Saturday, May 29, 2010

Deep Thoughts #33 - Special Topical College Basketball Edition

Hear that sound, Jim? That’s Kelvin Sampson laughing at you - at least until you get your slap on the wrist and get right back on the phone.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Burma VJ Screening to Benefit Exodus Refugee Immigration

The documentary Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country, which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, never played in Indianapolis (though we will have it available for purchase on DVD, sometime next month), and I’m not sure that it has ever been screened here, either. That will change, however, on June 18th, 2010, when the film will screen at the Central Library downtown as part of a fundraiser for Exodus Refugee Immigration, an outfit that helps refugees transition to a new life here in Indiana. For the bargain basement price of $20, you get to see the film and attend a question and answer session afterwards.

The phrase “Live simply so that others may simply live” has really begun to resonate with me in recent years, especially when I read an article in Newsweek or TIME or hear a BBC report on NPR about any of the billions - literally, billions - of people in the world who have no choice but to do their best to get by on so little that most people in America have no real way to comprehend how rich we are in relation to the rest of the world. I’m not against having “stuff,” but I also think it’s a good idea to stop every now and then and really think about how much of that stuff we actually need in order to lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Click here for tickets to the screening event. Exodus also has one of those fancy Facebook pages, and there is an astonishing aggregation of information available at the Online Burma Library.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Deep Thoughts #32

Since the Tea Party looney tunes have zero understanding of U.S. government, how can their calling something “un-American” have any meaning?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Writing Exercise - New York, I Love You

[05.07.10] I watched the first thirty minutes of New York, I Love You tonight after I got home from work and balanced my checkbook and emptied the dehumidifier and it really got me into the mood for writing after the segment where Ethan Hawke plays a writer and talks to this woman he thinks is married until he starts to describe making sweet sweet love to her in a way that will prove he knows how to find her G spot and then she tells him she’s a hooker and gives him her card with her phone number and website on it and says she’s really looking forward to hearing from him and he ends the segment by saying fuck me and I still totally respond to New York going on six years since the only time I was there for real and it was only four days but I don’t know if there are four days in a row that ever inspired me as much as those four days we were in New York for my uncle’s wedding in 2004 and stayed at the 414 in Hell’s Kitchen and walked all the hell over the island and then I stopped watching the movie but left my headphones on and switched to music and listened to Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence album because I had talked to Dione about it at work tonight and then I started writing first this little piece about getting into the mood for writing from watching the movie and then the novel I have been working on and I teased my way through a slow Mafia section that may or may not end with one of the rival family’s capos whacking one of the guys on his crew for being too much of a loose cannon but I have to work in the taboo against taking out a made guy and somehow avoid making it necessary for the any of the characters to have cell phones and that part is way harder than you might think but I have to fight off the fatigue from this week of taking care of Jackson who got a viral stomach flu from someone at the day care where he goes to school and eventually I fight off the fatigue and wind up getting down over one thousand words in the novel and that is more than I have put down in one sitting in quite awhile and most of them I think are good words although it will take going back over them tomorrow night before I start writing again to know for sure whether they are good or if they were just written down in haste for the purpose of having gotten down some words at all [05.12.10] and all of that was five days ago now and I just got around to watching the last half of New York, I Love You tonight and unfortunately I did not respond to the second half quite the way I responded to the first half although I can say that overall I liked the film but that I did not always pay the appropriate amount of attention to it so I added it to the My List section of my account on the library’s website so that I can go back to it sometime and see if paying attention to the whole thing from beginning to end will make the movie open up a little bit more for me and I also added The Headless Woman to the My List section because I also failed to pay the appropriate amount of attention to that film when I had it from Netflix a number of weeks ago and I had a moment of pause there for just a second because I used the word also twice in a short span just now and it reminded of something I read in Poets & Writers many years ago in which Chuck Palahniuk defended the practice of repeating words like that if the repetition fits with the flow of what you are writing and though I am not sure if the repeated use of also in this case precisely fits the flow I am leaving it that way because when I re-read the thing from beginning to now it sounded good in my head and anyway I was having trouble trying to come up with something to put in place of one of the instances of also that did seem to fit the flow and now as I get down toward the end of this particular exercise I am not entirely sure which purpose has been served in the writing of it because I began by writing about how watching the first thirty minutes of the movie got me in the mood for writing but then I got off on a long tangent about writing about writing which turned it into sort of a meta-exercise and there are lots of little random things going on in it too which give it something of a stream-of-consciousness feel that could maybe translate into mumblecore if it were to be made into a movie but it would be an awfully short movie and probably no one would watch it and there goes another tangent and in the end it might just end up being that far too much of this exercise whether it is a meta-exercise or just an ordinary exercise was devoted to seeing once again if I could string together a really long bit of prose limited to a certain number of words and have it make a reasonable amount of sense and also be grammatically correct without there being any punctuation in it at all apart from the period at the end and I believe that I have mostly succeeded at least with that part of it and the exact number of words including the two bracketed bits indicating the dates counting as one word each is one thousand.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Deep Thoughts #31 - Special Topical Supreme Court Edition

Hey Retardlicans! It’s right there in Kagan’s title. Socialism! Think of all the other simple minds to frighten with non-contextual slander!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Walking the Pennsy Trail

No pictures this time, but today we walked the entire length of the Pennsy Trail, which could one day be to the east side what the Monon Trail is to the north side - although it’s probably more likely that the Pennsy Trail will be more along the lines of the Pleasant Run Trail, with both being thought of as red-headed stepchildren of the Monon. We haven’t done the Pleasant Run Trail in a long time, but the Pennsy Trail is constructed in exactly the same way as the Monon - former rail lines that have been paved over, with the sides landscaped and a red stripe down the middle.

The current leg of the Pennsy Trail runs for a little more than a mile, from Arlington Avenue on the west to Shortridge Road on the east. It took us a little over an hour to do the round trip, with a few stops here and there to ply Jackson with snacks. When it’s completed, it will extend well into Hancock County, passing through much of my old stomping grounds on the far east side. Those stomping grounds are now, sadly, a bit distressed - but a well-populated pedestrian and bicycle trail could be a good first step in turning that around. More information on the Pennsy Trail at Indy Greenways and Indiana Trails.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Deep Thoughts #30

Please make sure any spilled oil in the Gulf is properly documented if it’s shipped to Arizona. Those racists might send it back, otherwise.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

More Rush News

I posted a blog about a month ago about a new Rush documentary that was going to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York; and yesterday I read on the magic Internets that the film had the won the audience award at said festival. (The film wasn’t in competition for any other awards.) I also discovered that it has been picked up by a distributor, D&E Entertainment, and that they’re going to take the film out into theatres here in the near future. I didn't notice this when I looked at the link yesterday, but I see now that Indianapolis is listed as one of the cities where the film will play. That probably means that we'll play it, but I don't know that for sure.

The Rush website has a link to the movie poster here. Click here for some aggregated news about the film on IMDb. I hesitate even to post a link for this next thing, which is a Rolling Stone interview with Geddy - because Rolling Stone should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell because of their blatant anti-Rush bias; and I sort of hate that Geddy would sit down with Rolling Stone, but what are you going to do? An interview is an interview, and I’m always interested in what the boys have to say, even if they’re saying it to a piece of shit magazine.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Deep Thoughts #29

In the current issue of TIME magazine, Ted Nugent says Sarah Palin has an “Herculean work ethic” - an interesting way to describe a quitter.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

City Island

Has anybody ever taken the time to mention to Andy Garcia that he’s not Italian? Doesn’t really matter, I guess, but this cat has done an awful lot of movies in which he plays Italian dudes, gangsters, or guys who take down gangsters. Here he plays an Italian dude who is a corrections officer in the Bronx. He really wants to be an actor, though; and he’s taking lessons on the side for that, but he tells his wife he’s off playing poker. His wife, of course, thinks he’s with another woman. Vince Rizzo (Garcia), his wife Joyce (Julianna Margulies), and their two kids all smoke - and every one of them hides it from the rest of the family. Mom and Dad each think the other quit.

There are more movies about dysfunctional families out there than you can shake a stick - or a cliché - at; but I think I’m going to argue that this isn’t one of them, although I also think that it thinks it wants to be. Movies about dysfunctional families take themselves awfully seriously though, and this one is a bit too light-hearted (and, oddly, kinetic) to give the impression that it takes itself too seriously. It’s a little melodramatic in the first reel, but then smoothes out; and the ending is surprisingly organic and effective for one that is foreshadowed to be a slapdash pulling together of loose ends.

All of the Rizzos begin the film with at least one secret (other than the smoking), except for Joyce, who acquires her secret later. In addition to the acting class, Vince has a close relationship with a fellow student (Emily Mortimer, whose character has secrets of her own), which is totally platonic and completely forthright but which would appear highly suspicious - if anyone else knew about it; and he also has a son from a previous marriage - who has earned a provisional parole, from the prison where Vince works, provided he has somewhere to go. Vince Jr. has a non-sexual fetish for plump women who like to be fed, and his sister Vivian (possibly the two most imaginatively named children not fathered by George Foreman) works as a stripper so she can earn the money she needs to get back into the college she lost her scholarship to and was kicked out of because she got caught smoking pot in her dorm room.

When I say the film is kinetic, what I have in mind is the editing that establishes these secrets and reveals how well-hidden (or not) they are from the rest of the family by their keepers. We get it already - all of this stuff is happening all at once, and no one seems to be the wiser about anyone else’s goings on; and besides behing heavy-handed, the hectic setup does the film a disservice - by constantly poking the viewer with a jump cut to another ridiculous scene, director Raymond De Felitta leads us toward the inevitable (though admittedly funny) ending that brings all the characters together for a series of secret-revelations. You may well miss the fact that Vince Rizzo is learning quite a bit about himself and evolving as a husband and father.

Garcia gets high marks for pulling this off in spite of the film’s apparent predilection to list toward each scene’s slapstick-iest part - and for bringing real gravity to the film’s climax, when he reveals his true identity to his son. He gets a little too bombastic and melodramatic in some of the early scenes (especially at the dinner table); but these are also the scenes that show the film taking itself the most seriously, and the acting fits the tone here, even if that tone hasn’t quite found its proper footing yet. Once the tone shifts (correctly) to the farcical, everything - including Garcia’s acting - loosens up, and the film begins to bloom.

I could have done without the nod to God at the end, but what are you going to do? Pointing the ending of an art film toward a mainstream crowd is counterproductive, but not a fatal misstep here; at least it’s not a very long scene. It's the smarmy resolution to Mortimer's character that ultimately seats this film in the very good - but not great - section.

Deep Thoughts #28

Seth MacFarlane’s shows are for people who think South Park too erudite, but he seems to understand evil, racist law when he hears about it.