Saturday, September 17, 2005

Bowling, Bloodblisters, and Brazil

I got a group together to go bowling last night. It ended up being pretty interesting. I rolled a 122 my first game, a 127 my second game, and had a strike and two spares after four frames in the third when our time ran out and Rock 'n Bowl started. Here's the thing, though.

Last week, while moving my bed frame, I sliced open the pad of my right thumb. It's been tenderly closed for a few days.

You know how cuts on your finger tips have that really pink, smooth skin around them that doesn't even have fingerprint sworls on it yet? Well, as I bowled, my thumb started hurting more and more. Then, I started noticing that I was bleeding under my skin, little creepers of blood seeping into that virgin, undifferentiated thumb pad tissue. It's not pretty, and it hurts.

True to my title, I have another topic to consider. One that is somewhat painful to me. Almost ten years ago, if you asked me what my favorite movie was, I would have, hands down, said Brazil. I watched it again this morning. This was a mistake.

It was just as textured and rich and visually compelling as I remembered it being, but it was also really, really, really not interesting in its story. I mean, yes, granted, I have come to know and despise some of Freud's work since I last saw the film, but that's really not it. It isn't just a gut reaction against all the cheaply Freudian symbology--at least I think it isn't. The thing just doesn't go anywhere. I remember distinctly that I used to start arguments about whether the end (of the director's cut) was supposed to signify that the entire story had taken place in his head (a possibility that allows one to forgive all of the considerable absurdities of the primary plot), or if the end was an extension of the "real" narrative (a possibility that certainly complicates the line between reality/dreams and/or sanity/insanity and/or collaboration/resistance). I found myself completely indifferent this time.

The main character is completely impossible to sympathize with, either when he thinks he's on the right side but isn't or when he is on the right side and is killing and destroying and ruining lives for no clear reason or politics except his delusion. Even with the clear political parallels with today's administration, I found Gilliam (and Stoppard and McKeown) to have no clear political statement to make that wasn't tied up in a kind of ludicrous Luddism and cringing paranoia.

Don't get me wrong. "Fascism is bad," is a fine starting point. It just doesn't really get us to the concept of terrorism very easily, or with enough tools to make sense of the questionable reality of the "terrorists." Ambiguity only drives a movie so far--even a movie clearly based on a palimpsestic, etymological dream-logic. Okay, so the first computers did get bugs in them. And that is why we have "bugs" in machines and computer programming, etc. But to combine that kind of chaos theory (a fly flaps its wings) with a theme of "cause and effect" without examining the first causes and nature of the society that's constructed seems...hollow? Seems never to get out of the logic of the dream. That Lowry will wake up and be in the real 20th century and no longer need to question, or struggle, or anything else.

But. Before I completely crap on this movie that I saw for the first time when I was four, I would like to say for the record that when I die from a spear thrust, my last thought will be to regret that pinkish orange jets and gouts of flame don't erupt from my wounds until my body turns to white ash, floating up until I stretch out in a gracious column of shifting, Brownian light. Because, to me, that film is beautiful, even if it is also, simultaneously, shitty.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Flow my tears fall from your springs,
Exilded for euer : let mee mourne,
Where nightes black bird hir sad infamy sings,
There let mee liue forlorne.

Downe vaine lightes shine you no more,
No nightes are dark enough for those
That in dispaire their lost fortuns deplore,
Light doth but shame disclose.

Neuer may my woes be relieued,
Since pittie is fled,
And teares and sighes and grones my wearie dayes
Of all ioyes haue depriued.

From the highest spire of contentment
My fortune is throwne,
And feare and griefe and paine for my deserts
Are my hopes since hope is gone.

Harke you shadowes that in darkness dwell,
Learne to contemne light
Happie happy they that in hell
Feele not the worlds despite.

--anonymous poem set to music by 16th century composer John Dowland which is the source of the title for Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said

Monday, September 12, 2005

Belgian Endives with Crab, Shrimp, and Lobster

I am to be the sous-chef tonight. I must descend into my kitchen to prepare the Lobster (sauteed), Endives (not Belgian, because Belgian ones are flavorless), garlic (minced), Crabmeat, and Shrimp (deveined, drained, and sauteed), soonish. As a result, this post might be briefer than normal.


I went and tutored A-- again. His mother seems downright crazy. He said she's not getting back until 9 tonight, which has to be a relief. Still, kids like this, that deal with parents who don't/can't get home until 6 hours after they get back from school...they really make me think about what a luxury it was to have two working parental units around when I was growing up. Someone always had time for me. I didn't even know that that was a thing. That people had trouble with. Just getting face time. I hate to be all schmaltzy, but there it is.


On a media note, could Dave or Z fill me in on what happens in Redemption Part II? Because I just finished Season IV of ST:TNG, and I think I'll work backwards before I get back to season 5.

Other media thoughts: The New Avengers use of the Sentry is pretty good, so far.

I started watching through Degrassi: The Next Generation: Season Two, today. If you haven't seen that on TV, just let me tell you Ep One has, like, three extra minutes. Of Craig getting kicked in the ribs. Hard core.

I will begin Babylon 5, Season One, soon. Likewise with Six Feet Under.

I think I have begun a tennis partnership. My calves and right forearm certainly protest that indeed I have. I only hope that it holds together for more than a week. You know how these alliances can be--shifting tides of competitiveness and camaraderie, the shadowy cancer burrowing through your flesh and scorning the easier, capillary routes to more resources in lieu of just shoving unarticulated subdermal tissues aside as the tumor bulk mines through your delicate, filo-like layers, the sun continuing to throw cancer as your sweat becomes just a gritty film of salt, dessicating your integument, etc. Many obstacles and pitfalls for this fledgling tennis republic.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Poker and Transporter 2 versus Tony Jaa

Friday night was poker night. I was determined to finish up, since I was down a total of a dollar twenty five over three sessions. So, the buy-in's five. I buy in for ten. I do pretty well for the first two hours. I win two big hands. Then, nothing. For a long time. Finally, I decide that the party's breakin' up, and I need to make a move. I win a small hand, but it puts me up a buck. I have eleven dollars worth of chips. Next hand. J, the dealer, folds. L's in. B folds. T folds. G's in. I'm in. L's drawing to a straight flush from what I can see on the table. It's her first night, and she's not doing great, but she's competent. I know she'd be betting heavier than she is if she was already there. G, on the other hand, has ace high and nothing else showing that's significant to the story but a five. I already saw one ace go out, because T had one. I know he's got three of a kind at most, and I don't believe he does. My hole cards are a pair of Kings. I have a pair of Queens showing, a nine, and a five. I bet the maximum. L follows me. There's just the last card left. G sees me and raises me the maximum, well, because he's drunk. Now, some back story. All night, J's been getting shitty cards. Hand after hand. It really sucked. Three people have misdealt, and each time J's said some funny but cold shit about it, and each time he's made a little scene. Tasteful, but still a scene. He's now dealing, but he already folded. He gives L her face down card face up. Since she's drawing for a straight or a flush, hopefully both, and it's the ace of diamonds, she elects to burn it. Which means she gets another card, face down. G gets his card, face down. I get my card face down. L doesn't get what she needs. I turn a nine. I now have three pair and a five. Kings, Queens, and Nines. Of course, I decide I've got Kings over Queens, and I make the maximum bet, which is 50 cent. G raises me the maximum, 50 cent. So, just between me and G, there's four dollars on the table, not including L's bets to stay in and everybody's ante and bets on the first two cards. So, what's the point? The point is we show them, I have Kings over Queens, and G has two pair, Aces over Fives. So, he wins. The problem is that he immediately begins laughing about how if it weren't for the misdeal, he would have had a pair of Aces. He got the five off of J's mistake. J says nothing. I get a little pissed and say I'm going home. After all, the misdeal cost me six dollars, not to mention what else was in the pot, on that hand. I go home down 4.75$, a 5.75$ swing in nickel poker, and by far my worst performance yet. Because of that misdeal. My problem with this is that basically, I'm the only one who seems ready to dispute this hand. Then, I think: "Shit. Four seventy five for a night out in Irvine is a pretty good deal." Still irritating, though. Them's the breaks. I just hate that I can play well and play the percentages and still get beat like that, and no one blinks. The only one making noise is the one who gained the most off the procedural error. Like a frickin' O. Henry story. That seem right to you?


In media related news, I, too, saw Transporter 2. Like Steely, I found it to be entertaining. Everything the first movie was, this was, except more so. If you hated the first one, this one will equally get your dander up. If you liked or loved the first one, then, you're in for more of the same. For those of you who never saw the first one and are considering the second, just let me say by way of spoiler that a car jump involving a crane and a time bomb happens. If that doesn't sound like your speed, then stay away. It's fucking ridiculous.

I was trying to figure out why I like those movies. After all, they are kinda terrible. I figured it out, though. It's Jason Statham's athleticism. The guy just pulls off the stunts with strength and speed. He makes it look good like no one since Brandon Lee has--if'n you don't count Jackie Chan, Jet Li, etc.

Hard cut to me contradicting myself. There is, of course, one guy out there who is neither European, American, or Chinese. Tony Jaa. If you have not seen Ong-bak, then I don't know if I really want to talk to you. This man delivers 110 minutes of non-stop stunts, muay thai, and stunt muay thai. No wires. No bullshit story. Just a guy whose legs are occasionally on fire, kicking you in the neck, face, and head. How many elbow strikes can you watch being delivered to the crown of anonymous thai thugs' heads? Well, more than you think you can. Z, this movie is especially suited to your needs. It speaks to something deep within you. The Phillipino import currently costs 22.99$ at Best Buy. You will not regret it.


My evening is shaping up to be infinitely better than my weekend was.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Barren Noise: Figurality and the Critical Response to "The Fall of Hyperion"

Got my comments back on the rewrite. The paper is adequate to meet my MA review needs, apparently, and still needs more revisions. So. That's done.

In more important news, Astonishing X-Men #12 was pretty bad ass.

Shining Knight #4 was my first disappointment in the Seven Soldiers thing. I kinda see where Grant's going, and it seems like pretty well-covered ground. Who knows, though? I've been wrong before.

I'm trying this weight loss thing where I'm only drinking every other day. It sucks.

I have my first private tutoring thing happening next week. It seems pretty weird. The parents aren't going to be there. They will leave cash for me. I feel like some sort of illicit thing is going down, but I keep coming back to the idea that what they are really doing is paying me 45 bucks an hour to baby-sit a college sophomore. And try to get him to write better essays. The same thing with the PSAT prep thing. It's day care. What does day care cost? Do people that work at them make more money than me? I'm essentially in private education/child services at this point. We private education people should really talk to baby sitters and fucking unionize. When was the last time that YOU paid a baby-sitter 45dph? And why not? You didn't want your baby to go to Harvard? Didn't want your baby to excel? Thought that Votech was a reasonable option? Shit. Those days are over.