Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Best Movies of 2003

Here's the Top 20 Movies I've seen this year:

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2. Lost in Translation
3. thirteen
4. Kill Bill Volume 1
5. The School of Rock
6. Finding Nemo
7. Talk To Her
8. Better Luck Tomorrow
9. Bend It Like Beckham
10. Elf
11. Chicago
12. Whale Rider
13. X2: X-Men United
14. Bringing Down The House
15. American Splendor
16. Charlies Angels: Full Throttle
17. T3: Rise of The Machines
18. The Guru
19. Mona Lisa Smile
20. A Mighty Wind

I ranked these movies based on how much I enjoyed the movie, how good the acting was, and how impressed you would be reading this list. It was a pretty good year for watching movies. Directors Quentin Tarantino ("Kill Bill") and Peter Jackson (LOTR) proved that longer movies won't drive audiences away, only those with incontinence. Good year for Girl Power as well, with "Whale Rider" and "Bend It Like Beckham" seeing big success outside of the arthouses and no former Spice Girls releasing solo records.

Some hits (X-men) and misses (The Hulk) in the comic book adaptation scene, which should tell those stupid Hollywood suits that jumping on the bandwagon doesn't translate to blockbusters. Don't forget "American Splendor" was a comic book too. 2004 brings us "Hellboy" and "The Punisher" and from the trailers I've seen it looks pretty sucky. The only thing that excites me is Spider Man 2.

Hope y'all had a good year!

Mood | Optimistic

Monday, December 29, 2003

Look Ma, No Hands!

Here's a funny clip on an unusual sports event.

play the movie play the movie play the movie

Here are some other "events".

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Stuck on You

The Farrelly Brothers ("There's Something About Mary," "Shallow Hal") serves up another movie that has all the elements of what we come to expect from them: sweet innocent characters--a little deranged maybe--in pursuit of love. If, on the way to true love, risque sex situations or fart jokes, should we say, are released--that's just part of the fun.

In "Stuck on You," Walt (Greg Kinnear) and Bob (Matt Damon) play conjoined twins who despite their unfortunate situation, have grown up to be normally adjusted human beings who have more or less achieve some success: Walt is a respected actor in their community theatre, Bob owns a popular burger joint. Of the two, Bob is the sweeter, innocent one while Walt is the suave lothario. The twins have made a pact that the other would never stand in the way of the other's happiness and would be supportive. Thus, in the plays that Walt performs in, Bob, in black clothes (to fade into the background) would be onstage with him despite Bob's severe stage fright. Things become interesting when Walt tells Bob that he wants to pursue an acting career in Hollywood and therefore would have to uproot them. Bob, ever-supportive agrees.

There is another subplot where Bob's penpal, May, who happens to live in Hollywood gets a chance to finally meet him after 3 years of correspondence. Bob never revealed his "conjoined status" to the girl and hilarity ensues when the twins try to hide the fact from her. Cher figures prominently in the other subplot where Walt becomes a leading man in her TV show. Cher plays herself, or more accurately, an unflattering caricature of herself. However, she seems sorta superfluous to the story. She should take a cue from Liza Minnelli in the TV show "Arrested Development." Liza tears up the scenery in that show--she's incredibly funny, you MUST see it.

I really liked the movie. But then again, I spent most of the movie swooning over Matt Damon's self-deprecating smile and tentative character, so I could be biased. I can't help it, I think the man is cute. Brian said it was a "renter". If the movie had Vin Diesel in it, he may have given it the thumbs up, even though Vin couldn't act his way out of a cardboard box ;-)

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I just added some new HTML so that when you add my webpage to your favorites, it shows a cute icon.

Try it now.

add me to your favorites!

Mood | Geeky

Friday, December 26, 2003

Double Whammy

It's a total scam of course, everything is full price right up to Christmas Day. The day after, everything is marked down 20, 30, even 40 percent. Worse, you didn't get a gift receipt to go with that reindeer-festooned sweater that you now have to return. The only thing you can exchange it for is a pair of socks. How can such a "pretty" sweater now be worth a pair of socks? If all of us were really smart, we would only buy gifts from stores that have gift receipts. And if we are even smarter, we should "return" everything the day after Christmas and "buy" it back. Of course the stores are counting on the tryptophan-induced coma to last until after the clearance sale, where your sweater will be worth one sock, and you have to pay to get the other one. It's a double whammy.

Brian and I went to some stores today to return/exchange clothes that didn't fit or would induce vertigo on an unsuspecting onlooker. We were able to gain $50 just from "return and re-buy" strategy rather than exchanging items. Brian didn't have a gift receipt for the Old Navy pajamas that were marked down to $6.50 from $14.95. However, the refund has to be mailed back to him. Ridiculous. Anyone know how to make sock puppets?

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas Y'all!



My Christmas Loot:


From Brian:
1. Black & Decker Toaster Oven
2. Creative Webcam NX
3. American Choppers Baseball Cap
4. Clothes from The Gap
5. Notebook Security Lock


From Joe:
1. American Choppers T-Shirt
2. "Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom" by Cory Doctorow
3. Acoustic 3 CD
4. Streetwise Chicago Map
5. Brian Urlacher jersey

Yay! Thanks!
What was in your stash?

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

CDs: What a Crappy Present!

Annie sent me this link to this website. I also saw this site yesterday at ScreenSavers on TechTV. They were discussing how CDs make crappy presents. However, the site is really a campaign against the greedy recording industry. With the cost of making CDs being under $1 and most artists receiving just about the same amount in royalties per CD, the rest of the $18 you pay goes to the Armani-suited, Porshe-driving recording industry executive. Beyond the Britneys and Justin Timberlakes, most artists are struggling and are not making money from their work. Go to the site and also downhillbattle.org on how we can help the artist earn a living from their own music.

Bad Santa

If you really want to ruin your holiday cheer, go see Bad Santa. Billy Bob Thornton plays an alcoholic, surly Santa Claus that works in a mall as a front to rob the store. With Tony Cox as his dimunitive sidekick and Lauren Tom as Cox's girlfriend, they case the mall as they work, treating kids as well as adults rudely. There are some funny moments in this extremely black comedy which would delight the your inner misanthrope. However, if you are of the type that has a quarter mile of christmas lights blazing and friendly plastic deer greeting people at your doorstep, go see Elf instead.

Monday, December 22, 2003

"R" is for Responsibility

God is a scapegoat. It’s the cop-out that we use so that we can blame everything on something else. It’s easy to say “God will provide” because that means we don’t have to provide for ourselves. It is easy to say “God will forgive” because that means we will be forgiven if we repent. It is easy to say, “I will be with God when I die” because that means anything we do when we are still alive is only a trial run to our “true life” in Heaven. And Satan? Oh he’s the other scapegoat. Between God and Satan, we basically don’t have to be responsible for anything.

God cannot help you. Neither does he punish you. This is because we have Free Will. If God helped you get that job, then that means he let the other person not get it. If God let you win the lottery, that means He singled you out to receive good things, and let others lose. If God interferes with one person’s life, by definition, he has interfered with everybody’s life. This because there is no action without consequence. Remember the Laws of Physics? Yes, God made those laws; he has to abide by them. God cannot contradict himself, otherwise he is not God. He cannot say, “Thou shalt not kill” and then add “except Homos.” God cannot say: “You have Free Will” and then interfere with your life. What’s the incentive for us to do anything for ourselves?

Now, let’s tackle some tough questions.

“I prayed to God that I would pass my Chemistry test. I got an ‘F’, God is testing me.”

First of all, instead of praying, you should be studying. Second, God is not testing your faith by giving you "challenges". If you got an “F”, God would be the first to say: “Idiot, you shoulda been studying insteada prayin.” You should have turned in that paper on time; you should have trained your cat to be smart enough to only eat love letters from your ex instead of your chem paper.

“God will provide.”

God has already provided. He has given you air, sunlight, those cute freckles on your cheeks. To ask for basic necessities like food and a job is just being plain greedy. You need to do your best to provide for yourself. And if you can provide for yourself, make plans and be prepared for the rainy days. It will not be sunny forever. Look at me, I am unemployed. Do I blame God? No. Do I blame my former company? Maybe. But most of all, I blame myself for not doing the best I can to make sure I was not expendable, or not being aware enough to realize that the company was in trouble and start looking for a job sooner.

“How about the starving children in Africa, Asia and Mars?”

That’s not God’s job, that’s YOUR job. If there are people who are hungry in Africa or in your block, it is up to YOU to feed them. If those kids died of starvation, don’t turn to God and dramatically, with tears rolling down one eye and say “why? why? why do you let these things happen?” Don’t shake your fist in the air and yell “Damn you, Sally Struthers—oops—I meant Satan!”

“I got into an accident and now I’m paraplegic. Why is God punishing me?”

I’m sorry if you are in this state. However, in all probability, God had nothing to do with that. God did not make your hand slip or make your tires lose their traction or make you go out when it is snowing. Satan did not whisper in the other guy’s ear to drink that one last sweet drink before getting in the car. There are risks in driving, skiing, or wearing that hideous ballgown. You implicitly accepted those risks when you engaged in these activities. It is easier to blame God or Satan than to accept that things happened because you failed to estimate the risks and accept them.

“How about diseases like Cancer? AIDS? The Common Cold?”

Let’s start with the easiest one, the Common Cold. If you don’t know the answer to this yet, the answer is wash your hands. The Common Cold is most often transmitted not by people sneezing into your general vicinity, but from touching non-porous materials such as plastic, metal and wood contaminated by infected people and then transferred to your mouth or eyes from your own hands. AIDS? Devastating but quite preventable--use a condom. Cancer. Tough one. I could say that human beings have created so many bad things that poison our bodies and cause cancer like cigarettes and asbestos. Some we can prevent knowingly, therefore we bear full responsibility. For others, we all need to get together and do something about, like electing government officials who can make changes to laws. If we choose not to, then if we get cancer, it’s too late to blame God. It’s not, however, too late to blame your elected official. Think about it.

You are responsible for your own destiny. Every action sets into motion a sequence of events that affect you and everyone else. For everything else that happens? That is just part of living and dying.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Ironic

Remember when being ironic meant something? When you brought that six-pack of Pabst to a party because it was funny? Or made a Spam appetizer because it was a hoot? Or like wearing LA Gears because you loved it so much when you were a kid--an I-don't-give-a-fuck-if-it's-dorky-I-like-it attitude?

image source: catbirdseat.orgWhat is ironic these days is when a rich kid dresses like someone on welfare to look "cool". Like Ashton Kutcher wearing a trucker hat or debutant socialites with their $200 vintage heavy metal t-shirts. When a somebody goes to a "vintage store" and nothing is under $25. When you see someone with a Micronauts t-shirt, you don't know if they gleefully found it in a rummage sale or because they got it from stores that employ coolhunters.

I love resale stores, rummage sales. I love finding the unexpected item like a concert t-shirt from a favorite band, or a toy from your childhood. Even better if the item fits or the parts still work. While I like some of the vintage, distressed look that clothing stores these days have, sometimes I feel like a phony in them.

I find the Hipster Bingo sheet and I blanch--I have a high-school sports t-shirt, old-school chuck taylors (in red!), a hoodie, chunky plastic frame glasses. I've become a Hipster--a fashion trend follower. How Ironic.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Livin' in South Park

Hi! I'm a new citizen of South Park. Would you like to be one as well? I work part-time at the City (Shitty) Wok now that I'm unemployed...



Mood | Creative

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Home Improvements

It's a cruel, cruel lie. Trading Spaces would have us believe that we can have a beautifully decorated living room for under $1,000 and one weekend. If I had $1,000 and one weekend, I would be in Vegas--not making slipcovers. To top it off, there is this fantasy where our neighbors cheerfully help us out, instead of complaining to the building manager about the racket. And is that Hildi Santo-Tomas insane?!? Hay? Feathers? Cardboard? as wall treatments? It's not enough that the stuffing is coming out of the upholstery of my couch while I watch this show, this snooty woman thinks that I going to believe that this is chic? I am not that kind of gay.

Actually, one thing I did "learn" from watching these home improvement shows, is that you don't have to buy art to have nice pictures on your walls. You could buy some used monographs or coffee table books, cut out the pages, put it under a nice mat and frame, and voila--art! On one of my business trips, in the airline magazine, there was a profile on artist Sarah Morris and her abstract paintings of buildings. I am really not one for abstract art, but these were very striking. Prior to this, the only abstract art that I liked was Piet Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie Woogie." I took a couple of copies of the magazine, tore off the pages and framed the pictures. It looks cool. Nobody has said it was tacky--yet.

The New Yorker had a little blurb about a new Sarah Morris exhibit so I decided to check it out. The top four are similar to the ones I have on my wall.

Mandalay Bay [Las Vegas], 1999, Household gloss on canvas, 84 x 84 inches Capitol Hill [Capital], 2001, Gloss household paint on canvas, 84.25 x 84.25 inches Pools-Crystal House [Miami], 2002, Gloss household paint on canvas, 84.25 x 84.25 inches Midtown-SOLO (9W57), 1999, Gloss household paint on canvas, 84 x 84 inches

Pools - Fontainebleau II (Miami), 2003, 214 x 214 cm Pools - Eden Roc (Miami), 2003, 214 x 214 cm Pools - Sheraton Bal Harbour (Miami), 2003, 214 x 214 cm Pools - Bel Aire (Miami), 2003, 122 x 122 cm

Check out some of her work at the Petzel, and at Air de Paris. Here's a PDF of her biography and a image-rich slideshow.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Queer Eye for the Evil Guy

Saddam, what a fashion and grooming disaster!

Saddam Hussein and the Queer Eye Guys. Boy, does he need a shave and a manicure!

Mood | Exhausted

Sunday, December 14, 2003

My Holiday Mixtape

Your taste in music is impeccable. You’ve got a musical library that reflects the adventurousness, the depth, the openness, the risk-taking soul that is you. But when it comes to holiday music, you are a sap, yes, a dyed-in-the wool S-A-P. In spite of that esoteric mixtape CD that you burned, designed the cover art for and mailed to friends, filled with irreverent takes on holiday classics by underground bands, or downright satirical ditties from comedians--with a traditional rendition by a respected artist (or two) thrown in--nothing really rouses your Christmas spirit like Harry Connick Jr. crooning on some saccharine trifle or Mariah Carey see-sawing up and down the scale on “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Or that tingle you feel when you hear the Smurfs Christmas album you listened to as a child.

My "discerning taste" cannot save me from the Star Wars Christmas album where I am swept by C3PO teaching R2D2 to “sing” in “Sleigh Ride.” I feel a little shiver when at the end of that song, Artoo whistles out the notes to “Jingle Bells” to the triumphant Threepeo. The obsessive-compulsive in me tries to figure out alternatives to the suggested brush in “What Can You Get a Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?” Can I get him a Flo-bee? A super-sized bottle of conditioner? A nose-hair trimmer? A Split Ender?

When I hear “Merry Christmas, Darling” by The Carpenters, I am always brought back to sitting in the backseat of the car as a child, listening to my mom singing along to Karen’s clear, poignant alto as she drives us around town during the holidays. It was the first song on the cassette, the first one we hear when she pops the tape in. It is the only song from that album that I remember because as songs segued into others, as the trips went on, I am distracted by other things: passing cars, my bratty little sister, anticipation of going to wherever we were going. This season, this song, brings my mother to mind—is she over that bout of flu? Is she feeling poorly? I can’t help but worry.

Cheese rules at Christmas (ironically, for me). So here they are, for better or worse, the songs that would be in my holiday mixtape:

1. Merry Christmas Darling – The Carpenters
2. Hey Santa! – Wendy and Carnie Wilson
3. Grown-Up Christmas List – Amy Grant
4. Santa Baby – Madonna
5. What Are You Doing New Years' Eve? – Ella Fitzgerald
6. Sleigh Ride – R2D2 and C3PO
7. Last Christmas – George Michael
8. Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World) – Band-Aid
9. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays – Nsync
10. Twelve Days Of Christmas - Bob & Doug McKenzie

What's in your mixtape?



Saturday, December 13, 2003

"Perv"

I created a snowman. See him. Show off your dirty mind by making your own pervy snowman and post it here.

*** UPDATE: Apparently, too many would-be pervs crashed the site. Hopefully they get it back up soon.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Mona Lisa Smile

I'm a sucker for these kinds of movies. If you liked "Dead Poets' Society" and "The Emperor's Club," then "Mona Lisa Smile" is right up your alley. Julia Roberts plays a young teacher who aspires to make a difference in Wellesley in the 1950s. She wants to teach the young women in the college to think for themselves, to not accept that they are just meant to get married and become housewives. By now, we are familiar with the Vulnerable and Awkward Julia: the slightly furrowed brow, the uncertain walk, the wide, tentative smile, the resolute lips, the eyes. They are put to good use here.

The supporting cast is very strong as well. Particularly Kirsten Dunst as the proper young socialite who does what is expected of one in her station. There is an undertone of dissatisfaction even though she is at the brink of achieving all of her dreams: a good husband, a nice house, a society wedding. However, Maggie Gyllenhal as the wild Giselle, steals every scene she's in. She gives her character a backbone even while she is taken advantage of by the men she dallies with. Tori Amos has a cameo where she sings two songs--both of which are featured in the soundtrack. She sounded really good.

Call up your girlfriends, this one's cause for a night out. Or if you can cajole the boyfriend, I think he may find it entertaining as well. No--there are no gratuitous nude scenes or flashes of boob, but I hope you have the sense not to have a boyfriend that makes these a criteria to go see a movie. It's okay though to have a boyfriend that will go see this movie with you in hopes of getting laid. The movie opens next Friday (Dec 19th).

Cannibal

Gay Cannibal places an internet ad offering to eat your 'delicious' flesh--430 people respond within a year.


Bernd-Juergen, the victim, computer specialist, by all accounts an intelligent man, had driven for three and a half hours to meet his killer. Did he drive with determination, unwavering from his goal? Did he hesitate as he arrived at his would-be killer's elegant home?

Are some people so numb to experiences that only pain will give them pleasure? Have people become so jaded that "normal" sex isn't interesting anymore? While I think that consensual sex between adults is something that should be respected, what are the limits?

But what about consensual violence? Just because an adult says that you can hurt, wound or kill him/her for pleasure, does that make it right? I can understand S&M fantasies--power is after all an aspect of sex, S&M just takes it further. How can you begin to define limits? Or is consent enough? And what about people who willingly get infected with HIV?

I am trying to fathom the mind of the killer.

I remember as a small child, I had received a magnifying glass as a gift. I discovered that sunlight, when focused through its lens can burn paper. I used it to burn my name repeatedly on sheets of paper until I got bored. Then I started using it on ants crawling about nearby. Gleefully, I aimed the hot dot of light on them, watching them scramble away...I was God deciding which ant I would smite next.

It is 13 minutes past midnight. I am thinking of a man who drove three and a half hours to his death...

----

Read about it in Savage Love.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Googlism

Googlism will find out what Google.com thinks of you, your friends or anything!

Googlism for: no milk

no milk is not a meat
no milk is introduced into the syringes
no milk is not good
no milk is produced from such animals
no milk is more suitable than that of the mother herself
no milk is left in their udders as this could lead to infection
no milk is available
no milk is coming out
no milk is pretty stupid
no milk is actually produced or secreted by the breasts unless stimulated by prolactin from the pituitary
no milk is used; very little beer
no milk is greater in prosperity than the mother's milk for the baby to suck from
no milk is it thins out the taste of the cheese
no milk is coming out of these babies
no milk is ever unloaded without passing this test

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