Friday, June 29, 2007

Movie Stars!

The What I'm Whatevering List
because I know you care...

Last Movie I’ve Seen: Ocean’s 13. I loved the first one, didn’t understand why everyone acted like the second one killed their firstborns (or heard that the second one would kill their firstborn and decided to avoid it), and I’m pretty sure I liked this one more than I liked 12. To get one thing out of the way: yeah, three movies have confirmed that I’d watch these guys cool their way through two-hours of stealing from “take a penny, leave a penny” trays and not complain; not simply because “Omigosh it’s famous people hanging out!” but because we enter a scene and, for no apparent reason, Brad Pitt and George Clooney are discussing the heist in cartoonishly puffy winter coats with the tags still on, like they’re playing dress up in the mall or something—end of scene. Except that a few scenes later, we see them wearing the coats while they crawl through air conditioner vents: now I get it and ha! Which is my long way of saying: the writers are having fun, the cast is having fun, the key set production assistant is probably having fun, and I dig that.

Also diggable is the fact that 13 probably has more heart than either of the last two, with its increased focus on “guys watching out for each other” and even more so in the “times are changing” vibe that carries the movie—the Ocean’s Whatever movies have always had a kind of old-school vibe, both in their focus on Movie Stars and in the team’s insistence on doing it the hard (but way more fun) way, as far as the heist goes, and it's nice to see the themes coincide with that. But speaking of the heist, my only real complaint is that, as a fan of heist movies, the scheme is a little disappointing. It’s a cool multifaceted plan that’s fun to watch, but you never really get that feeling of tension, like there’s anything really at stake—that the plan could go bad in any real way. Still, it’s a good time, and probably the most all-the-way-through satisfying threequel (I know, ick, but it’s just the best word for that) I saw this summer.

What I'm Watching - TV on TV Edition
: American Inventor. Yeah, I know. It’s slight, even for a summer reality show, and it barely works as a competition. They’re never exactly clear on their mission statement—or maybe the subject matter is just too vague for this kind of contest (Is the “next great American invention” a potentially life-saving Christmas-tree-fire-safety device, an improved bicycle storage hook, or an air-freshener/artificial flower hybrid? Because that last one would totally sell the most, but...). Plus, televised open auditions pretty much mean “prototypes you've made in your home” will beat out “could-be-awesome concepts diagrammed on a posterboard," so we’re not exactly hoping for the next iPod out of this. And finally, the winner’s odds of post-show success seem even lower than that of an American Idol champion. But, all of that said, when an episode ends, I kind of find myself wishing that it didn’t. Simply put, the fact that the show celebrates thinking of/executing ideas, and requires that contestants do so to even audition makes an average episode way more watchable and even enjoyable than the first half of any Idol season. Plus: people with ideas are crazy, but not in an “I want to be famous on the TV!” way so much as a “I am dedicated yet socially inept” way, which is always fun.

What I'm Watching - TV on DVD Edition
: Seinfeld. It’s actually been a long time since I really watched this show, as opposed to keeping reruns on as background noise/distraction at 7:30 and 11. And, well, there’s not much more that needs to be said other than it’s so funny that I can’t believe it was actually on weekly TV at one time. And watching it As A Writer (sorry I had to go there) it’s doubly impressive that they can get 22 minutes out of, say, picking up a cake before a party. Also, it reminds me of when I used to tape all of the syndicated episodes in, like, 8th grade, and that my screen name actually includes a Seinfeld shout-out.

What I'm Playing
: Not my 360. Because they won’t fix it for less than $139. But then, that’s what you get for giving a company your confidence by buying their console at launch. That's right Microsoft--my blog is angry. What now, huh? What now?!

What I’m Reading: As a way of making up for my needlessly long dissertations on Ocean’s 13 and American Inventor, I’ll just say real quick that The Believer’s music issue/CD is good stuff and can be found wherever books are sold.

What I'm Refreshing
: My Facebook page, over and over. Somebody help.

Background noise
: See: What I’m reading.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Best Spinoff Since "Joey."

Check it out: two posts in as many days. Because, after more or less (if by “more or less” you mean “more”) falling off of the face of the earth (if by “the Earth” you mean “the internet”) for the past year (if by “the past year” you mean…okay, listen, you seriously have to work on your diction), I’m back. And while I’ve been enjoying this summer freedom for about a month now, it still feels good to write something for fun, rather than for a grade (or, since some professors don’t believe in grades, for another construction paper apple to tape to my “Progress Tree”). Watch as I use so many more words than necessary to get my honestly nearly nonexistent point across! Stand powerlessly as I refuse to cite my sources, an offense that has been called the equivalent to “stealing someone else's work or ideas.” (Marvel at my overuse of the parenthetical aside.) What are you going to do about it? You can’t do anything! Because I run this town, and the only thing you can do here is know your role and get back in line.

Whoa. Sorry. Just had to get that out of my system. I promise, from here on out, you’re a guest in this town, and you’ll be treated as such. Here, have some of our trademark toffee. And a pamphlet featuring the story of our founders and a tour schedule. Hold on, though, no bikes on the sidewalks. C’mon, read the signs!

But, right, here’s where I try to break out of my “I’m too busy to exist” lifestyle and to break into your hearts.

Because I present to you: the spinoff.

My mission is threefold:

1. To ensure that I write at least three completely useless sentences a day.
2. To provide a different take on the “this is my life and what happens in it, don’t you care, like, a lot??!” blog.
3. To maybe even put some of that “use less words” stuff that’s been hammered into my head this semester to use.

Maybe it’ll be fun. Maybe I’ll forget about it by tomorrow. Let’s see what happens!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Give Me Slippers And A Pipe, And I'm Your Grandpa.

What’s the best way to come back after a four month absence? Pretend that you were never gone and hope that nobody noticed.

Though I’m pretty sure I just blew that plan with the opening line, alone.

But anyway, here’s the thing: I’m back, and it’s summer, which means that in-between eating Fla-Vor-Ices, watching movie threequels, and [insert joke about global warming here], I’m holed up in my room, [insert joke about Paris Hilton’s house arrest here], and kicking myself for not using these vacant months to write a short story a day (and a three-volume novel each weekend). Because my entire goal for the summer was to prove myself more productive than the Industrial Revolution, but so far I’ve been about as productive as The Wrens.

I guess it’s just hard to break the summer habit of using all of my free time to put off doing anything that matters. Which is just my lofty way of saying: I’ve started playing video games, again. But before you start assuming that I’ve completely reverted back to my 14 year-old self (minus the braces and Will Smith CDs), I’ll have you know that the game I can’t put down isn’t Zelda: Twilight Princess or Guitar Hero II. No, I’ve spent the past few weeks hooked on the Nintendo DS’s New York Times Crosswords.

As is the case with most addictions, I’m not even sure I’m enjoying myself. Sure, it starts out fun, as I identify “50 across: Loaded” as “RICH,” interpret “1 down: Have some pull” as “ATTRACT,” and impress myself as “52 across: Possibly” becomes “I’LL THINK ABOUT IT.” But the timer on this particular puzzle has just ticked past the three hour mark, and now all I do hate myself for not being able to identify 35 down’s “Italian violinist Giuseppe” or 2 down’s “1960’s-90’s Indonesian president.” If the first thirty clues are the high, than the remaining puzzle is the period when I wake up in an alley and realize that I’ve spent all my money on eight-balls, while the rest of the band has not only started a side-project without me, but left me with the band dog, even though we all agreed we’d take care of him together.

Which brings us to the part where you come in and save me. While I don’t expect you to know 35 or 2 down (which, uh, is how highly I estimate my friends?), I’m praying that you can help me get there. So it's time to prove you're smarter than me, kids! Here goes:

22 across: Some computer messages.

_ L E _ T S

29 across: Large-minded.

T _ L _ _ _ N K

34 across: The right stuff.

_ _ H _ _ _

48 across: Dries, as hay.

_ _ D _

For real, leave it in the comments (you don't have to sign up or anything) or reach me any other way if you've got anything. There’s really only one rule: no looking it up on the internet, because, I mean, I could do that if I wanted to. On the other hand, if you, say, own a book about how hay dries then, by all means, go to town and take me with you.

And, with that, I’m officially back. Stay tuned tomorrow for more goings-on.

Background noise: The Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Make me proud, guys!