Saturday, December 03, 2011

The holidays are here again, bringing in all sorts of annual traditions. There's the house down the road with way too many lights. The physical assaults at WalMart on Black Friday. The traffic that keeps me stuck on busses for hours at a time. But it's not all bad, for no matter your religion, occupation, social standing, or political affiliation (well, maybe not that last one), there's one tradition we all share: the annual broadcast of "It's A Wonderful Life."

A tradition that goes along with this broadcast is my posting of an old blog describing my frustrations with Hollywood's biggest sap: George Bailey. Yeah, he does a lot of nice things but...okay, before I get all riled up, I'll just post the old blog.

Enjoy this year's broadcast, tonight on NBC at 8 pm.  Or enjoy it on Christmas Eve. Or both. Either way, have a merry Christmas Bedford Falls!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Search At Your Own Risk, or, You Call That A Manatee?

My daughter is working on a report for school on the manatee. She loves to draw but she also wants real pictures so I introduced her to the wonders of Google Images.  She types "manatee" and Google's recognition software gives her a bunch of options, including "manatees kissing."  She thinks this is a riot and clicks on it.  Sure enough, the screen fills with photographs and illustrations of manatees kissing, snuggling up to each other, interacting with humans, etc.  And then father down, we get this:

Sea World has changed since
the last time I was there.
Now countless times in my career, I've hit the stock photography sites for specific images I needed to sell an idea or spruce up a storyboard.  And I'd always come across a few pictures that had nothing to do with my original search request.  But this was a little surprising.  I guess "manatees kissing" is very similar to "man kissing."  In fact, the farther down the page you go, the more images like the above you'll see.

Fortunately, my daughter thought it was a riot and we moved on.

Now our search was for some manatee predators.  We found a great image of a manatee and a shark. And it turns out that humans are considered predators of the manatee, solely because of motor boats and jet skis.  The majestic sea cows tend to get sliced up in the propellers.  So we type "people on motorboats," hoping to find some rowdy humans on an obnoxious cigarette speed boat or something.  We found a couple of good images and we should have quit while we were ahead.  But we kept looking down the page and came across this:

The thing is, I get the
 motorboat connection here.
I'll be studying this phenomena a little further and I'll report back to you.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Sour Grapes, or, No I don't Have The Receipt

Many of us have had to deal with professional photographers at some point in our lives. These equipment-laden professionals are as necessary as a heart-shaped ice sculpture at a wedding (or an angry relative at a Bar Mitzvah), despite the proliferation of digital cameras employed by every guest in attendance.  For the most part, they do an excellent job but every once in awhile, we hear a story about a photographer who took off without delivering the contractually-promised pictures and the outraged couple left holding the bag.

As soon as a crime like this is discovered, the victims spring into action. Police are called, investigators are hired, and, in extreme cases, the local news consumer advocate is sent on the case, often returning with video footage of said advocate having a door slammed in his face or being side-swiped by a fleeing scam artist.  The point is, all this happens within days of discovering the crime.

A recent story in the New York Times discussed marriage and lawsuits—two things Americans hold sacred.  It's the familiar story: a man disappointed in the results of his wedding album is demanding retribution.  And retribution he should get!  After all, the photographer missed the last dance and the bouquet toss (things which, I'm sure, seem like the most important moments in the world but after a few years are revealed to be stupid). The groom is not only demanding the $4,100 cost of the photography, but an additional $48,000 to restage the final moments of the wedding and have the pictures retaken. Odd, but not completely unreasonable.

The wrinkle in this nuptial nightmare (yeah, I know) is that the wedding took place in 2003. The lawsuit was filed in 2009.  Why did this guy wait 6 years to sue?  Reading the article reveals that the groom had been unemployed since 2008 and the statute of limitations was about to expire.  Aha!  Motive!  The guy needs money!! So I'm thinking that there's no way the participants look the same as they did 6 years ago.

Actual Latvian women. Thanks, Google Images! 
But that's the least of the problem.  You see, the couple split up in 2008.  And the bride's whereabouts are unknown.  It's believed that she moved back home to Latvia but no one's sure.

Okay, let's recap.

  • A wedding album is missing some important pictures.
  • The groom wants to restage the wedding in order to capture those pictures.
  • The wedding occurred 8 years ago
  • The couple split up 3 years ago
  • The bride is somewhere in Eastern Europe
For once, a little justice may have prevailed. A judge has dismissed most of the grounds of this suit, except for breach of contract.  So for the moment, a ridiculous suit has been revealed for what it is—a desperate grab for money.

I was happy to read that this whole thing may end up going away.  From the facts presented in the article, this whole thing is a waste of the court's time.  I can't imagine the guy actually expects to restage the wedding.  I mean, who's he gonna get to play his wife?

A few months ago, or maybe it was a couple of years ago,  I was called for jury duty for the first time.  After the requisite sitting around and silently mocking the people around me, I was called to a courtroom and voir dired. I was asked about lawsuits.  Soon after my answer about how I think there are too many frivolous lawsuits for inordinate amounts of money, I was dismissed by the prosecuting attorney--the same one who was trying to get a chunk of money for his client involved in a minor fender bender.  G-d bless America! 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

No Thanks, I'll Stand, or, Welcome to My Psychosis

This morning was just like every other weekday morning, with the requisite trip to the parking lot and the slow walk to the bus platform. There was a bus idling there already but I wasn't about to run for it. Running would mean stopping when I boarded. Stopping when I boarded would mean perspiration dripping off my forehead and soaking into my shirt through the t-shirt underneath. Plus, I dread being "that guy" who makes the bus wait because of my efforts. I especially didn't want to end up on the platform just as the bus was pulling away, with the lucky commuters already on board snickering at my defeat.

Transit Center bus platform, any day.
Despite my casual pace, it was looking like I'd make the bus.  I got to the stairs and it was still there.  I got to the platform and it pulled away. Accepting my situation, I walked over to a bench to sit down next to a guy who also didn't make the bus.  But I didn't see him running. I don't know where he came from.  At that moment, she appeared.

I'd seen the woman many times before. Just one of those faces you recognize in a crowd.  There's nothing special or extraordinary about her. I just always recognized her face. I even noticed when she had her hair completely redone into a different style she still has today. Older than me, though I don't know how much older (because I totally suck at guessing ages). Now that I've returned to the Transit Center after a multi-month exile to the Willowbrook Park and Ride, I found it amusing that her face was one of the first I saw.

She appeared out of nowhere at the far end of the platform, right where the bus was pulling out. She boldly help up her hand in an effort to stop its progress. And it worked. I still didn't move any faster.  I mean, she help the bus for herself.  I didn't want to be the extra guy who holds things up even more.  I've been on the bus when it stops for a straggling commuter and then 3 or 4 other people get on. It's really annoying (though probably only to myself) and I wanted no part of it this morning. But the woman looked at me and waved me to the bus. She offered to share her efforts with me.

Well now I had to board.  And after I did, I turned back to look at the digital sign showing the passenger count.  I was number 59...on a bus that hold 57.  I turned around again and felt everyone's eyes on me. Yeah I'd have to stand.  But where?  In who's personal space would I be encroaching? And that woman...I have to stand all the way into NY because of that woman.

I wonder what she was thinking. She was standing farther towards the back of the bus but didn't make eye contact with me.  In fairness, I wasn't looking at her so it's impossible to know if the previous statement is true. So as I held on to the overhead-luggage-shelf-thingy and played game after game of solitaire, I couldn't stop thinking about the situation into which I had gotten myself. And I wondered what would have happened if the roles were reversed. What if I were the one holding the bus for the woman? Well those who know me know that I'd be completely submerged in guilt. I'd spend the whole trip wondering what she was thinking. How much was she hating me? When do I apologize to her? During the trip?  What if I fell down as I approached her?  What if I banged into other people? What if she ignored my apology and turned her back?  Then I'd have to walk back where I was.  And what if I fell down, get the idea.

It'd be just like me to mean well but to have the results be less than desirable. I'd slow down so someone could make a left in front of me and end up causing an accident.  I'd offer my seat to someone on the subway and then end up spilling coffee on her. And yes, I'd hold the bus for someone who needed to get to work only to find that there were no seats left.  And to make matters worse, I was losing at every game of solitaire I was playing.  I hated that woman. And now we're forever connected by this commute.  We'll make uncomfortable eye contact as if to say, "yeah, I remember you." She always seemed like such a nice woman, too.  Did she even care about what she caused, inadvertently or not?

Upon arrival at Port Authority, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was the woman, profusely apologizing. She had no idea there were no seats and she certainly wouldn't have invited aboard if she knew.  I assured her that it was quite alright. But now I was faced with a new dilemma. We're standing in the aisle.  Do I turn my back on her?  Or do I keep facing her?  Then I'd have to keep talking to her.  But I have nothing to say.

All this and it's only 9:30.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Social Networking is Killing Nostalgia!

Too dramatic?

Last month, I wrote about my high school reunion and how all the social media we use to connect with old friends has taken away any of the dread excitement we felt about seeing them after so many years.

I recently came across this blog post by Jason Miller, a Michigan rabbi who blogs about pop culture and current events through a Jewish perspective.  It's a pretty interesting look at how the new networks are enhancing the reunion experiences.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

I've Loved These Days

I thought I'd recognize
more of my old classmates
The e-mail promoting my high school's 25-year reunion went out awhile ago so I had plenty of time to get used to the idea.  It's not so much the reunion part, but the 25 years.  25 years.  That's the kind of number you say over and over, as if it'll somehow get easier to comprehend with repetition the same way words lose their meaning when you hear them constantly. Has it really been 25 years since we were in high school?

Personal milestones of time are always put into perspective alongside other historical milestones.  1986: space shuttle explosion, Chernobyl, Sweden's Prime Minister assassinated (okay, I looked that one up).  But what really makes 25 years sound like such a long time is the fact that I work with people who weren't born when I graduated.  A kid born in 1986 could have grown up and graduated high school in less time.  I think I really feel old for the first time in my life.  Well for the first time since last Wednesday, anyway.

Say John, will you tape my
buns together in 25 years?
1986 was the perfect time to go to school as far as John Hughes movies go.  His so called "high school series" took place when I was in high school.  The movies still resonate with students today but they can't appreciate them they way we did.  It's almost like the characters in those movies were us.  Okay, I didn't know a Long Duk Dong but I could definitely relate to the angst of a Brian Johnson.  At the end of "The Breakfast Club," Brian wonders if their new friendship will last into Monday.  I wonder what they'd say to each other after 25 years.  I can imagine the anxiety each one of them would feel (except Bender, who would show up with a Turkey Pot Pie).

Time rears its ugly head.
What the members of the Breakfast Club didn't know was that there would be an internet within 25 years.  That internet would take away any nostalgia they may have for their high school years because the very real possibility of never seeing classmates again would disappear with Facebook, or even  The usual surprise of seeing who looks like what, who's successful, who just got out of prison, who changes sexes is rendered irrelevant because Facebook has allowed us to reconnect and stay connected.  Even the 80s music being played wasn't so nostalgic because you can hear it whenever you want on any one of a zillion internet sites.

But still, I saw the list of people attending and after realizing I didn't remember as many people as I thought I did, I wondered what I'd say to people I haven't seen in a quarter of a century?  Neither one of those had the influence of any social media at all.  The 25th was hyped for months.  In fact, it seemed like most people said they'd go once they saw other people that were going.  Without that, who knows who would have made the effort to go.  Who knows how many people would even have found out about it?  There was a lightly-attended 10-year reunion and I missed the 20th because I didn't know about it until after the fact.  The explosion of social media made it pretty hard to be unaware of it this time.

And it turned out to be a really great night.  The girl I had a crush on in 2nd grade was there but we didn't speak.  The girl I had a crush on in 6th grade was there too, but she never knew.  She knew she was there, she didn't know I had a crush on her.  Or maybe she did.  Anyway, it didn't seem to make our conversation awkward at all.  There was the girl I could have sworn would remember me but didn't.  But she did once she saw my yearbook photo and said I look so much better now.  But she said "so" in that way that implies I looked pretty bad in high school, with 3 or 4 "o"s (sooooo).  I reconnected with a few military heroes and even a Catholic who teaches at an Orthodox school in New Jersey (which will be the plot for my next screenplay).  I didn't solve the mystery of the woman who signed my yearbook hoping that I would't be mad at her anymore.  Neither one of us knew what it meant.  I guess I got over it.

The reunion went on for days afterwards as attendees posted photos and non-attendees posted their regrets for having missed such a great party.  They all said they'd definitely be there for the 30th.  30 years.  That's the kind of number you say over and over, as if it'll somehow...well anyway, that's five years from now.  You know what?  I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Gratuitous Look At The McCartney Concert

I finally got to see Paul McCartney in concert last Saturday.  He's one of those guys I've always wanted to see live and I thought I'd never have the chance.  Then he started touring constantly so it became a little easier.  It's been awhile since my last concert.  A combination of poor selections and super high prices have kept me away.  Plus, I'm cheap. 

Sir Paul was once known as the "cute Beatle."  At 69, he still looks pretty good.  He's definitely not the punctual Beatle, seeing that the concert started a half hour late.  Of course I would complain about that.  I'm old.  Unlike a Billy Joel or Bruce Springsteen concert where you see people of all ages, this wasn't the case at Yankee Stadium.  There were lots of people older than me, including the couple in the next row having a hard time finding the beat.

Paul McCartney before it got
too dark to take pictures.
I've also learned that the iPhone 3GS, while being a wonderful piece of technology, sucks at capturing concert footage.

"Magical Mystery Tour" kicked off almost three solid hours of one of the best concerts I've ever heard.  And I saw Chicago in 1985!  For the most part, between-songs banter was kept to a minimum.  There was a bit of a rant about the digital boards where lyrics and other dialogue appeared.  The spelling was pretty poor.  During "Hey Jude," the genius running the board spelled it, "Hey Jewed."  Seriously.

Use your imagination.  It's McCartney
wearing white.  So much for
decent pictures.

Set List

  • Magical Mystery Tour
  • Jet
  • All My Loving
  • Junior’s Farm
  • Drive My Car
  • Sing The Changes (I admit I had to look up this one.  The Fireman?  Huh?)
  • The Night Before
  • Let Me Roll It
  • Paperback Writer

(Paul moved up to the piano, which opened up a whole new list of song possibilities)

  • The Long and Winding Road
  • Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five (I had to look up this one, too.  I'd heard it before.  I just never knew what it was called.)
  • Let ‘Em In (These lyrics were odd in the 70s.  The band must know this because they were chuckling--even Paul.)
  • Maybe I’m Amazed

(Back to the guitar/bass)

  • I’m Looking Through You
  • I Will
  • Blackbird
  • Here Today (It sounded vaguely familiar.  It was written for John Lennon, which makes Ringo the only Beatle who didn't do a song for John.  George did "All Those Years Ago."  What did Ringo do?)
  • Dance Tonight (The drummer was fantastic.  One of those large guys with a ridiculous amount of energy doing an interesting dance routine.)
  • Mrs. Vanderbilt (Never heard of it.)
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Something (Paul said some nice things about George Harrison, then proceeded to sing one of his songs.  On ukelele of all things.)
  • Band On The Run
  • Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
  • Back in the USSR
  • I’ve Got A Feeling (Every concert has that one song where everyone decides to go to the bathroom.  This was it.)
  • A Day In The Life/Give Peace A Chance

(Back up to the piano.)

  • Let It Be
  • Live and Let Die (Not a song for the epileptics in the crowd.  The video guy had some fun with this one.)
  • Hey Jude

(First encore)

  • Lady Madonna
  • I Saw Her Standing There (Billy Joel came out for this.  The crowd went nuts.  Then as quickly as it began, the song ended and Billy left.  Seems like a long drive to play one song.)
  • Get Back
I'm pretty sure this is Billy Joel.
(Second encore)

  • Yesterday
  • Helter Skelter (Really?  Helter Skelter?  Well it was another chance for the video guy to go nuts.)
  • Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End

What a perfect way to end the show.  Someone asked if there was going to be a third encore.  After "The End?"  It's called "The End!"  What comes after "The End?"

Paul McCartney at Yankee Stadium.  Great show.  Dumb fans.

(The video quality sucks.  But you can hear the music so check it out if you're so inclined.)

A Day In The Life...Paul's part

Let It Be

Live and Let Die.  I never thought I'd see pyrotechnics at a Paul McCartney concert. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Kill Me

"Everyone knows that comedy
is the lowest form of entertainment."
Another unforseen wrinkle in my world of unemployment is the loss of my audience.  I used to work with people who found me at least mildly amusing so I could rely on a good laugh at one of my "jokes."  Maybe a guffaw at the very least.  Fortunately, I still have one built-in audience who will laugh at pretty much everything I say.

My kids.

But knowing they'll laugh at everything means I need to be more selective in what I say.  Case in point: we have the Optimum feature where caller ID appears on the TV screen.  It's very handy and allows me to decrease the amount of movement I do on a daily basis.  I was watching TV with my kids the other day (something educational, naturally) when an insurance agent called.  I was waiting for this gentleman to call me with some quotes.  Unfortunately his name is Arthur Weiner or, as it appeared on the TV screen, A. Weiner.  So naturally, I said the first thing that popped into my head: "Hey look!  A Weiner is calling us!"

First of all, you gotta admit that's pretty funny.  Immature, but funny.  We got a laugh out of it and moved on with our lives.  That is, until the next time he called and my daughter ran through the house yelling, "hey dad!  Theres a weiner on the phone!"  It would have been funnier if I wasn't on the phone with him already.

I'll have to start saving my blue material for the later show.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


One of the most photographed things in Manhattan is the main entrance to the New York Public Library. Considering the amount of time I've been spending in there lately, I wonder in how many of those photos I've ended up.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:5th Ave,,United States

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Post About Punctuation!!

Aimee Lee Ball wrote a great column in last Sunday's New York Times discussing how e-mail has changed the way we communicate with each other.  It's not the first column to do this, but this one talked about the use of the dreaded exclamation point.  As far back as 1895, Mark Twain chastised any writer who used them and stated that their use " very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life."


While I've never been a fan of the exclamation point, I don't have the same vitriol for it that Twain, or even an insane creative director of mine, had.  I had worked on a print ad for Panasonic many years ago and the headline used an exclamation point.  It was cheesy but intentionally so.  Anyway, I got called on the carpet by this guy.  I thought it was a joke but apparently, he had spent years trying to get this client to get away from exclamation points and I undid all of his hard work.  Ahh, advertising.

My problem with the exclamation point is the false enthusiasm it evokes.  I'm not a cheery guy.  I hate the cheeriness that it might force from the person reading anything I've written.  My hope is that if I do use it, it'll be obvious to everyone that I'm being sarcastic or intentionally goofy.  So I did an unofficial survey: I asked people what punctuation mark I remind them of.  (†=completely made up)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Nothing To See Here!

Another holiday is upon us and that means fun, sun, bugs, BBQ and, for many of us, traffic.  Being in the New York area, I've experienced many traffic jams.  They come in all shapes and sizes but they all have one thing in common.

Speed trap moron. Fig. 1
  • Construction?  Usually morons who wait to merge until he last second.
  • The "Exit Only" lane?  Morons who can't tell where the arrow is pointing. 
  • Speed trap? Morons who drive 80 mph and then slow to 55 when they see a cop.
  • Accidents?  Morons who just gotta get a good look.
The last group of morons even have their own name: "rubberneckers."  There's nothing quite as breathtaking as inching along a highway at less than 2 mph, only to find that you can reach highway speed immediately after the people in front of you get their good look at the crash.

I have a solution.  What if emergency crews or highway patrol cops had some of these temporary walls with them?  They could set them up around the crash and then there'd be nothing for us to see.

For more decorative accident sites.

Nah, it'll never happen.

So as you sally forth into your weekend, here are some random car accident images I pulled from Google Images.  Look at them and then keep moving forward.  There's really nothing to see here.

Well, I'd stop for this.  There's definitely something to see here.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What Would Woody Say?

"Gee that was a swell sandwich!"
When I think about it, today's lunch was probably just...wrong.

When it comes to meals, I'm really unimaginative.  Or lazy.  Most food decisions are made standing in front of an open fridge or pantry or something.  Today, I spotted some corned beef in the freezer.  I remember tossing it in there because the pastrami went bad about 20 minutes after I opened the package.  So okay, corned beef.  I'll have a corned beef sandwich.  But on what?

I didn't have any rye.  Wheat bread?  No way.  I probably should have had the challah roll but instead, I went for the other thing I saw in the freezer.  Behind the fish sticks.  A bagel.

Corned beef on a bagel!  Yes!  I'll thaw it out, toast it, add a little mustard and I'll be set.  It was delicious.  I stuffed it in my face as I drove to the library.  And then it occurred to me: it was a plain bagel.  Did I just eat a corned beef sandwich on, essentially, white bread?

I've been unemployed for around 6 weeks now and I think it's starting to take its toll.  Hopefully things will work out before my Member Of The Tribe renewal comes due on Yom Kippur.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Other Half

I used to wonder what It was like being a tourist in NYC. I once mused that I'd never experience the kind of wonder and awe a first-time visitor to the city must feel when they stand at 46th and Broadway and get hit with a sensory overload of the chaos that is the "Crossroads of America."

Unemployment has brought me some unwanted extra time on my hands. I'm a slave to the schedules of employed people and whatever trains or busses can take me to them. So now, instead of rushing through the tourists of Times Square on my way to work, I find myself sitting amongst them.

But even though I feel like one of them, I must not look like them. It seems that everyone us having every manner of brochure or ticket offer forced into their hands, but I'm being ignored. And I'm not wearing my "Screw Off" hat! It's thrilling and a little confusing at the same time. No one is asking me to take their picture either. All I can do until my meeting is sit here, enjoy another Dunkin Donuts iced coffee (best coffee ever), and count how many "na na na na" verses there are in "Hey Jude" (18).

Don't you want to ask me if I want to see a comedy show?

Hey, ask ME if I've ever seen 'Pricilla, Queen of the Desert."

Okay, you can keep walking.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:7th Ave,New York,United States

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


It's time once again to jockey for position at the local Hallmark store and purchase Mother's Day Cards.  The fact that there are still a few days to go and I've bought everything I need (I hope) means I'm ahead of the game for a change.

Hallmark knows that the definition of a "family" varies a lot these days and they definitely make it easy by having a ridiculous number of categories.  You have your basic mom and mother.  There's stepmother and aunt and grandma/grandmother/nana et al.  Cards from the pets are popular, as are cards for women who are mothers to pets.

This year, Hallmark seems to have added a new section.
Let's call it, "Awkward Moments." 

Sadly, this card is all too necessary.  I wonder if sending a "loss of mother" card on Mother's Day is really a good idea.  It's always nice to let people know they're remembered on a day like this but a card?  I don't know.  It seems like you're saying, "it's Mother's Day and just because you don't have one doesn't mean you don't deserve a card."  Are there Valentine's Day cards for people who have a partner who was killed in a car crash?

The "loss of child" one seems really inappropriate.  Again, I understand the sentiment.  But somehow I think a card reminding someone of a loss like that would just be too much.

Talk about specific.  I almost bought this for someone as a joke but held back.  I need to remember that my idea of funny tends to be other people's idea of bad taste.  The photo's a little dark but it says something about big mamas called that because they're filled with big love.  So there's one day a year that obese people aren't eating too much--they're just too gosh-darn filled with love!  Please...

Let's file these next 2 cards under "so how do you really feel?" I suppose I understand the "ex" cards.  I mean, just because someone's son takes off doesn't mean that son's mom shouldn't get a card.  I wish I'd looked on the inside.  What's could the sentiment be?

          "You're a fabulous lady,
            a woman of class.
            It pains me to tell you
                                                                        your son is an ass." 

Ouch.  This one is just cold.  I can only imagine how awkward this day is for kids who have a stepmother.  You don't want to get a Mother's Day card--that would be betraying your real mother. But there are lot's of alternate choices for this occasion, including generic ones that don't address anyone in particular.  "Dad's Wife?" That's making a statement.

I posted this gem on Facebook the other day and got the comments I expected.  As a man, all I can do is roll my eyes and laugh.  As a man who has female acquaintances, I have to step back and ask what purpose this card could possibly have.  Father's Day is a month away.  They can't wait a month for their own card on their own holiday?  Is there a subset of dads who feel left out on Mother's Day?  Seriously, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

I suppose we'll start seeing cards that involve everyone for every holiday.
  • To my favorite Protestant on St. Patrick's Day
  • Merry Christmas to my Rabbi
  • A Glorious Arbor Day to you and your fellow inmates
Well to all the moms, real or imagined, have a happy Mother's day.  

Monday, May 02, 2011

Playboy Geographic

So I'm sitting in a doctor's office, thumbing through a copy of National Geographic, and it occurs to me that National Geographic is the perfect magazine for a doctor's waiting room. It's not exactly topical so you can have really old issues lying there and it wouldn't make a difference. Unlike the Sports Illustrated issue predicting the outcome of the NHL season (I forgot to check who they picked to win the Stanley Cup).

It also occurred to me that National Geographic is a lot like Playboy. In both cases, I can honestly say I've never read an article. I've only looked at the pictures. I've heard the articles are interesting but I just look at the pictures.

And in both cases, I save back issues.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 29, 2011

What's Your Favorite Movie? Part 2

Part 1 of this self-serving blog entry brought a few comments, though not as many as I would have hoped. Also, I wrote it 2 weeks ago. Hey, not everyone has something to say. Or maybe not many people are reading my stuff. I'm going to lean towards the former and plow ahead with part two. Now where was I?

N is for North By Northwest (1959)

While A Night at the Opera is a great comedy, as are most of the Marx Brothers films, North By Northwest is a combination of a bunch of genres: mystery, drama, and some wry Hitchcock-style humor well-delivered (as always) by Cary Grant. This is back when movie bad guys were more dangerous because of their intellect and James Mason is one of the best. And why not? He has a pre-Mission Impossible Martin Landau as a henchman.

O is for Ordinary People (1980)

I admit that I could think of too many "O" movies. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) is certainly great but I'm drawn to the quiet anxiety of Ordinary People. A sad movie about a family trying to get past a couple of tragedies that happened about a year before the movie started, not ending on a completely low note but not very high either. This is also one of the rare times when the movie is on par with the book. Great casting, too, with Mary Tyler Moore playing completely against type as the mother trying desperately to make things normal again. It was also Timothy Hutton's screen debut and Robert Redford's directorial debut. But if it's a "hey look, it's that guy" experience you want, check out the early screen appearances in Cuckoo's Nest.

P is for The Producers (1968)

I debated this one for awhile. I could have gone with Philadelphia (1993) but I get angst watching it now because I have to wait too long for the denouement and it's hard watching Andy (Tom Hanks) go through all the hell he does until the victory at the end. And I really like "The Princess Bride." But I'm going with the early Mel Brooks comedy. You know the set up: a fading Broadway big shot of a producer realizes he can make more money with a flop than with a hit. Hilarity ensues. Great casting--Zero Mostel is a great sleazy scam artist. Gene Wilder is a great milquetoast. Then there was the Broadway play, which was good, and the movie, which wasn't. So I watch the original, just to cleanse my palette.

Q is for...

I can't think of one. Quiz Show was okay, I think. I don't remember. I fell asleep during The Queen. I think I liked Quantum of Solace. Any suggestions?

R is for Raising Arizona (1987)

I originally picked Rain Man (1988) but it was a little slow and Valeria Golino, while beautiful, was annoying. Raising Arizona is a great screwball comedy and Nicolas Cage was awesome. This is a movie I can watch over and over from any point. Great characters and a story that really doesn't have any slow parts. Nicolas Cage when he was still making good movies and Holly Hunter in what may be her only role where I don't want to put a bag over her head and suffocate her. Well, her characters. Not her.

S is for The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

This was the hardest letter to choose a movie from. Serpico (1973), Say Anything (1989), The Shining (1980), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Sixth Sense (1999).  All great flicks.  But how many movies are there where you can look at a buddy, say "oh man, Shawshank" and you'd both know what you were talking about.  This is also one of the flicks TBS plays to death but it's also one where I can pop in at any point any get sucked in.  I'm not even sure I've ever seen it on a screen bigger than my TV.  I know what you're thinking: you picked Shawshank?  Not Spinal Tap?  Hold that thought...

T is for This is Spinal Tap (1984)

No one ever says, "hey, wanna watch This is Spinal Tap?"  To most of the free world (and some of the non-free world), it's Spinal Tap.  It's really the first movie that was able to capture the deadpan style of humor that everyone was trying to copy since "Airplane!"  It's another one of the most quotable movies ever.  I was going to talk about what a great script it was but I read that most of it was ad libbed, which makes it that much more amazing.

U is for The Usual Suspects (1995)

You know what a great "U" movie was?  "Uncle Buck" (1989).  One of John Candy's best, I think. Comedy with heart--vintage John Hughes.  But The Usual Suspects was a really great mystery with a simple question: Who is Keyser Söze?  I was first drawn in by the title--a clear homage to "Casablanca" ("round up the usual suspects").  Then I was sucked in by all the hype.  I'm always one of the last to see a film the rest of the world has already seen.  A great ending I didn't see coming at all.  Unfortunately, movies like this or "The Sixth Sense" make it impossible to watch any other mystery because I've been trained to watch for any little clue and to suspect everyone.  "Shutter Island" (2010) could have been an awesome film.  Instead, it was just really good because I figured it out halfway through.

V is for Vertigo (1958)

Lots of people say "Psycho" (1960) is Hitchcock's best film.  It may be the most popular but Vertigo is the best. Or maybe it's "North by Northwest."  Anyway, Vertigo is a wonderfully tense drama with James Stewart cast a little against type (for me, anyway) as a bit of an anti-hero. Kim Novak is beautiful in a late-50s-hypercolorized way.  It's hard not to feel bad for Stewart at the end.  He fights so many demons and then...well.  It also had Barbara Bel Geddes in the only role I'd ever seen her in outside "Dallas."  I thought she was only Miss Ellie.

W is for When Harry Met Sally (1989) or West Side Story (1961)

I really couldn't choose a favorite for "W."  They're two completely different movies so it's not as if I'm comparing them.  But I really could go either way.  Wait, it just occurred to me...are these both chick flicks?

When Harry Met Sally was such a great story told over such a long period of time.  And who knew Billy Crystal could pull off a romantic comedy?  Maybe he got lucky.  I mean, there was also "Forget Paris" (1995). Know what I mean?  There was something about this movie that made me want to be in it--not as an actor, but just the whole thing with the lost acquaintance who becomes a part of your life many years later and you realize that the thing you're looking for has been right in front of you the whole time. Plus it was when I fell in love with Meg Ryan.  Don't tell her.  I don't think she knows.

West Side Story wasn't my first musical.  But it was the first one that didn't have a happy ending.  I hate happy endings, especially when they're choreographed to music.  West Side Story had memorable music, and updated Romeo and Juliet (1478?) story, and an ending so frustrating that when I watch the movie, I still think Tony's going to live.  He and Maria were so close to being happy together (although they probably would have divorced later on) but circumstances out of their control would keep them apart forever.  If the movie was made today, it would probably be 20 minutes long.  I mean, a gang fight with fists?  Come on, guns would be pulled and everyone would be shot Reservoir Dogs style.  Or at least sent into the future to learn how to live together.

X is for American History X (1998)

Yeah, I'm cheating a little.  But can you name any "X" movies besides "X-Men"?  American History X is a great little story that really doesn't have any wasted scenes.  Very tight.  Plus Edward Norton, who's basically great in anything he's in.  The black and white flashbacks are compelling as you watch Norton descend into overwhelming hatred as the leader of a white supremacist group.  Then prison shows him the hypocrisy of the whole movement. When he returns to his family (now in color, like Wizard of Oz!), he wants to fix everything he left behind but the world doesn't want to change.  The hardest thing about watching the movie is deciding what to think of Norton's character.  Do you hate him because he's a white supremacist?  But he wasn't always like that.  But he was such a dick in prison.  But then he realized he was a dick.  It's exhausting.

Y is for Young Frankenstein (1974)

This is a Mel Brooks masterpiece which really shouldn't have become a musical but no one asked my opinion.  I saw this when I was a kid and didn't get most of the jokes.  I got the "what knockers" joke and the whole "Puttin' on the Ritz" scene with the monster.  The rest was just waiting to see Marty Feldman on screen.  Mel Brooks tends to be guilty of pushing the jokes way too far to the point of predictability.  I saw "Robin Hood: Men In Tights" (1993) when it came out and I knew the punchlines before the actors said them.  But Young Frankenstein never crosses that line.  It was silly without being goofy slapstick.  It wasn't played for the jokes, whereas "Spaceballs" (1997) definitely was.

Z is for Zelig (1983)

"Z" is another letter I had trouble with but then I remembered Zelig.  When it came out, it was pretty groundbreaking.  Woody Allen managed to edit himself seamlessly into actual historic footage, which allowed him to play the chameleon who couldn't find his own identity so he adopted those of the people around him.  I don't recall Zelig getting the credit it deserved when "Forrest Gump" (1994) came out and did the same thing visually.  The thing that's hard to watch now is Woody Allen and Mia Farrow together.  It's okay in "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) because they're not together.  They're divorced, ironically enough.

# is for 12 Angry Men (1957)

I wanted to squeeze in a number movie and this is the best of them.  A movie with no main star for the most part.  Yeah, Henry Fonda is the big name.  But watching it now, you recognize just about every one of the 12 jurors.  The story is so tight and moves so well that you forget 99% of the film takes place in that jury room.  You never learn anyone's name (until the very end, where you just get 2 of them) but you get a fantastic sense of each character and how they react when they're around stronger characters.  This was Sidney Lumet's masterpiece.  I read in his book "Making Movies" that the scenes all start wide, but gradually, the camera gets closer and closer until the viewer feels the tension in the room.  I didn't even notice that before I read the book, but I certainly felt it.

So that's the list from A-Z.  Sorry it took so long to finish.  I'm glad new letters weren't invented while you were waiting.