Let’s play Twister, let’s play Risk, and I’ll see you in Heaven if you make the list.

Hey Andy, did you hear about this one?

Tell me, are you locked in the punch?
Hey Andy, are you goofing on Elvis?

Hey baby, are you having fun?

If you believed they put a man on the moon, man on the moon,
If you believe there’s nothing up my sleeve, then nothing is cool…

Here’s a little agit for the never-believer, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Here’s a little ghost for the offering, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Here’s a truck stop instead of Saint Peter’s, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mister Andy Kaufman’s gone wrestling…


Again & Again & Again.

It’s time. Sylvia Plath vs Anne Sexton.

Both women were brilliant writers, “confessional poets” (the original oversharers, they’d probably both love Twitter if they were around today), and both suffered from severe mental illness, the kind that turns people into brilliant writers. When Sylvia killed herself in 1963, Anne felt like Sylvia was trying to steal the spotlight. The two women studied under male oversharer Robert Lowell in Boston. While Sylvia was educated at Smith College and was a Fulbright scholar; Anne was a model and spent a lot of her life in a mental hospital, where she was encouraged to write. Both women killed themselves by carbon monoxide poisoning, about 11 years apart leaving their children behind. Sylvia’s son commited suicide last year and Anne’s daughter wrote a book about her mother’s sexual abuse of her. They’re both Pulitzer Prize winners, Sylvia getting hers after she died; Anne getting hers in 1967.

sylvia at her typewriter

Lady Lazarus

by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——
A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot
A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.
Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——
The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me
And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand and foot——
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies
These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut
As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.
It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:
‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge
For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——
A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.
anne in her office[]
Again & Again & Again
You said the anger would come back
just as the love did. I have a black look I do not
like. It is a mask I try on.
I migrate toward it and its frog
sits on my lips and defecates.
It is old. It is also a pauper.
I have tried to keep it on a diet.
I give it no unction.There is a good look that I wear
like a blood clot. I have
sewn it over my left breast.
I have made a vocation of it.
Lust has taken plant in it
and I have placed you and your
child at its milk tip.

Oh the blackness is murderous
and the milk tip is brimming
and each machine is working
and I will kiss you when
I cut up one dozen new men
and you will die somewhat,
again and again.

I like Sylvia’s cutting, biting approach. For this round, she wins.

Moonage Daydreams.

It’s not exactly life on mars, but one of those weird little movies that I’m looking forward to this year is director Duncan Jones’ simply titled Moon.

Jones, by the way, is the son of David Bowie, a musician who is of course no stranger to space and it’s oddities. When I realized their connection, my mind immediately flashed to Bowie’s song, “Moonage Daydream,” which has to be one of the most alien love songs ever:

The film itself looks very interesting to me, like an art house sci fi piece set on the truly desolate lunar satellite. I was scanning the Wikipedia page on the film, and I liked Jones’ mention of the contrast between the mythic nature the moon holds for us while at the same time utterly lacking romance and beauty. It’s just pure desolation up there, and he cites the images that have come from Japan’s lunar orbiter, SELENE, when talking about it.

Here’s the trailer:

And the plot description from Wikipedia, if for some reason the trailer doesn’t picque your curiousity:

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is an employee contracted by the company Lunar to mine on the Moon the natural gas Helium 3, which could reverse Earth‘s energy crisis. Sam is stationed at the lunar base Sarang with only a robot named Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey), but two weeks before completing his three-year assignment, he begins feeling out of place. An extraction goes wrong, and Sam suspects Lunar of trying to replace him as he realises someone else is on the Moon

Interesting stuff. The film also stars the truly lovely Kaya Scodelario, from one of my favorite shows (if you’ve never noticed from reading this blog), Skins.

I think you can see her very briefly in the trailer.

It reminds me of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine from a few years ago, but hopefully better. The thing about Sunshine was… you really wanted to like it. You didn’t want it to be a mash up of a lot of better films, but it kind of was. It had some beautiful imagery to it, but over all… I just don’t know if it worked. If it failed, it was certainly an interesting failure, but even still…

Let’s hope that the differences between Boyle’s film and Jones’ are night and day.

Players and slayers.

Two things:

1. We’re possibly in store for what is essentially a big screen reboot of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, primarily because it doesn’t feature the creative mastery that is Joss Whedon. Or, one presumes, TV’s Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Though that does make one wonder: Kristy Swanson, where the fuck have you been hiding? But to a much, much less extent, the same question applies to you, Luke Perry.

2. Archie finally proposes to one of those tremendous ladies in his life. Ah, but which one? Betty or Veronica? Betty or Veronica? Betty or Veronica?

As you can see above, it’s Veronica.

I know, I know. You’re like, “But, what, huh?”

(Side note: Seriously, ladies? You can do anything in the world that you want, be anything that you want, and especially be with anyone. And you choose and choose to be defined by this dork Archie? I mean, I can’t respect anyone dating a guy named Jughead, for about a billion reasons (though they all start with the fact that he’s named Jughead), but even he seems to have more going on than Archie. Look, Betty and Veronica, this is all I’m going to say and then I’m gonna forever hold my tongue: Archie’s a fucking stain on your life, all right?)

I find both of those developments fascinating. The Archie thing is kind of built upon so much history between these continuing characters and it’s quite frankly a development that no one probably gives a shit about. I mean, first of all, hardcore Archie fans: Who the fuck are you people? Secondly, if you had woke up the other day and this marriage thing had never shown up, you’d still be sucking like normal, right? Right.

And the Buffy thing is just weird and stupid. Granted, Joss Whedon is busy with Dollhouse and Cabin In The Woods, and the Buffy comic book (season 8), but still. We must’ve crossed the threshold from one generation to another in the last few years with the frequency in which we reboot/restart things.

I’m not going to lie you here, but you scare me to death, Generation Reboot. Because my life is in your hands. I feel like Spock (Prime) in J. J. Abram’s Star Trek restart. I’m time traveled back to now to save the motherfucking universe from impending doom and the pre-rebooted Hulk, but everything’s different. Everyone’s younger, different, and slightly less charismatic. And I’m supposed to be okay with it. I’m not, but I should be. I have to be.

Bad Trailer.

Wow, they weren’t kidding when they said they were going to remake/reimagining Bad Lieutenant, were they? Here’s the trailer for Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans:

Not that I really cared all that much for the original, I did find it hilarious that Werner Herzog was doing this new take on it, and that he cast Nic Cage and Val Kilmer in it.  Then I saw the trailer and… and…

Just wow. You know? I feel like Nic Cage is going to start a whole new bizarre genre of bad remakes that are just wonderfully, brilliantly fucking ludicrously horrible. But amazingly so. And I just want to remind you that this man…

…has an Oscar. I bring that up just as reminder that clearly our Hollywood system just works.

And then, speaking of ridiculous bad trailers as a treat for you, I give you the preview for Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus:

Which stars Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lama, I should add. Don’t ask me how I came across this, but it looks wonderfully bad too. The kind of bad that is perfect in trailer form so you can laugh at it, but you’d never actually watch this movie (I hope). If you would, then you probably watch those Saturday night Sci Fi channel movies and you may just be a bit stupid, no offense.

And last, but not least (well, maybe it is), I have a little present just for our very own August Bravo. Enjoy it, August!

Miles After Midnight.

Miles Davis, besides being a fantastic musician, is a man of words. His music covered so much of what was there, unspoken, undefinable, but his words were sharp usually, brutal, and immediate. From him, we have probably the greatest advice you can get about music: “Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.”

“If somebody told me I only had an hour to live, I’d spend it choking a white man. I’d do it nice and slow.”

-Miles, after an interview in which he had grown increasingly aggravated with continuous questions about race. I throw that one in just for you, Conrad.

“I’ve changed music four or five times. What have you done of any importance other than be white?”

-Miles Davis, at a reception he gone to that was honoring Ray Charles at the White House in 1987 and the above statement is his response to a lady of Washington society who was seated next to him when she asked him what he had done to be invited.

Miles Davis After Midnight by Robert Ashley. And:

The Miles Davis Quintet performing “‘Round Midnight” in Stockholm back in 1967:

Turn Down Service

I want to live in a hotel, just like Eloise, who lives in the Plaza and who is “not yet pretty but is already a person”.

Most people can’t wait to leave the hotel and go back to their beds. Having slept in very uncomfortable beds (and its inferior cousin, the futon) for many years, my favorite part of traveling is getting to sleep in a hotel bed. All hotel rooms smell the same, with their attempts to wipe the memories of the other people who were there away. When I first get to a hotel room, I like to find the bible, spread out all my stuff, get some ice and water and read the room service menu.

But it’s not just the rooms that turn me on. I also love hotel bars, a cross section of people who shouldn’t be in the same place, but are. And the lobbies! It’s like going into someone’s house and being allowed to sit in their living room. No one can bother you in a hotel lobby. You don’t have to buy anything or do anything. I’ve done some of my best writing (and freaking out) in hotel lobbies while sports silently plays somewhere and buttoned up waiters bring me water after water.

The Driskill Hotel in Austin is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It’s eerily out of place on Brazos street, which is full of bars, pedi-cabs and street sausage vendors. And then all of a sudden there’s this gorgeous Southern mansion right on the corner. Built in 1886, the Driskill is believed to be haunted by a few ghosts, including its namesake Colonel Driskill who likes to turn bathroom lights on and off.

Upscale hotel lobbies are a wonderful place to take refuge from bustling downtown centers. In San Francisco, I had two hotel lobbies I liked to loiter in: the Westin on 3rd and the sexiest place on earth, the St Regis Hotel. Typically I am an old school dork who likes everything to be either art-deco or pre-war, but the St Regis makes me happy in a way typically reserved for .. well, for almost nothing. The extremely expensive bar offers expertly made drinks served by waitresses in asexual black uniforms and top notch escort watching. Last but not certainly least, the touch activated fireplace is a fun way to freak out your date or make you feel like you are evading some kind of fire inspired death.

The hotel Abba in Amsterdam is so budget they only have twin beds. This leads to you almost falling in between them in the middle of a hash induced make out session. The other thing about budget European accomodation is you don’t get your own bathroom. We shared it with one other room, who luckily we never saw and who were apparently able to hold their space cakes. It was a huge bathroom with almost no ventilation and I spent about half an hour staring at the blue tiles in the shower after eating half a box of mushrooms. The window in our room faced a giant courtyard with different tiny Dutch apartments to look into, with a band of roving cats that would jump from balcony to balcony. That came in handy as well, when you’re stoned and need to look at something. I would recommend the Hotel Abba if you are traveling cheaply in Europe but really hate people (hostelling requires too much interaction).

I could write an entire book about hotels in Vegas (don’t dare me because I will). I love all the hotels on the Strip except for Imperial Palace, where no one should stay or enter, ever. For a group? The Venetian. For hot sex in the most comfortable bed you will ever sleep or roll around in? The Wynn. You want to drink out of a medieval chalice and watch brides drink 40s while wearing stonewashed cut offs and a cheap veil they bought at Claire’s? Excalibur. The hottest waitress uniforms are at Caesar’s Palace (togas). If you’re going to stay downtown because you have some kind of problem with things that are nice, the Golden Nugget, with a shark tank by the pool is white trash perfection. The pina colada they serve at the pool bar is spectacular and actually is kind of spicy. A mixologist after my pretentious little heart.

The worst hotel I stayed at was also in Amsterdam, in Vondelpark. The elevator smelled like there were a million dead rats in the wall and the TV that night would show one channel, which was playing the Demi Moore movie Striptease. I’m sure you can understand why I hold it as the worst hotel stay ever. The travelodge in San Jose was also a terrible place, but at some point I started to feel better and this happened:

Hotels are possibility and secrets and intrigue. It’s your pretend home so you can have a pretend self, too. Or it’s where you can finally be the person you’ve always wanted to be. You can eat in bed and not worry about cleaning it up. You can order porn and no one will know. Best of all, it’s one of the few places in life where it’s socially acceptable to tell everyone to stay the hell out of your room with a cute little sign to hang on the door. At worst, hotels are sad places where you will end up covered in your own vomit and tears. Whatever it is, it’s not the same old. It’s not the usual. You’ll have a story to tell. And sometimes, that’s the best we can hope for.

[All images belong to the author, except for the first, which belongs to Amazon]

In which we say “Fiat Lux!” upon the God particle of the cinema…

I saw Ron Howard’s Angels & Demons yesterday.

It’s like when your friend, who’s been dating some douchebag for years and years, and you’ve had to watch her slowly self destruct from it, watch her announce time and again that she’s found the strength to get out, but then slowly turn around and delude herself with reasons why she should stay with the prick. And then they finally do break up. And things are great. And then one day she’s all like, “Oh yeah, by the way, I fucked Matt again yesterday.” And you’re all like, “What? Ugh. Jesus.”

Well, perhaps it’s not that harsh, but it kind of is.

A simple plot summary if you somehow don’t know before a very simplistic review: Based on the novel by Dan Brown (of The Da Vinci Code fame, though this book came first but is now the film sequel) and starring Tom Hanks as Harvard professor Robert Langdon, well known symbologist, is called in when the Vatican needs a little help. You see, the pope just died and they’re in the process of electing a new old white man to rule the world’s enslaved spirituality, but it’s quite possible that the church’s enemies, the Illiuminati (gasp!), have returned with a vengeance. Ewan McGregor slums it up as the carmerlengo, essentially the pope’s secretary who is temporarily in charge until a new old white man is installed in the robes of the Holy See. Ayelet Zurer, the gorgeous Israeli actress who played Eric Bana’s wife in Munich, is around for some excitement as a scientist from CERN because – Holy Shit! – those naughty Illuminatus have stolen some antimatter to set up as  a time bomb that’s going to blow the Vatican to hell at midnight!

Wow, that sounds exciting, right? No, not so much. Like I said, I give you here a simple review in simple statements…

Much like The Da Vinci Code, while watching this movie, I wanted to watch a documentary about some of the realistic parts of this film rather than the film itself. Well, that’s only half true here because, as interesting as Galileo and Bernini and their contributions to Rome are, I don’t usually care so much for the anti-Catholic brand of Illuminatus lore. I guess I prefer the more Bavarian Illuminati? With Adam Weishaupt (or is it George Washington?) and those types.

Tom Hanks. You know what, Tom? I still dig you. At your worst, you’re absolutely harmless, posing a threat to no one. But your best, you’re usually working with Steven Spielberg.

The lovely Ayelet Zurer as Vittoria Vetra, the scientist from CERN, is pretty much just there to be the female lead, to give Tom Hanks someone to lecture to, and possibly diffuse the antimatter bomb if she can. I’m sad that they gave her pretty much nothing to do within those confines and they keep her character pretty passionless.

This whole film feels like one of those 90s CD-ROM games where you do something retarded, stop to solve a puzzle, and one of the characters gives you a two minute history less that is somehow important to whatever buttons you have to mash on the keyboard. I want to throw my keyboard at the screen here.

I blame anything that’s wrong with this movie solely on the direction. Ron Howard, you are the biggest director with no real sense of style or filmmaking craft out there. I’m amazed how you constantly are able to make these action-less action movies. You’re like a TV director given big screen projects to fuck around with. You are the poorest of poor man’s Spielberg (and Spielberg really knew how to balance action and adventure with a reverence for religion and history and also, you know, REAL FILMMAKING SKILLS!). That said, make a Arrested Development movie finally, but just produce it, okay?

Ewan McGregor with his good friend, Jude Law.

I think the truest statement you can say here is that the biggest sin of this movie is ours. Why have we neglected Ewan McGregor so badly that he’d have to resort to this film? I mean, he was in Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary and The Pillow Book and like a thousand other brilliant films that he was wonderful in. He’s Obi-Wan Kenobi for fuck’s sake! Also, did you see Young Adam? That shit was hot and wild.

Also, if you have any idea how movies work or have even looked at the casting of this movie then – SUPER SPOILER AHEAD OH NOES! – you can tell that Ewan McGregor is the bad guy here. Sure, you’ve got Armin Mueller-Stahl and Stellan Skarsgard as super eurotrash red herrings, which makes sense to have a former Stasi and a guy with a face like a Nazi, but still, it was always going to be Ewan McGregor. Plus, you should’ve guessed after an hour passed in the movie and he hadn’t shown you his cock yet.

Remember how the first movie was just a constant chase sequence of an airport thriller storyline? Same here, only slightly more ridiculous, and in reverse. This time Tom Hanks is doing all the chasing and running. His hair is much less silly and all of his exposition is done walking or running. It’s like The West Wing but talking about religious meanderings rather than politics. And on something a little less exciting than speed or cocaine.

That said, if this franchise were to become a TV with Tom Hanks, or obviously some decent small screen version of him, going around solving crisis after crisis and going off on art history lectures, I’d actually be down for it.

Antimatter bomb? Seriously? Antimatter is so cool, in real life, and constantly thrown around in the same sentences with the God Particle, which is really the Higgs boson, and I wish you could make bombs out of it. Bombs the size of blowing up small cities too. But really, you just can’t. It would take longer than human history to accumulate that much material.

Berninin’s Habbakuk and the Angel, the first “altar of science.”

I love that terms like “altars of science” keep getting thrown around here. If you think about it, Altars Of Science would make a great name for either a metal band or a children’s TV show.

Also, I love that CERN actually has an FAQ up just to deal with misconceptions that could be out there just because of this film/book.

And Dan Brown has a bit up at his site dealing with the bizarre secrets from the book. By now you kids should know that Bizarre Secrets is actually my middle name. No joke. Just reading my birth certifcate is a wild dip into the surreal.

Thanks to one scene that felt like it was a good 15 minutes long, I know where the jurisdiction of the Swiss Guard (or schweizergarde, if you will) ends and the Vatican police force picks up. Thanks, Angels & Demons!

Back to Ewan McGregor for a moment: Yeah, sure, he’s the bad guy here. He’s dome some heinous shit, but he’s so charming at it. And he seemingly kept a mastery of The Force from the Star Wars prequels because at one point he saves the day by flying his helicopter up however many miles high to set off the antimatter bomb away from people and then parachutes away to safety like it ain’t no big thing. So I’m going to throw out this kind of kind of radical notion: He did all this to be the fucking Pope? Give it to him, guys. I mean, seriously. I think he’s earned it. So he killed the old Pope. Whatever. The guy was old and weak and probably stupid. Obi Wan is young and vital and and has science fiction powers. Don’t you want him leading to continuing brainwashing of the hearts and minds of a billion suckers out there?

And yes, he is remarkably Kenneth Branagh-esque in this story.

Is this film sacrilegious? No. Not at all. I mean, I don’t even care, and I can tell you that it’s just not.

Actually, you know what the movie reminds me of quite a bit? The Name Of The Rose, the film with Sean Connery and Christian Slater, based on the novel by Umberto Eco. Yeah. It reminds me a little of that. But less dirty and sexy.

Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa is actually one of my favorite pieces of art out there, and the story that goes with it. I’ll let you discover that for yourself if you so choose. Also, I have always loved the word “transverberation.”

Ambiagrams! They’re like palindromes but more symbol-ish. The one done for the movie (above) was done by John Langdon, whom the fictional Robert Langdon is based on.

Having read the synopsis of the novel version of this story, I have to say that the changes made to the story for the film adaptation actually work better. A lot better.

One of those changes is to the assassin character, called the Hassassin in the book, which seemed to play like a rape-happy Middle Eastern stereotype. Though it’s interesting that origins come from the the word Hashshashin, which ties into one of my favorite historical figures of all time, Hassan-i Sabbah, whom I’m sure you’ll hear me talk about here at some point…

Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”

Wait just one second here… In the book, Langdon is usually bedding his female leads? He’s like an intellectual Bond type? Interesting. I mean, kind of implausible, but still, it’s interesting.

Eh… anyway. Angels & Demons is not horrible, perhaps it’s better than The Da Vinci Code, I don’t know.  Technically they fall under the category of escapism for smart people, or enlightened people, if you will, and that can’t be that bad. And what’s worse, I think they’ve guaranteed that I’ll read Brown’s third Robert Langdon book when it comes out this year. But my sins? They shall never be purged.

Your foster parents are dead.

Ruh-Roh!

It’s been a good weekend for suicidal asians. Or, as we say in America, a good weekend.

the newz

In case anyone is wondering, yes, Terminator: Salvation really is that bad. The writing was on the wall when McG got the job; but still, you figured: Bale, Terminator property: can’t fuck it up too bad, right? Wrong. Has there ever been a less-promising crop of working directors in Hollywood? Zach Snyder, Michael Bay, McG, Brett Ratner, Stephen Sommers, Rob fucking Zombie? Artless technicians all; who might, with several million dollars, block a few cool-looking shots and keep effects houses in business, but could hardly be called Filmmakers. It’s like basic fundamentals of story-telling are beyond their grasp.  J.J. Abrams looks like a junior member of the fucking Film School Brats next to his peers.

The Balls

The Balls

My friends in college used to give me shit for liking Point Break, but put that up against any modern summer movie and it looks like a goddamn masterpiece. Kathryn, by the way, has a new movie coming out this summer; one of the only upcoming releases I’m even interested in.

Eff! Beee!! IIII!!!!

They don't make 'em like they used to

But what’s more depressing is not how bad the movies are, but how willing American audiences are to embrace them. Occam Razor and I frequently subject ourselves to bad summer movies on opening weekend, and I’d swear the crowds this year are more hopeless than ever before.

They actually applauded at the end of Terminator. The fuck!?

Yay! Thanks for taking my money! And two hours of my life!!”

Not to mention that the crowd was full of families with young children. At a Terminator flick. …

Can you really blame Skynet?

Can you really blame Skynet?

Suffice it to say, I needed a drink. I’ll be the first to admit: I will buy any beer that has a cool name and/or packaging, and costs enough to keep away the riff-raff. One of those brewers just re-branded all their beers with hip names, so now their hefeweizen is called Haywire! Check out this tagline:

sublime

sublime

I can respect a marketing campaign like that. None of this “coldest-tasting beer” or “drinkability” bullshit. Just: you should buy this beer because we changed the name. Don Draper would be proud.

If a brewery can tack on a made-up seasonal twist to their beer as well, I’m sold. And not because I’m a total sucker for advertising, but in an era where retarded ads for McCafé and Microsoft rule the airwaves, I feel like I should at least apportion my spending power only to those companies that don’t treat me like a total asshole.

I gotta go watch T2 now just to cleanse the palette.

We elected this guy Governor of California! HAHAHAHAHA--aw shit.

We elected this guy Governor of California! HAHAHAHAHA--aw shit.