Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Shame

Well, the unthinkable has happened. I have missed a day here and there over the run of this blog, and always made up for it the following day. I've never been so busy or so disengaged that I let the issue of filling this space fade that far from my mind, and it's been a few years of times that were not always so placid. I always managed to keep these interruptions minimal. Indeed, there were none for a very long time, but that has come to an end.

Here's what happened. I wrote something for Wednesday - an item about how good I had been feeling through the midpoint of the week. Then I just don't know what happened. It's true that after my post Wednesday was written and posted, a string of things happened. That night I had my first meeting of a new sketch team, which was exciting. The following day it was the tenth anniversary of my Toastmasters club followed by an audition, which was also followed by my first chance to write for Top Story Weekly as a staff writer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Out Of The Stretch

Yesterday was the third day in a row that I was feeling good. That's a rare streak, and it's notable that this stretch hit a Sunday, a Monday and a Tuesday.The Sunday is no surprise. Sundays are often pretty good, or at least they finish well. Lately they've been really good, of course, on account of the sketch stuff I've been getting to do. Actually, that has been spilling over, so I guess this Sunday was really very good. I don't mind that.

Monday often is good if Sunday was great. There's a lot of congratulations and thanks going back and forth between different people. It never was enormous when I was just doing two line jokes for the medley portion of Top Story Weekly. There would be a little, especially if I got several jokes in and I was very enthusiastic about it. Doing sketches is different. You don't have to tell people which ones are yours, and you get the boost of all the actors who are in the sketches. That's nice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More on Moron Process

Writing a sketch provokes particular feelings. When it's going well, I'm really cruising. There is, hopefully not a lot of labor in it. It just sort of happens, and it seems like it just happens to be my fingers on the keyboard as the sketch assumes shape. I stop and look at it and feel really good about it. I don't know how others will see it, but I see it in a positive light. Sometimes, but not always, it's like the ball leaving your bat and you already know it's going all the way out.

The best sketches write themselves in my head so long as I get out of the way. I live my life and ideas occur to me. Wherever I am, I put them down. Later maybe, I actually write them, but not aggressively. In a very casual sense, I decide that I am now writing but permit my mind to wander. It goes far afield and comes back, looking at the idea from different angles like it's a Jenga tower and sees parts of the sketch form up. It is, again, more like I'm watching it happen than that I'm doing it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Carry On

Something I've learned about sketch comedy compared to improv is (as you would guess) that there is more equipment involved. Each of the past three weeks, I have had to read through scripts and identify props and costume pieces that my sketch needed or that I could contribute to someone else's. I have then had to obtain many of those things, and then dump it all into a duffel bag which I then had to bring down to the theater from my place.

For me this is a slightly more onerous task than it is for others, since I have to do this using public transportation. God knows I wouldn't make an issue of it being a difficult thing to do, since I'm able to do it. I'm a man of slight build, but adequate brawn to carry what amounts to a fair sized bag of dog food. I just loop the strap over my shoulder and I could carry that for miles. It could only be more manageable if I had my hiking backpack.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Seagulls

I have lately been watching some Steven Seagal movies. I had seen a couple. I was rather fond of "On Deadly Ground", and Of "Fire Down Below". In those, Seagal was some manner of elite operative looking after the environment. The former takes place in Alaska, and the latter in Kentucky. Other than that they are more or less the same movie, which is not a bad thing. I like them. I guess Fire Down Below has the edge since it's a little less preachy about the environment.

I had never managed to see either Seagal's early work or his late work. Over the last few days, I've seen some of both. In "Out For Justice", something like Seagal's fourth film, he plays a Brooklyn cop who clashes with the mob. It's one of those 'we all grew up in the neighborhood' movies. It's not at all bad. Seagal tries a little hard to convince us of a Brooklyn Italian accent. He also somehow is the worst at running. You wouldn't expect that of a martial arts guy, but he looks awful running.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Writer Rider Right Here

The past few weeks have seen me do more writing of significance than I've ever done before in my life. As I write this, I am buoyed by the knowledge that I have been accepted to be a writer on a sketch team at iO West. You might consider us a humble little "Saturday Night Live". I submitted a writing sample and it was liked, so I will get to write more stuff like that and talented people will breath life into it on a stage once a month.

Other sketch writing got me to that point. I had been futilely writing sketches for no outlet the couple of years before this one, and got to where some 80 or so of my sketches were just piled up doing nothing. By chance I saw half of a show called "Top Story! Weekly" at iO a year ago because I was at a festival with an improv team. I shortly after submitted a writing packet, but it was not accepted. I have spent the year since writing two line jokes for them, watching lots of live sketch shows, and getting good enough that they have accepted and run a number of my sketches. That has been an intensely gratifying experience.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wrappin' It Up

Every day since the 21st of last month, I have been dissecting "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan". A quick estimate (which will probably be proved false with just a few minutes work) would be that I've written in excess of ten thousand words on the matter. Many of them have been harshly critical, and you might wonder why I would spend so much time on something I dislike. I hope I've made clear though that I don't dislike it.

I really like it, but I'm clear-eyed enough to see its faults. It disappoints me because of what it could have been. It was all right, but it was definitely a failure in the eyes of those who shelled out the money. Maybe my way isn't what would have made it any more of a financial or a critical success, but I do believe that my ideas at least would have given it more of a chance. I don't know what brought those people to make that movie. Maybe I couldn't have done better, but I sure would have busted my ass to try.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reshaping, Part Three

I was yesterday getting deeper into how I would change up the story for "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan". I mostly laid it out as I see it, but there are a few more things that occurred to me that I think it's worth getting into. As little effort as seems to be put into this aspect of these films, I figured it was worth the risk of getting too thorough. I can always hold some stuff back when I pitch this to the license holders and money people, right?

For the character of Sean, I see some refinement necessary. In the original film he chafes under his overbearing father, who is much duplicated in McCulloch. I say we get rid of the father, but McCulloch elicits the same reactions from Sean, so it works out fine. Sean's arc involves him coming to terms with what his father wanted for him when he sees how he's been forged as a man to deal with the adversity and evil of the world. It's kind of a "Red Dawn" thing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reshaping, Part Two

Yesterday I decided that "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" would be stronger if the film took place mostly in the dark, isolated places in the five boroughs of New York that I feel sure must exist. Hell, who overlooked the novelty of Jason stalking teens in Central Park? The point is, if that never would have worked, that you need to work hard to keep Jason in his comfort zone even as you put him someplace new.

The general thrust of the plot is something a little different. Most of the films in the series would benefit from roughly the same notes as I shall be giving here. So we have a group of sight-seeing high school seniors in New York. Let's say that some kind of incident- something comical, like an inability to read a map, or something more serious like a health emergency - gets them good and lost, and maybe the same  kind of thing that actually gets Jason to New York still does in this version.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reshaping

I think we're at the point in my examination of "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" where I begin to sum up what I would have done differently with the film. God knows I would have done plenty differently. Frankly, I would not have even begun with the premise of Jason leaving Crystal Lake. That's where he lives and where he belongs. Taking him away from there, you might as well get rid of gravity or make apples currency or make fish talk. Why moor yourself to anything at that point?

But let's say you're committed to this New York thing. You should really have the film inhabit New York. Much has been made of the fact that it's really "Jason Takes A Cruise Ship And Eventually Reaches Manhattan". That doesn't make it a bad movie, but it does make the movie a bait and switch. I would say the thing to do is to make the movie take place almost entirely in New York if not entirely. Why spend time on the trip there?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not Tough Enough

In "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan", Jason has all too few scenes where it matters much that he's in New York. One of the scenes that's supposed to be a fantasy fulfillment is when he walks down the major road and wrecks the boombox that these punks are listening to. Very reasonably, they get upset, and even though Jason is a horrible legend not that far from the city, no one thinks twice about confronting him in the city.

The punks call out the shitty thing Jason just did, which already undermines their menace. Why don't they just do something about their displeasure, like really come at Jason? There are too many witnesses, maybe? It's not like they realize he could kill them yet. I don't know that they ever learn that to my satisfaction. He's huge, but no bigger than your average Canadian farm boy, of which New York of course has many. It's tame behavior.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why And Why Not?

One of the things about "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" that I dislike is how the menace of Jason is undermined by the city. He is best in the woods around Crystal Lake for any number of reasons. One of them is that the area around that lake is dark and remote. New York is by comparison well lit. That's not true everywhere, but it seems much harder to get into the same kinds of vulnerable positions there.

Also there is the fact that there are millions of people in New York. Jason can't kill them all, which makes it less interesting that he's among so many people who presumably would trigger his code. The fact that the code would mandate that he kill them all is less interesting when he obviously can't. He passes up many opportunities to kill in favor of killing the people from the cruise ship, but why is he any more invested in killing them than the New Yorkers?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cooking Up A Defense

Hey, how about the huge cook in the diner we see during the third act of "Friday The Thirteenth Park 8: Jason Takes Manhattan"? I fretted that I had exhausted subjects within the film that warranted coverage, but then I remembered one of the little moments in it that is unintentionally kind of amusing, at least to me. You'll remember without my prompting you that the surviving characters enter a diner in hopes of getting help? Little do they realize how little New Yorkers care.

The moment Jason threatens the diner itself though, the staff cares. The cook, burliness personified, readily rushes out to face the threat. He's huge, but you'd think in the big city that simply being physically imposing is not necessarily the means for an automatic victory over all threats. Someone could have a gun or knife, there could be several of them or there could be some other issue. Why not call the police? Would they not care?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Man's Best Hindrance

I was thinking about the dog in "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan". It shows up in the second scene and shows up unexpectedly for a last scare at the end, but in between it doesn't do much. It doesn't fight Jason or tip someone off to Jason or get killed by Jason. The last of those things is the last thing that would happen in a movie. People will tolerate a thousand people getting butchered in a movie without worrying a bit, but God knows they won't accept one dog getting killed even if torturing and killing animals is a known precursor to being a serial killer.

Any of those other things would be a viable reason to include the dog. If the dog affected the story at all, that would be a good reason. I can't remember one important thing the dog did. It just was there for a little bit, gone for a while so that you forget it ever was there, then there again at the end. The only thing you could even begin to argue the dog did was impact the image of its owner, the character Rennie. The trouble there is that Rennie's already supposed to be very likable without being demonstrably kind to animals. If Mickey Rourke was in the movie you'd have to show him being nice to dogs.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Down There

I covered yesterday most of the things about New York that "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" has to teach us, but not quite everything. There is something going on beneath the city's streets that may seem hard to believe, but why should a film like this like about a thing like that? The apparent truth is that every night at midnight, the sewers flood with toxic waste. For all we know, it happens in every city.

Where does the waste come from? It's beyond me. The film offers no explanation for that, nor does it say why exactly the waste comes through at midnight. I wonder also where it goes after it drains away. Perhaps it goes into the sea? Perhaps it comes FROM the sea. Nothing is for certain, but until City Hall comes forward with some kind of information, we must speculate wildly about every one of these things.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The City That's Not So Nice

As "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" would have it, New York (or rather its best-known borough) is a pretty rotten place. It's not just run down or populated by absurdly jaded and bad-mannered citizens, it's also both very crowded and nearly vacant. It has a touch of Woody Allen's magically real New York as well as more than its share of Charles Bronson's "Death Wish" New York. It's a horrible, horrible place.

Grumpy McWet Blanket Principal McCulloch is mad at Sean for landing them in a bad neighborhood, though it surely seems like a step up from when he was mad at Sean for not being able to navigate them out of the fog. He does seem vindicated when the group is mugged by thugs who then spirit Rennie away with intent to rape her. You don't generally get stuff like that in a Friday The Thirteenth movie. There are characters like the bikers from Part 3, but rapists are something new.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Sign

The first really interesting thing that happens in "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" is when Jason himself climbs out of the water and sets foot on land. There's a touch of humor that does work, but that badly undermines the menace of the character, and not for the first time. Jason looks up and sees a billboard for a hockey league. He cocks his head ( as a dog might if it saw itself in the mirror) before stalking off to kill the survivors of the ship.

It's a funny moment. It's a kind of clever contrast with the sinister persona that Jason has, and chances are it's one of the things from this movie that people are going to remember, and more likely than not, they're remembering it fondly. The problem is what cost that comes at. A character you can laugh at is a neutralized character. He's scary never if he's funny ever, and the effect is cumulative. By the end of the original run of films, Jason is a joke. It's too bad it happened that way.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Adrift & Miffed

I'm going to jump ahead a little in my continuing analysis of "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan". Suffice it to say that after most of the characters are killed on the boat, Jason makes himself known to all and the ship catches fire. The survivors pile into a lifeboat, which is the next really interesting thing to me. This is the scene that makes it tough to say how much time the film occupies, for one thing. How long are they in that boat? It's entirely unclear to me except that it surely must be no more than days.

It's a lengthy sequence. I would have advised one good shot of them in the boat and a fade out/fade in to them being within sight of New York. Instead, we get numerous shots with dialogue that stress what a tough spot they're in. That just doesn't seem smart to me, since it's really hard for "stranded on a non-cross Atlantic vogage" to compete with "stalked by a murderous maniac aboard a relatively small ship". Being stuck on this boat in what seems like pretty reasonable temperatures is heaven by comparison.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Scheme!

One of the more interesting subplots in "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" - a film which hardly needs any story complications - concerns the beautiful and amoral Tamara, who is interested in sex, drugs and using those things to evade actual effort. Somehow she is on the senior trip despite not having done some kind of biology project which, as I've said before, doesn't really add up. How she's even on the trip is odd, but maybe not more so than the fact that this project makes or breaks her ability to be done with school. It must be some kind of unusual school.

In any case, her scheme requires the video camera skills of Wayne, but first she must lure Principal McCulloch into her cabin. That's easy, since he insists on visiting her cabin in order to see said project, which she's supposed to have brought with her. We are talking about writing too feeble for self-respecting pornographers, here. Porn films and slasher films are a lot alike really, and this film shows that as well as any.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Not Enough Cooks

I believe I brought it up, but the crew of the cruise ship which serves as the setting for most of "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" is pretty bare bones. I can run down who seems to be there pretty quickly. I already mentioned the dubiously-titled Admiral. He has his other guy on the bridge. His son Sean is not, I think, an official member of the crew. That leaves the extremely creepy and suspicious deckhand who tries to warn people about Jason.

He fills the role that Ralph did in a couple of the early films. You have to have a guy no one finds credible giving an accurate warning about what's going on, and the less he can manage to put things in a reasonable-sounding light, the better. I'm not sure what this guy's name is supposed to be- I think he's only ever called 'deckhand', but he sure is fun. He even manages a little moment when he declares to Sean that the voyage is cursed and Sean agrees for his own reasons.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Sweet Pain Of Wayne

As I discussed rocker JJ Jarrett from "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan", it seems right now to cover her nearest associate Wayne. We meet them both together in what is for Wayne one of several scenes. It becomes apparent that while JJ is possibly the only person in the world who likes Wayne, he pines for the terrible Tamara. Isn't that the way of people in high school? I don't know if JJ would want him that way, but we know that Tamara definitely does not.

Wayne's deal is that he's supposed to be an aspiring filmmaker. It doesn't come off as well as JJ's music, maybe because guitarists do wander around with their instrument jamming, but the only people who go nowhere and do nothing without their camera running are tourists. Even worse, Wayne's camera looks to be a huge VHS camera, but when we see his perspective through the camera, it looks like a black and white 8 millimeter film camera. It must be a custom job.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rock Never Dies, Unlike Those Who Play It

This seems like as good a time as any, if I'm going to get really thorough about "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan", to discuss one of the few very sympathetic characters it has: aspiring rocker and probable Joan Jett doppelganger JJ Jarrett. She kind of looks like Jett, and her first name is Jett's initials. She's not a terrible person to imitate. She even seems like a half-way realistic person to exist as a teenager, I think.

JJ is about a million miles away from the center of the story. She has no direct connection to the male or female lead, and no direct connection to anyone with a direct connection to them. She's friends with Wayne, who you may rest assured I'll get to, but Wayne ties only to Tamara (who ties to the female lead and to McCulloch). She doesn't have time to connect to anyone else, or have many moments for herself, which is a shame.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ladies Bulk And Skull

It seems worth discussing the two heel girls I mentioned yesterday in my ongoing coverage of "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan". I think that the first time Tamara and Eva (whose names I never really knew until I looked them up for this) are seen is looking in on the boxing match through a skylight. Their characters aren't laid out incredibly badly in that introduction. We see well enough that Tamara is the alpha, more loose, and that Eva is the follower, more hung up on responsibility. It's a regrettably stereotypical setup.

Tamara expresses her eagerness to have sex with star boxer Julius, and Eva seems willing to go along with that, to say nothing of their shared interest in cocaine. I think that Tamara stands alone in her willingness to go to any lengths to mitigate the consequences of being caught doing cocaine and of, apparently, failing to complete her biology project. Tamara is a terrible, terrible person. It's hard to say that anyone on the ship outside of Jason himself is worse. The film takes the curious approach of making almost every person who gets killed exceptionally unsympathetic, but even Principal McCulloch is more likable than Tamara.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Orange You Glad You're Not Julius?

Yesterday I mentioned a few of the recreational activities available to the doomed teens about the cruise ship in "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan". One of them is a boxing match between Julius, who is fairly prominent in the film, and another student who is not. It's not a terrible moment in the movie, as I said before. There's some iffy stuff to it, but as far as first act scenes in the series go, it's a pretty good one that most of the other entries would benefit from having.

It of course has the effect of investing in Julius's character. We see that he is both physically formidable and confident. Of all the characters in the film, he is the one most likely to handle himself well in a physical confrontation- more than our male lead, who is all petulant and angsty, more than our cerebral and tortured female lead and more than any other student or member of the crew. Second place would probably go to his rival in the match. He has no rival for bravado.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fun For All

I could give a thumbnail sketch of every character in "Friday The Thirteenth 8: Jason Takes Manhattan", as well as the actor who plays them but I'm sure at this point that we can just take those as they come. What I'm thinking about right now are the activities we're shown to persuade us that the small, old virtually crew-less ship which hosts most of the movie is a fun, active place. I must confess that their efforts along those lines were not effective.

I think the first activity is shuffleboard. That is a staple of cruise ships, I admit it. Is is something that 18 year olds relish while at sea? I rather doubt it. I think I would have a good time playing that game, but I'm long past my teens and I don't know how long I acted as if I wasn't anyway. The point is that I see shuffleboard as an improbably magnet for hedonistic teens. Sure, it might be there, but would it draw anyone but the school's faculty? I rather doubt it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Leading Man

As I described the leading lady of "Friday The Thirteenth part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" yesterday, it seems wise to do likewise today for the film's leading man. I found it necessary to search through the film's IMDB page to find actor Scott Reeves and his character's name (Sean). Consider that some evidence of how memorable he was in the film. In that sense he is not a terrible match for Jensen Daggett, who plays Rennie.

Sean Robertson is a curious character. He is the son of the cruise ship's captain. Actually, what I meant to say is that he's the son of the ADMIRAL. The senior crewmember on the ship is designated an ADMIRAL.Let's please bear in mind that this is ostensibly a civilian cruise ship, and that civilian or not, the person in charge of a single ship is a CAPTAIN. A commodore might be in charge of several ships, and an admiral in charge of a fleet (or elsewise positioned significantly higher in responsibility than a single ship. I can't overstate how absurd it is to me that he's somehow an admiral.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Leading Lady

Since I'm exhaustively going through "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan", now is as good a time as any to address the ostensible protagonist, Rennie. Her name reminded me of Dracula's Renfield, which I guess is not flattering. She is a troubled soul, just as was her predecessor in Part 7. Indeed, she and McCulloch in this one are the same as the young woman and Terry Kiser in that film. It's odd that they should have judged that such an effective component of that movie as to warrent being brought back as a virtual carbon copy.

Rennie is some kind of creative type, and her teacher gives her something she says was used by author Stephen King in his youth. It's what looks to be a 200 year old fountain pen, and the moment got quite a laugh from the audience in the theater where I saw it. I don't think it's supposed to be funny, but my guess is that at any time in his life when Stephen King was not using a typewriter or computer, he was probably using a BALLPOINT pen.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mad Man

Yesterday I mentioned how in "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan", the villain Jason was revived by a rather over the top electrical jolt. He then proceeds to kill the two horny teens aboard the boat that actually was responsible for reviving him, and not in a terribly interesting way. I'll therefore move on to the next thing that struck me as being worthwhile, which is where we start meeting characters we're actually meant to grow attached to (not that it's effective).

The cruise ship that the two aforementioned killed teens were supposed to be headed for is about to shove off, and the senior class is boarding. Acting very much as if someone's pissed in his cereal is principal Charles McCulloch, who plays the same role more or less as Terry Kiser in Part 7. Everywhere McCulloch looks, he sees something that arouses his ire. A band of heavenly angels would probably draw some nonsensical rebuke from him.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Power Filmmaking

Yesterday, I perseverated on who owned the boat in the first real scene of "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan".  There are these two horny teenagers who horse around and have sex. Unfortunately, the anchor damages a power line (and one might well wonder whether it's necessary to lay power lines across a lake, but I don't pretend to know), and what should happen to be there but the corpse of Jason Voorhees.

Naturally the power line electrocutes Jason's lifeless body, bringing it back to life. By this time, Jason had long since abandoned any notion of being a human being of any kind. It's a soggy, badly deteriorated stiff of a man (writing that word feels wrong) who climbs aboard the boat like a walking breathing (?) wet shoe. I thought at first that there's no good reason for him to board the boat when he could go straight to land, but he has traditionally hung around that lake. What's odd is that he moves on after.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Who Own The Chiefs?"

After the fake-out opening of "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan", we come back to familiar ground, which is to say Crystal Lake. We meet a couple of horny teenagers getting into it aboard a boat. That's a novel locale for the series, which I don't think had previously employed any boat larger than a canoe. Unfortunately, since the bulk of this film takes place aboard a boat, the novelty is ill-timed. Like I said yesterday, it's par for the course.

Indeed, the two teens are supposed to be join the other kids on this cruise to New York, so this ought to be as odd for them as it is for us. Assuming that they regularly have access to this boat, you have to wonder why, of all nights, they would use it the night before they get on a boat that I think is supposed to take days to reach its destination (although the distance of Crystal Lake from New York is ill-defined). If I were them, I'd spend the night on land.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Dees With A Tease

The first thing you hear in "Friday The Thirteenth Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan", it occurs to me, is a radio host waxing philosophical about the big, bad city of New York. I have to say I like it. It's a fun moment. It grants identity to the city that feels a little more real than the punks, thugs and jaded citizens we see, but it doesn't ground us in too much reality the way a straightforward news report or something would. It's kind of fantastical, which is appropriate considering Jason is coming.

The radio host is a real tease though, since it's about an hour until we see New York again after he fades away. He's so good that it heightens the disappointment. The best thing would have been to make the movie where it's in the city most of the film or all of it, but since they couldn't afford to do that, they probably should have found a way to do something that invests in what they do have, which is a cruise ship. Cruise ships don't have on board radio stations (so far as I know).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Prelude To An Obsessive Dissection

On Saturday, I went to a midnight screening of "Friday The Thirteenth Part Eight: Jason Takes Manhattan" at Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Theater. I had always been a fan of the series, and of that entry in particular. As a teenager, it looked better to me somehow (in spite of my having mainly seen it censored for basic cable, which sanitized it even beyond what was done to put it in theaters with an R rating). Today I still like it, but some things are more evident now.

Jason Takes Manhattan, like the others, is not very graphic, really. The violence is largely implied. No doubt a better version could be made from more graphic takes that were done in the first place to make slightly tamer ones look all right by comparison. Still, there are some decent kills for the connoisseur of such things. That stopped being good enough for me years ago, but I'm not above appreciating one of the staples of the genre.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Say The Wrong Thing

It happens often that I'm reading some item on the internet and they lose me. I don't mean by that I fail to understand anything. They'll say something that, more than just rubbing me the wrong way, makes me lose all faith in their ability to credibly convey the information they purport to have. I think to myself, "if they're dumb enough to say that, the rest of this is a waste of time that I'm inflicting on myself." I had one of those the other day.

I got into it because of a comment on some other article I wanted to prove was wrong. There would have been no point in proving it to the idiot who said it, of course. It was only worth proving to myself. The comment I respected no more than a loose dog on the street, and a loose dog on the street I would not consent to engaging in a debate with. Now, this point concerned the new San Francisco 49ers football stadium. I wanted to prove, if possible, that it was not publicly financed. The answer on that is complex, although the team would have you believe it's more simple, I think.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Poached!

I was upset the other day by something that could happen all the time to me, but which luckily happens almost never. I had reserved a couple of books by Harry Crews, an author of note. His books are dark, funny and disturbing. I'd read one of his books a while back, and was eager for more. Finally I got back to him (after reading a number of other books that I was also very eager for), and really liked "Feast Of Snakes".

The Los Angeles Public Library does not have a lot of Crews' books. For many of them, only one copy is in the system and it is a reference copy at the main branch downtown.The others will have, at best, one copy that can actually be checked out. I guess that shows their estimate of what the demand is for Crews' work here. They maybe aren't so far off. He's not JK Rowling. It would be nice if they had a couple copies of each of his books for a city of millions.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Not Me

Yesterday's news brought fresh tragedy, and the bar keeps getting higher. I don't know if it's possible for anything to be big enough to stun people into respect, but I haven't seen anything lately. Yesterday a plane went down over the Ukraine. Ukraine has had problems enough without the likes of this, but then so has the air carrier, Malaysian Airlines. No one can be left alone with sadness enough to reach a breaking point these days.

They say, incredibly enough, that the plane seems to have been shot down by a surface to air missile. Who did it remains unknown, and I confess I can't help but wonder why it would be done. I would understand if there'd been some kind of warning- a ransom demand seems logical. If terms weren't met, then I'd understand why the plane was shot down. If the plane posed some kind of threat (at least a perceived one), I'd understand. If someone fessed up and declared it a horrible accident, I'd understand. I don't understand yet. Maybe I will.

Something else I don't understand is how people react to a thing like this. That there should be jokes within hours of such horror is beyond me. Perhaps some mustered it up in minutes. I felt too dispirited to make jokes about much of anything yesterday, but others were apparently eager to take on this plane getting shot down. Maybe they felt the urge to help by neutralizing something very horrifying with humor. I don't think what I saw worked for that.

It does work to use jokes to ease a sad or scary situation. It helps if you don't aim at the people who are suffering. I saw a joke about the airline not being able to deliver passengers to their destination alive. I would have thought an airline with two disasters horrifically high in casualties has had enough, especially when the cause of the second- a damn missile- is not the kind of thing that diligent mechanics can do much about. I thought it was a lousy, mean joke.

Not that any joke would have been ok to me yesterday. I must be some kind of minority. I'm not very interesting in jumping on top of every tragedy and wringing a joke out of it like it's some kind of daredevil challenge. When a thing like this happens, I get very sad, and I let myself feel that way as long as I must. The next day I may feel well enough to make jokes, although probably not about that thing. I wish other people would wait a while even if they don't feel any human sadness inside over something as awful as this. I guess that's just not possible anymore.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What For Why?

There's something on my mind. I can't figure it out, but maybe if I think it through here, the answer will present itself. There's this street I walk over to, as the library's on it. If I go to the library straight from home, I take Magnolia. If I stop off at the post office first, I take Chandler. If I take the former, it's all good. It's a quick walk and the intersections are fine. The sidewalk's a little narrow on one side, but the other is fine. It's the ideal way to go.

If I stop off at the post office, it's fine until get to where Chandler intersects with the library's street. There can be found one of the worst intersections in the neighborhood. It's not as spectacularly bad as the five way intersection to the south, but in its own way, it's nearly as unpleasant. For whatever reason, the cycle takes much longer than any other four way intersection around. I don't really know why that is, but I know that I hate it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dress Ups

I find myself with the need to assemble a costume. There's a horror film trivia night, and while they don't usually do this, they're encouraging people to dress in costume. Specifically they're looking for 80's horror costumes. I'm not consumed with the need to wear costumes. The main thing is that I'm lazy. I can think up costumes it would be neat to wear all day, but I do not relish the effort or the expense. I could say I don't have a psychological need to cover myself in that way, which could be true, but it's really not relevant.

There used to be all these costume parties, but those dried up. Maybe all at once we got weary of doing that, when we could drink and eat snacks without it. Maybe also my lack of commitment was noticed, these parties are still happening and I am merely not invited. There still are several costume-requiring events around Halloween, and auditions also call for some level of costume, but the burden is less. This costume will be more involved.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Romanced

I watched "Romancing The Stone" the other day. I'd first heard of it through jokes that were made about its title. I think it might have been an episode of "Roseanne" that alluded to an adult film called "Romancing The Bone". I didn't know the film it was a reference to, and I'm not altogether sure at the time that I understood the meaning the words would have in the context of and adult film either. I eventually learned some about both.

I eventually gathered that Romancing The Stone was supposed to be a pretty good movie, and so it proved to be. Kathleen Turner plays a romance novelist who, not so unlike me, has not lived an incredible amount. Her work expresses the aspiration to change that. Change it she does when a crisis erupts with her sister, and she meets up with bedraggled rogue Michael Douglass. They wind up contending with a few rough characters.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Put To Bed

I have in recent days addressed aspects of the leadup to my fifth sketch with iO West's "Top Story Weekly" news-based sketch show. The sketch has happened and I am glad to, without having even been asked, say just how it went. The whole thing began rather inauspiciously when everyone I invited had to pull out due to one conflict or another. That was quite disappointing (for everyone involved I'm sure). I managed to not be very lonely thanks to the friends I've made through the show and other endeavors there at the theater.

After chatting with friends, securing my ticket and dropping off a wig needed for another sketch (worthy of being written up here itself), it was time for the show. I though of sitting with friends from the show in the balcony where I often do, but decided I wanted to sit down on the floor where I'd better be able to feel how the crowd was, and better be able to see my sketch and the rest of the show as well. That is just how the order of things was, as my sketch was first. I'd never gotten to see my stuff without waiting before, so that was gratifying.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Not So Much

I found myself watching a movie last night that was not of my choosing. It is fine that I see movies from time that I am not eager to. Nothing will change for me if I don't change anything ever. Change is not inherently good, though. It's just different. This movie was different, but in my eyes it wasn't good. It was called "Rigor Mortis", I think, and I think also that it was from Hong Kong. I didn't go crazy for it, I'll say.

It concerned some people living in a building and working at a restaurant. The first act, which established their live at those places, held me ok. Midway through it lost me, and my perception of it from then on is inextricably tied to my perception of my phone and social networks. Anyway, these people wind up having a whole dramatic incident with vampires and stabbing and so forth, and there were aspects of that I admit I liked.

Another Sketch

With yet another day passing without any post, it becomes more evident than ever how diminished my ability to follow through on planned goals has become, but why dwell on that? No one is interested in hearing any such thing, and anyway there are more useful ways of filling this post even in such a dire moment. As we speak, after all, I am eagerly anticipating the staging of my fifth sketch at iO West's "Top Story Weekly!" here in Los Angeles.

It came about in interesting fashion. I'd had some idea about a news story that would make a good sketch. I passive aggressively pitched it to a friend I know would be on staff (since I myself am not), and she encouraged me to send it out to the whole of the show's writing apparatus, or even better to inquire whether my services as a writer might be helpful given that the show had slightly fewer writers on hand this particular week than is usually the case.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Slow Death

I was in the worst kind of fix the other night, That is to say that it felt like it at the time, but it was the sort of thing where perspective was hard to come by. This is what happened. I'd gotten the opportunity to be a guest writer on Top Story Weekly, of which I've written in the past. This was the second time for me, and it was even more special this time that I got to do it. The way it works is that you go to a pitch session to present your ideas. After some feedback, you develop some into sketches, some of which are picked to actually do after a read through. So this thing happened while I was headed to the pitch session.

Everything was fine as I left the house. I had my needed writing materials, the most precious of which were the ideas I had to present. I had left in enough time to get there- just enough time. The bus itinerary I'd worked out would get me there a few minutes before I needed to be there. Things started going awry quickly, though. The first bus was a bit late. It finally showed up just in time to still get me to the second bus in time. At least if it had not become even more late it would have been in time.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

To Get It Right

I was reminded again yesterday of how difficult it is to do what "The Onion" does. It is, of course, a satirical news site- something that didn't really exist before it did, so far as I know- and it's fantastic. Whether it's as good now as it has been in the past is debatable, but they are still very good at doing the critical things that all imitators I've seen so far fail at. Someone eventually will manage it, but for one reason or another, they all fail catastrophically somehow.

A big thing is that you have to have some kind of real world grounding. You can get crazy, but it has to fit into some kind of realistic framework, if that makes any sense. The Onion had an article where Obama is an Anti-Christ figure bringing about a dark age of hell on Earth, but it worked because it was playing on an incredibly heightened version of how some people see him. Obama was not acting or sound like he would, but since the joke was not on him, it worked.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hassle With A Passel

Recent months have seen me cool the jets on VHS tape collecting and viewing, letting the thirty or so tapes I had left to watch sit in idleness with few new ones joining them. I had decided there were enough there without adding any more, and also adding more was curtailed by the expense. With that last issue eased somewhat, I reasoned that picking up a few tapes was a fine spark to get me excited about my tapes again, and off the persnickety habit of watching streaming movies online.

I bought ten tapes after an audition recently at the cost of about fifteen dollars, which on a per-unit basis is really very cheap. Among them were three Steven Seagal movies. I recently have grown very enthusiastic about Seagal, who is terrible, but who also is fascinating to think about and whose films are mostly very watchable even if they are generally not very good. There's his big hit "Under Siege" as well as a couple of the films he made just before really cratering.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rather Be Draining The Lizard

One of the movies I watched a couple days ago- in a true fit of masochism- was a science fiction film entitled "Aberrations". The premise had real promise in it. A woman comes to some small snow-stricken town hiding out from the Russian mob, but finds herself under assault by a vicious strain of killer lizards. I put it on with hardly a thought. I find that thought slows things down too much. I just get the movie going- at which time I'm committed- and then there's the whole running time of the film to feel regret.

Make no mistake, I felt great regret over this film, which was truly terrible. Most of it was a brutal, painfully slow slog. The film's cast includes six names, one of which is a cat. The other five are used, shall we say, judiciously, which means that sub-professional grade actors are often counted on to carry scenes by themselves. It's like if the classic "Twilight Zone" episode employing a similar premise was executed with someone unfit to even speak the name of Agnes Moorehead.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Don't Sweat

Yesterday I was watching a pretty lousy thriller called "Cold Sweat". I'm getting down to the bottom of the barrel on what Netflix calls 'steamy thrillers', so I'm resorting to less and less promising titles and lowering my bar severely in hopes of still being content. This one basically got there, although I do have a lot of problems with it. Some of those are fun problems, and some of them are more my problem than the film's, but a lot of problems are there.

The movie is a little unfocused. Every time I think I'm sure which character to say it's about, I grow uncertain. Let's just start with the hitman, who seems like the main guy for a while as the film invests in the emotional turmoil that flows from his most recent killing. He isn't guilt ridden about the guy he killed, but the girl who was having sex with him just before. The woman keeps appearing to him as a ghost, often in a state of undress. Figures that he wouldn't be tormented by killing the guy.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Well Worth The Slog

The other night, I watched a whole pile of movies, most of them not fantastic. I was, for whatever reason, on an erotic thriller kick. I'd watched the one I described the other day, then there was another one that wasn't very erotica and wasn't very thrilling. The night closed out with the wonderful "Marked For Murder". I had noticed that it seemed to be directed by the same man behind the infamous "Hobgoblins", and so how could I resist that?

It seemed to be a little like "Three Days Of The Condor". A couple of low level employees of a TV station get ensnared in intrigue when a police operation is captured on tape and various players start angling for possession of the recording. There are cops, FBI agents, underworld figures and seamy locales like dance clubs and strip joints. It's a promising setup, to be sure, except that it's in the hands of Rick Sloane.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hot Cha Cha

I'm always panicking and picking a movie that there's no great urgency to watch. I guess I need it to be a very light, spontaneous act (which is what movie watching really is anyway). The other day, I had "True Detective" on blu-ray as well as other movies that I want very much to have seen, but instead of any of those I opted for "Hot Target". Something tends to draw me towards obscure erotic thrillers. The obscurity of this one was thrown into sharp relief by appearing in a small box through the opening credits and full screen instead of widescreen later.

I was surprised to find it was set in New Zealand (as I'd expected in advance that it would be American and thought while watching it that it was British). After it got going, sure enough people were speaking in fancy accents and driving on the other side of the road. Once I got over that, a story developed of a bored (but exceptionally hot) housewife who spends all too much time in the park, where she meets an American with a flair for line-crossing conversations. By this time I was in all the way for this story of a dalliance that of course goes too far and a paramour who proves to be something darker.

Friday, July 4, 2014

30 To 60

Commercials are a fascinating art form. Most people maybe wouldn't even consider them eligible for art, saying they're too compromised by their objective. I can't think of any art that isn't compromised by commercial aims except maybe chainsaw sculptures or something.Commercials are as capable of being really pleasing artistically as anything else, and if they fail at that, at least they're over pretty fast. I'm not at all sorry to work in commercials when the chance comes up.

I was listening to some of the old Bud Light radio commercials the other day. They began as "Real American Heroes", and switched to "Real Men Of Genius" after 9/11 made it briefly seem unwise to throw around words like hero. The commercials are uniformly brilliant. They are these wonderfully bombastic, overheated tributes to people and things that are at best dubious recipients of such praise. This fantastic narrator lavishes praise on Chinese food deliverymen, golf ball washer and more.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Re-Do

I was thinking while watching "In The Name Of The King" about what I would do to fix it. Often when I entertain these thoughts, it's some relatively minor stuff- largely matters concerning the script. These are, then, small and cheap fixes so long as they are made in time. With this film, as it drew on I became convinced that larger and larger measures would be necessary if anything was ever to have been made of this awful piece of work.

I hardly know whether to begin with the casting or the script. Both are egregiously bad. I suppose the word comes first. I'll say first that there came a moment when the good guys had triumphed in battle and Statham was have a tender moment with the wounded king that I assumed the film was about to be over. This was nearly at the 90 minute mark, which is where I reasonably though a film like this one would end. A big budget fantasy film could go long, but a cheap one is like a bomber that made the trip from Germany all the way to London during the blitz: you just don't have long to make an impact. What I thought was the closing scene turned out to have about forty minutes more behind it, and when I learned that I was TRULY demoralized.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

War Is Hellish Films

The same night I watched "Escape In The Fog", I also watched a slightly higher profile film of the same era (which is to say the mid-40's) entitled "Wing And A Prayer". I commented that the name sounded like it belonged on some insipid inspiring sports drama. Instead it tells the tale of Navy flyers who wind up fighting at the battle of Midway. As we were on a full head of steam from watching the other film, it seemed worth knocking out this one, late as it was.

With Dana Andrews and Don Ameche (in addition to Harry Morgan of MASH and Dragnet, practically young by comparison with how he looked in his better known roles), I kind of figured the movie had some promise. The highlights seen in the channel's promos (for we were watching it on TV) helped further that impression. Regrettably, the movie did not reach the high bar set by "Escape In The Fog", but then what film could?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Foch Does It

A roommate and I were watching some TV after I'd returned from a sketch comedy show (which is a story in itself), and I saw he had on Carson Daly's awful show that follows "Late Night". In response to my question, he affirmed that he wasn't married to it and I quickly started flipping through the channels, ultimately settling on the intriguingly-titled "Escape In The Fog". It had been on for a little bit at this point, but I think we caught most of it.

It featured an actress who I really love, Nina Foch. She was in a lot of big movies, "Spartacus" and "The Ten Commandments" among them, but my favorite is "Executive Suite". In this film, she plays a military nurse recovering from some kind of breakdown (as I learned later from looking the movie up). She has some dreams of a guy getting killed, then meets that guy and winds up entangled in a whole cloak and dagger operation.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Gall

I was watching the Steven Seagal movie "Fire Down Below" yesterday evening- you know, as a kind of a nightcap. I'm not quite sure why I went with that, except that I think I'd only seen parts of it on TV, and I'm interested in seeing more of his work to contrast with Chuck Norris. It's not the worst as Seagal films go. He certainly got worse in the years to come, even if he'd been better before. It's really not that bad. It's perfectly watchable.

Two notable things are the music (which is very Kentucky, as far as I can tell) and the heavy use of sepia tone pictures in the opening and closing credits. I've got to believe that there's more to the Appalachian region than the one kind of music and a very backwards-looking perspective. It seems very reductive and insulting, the way Fire Down Below depicts things. Nobody seems to have televisions or radios, let alone computers or anything truly modern.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tumor Movies

I saw a couple of so-called classics last night as part of a campaign to try and knock out some of those that I have not gotten to. Honestly, I don't think one of them is really called a classic, but it's lumped in on account of being a sequel to one that is. "Caddyshack 2" is the dubious one, and "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" is the other. It's mildly interesting to contrast them, and I have no better ideas for what to write today.

We saw the latter of those films first, and boy is it long. I don't know of many comedies that had intermissions even when intermissions were something that happened, but this one's got an intermission. Not that there's any good reason for it being that long except that it was decided that every comic performer who lived at the time should be in the movie. Many of them, like the Three Stooges and Buster Keaton, appear for mere seconds. It's a frustrating, mainly unfunny movie.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Easy Does it

As I was fortunate enough to be in on a paid acting job the other day, it seems right to say something on the matter. Something that has occurred to me a number of times is that the difficulty level of paid acting work is not necessarily the greatest of anything a performer might do. It might be, of course, but there are plenty of occasions in which things one does for a class are considerably more challenging. This recent one bears that out, although I'm reluctant to discuss it in specific.

In improv class, the sort with which I have the most personal familiarity, there are things that test me from beginning to end. Even the warm-up exercises can be tough. There's a word association game which is meant to force you not to analyze your options before making a decision. You're given a word by the person on your left and must respond with the first thing in your head before continuing the cycle with the person on your left. The key is maintaining the rhythm. It's a scary game because of the ugly words that might come out because you're disabling your filter.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Couple Of Big Films

Yesterday I watched "Stripped To Kill 2: Live Girls". Having already seen "Stripped To Kill", I think I can offer some comment on them both. As you might guess, both concern murder and intrigue at strip clubs. In the original, a female cop must go undercover as a stripper in order to solve a string of murders that is claiming the lives of dancers. I must confess that this displays more concern for the lives of strippers than I suspect the police force has.

This movie shows as much as its successor the curious pattern of dancers making themselves very unlikable right before they are murdered. I fully believe that animosity amongst dancers exists behind the scenes at strip clubs, but the timing in these films is exceptional. Also exception is one particular moment in the movie where the undercover cop has chosen to end her undercover assignment and pursue the case through conventional means. Telling the strip club manager this, she's then convinced to do one last shift. That's more dedication to her fake job than I thought she'd have.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pissed, Narrowly Missed

I had a close call on Metro the other day. I believe I was heading home from somewhere, although now that I try to grasp them, the details of it all prove elusive. The point is that I had gone down to the platform of a subway station (I believe in Hollywood), and sat down against one of the columns there. For a while, there had not been a ton of incidents with unruly people there, and I guess I got complacent about that, not that my attitude matters.

This guy staggers by and plops himself down right next to me. He was eating from some kind of to go box,which I have to point out you're not supposed to do there, but I'll let that slide since he was also committing the more serious offense of being drunk in public. I found myself struck with fear over what he might do. I have no way of knowing whether this man is prone to violence, but at the very least he could have rendered me uncomfortable with inebriated conversation for some time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Something New, Something More

I had a notable meal late yesterday afternoon. Some friends and I went out rather on the spur of the moment in order to celebrate a happy professional development of mine, and it's common for us to hit a local sushi restaurant at such times. It's mostly been my modus operandi to order a few of the basic rolls (usually after quickly looking up the difference between hand and cut rolls), but I found myself remembering our last visit and something that happened during it.

A big group of us were there then, and I think we may have been marking the occasion of someone's birthday. The restaurant's staff was, understandably, tested by our numbers, and depended on us to say who was supposed to have which order as they brought it out. You wouldn't think it would be hard to know what order was mine, particularly given my above-stated penchant for certain items, but then that would mean you didn't know me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Overly Serious Reminiscence

I was thinking about being back in the sixth grade yesterday. It struck me that the people who I wanted so very much to like me then- the people who I tried with all my heart to befriend, with no success- were really nobody special at all. I say that not because I failed, which would suggest that to salve my feelings I am to this day misrepresenting good, fun people. Rather I say it because years later, it's easier to see things then objective. The hindsight helps.

I couldn't for the life of me say what ever became of those people. I do know a little about the people I was friendly with then, and they seem to be doing well. They were more the misfits. They were the inveterate genre movie fans, the guys who lived on Taco Bell. It was in sixth grade, I think, that I realized they were who I was.To that point I fancied myself some kind of athlete, fit to hang out with the cool kids. By the time I had gone on the middle school, I had wised up.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Not All Right At All

Yesterday's game between the US and Portugal was not satisfying at all. I went into it with the idea that America had a fantastic chance of winning and advancing to the next round (the nature of which I would learn just as soon as necessary), but I was chastened considerably at the game's beginning as the Portuguese scored easily in the face of some evidently poor American defense. I hoped that they'd be able to recover.

They did, regaining their wits, toughening their defense and scoring a pair of goals by midway through the second half. I was at this time quite sure once again that this game was, if not a sure thing, then at least nearly one. Both teams were quite fatigued by the heat, which is understandable considering we're talking about a stadium in the middle of the jungle. I'll never know who thought that would be a smart idea.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Par Tease Zone

Yesterday evening I was at a the birthday party of a friend. It was a good time. There was food, there were friends, there were games and there was a movie. It was a useful way to finish the day after one or two anxious experiences. Of course, the party itself is an anxious experience for me, and while it's more rewarding than going home and watching movies alone, it's also more fraught with peril. My attempts to evade that peril were a mixed bag.

I had bought hot dogs and buns earlier that day, meaning to eat them myself. It occurred to me at some point that I should bring something to the party, and it occurred to me that the hot dogs might fit the bill (more so than liquor, which I find is often oversupplied. Food and non-alcoholic drinks, meanwhile, are undersupplied often). I knew that the theme was tacos, and that cooking the hot dogs might be problematic, but I figured they'd still work out one way or another.

Steps

It's another day and another missed deadline, but tomorrow is another day. In any case, recent events turn my attention to the steps that result in booking an acting job. I can only speak for myself on the strength of my own limited experience, of course. If you're fortunate, you get in the room for an audition in the first place. Of all the people that want to, not many do. There's a casting office with this sign on the wall that says how many typically do (with the point being that you ought to have gratitude for getting as far as you do even if you don't get as far as you'd like).

If you do well in the audition, that's probably not the end of it, although I did book something after just one audition. That's atypical. More likely you get a callback. Instead of just one person in the room, you're facing several, and you may be called on to do more than you did in the first audition or to do something very different. It's a more nerve-wracking experience, although I think I'm getting better with repetition.

Friday, June 20, 2014

So I Say

I was with some people the other night, and we were all together to help a mutual friend test out some games he'd devised for a movies-based podcast (something which maybe I ought to have got off the ground myself by now). We played the games (a couple of which I won), drank a very little and ate some pizza. It was a good time, and it was a case of being very glad I'd made the decision to leave the house. It's funny to find that people don't see my great difficulty with socializing, but then I can see how you might miss it.

In any case, the night was not quite over. The host and mutual friend volunteered to give a guy a ride to the nearby train station (asking me to find something to play on the TV while waiting for his return- I opted for "Johnny Mnemonic"), and another few left, but some of us were content to hang out a little more. On his return, we interrupted the Keanu Reeves film and watched one called "The Taint". I hesitate to describe it in detail.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Death Of Journalism Of Death

A particularly sports journalist- Richard Durrett of ESPN- died the other day. As I'd never heard of him, I don't know why I clicked on the link to the first article I saw except that I imagined he was likely an old veteran who'd covered a lot of the big stories over the years, or at least those pertaining to Dallas, where he operated. I found instead that he was 38, and with widened eyes, I read on to learn what cause of death claimed him so young.

The article did not say, though it went on for nine paragraphs. Now, if you don't know why, you don't know, but it seems logical to me that you would say at some point that a cause of death was not established or announced immediately (or, as they would have said before the internet, 'as of press time'). I don't happen to think it's ever reasonable to ignore the cause of death, but it is least excusable when someone relatively young dies. I can guess for myself why an 85 year-old might have died, but a 38 year-old demands explanation.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ugh Again!

A little less than a month ago, I watched the Scott Baio classic "Zapped!" Really, I ought to have put classic in quotes considering the disturbing manner in which that film delivers its titillation (which, of course, is the reason for being of all 80's sex comedies). Baio, the school nerd, stumbles upon a formula for telekinesis and uses it exclusively to strip innocent women of their clothes. His love interest is fine with that, but bristles at his use of his powers for the comparatively moral purpose of unfairly influencing games of chance.

The sequel, "Zapped Again!", concerns a newcomer to the same school a few years later. He is not so much a nerd, and just happens to find Baio's formula hidden in the wall of the room used by the science club. The film plays out in mostly identical fashion, with the newcomer aggressively using his powers to expose women either to punish them for perceived crimes or merely to serve as some kind of distraction during critical moments. It's ugly stuff.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Turnaround

I watched the USA's first World Cup game yesterday. I was aware of it coming up and had some interest, my words to the contrary aside. In truth, soccer (the World Cup included) is like most things for me: in a vacuum, there's every chance that I'll enjoy it. In connection with other people, that is not so. Other people's involvement in anything is more likely to put me off than anything else, which is too bad. I feel badly about that. I'll own up to struggling with socializing, and that problem of mine leaves me less into any number of things.

I don't have a base level interest in the game, the event and the general prestige of my country in whatever form that takes. I certainly would rather the USA wins than loses, and the game isn't really so bad. If I understood it better, I'd like it better (since the long stretches between shots on goal would have some meaning for me), but I know enough, and it's kind of fun to watch the game. I wish some things about it were different, and I wish we could make it more our own (in such areas as the lingo, songs traditions & such(, but I kind of enjoy watching the game now and then.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bare Minimum

I have lately been on a real 80's sex comedy kick lately, and there are many out there to indulge myself in. The other night I was sorting through ones I had watched and ones I hadn't, finally coming up with a fresh one: "Recruits". This film, it turns out, was by the same director who was responsible for the "Screwballs" films, so the initial uncertainty I had as a result of the film's inordinately aged look in the opening scenes was unfounded.

In the film, the political leadership of a coastal town called "Clams Cove" decides that the police force is overworked, and a new unit must be formed to handle traffic offenses so that the main unit is free to handle tougher crime. The opportunistic police chief sees this as his opportunity to grab power, and he proceeds to deliberately form a unit composed of very sub-par recruits which will be unable to detect and foil his phony assassination plot against the mayor.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Worthless Story Of Cleaning

I've heard it said that it is an American thing to respond in times of crisis and to be neglectful when some preventive measure could be taken that would avert crisis. I don't know exactly how true that is, but it feels right. It applies some to me. I struggle to do what is necessary in small doses so that I don't have to do a whole lot of what is right all at once. I never manage to clean one dish. I always am cleaning a whole bunch at once after I've been asked a little less nicely than the last time.

This is the case for most domestic stuff. I recently managed to do my laundry and clean my room. It was a major action on par with the Normandy invasion for me because it had been so very long since I had done either. Casualties were, thankfully, kept to a minimum. I was thankful for that, because the laundry in particular threatened to inflict them. As most articles of clothing I owned had reached an unacceptable state of decrepitude, it was quite a weight that I had to lug down to the laundry room and back.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Rest Of The World's Game

The World Cup has been going for a couple days, and my interest level is at an all time low. I care specifically about the sport of soccer as little as I ever have. As I have said during attempts to take American sports overseas, it is fine by me if they never care about our games just like it should be OK by them if we never like their games, but for some reason there are people on either side of the ocean who bemoan this state of affairs with bizarre passion.

In the World Cup they make much of patriotic spirit. I do love my country and in theory wish for it to succeed at all endeavors, but I just don't value success in soccer enough for it to matter whether the US team does well or poorly. I feel as if there are more practical measures by which I would like for America to out-do other nations, most of them having to do with material prosperity in some way. Wouldn't it be nice if we beat the world at math aptitude?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Scandalous Film

The other day, I was watching a movie from one of my favorite sub-genres, the 80's sex comedy. It's called "Hamburger... The Motion Picture". I could write a whole essay on the title alone. You don't often see the title separated from a subtitle by elipses instead of a colon. One wonders if they are willfully leaving something out of the title but can't bring themselves to do so in secrecy. Then there's the curious move of going with the "motion picture" subtitle, which makes the most sense when you're adapting something. Was Hamburger a TV show?

The movie itself is both conventional and not. It concerns an impetuous young man who has been thrown out of four colleges for having too much sex. The troubling associations we would make with that idea are, I must assume, nothing they thought of in those days. He's just someone having too much fun at the expense of his studies, we're meant to understand. In any case, there just is no ordinary college that will take him, so naturally he turns to a hamburger chain training school.

Skip It!

Yesterday I managed to skip a day writing for this blog, which upsets me to an unreasonable degree. It is no longer as if I am breaking precedent, as there now have been several days since 2009 which have passed without a new post. That is still a pretty good record considering no one expects anything of me along these lines except myself. Those are the hardest circumstances under which to remain disciplined: when you know with virtual certainty that no one will know.

In any event, here I am today to get back on the horse. It seems an opportune time to consider changes. I could adopt a movie-reviewing format without costing myself readers. I have hardly any, and anyway I have been doing a lot of little reviews lately anyway. It's something I do feel enthusiasm for, and focusing on that would stand a reasonable chance of gaining me a lot of readers. I believe that people expect consistency, which I have always delivered, and a precise focus, which I never have.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Disappointed

People have a way of really messing up my enjoyment of things, movies especially. Yesterday, I finally watched "Top Gun", which I had known for years to be a very popular movie, but had never gotten to. I had, of course, long been aware of different bits of it that had become parts of broader pop culture, but never saw it firsthand. As part of a group initiative some friends and I have embarked on, I resolved to get to that.

It was a little disappointing. I guess that was to be expected. It had been built up so much that I don't see how it could live up to expectations. All those different bits that I'd been exposed to suggested something so incredible, and it wasn't the greatest thing of all time. It wasn't as bad as the many parodies made it out to be, but those undermined its impact on me more than they created something with which I would compare it favorably.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Not Bad

Last night I had a decent improv show. The whole day was interesting. There had been an incident near the apartment. A guy with a gun had led police on a high speed chase and holed up in a house a little over half a mile way, and so the neighborhood was a little on edge. The matter was resolved in a matter of a couple hours, but jangled nerves healed slowly. This was some concern, since the location of the show was even nearer to where things had happened than my home.

As it was, one would not have known anything about it, as normally as the show proceeded. It was a student showcase, and several classes at lower levels went very nicely before it was the turn of my own. My roommate as well as other friends and acquaintances handled themselves nicely. I admit that I have some difficulty in paying much attention, and we typically have to miss some of the action while warming up for our own performance, but the other classes did well.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Standards

I find myself very impatient with people. As flawed as I am, I can't take it for one second when people display the few frailties I don't have, and also the ones that I do have. Writing is one area that I like to consider a strength, and so when I see it done poorly, that really gets me. I don't happen to be perfect at writing. Lots of people are better at it, and even those who aren't have often made more of their gifts in that area than I, but I still am harsh in my judgment.

When I read scripts, it often bugs me to find that the grammar, spelling and formatting are all in terrible shape. Sometimes this is from people who aren't writing any better than I would expect them to speak, but sometimes it's people who I'd never guess write so poorly. I could find myself reading something that has some real promise to it (from a person who could express the idea verbally and leave me sensing no trouble) but get waylaid by the unfortunate manner in which it's expressed on the page.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Where's The Battlefield"

I finally got to one of those movies I think you've just got to see (if you want to have any comment on it, that is), the infamous John Travolta movie "Battlefield Earth". It made a big splash on release, with everyone lining up to take shots at it. I was as eager as anyone, but I never did see it and was not well informed enough to say anything terribly interesting about it. I finally set to the task of changing that, though I doubt anyone's that eager to hear about it now.

The movie is really not that bad. It's notorious for being bad in a number of ways, and some of those are fair, but movies like this get a bad rap. The only really unpardonable thing is that a movie would be unwatchable- that it would provide no entertainment whatsoever. Movies that fail less spectacularly are often entirely unwatchable, but a monumental bomb like this one gets labeled as something worse despite really being much better.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Seen

A few days ago, I finally saw the comedy classic "Caddyshack" as part of an initiative by a few friends and myself to finally knock off the various classics that we all have neglected over the years. I never had felt much eagerness for this one, but I always understood how good it was supposed to be, and whether it was good or not, I wanted to have made the effort to find out. Here was a golden opportunity to overcome my lack of motivation.

It was, I must say, a disappointment. I didn't find much of the film to be very funny, which is a problem for a comedy. There were one or two chuckles, but that was the extent of it. It was helped none by a poorly organized script. There were a couple of promising story elements one could have built around, such as the caddy competition or the plans of Rodney Dangerfield's character to buy the golf course, but those things were squandered.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cracking The Case

A couple of nights ago, I had my latest VHS movie night. Yesterday I wrote about the first film we watched, "Hurricane Smith". It was enjoyable enough, once people quieted down. It's rather frustrating that people should chatter over the opening scenes and then get upset about not knowing what's going on, but let's not dwell on that. The point is that Carl Weathers went to Australia in search of his sister, found out she was dead and returned home with an Australian hooker with a heart of gold.

The second film- "Crack House" played out slightly differently. You have a teen boy who has quit gang life to pursue his education and work at a burger restaurant. He's drawn back in when his brother (I think) is killed by a rival gang, but this only winds up making a victim of his girlfriend, who is taken captive by the selfsame rival gang. She becomes addicted to crack and is made to debase herself in a myriad of ways by ganglord Jim Brown. Cop Richard Roundtree teams up with the teen boy to free her and bust the gang.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hurricane Film

I had my VHS-watching night last night. I'd had to postpone it in order to sit in on the "Top Story! Weekly" writing staff, and so it was being held in the first week of June instead of the last week of May. I had some concern about very many people attending, but those fears proved unfounded, and we had a good time watching a couple of old action movies. I think people mainly think of scifi and horror when it comes to "bad movies", but I say action movies are great too.

The first one we watched was "Hurricane Smith". Carl Weathers stars as a Texas oil field worker who journeys to Australia in search of his missing sister. He finds out that she got involved in some bad stuff (IE drugs and sex work) while in the employ of a nefarious underworld figure played by Jurgen Prochnow. Weathers continues to try to find her, but mainly is sidetracked by a hooker and her pimp who he logically ought to have moved on from after he got what information they had.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Still Tea

The improv fest goes on, but naturally I have other things going on in my life. I was, as I wrote yesterday's post, spacing out in hopes of finding inspiration. My eyes settled on what was in front of me, and I lazily resigned myself to write about what I saw, which was my tea cup. It had come from IKEA, and it's a dainty thing. I hadn't used it much was I was mainly drinking coffee, but it is showing signs of heavy use now.

I've drunk a few hundred cups of tea, I would guess. There were five cups and saucers, but there are now only two of the cups. I know how one of them went away- when a roommate broke the handle- but the others are a mystery to me. I know I didn't break them, but why fall into recriminations? Things break and are replaced. At least I still have the saucers. Maybe I can find new cups that fit the old saucers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Three Deep

The LA Improv Fest, of which I wrote earlier, is now in its third day. The first was wonderful since I got to see things I wrote performed, not to mention some other cool stuff that happened. A friend asked me to help out with a performance of his that required a DJ, and then there were my friends who won the first round of a festival contest. The next night- last night- was practically as good. There were more shows involving friends, some of whom won and others of whom lost. It was good fun.

I was pleased not only to see and support friends, but to make new ones. I have an ongoing mission to progress every relationship I have, making people I don't know into people I know, people I know into people who know me, and so forth. This is commonly a difficult thing for me, and I accomplish it only in fits and starts, sometimes making no progress at all. This festival, however, amplifies the effect, and in the past couple days, I have managed more along these lines than is usually the case, so that's good.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Road Map

At last year's LA Improv Fest, we were given paper programs detailing the events of the week. That became my sacred guide and record. I marked every show I wanted to see, and then marked what I actually did see. When I was done, I had a pile of ticket stubs and a worn, heavily marked-up program. It meant so much to me. I honestly don't know where it is now, but I'm certain I didn't throw it away. It's definitely around the apartment somewhere.

Unfortunately, this year they failed to make a program available. I was advised, on picking up my pass, to simply keep up with things via the schedule as it appears on the website, and I nodded as if that was good enough, but of course it was not. The paper map was a tactile experience. It satisfied as no digital map could, just as skyping with someone you love cannot satisfy as being present with them could. Is that oddly sentimental? Maybe.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Year's Journey

Today is the start of the LA Improv Fest. It's been going on for something like 12 years, and it amounts to a festival celebrating iO West specifically. That's a comedy theater in Hollywood. I've been around for a little of it a few years, but last year was the first time I experienced it very fully. That's because my one of my improv teams was accepted to perform. It was a wonderful experience in which I saw more live improv and sketch in a week than I'd seen before in my life.

I was anxious to return to the festival the following year, but the team that had taken me there hit the skids in the intervening period, and by the time submissions were being accepted, it had folded. I despaired that I would manage the festival this year, and wondered even whether I would be able to afford supporting friends in various contests that the festival holds. It was much more unpleasant to think of being left out after having been in.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Chun Li Express

Yesterday I took in "Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li". I confess I had lost track of my Netflix queue. Had I remembered I had it up next, I might have pushed it back. I had picked it because I liked Jean Claude Van Damme's "Street Fighter" a lot. That's a fun movie, and I won't stand for those who impugn it. It's solid, problems though it might have. It's good enough that I was interested in another film inspired by the game, if that's the right word.

I doubt there's much connection to the earlier film. In that, the character of Chun-Li is a TV journalist who seeks revenge on M. Bison after he destroyed her village or some such thing. In this one she seeks revenge on M. Bison, but she's a concert pianist and something of a martial artist (as she was in the other, I admit). Then M. Bison was played by Raul Julia, who bears a certain resemblance to the videogame character. Neal McDonough, who plays the role here, does not. Nor does Taboo of the Blackeyed Peas much seem suited for his role.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dunzo (Done-zo)

At long last I have finished "Atlas Shrugged". In recent days I had drawn near to it, seeing the end get closer as the chapters melted away. In the stretch run, I always get very enthusiastic about books again. I love them at first and in the end. In the middle there is fatigue and disinterest. The same thing happens with movies. I'm engrossed until I've met the characters and learned of their plight. As they wrestle with it, I grow bored. As resolution looms, I come back.

The second act was rather protracted with this book. It runs over one thousand and sixty pages, which is a lot. The first few chapters had me, and then there is just a lot of middle with this thing. You have the heroic railroad magnate Dagny Taggart and her fellow industrialist friends beset by a lot of stupid, softhearted socialist types. That's basically it. They struggle for the right to do business for profit instead of for some misguided notion of altruism. Oh, and the angular, handsome Dagny hooks up with a bunch of her colleagues (not that I begrudge her that).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Riding High Writing

A few days ago, I was invited to fill in on the writing staff of "Top Story! Weekly:", the show for which I have written jokes and some sketches over the course of the last year. Each time I've gotten to do something more for them, it's been a thrill, and for all of that time what I've wanted is to be a proper member of the writing staff. That hasn't happened yet, but getting to effectively be one for even a week is a good step. I'm only partway through the experience, but so far it's been great.

Last night, there was the pitch session (which began in inauspicious if amusing fashion when the neighbors mistook me for a criminal as I approached the house hosting it and made an alarmed phone call to the host). There were only a few of us there, but fuelled by white grape juice (which, the oenephile host informed us, is made with green grapes), we proceeded and came up with no shortage of fine ideas. It really was a blast, I'll say.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Holding Up

The other day I re-watched "The Living Daylights", Timothy Dalton's first turn as James Bond. Dalton always had a certain spot in my heart as Bond actors went. He was the hardest, most serious of them. He was the one commonly considered the true embodiment of the Bond depicted in Ian Fleming's novels. Sadly he was only in two films before legal trouble put the series on hold for several years. By the time that was over, Dalton's time had come and gone.

In The Living Daylights there is a relatively conventional Bond film. There's a defecting Soviet general, a beautiful blonde sniper, and an unscrupulous arms dealer fomenting treachery in the Russian ranks. Some say it was written with the idea that Roger Moore would take on one more film as 007, which supposedly accounts for humor more suited to him than the taciturn Dalton, but it's also been written that it was written when Pierce Brosnan was the man (before being dismissed on account of his responsibility to "Remington Steele".

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

About There

As I ease up on watching my VHS tapes, I gear up on watching movies via other media. That still has left me with enough time to mount a new push towards finishing "Atlas Shrugged". I have really hit the stretch run, at long last. I suspect it will be no more than a day or two so long as I keep my resolve. I am quite eager to move on to something new. In fact, I have ordered up a trio of books that I expect to be light and enjoyable, so I do hope I finish the task at hand as promptly as I expect.

The real hump that I have gotten over is the infamously long speech given by one of the book's central characters near the end. There's no need to get really in depth on the content or the context of the speech in order to impress on you the severity of it. It takes most of a 70-some page chapter, and there are no breaks. There are absolutely no breaks in this speech. There is not one moment where the person stops speaking for any reason. It's all a straight monologue.

Monday, May 26, 2014

I Get It

The charm of Tyler Perry's Madea movies has worked its magic on me. This journey goes back to when I was in college, and "Diary Of A Mad Black Woman" was in a local theater. It was one of those movies that doesn't have a proper sign to go next to the showtimes outside the auditorium. It sure drew a crowd in Chicago, though. I was blindsided by its popularity, and I wasn't the only one, but people who knew made a pile of money, I'm sure.

Years later- maybe a year or two ago - I saw "Madea Goes To Jail - and it is a quintessential example. These movies are like Bollywood movies in a way. Bollywood movies, I have discerned, are sort of like vaudeville or an old time movie experience. They give you a little of everything: comedy, action, drama, singing, dancing- whatever anyone could want out of a movie, a Bollywood movie has it. A Madea movie has only a little bit less.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Slashed

Something I did - on the same night that I watched "Zapped" - was to finally watch the second and third entries in the "Sleepaway Camp" series of slasher films. I had really enjoyed the original, which was rather different from the typical sort of fare that I have seen so much of. It lacked certain inhibitors that movies like Friday the 13th had. Those Jason movies, and others like them, are really incredibly conservative and staid when you compare them.

Sleepaway Camp was something else. They made it the year I was born, and it feels like it. The sequels were made when I was about kindergarten aged, and they're a little less dated, but not by much. Something that's novel is that whereas the original featured an unseen killer (as is often the case), the sequels have the killer be very much out in the open. They don't even do the thing where we know who the killer is and the rest of the characters only see them when they are getting killed. It's just a bunch of people, and one of them keeps killing people.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ugh

I reeled off a string of movies in the last few days, all on online streaming. I think I need to gain some distance from my tapes at the moment. First I watched "The Octagon", but giving my impressions of that one would probably not be terribly worthwhile, as similar as it is to a lot of Chuck Norris' movies. Instead, I think it would be interesting to get into the next movie I watched, which was "Zapped!" This is an interesting and problematic movie.

Scott Baio plays a nerd who apparently serves as some kind of scientific research and development department for his high school. Making him not look like a good looking guy is tough, but they try. They also try and make him not have an easy time with women. His buddy is even worse: a super-handsome, super-rich kid who just happens to be a little younger than the guy going out with his dream girl. That one's a real tough sell.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Good Guys Aren't Jolie

I have lately trended away from watching my VHS tapes a little bit. Having just 29 remaining, a number of which are unwatchable due to playback problems (and having no plans to buy more until the rest- a lot of which are earmarked for movie night or are very long and not really exciting to me- are watched), I guess I don't feel a lot of urgency at the moment. They can be dispatched on a more leisurely schedule for a little while.

In the meantime, I've been watching stuff online (and I know that's a kind of a betrayal for me). Yesterday evening, I started off with intentions of watching "Tomb Raider". I can only say that after twenty or so minutes of watching Angelina Jolie mostly lounge around a palatial estate, I had enough, and that's when I turned to someone who may be a much worse actor but who I knew I could rely upon to deliver something watchable: Chuck Norris.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kauf Kauf

I saw something a couple days ago that was really something. My backlog of VHS tapes that I have yet to watch is contracting, compelling me to watch tapes that I have to this point passed up in favor of others. One that I have finally dispatched was a gift from a friend, but I hadn't watched it because it was rather short. I don't know if that makes sense, but there it is. It's "Tank You Veddy Much", a video biography of Andy Kaufman.

The production value of the tape appeared low, but I didn't take that to mean that the thing wasn't good. After watching it, I can say at least that I loved it. The reason was not that it disproved any notions based on what the tape's quality was, but that it proved those notions in very strange ways. To begin with, the biography's visuals consist largely of photographs that have nothing to do with the things being discussed by the narration.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Our Own Games

I'm a fair sports fan. There's one thing I don't get, and that's the constant efforts to take sports popular in one place and extend them to others. Take the generations-long campaign to make soccer take root in the US. They're probably closer than ever to actually achieving that, but I don't think they'll ever get as far as they'd like, and I don't know why they should try. Of course I know the reason is money, and since I don't get any, I can't connect to that. I guess it boils down to eventually being content with how much money you have.

Who wants to talk about money, though? I'd rather talk about letting everybody just have their own sports. It's fine by me that most of the world prefers soccer. They can have that, and we can have our sports. Just as  some enterprising individuals try to push soccer on us, others try to push our sports on them. I've read of a variety of American games being exported. There was a baseball league in Israel. Naturally Jewish Americans were into it, but the rest not as much.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Worthy Of A Shot

Today's movie (and am I finally settling on a single subject in having to say that?) is the Bruce Willis flop "Hudson Hawk". Willis plays the titular character, a skilled cat burglar who has recently emerged from a lengthy prison sentence with hopes of living an honest life. He talks of getting a job, though he apparently owns half of an upscale bar. Unfortunately, that's not to be, as a confusing mix of nefarious individuals and organizations puts him up to stealing a series of Leonardo Da Vinci creations.

This is one of those movies that people have made out to be a terrible film on an epic scale as far back as I can remember. A fellow film school student made a short about a Hudson Hawk Fans Anonymous group, because this was one of those "guilty pleasures" if it was a pleasure at all. I don't believe in guilty pleasures, so I'll just say that I actually liked this movie. God knows it doesn't make a ton of sense, but that's not everything for a movie.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Best

I concluded recently that one of the strongest Bong films is the non-canonical "Never Say Never Again". It is not the best of all the Bond films, I suppose (although which one is I'm not sure I can say). It is still better than most of them, I'm sure I can say that much. I imagine this is an uncommon position to take, and I don't really want to be someone who holds minority opinions on everything, as I don't really find deliberately contrary people so pleasant.

I can't help myself, though. Never Say Never Again stands above a number of the EON-produced Bond films. One reason for that, I believe, is the freedom they seem to have felt to break with a lot of the traditional Bond film stuff. There's a familiar title song, but not a familiar title sequence. Bond carries out a mission over the credits, rather than a dancing girls sequence like we'd seen so many times. Effectively the cold open and the titles are combined.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Honoring The Past

When I was a boy, I liked the movies as much as anyone, though I didn't get to see as many as I would have liked. I got to see some, not that a lot of those stick out in my mind from the very early stages in my life. One that I do remember is the fantasy film "Willow". What I remember better than seeing it was just it being in the theaters. I remember promotions run through the cereals I ate. I remember the sticker books concerning it (and a sticker book, I should say, is a book you'd buy which I believe roughly laid out the story of the movie, and you filled it out with stickers that you bought in random packs. You had to keep buying the packs until you had all the right ones).

I do also remember the movie a touch from then, but watching it the other night certainly helped refresh my memory, and I have to say that Willow is nothing more so than a fun combination of the story of Moses and "The Fellowship Of The Ring". A prophecy is told that a baby will grow up and overthrow a queen. The queen orders the pregnant women jailed and the baby destroyed. The prophesied baby is secreted onto a raft sent down the river, where it's found by Willow, a very hobbit-like creature called an "Elwyn". He must restore the baby into the possession of its own people.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Little Ones

One of the things I've been doing to more rapidly work down my pile of unwatched VHS tapes is to make a point on some occasions of watching the shorter ones. Long movies (exceeding two hours by a wide margin) tend to linger on the pile for obvious reasons, but so have short ones, oddly enough. Perhaps I have seen them as not a real achievement, but a half-hour or hour-long take takes up one spot in my inventory just like the rest, and I can knock off several of them in the space of one feature-length movie.

Yesterday I watched several short tapes. One- "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" - I found to my chagrin I had already marked as watched, which I suppose is true in that I had watched it in my youth. I did not recall it well, and so I should not have done so. It's a good one anyway, feature some enjoyable animation and a legitimately compelling as well as dramatic story. Rikki Tikki is a mongoose living on the grounds of a British family's bungalow in colonial India. He befriends the family (and most of the animals), then battles a series of snakes that menace them. It's very good, and Orson Welles' presence is a plus.