Friday, October 31, 2008

Movie Song of the Week: “Monster Mash”

Yes, it's not a conventional movie song but it does seem quite appropriate this week nonetheless. Besides, the “This is Halloween” song from The Nightmare Before Christmas seemed way too obvious a choice. And just how often does one get a chance to hear actor Vincent Price sing?

From 1980's The Monster Club, it's the ultimate Halloween song sung by the ultimate Halloween star.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Halloween Song of the Week: “Ghost of Stephen Foster”

This 1999 tune by the Squirrel Nut Zippers isn't really a conventional Halloween song but then none of the songs I've been posting in this category this year have been conventional Halloween songs. Besides, who in their right mind can resist a video that is such an obvious homage to classic animator Max Fleisher, the man who invented Betty Boop and introduced a certain Popeye the Sailor Man to the world of cartoons?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Mi Prima Favorita!

It's my favorite first cousin's birthday today.

I doubt she reads this blog but I send her my best birthday wishes anyway.

I know it's not fashionable to show any affection for one's extended family -- heck, it hardly seems fashionable these days to show any affection for one's nuclear family -- but as I said before, I'd rather not be fashionable on most issues.

I hope she has a great birthday.

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Trailer of the Week: Halloween (1978)

As another blogger would put it, come take a quick break from work. Watch a movie trailer.

Here's a cheery if not exactly imaginative choice.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Movie Quote of the Week

It will be interesting to see who wins.
--Martine Beswick, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)

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All Politics Is Loco, Parte VIII

According to some elderly guys at one of the local restaurants, Obama already has the Presidental race all sewn up. Personally I won't believe that till next Wednesday but when even people who aren't Obama fans start talking as if his victory was a sure thing, I can't help but wonder.

Anyway, I'll be glad when this Presidential race is over. This post made me rather proud to be an American. This post about the recent booing of John McCain by his own supporters didn't make me feel so proud (I keep thinking Americans should be better than that and unfortunately, many of my fellow Americans are not) and this post -- which argued that people who merely vote for the wrong political candidate are much worse than a Russian dictator who murdered millions -- is just ridiculous.

I guess if I was smart, I would have taken advantage of early voting but I didn't. I guess I like to live dangerously.

Anyway, I discovered at a recent family gathering that I'm one of the few people left in my family who will be voting Democratic this November. Since my mother is a former Kennedy Democrat who once voted for McGovern and since my favorite cousin once described the Democratic Party in the late 1980s as "our" party -- implying that voting Democratic was a tradition for both my family and hers -- this makes me sad. But it doesn't surprise me. My mother has talked for years of her disillusionment with the Democratic Party and since she once admitted that she voted against Clinton in the 1990s because he supported defense cuts -- and because her employer was dependent on defense contracts -- I really didn't think it was too realistic to expect her to change her mind.

I was surprised by my one sibling's enthusiasm for Sarah Palin -- apparently he thinks she's a hottie -- and even more by one out-of-state cousin's antipathy toward Ms. Palin. I haven't had the chance to discuss with my cousin her reasons for hating Ms. Palin but my sibling assured me that she was most vocal about it in their online correspondence.

Anyway, I don't expect Obama to solve all our problems if he gets elected and indeed, I suspect the election will be a lot closer than most people are predicting. I don't really see McCain pulling an upset but then there was a time back in January when he didn't seem likely to even get the nomination. So who knows?

I'm keeping my fingers crossed either way.

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All the Classic Movies That I Have Seen

1. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931).

One of the best versions of Robert Louis Stevenson's novella that I have seen thus far. Fredric March deserved his Oscar. Miriam Hopkins was not too bad either.

2. Frankenstein (1931).

Another horror classic. Not much I could say about this that others have not already said but I am still haunted by certain scenes -- the windmill fire scene, for example -- that I remember from my childhood. I wish I could say that I have seen the 1931 version of Dracula as well but I have only seen bits and pieces.

3. The Invisible Man (1933).

Yes, it takes liberties with some of the original novel's plot but it is still a better rendition than one might think.

4. Werewolf of London (1935).

Another movie I saw in my teenage years. I never liked it as much as The Wolf Man but it had its moments.

5. Son of Frankenstein (1939).

For some reason, I never saw half as much of The Bride of Frankenstein as I did this one. Obviously a big influence on Young Frankenstein.

6. The Cat and the Canary (1939).

The Bob Hope version. Actually a lot better than I thought it would be. The fact that Hope had Paulette Goddard of Modern Times fame as his female lead does not hurt either. I have yet to see a film in which Ms. Goddard's presence was not a welcome addition -- she even managed to steal the show from her more famous co-stars in The Women -- and this film is no exception.

7. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941).

Interesting experiment that did not quite work, perhaps because director Victor Fleming overdid the special effects -- especially in the dream sequences -- or more likely because Spencer Tracy was not a very convincing Mr. Hyde. He tried, bless his heart, and of course, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner were quite attractive, but I still prefer the 1931 version.

8. The Wolf Man (1941).

This film always confused me as a young boy because I never quite understood why the filmmakers called the title character a “wolf man” when he so obviously looked nothing like a wolf. I guess “Weird Hairy Man” was taken as a title.

9. The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942).

I had seen this when I was a young boy but I don't remember too much about it.

10. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1942).

For some reason I liked this as a young boy but I don't remember why.

11. House of Frankenstein (1944).


12. The Body Snatcher (1945).

Robert Wise does horror. Actually a pretty good horror film as I recall.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TV Quote of the Week

As you know, there’s a real scary holiday coming up... Election Day.
--Paul Lynde, The Paul Lynde Halloween Special

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Lamenting the Lucky

Listen to the life stories of some well-off people and you’ll inevitably hear the story of a tragedy. The tale of some catastrophe that they had to struggle to get over -- not because they wanted to but because they felt like life had given them no choice.

For example, one such person I once knew lost his father when he was just fourteen. For many years, he was the sole support of his mother and his younger sister and he was constantly pressured to quit college as a result. But he didn’t and eventually he reaped the rewards of his sacrifice. Yet he was then discouraged from visiting his old neighborhood. Why? Because he was now successful enough to wear a suit to work -- and many of the people in his old neighborhood did not trust anyone who wore a suit to work.

Of course, not every well-off person will have such a story. No doubt, many will undoubtedly be the type of people who were born on first base and thought they hit a triple.

But not every well-off person is like that. And you can never tell without knowing them which of them inherited their wealth and which had to work for it.

Yes, it is hard to feel sympathy for the well-off. But then again it’s hard to see how rewarding the formerly poor with criticism or ostracism acts as much of an incentive for the presently poor. At best, it encourages the type of envy which is often more of an obstacle than an inspiration. At worst, it discourages the formerly poor from having little to no contact with the presently poor. And who exactly benefits from that?

Perhaps the type of people who would rather see no person escape from poverty than see the wrong type of person do so.

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The Americana Paradox

An older relative used to lecture me on how he preferred the women of his native Mexico to American women because they weren't not as used to feminism as American women. And yet he always tended to lean toward the Mexican women who were most assertive and independent -- in other words, he preferred the type of Mexican women who were most like American women. And even when he tried to choose more docile types, his relationships still failed -- probably for the same reasons his relationships with American women failed.

I had a similar revelation when I dated my first girlfriend -- a woman born and raised in Mexico. On one hand, she was prettier than any American woman I had ever talked to and initially we hit it off just fine. But I could not but help but notice that the traits I most admired in her were the traits that were usually associated with Americans. In other words, the things that most attracted me to this foreign-born woman were the same things I could find in most American women. Apart from her ability to pronounce my Spanish first name correctly -- which is hardly much of a basis for a relationship.

Anyway, in the end, our relationship failed. And so did my relationship with the next Mexican woman I courted.

Indeed, I still find it ironic that after years of dreaming about finding the ideal Latina woman to be mi novia, the strongest romantic relationship I've had to date with has been with a woman who is not Hispanic. Perhaps the Powers That Be are trying to tell me something.

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Halloween Songs of the Week

“Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” -- Concrete Blonde
“Dracula's Tango” -- Toto Coelo
“Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man” -- Concrete Blonde
“Ghost of Stephen Foster” -- Squirrel Nut Zippers
“Hammer Horror” -- Kate Bush
“Haunted House” -- Jumpin' Gene Simmons
“Hell” -- Squirrel Nut Zippers
“Laurie (Strange Things Happen)” -- Dickey Lee
“Monster Mash” -- Bobby "Boris" Pickett
“Spooky” -- Classics IV
“Surfin' Spooks” -- The Ghastly Ones
“Swingin' at the Seance” -- The Moon Rays
“Thriller” -- Michael Jackson
“Werewolf” -- Five Man Electrical Band

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Movie Song of the Week: “Don't Stop Me Now”

No, it's not really a Halloween song but it almost should be after its appearance in 2004's Shaun of the Dead.

Of course, Shaun of the Dead isn't really a musical but there's no denying that the movie's most memorable scene is set to music. So I guess it qualifies, right?

Besides, this scene includes my beloved Lucy Davis, who plays the dart thrower. And yes, some other people are in this one too but I don't really want to write about them right now.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Trailer of the Week: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Hey, it's the last weekend before Halloween.

Why not see a movie trailer? After all, if such advice is good enough for other people...

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Song of the Week: “Dracula's Tango”

Apparently you can line dance to anything. Even this week's song, Toto Coelo's “Dracula's Tango.”

The video for this 1983 tune can best be described as something that has to be seen to be believed. Or as one YouTube viewer put it: “so bad it's brilliant.”

Yes, I probably should have gone with a more predictable choice like Michael Jackson's “Thriller” but I don't always like being predictable. Besides, a choice between dancing zombies and girls in brightly-colored nightwear isn't exactly a hard one for me to make. How this song avoided a spot on the special musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I'll never know.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Oh, I’m sorry. Stupidity always brings out the worst in me.
--Peter Cushing, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)

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TV Quote of the Week

I love Halloween. The one time of year when everyone wears a mask... not just me.
--Michael C. Hall, Dexter, “Let’s Give the Boy a Hand”

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Song Quote of the Week

Come here.
No, I won't say please.
One more look at the ghost
Before I'm gonna make it leave.
--Mike Elizondo, John O'Brien and Poe, “Haunted”

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A Dorian by Any Other Name

Apparently there is this Italian actress named Maria Luisa Mangini who works under the stage name Dorian Gray. Heaven knows why.

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All the Classic Horror Novels That I Have Read, Part One

1. Frankenstein (1818) -- Mary Shelley.

The one that started it all -- at least, historically speaking. Ironically, I never read the whole thing until recently but I do remember reading the plot synopsis in my parent's Masterplots collection over and over again.

2. The Portrait of Dorian Gray (1890) -- Oscar Wilde.

Another book I've read recently. (I did read Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" in high school, but unfortunately, it's technically a novella, not a novel, so I can't really put it on this list.)

3. Dracula (1897) -- Bram Stoker.

Another one that I've only recently read all the way through.

4. The Invisible Man (1897) -- H. G. Wells.

Horror novel or science fiction? You decide. One of the few classic horror novels I've read in high school.

5. The Werewolf of Paris (1933) -- Guy Endore.

Yes, I already mentioned it on another list, but it really is a good novel.

6. Conjure Wife (1943) -- Fritz Leiber.

One of the first novels of contemporary horror. Also the inspiration of at least two movies.

7. I Am Legend (1954) -- Richard Matheson.

Another co-mingling of science fiction and horror. This book has been ripped off so often it's a wonder Matheson gets any royalties at all.

8. Psycho (1959) -- Robert Bloch.

Yes, the novel that inspired the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name. Definitely different -- and more realistic -- than the movie. Save for that decapitation scene.

9. Carrie (1974) -- Stephen King.

The first book from some obscure writer named Stephen King. Whatever happened to him?

10. Ghost Story (1979) -- Peter Straub.

One of the best -- and most artistically ambitious -- horror novels I've ever read. Also way better than its cinematic namesake.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

R.I.P. Levi Stubbs

Levi Stubbs, former lead singer for the Motown group Four Tops, died last Friday.

He will be missed.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Movie Song of the Week: “The Time Warp”

I was going to postpone posting this song until later in the month. However, after finding this item via another blog, I couldn't resist.

From 1975's The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it's one of the most famous Halloween songs of all time. A song that presents you with the spectacle of a young Susan Sarandon, a young Barry Bostwick, a shameless imitation of Dwight Frye and an even more shameless imitation of Ruby Keeler. Plus you get to see Hammer Studios film star Charles Gray play dance instructor. How often do you get to see that?

It was one of my favorite movies when I was in my late teens. I hope you enjoy it too.

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Halloween Song of the Week: “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)”

An oldie but a goodie from 1990s band Concrete Blonde.

Lead singer Johnette Napolitano goes all Anne Rice on us with this video featuring all kinds of creepy/scary stuff: snakes, black cats, skulls, rabbits...Rabbits? Er, never mind. At least the lyrics are creepy.

Anyway, Johnette is one of my favorite singers and this is one of my favorite Halloween songs.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Movie Quote of the Week

We’re advising our clients to put everything they have into canned goods and shotguns.
--Tony Randall, Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Feliz Cumpleaños, Mi Hermano

My middle brother's birthday isn't till Wednesday but we celebrated it yesterday for convenience's sake.

It will be probably the last time before Thanksgiving that so many members of our family get together so I'm glad I was able to make it.

Anyway, I hope he enjoyed the celebration as much as I did. And that Wednesday goes well for him too.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Movie Song of the Week: “Puttin' On The Ritz”

The 1974 Young Frankenstein version, of course. NOT the Fred Astaire version. Someday I might post that version but not this week. Though one could argue that it would be equally appropriate for the month of October since Fred liked to dance as if he was supernaturally inspired. And when he was dancing with Ginger, of course, he was obviously dancing with a goddess.

But enough of that.

I hope you enjoy the song.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

God Bless You, Lucia Muir, Wherever You Are

Unlike Rex Harrison's Captain Daniel Gregg in 1947's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, I have never called any of my beloveds -- and there have been several -- by the Spanish equivalent of their first names -- apart, of course, from those who already had Spanish first names. But The Ghost and Mrs. Muir makes me want to do so.

Indeed, it makes me want to do a lot of things. Sail the seven seas. Weather a storm at sea. Romance a widow and let her not be the worse for knowing me. (Not that I'm in the habit of making women be the worse for knowing me.) Write a book more stirring than the one Gene Tierney's character Lucy -- excuse me -- Lucia Muir writes midway through the movie. Drink warm milk.

Okay, that last part was an exaggeration, but I still must admit to being greatly moved by this movie. In an age in which so many “art” movies strain to show how “literary” they are, it was interesting to see a movie that pays homage to the power of the written word -- and yet avoids the usual whining of how nobody ever takes writers seriously. A movie that actually has a sense of humor about the subject. And yet has other things on its mind.

I suppose the one reason I am so moved by this movie is the way the Gene Tierney character eventually reminded me of an older relative. Unlike Lucia Muir, this relative was never widowed, but she did marry twice -- and after the second marriage, she seemed to give up on romance altogether. I would like to think that the relative in question is destined to have a happier fate than Lucia Muir. But time will tell.

Of course, one could argue that Lucia Muir's fate in the end was not all that unhappy. And given the fact that she was a widow, the fact that the movie manages to give its blessing to a relationship that does not involve a reunion between her and her departed spouse despite the Hays Code seems like a notable achievement.

But, as in the case with my older relative, I am human enough to wish things had worked out for her a bit differently. And that romance in the real world has more than a ghost of a chance.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Halloween Song of the Week: “Hammer Horror”

Introducing a song by the one Bush I'd like to think we can all support this October: Kate Bush. The British singer most famous for “Running Up That Hill” and the original version of “Wuthering Heights.”

I'm probably the last person in this world to have heard of this tune but hey, better late than never.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Movie Quote of the Week

I’ll say one thing for humans, they may not be very bright and their bodies fall apart in a ridiculously short time but they do manage to enjoy themselves.
--Alan Dexter, I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958)

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Literary Quote I Like

Yet who shall declare the dark theme a positive handicap? Radiant with beauty, the Cup of the Ptolemies was carven of onyx.
--H. P. Lovecraft, “Supernatural Horror in Literature”

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Literary Quote I Don't Like

Wherever the mystic Northern blood was strongest, the atmosphere of the popular tales became most intense; for in the Latin races there is a touch of basic rationality which denies to even their strangest superstitions many of the overtones of glamour so characteristic of our own forest-born and ice-fostered whisperings.
--H.P. Lovecraft, “Supernatural Horror in Literature”

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The CD That Has Me Most Interested This Month

I would discover something like this when I'm trying to be frugal.

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All Politics Is Loco, Parte VII

At long last a voice of sanity.

I should have posted about this earlier but I've been too depressed to comment on politics as of late.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Remembering Lepanto

According to the good folks at the Crunchy Con site, today is the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, the great naval battle that settled once and for all -- at least for a few centuries -- the fate of Western Europe. (Ironically, it's most remembered today for being the battle in which Miguel Cervantes -- author of Don Quixote -- fought.)

Be sure to thank a Spaniard today. Or an Austrian. Or any member of an European Navy. After all, had things gone differently, this blog entry might have been written in Turkish.

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Literary Quote Least Likely to Be Used by Respectable Film Critics

I am a dreaming disease. No wonder I love the movies.
--The Monster in Clive Barker's “Son of Celluloid”

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Books That Scared the Hell Out of Me When I Was a Kid

For some reason, I encountered this book long before I discovered its prequel Tales to Tremble By. And I was always more impressed by this book than I was by its prequel. Perhaps because it was one of the first book of horror stories that I ever owned.

The first story in the book -- H. Russell Wakefield's "The Red Lodge" -- scared the hell out of me and even today there are times when I remember certain images from that story in my dreams. Especially the scene when the narrator keeps fighting this urge to get up and look out the window, an urge he dare not give in to lest he'd gaze upon something so hideous that my words can't really do it justice.

I was also scared by the book's other stories such as Percival Landon's "Thurnley Abbey", William Hope Hodgson's "A Voice in the Night" and August Derleth's "The Extra Passenger." For that matter, this book also marked my first exposure to champion ghost story writer M.R. James but alas, I was too young to appreciate it.

Another book I remember from my youth. It was not quite as scary as More Tales to Tremble By but it had its moments. Plus, it gave me my first exposure to the short stories of Robert Bloch -- the author of Psycho -- as well as my first look at William Hope Hodgson's character Carnacki the Ghost Finder.

For some reason, I was a sucker for anything associated with the actor Boris Karloff. I used to stay up late and watch monster movies -- a habit I inherited from my older cousins -- and of course, Boris Karloff often played a key part in such movies. It didn't hurt that he also narrated one of my favorite anthology series Thriller -- no, not the Michael Jackson version. Thriller wasn't always as scary as it should be -- but it had more than its share of genuinely scary episodes. And I like to think the series holds up better than more recent anthology shows like Tales from the Darkside. But then I'm biased.

Anyway, the book itself was very eerie. They eventually published a sequel called More Tales of the Frightened, but for some reason, I didn't care for that book as much as the first.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Movie Song of the Week: “Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head”

In honor of the late Paul Newman, it's B.J. Thomas's Oscar-winning song from 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Yes, it's a corny choice, but it's not like the late Paul Newman starred in a lot of musicals. Besides, he and Katharine Ross make quite a lovely couple. And I just love that part where she reaches for the apple.

As you might guess, this film holds a special place in my heart since it was one of the first grown-up movies I ever saw in an indoor theatre. I still remember wondering what my mother must have thought during the more “adult” portions of the movie and I even remember feeling a little embarrassed for her sake during the brothel scenes. And yet I never really regretted seeing this movie either.

True, it might be regarded as a shameless whitewash of the real Butch Cassidy and company, but if seen as a fictional Western, it certainly makes for a mighty fine bit of storytelling. And I'm not just saying that because Ms. Ross is so darn cute.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Political Quote of the Week

You know, so much of the time we're just lost. We say, "Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true." And there is no justice: the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead... a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims... and we become victims. We become... we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today you are the law. You ARE the law. Not some book... not the lawyers... not the, a marble statue... or the trappings of the court. See those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are... they are, in fact, a prayer: a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say, "Act as if ye had faith... and faith will be given to you." IF... if we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. And ACT with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.
--Paul Newman, The Verdict (1982)

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wait a Minute

There are people in America who actually don't know how to pronounce the last word in this movie's title?

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Movie Quote of the Week

I have vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.
--Paul Newman, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

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This Town Is Nothing Like a Ghost Town

First of all, New York City is not really a town. When Gene Kelly set his movie On The Town there, it was obviously a figure of speech. Nor is it particularly full of ghosts. One might argue that the site of the former World Trade Center is pretty haunting but it does not take a lot of imagination to guess why most movies choose to not exploit that fact.

One might argue that there is considerable potential for a movie about old-fashioned ghosts in a city as new-fashioned as Nueva York. But, alas, such a movie is not the recent Ricky Gervais flick Ghost Town. Indeed, I found Ghost Town considerably disappointing because after all I’ve read about Ghost Town being like one of those old-fashioned screwball comedies that we all know and love, I found it more than a little shocking to see how unfunny the movie actually was. (And it did not help that I have actually seen a lot of old-fashioned screwball comedies recently.)

Part of the problem is that Ricky Gervais is not a conventional comic lead. He tends to specialize in the type of annoying characters -- like his “boss from Hell” character in The Office -- that are funny to watch but who would be annoying as heck to see as a main character. (As you might guess, my main interest in The Office has nothing to do with the Ricky Gervais character.) Gervais tends to work best in a situation where he has a good script and Ghost Town, alas, does not have a good script. Indeed, a lot of the dialogue here is so awful that Grant and Hepburn could not pull it off.

The story begins when Gervais’s character Dr. Bertram Pincus leaves his dentist’s office to prepare for an upcoming colon exam. As one might guess, the fact that this is a modern movie means that there is considerable attention devoted to the “comic” aspect of such preparations. For some reason, it never occurs to the screenplay writer that there are only so many jokes one can tell about evacuating one’s bowels and that a smart comedy generally finds it best to avoid the subject altogether. But, alas, that is only the case with old-fashioned comedies -- and this is not an old-fashioned comedy.

Along the way, the movie sees fit to illustrate that Pincus is a bit of a jerk -- the type of person who avoids one co-worker’s birthday party, steals taxi cabs, closes the elevator door in the face of someone with loaded packages, etc. Although Pincus’s patients talk to him a lot, he does not encourage them to and indeed, he has as little contact with his fellow man as possible.

The morning of his colon exam, he has an argument with the female surgeon in charge of his case about the merits of his taking a general aesthetic while the procedure takes place. This argument never really rings true. When I underwent a similar procedure last year, the doctor did not hesitate to have me knocked out while the exam took place and given everything that happens during such a procedure, it seems silly to imagine any surgeon not doing so. But this is Movieworld which means we must have one of those wacky pseudo-arguments that would never occur in the real world. An argument that would be more tolerable if it was entertaining but no, it is not.

When Gervais awakes from his procedure, he starts seeing dead people. Dead people who are so happy to be finally noticed by a member of the living that they can’t resist flocking around him like groupies surrounding a rock star. Chief among the ghost groupies is a tuxedo-clad character played by Greg Kinnear. Even though Kinnear was killed while making a call to his real estate agent about an apartment for his mistress, he is still obsessed with his widow (played by Téa Leoni) and he browbeats Pincus into helping him break up her impending marriage to a human rights lawyer. Pincus discovers the woman in question is one of his neighbors, he gets involved with her himself, and things allegedly get interesting.

It would be nice to pretend that this movie is a lot more entertaining than it actually is, but it is not. Ms. Leoni has more chemistry with her dog than she does with Mr. Gervais and the movie’s supporting characters -- apart from Kinnear’s -- are never fleshed out enough to be anything more than stick figures designed to provide either comic relief or blatant moralizing. It is nice that the movie encourages us to help our fellow human beings, but you have to wade through a lot of really bad dialogue to get to that point and anyway, it is not really about that. Indeed, if the filmmakers had concentrated more on Pincus’s fellow humans -- the way old-fashioned movies often do -- instead of regarding them for the most part as shallow-minded background characters, Ghost Town might have been a better movie. However, they do not so it is not.

The movie did make me have increased respect for As Good as It Gets, which also involved a self-absorbed individual ultimately redeemed by the love of a good woman. But then that movie was actually funny.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Apparently one of my Words of the Future is a Word of the Present.

Of course, my siblings and I were using that word way back in the 1980s but still...

Mea culpa.

Mea maxima culpa.

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Reality Fanfic: Parte I

Vanessa’s sister April lives in a big house that she can’t afford. In order to afford the big house, she has to work a lot of hours. Hours that keep her away from her two sons.

Vanessa’s mother also lives in a big house that she can’t afford. Moreover, Vanessa’s mother is in debt to Vanessa’s grandparents for the money she needs to keep the big house she can’t afford. Plus Vanessa’s mother charges her rent.

"You used to be nice," Vanessa’s sister April tells her eldest son. "What happened?"

The son just looks at her.

The son hits his little brother. The son hits his mom. The son hits his grandmother and he hits his aunt Vanessa. But the son won’t hit his dad because his dad might hit back.


Poema de Mi Id: Parte II

“Yes, I Know He Beats Me But Only with Fists of Love”

My man really loves me.
He’s a good man through and through.
He always shows he loves me
Though he beats me black and blue.

You don’t know the real him.
You can’t see into his heart.
You don’t hear him cry at night.
You just think that you’re so smart.

My man really loves me.
He would never mean me harm.
It’s not his fault, you see,
That last time he broke my arm.

I made him mad that day
Talking to another guy.
I should only talk to him.
And should never ask him why.

He broke my ribs last April
By now they are almost well.
Don’t you get him mad right now
Or tonight he’ll give me hell.

My man really loves me.
To you I would not dare lie.
My man will always love me.
Even if he should make me die.