Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I'll be gone for awhile, because..well, I'll let Connie Francis explain:

Yeah! That's exactly what my vacation will be like. Except for the huggin' and kissin' and love letters in the sand. Also, probably no dancing. And it's not summertime. Actually, it won't be anything like this. In fact, go to hell, Connie Francis!

The point is, no new posts until next week, most likely. TTFN!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


1) A nonsensical Larry King quote used for a title? It must be a Random Thoughts post--the greatest placeholder this side of a clip job!

2) As I believe I've mentioned, posting has been light around here because...well, just because, that's why. Partly I've had other things to do, partly I've been planning other things to do, partly I've been incredibly tired. Mostly, though, it's ennui--I'm finding I just don't care as much anymore. I've gone through these periods before, so presumably I'll be back more regularly. I may put something up tomorrow morning, but after that, it'll be dark here at least until the weekend, and probably until next week.

For both of you regular readers, this news is surely devastating.

3) Here's an interesting slip: When I first tried typing ennui, I inadvertently typed emu instead. As in, the large, flightless Australian bird. As in, also, the large, flightless birds raised on a farm not far from here, several of which escaped one night seven years ago, one of which my oldest brother Keith smacked into with the vehicle he was driving, the impact blasting him out of his seat and through the back of the minivan. There's no way to tell a story that involves running into an emu without it sounding like the setup for a joke. Unfortunately, there's no punchline--my brother was killed immediately.

4) Man, that turned depressing, didn't it?

5) Speaking of depressing, hey, how 'bout that economy, folks? Specifically, how 'bout those Republican governors threatening to refuse any money earmarked for their states as a result of Obama's stimulus program? I know if I happened to be a newly laid off worker in, oh, say Louisiana, and Gov. Bobby Jindal refused federal aid money that might help me get back to work simply because it's part of a program devised by the opposition party, I'd be calling for a special election to remove Jindal's sorry ass from office. Most likely, I wouldn't be alone.

6) Due to the fact that this site frequently offers some sort of pop culture commentary, I feel duty-bound to offer some sort of comment about Sunday night's Oscar ceremony. But really, what is there to say?

It was the first time I watched the thing in three or four years, and honestly, the only way I got through it was with the help of The AV Club's live blog, which was funny and occasionally erudite (eight minutes into the thing, they were already making Takashi Miike references), something the ceremony itself most certainly was not. It wasn't anything; not good or bad, just kind of there, existing for no reason. Oh, Steve Martin and Tina Fey were funny together (I still think Martin remains the least-appreciated Oscar host of recent years), and there was the odd spectacle of watching Hugh Jackman duetting with Beyonce (he sang live, she lip-synched) and, um...that was about it. Three and a half hours of pure tedium.

But again, The AV Club was hilarious.

7) Since it's a Random Thoughts tradition, I should finish with a mention of the cats. I had a guest over yesterday, a female--No, nothing happened. No, nothing is going to happen--and the usual pattern occurred: Monika merely ignored her, but Delmar growled and hissed.

If I ever brought a woman over and Del immediately took to her, would it be some kind of sign, would it mean I've found my true love at last? Or merely that Del found a dark soul mate of his very own, and soon the two of them would band together to gouge my eyes out?

Sunday, February 22, 2009


It's perhaps worth mentioning that I'm on vacation this week, which means posting around here may be even more erratic than it has been lately. I've got things to do, and perhaps even places to go, so no way of knowing whether I'll be frequenting this space much. I guess we'll find out, won't we?

Anyway, the Oscars are tonight, and mostly I couldn't care less, but hey, they're giving one of those honorary "Sorry we've ignored you but we're glad you're not dead" awards to Jerry Lewis, and I always tune in to all things Lewis-related. I admit it: I'm a fan.

I used to think my appreciation for Lewis was ironic, somewhat akin to my fondness for bad seventies variety shows, but that's not true. For one thing, when he's on, Lewis is absolutely, side-splittingly funny. And all those claims auteurists have made about his genius as a filmmaker? They're true. Admittedly, he's never made a movie that was an artistically successful whole--and his self-directed efforts tend to be notably light on laughs--but it's hard to deny his sharp visual sense, his masterful deep-focused compositions, brilliant staging and razor-sharp editing skills.

Of course, Lewis wasn't a born auteur; he learned how to do it from one of the best comedy directors of all time, Frank Tashlin. Manohla Dargis writes about this scene from Cinderfella at some length in her excellent piece on Lewis in today's New York Times, but I would just add that, the jaw-dropping brilliance of Lewis' performance aside (honestly, I could watch him spazz dance all day...and sadly, I have), the formal brilliance of this scene is obvious. That dazzling shot from the top of the staircase, the couples parting as Lewis descends, the camera gliding along Lewis and Anna Maria Alberghetti as they zip madly across the floor, the camera's sly retreat as the two assume a more romantic form, swallowed by the crowd, Lewis' final mad dash up the stairs as those ominous balloons descend--if Vincente Minnelli ever directed a Jerry Lewis vehicle, it would have looked exactly like this.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Just not in writing mode lately, and I don't know why. Sometimes it seems like I spend too much time here, trying to find something to say, when I could be doing something more productive, like (considering the time) sleeping. Posting on a semi-daily basis has always been a goal around here, but lately it seems like a burden, like cleaning the droids in the garage.

Ah, Toshi Station, how I long to be there!

Incidentally, even in the writing of this brief, time-killing placeholder, I wasted ten minutes researching the correct spelling of "Toshi". (Turns out, there's no consensus.) The things I do for this site--I just knowingly and willingly spent time at Wookiepedia!

Sad, really.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Okay, so the other day Tabbatha posted a meme on her Facebook page listing 113 apparently randomly-chosen movies, with the premise being that the person posting it would check off the ones on the list he or she has seen. Which is how I came to discover that Tabbatha, who is, after all, the woman I once wanted to marry, had never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Which just kind of floored me, because I just sort of assume anyone in my immediate orbit has seen Rocky Horror. (She'd also never seen Airplane, and when I expressed my disbelief, she admitted she'd never even heard of it. I wanted to say, "Surely you're not serious," hoping she would inevitably respond, "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley.") I'm not one of those people who dresses up and goes to the midnight shows, but then again, this movie is basically in the mainstream now, sort of a Wizard Of Oz for a new generation, something I can freely quote from with the belief everyone will get it.

The point is, this got me to thinking about my deep love for Rocky Horror, which as a movie is crushingly underrated even by some of its most ardent cultists. So I planned to write a piece exploring my admiration, not only of the film (which I think is clearly one of the best stage-to-screen adaptations of all time), but also of Richard O'Brien's amazing score, which has also never really gotten its critical due.

Sadly, YouTube, my go-to option for all things clip related, currently had no clips available I intended to use to make my points, so the whole thing fell apart. I did, however, find a clip somebody had cobbled together of Littlefoot, the plucky dinosaur protagonist of the terminally upbeat Land Before Time series, apparently singing Rocky Horror's signature tune, Sweet Transvestite. The lip synch isn't really very good, and the joke wears off after half a minute or so, but hearing it in this weirdly wholesome context only makes the playfully Goth sensibility of O'Brien's hilarious lyrics stand out in sharper relief. Something about Littlefoot inviting us up to the lab to see what's on the slab just makes me happy.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Three years ago. Three years today.

In the hallway outside my apartment, heading back to the hospital. A phone rang somewhere, I paused, realized it was mine, raced back and answered. My sister Ann said, "Mom passed a few minutes ago, she's gone, oh Eddie, she's gone," and I said, "No?" phrased as a question, and she said, "Yes, just a few minutes ago," and I repeated it, louder this time,"No!" as if that could make it true, as if I could change reality by simply wishing it away.

In a way, I did. At that moment, part of me simply stopped being a part of the real world, stepped outside my corporeal form and floated above, watching, never participating. My body shambled through life for the next few days and weeks and months, but the essence of me--whatever it may be--was no longer there. It observed dispassionately, a reserved audience at a Strindberg play, noting all the emotional beats without ever once feeling them.

The most important thing in the world had been taken from me. I had been in denial as Mom's health faltered, but the reality of death couldn't be denied, so all I could do was ignore it. And the only way to do that was to stifle all feeling, any feeling, pain, yes, but also joy, or love, or anything.

Time passed. I rejoined the world. Feelings returned, though perhaps in a more muted form. And I realized my time spent wandering in the emotional desert had been productive. I matured, I grew, I became a different person, a shade more confident, perhaps, a bit more emotionally aware.

I healed, mostly.

But no matter how hard I try, I can't wrap my mind around what was lost three years ago. After all this time, I still can't feel it. I cry when I remember my beloved cat Scotchie, I cry for my much-missed German Shepherd Elinore, I cry when I hear John Lennon sing Julia, hell, I even cried at the last scene in Revenge Of The Sith. But for Mom I can only wait, wait for the tears that will someday fall.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


The Republican party is going all-out to make sure Al Franken can't be named as the winner in the Minnesota senate race. Though the votes have been counted and re-counted, and the numbers seem to favor Franken, his opponent Norm Coleman has filed a lawsuit challenging Franken's legitimacy, and if that doesn't work, Republicans intend to filibuster or do anything they can to keep Franken out of office.

Yes, this is the same party that went to the Supreme Court to stave off Al Gore's challenge to Bush's presidency, claiming it was more important to get down to the business of running the country than making sure the process of democracy was allowed to play out.

But the hypocrisy isn't even the most infuriating thing here. The party is throwing away obscene amounts of money on Coleman's campaign, at a time when money is in short supply in the real world. They're doing this for the same reason they fought Obama's stimulus package: Because they can.

I should point out that I'm no Obama partisan, and my feelings towards Franken border on outright contempt. In particular, the efforts by Obama's brain trust to jumpstart the economy have been dismayingly similar to Bush's late-term efforts (which were also largely opposed by Republicans), with a curious determination to help out the bankers and Wall Street barons that helped get us into the mess in the first place. Still, at least it was an effort to do something; Coleman's cohorts have absolutely nothing to offer. Many in the party have openly agreed with Rush Limbaugh's claim that he wants to see Obama fail. They can't see that Obama's failure could well mean the failure of the entire nation.

They can't see, or more likely don't care. Sure, the last eight years may have been hell for the nation, but it's been a great time for Republicans. Their sense of entitlement seemed to be validated by the haplessness of the Democrats and their ability to silence any meaningful opposition. And they'll keep doing what they've been doing, because it feels so damned good. Let the world go to hell, because even though everything else has changed, it hasn't changed for them. It's still 2002, and things couldn't be better.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Valentine's Day, and you really don't want me whining about my non-existent love life, do you? Of course not. But the only way to avoid such a topic on a day like this is the clever use of my favorite fall-back option: A clip job!

In the spirit of the day, here are two of my all-time favorite love songs. First up, a Rodgers & Hart classic, and who better to sing it than Frank Sinatra? A perfect song, a gorgeous Nelson Riddle arrangement and, man, that voice.

This next song I've posted before, but in a different performance. This is Richard Thompson with a stark, elemental rendition of his classic expression of desperate longing, Dimming Of The Day. This is much more than a simple love song, but hey, who said love was simple?

Not to be cynical but--the hell with love. It's just an illusion anyway, a cheap parlor trick, and not always a very good one. The late, much-missed Warren Zevon offers an explanation.

And when it's all over, as Cab Calloway can tell you, there's nothing to do but sing Blues In The Night.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


The deep blue of the sky somehow emphasized by the skeletal branches of the trees along the street, moving slightly, daintily in the wind, somehow sorrowful in their leafless state, as if knowing they are incomplete, as if missing something.

This is what I saw as I stepped outside this morning, a beautiful February day, clear and warm. Nothing unusual about that, normally a welcome sight, except it conjured a memory of a nearly identical day almost exactly three years ago, when the two of us passed through this very neighborhood.

Mom had a doctor's appointment, and I'd taken the day off from work to give her a ride. When I arrived at her home that morning, I was horrified by what I saw: Not just the large, tumorous bump on her head from a fall the night before, but the slight, fragile spectre of her former self. She'd been in and out of the hospital the previous summer, and I'd seen her look vulnerable and weak, but I'd never seen her look so...old.

Since her appointment wasn't until mid-afternoon, we tried to enact the regular rituals of the morning. She had her usual breakfast of donut holes and weakly-brewed tea, and we watched the next-day repeats of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, though Mom didn't laugh much. I played with her dog and cats and took a short walk while she watched The Young And The Restless, then it was time to leave.

She hallucinated the whole way to Des Moines. Odd. She wasn't on any new medications I was aware of, and though presumably her cancer grew worse by the day, I didn't believe it was a thing that could cause a person to hallucinate. But she saw the ghosts of long-dead pets along the roadside and mazes in the cornfields and castles on non-existent hills, warning me at one point not to run over the scarecrow in the middle of the highway. When we continued moving forward without hitting anything, she realized there was no scarecrow, and, strangely, seemed comforted rather than terrified by the knowledge that the things she viewed weren't real.

The doctor's office was in the basement of Methodist Hospital, right in my neighborhood. We drove down my street along the way, and she commented how pretty it looked on a day like this, how welcoming, how homey. I asked if she saw any things that weren't there, and she said no, it looked like it always looked, she'd just never taken the time to appreciate its beauty before.

We sat in the waiting room, joined shortly by my sister Ann, who had talked to Mom the night before and was prepared for the sight of the bump on the head, but who was taken aback by the news of hallucinations. "Could be meds," she said vaguely, and I wondered if she knew more than she was telling.

Finally, after the doctor examined her vitals, some good news, or at least somewhat reassuring--her blood pressure was alarmingly low. Mom had spent decades on medication due to high blood pressure, but apparently her current meds conflicted with the chemo she'd undergone recently, and put the whammy on her. Serious and unfortunate, but it explained the hallucinations: Blood wasn't flowing to her brain.

The doctor cut off the meds she'd been taking, ordered a different prescription and sent her on her way. She was noticeably more cheerful on the way home, full of jokes and funny asides, acting very much her usual self. I dropped her off at home while I ran down to pick up her new prescription. When I got back to the house, she sat watching People's Court, making fun of the participants as she always did. Surely she was okay now. Surely she was back to normal. Wasn't she?

The next day, she fell again, landing in the hospital. The day after that, she died. After that, nothing could ever be normal, not quite, not like it had always been, as I imagined it would always be.


Like pretty much everyone else who takes up space on the Interweb, I had the Pavlovian reaction to the video that surfaced of Joaquin Phoenix, uh, rapping: I wrote about it.

Speculation ran high at the time as to whether Phoenix, who had announced his intention to quit acting in favor of his music career, was joking. This was, after all, a pretty dire performance, and Phoenix is, if nothing else, a professional.

And now there's this, his appearance last night on David Letterman's show:

So this was a joke, right? He's merely affecting a clueless persona; no publicist would allow their client to appear that zonked out on national television. And he gives the game away--doesn't he?--by breaking character occasionally, as when he laughs at Letterman's Unabomber reference.

But if it's a joke...why? If he's doing some sort of conceptual comedy piece, he's merely treading the same ground as Andy Kaufman and Crispin Glover, who not only did the same sort of thing better, they even did it on Letterman's show. Isn't a smug, self-amused prank kind of an insult to whatever fans Phoenix still has? And isn't pretending to be a zoned-out guy on a downward spiral kind of tasteless (and supremely unfunny) when his more-talented older brother famously overdosed on heroin?

Which leads to the other possibility--maybe it's not a joke. Maybe this guy really is a casualty waiting to happen, and Letterman's treatment of him was unbearably cruel. But no, I think Letterman got it just right. After all, if Phoenix is on some sort of death trip (and he certainly is career-wise), he deserves to be called on it. Whether he's joking or dying, he's clearly not doing it alone, and either way, his appearance here reveals him to be thoroughly detestable, entirely worthy of Letterman's scorn and everyone else's.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Hey, remember election night and the inauguration and those vague, shiny feelings of hope?

Remember thinking how great it was to have a president who wasn't a stooge to his Sith Lord second-in-command (and remember when I said I'd stop making Star Wars analogies?), who could form a coherent sentence, who seemed, dammit, presidential? Remember thinking things will be, at least a little bit, better?

But then came the cabinet stuffed with Washington insiders determined to cling to the same old ways, an economic stimulus package and a bank bailout scheme that are indistinguishable from Bush's similar efforts (and, like Bush's, presented by an administration staffer who was an active part of the problem when the whole meltdown began) and, most depressingly, a defense of Bush's use of torture.

Maybe things will turn around, maybe the new president will see the light. But for now, Obama's stated intention to turn the nation around seems like just another empty campaign promise, and all that hope, all that change has gone.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


At some point while finding clips from yesterday's post--The Who and The Jam, for those of you who missed it--I realized I should probably include something somewhat more contemporary in the mix, just to prove that I do indeed listen to music recorded in this century. I hastily attempted to find a clip of the New Ponographers song Sing Me Spanish Techno, but the official music video is one of those self-consciously oblique affairs that actually detracts from the music, and the live clips I found were substandard, and well, you may have been left with the impression that I'm some cranky old guy who doesn't give a damn what the kids are listening to these days.

(And just to clarify, The Jam's In The City may have been released in '77, but do you think I was actually listening to anything like that back then? I was a farm kid in the middle of nowhere, and the local pop stations offered either The Bee Gees and Shaun Cassidy or Styx and REO Speedwagon. Me, I was too busy listening to the Star Wars soundtrack for the millionth time to be aware of any other kind of music. Fact is, my musical tastes have always existed somewhere out of time.)

Anyway, though I pay very little attention to whatever's popular at any given moment (though this might be a good time to sheepishly admit that I kinda like Britney Spears' Womanizer), I find my musical tastes are fairly wide-ranging. I like what I like, regardless of its age, popularity, coolness factor, whatever. In that spirit, here's TV On The Radio with Dancing Choose--

--and Bernard Herrmann's Concerto Macabre, written for the film Hangover Square.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Sure, recent posts around here have been a bit abbreviated and hastily-written, but dammit, I haven't resorted to a clip job for, gosh, days. So I'm overdue, don't you think?

Here's The Who in '66 (NOT '67, no matter what the graphic on the video frame below claims), from the brief period when they (like The Kinks) could make a legit claim as being the greatest band in the world. Of course, that was the year The Beatles released Revolver, so it wasn't a claim they could make for very long, but still, I'm A Boy, with its furious instrumentation, instantly memorable melody and lyrics that play like a depraved version of one of A.A. Milne's odes to childhood, is a perfect pop song.

Incidentally, the original UK 45 of I'm A Boy had a song called In The City as its flip side, and that title, of course, would be picked up by Paul Weller a decade later when he began his run of churning out classic after classic for The Jam, a band that, unlike The Who, broke up when the time was right. Weller also managed another trick Pete Townshend has never pulled off--he's still a fantastic songwriter decades after the height of his career. But here he is back at the beginning, with In The City.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Paul and I went to a birthday party yesterday, after which we came back to my place and hung out until he decided it was time to go to bed. As per tradition, he got the bed while I slept on the floor, cats guarding either side of me.

This morning I woke up before him and flipped channels absent-mindedly. He stumbled out of bed just as The Road Warrior happened to be coming on. I asked him if he wanted to go to Krispy Kreme--his usual breakfast place of choice--and he said, "No. You still have cookies, right? Why don't we have those for breakfast and watch this? It looks pretty good."

So we did--the R-rated movie played uncut on a premium channel, so I just made him look away during the one inappropriate scene--then we hung around some more before heading off to Barnes & Noble, which happened to have the latest issue of Shock Cinema in stock. I told Paul he could get something as long as he kept it in the five dollar range, so he found a book about Boba Fett(!) and it was time to drop him off at his Mom's. After that, I relaxed at the neighborhood Chinese restaurant with the Sunday New York Times, and just got home in time for a quick nap.

Maybe I'm getting old, but much in that description--chocolate chip cookies, a Mad Max picture, bantering with a quick-witted (and proudly weird) nine year old, Chinese food, reading a newspaper and taking a nap--suggests a nearly perfect day. And so it was.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


I hope to write about it in more detail later (I say that a lot, don't I...and usually never follow through), but for now just a quick note expressing my unreserved enthusiasm for Henry Selick's amazing stop-motion animated fantasy Coraline.

Though promoted as some sort of kiddie film, it is more accurately a film about childhood, and it presents the title heroine in all her complexity, plucky, funny and courageous, yes, but also spoiled and self-absorbed. When she enters a parallel dimension in which her life is so much better and her parents so much cooler, she's all too eager to ditch the real world, and Selick is canny enough to seduce the audience as well as Coraline, presenting us with a world of astonishing delights. Even when the mask is dropped and she realizes the price she must pay to live in this world, the movie never cheats--when she returns to reality, it's every bit as boring as before. Now, she must make her own enchantment.

Whether in the mundane real world or the enchanting fantasy one (in which glowing plants bloom in the moonlight, mice perform in a circus and Scottish terriers act as ushers), every single frame of this film is a hand-crafted delight. It has a tactal pleasure, a human element CGI simply can't convey. Though there is dialogue, it is mostly unnecessary (Selick adapted the script from Neil Gaiman's children's novel), as the character's movement alone tells us everything we need to know about them. This is the essence of animation, and maybe the essence of art: It shows us things in ways we've never seen before.

There is so much great stuff here (the only movie I could compare it to while watching was Michael Powell's Tales Of Hoffmann, which is really saying something), from the creepiest opening credit sequence since Seconds to a drop-dead beautiful score by Bruno Coulais to a lengthy sequence (that mouse circus) that seemed to be a tribute to George Pal's Puppetoons. It demands repeated viewings simply for the level of its craftmanship.

But my favorite thing about Coraline? It clearly presents cats as serene, other-worldly creatures, smarter and more sensitive than humans, loving and resourceful and maybe a little bit creepy. A movie like that is completely on my wavelength!

Friday, February 06, 2009


This post could have been nothing but me whining about this terrible headache I've had since yesterday afternoon, or relating two particularly incomprehensible dreams I had last night (both of them featuring guest appearances from mellow song stylist/professional irritant Jason Mraz...and I have no idea why), but then I stumbled across this headline from London's The Times


and suddenly I feel all giddy. This is the type of over-the-top eccentricity that cements Putin's resemblance to a James Bond villain, especially since the accompanying story also involves a menacing henchman and strategically-placed snipers. Nothing in real life should ever be this goofy, but when it is, it's a cause for celebration. At least in my world.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


I'm in no way knowledgeable of the byzantine bylaws of the Catholic Church, but I'm pretty sure I can be condemned to Hell for saying this: The Pope is a liar.

Or, more accurately, an anonymous Vatican statement claiming Pope Benedict XVI was unaware of the Holocaust-denying tendencies of rogue Bishop Richard Williamson when Benedict rehabilitated him and welcomed him back into the fold is simply unbelievable.

The Vatican wishes to make it clear that Williamson's rehabilitation hinges not only on his fidelity to the teachings of Catholicism, but to his ability to keep his mouth shut whenever anybody brings up Auschwitz. Nobody for a minute believes it's possible to change Williamson's mind, but he doesn't need to go around embarrassing the church.

Isn't that what it all comes down to? Williamson and three fellow breakaway Bishops are basically being told if they follow the party line, everything will be okey-dokey. I would hate to think a person's core beliefs could be so easily altered or denied, but then, I'm not a Vatican spokesman, so what do I know?

But to me, this isn't about Williamson, it's about Benedict. To think he was unaware of Williamson's rabid anti-Semitism at the time of the rehabilitation is simply unbelievable. Heck, I was aware of it, and I spend amazingly little time parsing the philosophical underpinnings of breakaway Catholic sects. Such a blatant untruth--and the Vatican's desperate attempt to put a smiley face on it--should certainly call into question any notion of the Pope's infallibility.

More than likely, though, Williamson will say a few Hail Marys, Benedict will quote from the Talmud, and Catholics and Jews will go back to doing what they do best: Hating Arabs. It's a beautiful world, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


I had a detailed piece in mind tying the numerous gaffes Obama has made in picking his cabinet members, highlighted most spectacularly by the Tom Daschle episode, and this story about the spectacular failure of Shrek: The Musical, and how both of these display epic hubris, an arrogant belief that bad ideas can somehow be justified and made right...but the more I thought about it, I realized the two stories had very little in common.

Fine. So here's another old Electric Company clip, this one featuring Skip Hinnant and Judy Graubart, probably my two favorite performers on the show when I was a kid. Having stumbled across this clip, I can say with some certainty I'll have this song in my head for the next several days. Maybe you will, too.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I can't move. I stand, paralyzed by grief and something else, something unidentifiable, moored to this spot, unable to move, not yet, not yet. Stay here for awhile until the mourning passes, stay here surrounded by the dead.

From the beginning, this day that didn't go as expected: My car wouldn't start, the alternator blown, and when trying to find an alternate way to work didn't pan out, and after a brief emotional meltdown, I wound up having the car towed to my usual garage. They fixed it, but to be reimbursed for the towing cost, I'd need to see my insurance agent, whose office is twenty-some miles west of where I live, all the way in Perry.

Obviously, I could have done business with any number of insurance agents after moving to Des Moines, but I stuck with this one because...well, for the longest time, traveling up to Perry to pay a premium or receive a reimbursement check was also an excuse to swing by and see Mom, a good time to visit for awhile.

It still is.

Over a year, at least, since I'd last been to Perry, and even then, I only passed through. This day would be different. After dropping off the towing bill, I knew I'd drive out to the cemetery, I knew I had to see Mom's gravestone, and Dad's. As I drove down Highway 141 I felt almost as if I could remove my hands from the steering wheel, as if being pulled by some larger force, as if this trip was predestined.

I turned onto the gravel road, rutted and muddy from melting snow. The cemetery sat calm and disinterested on the landscape, dotted at all corners by shabby-looking pine trees. I pulled in, stopped, sat in the car for awhile and finally got out, making my way to the small markers indicating the remains of Mom and Dad and little Paul, my would-have-been older brother, who died in infancy. Mom's grave had plastic flowers cast upon it, covered by snow and ice.

The markers have only names and birth and death dates, nothing more. They can't reveal any secrets or offer words of comfort. They are only stone, mute, cold, implacable, telling me nothing I don't already know--Mom and Dad are dead.

It's a beautiful sunny day, but cold, the perfect blue sky tinged ever so slightly with a steely gray, and my tears when they arrive sting like ice. I look around me, at the snow-covered fields and lonely houses and occasional tree--a barren, unforgiving landscape, but it's part of me, I grew up here, it's in my DNA.

My car shudders in the driveway, its motor still running, pumping out exhaust, offering a means to escape this moment. But where can it take me? I've lived in six different places in the last twelve years, but have never stayed put, have never been anything more than a traveler. Maybe my whole life I will be fated to return here again and again, an ongoing reminder of the life I once led, in the only place I have ever truly called home.

Monday, February 02, 2009


The ongoing efforts of Twentieth Century-Fox to produce a movie adaptation of The A-Team have gone unremarked upon here, because, honestly, who cares? Another adaptation of a fuzzily-but-fondly-remembered TV show? Sure, fine.

But recent events suggest this movie will be a loser for the ages. According to Variety, the film is currently being produced by Ridley Scott (quick--name a good movie he's made since Blade Runner) and directed by Joe Carnahan (auteur of Smokin' Aces, who has takin to referring to himself online as Smokin' Joe--as pure an example of douchebaggery as we are likely to witness in our lifetimes). These gentlemen are going forward with the project after an earlier attempt failed, presumably because making a movie out of a cheesy eighties action show is a delicate process.

And what is Smokin' Joe's take on the material? Well, he intends to "make a film that reflects on the real world without losing the great sense of fun and the velocity of action in a classic summer popcorn film." Thanks, Joe, for that dazzling insight, and also for confirming your douchebag status. To "reflect on the real world," The Smokin' One is updating the members of the titular group from 'Nam vets to Iraq vets, and his intention for the movie is to "make it as real, emotional and accessible as possible without cheesing it up."

Uh, Joe? It's The A-Team. Nobody wants real and emotional. Cheese is par for the course--the show starred Mr. T, for crying out loud. It was never anything more than an agreeable time-killer, but at least it was watchable and entertaining, and knew exactly what it was supposed to be. Best of all, the show's creator, Stephen Cannell, would almost certainly never have used the phrase "velocity of action" when describing it.

This is what it's come to, folks. Studios are spending millions and millions on adaptations of things they don't even understand. What's next? A remake of Duck Soup without the comedy ("We wanted to explore what life in Freedonia under a benevolent dictator like Rufus T. Firefly would really be like.") or a feel-good adaptation of Notes From The Underground ("We felt it was important to give the character a full emotional arc, which also allowed us to add a part for Kate Hudson.")?

One shudders to imagine.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


No more gloom and depression around here, no more unpleasant things. From now on, this site is dedicated to all things cute, cute, cute.

For instance, here's a sleepy kitten. Awww...

And here's a sneezy baby panda.

And--Hmm, what have we here?

Wait. Maybe I'm not doing this right...