into the refrain from Captain and Tenile's "Love Will Keep Us Together"; although this had been occurring all of my life, it wasn't until my teenage years that I finally heard the song and realized "So that's where that came from." A similar oft-repeated song-phrase was "Shut up baby, I'm trying to sing," courtesy of Ray Steven's "Gitarzan." And then, of course, there is the infamous Young Frankenstein version of "Puttin' on the Ritz"; I think she and I both might by mentally incapable of singing that song without doing the highly-garbled version. My dad isn't quite as musically inclined as my mom's side of the family, but there are lots of artists that always make me think of him: The Kingston Trio, Roy Orbison, Don Williams, Abba, and *shudder* Neil Diamond.

My parents pretty much controlled the radio during my younger days, which didn't really bother me, since I liked pretty much all of their music (Neil Diamond excluded, of course), so my knowledge of early 80s music is a bit spotty at times. But, by the time I got to Junior High, my attempts to reinvent myself and break out of my shell were accompanied by an increased interest in current music, although my knowledge at the time was basically limited to whatever was playing on the weekly top 40 countdowns or on NBC's Friday Night Videos. Keeping that in mind, here's the soundtrack of my life at Wyandotte High School:

"I Touch Myself" by the Divynls: this import from Australia happened to hit big the year there was a foreign exchange student from Down Under; we gave her an incredibly hard time about this one, changing the lyrics to "When I think about you I touch my kangaroo": yes, it was sophomoric, but since we were sophomore, I'm okay with that.

"Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor: this song always makes me think of the Technology Student Association national conference in Corpus Christi the summer after my freshman year. The song had started playing at one of the mixers, and one of the older girls in our group exclaimed how much she loved the song and started singing along; when she got to the verse "I went to the doctor and guess what he told me," my mother (who was along as a sponsor/chaperone) made a quip about knowing what the doctor told her, which resulted in several girls shouting "Mrs. Enoch!" in their most scandalized voices. Oh, did I mention that the girl in question had found out she was pregnant right before the trip? My mother: the height of tact.

"On Broadway": This might seem like a strange selection, but if you happened to attend a Wyandotte High School home football game anytime during my high school years, odds are good that you heard this song during the halftime show; if you were a devoted Bears fan, you probably came to loath the song as much as the poor, beleaguered band members did. I don't know why our band teacher insisted on recycling this one every year; perhaps the sheet music was cursed. The story goes that when a new band teacher was hired, many Wyandotte fans heaved a sigh of relief, confident that they would never be subjected to the song again . . . a sigh that turned into a collective groan at the first home game half-time show when an all-too-familiar tune came from the field . . .

"Vibeology" by Paula Abdul and "Right Now" by Van Halen: An odd combo, I know, but both of these were played on the car stereo of the guy who served as my host during the State Student Council conference my senior year of high school; while most out-of-town school functions meant fun at the hotel, at StuCo state all of the students attending were housed with local families. The two previous years there had been another guy from Wyandotte along, but this year I was flying solo and so wound up rooming with another solo-guy who was from Jay, if I recall correctly. We had an interesting time; instead of taking us straight to his house, our host took us to his family's restaurant, since it was his grandmother's birthday. Of course, my fellow out-of-towner and I were not invited to the shindig, and were seated at a table far removed from the festivities, since apparently grandma was not too keen on having any Caucasians at her party, being hardcore, old school Vietnamese. I believe it was the next night when the aforementioned songs were the underlying soundtrack to my heated discussion with our host when I refused to tag along with them to a kegger since I, not yet having my drivers license, did not relish the thought of being designated driver and having to navigate my way through OKC back to his house late at night. Deprived of assured sober assistance, he grudgingly headed home; yeah, I won me some friends that night, you betcha.

"Vogue" by Madonna: During my Sophomore year the Student Council held a "powder puff" football game as a fundraiser. And, since all of the girls were out playing football, it fell upon the guys to be the cheerleaders; and by "guys" I mean myself as the resident drama geek/StuCo member and three or four football players who were forced into it by their cheerleader girlfriends. Not only were we forced to put on cheerleading outfits and amplify our chests with balloons (I was openly mocked by my fellow cheerleaders for not inflating my balloons to Morganna the Kissing Bandit proportions), but we also had to learn one of the girls' half-time routines; they chose "Vogue."

"Age of Aquarius" by The Fifth Dimension and "Super-Freak" by Rick James: Yet another Sophomore year story, and yet another StuCo related event. This time it was the school talent show, which had three breaks in the action during which StuCo members performed little lip-synching acts based on music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I was only in the "Aquarius" skit, where we all dressed up like hippies and danced around; in addition, I got to mime playing the flute for the opening music, and got to mouth the lyrics along with one of the girls, since we were the only two who actually knew the words to it beforehand. I wasn't in the "Super-Freak" number, but my saxophone was; one of the girls mimed the sax solo and then had to take my mouth piece home to wash it afterwards because it was smeared with her lipstick.

"I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred: My Senior year there was a lip-synching contest at a pep assembly; this is the song my class did. Or, more accurately, this is the song that I lip-synched to while 4 or 5 girls from my class did their best super-model catwalk impressions behind me. We were not the winners; that honor fell on the group of teachers who did a number by the Supremes, I believe; yes, my mother was one of them. The fact that they won and that the judges were all teachers as well caused a good deal of dissent from the student body; heck, even my mom agreed that the real winners should have been the sophomores who did an excellent "Bohemian Rhapsody" performance, complete with Wayne's World skit that culminated in a ticked-off Garth shooting Wayne, then running over to one of their female classmates just as the song started: "Momma, just killed a man, put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he's dead." Their loss was a traveshamockery!

"O.P.P." by Naughty by Nature: During the height of this song's popularity, my Mom, who is psychologically incapable of deciphering any rap lyrics whatsoever, asked me what "O.P.P." stood for; I, not really wanting to go into it at that particular moment, said "Other People's Property." Mom's response: "So, if in class someone is messing with someone else's stuff I can say 'Keep your hands off O.P.P.'?" My mind was instantly filled with visions of the fallout of such an occurrence, visions that were both hilarious and horrific; valuing my own skin far too much, I opted to go into a bit more detail about the other meaning of the phrase.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Written Word Wed. - Liveships and Traders and Slaves, Oh My!

It's time once again for Zinger's favorite feature here at CoIM: my reviews of books he will never read! This one is a semi-sequel to The Farseer Trilogy; it's set in the same world, but only has one character in common.

The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb


Vol.1: Ship of Magic
Vol.2: Mad Ship
Vol.3: Ship of Destiny

When Bingtown Trader Ephron Vestrit passes away on the deck of his ship Vivacia, his ebbing lifeforce completes the quickening process which awakens the wizardwood of the ship, transforming it into a sentient being bound by magic to his bloodline: Vivacia will not sail without a Vestrit aboard. But Ephron's decision to cede control of the ship to his son-in-law Kyle Haven, instead of his younger daughter Althea, sets in motion a chain of events that will change the course of their world forever. Kyle, a foreigner with little regard for, and less understanding of, the traditions of the Bingtown Traders not only banishes Althea from the Vivacia, he also recalls his son Wintrow, long ago dedicated to the priesthood of Sa, imprisoning him on the ship as the obligatory Vestrit representative. While Althea and Wintrow both struggle against the upheavals in their lives, Kyle transforms the Vivacia into a slave ship, a move which not only torments the fragile mind of the newly awakened liveship, but which also brings her to the attention of Captain Kennit, would-be King of the Pirate Isles, whose plans for power are based around one thing: the capture and control of a liveship. The actions of Kennit and the Vestrit clan will awaken ancient secrets: secrets about the strange behavior of the deadly sea serpents swarming their waters; secrets about the past of Paragon, a long-abandoned and half-crazed liveship rumored to have killed his entire crew; secrets about the Rain Wild Traders and their discoveries in the cities of the Elderlings, and secrets about the true nature of the liveships, secrets that could spell doom for an entire race.

While this trilogy shares many of the same traits as The Farseer Trilogy, the rules of magic are vastly different; instead of focusing on Skill and Wit, this series is focused on the power of the liveships. Although this trilogy could definitely stand on its own, there are several things which would be better appreciated by someone who had read the previous trilogy. While this series has many of the trappings of the Epic Fantasy sub-genre, the lines between "good" and "evil" are seldom cut and dried.

Overall, I think I enjoyed The Liveship Traders books a bit more than The Farseer books; a large part of that may have been due to the fact that they were written with shifting P.O.V.s, while the previous books were told entirely from Fitz's side of things. These books would have suffered greatly if the author hadn't given the reader a chance to get inside the mind of Kennit, Wintrow, Althea, et al. I found Kennit to be a particularly intriguing character: a power-hungry sociopath who is so innately charming (not to mention lucky) that he is able to bend almost anyone he meets to his will, despite a complete lack of understanding of a normal human's motivations. While I hated to see the degradation of the character in the final book, it did serve to make me think about why I was so willing to blithely accept most of the horrible things the character did without any qualms, only to have one particular horrible act make me long for the character's demise; was this conceptual whiplash intentional or a mistake on Hobb's part? My second favorite character was Wintrow, who in many ways reminds me of Alain, my favorite character in Kate Elliot's Crown of Stars series. My third favorite character was the enigmatic Amber, the only character not to have her P.O.V. shared with the audience; some questions about her were answered, but many more remained a mystery, making me look forward to reading more about her in the future. My least favorite character for a good portion of the series was Wintrow’s sister Malta, an obnoxious spoiled brat whose teenage narcissism drove me to distraction; I can barely describe the relief I felt when she finally started to grow up.

While I enjoyed the series overall, the third and final book ventured into territory that drives me crazy: almost every character was operating under totally false assumptions about the motivations of every other character. A little of that goes a long way with me, and it seemed like almost half of the book was dedicated to things like "Oh, she is talking to that handsome man, she most love him and not me" and "Oh, he is being brusque, he must not love me anymore" and the like. I could handle it better when the assumptions were about mistrust of people, but when it comes to romantic entanglements it just drives me crazy. The books still held my attention and interest (stayed up until almost 2 A.M. on Tuesday finishing the series up) and I would heartily recommend them to any Fantasy fan, but I would have enjoyed them much more without that aspect.

Like her previous trilogy, The Liveship Traders is an entertaining and original Fantasy which kept me enthralled with its exploration of this new world.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Meal Massacre

The following story is told at the behest of Zinger, who I think still has nightmares about this particular Valentine's Day . . . I doubt my paltry words can do justice to the horror (or the hilarity) of this particular Valentine's Day excursion.

One year back in the Stillwater days Zinger, Pooh, Coronela, and I headed over to a restaurant in the neighboring town of Perkins for dinner on Valentine's Day; if I recall correctly, Pooh had heard good things about it from someone in one of her accounting classes, so we decided to give it a try. And thus began one of the most memorable dining experiences of my life.

Things started out fine; the restaurant wasn't even close to being full and we got seated fairly quickly, albeit without any menus. Things started to go downhill once our waitress arrived at the table and informed us that there was a very limited menu that evening, consisting of steak and . . . well, steak. We all thought it was strange, but didn't question her too much; after all, who doesn't love steak . . . plus, she quickly struck as the type of person whose head might implode if she had to conjure up an actual thought. So, after having her repeat the limited menu (which she read off of a very worn looking post-it note), we gave her our orders and visited with each other while we waited for our food to arrive.

And waited.

And waited.

And finished off our drinks.

And waited.

And waited.

And watched as other people around us were served meals which most definitely were not steak.

And waited.

And waited.

And wondered if our waitress had fled the country.

And waited.

And waited.

And saw the long-missing waitress just standing in the kitchen when one of her more industrious co-workers happened to open the door.

And waited.

Finally, our waitress appeared, bearing our unusually-restricted-selection orders; we questioned her about why others around were eating non-steak items, and she looked at us like we were speaking a foreign tongue. She then went off to get us some refills, and we started to dig in to our meal. It was at this point that Pooh discovered that her steak was cold. If we had been in a movie, there would have been a big "dun-dun-DUN!" musical cue as lightning flashed in the background. For you see, out of all of my many, many outspoken friends, there is none quite as prepared to rip off your head and punt it into the sewer if she feels she's been mistreated or cheated as Pooh, as many a hotel clerk, contractor, city official, and other unfortunate incompetants can attest.

So, we all sat there, waiting for the waitress to return with our drinks and demonstrate if she had even the barest glimmer of a survival instinct. When she eventually came back, Pooh informed her of the chilly nature of her food; the waitress looked at her quizzically for a second, trying to translate the news into something her brain could comprehend, and then grabbed the plate and headed back to the kitchen saying "I'll go nuke it for you."

Unsurprisingly, the idea of microwaving the steak until it was warm went over like a lead balloon, but we were all too stunned at the prospect to say anything before she had disappeared back into the kitchen. Pooh declared she would not be eating it if it had just been nuked, and we began to postulate about what else could possible go wrong with the evening. Zinger made a crack which struck me as particularly funny (something about how with the way our luck was going the restaurant wouldn't accept cash, check, or credit card, instead forcing us to pay in beads from Argentina) which was unfortunate, as he had made the crack just as I took a drink, causing me to spew Coke all over poor Coronela. Luckily for all involved, when the waitress returned it was obvious someone had saved her from herself, for Pooh was not presented with a microwaved slab of meat.

The capper to the evening came as we were exiting the restaurant; Coronela was walking out first, head turned towards the rest of us, so she never saw the huge sandwich-board blocking her path until after her collision with it brought her to the ground. Now, you must understand that, by this point in the evening, having suffered through the inept ministrations of our waitress (who, I'm pretty sure, got a pretty lousy tip that evening) we were in that giddy state of mind where even the smallest thing can prompt gales of laughter; watching Coronela's tumble nearly brought the rest of us to the ground as well.

Schadenfreude: it's not just for Germans anymore.

Meal-wise, it was one of the worst dining experiences I've ever had; entertainment-wise, think it ranks up there as one of the top 10 "laughed so hard my sides hurt" experiences I've had.

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TV Tues. - Farewell, "Love Monkey," We Hardly Knew Ye

Due to a slip of the finger while programming my VCR last week, I set it up to tape channel 60 instead of channel 50, and thus was rewarded with an hour of anime rather than Dirty Jobs. Luckily the ep will be rerunning tonight at 6:00, so I should be able to catch it anyway *knock on wood*

On to the reviews

Gilmore Girls: I loved the realization that Rory was basically dating a younger version of her dad; can't believe that never dawned on me before. Paris's meltdown was as entertaining as usual; wonder how long her grudge will last this time. I'm still not liking the postponing-the-wedding subplot; hope there's some resolution to it one way or another really soon.

Supernatural: Interesting development in the mythology of the show; I'm not sure exactly where they're going with the connection between psychics and the nameless demon, but I'm definitely hooked. This ep won the "Where the #$&#$* have I seen her before?" award for the week, thanks to the character of the step-mother, whose familiar face and voice drove me crazy through the entire ep, until I finally looked her up on IMDB and discovered she used to be Aunt Zelda on Sabrina.

Battlestar Gallactica: I believe I called the writers of the show several naughty things at the end of the episode. I'm going to miss Billy, and I fear for how the President is going to be able to handle Baltar without her trusty aide beside her.

Love Monkey: Yet another show yanked before it even had a chance to develop an audience. While the show wasn't the greatest thing on the air, it was already growing on me. I felt great sympathy for Judy Greer's boyfriend trying to fit in with the other guys; I'd like to think that I was never that pathetic when playing basketball with my roomies back in the day, but I'm sure I wasn't too far off. Favorite line of the show: "That man is a conversational cul de sac."

The Office: One of the things I've come to love about the American version of The Office is how much time they've given to all of the office workers; the BBC version was pretty much fixated on the Michael/Dwight/Pam/Jim characters which is understandable, what with the limited number of episodes in a BBC series. But here, with a full 22 ep order, the writers can feel free to expand and explore the characters of Oscar, Angela, Kenny, Kelly, Ryan, et al; of course, it doesn't hurt that several of those characters are played by the writers as well. Favorite moment of the ep: the unveiling of the Dwight bobblehead doll.

My Name is Earl: While the "I am Karma's bitch" sequences were amusing, all of the best parts of the episode revolved around Randy at the frat-house.

Bones: I approached this episode with great trepidation; the treatment of comic geeks on TV can be painful at times. I liked the fact that they bucked the stereotype by having tough-guy Booth be a comic fan and SF-geek Zack not; also liked that they stressed the fact that the victim and his pals were not representative of the typical comic fan, although the pessimist in me is pretty sure that the people that would need to have that pointed out to them probably didn't pay any attention to it.

Veronica Mars: Probably the only good thing to come out of the WB/UPN merger is that VM will get a chance to reach a larger audience next year; if any show deserves it, VM does. I was left with a couple of questions after this ep, mainly (a) have we seen the dad of Logan's new crush before (b) was the threat Beaver made to his brother a reference to something that's been mentioned before or is that a story yet to come, and (c) was Weevil forced to shave off the mustache after he got kicked out of the gang? The first two questions are examples of my hazy memory, which is one of the reasons why I love watching TV on DVD; those little things stick out a lot clearer when you watch all of the eps back-to-back.

Lost: Zinger and I have had discussions about Locke and Jack's recent competition to see who could be the bigger ass; we've come to the conclusion that as of this week the competition was declared a tie, and their reward was to be punked out in front of the whole island.

Invasion: The show has won me over, but I still can't stand Larkin. Every time she threatened to leave town, I just kept thinking "let her, let her!"

Grey's Anatomy: I wonder how successful having the big bomb scare two-parter after the Superbowl was in bringing in new viewers; both parts had some great character moments (George really got to shine several times), but I don't think the two-parter was really representative of the series as a whole.

Scrubs: The ep which introduced Mandy Moore's character was one of the weakest episodes I've seen in a long time; the follow-up episode was a vast improvement.

The O.C.: Glad to see Kaitlin leave, only wish that Sandy's good-for-nothing employee Matt would follow; any time he's on screen he just sucks the life out of the scene.

Titus Season 3 Disc 2: One of these days, I'm going to compile a "top 10 TV characters" list, and when I do, Zack Ward's portrayal of Dave will be on there, right below Mary Cherry.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Movie Mon. - Surprisingly, the "First Person Shooter' P.O.V. Was Not the Worst Thing About "Doom" . . . That Would Be the Plot.

No real unqualified raves this week, and even a couple of "avoid if humanly possible" ones. I'm hoping tomorrow's new releases fare better than last week's; I'm particularly looking forward to Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's Mirrormask, which has all the makings of a cult classic

On to the reviews

Daltry Calhoun: Incredibly bland comedy about a pot-head turned sod salesman having to deal with the teenage daughter he never knew he had. The movie tries to be quirky, but fails miserably, drowned out by its schmaltziness. Johnny Knoxville does a passable job acting, but there's really just not much to work with. Not a bad movie, per se, but far from a good one, either.

Doom: Sub-par action flick based on the first-person shooter game which sucked up way too much of my time back in college with very little to show for it other than frustration; keeping that in mind, the movie was pretty faithful, I suppose . . . Honestly not as bad as all the reviews made it seem (quite a bit better than any of Uwe Bol's efforts, for example), but still pretty bad. I think I might have been able to give it the benefit of a "mediocre" rating if it hadn't been for the idiotic fist fight that comprised the endpiece of the film; I'm all for senseless violence but come on!

The Dark Hours: Psychological thriller about a criminal psychologist whose weekend in the country with her husband and sister is interrupted by one of her former patients looking for revenge for her treatment of him. Pretty tense movie with good acting and interesting characterizations, and although I wasn't too fond of the big twist on general principle, I thought it was handled as well as such a twist could be. Think horror fans who aren't die-hard gorehounds might appreciate this one.

Evil Alien Conquerors: Intentionally stupid comedy about a couple of would-be alien conquerors who are unbelievably inept. The first hour or so of the film had moments of mild entertainment, but the last 30 minutes or so were filled with things that made me laugh out loud, almost all of which centered on the character of Croker, an evil alien giant who refuses to admit that a teleporter mishap has reduced him to normal human size. I don't think any description I can give can do adequate justice to the performance of Tyler Labine (currently seen as the conspiracy-nut brother on Invasion) in the role; his infomercial scenes made the whole film worthwhile, for me at least. One of those films that I can't really recommend to much of anyone I know other than possibly Zinger.

Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit: Feature length Claymation film starring everyone's favorite British crackpot inventor and his long-suffering canine companion. As a fan of the Wallace and Gromit shorts, I'd been looking forward to this one. While it contains the same sensibilities and sense of humor as the shorts, I think W&G works better in short form. Gotta love all of the bunny scenes, though, and the Rube Goldberg devices are entertaining as usual. Entertaining film, with lots of little visuals gags throughout.

Two Men Went to War: True story of two British soldiers during WWII who struck out on a solo mission into occupied France to destroy Nazi targets, but went AWOL in order to do so. The film plays up the bumbling nature of the two, striving for a comedic tone which never really worked for me. Well acted film, but I just couldn't get into it.

The Innocents: Subtle horror film from the 60s based on Henry James' Turn of the Screw about a nanny who becomes convinced that her wards are being possessed by the spirits of their old nanny and her abusive lover. Stylish and creepy, the film leans heavily towards the "this is actually happening" interpretation of the story, although the ambiguity of the nanny's sanity does come into play throughout. Very well done film

Elizabethtown: Have you ever been frustrated at a film, and then been frustrated at your frustration? That pretty much sums up my Elizabethtown experience: as I watched the film I became frustrated because I felt it didn't live up to its potential, and then felt frustrated with myself because I was doing something I hate to see other people do, i.e. judging a film harshly because its flashes of brilliance are just that: flashes. Every time the film floundered all I could think was "but you were doing so well!" The film revolves around a recently fired shoe designer (Orlando Bloom, doing a pretty nice American accent) whose suicide attempt is interrupted by news of his father's death; on his way to retrieve the body he becomes involved with an outgoing stewardess (the always charming Kirsten Dunst). I loved most of the scenes between Bloom and Dunst, and was also appreciative of most of the scenes between Bloom and his father's side of the family, a great big boisterous clan that reminded me of my own family in several ways. But then there were the scenes dealing with his mother, almost all of which brought the film to a screeching halt, particularly the ill-advised stand-up/tap-dance routine at the memorial; it just felt out of place, not to mention over-long. I'm giving this one a cautious recommendation; yes, the film is far from perfect, but I think there are enough nice touches to make it worth your while.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Well, Excuse Me, Judge Reinhold!

So, last night may have been the last new Arrested Development to ever grace the TV screen; and while the concept of no longer getting my regular does of the Bluth clan is rather depressing, at least the show went out in style. A highly dysfunctional style, to be sure, but style nonetheless. I'm glad that they got enough of a notice about their order being cut that they were able to tie everything up, while still leaving things open enough for another season if Mitch Hurwitz decides to take Showtime up on their offer. I, for one, am very curious to see an incarcerated Lucile; I have a feeling that she would suddenly find herself at the mercies of her ex-beau Warden Gentles if that were to happen.

While there were a ton of things that had me laughing out loud all night long ("You call him that too?", Franklin as Frank the pimp, "My name is Judge", callback to the Mr. F. theme, "You were going to say mockery, weren't you?", "You forgot to say 'away' again," Pete Rose and the bullhorn, inoscar.com), I don't think anything made me laugh as hard as the house band for Mock Trial with J. Reinhold: William Hung and the Hung Jury. Can you get any more perfect than that? I don't think so.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Queue-Queue-Ka-Queue

Once again, my best laid plans to write engaging and entertaining posts were led astray by my TV, DVD, and literary addictions; had to force myself to put down Mad Ship last night so I could get at least a little bit of sleep. So, in lieu of any earth-shattering ruminations on life, the universe, and everything, I instead give you (a) a quick reminder that there's a two-hour block of Arrested Development on opposite the opening ceremony of the Olympics and (b) the latest movies added to my queue.


Running Scared: Thriller starring Paul Walker and that creepy kid from Birth (yes, I know his name is Cameron Bright, but he will always be "that creepy kid from Birth to me). Walker stars as low-level mob flunky who is tasked to dispose of an incriminating gun, only to have the gun stolen and used in a big hit on a member of a rival mob.

Slither: Horror-comedy from James Gunn, notable both for being the writer of The Specials, probably my favorite super-hero comedy ever (oh, Mystery Men, how could you have squandered your potential so?) and for being brother to Sean Gunn, a.k.a. Kirk on Gilmore Girls. But back to Slither, which deals with these strange parasites that slither (hey, look, it's the title!) into your head and turn you into a crazed monster. Stars Nathan "Mal on Firefly/Serenity" Fillion and Jenna "Pam on The Office" Fischer

16 Blocks: Bruce Willis vehicle about a cop who's trying to protect a criminal from a mob of dirty cops. Trailers didn't do much for me, but I'm willing to give Brucie the benefit of the doubt for now.

Find Me Guilty: Based-on-true-events drama about a low-level mobster who decides to go to trial rather than be a fink, and then chooses to represent himself. The role of this enterprising mobster shall be played Vin Diesel, who will actually be sporting hair for once. Surprisingly entertaining trailer; maybe Vin has actually lucked into a good role.

Grosse Pointe: The Complete Series: Unfortunately short-lived comedy which showed the backstage drama of a 90210-style series. I really liked this at the time, wondering how well it holds up.

The Foot Fist Way: Another Sundance film, this comedy is about a tae kwon do instructor whose life goes down the crapper, and who then sets out on a roadtrip to meet his idol. No big names attached to this one but some positive buzz online.

Sugar: Low budget horror flick about a woman trapped in a haunted apartment.

13 Tzameti: Award winning French neo-noir film about a man who decides to follow a set of instructions meant for someone else and subsequently finds himself entangled in criminal activity.

2001 Maniacs: A remake of the classic exploitation horror film Two Thousand Maniacs which was inspired by Brigadoon, only instead of being inhabited by God-fearing, peaceful folk who break into song at the drop of a hat, this town is inhabited by racist, Southern psychos who torture and kill anyone unfortunate enough to stumble into their town. Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund stars.

Keep your distance: Mystery/thriller starring Gil Bellows, Christian Kane, and Stacy Keach. Yeah, that's about all I know about it; mainly in the queue because of Kane and Keach.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fear teh Wrath!

I had several ideas of what to talk about today, but I’ve not been in much of a mood to write this week, due to a series of mind-fuzzing headaches stress-inducing miscommunications, so instead of addressing any of those, I thought I’d just go ahead and post the following which has been sitting in my “drafts” folder since November: a mini-spotlight on my old roomie, Wrath teh Berzerkr. Of course, since Wrath is of the "would rather stick pencils in my eyeballs" school of thought when it comes to blogs, I could probably say anything at all about him and not have to worry about him knowing; I mean, it's not like the Best Man at Wrath's wedding who also has a penchant for performing Eeeeeeeeevil deeds is a regular blog monkey or anything . . . oh, wait . . .

Okay, so now on to the complete and totally 100% positive, no bad things here, nosireebob, mini-spotlight on Wrath teh Berzerkr.

While much has been made of G'ovich's propensity for randomness, Wrath also dealt in a sort of randomness uniquely his own. G'ovich's randomness would manifest itself in ways to amuse himself (such as "Hey, I've got an idea, for the rest of the day I'm going to try to sneak past anyone and everyone just for the heck of it" or "I know, I won't tell anyone that I got a new job just to see how long it takes for people to find out") or in suggesting oddball games and activities to others; Wrath's random ideas were often more in a "wouldn't it be cool/funny/weird if . . ." hypothetical vein; they were often grander in scale, but subsequently much less likely to be carried out. One of my favorites was his oft-stated desire during Freshman year to pop into classes at random, do his best Macho Man Randy Savage "snap into a Slim Jim!" impression, and then pop back out again.

One of those random idea that Wrath actually carried through took place our first semester, when we were both in the Honors Freshman English class; towards the end of the semester (it may even have been Dead Week) he had decided to shave off his goatee, but wanted to have a little messing-with-people's-minds fun first; so, he only shaved one side. He and I were almost always the first two people in class, so we just sat there waiting for people to come in; he sat in his chair propping his head up with his one hand so that only the shaved side was visible; he would then switch hands so that only the unshaved side was visible; this went on for quite a while (shaved, unshaved, shaved, unshaved) before one of the girls finally caught on.

One other Wrath story that always pops to mind is the Quiet Hours story. You see, during Dead and Finals week, there were strictly enforced Quiet Hours throughout the bulk of the day, with a whole hour of noisiness allowed in the evening to help residents vent. Well, during one of these Loud Hours Wrath had his stereo blasting pretty loud while a bunch of us congregated in the 3rd floor halls. For some reason we moved to a different floor, and forgot all about the blaring music, meaning that once the Quiet Hours started up again, Wrath was in violation. That could only mean one thing: The J-Board!

The J-Board (or Judicial Board) was sort of the disciplinary committee of the dorm; if you broke the rules, you went before them to plead your case, and they then handed out some sort of random punishment; for Wrath, it was to create a sign about Quiet Hours and display it on his dorm room door. Wrath, being Wrath, complied with the edict, but put his own spin on it: the sign read as follows: To Keep the Bliss, Mighty Bass You Must Miss.” Nice and rhymey, huh? Well, there was more to this sign than just the poetical nature, as certain letters were done in a different color and size, making them stand out slightly: "To Keep the Bliss, Mighty Bass You Must Miss.”

Scandalous, no?

Of course, the sign punishment was stupid, and pretty much all of the J-Board and R.A.s who saw the sign just laughed it off, with the exception of one, who just happened to be our R.A. I don’t know if he would have been quite as upset over Wrath’s little joke if it wasn’t for the fact that he hadn’t even caught it; he had seen the sign countless times on his rounds, but it wasn’t until one of the other R.A.s made a comment about it that our R.A. realized something wasn’t kosher. I think Wrath had to endure a lecture about respect and taking things seriously and the like, but that was about it.

I’m sure there are many other Wrath-centric factoids I could expound on here (such as his legendary thriftiness), but if I did that, then this wouldn’t be a mini-spotlight, now would it?

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