Archive for September, 2008

I’m going to do you a huge favor, and you probably don’t deserve it. But I’m in a giving mood today. Maybe it was that record breaking stock plummet yesterday? Maybe it’s the oppressively ubiquitous California sun? Maybe I just want some attention (like me, please!)?

Look we all need a little culture now and then, whether you want to impress the ladies, or just expand your general worldview so you don’t do something catastrophically stupid like vote McCain/Palin. I’m not talking beret and horn-rimmed glasses, cappuccino froth on your mustache while you sit at a sidewalk bistro table reading Molière and thinking about the best wine paring for chicken piccata. In fact, let’s just rule literature out altogether, since I’m sure reading this entire post will be taxing enough for you.

A great source of culture is cinema. Aliens vs Predator vs Spidereman vs Neo from the Matrix vs Chuck Lidel is totally rad, but it won’t do much for your already muddied cosmogony. On the other hand, there’s not much appealing about sitting down for three hours and watching upper-crusty Victorian women discuss the plight of their society marriages over tea and crumpets or in a carriage or whispered in the parlor all for a melodramatic ‘death by consumption’ at the end. But there’s a good compromise.

Below is a list of 10 movies that will make you think and that you might actually enjoy watching. This is in no way a top 10 list, it’s just a list of suggestions. Once you’ve put these to bed you’ll be equipped with enough varied cultural references to hold your own at your next art opening… or at least make your friends feel stupid at the pub.

Taxi Driver

Yes, you get to watch Taxi Driver again. This is an American classic, and it’s totally sweet when DeNiro builds that arm harness contraption so he can slide a concealed Beretta out of his sleeve. But this is also a penetrating look into the dark side of American urban culture.

La Dolce Vita

Fellini is a master filmmaker, and Marcello Mastroianni is, simply put, the man. This is without a doubt one of the greatest films of all time, and it’s not clunky and boring like The English Patient. Marcello is a gossip columnist in Rome who sleeps with a lot of good looking Italian women, but becomes infatuated with an American actress and winds up forced to reevaluate his whole decadent existence.

All About My Mother

Almodóvar is a mad genius. His movies are complex, convoluted, morally ambiguous and there is always at least one transvestite, one prostitute, or one transvestite prostitute. I guess it takes a gay guy to get into the heads of women, but a straight guy can definitely benefit from the findings.

Hiroshima Mon Amour

If you can prove to a board of experts that you actually understand this movie, you’ll be awarded the Nobel Prize. Even if you don’t get it, watch it. It will lead you to some mind-altering ideas without letting you know how you got there. It’s a lot like drugs in that respect.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

This is a newer movie and a true story about a guy who wrote a book despite being paralyzed everywhere but his right eyelid. What have you done with your life?

On The Waterfront

Want to know where the line, “I coulda been a contender!” came from?

The Seventh Seal

Everybody has to watch Ingmar Bergman at some point. It’s like a right of passage. Also, watching this movie will help you better understand Bill and Ted’s Bogus Adventure, and who doesn’t benefit from that?

Rashomon or Seven Samurai

I couldn’t pick between these two Kurosawa movies, so I’ll let you. If you’re really gutsy you can watch both. But don’t do it in the same night or you might just lose your grip on the last vestiges of reality. I’m sure you’ve at least heard of Kurosawa, probably from that guy that’s 35 and really into Linux and anime and rents a room in the basement of his sister’s house and wears t-shirts that say things like “as seen on tv,” so I’m guessing there’s a certain stigma attached. Get over that, because liking these movies isn’t the first thing you’ll have in common.

A Clockwork Orange

Two words: Stanley and Kubrick. Anthony Burgess invented a language based on old Slavic dialects for the novel, which is like what J.R.R. Tolkien did in the Lord of the Rings, only this isn’t totally dorky. Alex DeLarge is the leader of a small gang of misfits that beat the shit out of old people and drink drugged milk, but things really get crazy when Alex ends up on the wrong side of a behavioral modification experiment. Get your lobotomies while they’re hot!

Jules et Jim

Ok, summon all your masculine confidence for this one, there’s a reason why I saved it for last. Back before the French were pissing us off by not supporting our pseudo-imperialist activities and taking credit for our thinly sliced and flash-fried potato creations, they were making some damn good movies. Truffaut is pretty much the poster boy of French new wave cinema and this might be his best. Sure there are homoerotic undertones, it’s French silly! But get over yourself and stick this one out because you’ll never look at dating the same again.


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And the other is a Saturday Night Live skit! If that hackneyed lead-in didn’t do it for you just lower your standards a little, about 45% of America has already.

Also, there was some kind of debate or something.

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Meet Tucker Bounds, famed spokesperson for the McCain campaign. True to the form of contemporary Republican campaign genius, this man just won’t answer your question. Watch and learn future masters of spin. Further proof that a clean suit and a good smile will get you a lot farther than, say, knowing what you’re talking about.

Lesson 1: The pick and roll

Lesson 2: Appear on FOX cuz they love Republicans… right?

-You also have to love the biblical references. Haven’t you seen that campaign poster? “Obama ’08 – the seas will part, the sick will be healed”

Lesson 3: When yer in too deep point the finger, then cut the feed

Lesson 4: Pleading the 5th is incriminating, try “That’s absurd!”

Lesson 5: I’m rubber and you’re glue

It also helps if you just periodically ignore all the arbitrary rules of grammar and syntax.

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Have you heard all the buzz about how Microsoft is pulling the Seinfeld and Gates ad campaign? They found that people were turned off by them, “they didn’t find it amusing, they just found it odd.” One editorial shot up these words “Seriously? They weren’t funny, interesting or clever.” What an idiot.

Now just the other night after seeing the second on of them I thought to myself, wow, this is the first truly funny thing Jerry Seinfeld has done since the last season of his show.I mean his stand up is “OK” and his B movie and the commercials for it were childish and basically forced humor. These commercials were actually humorous, I mean god forbid a few morons don’t get the humor, those kind of people don’t have enough money for computers or are writing their crappy editorials on a Mac already, so who cares what they think. Its like when women get upset about beer commercials showing bikini babes. Coors light doesn’t pull those commercials, and that’s because there target audience isn’t upset, its just the Vajay-jays getting all hot and bothered, so that’s why the Coors light twins still prance around in those neon string bikinis.
So jesum crow Microsoft don’t be such a push-over, at this stage in the computer sales game I’d let Larry David run my entire company, or wait here’s a thought…… start making products that actually work.

P.S. this post actually written on a Dell. Thanks Steve.

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Wow! I just sat through 3 1/2 hours of the most amazing mind-fuck ever to grace the silver screen. I mean, just finished it. Haven’t even got up to take the obligatory post-flick bladder purge. Andrei Rublev is a movie about the travels of a 15th century Russian monk, the movie’s namesake. It was released in 1966 and suppressed in the Soviet Union, which makes it the most irreverent piece of Soviet era cinema since we faked the moon landing.

Rublev, a painter of icons who is at one point conscripted to paint frescoes, bears witness to the violence of the Tartars and even of ruthless Russian princes. And, apparently, he was a real person. The movie takes place as a series of chapters, each one covering different relevant periods of Rublev’s life over the course of 20 years or so.

I can hardly begin to describe this movie in any certain terms. It’s almost unbearably difficult to follow, exacerbated by the fact that it’s in Russian, but it is impossible to peel your face off the screen. My thought process while watching went something like this: “there’s one more Stella in the fridge. I could jump up and grab it and be back in like 5 seconds flat. Shit! No way. In that 5 seconds the universe could get vaporized and I’ll die not having seen as much of Andrei Rublev as possible.”

It may be difficult to envision what makes the travels of a Russian monk so enthralling, so let me try to lay it out for you. THIS IS THE MOST EPIC (in the classical sense) MOVIE I’VE EVER SEEN! The scope of the movie is absolutely mind-blowing. There are scenes with hundereds of naked people running through the woods, massive battle scenes that shame modern directors and their cheating CGI tom-foolery. Some 45 minutes are devoted to the molding, firing, and casting of an enormous church tower bell. That sounds like it would drag, and I can’t explain why it doesn’t, but it doesn’t!

By way of comparison, in 1972 Francis Ford Coppola dropped a horse’s head on a bed and PETA shit themselves. In Rublev there is a long scene in which a group of both Russians and Tartars lay siege to a city. Either an ox or a bull runs into the frame at one point and it’s on fire. Now, we’re all a little desensitized in this day and age given the ability of film makers to fake this kind of imagery, and on a grand scale. So it took me a little bit to register the fact that I was seeing an actual ox/bull that was actually on fire, and it stayed on screen for a long enough time so that you knew they weren’t just gonna hose it off and send it back to the petting zoo. More likely, it ended up as lunch for the crew. Almost immediately after this, a horse falls through some scaffolding, hits a set of makeshift stairs, tries to right itself, and falls through that. It’s clearly broken at least two legs, and when it tries to get up it flips over itself, and then is speared in the chest by a Tartar. And this shit is all actually happening! Now, I’m not trying to say animal cruelty is cool or anything. I’m watching this scene with my jaw in my lap, shaking my head, thinking, “what the hell is going on!?” Then the idea jumps into my head, “holy shit, what if they’re really gouging that guy’s eyes out?”

Aside from spitting in the face of the Vegan Militia, the movie has a lot to offer in a historically context-ed epic narrative about the classic Russian crisis of faith that 20-something lovers of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky who live in up-and-comming neighborhoods and wear their ennui on a tee-shirt that says “I wear my ennui on my sleeve” have come to know and love. The story starts when Rublev leaves his monastery, along with a small group of sidekicks, headed for Moscow in order to paint icons. We are inundated with images of how brutal the formation of the modern Russian state was.

Actually, the movie begins with a man fleeing from a mob across a river, up into a church tower, and attempting to escape with a kind of early version of the hot air balloon. He crashes to his death and the incident is neither explained nor referenced again for the remaining 195 minutes.

That’s really all I’m capable of writing about this right now. I can’t say I recommend this as much as I’d say your life is probably incomplete without having seen this movie. Now I’m going to go drink a scotch and probably have really fucked up dreams.

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Lets face it you have a problem. You don’t eat enough meat.
Some have said, “you are what you eat” I say, I eat what I am. So, if I was a plant I’d eat plants and if I was the sun I’d eat other stars, but I’m an animal so I eat animals. Before things get out of control and I bust out the paleo crap, lets discuss what this post is all about, Beef Jerky. That’s right America’s snack food, its right up there with pizza flavored combos and pork rhines. However, unlike the other things you find in a gas station, beef jerky is the healthiest thing you can eat, and I mean it, not on a “in the crunch need a snack, weigh my options for the healthiest choice” sort of way, but in an all encompassing lifestyle sort of way. Not only is it healthy it is extremely easy to make, essential all you need is an oven and some salt, although, some other marinating ingredients can make it much tastier. Go ahead do a google search and find out from other sources that I’m not full of shit, but once you’re done doing that and looking at free porn, check out this straight through the bullshit easy recipe:
Get a flank stank or a London broil. Freeze it for about an hour until its sort of hard and easy to slice. Slice it really thin and pop it in a big plastic bag. Pour into the bag whatever you want (but put in more then what you would for a regular steak): Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt, pepper, hot peppers, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, pretty much whatever you like on your steak. Let them marinate over night in the fridge. Wake up drink a scotch and pre-heat the oven to 200 deg. Lay a paper towel down and spread the meat out on it, and then pad it dry, at this point the drier you can get it the better. Throw them on a broiling pan, or 2 or 8, and keep them spread out, once they shrink you can down size to 1 or 2 pans also you can put them on the rack itself (of course with something underneath to catch the dropping fat and avoiding a smokey kitchen.) Cook for about 4-6 hours keeping the oven door open a crack periodically. Here comes the hard part, DON’T EAT ALL THE MEAT WHILE IT’S COOKING! It’s extremely hard, and takes the courage of someone like Joan of Arc or George Bush, not to go ahead and eat the beef pieces when they get to that medium rare stage, but just try and remember the goal here: Having a weekly, even monthly, well preserved protein source that tastes like heaven. No matter what you do to screw some pieces, char them, drop them in the oven, they’ll still taste good.
Remember, “Every time a someone refuses to eat meat, god kills a kitten.”

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