Friday, February 25, 2005

Sight Unseen: February 25, 2005

Slow week for movies. Slow 2 weeks for this blog. The lack of update can be blamed partially on my illness, which has lasted a personal record 14 days (and counting). In the course of being sick, I also became dehydrated and my lip split. The resulting dried blood and scarring are the stuff of horror flicks.

So, what is this movie? The trailer bills it as another creation from the "Master of Terror" (what University confers that degree?), Wes Craven. I suspect it's a werewolf flick, although the previews (wisely?) don't show any (crappy CGI?) creatures. If I remember that old Fox series Werewolf correctly, the guy with lycanthropy had a pentagram on his palm: much like the one featured in the trailers for Cursed.

Cursed carries a PG-13 rating, which seems tame for a horror flick. What does the benign PG-13 rating mean exactly? No significant cursing? No nudity? No excessive gore? Aren't those the crucial ingredients of a horror film? Maybe the Cravenly one can put together a significantly shocking film under the constraints of a PG-13. Christina Ricci should help; she was in Monster and The Addams Family flicks.


Friday, February 18, 2005

Sight Unseen: February 18, 2005

Continuing the Friday series of reviews of movies I haven't seen.

Because of Winn-Dixie
When did it become fashionable to hyphenate dog names? Check out the names of the dogs at the Westminster Kennel Club. Just try getting "Taliesin's Llenlleawg" out of your mouth when your prize Irish Wolfhound gets loose. By the time you're at the second syllable, the dog is 5 miles away. The trend probably started with Old Yeller, and just got out of control.

Because of Winn-Dixie (a movie about a girl and her dog) has a promotional tie-in with the Winn-Dixie store. Because of Winn-Dixie, we now have a new fruit basket. If they can make successful movies out of video games, why not retail stores? Coming soon to a multiplex near you: For the Love of Piggly Wiggly.

Is this the most blasphemous movie ever? Based on the comic Hellblazer, the trailer implies that God and the Devil are at war for the souls of humans, and only Keanu Reeves tip the balance in God's favor. Are they implying that our omnipotent God could lose a war with the Devil? Whoa.

Son of the Mask
Remember 1994? That was when The Mask was in theaters. It's been more than a decade since Jim Carrey found Cameron Diaz to be "Smmmokin'!" This sequel has straight-to-video written all over it, so it probably won't be in theaters long. Is it just me or is Alan Cumming the second coming of Pee Wee Herman (only with his own fragrance)?


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Sick on a Sick Day

Fever, headache, disorientation, an inability to come up with a decent blog entry.

Yep, I'm sick.

Only thing to do is put on Raiders of the Lost Ark, drink tea from my Paul Coffey mug, and feel ambivalent about the loss of the NHL season. Only 14 days until Spring Training.

Ooh. The mail just arrived.

Looking for a blog with some substance and a purpose? Check out the short story project. When trying to think of a theme for this blog, I toyed with the notion of drinking a different beer each day (an easy feat considering my proximity to the Foodery), but, in addition to being a derivative idea, it is also a poor substitute for reading.


Monday, February 14, 2005

Arthur Miller: 1915--2005

Everyone has an Arthur Miller story to tell. With his passing last Thursday, I thought now would be an appropriate time to share mine.

It was the Fall of 1991 (I think), and Millersville University, was hosting that year's International Arthur Miller Conference. I believe the MU fratboys dubbed it "Miller Fest" and made it a drinking occasion (lots of Miller High Life consumed that day). The man, not the myth, Arthur Miller was the guest of honor (a surprise choice for a festival bearing his name, right?), and spoke to an assembled crowd of scholars, English majors, and snot-nosed punks (including yours truly). Sadly, despite paying attention at the time, I retain in my memory next to nothing of the content of his speech. I do recall that, as adolescent males, we were predisposed to joking about Miller and Marilyn Monroe. Thankfully, we showed restraint and didn't actually ask any of our stupid questions (yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question).

So, why was I even there? Coinciding with this venerable collegiate celebration, my high school staged Miller's high-school-theater standard, The Crucible (having exhausted the other staple of scholastic theater, Our Town, the previous fall). Despite the lack of any facial hair, worry lines, or adulthood physique (I was a late bloomer), I landed the role of Giles Corey, the cantankerous old geezer. It was the first (and last) time I had ever auditioned for a show with a particular part in mind, but having read the play I admired the character's unrelenting badass attitude, which was exemplified in his dying words: "more weight".

There was a rumor (who knows who started it) that Miller might attend our performance. I never believed it. Sure it would've been cool, but what playwrite wants to witness his/her work stripped of all relevance and butchered by a bunch of teenagers? Some of my fellow cast members were quite talented (the girl playing Abigail Williams, for one), but I mangled Miller's words with my incomprehensible enunciation. To this day, friends and relatives ruthlessly torment me with imitations of my performance (Rwarawrawraw, Goody Putnam). Think Scooby Doo with marbles in his mouth. Still, this line always rang out loud and clear: "A fart on Thomas Putnam, that is what I say to that!"

ELIZABETH: Aye. It were a fearsome man, Giles Corey.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Sight Unseen: February 11, 2005

Continuing the Friday series of reviews of movies I haven't seen.

Why is the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air slumming it with the King of Queens? Big Willie, what are you doing? You ruled the box office for two consecutive 4th of July weekends with Independence Day (1996) and Men in Black (1997; not so much with Wild Wild West, 1999). You successfully jumped from TV to the silver screen; don't let Kevin James pull you back in (or hitch his wagon to your star). Not since Rocky (the fictional boxer) has the fighting city of Philadelphia had a hero of Will Smith's stature, so in these parts he has a get-out-of-Hitch-free card.

Pooh's Heffalump Movie
Fuckin' with the classics. Still, just the word "pooh" will probably garner more laughs than the whole of Hitch. Hopefully, this movie will renew interest in reading A.A. Milne's work.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Extreme Overkill: Pizza Glut

"Where'd the cheese go?"* --Ween

Remember when pizza was a special treat? Pizza isn't special anymore. Kids eat pizza for breakfast ("when pizza's on a bagel, you can eat pizza anytime"; I'd add the offical Bagel Bites link, but their website crashed my internet browser twice, so fuck 'em). Pizza is so not special that pizza chains are forced to come up with crazy new marketing strategies: pizza with flavored dipping sauces, pizza with shit baked inside the crust, extra-layer pizzas, stuffed pizza, square pizza, pizza paired with buffalo wings or breadsticks, pizza with novel toppings, etc.

Check this out: the term "Meat Lover's" is a registered trademark of Pizza Hut. Likewise "Pepperoni Lover's", "Sausage Lover's", and "Veggie Lover's" pizzas. Lucky for lactose lovers, the term "Cheese Lover's" is still public domain.

Honestly, if the pizza is made right and tastes good, you don't need bells and whistles to sell it.

*This rejected Pizza Hut jingle was on the Ween website, but it appears they've taken it down. It's out there somewhere and well worth the trouble to find it.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ash Today, Zits Tomorrow

Ash Wednesday.

Until I moved to Philadelphia, I had never seen anyone practicing this show of faith (smearing ash on their foreheads). Hard to believe that there weren't any devout Catholics in my public high school.

Maybe this is blasphemous (it wouldn't be the first time), but it seems like Catholics play a lot of games with their religion. As if entrance to heaven is determined by performing certain symbolic gestures and adhering to a set of rules (fish on Fridays?). Window dressing.

Isn't faith supposed to be more than a game? Perhaps my interpretation is trivializing the sincerity of these rituals, but wearing ash on Ash Wednesday is like wearing a sports uniform and letting people know what team you play for. Why blemish your skin (or is that part of the Lent sacrifice), when an air-brushed t-shirt from the mall that reads, "Kickin' Ash and Takin' Names" would spread the same message:

"Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return."
Good works, people. Good works.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Ossie Davis: 1917--2005

Just a month ago as we were watching Do the Right Thing (on MLK Day, as a matter of fact), I remarked to a friend that Ossie Davis is ageless. Sadly, this very talented man passed away last week.
Go rent his work and "always do the right thing".

Recommended viewing:

Do the Right Thing (1989; a masterpiece; buy Da Mayor a Miller High Life)
Baadasssss! (2003; which I learned was originally titled: How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002; a brilliant B-movie with heart)
Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970; writer and director)


Monday, February 07, 2005

A Victory for Unoriginality

Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots 24, Eagles 21 (Final)

If football teams could score points for originality, the Eagles would have won this game. The Patriots are unoriginal, and they embrace and relish their blandness like businessmen. With the Patriots victory, creativity was lost.

I can't recall if, in their last 2 Super Bowl victories, the Patriots celebrated touchdowns in a unique fashion, but last night they had nothing but mimicry. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but on the greatest stage for their sport and profession, the Patriots players couldn't think up a decent endzone dance (or spontaneous emotional response), and resorted to flapping their arms in mockery of the Eagles. Nothing like the
Super Bowl shuffle, no "Dirty Bird" (Falcons), no Mile-High Salute, nothing.

And that's Pat-thetic.

After Bowl Notes
With the game over, I can reintroduce red and blue garments back into my wardrobe. Superstition can be a pain in the ass.

8th and Bainbridge: Before the game, revelers on this block were blasting “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat play. It wasn’t surprising to witness brawling after the game at the same location. The fellas were itching for a fight and they found one.

Overheard at the Foodery (10th and Pine): “I hope they’re burning shit somewhere in Philadelphia.” This said by someone who obviously advocates arson, but lacked matches and/or the gumption to personally set a fire.

Gang of six Eagles fans (with murder in their eyes) took off sprinting after a car when the passenger yelled, “Yeah Patriots!” Advertising her allegiance to New England was dumber than the Bainbridge brawling bunch, because I’m sure it was just a matter of time before the car had to stop at a red light and the mob caught up.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Sight Unseen: February 4, 2005

Continuing the Friday series of reviews of movies I haven't seen.

I wish this was a Prince concert documentary, but it isn't.

The Wedding Date
Weddings scare a lot more people than the Boogeyman. My first impression of this flick's title was: romantic romp about the calendar date of a wedding and the zany events leading up to the big day. Turns out this movie is either Deuce Bigalow 2 with wedding bells or a reverse Pretty Woman. Dermot Mulroney takes over the Rob Schneider/Julia Roberts role as Debra Messing's "escort". I picture Debra guzzling champagne at the reception and thinking, "Did I pay too much for this gigolo" alternating with "I wonder what stuffing an extra 20 quid in his cummerbund will get me." A word of advice Debra, he may be Dermot Mulroney, but he's still a male escort. So "put a sock on the pickle" or "3 days later, go see the doctor".


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Money Doesn't Grow on Bushes

Excerpt from Bush's State of the Union address on 2/2/2005

"Here is why personal accounts are a better deal. Your money will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything in the current system can deliver, and your account will provide money for retirement over and above the check you will receive from Social Security."

That sounds like a guarantee. Is Bush guaranteeing that money invested in the stock market will always earn a positive return? I may be an M.B.A. drop-out, but I know the stock market fluctuates (that means it goes up and down). Funny, Bush didn't mention that in his speech. Maybe he forgot about the recent recession. Forgive me if I don't forget that I was downsized three times in four years, Mr. President. Bush 43's guarantee that the stock market will always pay off for retirees sounds like a lie on par with Bush 41's "read my lips: no new taxes". I don't know if Bush's plan for Social Security is good or bad, but I know the money invested in private accounts is not guaranteed to produce a return.

One thing is guaranteed: investment firms can't wait to line their pockets with the broker fees.

I learned that in Business Ethics 101.

*underlining mine for emphasis.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Hey, Knob Gobbler!

February 2, 2005: Groundhog Day!

Today on Gobbler's Knob (Pennsylvania), celebrity burrow-dweller Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, predicting 6 more weeks of winter. But Phil isn't the only working woodchuck in the business of weather forecasting, just the most famous (he even has an official site--but who doesn't these days). Other weathercritters include: General Beauregard Lee (Lilburn, Georgia; no shadow), Jimmy the Groundhog (Sun Prairie, Wisconsin ; no shadow), Balzac Billie (Balzac, Alberta; no shadow), Staten Island Chuck (no shadow), and so on. Groundhog Central, probably the best site on the subject of rodent prognosticators, has the most thorough round-up of these furry forecasters. Personally, I've always been partial to Octoraria Orphie (he saw his shadow) simply because he resides just down the road from my hometown.

Stormfax Weather Almanac chronicles the history of Groundhog Day. Whether (or weather) you believe in the mysticism or not, Groundhog Day is a fun excuse for partying in the dead of winter, unless you're this Canadian killjoy:

Whether it's Shubenacadie Sam, Wiarton Willie in Ontario or Balzac Billy in Alberta, the bogus weather forecasts from these pampered animals attract national attention every Feb. 2 - Groundhog Day.

What all of these reports overlook is that Groundhog Day is February 2, and independent of a critter's shadow, Spring rarely springs earlier than mid-March...6 weeks away. If that kills your buzz, the Bill Murray movie will lift your spirits again.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Philly Speaks Out

It's Media Day in Jacksonville and hordes of news personnel have descended on Florida ("America's Wang" in Homer Simpson's words) to talk with players, coaches, fans, and each other, leaving the city of Philadelphia out in the cold. In this exclusive interview at City Hall, I spoke with our city about the Super Bowl.

Jesse D: Philadelphia, may I call you, Philly?
Philadelphia: Please.
J: Philly, thank you for meeting with me. And might I add, you look wonderful.
P: You’re too kind. Yeah, they finally decided to give City Hall a bath after the years of smog and exhaust have ravaged my once youthful exterior. Citizens, I’m a city! I can’t wash myself. The long arm of the law is just an abstraction, it can’t pick up the litter you carelessly drop on me.
J: Point taken. So, are you excited for the big game on Sunday?
P: Let me put it to you this way:

(beating chest, gorilla style) E!-A!-G!-L!-E!-S! EAGLES!
J: Well said. There’s an awful lot of green around lately, but I noticed that William Penn is not wearing the customary jersey for a team in the Championship.
P: William Penn?
J: On top of City Hall.
P: You mean the statue of Ben Franklin?
J: Uh…
P: Ha! I’m just having some fun with you. You’d be surprised how many tourists that works on. (chuckles) No, the Eagles asked me not to put the jersey on Penn, and out of respect I complied.
J: Do you think they made the request because of "the curse"?
P: Maybe. The last jersey Penn donned was for the Flyers, and look how well they’re doing now.
J: They came close a few years ago.
P: Close doesn’t cut it for me.
J: With the NHL lockout, do you think hockey is dead in Philadelphia?
P: Not at all, the Phantoms are an exciting team. Have you been to one of their affordable, family-oriented games lately?
J: Er, no.
P: Yeah. Me, neither. When was the last time anyone got excited about the Calder Cup? Maybe in the sticks of Hershey or Wilkes-Barre, but I’m Philadelphia, beeutch!
J: Back to the Eagles. Terrell Owens announced today that he will play in the Super Bowl. Your thoughts?
P: I love T.O. He had a tough decision to make. If he decided not to play, he gave me and every other Eagles fan an excuse if they fulfilled Brian Hickey’s prediction. Now that T.O. is playing, he will either be the greatest sports hero in my sports history by catching 400 touchdown passes on a broken leg or just another goat, a la Mitch Williams.
J: No middle ground, eh? I just noticed you’re on your 12th Yuengling.
P: So what? Can’t a town have a little drink to celebrate? I’m in the Super Bowl! Fly Eagles, Fly! C’mon you know the words.

(Sounds of ruckus, a thump, then silence)