Wednesday, October 29, 2003

All the Demo's in the house say "hooooo!"


If you needed a more obvious example that hip-hop culture is the dominant mainstream culture, this article is it. Black culture once again is hijacked as a source of credibility for liberal whites. It could have been worse. They could have tried to play off the more militant arm of hip-hop and have it more as a revolutionary rally instead of a party jam. Imagine Chuck D. and Paris talking about a riot going on while Bill Clinton stood in the back with a beret and sunglasses, fist raised in a black power salute. That would have been ugly. (Or hilarious if you're actually picturing it.)

The whole hipness grab just bothers me in general. Besides it being unnecessary and futile (let's face it, I'm betting at least half of the people that attended won't wind up voting in the November '04 election, because to them, this is more about being at a high-profile party than getting out the vote), the way these things play out always make me cringe, because it always comes off more like comedy ("Whoa! Culture clash! Fabulous!") than anything remotely "hip." At it's worst, it can even come off as minstrelsy. (Thank god none of the famous white folk tried to get funky), because the spotlight is always thrown upon the most shallow and easy to digest parts of the culture. The talk of Escalades and 50 Cent (okay, I'll admit it was a stroke of genius having Bill Clinton on stage while that song is being played) just makes me shake my head, when I know that there are more vital and interesting parts (not to speak of less ignorant) of hip-hop culture than what is ever portrayed in the media.

And yes, I know this isn't about hip-hop culture, but about trying to appeal to a young crowd whose vote your are courting. Fine. But is this what they really want, attaching their image to the rampant materialism and hyper-sexuality of mainstream hip-hop? Personally, as much as I am against the notion of some sort of cultural elite, I really don't like the idea of politics trying to promote itself outside of the political spectrum, because it always winds up debasing itself. In the end, these politicians make it seem like they value style over substance, a frightening notion for anybody who still places faith in the political process of this society.

Yvan eht nioj!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

EARL DITTMAN EXPOSED � Film Criticism�s Greatest Shame: I know I'm late to this, but dammit this is hilarious. The quotes are absolutely priceless. I suddenly want to be this guy. (courtesy of Mostly Weird)

Sunday, October 26, 2003

So, it is Sunday night. The Chiefs-Bills game just went to halftime. It looks like I might lose this weekend. Jesus. And I'm getting beaten by a guy who didn't start a kicker. I'm hoping the Chiefs D can take one in for six before it's all over. But that isn't bloody likely.

What else? Went to the Phillips Collection yesterday with my friend Beth. We took a tour of the permanent collection, then checked out the Modernism and Surrealism exhibit. Definitely worth checking out. (I enjoyed the Tanguy pieces especially, since he's my favorite artist.) We hit up DCCD in Adams Morgan, where I picked up Do Whatever You Want, Don't Do Whatever You Don't Want, an Acid Mothers Family Compilation. We hit the CD and Game Exchange up the block, where I was very good and didn't purchase anything. (That won't be the case the next time I go.) After that little shop stop, we parted ways. I went back home, chilled for a couple of hours, then decided to hit Tower Records, where I picked up the new Primus DVD/CD. Haven't watched all of it, but it's good stuff. The new music (the CD part, which is a 5 song EP with the original lineup) isn't very good, but the DVD is worth having. And I got it for $15 (it was on sale), so I definitely feel I got my money's worth.

Didn't do anything but play the shit out of The Simpsons: Hit and Run for the rest of the night. Which was good, because I didn't want to spend any more money, or drink.

Today, it's been football, more Simpsons, and feeding. Had weirdo dreams last night. Was in a forest of nothing but weeping willows. Is such a thing even possible? I don't think I've ever seen more than one weeping willow in any area. Anyway, it was very bizarre. The details are a bit fuzzy, but for some reason, it made me sad. I do remember seeing a monkey sleeping in one of the branches, but I have no idea what that means. (Everything comes back to monkeys with me.) Anyway, it was just bizarre.

Weeping willows are beautiful trees, by the way. I'm not sure it's healthy for a person to have a favorite tree, but I think if I did, it would be a weeping willow. They look so delicate, like they couldn't possibly survive in nature, but they are trees, right? They have to have some sort of strength. I wonder if birds are fooled by the superficial weakness of the weeping willow and refuse to build nests there. The weeping willow wouldn't be able to relate to the other trees when they talked about birds nesting and waking them up too early in the morning with birdsong. What a bummer. Still, beautiful trees.

Wow, I think I'm high.

Actually, what it is is the influence of Get In the Van by Henry Rollins. In a number of his entries, he'll go from straight recollection right into storytelling mode. And now, so have I. The dream part is true, by the way. The subsequent riff on weeping willows was all improvised. Huzzah!

Okay, nothing else to talk about. I picked up The Future and Its Enemies by Virginia Postrell. I'm going to start that as soon as I'm done with the Rollins book. Could make for an interesting juxtaposition.

Or not.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

My thanks go to Jarod for giving me the lowdown on this link: Sphincterine. Outstanding.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Random notes:

This may break my streak of not watching a reality TV series.

A lot of celebrity deaths the past week. Jack Elam, Elliott Smith, Fred "Rerun" Berry, and two others that aren't going to get the recognition they deserve: Mike "Road Warrior Hawk" Hegstrand and Stu Hart.

Now, if you are a fan of professional wrestling, then chances are, these deaths mean more to you than the other three. The Road Warriors are without question one of the most popular tag teams of all-time, while Stu Hart is on the Mount Rushmore of wrestling, with Ric Flair, Antonio Inoki, and ________. (I'll let you fill that one out; not here to spark a wrestling controversy.) Stu Hart, with his Stampede Wrestling promotion, not to mention the number of wrestlers he's trained (most of whom went on to be some of the best workers in the business), was the patriarch of a clan that might be to Canada what the Kennedys are to the United States. See, a time not as long as ago as you might think, wrestling was held in a much higher regard than it is today. Back in the days of territorial promotions, before entrance music, roided up muscleheads, and "hardcore," wrestling was a great spectator sport. In those days, hour long matches were more the rule than the exception, crowds weren't so wishy-washy in their praise/hatred of a wrestler, and those involved treated it as a sport before they treated it as entertainment. Sure, the outcomes were predetermined, but at the time, everybody behind the scenes in out in front of the cameras worked hard to maintain that it wasn't. There was enough doubt that people would be on the edge of their seats with every pinfall, screaming their heads off when their favorite wrestler was caught in an "inescapable" submission hold, trying to will him out of his predicament. And because it wasn't on television four times a week, and there were no monthly Pay-Per-Views, whenever you did get to see a match, you appreciated it even more.

Now, admittedly, despite my previous wording, I did not grow up in that era. Instead, I got into wrestling around the time the business was moving toward what it is today. Basically, I came into wrestling around the time Hulkamania was taking off. I remember when I moved to Ohio, on some Fridays, I'd spend the night at my friend Corey's house, and his mother would take he, his brother, and me to the video store. We'd usually grab a couple of kung fu movies and a wrestling tape or two (usually WWF on Coliseum home video). We'd watch matches with the likes of "The Rock" Don Muraco, Tito Santana, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Andre the Giant and countless others. Back then, TV didn't have much to offer. You had WWF Superstars on Saturdays, as well as NWA (which would eventually mutate into the now defunct WCW) on WTBS. Back then, before WWF (now WWE) would ascend to the top of the "sports entertainment" mountain, NWA was the more popular source for wrestling. While I was primarily a WWF fan, I did occasionally watch NWA. Two guys who really stood out were the Road Warriors, a larger than life tag team whose fashion sense has subsequently been hijacked by Oakland Raiders fans.

The Warriors were huge, and not just in terms of popularity. These guys were amazingly muscular, especially for a time when so few were. (Guys like Hogan and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff being a couple of notable exceptions.) Their look was unique (at least until the imitators--remember Demolition?--came out of the woodwork) and intimidating. In an era of some memorable tag teams (like the Midnight Express and The Hart Foundation, for starters), these guys were the tops in my book. So when I heard that Hawk had passed away, I got a bit nostalgic for wrestling past. When I found out that Stu Hart passed away, it felt like the closing on a memorable chapter in the sport's history. And really, it is. There will never be another like Stu Hart, and there will never be another team like The Road Warriors. Godspeed, gentlemen. And thank you for making this wrestling fan a little happier.


In less somber news, I am actually eagerly awaiting a couple of video game releases this year. The first is Medal of Honor: Rising Sun. The other, Max Payne: The Fall of Max Payne. The former is the forth installment in the very popular and very awesome Medal of Honor series. This time, the action is taking place in Japan. From everything I've read, this will set a new standard for the series, something I thought difficult to do after the brilliant Medal of Honor: Frontline. That game's opening, the Normandy Invasion, is one of the most memorable and well-done in game history. (Sadly, I still haven't finished that game, having been sidetracked by others.)

The Fall of Max Payne is the second in the series and from the looks of it, business is about to pick up. First off, the environments look much improved, the character modeling even more detailed, and the camera work once again first-rate. I love the bullet-time mechanism (introduced in the first game), where you can slow things down, Hong Kong style, while popping caps in the enemy's ass. Not only does it make things look more stylish, but it also helps when a gang of thugs start to open fire on you. I'm glad it will be back in the second.

As a matter of fact, the style of the game is what really draws me to Max Payne. Sure, the gameplay itself is solid, but the game noir look and compelling (if a tad formulaic) storyline makes it easy to get sucked into playing it. Few games have a genuinely gripping atmosphere, one of the only other significant ones coming to mind being Silent Hill. If the previews I've read/seen are any indication, I'm definitely looking forward to immersing myself in this game.

A game review! (Sorta.)

So, I picked up The Simpsons: Hit and Run this past weekend. I like it, but that�s probably to be expected. Not because Simpsons video games have been particularly good historically (quite the opposite, actually), but because this is so crammed full with references to Simpsons lore that any hardcore Simpsons-phile will enjoy playing it just to see what kinds of gags they can spot.

What about those who aren�t fanatical about the Simpsons? Will they get any enjoyment out of this game? Certainly. Because beneath all of the Simpsons trivia is a nice little game, part-platformer, part mission-based racing. It�s not the most challenging of either of those genres, but it�s not exactly child�s play, either. The races, for instance, can be downright nerve-wracking, requiring fairly mistake-free driving. The Simpsons world they�ve created is also pretty vast (much larger than the actual), giving you plenty of places to explore (usually while in search of the wasp cameras or collectible cards).

There are some complaints. I was a bit disappointed that not all characters that you come across on the street (not counting generic characters) talk to you, unless it has something to do with a mission. (Sometimes if you assault them, or are about to run over them, they�ll yell something.) Also, I don�t like the fact that you can�t play through the entire town at once. Each level takes place in one section of town, and the only way to get back to a completed section is by choosing a mission from that level. Perhaps it would have been beyond the capabilities of the hardware to have the entire city as one giant world to explore, but I�m disappointed nonetheless. But really, that�s more fan disappointment than gameplay disappointment. Overall, this is some decent fun, and a welcome addition to The Simpsons canon.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

About last night...

So, as Carl (dammit, find the link on the left, or follow an old link below) wrote in his blog, we went to the Fire Theft show at the Black Cat. It was an experience.

First, that's the first show I've ever gone to where I really paid little to no attention to the bands. Now, that's not entirely due to the bands (they didn't help, of course), but my interest was minimal from the beginning. I was there merely to hang out with the boys and to get my drink on. If that means plunking down $15 to do it, so be it. I figured The Fire Theft would be somewhat redeeming to boot.


I'll come right out with it: I've never been the biggest fan of the alleged "emo" genre, particularly the mid 90s to present garden variety bands (ha! someone will get that). Boy's Life, Braid, just about any of the Jade Tree roster...they did nothing for me. Now, that's not a uniform indictment of the genre. The first albums by The Promise Ring and Jets to Brazil are solid; ditto Knapsack's Day Three of My New Life. My personal favorite is Drive Like Jehu's Yank Crime. The first four tracks off that album eviscerates 99% of the other emo bands out there, and I recommend you go pick up the 2002 reissue with all due speed. It's the closest approximation of Rites of Spring's unhinged fury you'll find.

However, those bands are the exception, not the rule. Sunny Day Real Estate, from which 3/4 of The Fire Theft come, weren't that bad, either. (Not that I own any of their albums.) But they were too perilously close to their whiny peers to do much for me. The end result was nothing but a bunch of 20-something white boys whining about this or that. It was journal entries set to pseudo-impactful music. (There's even a line in a Jets to Brazil song that sums up the emo MO: "My dear diary/it's just you and me tonight.") Needless to say, it can be VERY tedious.

Still, because I know that SDRE had been decent, I gave the Fire Theft the benefit of the doubt. It never clicked. The band wasn't terrible. They were just kinda boring. Even though I freely admit to not really being into the music before I set foot in the club, if it were worthwhile, it certainly would have grabbed me at some point. But it never happened. It was song after song of the same thing. No visceral rush, no moments of rock ecstasy where the band just opens it up and let's it all out, something you'd expect from a genre built on emotional outpouring. But I got nothing. I half-jokingly said to Carl last night that metal, which I've been listening to a lot the last few months, has ruined me for music like this, because metal is so up front and visceral that the music is almost physically tangible. But that may just be a convenient excuse. I stick by my previous assertion: the band just wasn't that good.

There are a few other things I could comment on from last night (on the non-music side of things), but it hardly seems worth it.

Also, a word of advice: when it's almost 2 in the morning, and you haven't eaten in hours, and you're getting those post-drinking munchies, try to keep it simple. For example, do not pick up some greasy food from the local ghetto chinese place and proceed to house it when you get home. It's just good sense.

The Mainstreaming of Porn? (from Pornblography)

An insightful (and frequently hilarious, which is why I'm posting it) piece about a recent NY Times article that claims porn is becoming more mainstream, using the upcoming Fox show Skin as it's primary example . Before I put in my two cents, here are some of the highlights from her post.

"Granted, I say this not having seen any episodes of the show yet - I'm basing this on knowing my own day-to-day experiences that include such spellbinding activities as deciding if I've used the term 'ass-reaming' too many times when writing boxcover pap and talking to girls about their pre-scene douching habits versus the sensationalistic Hollywood-machine scripts that Bruckheimer produces."

"If you really want to trumpet cable's acceptance of bare cheeks, thank Steven Bochco and NYPD Blue for that. Or hell, how about Harvey Keitel and Bad Lieutenant? Was anyone thanking porn for seeing his ass?...It's like comparing apples to motor oil."

"Sometimes the simulated (sex) is far sexier than seeing the spread-open pink of a porn chick being speared by a guy you wouldn't let bag your groceries."

"...I still find movies like 9 1/2 Weeks incredibly sexy. I can get off to that just as well as I can get off to Weapons of Ass Destruction."

"So while I think it'll be harder for Hollywood to shock us with sexy movies - depending on the stars and scenarios (yes, I'm still holding out for the movie that casts Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen as gay lovers and features them in a hot sex scene that has Hugh Jackman sitting in the corner, watching...) - I highly doubt that means they're done with the genre."

Actually, I don't really have anything to add to this discussion, because Carly does a pretty bang up job. I think it was just the chuckles I got from the above that made me post all of this. She's indeed correct that porn will never reach that level of cultural acceptance to call it truly mainstream, no matter how many biopics about Ron Jeremy or True Hollywood Stories on starlets there are. It seems Hollywood and the like will only let porno in as long as it generates ratings/dollars for them. If porn were allowed any kind of legitimacy (legitimacy isn't the right word, I think; I just mean unqualified and unrestricted access in popcult outlets) in the mainstream world, where would the mainstream go for that titillation/taboo factor when they need to boost interest in their cheesy wares?

Besides, the porn industry makes tons of cash already, or so it would seem. I don't think mainstream acceptance is even a priority or desired on their part.

Friday, October 17, 2003

"Every Day Without Great Football is Like Every Day in Massillon."

So, I decided to check out the ol� Tribune Chronicle (delivered with pride by Damian Vega$ many moons ago) to see what was on tap for my alma mater, football-wise, this weekend after checking their national ranking (#3, baby!) in USA Today. What I found was this.

First of all, I find this hilarious. Both the shirt and the uproar. (There's another aspect that could be hilarious, but I'm not Jamie, so I don't have carte blanche to run with it.) I wish they were doing things like this back when I was walking the halls of Warren G. Harding High School. Sure, we had school spirit, but Ms. Banks is correct when she says that it wasn't very organized. Even after winning the state championship and reaching #1 in the national polls (led by the late, great Korey Stringer) the following year, there wasn't much in terms of a collective fervor for our football team. Most of the gridiron passion in that state is reserved for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Consequently, it's nice to see something like this. The store is a nice touch (even if I did feel a bit conflicted when I first read about it), especially because it seems to be building a stronger sense of community within the school. Plus, the money they are making is being put to good use.

But back to the shirts. They're great! Look, this is sports we're talking about. As much as a lot of people like to be curmudgeonly and old-school about it, the bottom line is that trash talk is a part of the game on all levels. And this is TAME. Seriously. Go walk into a packed stadium (like the Horseshoe when the Buckeyes are playing Michigan), or even a sports bar, and just listen to the vulgarities exchanged between rivals. But, at the end of the day/game, it's all in good fun. Sure, you get the occasional drunken brawl, but more often than not, it's just a bunch of guys talking smack, trotting out their knowledge of their team and its greatness, while disparaging their rivals for being the no-talent puddingheads that they are. It's just another part of the game that makes it fun for the fans. Since they can't suit up and play, they can at least sit back and talk a mountain of trash to their opponents and the fans who support them.

Speaking of support, shame on Paul Trina and Thom Daniels for making this seem more grave than it is. If they had any spirit at all, they'd be wearing those shirts proudly on the sidelines this weekend when they play Massillon. I can understand not wanting to give your opponent a motivational edge, but at the same time, they should have a sense of humor about it. Like I said, the statement on those t-shirts is downright tame when you compare it to the scores of other crude things you can say about a rival. Their frowning upon this "incident" does nothing but paint them as uptight stiffs with no spirit.

Besides, if what this columnist says is true, Massillon has it coming to them, anyway.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Check out my music blog for my rant on this week's Washington City Paper cover story.

Well, as expected, the Cubs lost last night. In the ALCS, the Red Sox forced a game seven, which they will probably lose, thus setting up the marquee matchup between the Yankees and the Marlins. New York vs. Florida. The state where New Yorkers are born vs. the state where New Yorkers die. I can�*yawn*�barely contain my excitement.

As for this curse thing: before the Red Sox forced a game seven, I was not terribly convinced that the Cubs or the Red Sox were cursed. To me, they were just historically shittay teams that were still bound up in past glories. Are the Clippers cursed? Are the Bengals cursed? No. And of course, people will argue that those teams don�t have the rich history that the Cubs and Red Sox have. They�ve just been fairly craptacular for their entire existence, save a brief stretch or two. (The two Super Bowl appearances for the Bengals, the Bob McAdoo days for the Clippers when they were the Buffalo Braves, for instance.) Fair enough. What about the Detroit Lions (or Tigers, for that matter) or the Cleveland Browns?

So I don�t buy the curse, or at least I didn�t. However, if the Red Sox do indeed lose game 7 against the hated Yankees, you gotta suspect that there�s some cosmic mischief afoot. Only a god with a wicked sense of humor would take these two franchises�who fancy themselves to be so historically significant that their poor performance for the last 50-odd years must be due to bad voodoo�to the brink of the promised land and have them both lose in a game 7.

One last thing: For those Cubs fans pointing to the kid who allegedly cost you the deciding game, know this. Any athlete or coach worth his salt will tell you that no series comes down to one play. The Cubs had the game before and the game after to make it to the World Series, and a fan didn�t cost them in either. They simply blew it. So leave the kid alone. He made a boneheaded mistake and owned up to it. (Not that he had much choice.) Why not go after the players who lost game 5 and game 7 instead?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Right back at me.

So, there's this: I enjoyed Kill Bill on a visceral level (oh, I am too much) while there is someone out there who bathed in all the cinema history being presented for a new audience. Is his enjoyment superior to mine? Did I experience low-art while he, looking at the exact same thing, experience some sort of high-art?

Well this is easy. Of course his enjoyment is not superior. Appreciation? Perhaps. But if we are speaking merely of the sensation of enjoyment (the visceral impact of the film, as it were), then there is no distinction to be made. Good is good. Bad is bad. Anything beyond your (not you, Carl, just generally) initial reaction exists in the realm of intellectual debate, not on the emotional plane. Now, can you derive enjoyment from knowing more about the film? Sure. But then the enjoyment is no longer about the film itself, but about your knowledge of filmmaking devices and cinematic history.

This distinction, in my opinion, is a necessary one, because increasingly, it is no longer being made. Appreciation of the craft and/or its place in the overall oeuvre has become synonymous with enjoyment of the work itself, and in some cases, supercedes it. People can yell "anti-intellectual" all they want, but the truth of the matter is this: we're over-intellectualizing everything today. Let me tell you something, folks: not every mundane subject needs gravitas. For some reason, a great number of people (many of them, I imagine, self-styled intellectuals and/or hipsters) want to revel in the minutiae of the mundane, and for no other reason than to inform everyone else what they know about a given subject. The kicker to all of this is that if you point this out, you get branded a philistine. Pointing out the futility of pointing out futility, for example (ha!), is tantamount to intellectual treason. Well fuck that nonsense. (See what I did there?) Not every little thing needs to be analyzed mercilessly. Let's just enjoy things at face value for a change. Modern critical thought seems to deem this unnecessary. Face value, it is reasoned, cannot provide adequate intellectual sustenance. We need to make sure you know why you're enjoying the things you're enjoying, or else, you're not enjoying them as much as you should be. They've completely flipped the script. In short, appreciate, then enjoy. I really think that's why I'm on such a metal run lately, because metal, almost uniformly, is totally lacking in pretense, and just wants to kick your ass.

The bottom line, Bentham was wrong, Motorhead is right, and I am spent.


Carl is ranting again. This time, it's about Kill Bill. Having just read it, here are my two cents.

First, a disclosure: I have not yet seen the film, but have read the entire script (making me one of those asshats that get made fun of in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back)

A second disclosure: I also am not as learned on matters of cinema. I mean, didn�t you just read that I�in the year 2003 AD (or CE, for you non-religious nuts out there)�just saw Terminator and T2 for the first time? That said, I have seen movies, and I have even studied them a bit (on a personal academic level, and not some school assignment) when I was thinking of writing my own screenplay. So I do feel confident that I can make somewhat credible statements on film, though, they will likely be more attached to art in general, rather than film in particular.

Now, down to business.

First, I disagree that Mr. Tarantino is an obscurist. He�s just a genre-obsessive (or, film geek). That is, his world, even prior to being a filmmaker/screenwriter, revolves around movies. I�d venture to say that it�s all he really knows. Therefore, when he creates a movie of his own, it will reflect his pool of knowledge.

Let�s reframe the issue. Say you asked Don Shula to film a movie. What do you think the subject matter is going to be? If your first guess was anything other than football, you�re trying too hard and should be kicked square in the nuts. (And while I�ll concede that the man knows his way around a steak, I don�t think even he�d make a film around 100% angus cuts, knaamean?)

So, we�ve established that Shula will very likely make a movie about football. Now then, in the course of writing the script, don�t you think that there will be some football references�given his stature and longevity as a coach�that will make it into the film that only the most obsessive football fan will be able to identify? Does this make Shula an obscurist? Of course not. It�s a matter of knowing the details, details that he knows like the back of his hand. (Details that have, sadly, not reached his progeny.) What Shula would be doing is presenting as accurate a portrayal of his experience in football as he possibly can.

What does this all mean? My assertion is that the film that Tarantino made is not meant to be merely a three hour homage to his influences. Rather, I believe it to be one of the purest expressions of his point-of-view that he�s ever shown. One aspect of the film (I assume) that underscores this possibility is the film�s dialogue, or lack thereof. Honestly, from what I�ve seen and read, the story could probably be effectively told without a word being spoken. He doesn�t need to fill the void (read: keep the audience�s attention between action sequences) with pop-culture laced conversations. For once, it seems, film is being treated as a visual medium rather than a illustration for words on a page.

That, to me, is the simplest (or the least cynical/adversarial, anyway) explanation for the film�s overabundance of cinematic allusion. This isn�t �symbolism without meaning.� Rather, I believe Tarantino, instead of simply giving visual representation of what is essentially a short-story or novel, he�s trying to let the film (the visuals) tell the story itself. Consequently, in a world where the most mundane action needs some ridiculous amount of expository prose, he must rely on film �clich� to push the narrative forward. Had Tarantino taken the bold step of actually making this a non-talkie, this point would have been driven home more clearly. Of course, I don�t really think that Tarantino has the directorial skill to make an effective silent film, but that is not the point. The point is, I think he tried to take the saying �a picture is worth a thousand words� and run with it.

What I think is happening is that people (such as my friend Carl) are getting too caught up by the numerous references they don�t get, and assuming that Tarantino, because of the cult of personality that surrounds him, does it to show off his film-knowledge. And I would bet that�s not entirely untrue. But the references are incidental to the film�s higher purpose, that being pure cinematic expression. (In other words, not to be so reliant upon words in order to find �meaning� in the film.) You don�t need to know the concept of Bushido, own a Shaw Brothers movie, or masturbate to images of Pam Grier (70s style!) in order to appreciate or understand the film; therefore, why even be concerned with it? Are these same people bemoaning the genre-pastiche of Beck? Did they decry Pavement�s (in particular frontman Stephen Malkmus) encyclopedic knowledge of rock music and their willingness to throw it into their albums when they were releasing their early 90s classics? No, because Beck and Pavement are/were much more polite personalities and non-chalant about their knowledge, though I doubt they were any less enthusiastic. If Tarantino were an unassuming film-nerd (Todd Solondz, anybody?), I would bet there would be less complaints. But because he is this obnoxious loudmouth (yet genuinely talented) of a director, people tend to scrutinize his work and make assumptions about purpose that may not be there.

(Okay�now a bit of a reversal, so I can get out my own mini-rant.)

Now, let�s pretend for a moment that all of the preceding is bullflop. Let�s say that this is nothing but Tarantino showing off his knowledge of film. (�Check out the big brain on Quentin!�) Let�s just assume that there is no higher purpose to this film than making Quentin feel cooler than everybody else.

Considering all of that, I have this to say: so what?

This is the world we�ve created for ourselves in 2003, folks. Incessant allusion is the order of the day, and any artistic creation that doesn�t reference its own lineage will be less likely to gain favor among critics who have redefined their job as pseudo-journalists playing a game of �spot the influence.� In that light, Tarantino is the undisputed master of film.

And it�s not like there�s anything inherently wrong with knowing the influences of a particular work. As with anything, history gives us context. It should stop there, but it doesn�t. Instead, when you read a review of anything these days, many times you�ll find it�s less descriptive of the work than the influences upon the work. So how can anybody be upset that Tarantino, with Kill Bill, has presented a smorgasbord of cinematic nods and winks and in-jokes processed into one monstrous epic of blood and revenge? Kill Bill isn�t lazy filmmaking, it�s modern filmmaking.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Let me holla atcha playa. Now, the weekend done come and gone and Vegas is still standing. That can only be a good thing. And what did the weekend bring? Let me break it down for you.

First off, the high point: on Saturday night, I got together with the boys (that being Carl O, Jamie, and Jarod) and watched--for the first time ever--The Terminator and T2. That is some solid moviemaking, belie' dat. It's full of action, dated fashion (in the case of The Terminator), and hilarious quotes. With beer, snacks, and an endless stream of wisecracks, the experience was top-notch.

The low point? Um, my fantasy football team lost again? That's a stretch, but really, the weekend wasn't bad at all.

The other significant part of the weekend was my niece's birthday party. Lots of kids running around and having fun, a ton of gifts (my niece got enough outfits to fill out Diana Ross' closet), and a chance to be with my family, which was nice. Sure, I don't have a lot in common with my in-laws, but they're mostly nice people, so it's not really awkward.

So that was fun. And the Dolphins won. That's also fun. Ohio State did not, but the Hurricanes did, so that's a wash. Overall, a solid weekend with very little negative to speak of. If only every day could be described as such.

C'est tout. A bientot.

Friday, October 10, 2003

This is just a test.

What you see here is Carl in all of his glory. Well, it's Carl if he were a South Park creation. The hair is shaggier than Mr. O wears it, but generally speaking, that's not too far off.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Well, the weekend has come and gone. Nothing to report. I wound up not getting my niece for the night, as my father decided to take on both kids. I haven't checked in with him to see if he survived. The odds weren't in his favor. But he's a trooper. I'm sure he managed it. But those kids, as adorable as they are, can be a formidable tag team. We're talking Hart Foundation lethal.

So what did I do with my suddenly free weekend. Not much, really. Gamed, shopped, and did a lot of thinking. Ever since the events of a couple of weeks ago, I am doing more thinking then I ever did the months prior. Is that ironic? I don't know. But it's strange. And do not confuse introspection with moping. Lord knows that's an easy mistake to make. I've just been think-y, for lack of a better word. Some of it is the usual 20-20 hindsight self-delusion. I could have done this, I should have done that. Utter nonsense. Another part of it is trying to get to my feelings. Was the casualness genuine or a defense? Imagined vs. legitimate potential, which naturally divides down optimist/pessimist lines. But the larger focus is on what's next. The incompleteness of the feelings I have now are proving a bit of a hindrance. Yet, more than anything, I want to just move on. It's the questions that anchor me.

Which is why I turn to this blog, because it lets me untangle some of these thoughts. It's better than taking them with me to work, which is growing increasingly intolerable, or taking them with me when I hang with friends, which would just suck the life out of the party. (Like a bunch of ducks on the back porch.) Even if I don't articulate much in terms of specifics here, it still feels productive because I'm getting it out in some capacity. That's much better than the alternative.

So that's what's going on 'round here. Football was good. (Go Dolphins!) Baseball was not. (Fucking A's!) Plus, I picked up the first two Van Halen albums this weekend. Rock and roll!

Ack...more fun, I swear. It'll come.

Also, if anybody reads this and is a fan of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force (and who I don't already know, jackass), any suggestions on how to create a Meatwad mask?


Thursday, October 2, 2003

A few days later. Not much to report. Near meltdown at work. Possible raise coming because of it. (Funny how that works.) Might be getting my niece this weekend, and not a moment too soon. Stress and events from the last couple of weeks have gotten me into a bit of a funk. Quality time with my niece always helps melt that stress away. Unlike quality time with the boy (my nephew), who I adore as much as he adores his uncle, but he is like the Tasmanian Devil and I am so many trees in the forest being leveled by his whirlwind. I feel bad saying that, but frankly, he's more than I can handle right now. Hopefully in the future, he can come hang out with his uncle D. I do miss him, too. I said...been a ball of stress, and I've been venting it on the PS2, playing the shit out of Soul Caliber 2. It's fun. The artwork is beautiful, and the gameplay is easier to pick up than I expected. The design is such that a masher like myself can come in and be somewhat successful, while at the same time rewarding the more skilled player with powerful combos and such. A solid pick up. I don't have many fighting games, but I'm certainly glad I have this one. Thanks, Desiree! (My sister who bought me the game.)

Outside of that, not much to report. The A's have a 2-0 lead in their series with the Red Sox, which is awesome. I just wish I hadn't stayed up until 2 last night watching game 1. And I didn't even get to see the end! Stupid extra innings.

Also been rockin' my new hoodie something fierce, since the weather has cooled down immensely. So I got that going for me.

To sum up:

Melancholy, soon to be dissolved by niece's visit.
Go A's!
Damn I look good in a hoodie.

Thank you and good night.