Monday, March 31, 2008

Homeless People

One of the most interesting things I've noticed about living in a big city is the Homeless phenomenon, aka the "Bum" phenomenon. I don't mean people without homes, or people "in between" things; you can find these people just about anywhere. I mean the really, really, really odd, dirty, smelly, probably insane, possibly belligerent people that sleep between copies of The Onion and The New York Times outside of Dunkin' Donuts. Don't get me wrong; this is not Bumfights propaganda, nor is it a misanthropic rant. There are , in fact, many decent, dignified homeless people who humbly request that you help them out by quietly sitting beside a quaint cardboard sign (for all you who think this marriage of dignity and overt solicitation is a contradiction, lay off the late-period Nietzsche). That aside, the stinky, loud, nothing-to-lose crazies are the ones that fascinate me.
Just the other night, Jess and I were heading home from Greenwhich Village after a pleasant evening full of art and Indian food when we slowly became aware that one of "them" was on the train we were on. Having lived in the city for some time now, I've learned the art of avoiding "that" train car. As the train comes to a stop, you casually watch as the cars pass, noting the passenger density, gaging if you'll be able to get a seat or not. Then, you see a car that is half-empty. This train has a bum on it, so you avoid it. Sometimes, however, the trains are so busy you just can't tell, and you don't notice you're on a train with one of "them" until the doors are closed and you've opened your book. Anyway, this particular person, a man claiming to be a veteran, was walking up and down the car, shouting both coherent things, like "Easter Sunday!" and "It is better to give than to receive!", and incoherent things, like "Muthafuher" and "Take a plane!!!" He started on one side of the car and I was on the other. Eventually he made his way to my side and stationed himself diagonally across from me. I buried my nose deeper in Mann. He let loose a pair of thick loogies which made an ungodly sound on the soiled subway floor. He then resumed shouting and while he was jingling his panhandle, some coins bounced out. He marched forward to pick them up, bellowing to a kid in a pair of New Balances to "Move, Punk!" Once he had collected his lost coins, he left that side of the train feeling sufficiently guilty and marched to the other side, whereupon he threatened some female passengers thus: "I'm-a cut you up!" Not clear on the sincerity or really the direction of this threat, Jess and I switched cars at the next stop.
Another time Jess and I were walking down 5th Ave in Park Slope and we were passing a bank. A terribly loud, bulging, shabby, oldish woman with stringy brown hair and beady black eyes was hollering at people not to help her, but simply to give her money. As I walked passed, on cue, she yelled, "Give me some money." Slightly shaken by her hoarse, dire voice, Jess and I continued walking only to hear her yell, "88, feed me!" I was assuming she was talking to the guy in the Michael Irvin jersey, so I kept walking. To my surprise, I found myself terribly angry that this woman had the nerve to do what she was doing - that is, making people painfully aware of their advantages in life. Not only that, but of what they are wearing or how they look (she called me "Handsome"). Jess asked rhetorically why this woman wasn't outside a bank in the Upper West Side of Manhatten or some other area where there's a lot more wealth. I say rhetorical because the answer is readily obvious; someone would complain and she would be promptly removed. Then she would be dumped in Brooklyn, where she can solicit freely because a.) no one has enough free mental space to care enough that someone is yelling at them and b.) the police have far more important things to do - like gangbusting and prostitute-ring-ousting - than to remove an obnoxious beggar. How is it that this person exists? Is she just crazy? Or is it a symptom of a much larger problem?
Between these two encounters, I've come to a loose, metaphoric conclusion. You know how when you make sugar cookies, you roll out the dough, and then you use various shapes to cut out your cookies? Well, people like me or you or the businessman on 6th or the hooligan on Franklin are all defined shapes. The "others" or, for the lack of a more accurate term, bums, are the extra dough that isn't quite a shape. It has potential to be made back into a shape, but there's always a shapeless remainder. Insofar as this makes any sense, these people become foils, or mirrors. They show us what is wrong with the whole baking process, and I don't blame them for hating me for not giving them money.
Perhaps I've been too hard on these people. Perhaps they have severe mental problems and are really just tragically out of touch with reality and I should be sad that no one has been able to or chosen to help them in the necessary ways. I believe this could be the case. But then I think of this other homeless man I've seen several times all over the city who pushes around a shopping cart full of his effects. Dressed like an urban monk of some kind, he curls up on two-seaters beside car-to-car passageways with his cart parked by his side. Swilling an unlabeled two-liter bottle, he doesn't say anything, and doesn't smell. He settles in and closes his eyes. As far as I'm concerned, either this man is nuts, or he knows something I've yet to learn.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Arnold goes to Carnival (wtf)

In this video the Governor of California sexually harasses Brazilian dancers, learns some Portuguese and eats carrots. All I'm saying is "BITING".

Book Review: Dancing in the Streets - A History of Collective Joy

In researching for a possible essay on state fairs / carnivals / things like that I came across the book Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy by Barbara Ehrenreich. The book came out last year and is a kind of sociological survey of different events / moments in history that involve collective festivity. The book asks why we chose to celebrate in large groups and why sharing festivity/ fun with others is important. I'm almost completely done with the book (so I guess this isn't a legitimate review as of now) but so far it is fabulous. The book first looks at ritual dances and drumming common in different regions in Africa, and how the first European / Western explorers first deemed these communal events as "barbaric" and "satanic". It goes on to claim that the influence of Freud in the West – his ideas that humans cannot enjoy group settings that involve more than two people, as they immediately see them in terms of negative power/control dynamics – has made us, in the West, more prone to make these diagnoses. It also looks at the early cults of Dionysus and claims that Dionysus was, with his mysterious sexuality and strict adherence to revelry, the “first rock star”. The book explains how early carnivals in Europe were a means of social revolution/ upsetting the class system. How religion shut down carnival and how the Calvinist strain of the Protestant faith produced stalwart followers, wary of any kind of “fun” and especially “group fun” as found in carnivals or festivals. Calvinist diehards also produced one of the highest suicide rates of any other group of people ever documented in history. Ehrenreich’s diagnosis is that if they would have let themselves dance some more, they may have lived longer if less “moral” lives. Ehrenreich’s research covers more modern forms of collective joy – from fascist gatherings, to the “rock revolution” in the US and England in the 50s and 60s. I enjoy how the book has given me perspective. How it provides evidence of the kinds of intensely emotional/ spiritual collective celebrations that exist in other parts of the world and that have existed in history. My favorite insight from the book is that the human brain is wired to replicate dancing / rhythmic motion once it sees it. I recommend the book to anyone remotely interested in the subject – it offers a lot of compelling research and is an entertaining read. It will also make you feel morally obligated to dance / squeeze the most enjoyment out of any group celebration .

Great Women in History: Setsuko Hara

Renowned actress Setsuko Hara was born Masae Aida on June 17, 1920. Coming of age during World War II, she found herself much in demand as an actress in the suddenly vital post-war Japanese film industry. Critically lauded both at home and abroad, Hara emerged as the iconic face of Japanese art cinema, working with directors such as Akira Kurosawa and Mikio Naruse; however, her most fruitful collaboration came with director Yasujiro Ozu, who utilized her beauty and talent to perfect effect in his somber meditations on the state of the post-war Japanese family (Late Spring, Tokyo Story). Like the quietly defiant young woman she played in Late Spring, Hara defied cultural expectations and chose never to marry or have children. Despite this controversial decision, Hara remained wildly popular in Japan, where she became known as the “Eternal Virgin.” She continued to act throughout the 1950s, playing nuanced variations on the modern Japanese woman and saving her best performances for Ozu’s films. Shortly after Ozu’s death in 1963, Hara blindsided the cinema world with the announcement that she was retiring. Rumors swirled that she had never enjoyed acting and did so only to support her large extended family, that Ozu’s death had left her too distraught to work, and - more quietly - scandalous allegations of lesbianism or some other secret. To this day - despite the best efforts of the Japanese press - her reasons remain unknown, as she has refused any and all interview or photo requests. She has reclaimed her given name, Masae Aida, and lives quietly in a small town, refusing to acknowledge her previous life as one of cinema's brightest stars.

There's Nothing Funny on TV Anymore

I've been enjoying Mr. Kotce's link to Derek and Simon these past couple of mornings and feel compelled to share a link to my own favorite comedy duo Clark and Michael. Starring Michael Cera (Arrested Development) and Clark Duke (Greek) as would be screenwriters trying to make it in LA, this ten episode series is available exclusively online. Aside from his stellar work in Arrested Development, Michael Cera has been criminally underutilized in his major film roles but here his comedic talents are on full display opposite the equally funny Clark Duke. The series has a sequential plot, so make sure you start from the first episode.

Clark and Michael

Retarded Celebrity Siblings: Frank Stallone

Frank Stallone, the originator of riding the coattails of famous celebrity siblings was born in 1950 New York, New York to an astrologer mother and hair dresser father. The younger brother of actor, director, writer and producer Sylvester Stallone made his film debut in Sly's ridiculously successful 1976 film "Rocky" playing a singer on a street corner. From there it was only up hill for the brother of "The Italian Stallion". Frank Stallone went on to be "credited" in nearly 35 Hollywood feature films. Not only did he star in a couple, he wrote a lot of shitty soundtrack music as well. Frank Stallone has loved music since his early years as an admirer of blues, jazz and American folk as a young boy. He recently played himself in the feature film Fred Claus and has released several albums under his own name. Frank Stallone has paved the way for other genetically inferior celebrity siblings such as Kevin Dillon, La Toya Jackson, Chad Lowe and all of the Baldwin Brothers except Alec. Congratulations, Frank, on a job well (half-assed) done.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Product Review: Vitamin Water Formula 50

I would have to say that my favorite Vitamin Water is the grape flavored "Formula 50", created by Curtis Jackson a.k.a 50 Cent. Although this drink is delicious it really contains no health benefits. The mere fact that Vitamin Water is called Vitamin Water is simply a fallacy. The drink is mostly sugar but it is better than soda and that is why 50 Cent "invented" this drink. If you like grape juice and you like water then this really is the drink for you. I have found this concoction great with the following food items: pizza, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fish sticks, pretzels and even tacos/burritos. 50 Cent is down with health so what better way to promote healthy living then by having your very own Vitamin Water. Youth Obesity in America is rising at an alarming rate and so Jackson decided to take a stand with this promotion or "invention". I do not say this in jest. "Formula 50" is the best Vitamin Water on the market. You can find it at your local Store 24 or other grocer for in or around $1.49. This is 20 oz. you don't want to miss.

Woody Allen - Interview and Insights

Thoughts on women, humor, and life.

Maybe You Seen It, Maybe You Ain't

One of the funniest things on video in recent months (years?) is an internet television show by creator Bob Odenkirk  (Mr. Show).  The show is called Derek and Simon.  It's about two friends that live in Los Angeles, one is a poon hound, the other a more reserved neurotic, young Jewish guy.  Each episode varies in length from about One and 1/2 minutes to Five.  Timing aside each episode packs enough comic punch to fuck up Mike Tyson.  I feel that this is were Odenkirk really succeeds.  Bob Odenkirk can't make a feature film to save his life but these little web episodes from will have you laughing for days.  

Great Men in History: Ted Williams (A Eulogy)

The day the Slpendid Splinter went away and never came back was the saddest day in the history of baseball. His last hit was a towering 500 foot home run. He went out in a style that seems quite ironic to his final bow. Because he would turn in his proverbial grave if he ever found out that his son believed chryogenically freezing his celebrity father was a proper way to turn a profit, more important than letting him die a dignified death. A soldiers death. A Hall-of-Famers death. A man who was rail thin and believed that physics and finesse were the answers to hitting the ball over the fence, not large muscles and brute force. The day Ted Williams died....those who loved him wept tears of sorrow and loss, the Splendid Splinter is gone but he is not forgotten. For those who said no to "The Babe" and laughed in the face of Mickey Mantle moving his way up the organ transplant list just so he could get one last swig out of a bottle. We salute the real father of the long-ball. If Ted wanted people to remember him for all the right reasons he wouldn't want the legions of adoring fans to forget his tours of duty in both World War II and Korea. We know the truth. Ted's statistics would have been even more impressive if he hadn't been part of the Greatest Generation and lose nearly 6 seasons in his hitting prime just so he could be one more American Hero. Mr. Williams flew fighter jets just as well as he could swing a baseball bat. Sport and Baseball enthusiasts, fans of the game, find me a better man than the one spoken of here! For Teddy Williams will forever be that little boy standing in the middle of some San Diego train track swinging a pillow as if it were a Louisville Slugger, driving some poor high heater into the grand stands of eternal greatness.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Great Men in History: John Cazale

His film career spanned only six years and five films, but during this all too brief span John Cazale established himself as one of cinema's all-time great supporting actors. A childhood friend of Al Pacino, Cazale was a celebrated stage actor before getting his first film role as Fredo in The Godfather. His forlorn appearance and timid demeanor made him perfect for roles that required sensitivity and balance and he would appear opposite Pacino again in The Godfather Part II and Sydney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon. In The Deer Hunter he played a weak-willed friend to Robert De Niro's alpha male, but few people outside the film industry realized that Cazale was married to the film's talented and stunning lead actress, Meryl Streep. The two met while working on a play, and it was at Streep's insistence that the studio kept him on the picture despite knowing that he had been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer; he died before the film's release. Pacino referred to him as "my acting partner," and it's difficult to imagine some of cinema's most enduring moments without him there.

Song Review: I Never Dreamed

The Cookies
One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found

In the liner notes to One Kiss Can Lead to Another, Cookies lead singer Margaret Ross describes the production direction she received while recording; “Gerry [Goffin] asked for me to sing not too loud, just natural. I think it was just two takes.”
Lyrically little more than a repetitive litany of love’s unexpected merits, “I Never Dreamed” clocks in at just over two and a half minutes, but the gentle simplicity works to hypnotic effect. Lyrics that might seem trite and uninspired on paper become passionate and sincere in the context of the song. Tight three-part harmonies intertwine with a sweetly persistent guitar hook, and in the bridge Ross’s voice takes on a new hint of urgency as she sings the almost defiantly simple lines, “He tells me I’m pretty / And then I feel pretty / He says I make him happy / And then I feel happy.” Love is the consistent preoccupation of the girl group genre but here all of the pretense, drama, and utopian yearning is eschewed in favor of affirmation and acceptance, begging the question ‘what should a love song really be about?’

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Temp Position #3

I must first apologize to Mo and Goff; I suggested that we all post our own versions of our hang out last night. Already I have it in my mind not to do such a thing. I started a draft and it just didn't have anything compelling. I don't pretend to think that this entry will be too compelling either but I do think it may be a bit more universal. Today I intend to share my thoughts on the aged-old tradition of temporary work.

Looking at it one way I guess I could say that all my life I've been engaged in temporary work. I've never felt an eternal commitment to any sort of position that I may have taken but that's beside the point; these past three months I have made a commitment, a commitment to be fleeting in my actions. Invest myself in something? Pfft! To all those 'building a career' I ask you; are you reaching glorious heights or are you digging yourself into a ditch?* Now when people ask me my occupation I say "Temporary Worker!"

Certainly it has its downsides but, over the course of my various placements I've learned, it has its upsides as well. The greatest of all aspects about temporary work is that you know it's going to come to an end. There's no need to worry about making a good impression and saving face in anticipation of seeing the same people five days a week for the rest of your foreseeable future. Not at all! All parties involved know that after the two weeks-or however long your placement might be-you'll never see each other again and if you do you just pretend that you don't recognize each other. The best perk of this particular advantage is that, knowing the end is in sight, that's theres no way to save or prolong your job, you can just as easily tell the boss to "Shove it!" Haha! Isn't it amazing to know you have that ability. It is a liberating feeling to know that whenever you want you've got an escape hatch readily available. It's as easy as one,'s even easier than one, two, three. It's just two, two words, "I quit."

Moving on another great perk is that no one expects much of you. They think I must be a dunce-I have successfully avoided all words three-syllables or greater for a good many months. Continuing, because they think me to be incompetent I've avoided having to make workplace decisions that will affect the outcome of any situation, and if the situation begs me to make a decision, I don't, I just say, "I'm a temp!," and then I go get someone. The only decisions I've made in the past few days has been do I have one or two squirts of cream in my coffee.

Do you like lacking responsibility and learning how to do new dull things? Well temping is great for you! You don't have to learn how to do any new dull things, you get to stick with your favorites! No one trains you how to do more than two tasks, anything more than that and, cost-analysis wise, they'll be putting more time and effort into you than you're worth to them. At my two prior assignments, rather than teaching how to do necessary tasks they let me sit at the computer, playing on the internet, listening to music and reading digitalized books. The life!

So for everyone, temping isn't the only option but oh my it's a grand one.

Song Review: I'm Coming Home (parts 1 & 2)

A favorite professor of mine once told our class "I'd trade a hundred Arethas for one Mavis." While I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment, the fact remains that the majority of music that one is likely to hear by the Staple Singers is their vastly overrated and uninspiring major-label work from the '60s and '70s, wherein they re-recorded folksier renditions of their early gospel hits and spirited covers of contemporary pop songs. A straight up comparison between these recordings and Aretha Franklin's records from the same period does not come out favorably for the Staples family. However, take the time to dig deeper into the records they cut on Vee-Jay records between 1955 and 1961 and Dr. Downhome's claim seems less hyperbolic and more a simple statement of a clear fact. On The Best of the Vee-Jay Years (Shout! 2007) the Staple Singers are revealed in all their reverb-laden, ethereal gospel glory and Mavis Staples (still a teenager when most of these songs were cut) emerges as the stunning centerpiece of this musical family.

Young Mavis had the vocal talent to be a star in any genre but in "I'm Coming Home (parts 1 &2)" it becomes clear that no other genre but gospel could ever be as deserving of her formidable gift. Pops Staples is an impressive vocalist in his own right, but when paired with his daughter's other-worldly contralto his own voice becomes deferential, almost too innocent and inexperienced to do anything but provide only the most modest support and harmony. The song opens with a few ominous, echoing notes from his guitar and for the next seven minutes the song belongs to Mavis as she exhorts the audience to notify heaven of her imminent arrival. For Mavis, salvation isn't a desire but an inevitability. A child who is "born to die," she sings of her ascent to heaven as a triumphant homecoming, and her unwavering self-assurance is almost intimidating to listen to. Death holds no fear in this song, and Mavis seems to be only passing time until she regains her rightful place in heaven.
As the song develops, a hundred Arethas for one Mavis begins to sound like a bargain. We may listen to Mavis Staples sing, but Mavis Staples sings to God.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Great Men in History: Harry Smith

One of the truly great representatives of the 20th century spirit of modernism and experimentation, Harry Everett Smith made his mark as an experimental filmmaker, anthropologist, shaman, artist, and collector. Smith drew little distinction between spheres of knowledge that he found interesting, and much of his work reflects this inclusive, non-discriminatory mindset. His early film work was comprised of abstract animations that he painstakingly painted frame by frame directly onto film stock, and some examples of paintings that survived his scattered lifestyle are note by note interpretations of his favorite jazz pieces. He was a voracious collector of both art and music, amassing a huge collection of Ukrainian Easter eggs and the world's largest collection of paper airplanes. In 1952 he released the Anthology of American Folk Music, a comprehensive, meticulously notated collection of rare folk recordings culled from his private collection. One of Smith's last public appearances was at the 1991 Grammy Awards where he received a Chairman's Merit Award for his incredible contribution to the world of folk music. Smith accepted the award graciously, stating that "I'm glad to say my dreams came true. I saw America changed by music." Harry Everett Smith died on November 27, 1991, in the arms of Italian poet Paola Igliori at New York's Chelsea Hotel. He is purported to have spent his last breaths singing.

Garfield minus Garfield

My friend Jacob pointed THIS SITE out to me. I thought some of you might find it amusing / uncomfortably familiar. There is a pretty extensive archive of these comics if you h
ave a few minutes to go through them

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

After a year and a half of being a Bostonian, these are my favorite things in Boston

1. Anna’s Tacqueria – This place absolutely never disappoints. You can get a fantastic bean and rice burrito for under $5. The service is fast, the ingredients are fresh, and the servers don’t speak English. I do not have enough good things to say about this place. You can find Anna’s at Coolidge Corner, Winchester St/Summit Ave., the MIT student center, and Davis Square. There may be more, but I haven’t found them yet.
2. Union Bar and Grille – I ate an appetizer here that I will never forget: Salad of mixed tender lettuces with shaved fennel with radicchio, cucumber, and sheep’s milk cheese. It may have been the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. This place is in the swanky South End.
3. Asmara – I had never had Ethiopian food before, and I ended up enjoying it. You sit around a big wicker table thing and eat with your fingers by picking up food with little pieces of soft, flat bread. My friends say the bread has the consistency of human skin; I guess I go that feeling, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. A fairly inexpensive place in Central Square.

Close calls: Fajitas ‘n’ ‘Ritas near Park Street, Mike’s in Davis Square, RedBones in Davis Square

1. The Publick House – This is a bar right down the street from my house in Washington Square. There is a three-page beer menu and they have imports from all over the world and have a great selection of microbrews from all over the country. You can get sampler paddles with four half pints and cheese boards that feature a wedge of imported cheese, homemade mustard, bread, and mini pickles.
2. People’s Republic – This is a Soviet-themed bar between Harvard and Central Squares. Darts in the corner, hammer and sickles all over the place, and a slightly unsettling lack of windows really brings the place together.
3. The Burren – An Irish bar in Davis Square. On any given night you can hear local musicians and Irish immigrants playing authentic music in the corner in one of the booths. I also saw a homeless guy play the guitar and sing in a (more) drunk-sounded Tom Waits style. It was pretty awesome.

Close calls: Grendel’s Den in Harvard Square, Shay’s Pub and Wine Bar in Harvard Square

Outdoor Spots:
1. The Public Gardens – It’s just a nice place to walk around. The swans and the swan boats make me smile.
2. The bank of the Charles by the Esplanade– I sit here and watch the boats on warm days. One windy day I saw three people fall in the water and one boat capsize.
3. The Harbor Walk – Every time I walk out here on a warm day there is an extravagant wedding going on. More than half the time, the groom is a sailor. I always want to sing “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).”

Close calls: Boston Common, Beacon Hill

Tourist Spots:
1. The Top of the Hub – There’s nothing like seeing the city from fifty stories up! It really helps show how messed up the city layout of Boston is. There is also a bar up there that makes very strong gin and tonics.
2. The Boston Aquarium – One word: Penguins
3. The cemeteries downtown – I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved old cemeteries, and the ones in Boston are some of the oldest in the country. John Hancock’s grave is phallic – very, very phallic.

Close calls: MFA, The Freedom Trail

1. Noam Chomsky – Kinda the be-all-end-all of Boston thinkers. My cognitive science group got him to come talk to us ( He’s a very meek and timid man when you meet him, but when he gets up to speak, he is totally willing to call you stupid in front of two hundred people – one of my friends got it bad from him. He wears his jeans hiked up very, very high.
2. Steven Pinker – He’s another big guy in language from Boston. He just wrote a book called “The Stuff of Thought” which deals with profanity, sexual language, and innuendo. He gave a talk at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square and said every dirty word I had ever heard in my life, and then some.
P.S., Tabernacle is the worst swear word you can say in Quebec according to Pinker. Can anyone verify this?
3. Dan Dennett – A philosopher at Tufts who looks like Santa Claus. I’m not a hundred percent in love with his particular views, but he seems like a guy who you could go have a beer with. I shook his hand at a conference – he has a firm shake for an old guy, much firmer than Chomsky’s.

Close calls: Ray Jackendoff at Tufts, Daniel Wegner at Harvard

Great men in history: James Coburn

Academy Award winning actor (Affliction) and all around bad-ass, James Coburn appeared in hundreds of films and television series over his nearly five decade long career. Starting in television westerns, Coburn established himself as one of the preeminent actors in the genre and would go on to work with western masters Sergio Leone (Duck, You Sucker) and Sam Peckinpah (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, aka the saddest, most beautiful western ever made). Over the years, Coburn - who was close friends with Bruce Lee - proved himself to be a versatile and charismatic actor who could move easily between genres. While he's best remembered for his iconic western roles, discerning viewers might recognize him as the voice of eco-villain Looten Plunder (You'll pay for this, Planet!!) on the cartoon series Captain Planet or in his role as El Sleezo Cafe Owner in The Muppet Movie. Felled by a heart attack in 2002, Coburn lives on in his impressive body of work.
Pearls Before Breakfast:

I was cleaning out some old bookmarks and found this article I had saved from about a year ago. Even if you've already heard of this experiment I think the article is worth another read.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Product Review: Dole Tropical Fruit Cup

Product Review: Dole Tropical Fruit Cup
4 for $2 at most grocery stores

I’m all about the fruit cup these days and Dole delivers in a big way. Dole manufactures 13 varieties of fruit cup ranging from standard fruit cocktail to more elaborate parfait combos, but I’m stuck on their tropical fruit variety. The DTFC is a blend of pineapples and red and yellow papayas in pineapple juice. I’m not sure if I would recognize a papaya in the wild, but in the fruit cup format they provide the perfect color complement and flavor foil to the livelier pineapple. Instead of syrup, Dole uses natural fruit juice, which leaves you half a cup of quality juice to sip at your leisure. I like to team the DTFC up with a Sunbelt Fudge-Dipped granola bar, crackers or a banana and use the shot of fruit juice to chase down the other snack. No one wants to look like a hobo eating out of a can, and from a style standpoint, the DTFC has a sleek and classy minimalist design. There are no logos or nutritional info stamped on the cups themselves and from a distance the clear plastic could be mistaken for an actual tiny bowl of fruit.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a between meal snack to keep you going, the 4oz cup doesn’t stand on its own, but as a companion snack it has the versatility to go with either sweet or salty options. It’s slightly pricier than larger canned fruit products, but the quality of fruit and portability make it worthwhile. Bravo, Dole, bravo.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I went to the movies the other night - the plot was groovy, it was outta sight...

There were a surprising number of noteworthy movies out last year (both good and bad) and there are still a few I missed in theaters (I'm Not There, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Diving Bell and the Butterfly...) to keep busy with on DVD while waiting for Indiana Jones and The Dark Knight this summer. However, serious complications arose while compiling this list. While choosing my favorite films of the past year I realized that some foreign films that were released in US theaters in 2007 had international release dates in the fall of 2006. Films like Black Book, The History Boys, and my runaway favorite The Lives of Others, were technically 2006 films despite being released here in 2007. Ultimately, I decided to remove them from consideration since there were plenty of deserving “pure ’07” films to choose from. List position is based on how much I enjoyed a film, not the film’s historical or artistic importance and there are ‘better’ movies that were bumped down or off the list by personal preference– for example, I liked Atonement more than the clearly superior No Country for Old Men, and I know 2 Days in Paris isn’t as well made and acted as Michael Clayton but when I’m honest with myself I had a better time watching them. Out of the 50+ 2007 releases I saw, these are the ten I am most glad I took the time to see.

Most Enjoyed of 2007

1. AtonementI sat next to an old woman who cried steadily through the last third of the film, pausing only to throw a look of stern disapproval at me when I opened a package of peanut butter crackers. How could I eat while true love suffered?

2. Rescue Dawn – reminded me how wonderful Herzog is; he simultaneously has the most discomfiting and most beautiful style of any director out there.

3. No Country for Old Men – There was nothing I didn’t like about this movie. Loved the soundtrack.

4. Eastern Promises – Say what you want about the Daniel Day Lewis squint and glower-a-thon in There Will be Blood, Mortensen’s terrifyingly charismatic gangster was the best performance this year.

5. Lars and the Real Girl – You have to be a cold, cynical S.O.B not to think this is charming.

6. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – I realized while watching this that – aside from Trey Parker and Matt Stone movies – I’ve never seen a musical in theaters. Maybe I enjoyed this just because it was different and fun.

7.The Bourne Ultimatum – Bourne action films have never let me down. Teaches other franchises important lessons about consistent character development as a means of obscuring the fact that you’re making shit up as you go along (Pirates and Spiderman take note)

8. There Will Be Blood – This needed another hour’s worth of movie in the middle to really be amazing. I was frustrated and annoyed by a lot of this movie, but it stuck with me in a good way.

9. 2 Days in Paris – this isn’t a great movie, but as far as comedy/romances go it was one of the better ones I’ve seen in quite a while.

10. Grindhouse – going to the movies should be fun! Watching these two films separately at home in their uncut versions isn’t an especially enticing prospect, but the entire experience was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve spent at the movies in a long time.

ALSO (ALMOST) GREAT: Live Free or Die Hard; Lust, Caution; Michael Clayton; Hot Fuzz; 3:10 to Yuma; Zodiac

SURPRISE ENJOYMENTS: Black Snake Moan, Waitress, Hot Fuzz


DIDN'T GET THE JOKE: Superbad; Knocked-Up

THE WORST: Agnew and I walked out of Halloween and demanded our money back (free passes were given – I spent mine on the marginally more watchable American Gangster) but the disgust I felt that night pales in comparison to the emotions stirred up by another ill-fated cinema excursion. Dave, Nate, and I snuck into Juno one night and were immediately punished with a 90 minute onslaught of sickening Gilmore Girls meets Pulp Fiction hipster palaver. From the second Dwight from the Office refers to Juno as “home skillet” to the soul-crushing moment when 16 yr old Juno’s water breaks and she yells “Thundercats, GO!!” each line of dialogue made me physically flinch in discomfort. I would rather be water boarded than go through that again. I’m already bracing myself for next year’s entry in the big studio formula comedy with clever marketing scheme disguised as critically acclaimed witty and honest independent flick with endearing soundtrack genre.