31 August 2001

whenever i get off the local highway, i pass a video store. this video store isn't like most other video stores, although it used to be. it used to be called video thrills, and it might still be called video thrills. it was almost literally, but not quite, stuck between two blockbusters and so eventually it went out of business.

actually, it didn't so much go out of business as change its erection. um. direction. yes. so, if my obvious gaffe didn't give it away, they're are now an adult video store. and none of this would really bear mentioning except for the one thing that i notice whenever i get off the local highway and pass this videostore. in the window next to the door, there is a cardboard cutout of olive oyl -- no, not a porno olive oyl -- holding a heart. i have no idea why it's there or what it's meant to represent -- if any woman in the history of women is the antithesis of a porn star, it's olive oyl. though, perhaps, since i'm not really, um, "up" on these things, there may be people out there (besides popeye and bluto) who are turned on by olive oyl, the cartoon. perhaps it's meant to draw in the olive oyl fetishists. (hey, if olive oyl were "alive" today, would she have gotten breast implants? these are, without question, different times -- in this hypersexualized world, would today's man find olive oyl attractive?) frankly i'm clueless and i'm not about to soil my good name by walking in there and finding out why. the only thing that one can say with certainty is this: somewhere, popeye is pissed.

27 August 2001

oh, and i sooo want a "berzerker" t-shirt. if someone could tell me where to find one, i'd be forever in your debt.
jay and silent bob strike back: there are two kinds of people in the world: those who want to see jay and bob stike back and those who don't. to determine which group you fall into, i've put together the following quiz.

1) do you know who jay and silent bob are? if "no," please drop your pencils now. this film wasn't made with you in mind. curse of the jade scorpion, maybe? (was that film made with anyone in mind?)

2) does the idea of seeing randal and dante again bring a smile to your face?

3a) did you ever wonder what happened to holden after chasing amy? and is banky really...you know?

3b) do you know what chasing amy is?

4) would it be alright for the actors from mallrats to appear in the film as long as they didn't play their characters from that movie?

5) quick: who is mooby?

if you failed to answer "yes" to all of these questions, do NOT go see jay and bob. if you did, congrats this is your film.

jay and silent bob have long been the crunch berries, the marshmallows in the cereal that is kevin smith's oeuvre. and so it was with some trepidation that i viewed the concept of a film with just them. but for the most part, the movie succeeds due largely to both kevin smith's inner 16 year-old wastrel (90% of the dialogue seems to be jay's, though, as always, silent bob has the last word) and the irrepressible jason mewes, who i hope isn't acting at all.

jay and silent bob is a stop-gap film for smith: like clerks it's about nothing except the personality of his characters. the film serves as his personal soapbox, from which he speaks his mind about the internet and especially people who inhabit sites like ain't it cool news (which makes for some of the best amateurish gags in the film). he indulges himself as he ponders his next move. while the movie is enjoyable, it's clear that he needs a new batch of characters -- please no the return of jay and silent bob, not yet at least -- that jay and bob need to return to their sidebar position (but just don't leave the garden state, kev, it gives you context!).

i had one goal in mind when i went to see the film: to laugh, hard and often. which i did, in spades, so yeah, the beginning was rocky and, okay, the charlie's angels thing was overdone and, granted, will ferrell doesn't deserve to live let alone have a prominent role in the film. but i find it near impossible to dislike any film that closes with morris day and the time performing "jungle love" (note to adam sandler: please don't make me test this theory). as the film closed, and the characters from smith films past paraded by, i couldn't help but think that the world smith has created is something special. even auteurs get a vacation and i'll be quite glad to see what he comes up with when he gets back. for now, there is jay and silent bob strike back. and it is enough.
michael jackson, "you rock my world": maura's review of the new mj single on nylpm says quite a lot, even with its economy of words. there's something very, oh, three years ago about the track, from the title, to michael's you've-got-to-hear-it-to-believe-it "she is bangin'" in the intro, to the beat itself: maura says "the girl is mine '01" which, i take it, is a reference to the mj/macca single of the same name from thriller; i've been thinking that she meant brandy & monica's "the boy is mine" (does rodney jerkins, who i assume produced this, know only one synth string arrangement?) -- i think we're both right. mj has been away from the game for the while, so maybe this has been sitting on the shelves. the only thing that gives it away is chris tucker's presence in the intro: he wouldn't have been on this had it been that long ago.

that said, i still like it. it's incredibly small-scale for a jackson single, particularly a lead-off single. where are the guest stars? the epic production? the monuments to his own crapulence? it has the easy-going lilt and assurance of a fourth single which may be the key to its charm. for once, he isn't trying to impress us; he's just being. thirty years into the game, it's about time, i'd say. still, we don't listen to michael jackson for the sublime and the discreet: we want the pretension, the crotch-grabbing, the grand statement! in short, we want our world rocked, not gently swayed.
tim's post about aaliyah's death -- 7:30 today (timmy, permalinks!) -- or rather his inability to post something about aaliyah's death, called to mind for some reason marlene dietrich's elegy for orson welles's hank quinlan in a touch of evil. when all she can initially muster up is, "he was some kind of man," with audible frustration she lets slip,"what does it matter what you say about people?" what does it matter, really, what you say about someone when they're dead? what's the point? who are you saying it for? whose mind are you trying to change? questions that are sure to please my family, for whom i will undoubtedly be chosen to deliver elegies for upon their deaths.

26 August 2001

the new christopher walken: while talking on the phone with my sister today (no one died! nothing broke! and she calls! what up with that?), she mentioned that steve buscemi was in some film -- ghost world actually and that she liked steve buscemi and i said it was right for her to like steve buscemi because he's mostly a good thing. to her, i said, "he is the new christopher walken." she says: "he's in a fatboy slim video?" (actually, mike said that.)

"no, it's in the eyes mostly. but it's also in the haphazard film choices. he'll star in some very good low-profile -- even some high-profile films -- but then he does con air and big daddy. i guess the man has to eat." she says: "though you'd never know it to look at him." indeed.
celebrities and plane crashes. i won't speak in terms of it "making sense," since it's incredibly callous to imagine that such a concept could belong within a 5,000 word radius of a topic like death. and yet: glenn miller; buddy holly, ritchie valens, the big bopper; patsy cline; otis redding and the bar-kays; jim croce; ronnie van zant and stevie gaines; randy rhoads; rick nelson; stevie ray vaughn; john denver; aaliyah. stars fall -- from grace, from the sky, from this life: it's their fate. in the end, all things must fall before they can rise again. next time you see a falling star, wish for a rapid ascension for those on their way down.
aaliyah, r.i.p.: when one watches the news, they're welcoming anonymous tragedy into their lives: livery cab driver shot dead in brooklyn; raging fire claims the lives of three people; fifteen dead in bombing in the middle east. if anything has desensitized society to violence and death, it's the news. which is why, when i had channel 4 on last night, hearing tale of breaking news from the bahamas where a plane crash claimed the lives seven, "a camera crew," i looked up for a second before returning to whatever it was i was doing at the moment.

do we watch the news to hear this? or are we merely viewing it, looking out for our concerns, pricking our ears up when the names of the dead or indicted are revealed? when i woke up this morning, i went to cnn.com and saw the headline: "aaliyah dead," followed by the words "plane crash in the bahamas." it's amazing how much changes when one substitutes "aaliyah" for "a camera crew." now it's universal tragedy; for most of us, she isn't kin, but she's someone we've brought into our homes, via her albums or watching her on television or in the movies. one's initial instict is: well, it must be someone else. in this case, that's dismissed quite quickly: how many aaliyahs do you know? and if aaliyah is the name of your daughter, sister, mother...only in a perfect world would her life be memorialized so.

it still hasn't registered really. it's difficult quite often for a celebrity's death to resonate: she's never been more than an image, a voice for the majority of us -- how did we really know she lived in the first place? there is no void as there would be with a family member or friend, at least no physical void. it becomes doubly hard when it's someone like aaliyah who's only given us but a handful of years. but what years they were: along with collaborators timbaland and missy elliott, she's given us some of the finest pop singles of the last five years. she never possessed the strongest of voices but through the force of her personality -- she had that ineffable trait, "star quality" -- and pure determination to make her mark, she became a megastar, selling millions of records and even receiving the call from hollywood (besides romeo must die, she was also to star in the adaptation of anne rice's the queen of the damned and the upcoming matrix sequels).

at age 22, she seemed poised to become the next janet jackson -- a mononymic multimedia star, lighting up the big screen and blowing up the radio. but now it's all over -- i don't know how to stop writing, how to end this. it's impossible to be poetic about this right now and yet it seems wrong to to end it so tersely, as stark as death itself. damn it. rest in peace, aaliyah, you had so much left to say and there's so much left to say about you but death's got my tongue and out of respect for you, i'll not struggle to say anymore.

23 August 2001

i write, simply, because i love to read. over the
years, which have been relatively few, a number of
writers have spoken to me, for me, and with me, putting
into words things i thought incapable of being
expressed, things i lazily deemed "ineffable," and
they've made the world seem smaller and less cruel,
revealing thoughts and ideas i felt i alone possessed.
now, I just try my best to reciprocate.
Someday, at the end of the nightmare of knowing,
may I emerge singing praise and jubilation to assenting angels.
May I strike my heart's keys clearly, and may none fail
because of slack, uncertain, or fraying strings.
May the tears that stream down my face
make me more radiant: may my hidden weeping
bloom. How I will cherish you then, you grief-torn nights!
Had I only received you, inconsolable sisters,
on more abject knees, only buried myself with more abandon
in your loosened hair. How we waste our afflictions!
We study them, stare out beyond them into bleak continuance,
hoping to glimpse some end. Whereas they're really
our wintering foliage, our dark greens of meaning, one
of the seasons of the clandestine year--; not only
a season--: they're site, settlement, shelter, soil, abode.

--rainer maria rilke, "the tenth elegy"

22 August 2001

breaking news from hell this evening...: "i am now the owner of a bob dylan album," says the man in the wrinkle-free pants. this admission completes the scene, develops the picture: having perused 401 (k) info this afternoon, of the opinion that his parents have some good ideas, the speaker is now, for the record, officially old. (the album, for those interested, is blood on the tracks. i downloaded "tangled up in blue" the other day at work -- in what one might call "a simple twist of fate." or not. -- enjoyed it, sought other tracks from the album and decided to do the right thing and purchase it. it should be noted that "just like a woman" and "don't think twice, it's alright," other dylan tracks given a hearing, failed to pass.)

21 August 2001

richard powers, galatea 2.2: i've just finished reading this book and it was fantastic. powers, for those who are unfamiliar with him, is like don delillo with a phd in physics, philosophy, literature, and so forth. quick synopsis: men try to teach machine to read, to comprehend, to explicate. machine evolves into more than they bargained for. in lesser hands, it's short circuit 2; but with powers doing the writing, it's thrilling and heartbreaking -- not only is galatea a cognitive science primer, it's also a manual of human failings, a scrapbook of loves both lost and unrequited. thematically, galatea is about three things: about people stuck in yesterday and people who are the world's tomorrow; machines who strive for life and men who have given up on it; and the word, in all of its guises, and how it brings us together and tears us apart. in galatea, hope is found in the least likely of places and powers' faith in himself -- for he serves as his very own protagonist -- and in his fellows is restored by a machine; his reader, just as fortunate, will find this book capable of the very same. highly recommended.
it now strikes me just how much easier it is to write tragedy, to create with a words a scenario that will unsettle something in the mind and heart of the reader, than it is to respond to the tragedy of another. in the former, the words mean everything; in the latter, they mean nothing.

20 August 2001

i can't stay away: yes, yes, i'm back (and i promise to do something about this, uh, design). but my reasons for being back are nefarious and self-serving. first off, i want to link to my wishlist, since my birthday is around the corner. (actually, this is the chief reason, ask josh.) secondly, i want to some outlet while i put off writing anything of meaning and importance. like (finally) this, which i wrote not too long ago and which is probably the best thing i've written. some are calling it "very moving." and "some" isn't even related to me. so yeah. here i am. uh, keep your eye on this page.