Friday, November 13, 2009

Going down in flames

Okay, it’s time for a currency check. Last week, Nicolas Cage revealed that he doesn’t have two nickels to rub together because of things like buying islands, haunted mansions and dinosaur skulls (What does one do with a dinosaur skull? Put it on the coffee table?). This week John Cusack is in 2012, and stinker movie you could smell coming from a mile off. Have these two guys finally run out of the unlimited cache that movie audiences have seemed to want to cut them?

Personally, I’ve always been of the opinion that Nic Cage doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together. And as of last week, most entertainment writers seemed to be moving en masse towards a “Cage is a ridiculous douchebag” assessment. Please do. Mi bandwagon es su bandwagon. Been riding this baby since Peggy Sue got married. And whatever cultural coin he earned from Leaving Las Vegas (none with me, by the way, overrated piece of macho fantasia claptrap) should have been cashed long ago. But regardless. If it’s his fiscal irresponsibility that opens America’s eyes, so be it. Maybe it will stop Ghost Rider 2: Hell on Wheels.

Then there’s John Cusack. What to make of him? He doesn’t seem to be an idiot; longstanding friendship with Jeremy Piven notwithstanding. He can act. He’s handsome enough to attract, yet doughy enough to not intimidate. He was Lloyd freaking Dobbler for crissakes (though Better Off Dead is my preferred seminal work). And yet . . . if we’re all honest, we all look at movie trailers with him in it and think “It might not suck.” But the fact that he’s been in so movies that just barely miss suckitude by virtue of his presence kind of indicates that there’s going to be a whole lot of suckage going on around him. Do you really want to drop $9.50 on that? He’s the king of popcorn movies with intellectual pretensions, and the flaccid semi-art house tearjerker. Enough already.

Sad to see the mighty fall. In their own way, they both used to own their own particular part of the field. And give them credit for a good ride. 20+ years is gold watch territory by Hollywood standards. Hopefully Cusack was a little smarter with his money.

This is who we are

I was thinking that my family has certain articles of faith. Things we believe that make us who we are. We believe:

In real whipped cream, not Cool Whip. Life is too short to not lick the beaters. And if you are asked to, consider it an honor.

That though Elvis was a giant of music, Bob Wills is still the King.

That there’s always room for one more at the table.

You can never be too close to the fireworks display.

If you play a practical joke on someone else, you’re not allowed to get mad when they do it back to you. But don’t let that stop you.

Holiday crackers are part of any Christmas dinner or New Years brunch. And anyone who refuses to put on the paper crown, even for a minute or two, is suspect. We suspect that you don’t know how to have a good time.

No matter how bad things are, we will make it better.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fire and brimstone

I saw the pictures from the protest in front of Sidwell Friends in DC this morning. I wasn’t really surprised that it got some attention with the Obama girls going to school there. What did make me blink was the picture of the protester in front of the Sidwell lower school who was holding a sign that said “God hates you.” I mean actually blink. Like my brain just couldn’t process the image. I’m a bad old agnostic, and even I think God might be upset about somebody putting those words in his mouth.

What place does that come from?

The ancient Mesopotamian gods were complete assholes. No lie. They were mean, vindictive and more often than not indifferent to the happiness of humanity. And if you lived in ancient Mesopotamia, with the droughts, and the sandstorms and the catastrophic floods, and the occasional earthquake, and virulent plagues and famine, you might think your god was a hateful bastard too.

So who are these people for whom hate is a holy attribute? Who is the church that thinks “” is the message that they want to send to the world? Do they think that's the "good news" they are supposed to spread? What kind of existence do they lead, that makes a god who hates school children the deity that speaks to them? How often does their holy of holies throw thunderbolts their way and laugh at their pain?

Don’t tell me. I don’t think I want to know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2009 Holiday Goals: No fa-la-la-la-la-fatalities

As Black Friday approaches, I’d like to make a brief public service announcement to the American People:

Hello, America! It’s almost here. Christmas shopping season. And I’m hoping that we can all just stop here before the hustle-bustle starts and . . . whooooeeeeww . . . take a deep breath . . . whooooooffff . . . let it out. Roll the head. Shrug the shoulders. Shake it out. That’s it. Relaxed? Good.

Now. Look me in the eyes. No. In the eyes. Got me? Excellent.

There is nothing in the Wal-Mart worth dying over. There is nothing in the Wal-Mart worth killing over. There is nothing in the Wal-Mart worth getting upset about. There is nothing in the Wal-Mart that you need bad enough to harsh your overall holiday mellow.

Shoulders still relaxed? Good.

Ditto any other store. Also any product. Not $25 big screen TVs. Not the last Bakugan in the state. Not anything. If you find what you’re looking for, that’s great. If you get a good deal on it, even better. If you can’t afford to buy it unless there is a Black Friday ad in which only 6 of them are offered for a ridiculously low price, you probably don’t need it. Wait. Let me check. No. There are no kidneys or livers on the Wal-Mart Black Friday ad. So, no, there’s no chance you actually need anything there.

How we doing? Okay? Still feeling loose? Breathing okay?

Yes. I know it’s mass consumer heresy. By the day after Thanksgiving we should all be amped up to such a state of frenzy that we’ll line up at 4:00 am to get a shot at a $1.99 laptop. But I just want to offer, it’s okay. Relax. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Get up the next morning, and read the ads over a nice hot beverage. Maybe mosey out and pick up a few presents to stimulate the old economy. Put some mental effort into it and buy a thoughtful gift for each of your loved ones that is within your budget. What you can afford is good enough. And if someone complains because you did get them an extravagant enough gift . . . Well, I don’t really need to complete that thought, do I? Give smiles, kisses and hugs liberally. Make a potholder. Bake a pan of brownies. Walk somebody’s dog for them. And if you luck out and find that $1.99 laptop? Well, consider it a Christmas miracle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Side effects may vary,2933,573620,00.html

I'm sorry, but this just makes me want to go out and buy an iPhone. That suddenly I should look at my wireless device and think, "Hey. Is that Rick Astley?" What a wonderous and benevolent place the world would suddenly seem.

If all computer viruses were this nice, hackers would be known as lovable and merry pranksters. Kindly folk heroes even. Spreading joy like Johnny Appleseed in a techno-sterile world.

Instead of being known as douchebags and jerkwads who live to Eff up the collective day. Take a lesson, jerkwads.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Big Slice of MYOB Pie

I saw this in the NY Times. And I started to wonder why principals and teachers don't use one key phrase to diffuse all of this dress code nonsense: "Keep your eyes on your own paper."

Here's what I mean - if each student is concentrating on their own education and personal development, it doesn't matter how any other student is dressed. Just like the only way you know that Billy is cheating on a test is if your eyes strayed from your own test, the only way that you even notice somebody else's business is if you aren't paying attention to your own.

It works for are outside the gender norm. It works for kids who are outside the financial norm (rich or poor). It works for the weird kid, the short kid, the fat kid, the religious kid, the ethnic kid. And if you have enough time to comment on anything about another student, perhaps we need to look at elevating the amount of schoolwork you are involved in, because you obviously have too much time on your hands.

Acting as if being different will affect classroom discipline just feeds into the worst of teenage peer pressure. Over-reacting just affirms their over-inflated sense of self-importance. If body parts are covered, nothing makes noise or smells ungodly and the student is able to breathe and move adequately, there's nothing they can wear that a dose of MYOB won't cure. And in the case of gender bending, if the kid is only doing it to get attention, you know what the quickest way to get him to stop is? That's right. Ignore him.

If I was a principal, unless Jimmy has a gun or a drug stash, I don't want to hear about it from you. You keep your eyes on your paper, and Jimmy's gone keep his eyes on his paper. Whether he's wearing nail polish, speaking Japanese or praying. It's none of your business. You don't have to talk to each other. You don't have to look at each other. You do your thing. He'll do his. School is for academics. Period.

In fact the entire world would be a nicer place if more people kept their eyes on their own papers.

Judgy much?

You know that thing about books and covers?

I went to see that production of Talk Radio on Sunday afternoon. My play buddy and I simultaneously had the “Thank heaven it’s in the daylight” moment as we drove into the area where the show was. Not the sort of area you want to be driving around while female at night. During weekdays, I’m sure it’s a bustling warehouse area. On the weekends? Mildly post-apocalyptic.

We finally found the place. Luckily, they called themselves the Green Zone. And it’s quite apropos. It’s this giant detached garage with three loading doors, painted a kicky shade of Kelly green. Also apropos because the neighborhood looked mildly Baghdad-ish, complete with the Iraq Museum of Antiquities next door. It was this giant, fenced-in parking lot with all of these big brass and iron statues in different states of disintegration. The kind of pieces you’d buy for your garden, if you’ve got a modest acre plot. Big horses in mid-gallop. Weeping Greek ladies. Longhorn cattle. A large male torso that has rather unfortunate bits missing (head, limbs, other accessories). Well. Unfortunate for him. Anatomically correct it would be a rather intimidating bit of bric-a-brac to have around the manse. It was very large. The parking lot for the theater was also fenced. Chain link is never a good sign for your personal security.

We went in, past the grindingly institutional lobby, the size of a bathroom stall, and right into a really well built theater. Blink, blink. Did we just teleport? Because this isn’t the theater that was inside the building we just entered. That theater was 20 folding chairs and Ikea track lighting used for spotlights. This TARDIS of a theater was spacious, well equipped, and adequately seated (though at the 80 minute mark, I started to get a raging case of church pew butt – wiggle, wiggle, wiggle). Huh. Who knew? I’ve had several experiences here in Dallas where the plucky, let’s put on a show chutzpah is supposed to make up for crap surroundings. And that’s, frankly, what I was expecting here. Not so, Doubting Thomasina. Not so.

Happily, the show was up to snuff too. I can tolerate a bad show in a good space, but bear grudges about a good show in a bad space. (Arbitrary, but I’m okay with that.) But this was a good show in a good place. Nothing to complain about. I’d recommend going to this or any other play at the Green Zone. Though I, myself, won’t be doing a night show. Unless I make friends with a new play buddy who’s a green beret.

TIME: Quotes of the Day