Friday, December 15, 2017

when gg got serious

Lest you get the wrong idea, I'm not a GG Allin fan. But I do find him fascinating. And, to my surprise, I finally learned that he could actually write a decent song when he tried.

After a session of Keith's class in which we talked about GG (I don't remember why), I went home and was reading up on him. Apparently, he once recorded a "serious" country album called Carnival of Excess. This I had to hear. And, thanks to the magic of the intertubes, I could.

OK, the album sucks. For the most part, anyway.

But there is one good song on it. "Outskirts of Life" is a decent confessional. The production isn't polished in any meaningful way, but that contributes to the rough feel.

The song reminds me a lot of the outlaw country music of the 1960s and 1970s, though its sound is a bit angrier. What really gets me here are some very clever turns of phrase:

  • Live from state to state. Living day to day
    The only paycheck that I know is what I steal today.
  • Listen to me closely. Do exactly what I say
    Give me what I want from you or I'll take it anyway.

It's actually quite the musical treat. WHich isn't to deny that GG Allin was whack. He was totally whack. But he was also a reasonably smart guy. And he could write a decent tune when he wanted to.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

season's greetings

A couple weeks or so ago, I was having lunch with some people at work. As we were leaving, one of the guys wished me a merry Christmas. He then got a horrified look on his face and hemmed and hawed an addendum. "Oh, don;t celebrate Christmas. You do...Chanukah! Happy Channukah."

Why can't people calm the frick down? If he had left it at Merry Christmas it would have been fine.

But these days it can seem like you can't be too careful; if you give the wrong greeting you risk the incurring the wrath of someone with too thin a skin.

That said, I think people overestimate the chances of getting in trouble for the wrong greeting. Most folks are reasonable, aren't they?

Seriously, though, I (and, I presume, most people) won't take offense at any seasonal greeting that's intended in a friendly spirit. That's just common decency.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

the silent partner (cinema history class)

Session: Christmas Themed Creepiness, week 1
Movie: The Silent Partner (1978)
Directed by Daryl Duke
As always, there may be spoilers here. And the trailer may be NSFW and/or NSFL

A mild-mannered bank teller realizes that the bank will be robbed, and figure out how to get most of the take. Hilarity ensues.

Background and Reaction:
This movie may have evoked the sharpest split reaction we've ever had. Joe, who has rarely rated anything below a 9, gave it a 3. I, on the other had, gave it a solid 9.

This schism can be attributed to two words -- "romantic comedy." I'm OK with a decent rom com, while Joe hates the things. And The Silent Partner seemed at times to be a romcom -- specifically a romcom with occasional diversions into violence and tension. 

The rom-commy parts didn't really bother me. Maybe it was a bit slower and contained a bit less humor than When Harry Met Sally, but I did find myself caring about Miles and Julie, and wondering if they would end up together. But I can understand Joe's perspective as one who doesn't like romcoms.

Christopher Plummer Is incredible in this role. His steely, threatening gaze is the perfect contrast to Elliot Gould's everyman goofiness. And, even if you don't like the slow-moving sections, the tense scenes with Plummer are incredible. Joe, in giving this movie a 3 noted that it only got that much because of Christopher Plummer.

Joe: 3
Dave: 9.2 - 9.3
Sean: This movie transcends simple numerical ratings.
Scott: 5
Me: 9
Ethan: 7


The Silent Partner passes the Bechdel test (barely)


So, the day after we saw this movie, I was playing QuizGeek. One question I had showed a picture and asked who was the Canadian actor pictured. Had I gotten this question on Wednesday (i.e., before this class), I would have had to guess. But having seen the movie and done a little reading up on Christopher Plummer, I recognized him right away. Eat it, JimL451!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

shogun assassin (cinema history class)

Session: Supernatural Martial Arts, week 4
Movie: Shogun Assassin (1980)
Directed by Robert Houston
As always, there may be spoilers here. And the trailer may be NSFW and/or NSFL

After his wife is killed, a Shogun goes on the lam with his young son. He tries to evade the Ninjas who were sent to kill him, and hires himself out as an assassin. Hilarity ensues.

Background and Reaction:
One of my ongoing (read: "slowoing") projects is a screenplay titled Bleed Me a River. The first treatment I came up with had the shortcoming of a very weak plot. I was reminded of it during Shogun Assassin because that had a similarly weak plot. I shouldn't be surprised by that. Keith explained that the movie was actially stitched together using footage from two other films. It kind of makes sense to me that a movie whose script is limited by the footage available would be limited.

That said, there were some cool things here. The innocent child as killer was quite amusing, and that buggy made him seem like some kind of James Bond. The narration (provided by Sandra Bernhard) worked better than I would have thought. But the plot just didn't manage to catch me.

Joe: 6
Dave: 9.3 - 9.4
Scott: 8.5
Me: 7.2
Ethan: 6


Shogun Assassin fails the Bechdel test.


We, the guys in class, had been having an email discussion about killer devices. It kind of jumped off from Joe mentioning that he watched The Lift, which is about a killer elevator. At any rate, I mentioned an idea I had for a horror short, which reminded Joe of an episode of Monsters, a cheesy late 1980's horror anthology TV series. Joe, in turn, brought in that episode for us to watch after the main event.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

back on the wagon after a break

I've made no secret about being on a diet. Since October 4. It's not fun, but it's not as bad as I was anticipating. Sadly, moderation isn't part of it. I've found that, when it comes to sweets, it's easier to have none than to have a little. So -- for example -- after Halloween when the kids had lots of candy, I didn't have any. I knew that I wouldn't be able to stop at just a taste. Even now, as I sit at my desk typing away, Blair has a bowl of M&Ms on her desk just a short reach away. I know that if I take any I'll take them all. But that's a spoiler. So don't read it.

So, as Thanksgiving came, I was trying to figure out how to handle the feast. Eventually, I decided to allow myself the one day break from dieting. Now, the fundamentals of this diet are that I am having no sweets, and severely limited carbs. So I found myself enjoying the bread stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the matzoh balls. And a large piece of pumpkin pie. It was a glorious meal. And I woke up the next morning with that bloated feeling I hadn't felt in a month and a half.

My diet daypass was over, but I was thinking about how I could extend it. There's leftover mashed potatoes, stuffing and  pumpkin pie. Surely it won't be the end of the world if I extend it a little farther until the leftovers are done. I was drooling at the thought. And no harm in a little extension to have some ice cream. And a twinkie or twelve... I think that was the thought that brought me back to reality. I was on a slippery slope. If I continue on it, there would be no picking myself up and dusting myself off. In the end, I didn't have a
ny leftover stuffing (gone Friday morning 'cause Ethan was hungry), mashed potatoes (still in the fridge 'cause I put too much salt in it) or pumpkin pie (still a piece in the fridge teasing me).

Of course, one good thing that came out of this is that I proved to myself that I can have the controlled exception and still get right back on the wagon afterwards. And, accordingly, I'm looking ahead to my next controlled fall. I have a wedding to go to on Christmas Eve. That'll be an exception. And, of course, if I'm having dinner at someone's house, it would be ungracious to make a fuss about how I can't eat this or I can't eat that. If I come over and you're serving spaghetti and meatballs, then I'm eating spaghetti and meatballs.

Now, all I need to do is have a dinner invite or a wedding to go to every night, and I'm good...