Friday, February 27, 2009

"I am a search of a vision!"

So anyway, I'm not really doing any soul searching or anything like that, but I do have a question/problem that I'd like a bit of input on. Allow me a moment to bring everyone that's not Brad (because he already knows most of it) up to speed. My thesis piece was a tone poem for orchestra with optional chorus and electronics called Solar Flare. It was a musical interpretation of a hypothetical stellar event...duh. In addition to wanting to revisit the piece and tighten a few things up, I've decided to make a trilogy of it. I know, I know...why do things always have to be in three's? What can I say, even I'm not immune to Hollywood corporate influences.

At any rate, Solar Flare will comprise the second of the three movements. As a movement it will focus on musical motion, action, and drama. As I said, I want to revisit it - among other things I want to remove the electronic element from it and find a way to suit my needs with the percussion section. I also want to give the violas more to do as I've learned quite a bit about orchestration in the years following my graduate study (shame I didn't learn much during my graduate study!). I also want to put the clarinets back into the piece (for one, it will simplify and justify their inclusion in the other two movements, and also, in retrospect, I think I made an error in judgement leaving them out to begin with). The first movement will be more about sound and texture, and will revolve around the creation of the universe (I was listening to a lot of Close Encounters when the ideas started flowing in). The third movement will be a conceptual combination of the first two and will be called Supernova. I actually had ideas for this immediately after I finished Solar Flare, I just never got very far with it. In a way, the three will represent the beginning, middle, and end of...well...everything!

...and now for my problem...

It's not much of a problem, but it is a problem. I don't know what in the hell to call the first movement. I absolutely refuse to call the first movement The Big Bang. I'm sorry, there's just waaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too many allusions to porno music with that - not to mention that generally speaking, it just sounds kinda gay and tacky! I thought about Genesis, but that might have too much of a religious context for my tastes. It might also bring with it this expectation of liturgical text for the chorus, which is something I really don't want. The chorus in all three movements is optional; their parts will be doubled somewhere in the orchestra (at least to some degree), and they're really only there to add to the aural palette - so, you know...basically just lots of "ah's" and "ooh's". All in all, I'm hoping for somewhere around a combined 30 minutes of music from the whole thing. So, I put it to you (Brad included)...what should I call my first movement? Silly as it sounds, I'm having a hard time moving on with it until I know what to call the fucker! So any and all help will be appreciated.

Oh...and I know my audience/readership/whatever. So I fully expect a deluge of dipshit, bogus, goofball ideas in the comments. Just try, okay, at least try to throw out a legitimate idea or two amongst all the ridicule. prizes for the winner, just a fair amount of genuine gratitude.



p.s. listening to Sneakers whilst typing all this up...I forgot how much Arvo Pärt was in there - and I mean a LOT!!! Sounds like he lifted it directly - not sure he even bothered to change keys (?). I mean seriously, it's like listening to Brad score a slasher film... ;)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Edge of a Knife, Treading Water, On Thin Ice...Pick Your Favorite Euphemism

So anyway, you might have heard about a certain political cartoon in the New York Post that's causing quite the uproar as of late. If not, this, this, and this should catch you up. God almighty, where does a guy even start without pushing at least one frakkin' hot button?! This is such a touchy subject I'm almost afraid to post my thoughts on it. As it is, I'm going to keep this as short and simple as I can as to avoid any and all potential hate mail, protests, and/or rallies that may or may not result from me, Joe M. Whiteman, voicing my opinion on the subject.

To the leaders of the African American community...please give it a rest! Have the expressions "A room full of monkeys could have done a better job" or "Put a group of monkeys in front of a typewriter and eventually they'll type out Shakespeare" never passed your ears...ever? Never?! REALLY?!?!

...who knew?

The only thing the cartoonist was guilty of was not having enough sense to show an entire room full of bullet-riddled sapiens rather than the single victim. No one, everybody get that, NO ONE was making any similarities between chimpanzees and our new President (or anyone else in the black community at large). All in all, it was actually a very clever political pun (feel free to call me a lousy, no good, inbred, backwoods, redneck, white-supremacist cracker anytime - I can take it). No one has been oppressed by the cartoon. No one in the cartoon suggested any form of hate against a black individual. It's a pun, plain and simple, so please everyone just step back for a minute...breathe...good. Now, put away your righteous indignation for a moment and realize that it's 2009, a black man is in the Oval Office, workplace of the most powerful man on the planet. Rap stars and basketball players are making more money every year than Solomon ever dreamed of. And there's nary an African American even alive today that even had a grandparent that was a slave. I don't know if I'm feeling so bold as to say, "You've WON!". Oh, I guess I just did...hrmm. Having said all that I fully expect Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to show up on my front lawn in a few days demanding I apologize to the entire black community.

Chris Rock was right once when he said that, "...there ain't a single white person in America that would change places with me...and I'm RICH!!!". Black people still are treated differently in nearly every business and social situation in this country. More often than not though, I think one would find that that is a result of fear on the part of the white party - fear how the black party (or minority in general) will react to what is being said and/or done. Here comes the part I'm certain many people, both black and white (but particularly black) don't want to hear: If you want to be equal, if you want to end segregation...stop segregating yourselves! That's it! It's that simple...blacks in this country don't want to actually be part of white society as much as they perceive that whites don't want them. Everybody just needs to get as that sounds. Each generation seems to become more tolerant than the last...which is a great thing! Extremists will never go away - but as the population blossoms, their herds will thin. Look, I understand completely from the historical standpoint where Reverend Al and the NAACP are coming from. It just seems to me they're trying too hard to find hate and malice where there really isn't any. I guess I just find it...distasteful...that I'm not really allowed to voice my opinion openly because of the color of my skin. Holy fuck!!! When did that happen?!

I don't know...I'm just hoping I'll live to see a day when everyone will get the joke and not see it as an excuse to spew hate and nonsense at each other. But I'm probably not...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Potty Elation (or Sometimes It's Really Awesome To Be Right)

So anyway, here we are - another post. It's kind of like Taco Tuesday - except that it's Monday...weird. Anyway, something glorious happened on Saturday. The Monkey figured out how to use the toilet! He's been more or less fighting us with it for months now. He'd pee, but it was like pulling teeth to get him into the bathroom to do it. Pooping was another story all together. For weeks (maybe months) we've been grinding the mantra "Poopy goes in the potty...not in your pants!!!" into his noggin. Like a good little soldier he would repeat - but the concept wasn't really sinking in. So, day after day, a glorious lump-o-funk would show up in his drawers. A few months back, we had the notion that we should start putting him in his "big boy" underpants everyday to show him how awful it was to have that crap in there - to little avail. One thing I'm thankful to my mom for is that she has this uncanny nose for sniffing out shit. It's scary really - she knows when he's done it...all the way from the other side of the house. All in all I'd say she drew the short straw the day they were handing out the super powers, but what the's served a purpose.

All the experts say that negative reinforcement is an absolute no-no when it comes to toilet training a child. Saturday morning, after having already changed his clothes three times in the span of about 90 minutes, the monkey stood in the kitchen doorway and proceeded to piss all over himself and the floor. I may have overreacted, but I paddled his ass for it. I felt terrible really - it was like I was scolding the family dog. We then proceeded to make him sit in his little monkey chair with his mess for the better part of a half hour. When we couldn't stand to see him miserable anymore, we changed his clothes...again...and let him go about his monkey business (pun intended).

Not ten minutes later, he was charging into the bathroom to take a piss. Another half-hour later, he did it again. I had no idea how much of a pee machine he was until he repeatedly started using the toilet. He goes 15 or 20 times a day!!! Then again, I'm also convinced he drinks three times his body weight in fluids daily as well. His mommy was the lucky one. She went in to help him once as he stood there pushing and pushing and pushing some more. She tried to explain that if there wasn't any pee in there he didn't have to come in and try. It was at that moment that a big turd plopped onto the floor behind him. Sunday, I became victim to my very first self-fulfilling prophecy. We bought him a new potty chair a week ago thinking he just didn't like getting up on the big seat. Sunday morning, I caught him sitting on the old porcelain throne...pinching one off.


I said months ago that one day, out of the blue, and for no particular reason, he'd just...get it! Goddamn if I wasn't right! My one regret is that I had to hurt his feelings to get the point across. But that's beside the point now, isn't it?! I was thrilled, flabbergasted - completely overjoyed. I couldn't help myself, I looked into that pot, and I...well, I cried! I can't remember the last time I was so totally happy at something. You just don't know - unless you have a child, you can't!. I'm not trying to take anything away from anyone, but I don't care how many cousins, nieces, nephews, or little brothers and sisters you IS NOT the same. Obviously Der Herr und his Frau are working on it, but you really can't appreciate what I was feeling at that moment until it's your child. You just can not know the relief and elation of seeing months of struggling, months of disappointment, just disappear in a flash. I spent months racking my brain for a solution. Weeks, maybe months in a panic that maybe something was wrong - that we did something horribly wrong with him - that he wasn't right and was going to need special help. And all of just...went away, all with one, adorable little...plop!!!

The plop heard 'round the world.

It was glorious. This may have been the single best weekend of my life - thus far anyway! So, to all the experts who would say I was a horrible parent for doing what I did...fuck you! That's right...fuck you - suck all the dicks. Not just a dick...all of 'em! To Brad...I've got a new potty seat for you if you'd like it (I know it's early, but what the's free, right?!). And to anyone without a child, I hope that when you do someday have one, you don't have to go through the potty-hell that I have. And if you ever do...then I wish you all the happyness in the world when you finally get over that giant fuck hill.

Now...teaching him to wipe his little monkey butt...

...awwwwww fuck!

I Give Up...Until Next February Anyway.

So anyway, every year about this time I spend one quiet Sunday evening in February going completely insane for a few hours. I'm, of course, talking about Oscar night. Tonight was no different - for one, since I've taken up Vampirism & Commerce for the last few years I don't actually get to see the ceremony. Secondly, and as a direct result of the the first point, I end up screaming at my computer monitor at work. I'll just say it's usually more than twice, but less than would cause concern for my mental well being. And again I say, tonight was no exception.

Every year after the event, I swear it off. There's always at least one winner that gets the blood boiling. Who knows...maybe I'll mean it this year. To begin with, I've been pretty miffed ever since the nominees were announced. I'm not going to be so bold as to suggest that my opinion on the matter should be the end all/be all definitive say on who should have been nominated. But I do think it's safe to say that I, as well as most of you, along with a virtual army of thousands of film fans around the country can agree that they fucked several of the categories this year. Regardless of our thoughts on the matter, in the end I think it's safe to say that had Wall-E and The Dark Knight received their respective Best Picture nominations (as they should have), they still couldn't have overcome the wave of Curry Fever that has swept Hollywood in the last few weeks.

I should be fair in noting that I haven't actually seen Slumdog yet. I thought about it - then I went to Blockbuster one day and saw I only had to wait for a couple more weeks for the DVD, so I said fuck it - I can wait. I still can't help but think though that no matter the accolades it's received, I'm still not going to be blown away by it the way I was with the little robot and The Joker, and Some Guy in a Batsuit. Still, it was nice to see Heath get the award - honestly, could anyone on the entire fucking planet not see that happening - if any of the other nominees had actually won, about the only thing they could have done to avoid a riot would have been to go onstage and hand it over to Ledger's family in concession. In retrospect, I think it was really a Best Leading Actor role (let's be honest, he was in the movie almost as much as Bale). I'll have to YouTube his family's acceptance speech later at home.

Then there's the music categories. All I can say is, "My give up, MY GIVE UP!!!". least it wasn't fucking Gustavo Santa-wa-wa. I can't figure out why Academy voters just don't seem to think American composers can fucking write good music anymore - but that seems to be the case more often than not lately. If I'd been Tom Newman, as soon as I lost the second one I would have stood up from my seat, given the whole theater a double-finger with a big fat raspberry, and walk the fuck out! I have nothing against Rahman - actually I've never heard anything he's composed. But nothing, and I mean abso-fuckin'-lutely nothing will ever convince me that anything he did for Slumdog was even remotely as good as Newman's Wall-E.

I can't help but think that Dave Fincher's feeling about the same as Tom Newman right about now - or at least how I'd like to imagine Tom Newman should be feeling (see above). His best chance ever at acceptance (or should that be fortune & glory) in Hollywood just got pissed all over by the little non-Bollywood indie-darling that could. And he really fucking deserved it for Ben Button - especially since the Academy members didn't have enough sense (or were just too damned chickenshit) to nominate the cartoon and the superhero movie for the big show. The same thing happened a few years ago - when the best picture of the year really was a cartoon/superhero movie - you might remember it, it was called The Incredibles.

Anyway, fuck the Oscars, at least for another year. All this year's awards did was serve to further solidify just how out of touch the Academy members are with their audience. But that's okay I guess - after all, do they really give a shit?! Most of them can afford not to. It's just that yearly excuse to parade themselves out looking extra-smashing and pat each other on the asses for their collective awesomeness. At any rate...see you next year!

Friday, February 13, 2009


So anyway, I got the following in an email today, and I just wanted to share with anyone who might stumble by my little blogsphere here. It probably won't be particularly interesting to anyone except me...just know that I've been working in the same place for going on seven years - and this would be uproariously funny if it weren't so pathetically dead-on:

You Know You Work for a Bank When

  • You sit at the same desk for 4 years but work for 3 different departments.
  • You work for the same department for 4 years but sit at more than 10 desks.
  • You’ve been the same job for 4 years but have had 10 different supervisors.
  • You order your business cards in “half orders” instead of whole boxes.
  • When someone asks about what you do for a living, you cannot explain it in one sentence.
  • You get really excited about a 2% pay raise.
  • You use acronyms in your everyday speech.
  • Your biggest loss from a system crash is that you lose your best jokes.
  • You sit in a cubicle smaller than your bedroom closet.
  • It’s dark when you drive to and from work.
  • The words “challenge” and “opportunity” make you shiver in fear.
  • You see a well-dressed, good-looking person and know it’s just a visitor.
  • Free food left over from meetings is your main staple.
  • Being sick is defined as “can’t walk” or “in the hospital”.
  • Workplace art involves a white, dry-erase board.
  • You’re already late on the assignment you just got.
  • You’re bosses most common expression is “when you get a few minutes…”.

Just so you know, I hide my stapler so no one will take it...because if someone were to take my stapler, I'd probably kill every mother fucker in the building!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Because You Demanded It... wanted a shorter post, you go:

Katy Perry fucking HOT!!!

...and I would gladly eat her ass.

Disgust or discuss...


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Someone Please Make Me Understand...

So anyway, I read this article on AOL news and it was all I could do to not punch my computer monitor in. It's like it's 2005, and we're all dealing with Terri Schiavo all over again. Luckily it's not in this country - so this will probably be the last anyone here in the U.S. will hear about this particular case.

...At least I fucking hope so...

I just don't get it. I don't think I'll ever get it. I don't know if there's an adequate explanation out there for the mentality that the Italian government demonstrated here - at least not one that will make me say, "Oh...well I guess you've got a point there!". Look...I know it all boils down to that archaic Catholic dogma that every life is sacred right down to the most worthless little broken spermy man (Spermyman - how's that for a fucked-up superhero?!). I come from a frakkin' HUGE Catholic family - I get that that's where this is coming from. I just cannot wrap my noodle around that thought process though. For fuck's sake - the girl was basically dead anyway - stone fucking dead...her goddamned BRAIN wasn't goddamned DOING anything. Machines were feeding her, relieving her bowels, and allowing her lungs to breathe...that's fucking dead folks! Oh, ok, ok...sorry - her brain was still sending signals to her heart to continue pumping blood through her body - but only because of the MACHINE THAT WAS MAKING HER LUNGS FUCKING BREATHE!!!

Three quotes from this just abso-fuckin'-lutely floor me. Firstly we have Cardinal Barragan from the Vatican saying, "May the Lord welcome her and pardon those who brought her to this point". Hey Barragan - FUCK YOU! Two things brought this poor girl to this point - 1: The CAR that hit her 17 fuck years ago, you imbecile; and 2: YOU!!! You and people like you - the Church, and the holier-that-thou, 17th century, backwoods right-wing fuckhead lawmakers in the Italian government. Which brings me to my second quote, this one courtesy of Rome's mayor who said that the lights in the Colosseum would be on all night in mourning for "a life that could have and should have been saved".


Are you completely out of you fucking head?! Do you at least pause for a breath to think about the nonsense that's about to come out of your mouth before you say it?! Read my lips by proxy of my fingers: THERE WAS NO LIFE TO SAVE...capisce? NO LIFE!!! The girl has been brain dead for SEVENTEEN-FUCKING-YEARS! Short of the arrival of the MOTHERSHIP with a library of previously unknown medical knowledge, she was never coming back from this. I refer to my statements above...something about machines and what not. You know...I went through this with the Schiavo thing four years ago...all it succeeded in doing was elevating my blood pressure and giving me an urge to round-up some pro-lifers and some Republican politicians (which I suppose are pro-lifers by default anyway...but, still - you know what I mean), lock them in a Catholic church, and burn it to the ground.

Lastly there's the Italian Health Minister who said, "I hope the Senate can proceed on the established calendar so that this sacrifice wasn't completely in vain". This was in reference of course to the emergency session the Italian Senate held to get a law passed to prevent the girl's doctors from unplugging her. Excuse me Signor Italiano Stupido, um...what sacrifice?! The only thing that was sacrificed was the life the girl could've had had she not been hit by the aforementioned car! She didn't even know anything had happened! I like to believe that if there is a human would have left the body sometime around, oh I dunno...YEAR ONE!!! Not year seventeen. I'm sorry, nothing in this universe short of The Almighty him/herself coming down and showing me otherwise is going to make me believe that Eluana Englaro was still in that body, or that she had the faintest fuck of a clue what was going on around her. Same goes for Terry Schiavo, and the hundreds, if not thousands of people all around the world sharing similar fates.

I visit my father's grave every year around Memorial Day. I haven't missed a year since he died. For all but about three or four of those years (accounting for age limitations) I've stood at his grave and talked to him for a know, fill him in on what's going on in my life and the world. I would imagine that, including this year, I will have made and broken 30 promises to come back later in the year and visit again. It's not that I don't care; it's not that I don't have the time; it's not that I don't want to. It's just's a really hard goddamned thing to do. I believe that my father is there when I go?...Absolutely not! It's a plot of land with a corpse buried underneath. But I do believe it's a place to start - a door to whatever other place he's residing in. I believe a body is just a body - it's an organism, just like the billions of others on this world. We're singularly blessed to be able to learn, create, express and feel the way we do. But a body is just a body. I have to believe that what makes us who we are, call it a soul, call it spaghetti, call it whatever you want - I just have to believe that that thing knows when the body is done - and it checks out accordingly. The selfish need of loved ones to hold on to us for as long as possible is understandable...and just. But who is anyone on this planet to say otherwise when even the people that cared most for someone - needed that someone more than any other - say it's time to let go?

The single most common argument from the religious right is that no one has the right to play God with a life. To say that, and then take the stance they do on issues like these is the most hypocritical thing I have ever had the unfortunate displeasure of witnessing. That is what I'll never understand...THAT is what no one will ever be able to satisfactorily explain to me: How can someone believe that? How can they not see the flaw in their own logic? How can they continue to spew their vitriol without seeing that in so doing, they've already defeated their argument? Someone please make me understand...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

On the Subject of Dailies, Highlights, and Alternate Takes

So anyway, I suppose my title is a tad misleading (Excuse me miss, how much is a tad? Well, in space terms it's about half a million miles.). On the whole, I'm not writing this one to talk about film production (maybe a little, but generally not overall). The title's more figurative really. Life's just been a little mundane as of late. Aside from a nasty bronchial virus the Monkey caught, nothing's really been happening - it's all been eerily stagnant, like I'm just waiting for the floor to drop out from under me. I've decided it's time for a new career path - ok, that's not true, I still want to be a composer, so I guess you could say it's time for a new "job" path. It floors me how many people (particularly in mid to upper management) can't seem to differentiate between job and career - but I suppose that's a peeve for another posting.

I've basically had about all the banking I care to. I've given up on the idea of moving myself up within the company (something I was doing purely out of financial necessity rather than personal fulfillment). The bureaucratic mentality is the one constant in the universe. And frankly I've had enough of it here. I've seen enough of the management at this bank to know that I want no part of it - and since that's the only place left to go here...fuck 'em. My job isn't going anywhere (literally and figuratively), I don't have a need to find another one, I just want another one. At this point, my job is about as intellectually stimulating as a fucking pop-up book. And the highlight of any given day is ogling a hotty that works on my floor (you know, the standard stuff - undressing her with my mind; wondering just how big those things are under that top; is she going to wear that awesomely short miniskirt again today; is my piercing stare about to burn a hole in that amazing ass; is she an innie or an outie - not the navel; landing strip, furball, or Brazilian bald eagle - the usual stuff, right?!). That shouldn't be the only thing I have to look forward to every evening - that shouldn't be the sole motivation for anyone in any position for that matter. So, I'm looking around. I started by registering with the government's website...I could live with a cushy government job for a while - especially if it got me off the vampire hours.

Hell, at this point any job that gets me off the fucking vampire hours has potential. Fun little factoid (and I apologize for the lack of references): I read an article on last year that a university study somewhere found a link between graveyard hours and increased risks of certain cancers. YEA!!! Well, that alone is incentive enough to get the fuck out of Dodge. I don't want to end up with ass cancer just because I held a job in the middle of the fucking night for several years. The catch at this point is finding something that I'm even remotely qualified for and still pays me about what I'm earning now. And since I'm a musician/banker, the field is narrow to say the least. The reason I'm so interested in the government route is that they're a little more forgiving if you don't have any qualifications - for them, a degree in anything (hell it could be 15th-Century English basket weaving) is a plus.

I did have an idea for a piece that might actually have motivated me enough to get my ass down into my basement and use my shit for once. First I just have to put everything back together. I had to take everything apart a while back to get it out of the way for a plumber. And the Arctic tundra that is my basement is enough to dissuade anyone from wanting to go down and do anything productive...but, since I've got a nifty idea, I suppose I'll have to brave it - that's why the Lord saw fit to give us coats, gloves, scarves, ear muffs, hats, thermal undies and electric socks...right?! My basement where my "studio" resides is a concrete tomb. It was never finished (which I'm partially thankful for because had it been I'd have less room for my shit), and though it's ventilated to the furnace, it only stays just warm enough to keep ice from forming on everything. So...yeah, winter - not a good time of year to try and be productive as a composer in my house! With a little convincing from Brad, I've decided on how to arrange the meter - so now I just need to start entering notes (we'll see what happens - I'm nothing if not a world class procrastinator).

I've also noticed an influx of good, slightly older comedies on the telly lately. I suppose good is a relative term as comedy is such a subjective genre of film. More than any other, comedy seems to divide people on what is and isn't good or funny. One person's comedic gem is another's pointless trash. I'm that way with Woody Allen comedies - well, actually all his films, but particularly his comedies. I just don't get them! Really, I don't! I have yet to find anything of interest in a single film of his. I glean nothing from them...and I certainly have never understood why they're considered so amazing - or why he's even had a career for that matter. Anyway, I caught a few minutes of Loaded Weapon 1 the other day. Despite some awful direction and a few lackluster performances (I'm looking at you Kathy Ireland - stick with the 3 B's*), it really is a pretty funny movie - the gags hit a lot more often than they miss. If you've never seen it, it's basically a spoof of all the Lethal Weapon movies - made at a time to cash in on the spoof craze that was hitting hard for a couple of years, and starring Emilio Estevez because...well...because they figured Charlie Sheen had a hit with Hot Shots! so why not see if his brother can bring in some green doing the same spiel (it even has a gag referencing this fact). It also has the virtue of containing two of my top-5 personal favorite exchanges ever - first, Tim Curry, the hench-villain has just caught the hero, Emilio Estevez, off guard and put him in a human shield choke-hold when the following takes place:

Em: Who are you?!
Tim: (in a hysterically awful German accent) you vurst nightmare.
Em: No...waking up without my penis is my worst nightmare!

Second, in a spoof of the toilet bomb scene in Lethal Weapon 2:

Emilio: Luger...where are you?
Sam (the Man) Jackson: Up here.
Emilio: (kicks open the bathroom door) What is it? What's wrong?!
Sam: (matter of factly) Nothin'...takin' a shit.
Emilio: Oh...sorry...(backs out slowly, closing the door)

Those crack me up as much today as they did 15 years ago. Then there's Soapdish - a great little flick from 1991. If you've never seen it, I can't recommend it enough. The cast alone is a really big check in the plus category: Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., Sally Field, Elizabeth Shue, Whoopi Goldberg, Teri Hatcher (when she was still hot and kinda slutty), and Cathy Moriarty (whom if you don't recognize, then you've probably never seen Raging Bull - in which case...SHAME ON YOU!!!). There's even a couple of great bit parts by Carrie Fisher, Gerry Marshall, and Ben (Captain Monotone) Stein. The film basically follows the in's and out's of a highly-popular, highly-illogical, highly-stupid daytime soap. It's been getting a lot of play on the various HBO's the last few weeks...seems like every time I go by it I can't help but stop and watch for a few minutes. I brought up alternate takes in my title because a scene in this movie (completely inadvertently) demonstrates how radically different one take can be to the next. You know, for a guy who's never seen a set during production, I'm oddly fascinated by it and even more oddly aware of what goes on. Anyway, in a scene about midway through the film, Sally Field's character is watching herself from earlier in the day having a complete conniption fit on Entertainment Tonight (is that show even still on?). At any rate, the fit she's having on the television is completely different from the one we (the audience) saw about five minutes earlier in the film. If one were to look up the film on IMDB, you'd see this event listed as a continuity error on the 'goofs' link. Anyway, I just wrote one insanely long friggin' paragraph about something that is only of interest to all of maybe two people in the entire fucking world (me and my other personality) ...but there you go. Incidentally, should one find themselves interested, apparently in the earliest promo material - specifically the main one-sheet - Terri Hatcher's nipples were popping out of her dress. I don't know about your thoughts on the woman now, but Terri Hatcher c.1991 was definitely worth a look!

So here we are. An overly long (and relatively pointless) update into what's going on in the Pikey's world at the moment. If you're thinking you're being treated (read: spoiled by) to two days in a row of updates, keep in mind that I started this post a week don't blow your wad just yet - I can still frustratingly space updates out with the best of 'em.

*the 3 B's refers to a song called "Be Pretty, Be Naked...and Be Quiet". It's a comedy song I heard on a radio morning show once.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I Was Taken By It (arr, arr, arr...ooookay)

So anyway, Luc Besson is nothing if not formulaic. With the exception of Léon (which to my eyes is a masterpiece of filmmaking - not that The Professional Americanized pussy-whipped bullshit), pretty much every other film he's either written, directed, or both can be dissected into its parts and ideas that came from earlier films. Presentation on the other hand can change even the most routine idea into something quite special - and Besson excels at presentation (You're entrance was good, his was better. The difference?...SHOWMANSHIP!!!). The Fifth Element had style to burn - despite essentially being the red-headed stepchild of Star Wars, Blade Runner, and The Beatles "All You Need Is Love"; Kiss of the Dragon, while really not much more than an excuse to put Jet Li in a wire-fu action film set in Paris, still had a good deal of warmth and character that a lot of similar films would have just glossed over; we'll try to just forget about The Messenger (aka: A Lame-ass Excuse to Put My Then-Girlfriend in Another Movie...Did I Mention I Used To Fuck Milla Jovovich - Oh Yeah, I Tapped That Shit Baby?!) - everybody gets one mistake. Now we have Taken - the lastest take on the whole "you just fucked with the wrong guy" film.

We've all seen it a dozen times - ex-CIA/Special Forces/über-assassin type has left that world behind; he's struggling with it, but he has his reasons; punk bitches come along and mess with his shit somehow; he fucks them up. Such is the case with Taken, which would be a second-rate first-rate action film if not for the benefit of a tightly-plotted script, and a fantastic performance by Liam Neeson (who you'd never in a million years guess, based on this film, is pushing 60). Such as it is, it's almost a first-rate first-rate action film if not for one nitpick (which I'll get to later). Neeson plays Bryan Mills (coincidentally, I went to high school with a guy with the exact same name...weird - anyway...), recently retired non-descript spook trying to reclaim some of the life he lost saving the world from...whatever. In this case that involves trying to be involved in the life of his 17-year-old daughter (Maggie Grace - most recently of Lost notoriety). I find it funny that such a fuss has been made over Grace appearing too old to be 17. Everyone keeps saying she looks at least 10 years too old for the part - when at the time of filming she was only 24. I suppose people's memories these days are short...considering not that long ago it was common place for 30-somethings to be playing teenagers quite regularly (anyone remember a certain popular TV show with a swanky zip code?). Anyway, when asked by said daughter what is was dad did all those years that kept him away, he says that he was a "preventer"; he prevented bad things from happening - loosely translated: I could kill a guy by stabbing him in the nuts with a toothpick. When Tasty Ex (the always yummy Famke Janssen) and daughter try to get him to sign off on a fun-filled getaway to Paris for the summer, he initially refuses (he knows things...he's seen the world - it's ugly). But he caves, and off daughter goes with bad-influence friend in tow.

A few hours after arriving in gay-Pari, they're swept away (unfortunately literally in this case) by some nefarious types, all while Neeson listens in on the ordeal by way of phone call. Everybody's seen the trailer - you all know the truly kick-ass monologue/ultimatum he delivers to the bad guy on the other end of the phone. Neeson's never struck me as the "don't fuck with me" type, but after that call...I sure as shit wouldn't want to piss him off. He gathers some intel, taps tasty ex's new, rich hubby for a charter flight to France...and away we go. Here's my nitpick. It's quite obvious for several reasons (1: the film is European made/American financed, 2: the trailer tells the careful observer so, 3: the editing feels just feels that way, 4: American distributors of foreign films are usually quite stupid and unaware of their real audience) that this film was trimmed down to a more "family friendly" PG-13 edit. It could be argued that to some degree it worked - the film was #1 at the box-office last weekend. The flip side to that is that they could've just left it alone, taken a chance with an R rating, and people still would have wanted to see it - which I'm inclined to believe. Also, as the film was released in Europe last February, and it's seen its American release date pushed back a couple of times, it would seem that producers wanted/needed time to make it more "accessible" - or in short, they wanted to pussy-fy it. As it is, Neeson's wrath is quite brutal - but being the vicarious, voyeuristic sleaze that I am (and let's face it...most Americans are - whether they'll admit it or not), I wanted a touch more. Necks and other bones crack when they break, bullets cause blood-spatter, people hit by buses and trucks tend to go splat a bit - and there's this underlying feeling all throughout the picture that we're continually denied the money shots.

Still...for what it is, Taken is damned entertaining and engrossing. Besson's (and writing partner Robert Mark Kamen's) script, as directed by DP turned action director Pierre Morel, is teeming with shades of Bourne (can you say shaky-cam boys and girls - and an interesting French variation on a standard Media Ventures score), but that's ok. The end result is still just as satisfying, regardless of the fact that even my 3-year-old son could generally predict where things were going. Even though it's harsh and brutal (and a touch xenophobic), people want to root for Neeson in this, and the (morally questionable) good guys in films like these. We want to watch them as they lay their hammer of justice - their fist of fury - on any mother fucker that's dumb enough to stand in their way. We take solace in knowing that the bad guy's going to get 31 flavors of smack layed down upon him. And Taken delivers in, I can't wait for the unrated DVD - going to be some brutal shit!