RIP: Ingmar Bergman

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I’ve only seen a few of Bergman’s films, but everyone has left a lasting impression. Wild Strawberries is up there in my list of greatest films ever made, but the Seventh Seal and its chess game with death contains so much imagery that it is what I always think of when I think of Bergman.

To tell the truth I didn’t realize the old man was still alive, but finding out about his death now, brings a pain to my heart. The ever lovely Lisa McKay has a nice write up over at Blogcritcs.

Movie Review: The Simpsons Movie

In the local paper’s review of the Simpsons Movie it stated it was just like the show, only longer. After reading it I said to my wife, “I hope it is like the show during the early seasons, and not so much like the last few years.”

It is pretty obvious I am a fan of the show. I talk about it all the time, I quote it regularly, I’ve pretty much based my life philosophy around Homer Simpson, and I practically reviewed the entire 18th season right here.

When the Simpsons are good, there is nothing better on television, and even when they are bad they are good for a few laughs. Unfortunately, since about season 8 they have been steadily moving towards the latter end of that statement. The show has moved from a cutting edge satire with an underlying heart that made it not only incredibly hilarious, but a rock solid piece of story telling. These days it hangs on by throwing a million gags out at once.

Sometimes those gags are brilliant, but all too often they make me laugh and then immediately forget them. And the show really lacks the heart it used to have. There is still a lot of cheap sentiment thrown in, but the storylines are so off the wall and jagged, that the sentiment falls flat.

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Dreamin’ Songs – “Cherish” By Madonna

200px-madonna-cherish-5328.jpgI admit it. I liked Madonna when I was a boy. I’ll even admit I had something of a boyhood crush on her. Or maybe it was boyhood lust, I don’t know.

This was pre-married to that Brit who used to make interesting, funny, violent films until he got married to an aging pop star and dropped completely off the map. This was pre- way over the top kinky sex and bad teeth Madonna. This was even mostly pre- pushed the envelope way too far with a big, expensive photo book that everyone talked about but no one bought Madonna.

No this was when Madonna was mostly known for her excellent pop music and her pushing the envelope (but not too far) videos. As a kid I dug her catchy singles, and her risqué (but not too risqué) profile.

“Cherish” came in the latter part of my favorite period Madonna (her next album would be the too kinky, too weird, not very interesting Erotica where I lost all interest.) It is a decent, if not all that memorable little tune, but one I still keep on the dial when I find it on the radio.

It is the video, however, that I remember most. It was shot in beautiful black and white by glamor photographer Herb Ritz. It is essentially Madonna dressed in a low cut, short black dress cavorting in the ocean with a little mer-kid. She looks stunningly gorgeous and appears to be having a great deal of fun. Mainly though I liked the low cut, short dress in the ocean part. Madonna was always good at showing some skin in those days, and as a pubescent boy I was always willing to watch.

I don’t have the slightest idea why this song popped into my head this morning. I don’t believe I have heard it recently and lawd knows I don’t really listen to Madonna anymore, but there it was, and here it is.

The Top Five: John Cusack Movies

n2256225079_32323.jpgRandomly, and not very often I have posted lists on this blog. I love lists, to tell the truth of it. I know they are kind of pointless, and they don’t shed any light on anything, and they generally have no meaning outside of those who are posting the lists.

But I love them still.

I love trying to decide what my favorite anythings are (and this is really hard as I don’t really believe in favorites – I mean how does one choose between vanilla and chocolate, caramel and fudge, Ichi the Killer and Kill Bill, Wilco and Ryan Adams, Kurosawa and Scorsese?) But maybe that is why I love lists, they let me choose lots of cool stuff without necessarily choosing a favorite.

Anyways, several months ago I created a Top Five group for Facebook. Have I mentioned I am on Facebook? Have I mentioned how much better it is than myspace? No? Well then you are cordially invited to be my Facebook friend and to join the Top Five.

What is the Top Five you ask? Basically it is me asking for your top five…whatevers and then you providing a response. Discussion ensues. I ask a new question every Sunday and participants answer whenever they want. The Facebook group thing updates the group page whenever someone answers a questions, so even if you answer a question that is months old, it comes right to the top giving everyone an opportunity to read and respond.

We’re pretty small right now in terms of numbers, and even more so in terms of response. But I thought it would be kind of cool to start posting them here. Feel free to join the group and respond on Facebook, or to simply add your own answers in the comments.

I’m starting with the first one, which was posted way back in March, and I hope to update the blog regularly with the old ones, and then every week with the new ones. That’s where it gets tricky as people do answer very randomly. I may have to keep myself a few weeks behind so that everyone has a chance to answer.

Without further ado, here is the question of the week.

What are your favorite John Cusack Movies?

Continue reading “The Top Five: John Cusack Movies”

The Long And Dirty Tale Of The 35″ Television

32604765.jpgShortly after my brief affair with graduate school I landed myself a well paying job. I was young. I was single. I was making a lot more money than I had ever made in my life.

I bought a large, bulky 35″ Sanyo television. This was long before flat screens and wide screens and easily lift able televisions. The thing was massive, weighed a ton and because of the shape of the tube it was incredibly difficult to hold onto.

But it showed a wonderful picture and it was nice and big to look at. I loved it.

Well until I had to move anyways, and then I cursed at its weighty bulkiness. My poor father in law has helped me move it half a dozen times and every time he threatens to drop it accidentally-on-purpose.

With the China move I decided to sell it. I was tired of moving it, we had no room to store it and I figured with the money we’d make over seas I could afford a new one when we got back.

Continue reading “The Long And Dirty Tale Of The 35″ Television”

Maybe All I Need Is A Shot In The Arm

After too many calls and not enough attention paid to the quickly zooming by time, Amy and I finally got all of our inoculations yesterday.  I got two in each arm and now they are extraordinarily sore.  I can hardly lift them.  Yet I still gave the old man a good hand to day with the shovel.

We got them at the local health department.  Government buildings always depress me.  The building itself was old and windowless and run down.  The folks behind the counter were sour and haggard.  But who can blame them living day after day in that drab building dealing with the tired and stupid and irritating masses full of screaming babies and sour smells?

Nicely our nurse was very kind and had all sorts of post cards filling her walls from all over the world as her patients send them to her.   As we were leaving we nearly ran into an armed policemen who then promptly escorted a not-too-happy looking young latino in the bright orange colors of the state pen complete with handcuffs.

The living room is now full of suitcases and clothes as my wife tries to determine which clothes fit and look good and should be worn in China, and which will sit in a closet for a year.

The sister left for China again early this morning.  This has seemed to throw things off a bit for us.  Having her around was a great source of comfort as she continued to show great excitment for our arrival in China as we struggle with the stress and the great unknown.  Now that she is gone, it feels all weird again.

Shortly, I suspect I will be starting a seperate China blog.  I will still post longer stories and things here about China, but I have decided to keep the daily, very bloggy posts about my experiences in China seperate from this that has become more pop culture oriented. 

I haven’t thought of a witty name for it yet, so if anyone has suggestions, do comment.

You Can Go Home Again

Terrible title, I know.  I meant to say this the other day, but I was busy. We moved out of the apartment yesterday and headed to my folks in Oklahoma.  We will be here about two weeks and then fly to China.  During this period I really have no idea how much I will be writing.  I’ll try to do updates, but I expect I will either be working with pop or running around with mom.

Um, yeah, that’s really all.  I don’t know why I like to do updates like this as there are maybe two people who read regularly and actually care.  All the rest come randomly from search engines.

Ryan Adams Came Back To Louisville, And I Missed It

Ryan Adams came back to the same theatre I saw him in Louisville on July 11.  Perhaps it was because he was sorry for being such a pansy pants,  maybe it was because the fans cried out and demanded he come back, perhaps Louisville is a convenient spot for a tour.  Whatever the reasons, he came back, and I didn’t go.

The reasons for me not going range from our need to save money, having no time for fun things when we have to prepare to move and for reasons so heartbreaking and horrific that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to tell.

Turns out a marvelous taper was on the scene and has uploaded the show to archive.org.  I’m just listening to it now, and I think I may have to break down and weep right here in the middle of the library.

The sound quality is pristine.   This is the best audience recording I’ve ever heard.  There is little crowd noise, excepting the screams between songs, the vocals sound amazing and all the instruments are clear and beautiful.

Beyond that this is the Ryan Adams performance I  have inappropriate dreams about.   Geezum this is beautiful stuff. Ryan is on.  I mean ON.  The band is as tight as a band can be.  They jam.  They dance.  They have harmony that angels wish for.

I’m trying to not think about how I could have gone.  I’m trying to not think about why I didn’t go.  I’m trying to not feel like the miserable louse that I am.

But I can’t stop it.

If Not For The Grace Of God, And Duct Tape

05027a.jpgAm I the only one who thought “duct tape” was “duck tape” for the longest time?

My parents came about a week and a half ago and took out all our furniture. They left us a blow up mattress to sleep on, and two lawn chairs to sit on. The chairs are fairly old, and I am fairly fat, which turns out to be not such a good combination.

Last week the left arm rest disconnected itself from the back of the chair. For those familiar with these type of chairs you will note that the arm rest connection is vital to the entire chair holding itself together. It broke when I happened to be sitting in it and I’m sure I let out a few words that my mother will later yell at me for. Luckily we have rolls of duct tape laying around for the move and I fixed the chair as much as nature will allow.

Turns out this broken, er fixed chair is still more comfortable than the other as the other sags a good deal in the seat part. The seats of these things are supported by a cross section of cords, and those cords are beginning to loosen with our fat heinies.

This morning, the same arm broke in half, right where it meets its little support bar in the middle. Again I was sitting in it. Again I said words. While duct taping it together I knocked over my freshly made smoothie. For the record, freshly made smoothie spilled on the long since vacuumed carpet looks like something the cat barfed up.

Unfortunately the fresh roll of duct tape isn’t exactly fixing the situation. Oh, the chair will hold me, but due to the nature of this break, my weight is still pulling the arm apart. If I have to say any more words, my mother will come straight here and whoop me.

I think I’ll sit on the floor.

Pictures Of World War I

picnic15.jpgI’ve recently become fascinated with World War I. There have been so many movies made, and words printed about World War II that it seems like the first one gets over looked. Perhaps thats because the reasons behind fighting WWII are more compelling and understandable, while the Great War is kind of muddled. Perhaps it is because more people are still alive that survived the second one. Maybe it is due to some other reason, I don’t know. Whatever the reasons it is certainly more easy to find information on the second war than the first.

However, whenever I read about the first war, in some ways it seems even more horrific, disgusting and hellish than the second. It is that mix of old world fighting techniques mixed with new world technology and weaponry that makes it so complete destructive.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to live for weeks, months, or even years in a tiny trench with constant bombardments, gassings and death. I found a site full of pictures from the first World War and it is just astounding. It is also very graphic, so if you aren’t interested in seeing pictures of a terrible war filled with terrible death, don’t click on the picture.