Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Name Is Kellen, I'll Be Your Waiter

Here are your drinks. Can I start you off with some appetizers?

TV: The only thing on that still captivates me is Rescue Me. So much sex and violence that I bet Jerry Falwell would have an aneurysm if he watched it. On the surface it seems to be a pretty shallow comedy (with lots of sex and violence) but almost every episode has some amazing dramatic and heart-stopping scenes. This past week for instance, the opening scene is a stunner. Another thing I like: HeadOn (“HeadOn. Apply directly to the head. HeadOn”), and our nation’s obsession with it.

Movies: Three movies I saw recently and liked despite negative reviews in many publications: Lady In The Water, Clerks II, and Dead Man’s Chest. Lady in the Water is a terrific fantastic comedy, but everyone seems to hate it. Why? Because it was marketed as a horror movie, a thriller, by M. Night Shymawhatsit. People came expecting The Sixth Sense, and instead got something entirely different. What does exist is a captivatingly complex fantasy world blended with our world played as a comedy. The scenes with the movie critic (though they beg questions about MNS’s bitterness about bad reviews) are simply some of the funniest I’ve seen in a long time.

Clerks II and the Pirates sequel suffer from the same issue of poor marketing. These movies are for people who have seen the previous movie, and while it is possible to enjoy these movies without the background you will definitely miss things. Notably, the ending of Pirates will completely confuse someone who hasn’t seen the first movie. Critics hate this, but I don’t see a problem with this. Requiring filmmakers to have to recap and explain everything kills the pace and is a waste of time to the vast majority of the audience who has seen the original. Anyway, Dead Man’s Chest is worth seeing. The scene with the waterwheel and the chest on the island is one of the most intricate and delightful action set pieces I’ve ever seen.

Clerks II is the perfect companion to the first Clerks. Yes, it is full of disgusting jokes and pointless conversations about pop culture… just like the first Clerks. Why would this one be any different? If you didn’t like the first one, why would you expect to like the sequel? This film is different of course from the original. The first version of the first Clerks had Dante being killed senselessly in a robbery at the end, Kevin Smith drawing inspiration from the sudden violent end of Do the Right Thing. Even in the final edit of Clerks, the ending is still certainly not upbeat. Clerks II actually ends on an optimistic note and in the end, gave me the ending that I wanted. Is it a little too sugary? Maybe, but fuck it, Dante wasn’t even supposed to be here today. It's about time he got paid some overtime.

Books: Mao II is surprisingly prescient on issues of terrorism. It’s also nice and short for those who find Delillo longwinded. In some ways it reminded me of the 1980 movie Network, which not only predicted FoxNews and reality television, but also had prophetic insight on global terrorism.

Internets: People (notably the NY Times) are being dumb about Wikipedia. No one uses Wikipedia as a serious research tool. It is the internet equivalent of an amazingly thorough desk reference. You wouldn’t cite it in a paper, you wouldn’t use it to learn how to do heart surgery. You use Wikipedia to find out shit about Transformers and the story behind “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” (apparently a conspiracy masterminded by Donald Barthelme?). To paraphrase the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff: Parents, and people the same age as my parents, just don’t understand.

Rob Horning has a great article on PopMatters. More and more he becomes my favorite columnist. I will steal the teaser from their site: “Like Calvinists who stockpile life's finer things in hopes of shoring up their sense of themselves as elect, hipsters surround themselves with the trappings of creativity and trust that this substantiates their claim to being cool.”

Oh and people are going apeshit over, a website that outsources menial tasks you can do over the Internet for a few pennies. I think it’s a really cool idea, but it is upsetting labor people, who don’t seem to understand that people don’t rely on the Mechanical Turk as a source of income, but rather just as a hobby that happens to pay. I don’t know, I think labor is overreacting but that’s just me.

Anyway, this shit should get you started. Your entrees will be out shortly.


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