Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Moving Pictures

Though our city has a pretty nice mini-multiplex, which was upgraded, our family rarely goes to the movies. In recent years, we've filled this gap with a once or twice a summer trip to the drive-in and some light DVD and pay-per-view films. This year has seen us at the drive-in three times and to a multiplex for just as many films. PGirl and I continued our summer of movie-going a couple of nights ago with "Tropic Thunder".

We laughed. Hard. I shed a few tears as well. Throughout the film, when the dialogue in a scene already had me laughing hard, a well-delivered line would floor me. When Jack Black's tree-bound character, withdrawing from a heroin addiction, negotiates with another character to untie him, the offer made isn't anything we haven't heard before. But the way in which it is delivered had me laughing and gagging simultaneously.

Much has been made over Ben Stiller's character Tugg Speedman, having starred in an Oscar-baiting movie within a movie. A trailer is shown for "Simple Jack", which seems to be a mix of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s radio and God knows what else. Simple Jack's straw hair, crooked teeth and understanding of human nature (when he thinks of his ailing mother "it makes my eyes rain") is so over the top, I wasn't offended in the least. The whole movie is satire turned on its ear and cranked up to 11.

At home, we've been catching up with older movies through Netflix. The service is a pretty good value and we just bumped up our subscription to have two movies at a time each month as much as we can get them. So far I've seen "The Bourne Supremacy" and have started season two of Showtime's "Dexter". I highly recommend both.

Finally, I've been seeing the commercials for "Disaster Movie". Apparently this film, as well as "Epic Movie" and a handful of others are made by two men who worked on the original "Scary Movie". I've seen parts of "Epic Movie", and from what I can tell these guys didn't learn squat from their intial spoofing experience. Where "Scary Movie" spoofed a few movies which were popular at the time and worked into a fairly watchable plot, "Epic Movie" (again from what little I saw) broke the mold and decided to make fun of elements from any special effects-laden film from the year or so before.

"Disaster Movie" seems to take this concept even further, since it doesn't seem to focus on any disaster films at all. From the commercials, it looks like "Hancock", "Iron Man" and "Juno" get the non-barbs from the filmmakers. It appears that these brothers were the kinds of guys that hate movies that are anything but what they do. I know the feeling. I avoid commercial radio so as not to hear the same songs played over and over. The brothers do as well, because in one clip, a cro-magnon type hero runs into a sabre-toothed Amy Winehouse. The joke doesn't work because:

A. If you don't know who Amy Winehouse is, the cro-magnon guy, upon seeing her says, "Amy Winehouse!"

B. If you do know who Amy Winehouse is by sight, you'll pick up on her appearance immediately.

C. Just in case you've forgotten who Amy Winehouse is, she repeats a line from her hit song, saying, "I'm not going to rehab."

They covered all the bases. Just in case. They also speak to the guys and gals who were dragged to "Juno" and are sick of the cover of a Moldy Peaches song which is prominently featured in the film. One of "Disaster Movie"'s characters runs into a scene from "Juno" and shoots a character singing that very song. Because he is sick of hearing that song. Cue the laugh track. I hope these "spoofs" aren't as popular as I fear they might be.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Some Poetry For Friday

Heading for the shower now, work-out was short and brisk,
like a Mary-Lou Retton rejecting me as a prom date.

My chlorine-free shower head is off-limits to me,
because the old man at the next head is sticking his butt into foreign territory.

Sucks for me, cause the old guy is the one bogarting two shower areas, yet I'm the one who'll come away with red eyes.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Bud.

Jerry Garcia would have been 66 today. I was never a fan of the Dead, but I respected what they did and enjoy some of their tunes. August 9 will mark the 13 year anniversary of Garcia's death. I remember that day well...

I was the master carpenter at Cortland Repertory Theater, near the Finger Lakes in Central New York State. It had been tumultuous season that began with the firing of the technical director before the 1st show went up and had continued with hot weather, a host of set problems and the insistence of the carpentry intern to play endless Dead bootlegs while we built shows. There was only so much "This was the concert where the light operator let his cat walk on the board, which synced perfectly with 'St. Stephen's Tower'". I was beginning to hate what Jerry had created.

Fortunately, the theater hired a temporary technical director for the fifth and final show of the season and I saw less and less of the intern. We become more productive as a unit and played a wider variety of tunes in the shop. On August 9, we finished the set work before a Noon rehearsal and headed back to the TD's house. Chris and his wife (Amy) were going to drive me up to Syracuse to pick up my truck from a dealer service shop. Amy made some bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes and we settled down for a snack.

MTV news was on the tube and we soon heard the news of Garcia's death. I was surprised but not devastated. Chris seemed nonplussed. Amy was bummed. She broke out a pipe with some weed in it and offered me a toke. What the hell? Chris didn't smoke and was driving me to the dealer and the effects would wear off before I had to drive back. Right? Wrong.

Amy's stash had likely been purchased near Ithaca, which is the home of some powerful herb. There were only two times in my life when smoking marijuana knock me on my ass and both strains of the stuff had been grown in this region. This was the first time. I spent the 30 minute drive in the back seat of their Volvo, staring up through the rear window at a clear blue sky.

They dropped me off at Toyota and I was still out of the loop. After paying for the service, I wandered into the parts room for a few minutes until a clerk directed me to my vehicle. There was no way in hell I was going to drive 30 minutes in this condition. I had to get my body right quickly.

Internal dialogue:

"Gotta eat, gotta eat. Where to eat? McDonalds? Perfect. Let's go. No got money. Must get cash. Gotta find an ATM then a McDonalds. Then I go home. ATM, ATM. Can't find an ATM. There's a bank. Good. Got my money. Good. Must find McDonalds. Let's see. Where is McDonalds? Wait. Must read while I eat. Need reading material while I eat alone. Barnes and Nobles is right here. Let's go in. Rolling Stone. Check. Spin. Check. Good to go. Wait. Let's go to the music section. Good. This is a good CD. I'll buy it. And this one too. Rolling Stone. Spin. Music. Good. Must find McDonalds."

This went on for what seemed like hours, but was more likely twenty minutes or so. The Golden Arches were thankfully right off of the interstate and by the time I left and merged into traffic, I was less muddled yet paranoid enough to stick to the right lane and do the speed limit all the way back to Cortland. Needless to say, this was the last instance of me doing such a thing. Thank you, Mr. Garcia.