March 8th, 2004

smokin'

Stuff and Nonsense

I think I may be getting a cold. If I'm not, I still feel like crap. I don't feel like drawing and want to procrastinate. And so, to the LiveJournal for some random uselessness from my note pads.

I went to the nightmare Shoprite on Forest Avenue yesterday to pick up a few groceries for the HOF. Nothing went right. First off, someone stole my partially-filled cart while I was looking for something and had my back turned. So I had to go back outside in the rain and get another cart, and start shopping all over again. When I got on the
"express" line the cashier gave me a hard time over the amount of items I had. I pointed out that I had two huge items (bathroom tissue that was supposedly on sale) and I was well in my rights to be on the line. She relaxed. Unfortunately, the lady in front of me was one of those not very well to do types who must battle the cashier over every item and every perceived sale. You know, she bought an item she decided is on sale because she wants it to be, and finds information in the flyer to substantiate it. And she's very, very wrong but won't back down. She keeps sending her daughter to shop for additional items while working out this NATO pact with the unyielding (and in the right) cashier. Then she finally asks her to bend the rules. Finally, the daughter is sent for another foraging trip while steam rises from my head and the line grows. Ten minutes of this horsehockey. The daughter returns with the wrong item, they're out of the item on sale. Mother removes some items to pay for her damned canned tomato something or other. The transaction gets so screwed up the cashier needs to call for the "key" several times from the manager. While this is going on the ADD kids behind me push my cart into my shins three times. Mom tells them to stop it. They don't listen. My shins curse them, silently.. Finally, the mother/daughter cheapster tomato team leave, after dickering about whether the daughter can have gum. for another minute. I'm next, and right off the bat I'm laughingly told the toilet paper is not on sale, even though the sign on the shelf below them which I double checked said they were. I relinquish the TP, only wishing for the sweet release of death. Then, while I'm using my debit card to pay for the transaction, the older ADD girl behind me starts playing with the touch screen. Mom tells her to stop. She does not stop. Instead, she cancels my transaction and causes the machine to go wiggy. My everything curses the child silently. The cashier once again calls for the vaunted "key". The rest of the line looks at me as if I caused all this, of course. The magic "key" is produced. The touchscreen won't respond correctly even after it has been fixed by magic, bouncing me out of the next transaction attempt. The cashier believes it's all because I refused to use"the pen", because obviously using another hard piece of plastic like the edge of the debit card, which I always use, if wrong for touching a touchscreen. I switch to the magic pen to appease her. Two attempts later, it is done. I escape, bruised and battered in the brain stem, learning nothing from my experience and hating Staten Island more that ever.

Here's a more cheerful, if equally pointless bit of business.

The Hellboy: Weird Tales Playlist

Hasil Adkins - No More Hot Dogs
Kids of Widney High - Life Without the Cow (go find this)
Billy Hamlin - If You Ain't Got No Bread, You Might As Well Stay In Bed
The Nubs - Job/Little Billy's Burning
Tad - Jack Pepsi
Nick Lowe - Cupid Must Be Angry
Department 5 - Is Vic There?
Measles, Mumps and Rubella - Lighters Out
Wolfshine - Once in a Lifetime
New Establishment in Soul - WHip It
Neon King Kong - Annette's Got the Hits (Redd Kross cover)
The Monsters - I'm Going Away, Girl
The Sugarcubes - Stick Around For Joy CD
The Breeders - Last SPlash CD
The Horrorpops Video that Brian Marshall clued me onto
Suspense Radio Drama - 1949 -1951 seasons
Jean Shepherd WOR broadcasts from 1957 -1960
WFMU
Danny Stiles Vintage Radio Program on WNYC/various NYC stations

Songs in my head right now:
What, No Mickey Mouse?
The Spinach Song sung by Jack Haley, Alice Faye and Shirley Temple in "Poor Little Rich Girl"
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps

I was going through a box of press clippings and printed interviews we've accumulated over time and while collating some and throwing out others I came to realize how much I miss the fanzine. Web sites and webzines just aren't the same thing. There's something about a printed, physical publication that works for me. Don't misunderstand, I'd rather look at a good website than a bad fanzine, but I miss the days of fanzine interviews and cartoons and write-ups. There's a more solid connection to a fan/reader that takes that kind of time to plug somebody's work or make a statement, than to just, uh, type the stuff, um, up on a...blog. Uh, next!

I'm getting more gray hair. My beard stubble is shot through with salt particles and I'm finding long silver hairs not only on my temples but going back into the thicket. At least I haven't lost my hair, true, but I'm kind of bummed out. Sarah told me last year she's noticed gray hairs on my head for a while, I just never saw it. A friend of mine is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis because his beard started sprouting silver. I'm not killer depressed about it, but it is weird to have your body start telling you time is passing in such a visible manner. We're all doomed, I'm not alone in this, but you don't like being confronted with the facts in the mirror. Luckily, being in your late 30's isn't what it used to be, hell, being 60 isn't what it used to be, and I'm such an immature baby I probably won't really mature until I'm seventy. Stupid gray hair.

Bored out of our gourds last night, we endured the celluloid chloroform men call Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. For anyone left on Earth who hasn't seen this wet blanket of a film, the Secret is it stinks. The biggest problem is that (like in the first film), the filmmakers were too slavish to the original work, too nervous to eject anything even though many elements of the book don't translate well to film. Case in point, that lousy Quidditch game, which isn't well-defined in the novels, has lousy rules re: drama or logic, and is just a noisy incoherent mess on the screen. Plot problems that you could tolerate in the book are magnified in a film, you can't believe Harry's Muggle family would threaten him given that he's a powerful wizard in league with other wizards, the school staff seems extra-incompetent, no one would ever believe Harry was behind the petrification attacks, etc etc. The charm of the series is completely lost as Columbus directs everything by the book, literally. He constantly blows dramatic scenes, exposition is muddled, comic moments are smothered, entrances and exits are flubbed, everything is rote, obvious, tepid. Is Columbus the only director alive who doesn't understand how to exploit a steam engine properly on film? This is the second film in which he's gone for uninteresting long shots and never given the engine -or the film -- any sense of motion or excitement or drama or purpose? He presents everything in a clear-eyed, inert fashion, and every single scene is overlong, with actors waiting seconds before responding to one another in a stilted fashion. Cut the pauses and overly enunciated kid dialogue and the film would have lost a needed twenty minutes.

And for an effects-driven product, has there ever been a modern film whose effects were more cheesy , unimaginative and unsatisfying? Pre-Gremlins puppetry, (the Phoenix doll and the Mandrake roots, et al) -- I thought Columbus was remaking Young Sherlock Holmes at times), inept and unconvincing CGI (the awful flying car), phony-backdrops (the BG's at the Quidditch game), etc. Ditto the sets, both films look like they were shot in the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, the art direction is so obvious and phony, the school clearly looks like a series of union-built stage sets.

What else -- oh, Harry and Hermione, bless them, still can't act. The movie is too long by at least forty-five minutes. You'd think Columbus would see what Jackson did with disparately sized characters in LOTR, but Hagrad is constantly shown in single shots to avoid having him appear with the kids. Two semi-annoying characters from the book become absolutely insufferable on screen, Dobby the unlovable-even-to-little-kids House Elf, and the moaning ghost in the girl's bathroom. Whenever either of these two were on screen I wanted to burn our copies of the Rowling books.

Bottom line -- both films in this series are utter failures on every level. Dramatically inert, tiresome, exhausting, overlong, impersonal, noisy, mechanical, unfunny, unexciting, uninvolving and worst of all, unmagical. They make money on pure Hollywood muscle and a pre-sold fan base.

Anyway, the trailer for the third entry, helmed by a foreign director I'm sure I should know the name of, has more oomph than the first two films combined. Maybe they found someone who wasn't afraid to bring something of themselves to the material, and as the material turns darker, perhaps the films will improve. or not. Wonder how badly Hollywood will screw with the Narnia books...

Long post, dorkier than most. I'd better go back to work now. I'll be back with another pointless post soon, so check that baited breath, kids.
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