Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mr. Movie

Three movie reviews, mainly because I can think of nothing else to write about:

UNDERTOW - Two hick kids witness their hick uncle kill their hick father over some gold coins. So the kids take the coins and run. And run. And run. Eventually they meet up with some other homeless kids that reminded me of Fagin's wayward children from Oliver. I half expected them to break into "Getting to Know You" at some point. The younger kid had a bad stomach because he would eat anything, like paint and manure. This character point was never used elsewhere in the film; he would just occasionally eat something gross and then vomit. Seriously, this movie sucked. The critics liked it, but they like anything that is even remotely different. ("Ooh, look, the director keeps freeze-framing the picture for no apparent reason!!! Cool!!!") And I'm still confused as to why it ended the way it did.

BEYOND THE SEA - The life story of Bobby Darin, starring a guy who's about fifteen years older than Darin was when he died. Hey, Kevin Spacey, I understand that you really wanted to play the role, but it just didn't work. Because your age worked against you. Like the time when you were supposedly 22 year-old Darin romancing Sandra Dee and instead looked like a creepy middle age guy inappropriately chasing a much younger woman. Or when you were on American Bandstand singing "Splish Splash" and all the teenage girls in the audience were screaming for you. As if teenage girls would scream like that for a guy like you, Kevin Spacey. A matinee idol you're not. And, since you were also the director, Mr. Spacey, what was up with all the Hollywood Musical moments in the film? They would have worked had the entire film been done that way, but instead they cropped up like a bad weed every thirty minutes or so. Oh, and John Goodman? Please, lose some weight. You're too talented an actor to die from a heart attack at a young age.

LAYER CAKE - It looked cool and had some interesting scenes, but what the hell was the plot? The story began with one gangster telling another to find a missing girl. And then another gangster stole a lot of Ecstasy and was trying to sell them to the first gangster. And then another gangster beat the crap out of yet another gangster while Duran Duran's "Ordinary World" played on the soundtrack. And then still another gangster threatened to kill another gangster. And then Jude Law's girlfriend got naked. And then gangster #17 met up with the second gangster and they...who cares? There is such a thing as too much plot, and Layer Cake had it. I quit trying to figure out what was going on about 45 minutes into the film and just watched the mess unspool before me. The actors seemed to know what was going on, and the director kept things moving, but I had no idea. Too bad, because had you streamlined the plot(s) it would have been great. And I loved the surprise ending.

Yeah, I know no one's probably ever heard of these movies before, but these were the ones that bubbled to the top of my Netflix queue, which is why they were watched this weekend. I'm just excited because the remake of The Bad News Bears is next in my queue. The trailer for that film had one of the funniest lines from 2005: "Baseball can be cold, it can be unforgiving, and it can make you smile. You know. Kinda like dating a German chick."

Maybe you have to hear Billy Bob Thornton deliver it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pizza Overload

A friend of mine is the girls head swim coach at my old high school. He and his team recently sold pizza kits as a fundraiser so they could buy, I don't know, new swimsuits and floaties and stuff. Being the good, supportive friend I am, I ordered two. Hey, they were cheap, it goes to a good cause, and it's pizza. What could go wrong?

My first indication should have been when he had to make a special trip from Pendleton to Fishers because the kits weren't going to fit in his freezer at home. I figured this was because he had to store all the kits for the team until they came to pick their orders up. I mean, how big could they be? When he showed up, my jaw dropped and I immediately knew why he had to make the trip: The boxes were huge. Let me give you an indication of their size. You remember that DVD player I bought a month ago? The box it came in was like a tiny gift box compared to these things. And I somehow had to fit two of them in my freezer.

Thankfully I was low on groceries. I was able to cram them into my freezer without having to sacrifice anything or move something to the fridge. But now 86% of my freezer is occupied by these boxes. (10% belongs to ice and the remaining 4% belongs to frozen pasta, chicken and Lean Pockets.)

I made one of the pizzas tonight. It was huge - dinner tomorrow! - but mighty tasty. Unfortunately, because there were two pizzas left in that kit, I could not throw away the box. Which means my freezer will stay this way for quite some time.

But the kids have new swimsuits and floaties and stuff, so it's all for a good cause. Plus, it's pizza. I wouldn't even be complaining about this had something more exciting happened in the past week. Unfortunately for you, nothing did.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Busting My Meatballs

Tonight was the seventh annual CCPL Computer Technology Christmas party. We ate dinner at Goodfellas, an Italian place in Carmel, and then went to Karen's house for desert. Even though it's just the three of us at these dinners, I always have a good time. Probably has something to do with the fact that it's the only time each year we get together outside of the office. It's nice to kick back and relax with the co-workers, even if we always wind up talking about work.

Our server was annoying. I know you've all seen Office Space. Remember Brian, the guy who worked with Jennifer Aniston at Chotchkie's? The one who was uber-annoying and always ending each sentence with a psychotic giggle? Yeah, he now works at Goodfellas. Only he's no longer wearing flair.

Of course, we spent a good chunk of time quoting the movie Goodfellas. I, at one point, had to turn my back on the whole conversation. I'm sure the people that work there are so sick of hearing the line "How am I funny? Am I like a clown to you?" that they want to pull a meat cleaver out of their suit jacket and stab us as we're lying defenseless in their car trunk. Can't say I don't blame them.

(Editor's note: Goodfellas is my favorite movie of all time. Scorsese is a genius and that movie is bursting with life. My favorite line: "When they found Carbone it took 'em three weeks to thaw him out before they could perform the autopsy.")

The local legend is that Robert DeNiro was in Indianapolis recently and, when he found out there was a Goodfellas in Carmel, had to have some food from there. Goodfellas is a chain - there are several in New York - and I'm sure that's how Mr. DeNiro knows about them. Either that or he enjoys dining at restaurants named after his films. Imagine the killing you could make if he discovered your restaurant Raging Bull.

For those who are curious, I had cheese ravioli in a creamy wine sauce surrounded by spinach and sausage. Highly tasty, and highly recommended.

R.I.P Richard Pryor. Somewhere a Wonder Wheel is crying...

Friday, December 09, 2005

My Trip To Diamondville

I knew it was going to be cheesy. I knew it was probably going to be lame. And I knew there would be more shouting than actual singing. But I had no idea how bored I was going to be.

I'm talking about the Neil Diamond concert I went to tonight.

Neil was the first concert I ever saw, in the spring of 1982. My entire family had tickets - a major expense at the time, I'm sure - and my memories of that show deal with how cool it was to see someone live, the theatricality of it all, and how my sister fell asleep at the midway point. (Give her a break, she was seven.) It was a good first show, plus it always gets a decent reaction when I tell people.

But tonight's show was dull. He had fifteen musicians onstage with him and they managed to suck the energy from every single song they played. According to Neil, he's been with that band for 30 years. I'm thinking maybe it's time to give them all pink slips. Because those songs should be a lot of fun instead of the schmalzy versions they currently are.

And we all know Neil has some good left in him. I haven't heard it yet, but his latest album 12 Songs is supposedly excellent, a return-to-form to his late 60's musical output. I will admit that the songs he did tonight from that album were my favorite of the evening, but that could be because I didn't know them. It's hard to pinpoint how a song was ruined if you don't know it in the first place.

You know what else? He didn't sing "Song Sung Blue"! That was my song when I was a kid! What the hell, Neil? Why would you sing that shitty "Shilo" song and not "Song Sung Blue"?

The show was also surreal because of the two seventeen year old kids behind us who kept shouting "I wanna party with Neil!!!!" before the concert began. They told me that they thought Neil was America's primary songwriter, which of course is nowhere near the truth. ("Um...Dylan?" was my friend's response.) These kids were so far over the top that I thought they were there solely to mock and ridicule, but when the show began they knew every single word. There aren't too many seniors in high school who can sing a perfect version of "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show." Of course, their enthusiasm pissed off the geriatric crowd, who repeatedly told them to sit down and shut up. This just made them enjoy it more. Yeah, they were annoying, but they were also cracking me up.

I, on the other hand, was taking a page from my sister's book and fighting sleep, especially when he broke into that ten minute Jonathan Livingston Seagull medley. I could feel my eyelids getting heavy during that lengthy tribute to a bird.

But you know what? I don't really hate the fact that I went. It could have been better - alright, it could have been much, much better - but at least now I can say I've seen him with adult eyes. And, unless I get tricked into seeing him again, I'm guessing this will be the last time I see Neil Diamond in my lifetime.

But if I do, he better sing "Song Sung Blue."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Congressional Medal of Bad Driving

I met Joli and Matt at Le Peep this morning for breakfast. When I pulled into the parking lot, there was this crazy woman driving like an idiot, trying to both maneuver her car and talk on her cell phone at the same time. She was driving me crazy, stopping and going and stopping and going and stopping and going. So I swerved around her, muttered a few comments towards her under my breath and parked my car. As I was gathering my stuff I saw this woman get out of her car and head into the restaurant.

And it was at this point I realized I had just cursed out Congresswoman Julia Carson.

Oh, but wait, it gets better. So I arrived first and got the three of us a table. And who was I seated next to? Yup, Congresswoman Julia Carson. I smiled, she smiled back. Soon joining her was Mayor Bart Peterson. I smiled, he smiled back. When Joli and Matt arrived, I made a joke about getting us a table in the VIP section of Le Peep.

I didn't see clearly what they had for breakfast and did not eavesdrop on them, so do not ask me for gossip. However, I'm sure their conversation closely mirrored what the three of us were talking about: the best breakfast cereals ever. I'm guessing the mayor is a Captain Crunch fan. Either that or Trix.