Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Deep Cesspool of Creativity

I just saw Overnight, a documentary chronicling the unlikely rise and mundane fall of Troy Duffy, the filmmaker who made Boondock Saints. Rooting for the underdog is such an ingrained part of the American character -- hell, maybe it's human nature, I dunno -- that it's always worth noticing when you're not rooting against one. But Duffy, a bartender who sells his screenplay, gets a deal to direct it himself, as well as produce the soundtrack with his band, could certainly be portrayed as a rags-to-riches story.

At least he could if it were 1997, and that were the end of the movie, and not its beginning.

Instead, Duffy -- the biggest tool in the shed -- squanders his money, scuttles his deals, and drives away his friends. Or nearly does, but somehow they keep sticking with him, their eyes betraying something akin to Stockholm syndrome.

Of course, two of them--Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith--got a compelling movie out of the deal.

And Tony, narcissist that he is, got to star in one.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Whirlwind Anniversary

Six years!

Kathy & I celebrated our sixth anniversary on Sunday, and we had a bit of a whirlwind weekend to do it in.

On Friday night, we went out to dinner at Wild Rice, a Vietnamese restaurant in Metuchen that we discovered with some friends the week before.

Saturday, we lollygagged for a bit longer than we planned to, then went for a short hike in the Wissahickon Gorge in Philly's Fairmount Park. It's a great place to walk -- lots of things to see -- and I was sorry we didn't have more time there.

But then we went to a dual birthday party at home of the King of Parties. A truly international event, with foods representing France (our contribution), Hungary, Thailand, China, and the Islands of Grilled Deliciousness. A couple guys from France were there, and a girl from Spain, an exchange student from Saudi Arabia, and for a while we were sitting with a Vietnamese guy who introduced himself to a credulous soul as Don Ho. Later on he said to Kathy and I, "I looked over, and I could tell that you guys knew I wasn't Don Ho, but you weren't saying anything." Never get in the way of a fake name -- especially when there's comedy involved.

Met some other good folks, too, and had a great conversation with AJ about monitoring people for house arrest.

Round midnight, we did some shots to celebrate Mike & Jeff's birthdays, and then we all did some more rounds for Kathy and my anniversary. Mike got a little mushy about it. He's a big softie.

We left to crash at my Mom's place around 3 a.m. The next morning, Kathy was off to my future sister-in-law's bridal shower, and I went back to Mike's solo to retrieve Kathy's hiking boots. The remaining partiers grabbed some beers and walked around the block to a first communion party, where there was more great food, delicious mojitos (that I only had a sip of, poor me) and a super soaker, to boot.

From there, I left for Mom's to pick up Kathy, dropping a new friend off at the airport on the way.

Spent a little time with Mom, Kathy and my brother Jim, then trekked on back to the NJ homestead.

At which point I sprang some gifts on the lady: House of the Dead: Overkill for the Wii, along with two gun shells for the Wii remotes. And a necklace, which I think looks mighty nice.

Anytime you want to tell someone how much they mean to you? Say it with zombies.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

If You're Gonna Kill Someone, Kill 'Em For Good.

A couple months ago, I finally watched Point Blank with Lee Marvin.

Other than the extreme Marvintude, this is why:

There's a substantial preview of Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of Richard Stark's The Hunter at IDW's website. (Point Blank and Mel Gibson's Payback were both based on The Hunter.) It's the first of three adaptations of Stark's Parker novels Cooke is doing, and I expect them all to be every bit as juicy as New Frontier. Except in the one genre that might be even more up my alley than superheroes, if that's possible.

Now I just have to read the original novel before the comic adaptation comes out in a few months...

(Via The BEAT)

The kind you find in a second-hand galaxy...

=Telegraph: Astronomers find Milky Way 'could taste of raspberries'

Funny, that's how I always expected it would sound...

(Via MGK)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Every Now And Then, I Review a Play

And I saw a terrific one the other night: CockEyed Optimists' production of Amy Fox's One Thing I Like to Say Is. It runs through May 3, so you can still check it out.


Monday, April 20, 2009

One More Ghost Against the Estate Tax

Every now and then, when looking for freelance writing work, I see this ad:

Publication or Company DC-based public relations agency
Industry Newspapers, Public Relations
Salary Negotiable
Benefits Flexible Hours, Telecommute Policy
Job Duration Freelance/Project Basis
Job Location Washington, DC USA
Job Requirements We are seeking someone to ghostwrite oped columns for our clients. We get between 1-8 such jobs per month. Ideal candidate can come up to speed quickly on any subject, is intimately familiar with public policy and political current events, is comfortable writing from a free-market perspective, can research independently, and is experienced writing opeds.

Fees are per project. Please send two writing samples that reflect an ability to make persuasive arguments substantiated by facts and research. Opeds are preferred. We're interested in seeing your raw copy -- and not necessarily published pieces that have been edited by others.

Send two samples and resume by email to EMAIL REDACTED.

In other words, 1 to 8 free-market (i.e., conservative) op-ed columns each month are actually some partisan hired gun putting words into the mouth of a more populist face. Maybe they're ghost-writing for Joe "I'm not a licensed plumber and, by the way, I'm not actually named Joe" the Plumber.

I honestly don't know if liberal groups do this too -- but I can say that they don't advertise on the sites I go to. The whole thing seems pretty low-rent to me.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Donde Esta Leopold?

This is probably the most delightful thing I will read all day.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Amazing Racers

I just listened to an interview on Fresh Air with Mel and Mike White, the father-son team who ran (and were recently eliminated from) this season's Amazing Race. Both men are gay; Mike is a screenwriter, actor and director (he wrote School of Rock, among other things), and Mel is a Christian activist for gay, lesbian and transgender people. Mel comes off as one of the warmest, even-tempered guys on earth throughout the high-stress legs of the Race, which is impressive in its own right. But listening to him talk to Terry Gross, and hearing the anger in his voice when he talks about how churches treat the GLBT community -- well, I find myself even more impressed.

And bonus: Unlike too many other Amazing Racers, Mel and Mike didn't dress alike.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The longest hyphenated word I've ever seen


Put that in yer pipe and smoke it.

Special bonus science: Lasers that curve!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh, no.

Phillies announcer Harry Kalas passed away today.

He’ll always be the voice I hear whenever I root for the home team.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

In Which I Meet People

Had a great little conversation yesterday afternoon with some vacationing Londoners in a quaint little hellhole called Wendy's, where they guard their ketchup like Inca gold. (Don't take more that that to start a conversation, sometimes.)

We talked a little bit about how most Americans' pictures of Britain were from 40-years-old Monty Python sketches, while the guy asked me whether there were any Big Kahuna Burgers around, although he suspected (rightly, I think, though I suppose it could be a regional thing) that the chain was a Quentin Tarrantino invention for Pulp Fiction. They were really friendly folks, and it was good to sit and talk to some strangers for lunch.

Wish they hadn't've brought their weather with them, though. It's the second week of April, and I've still got the lining in my leather jacket.

Then, late last night, I was taking the subway back to Penn Station to get my train home, talking with a buddy about the night’s D&D game. A bedraggled Asian guy in his mid-40s (I’m guessing) interrupted us, speaking incomprehensibly in what seemed to me like slurred Spanish. Pete and I kept talking, trying to ignore him, but he kept it up. Finally, he stood up and spoke to us (again, without either of us getting a word of it, although he seemed like thought he was making himself clear).

After a minute or two of incomprehensible conversation, looked up at him and said, with as much earnestness as I could muster:

“You know what my answer to that is?” I ran my finger beneath the logo on the front of my baseball cap, which I’d boosted months ago off the freebie table of a magazine. “Motor. Boating.” He just looked at me. “Motor boating. There’s your answer, man.”

The subway pulled in to my stop, and I got of the train, leaving Pete there with the guy. I looked back at them, and drew one more imaginary line under the logo. “Motor boating.” The doors closed and the train sped off.

If you can’t take the crazy out of the conversation, you might as well add some of your own.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Moment of No Zooming

So my newest nephew, Hardball, just got baptized yesterday. Right before the ceremony, my brother handed my his digital video camera and asked me to film. The priest came out, noticed I was filming and my other brothers had cameras, and said it was okay to us to move around if we needed a better shot of anything. But I have to admit, I felt kind of rude, filming during the event, when as a good uncle, I should have just been Paying Attention. I mean, I was doing both, but it felt kind of odd to have a job to do.

Especially when we got to the Our Father portion of the ceremony. We start praying and reciting the words (me very softly so as not to overpower the mic), and I start zooming in toward the Guest of Honor. And then, suddenly, I had to stop. What am I doing, I'm zooming during the Lord's Prayer.

It seemed like a no-zoom moment.

(It would probably be totally fine to cut to a montage of mobsters getting whacked, though.)


Thursday, April 02, 2009

My Phone Knows Me So Well

I’m tickled pink that the EZText on my phone’s text messaging software recognizes 7378378464 as “perverting,” instead of “requesting,” as I’d intended. I am so much more likely to pervert than request.