Archive for February, 2008

In defense of: “The Eye of Every Storm”

February 24, 2008

Every great band has one album that no one fucking gets no matter how well received, critically and commercially, that band’s canon gets. Led Zeppelin had Presence, Pink Floyd had Animals, and even the Beatles had Magical Mystery Tour. You could argue that they’re albums let loose by bands so ahead of their time that it would be impossible to digest them in the environment in which they were released, but you could more accurately argue that they wanted rock critics decades in the future to laud something that everyone else had not. Either way (or neither way), these sort of time release records stand as a test to the artists that made them: if the record isn’t received well, wait a few years and some will argue it’s the best thing you even did.

Obviously, some records just fucking suck, and people saying hindsight is 20/20 (most of which have no idea what that actually means) are sticking up for a record they really like because they have an undying loyalty to that artist/crappy taste in music. I say One Hot Minute stands up against anything the Red Hot Chili Peppers have done and will do; literally no one else agrees. Not even Dave Navarro, and that guy needs people to like what he does to support his boa (and heroin) habit. But every once and a while, you stand by a record no one gives a shit about and in five or so years, you’ll watch them migrate back to it.

The best example is obviously Weezer’s Pinkerton, an album that absolutely fucking tanked upon its 1996 release, marking what many assumed to be the death of the band. But after taking a long and bizarre hiatus (Rivers Cuomo went and did eccentric things like pursue a Harvard education and have sex with a lot of Japanese teens, the rest of the band either quit or made terrible records with other terrible bands), a cult following gathered, bringing the band back together and pulling off a previously unthinkable resurrection. The result of that resurrection, of course, was a record of cold and mechanical pop songs that stood in direct contrast to the raw and loose emoting of Pinkerton. But of course, in Mr. Cuomo’s defense, if you put out 36 minutes of fresh-wound intimacy only to have it violently shat on commercially and critically, subsequently ruining your career, you’d probably get it in your head that maybe people want you to stick to catchy, “fun” pop songs.

But I remember feeling Pinkerton was special upon its release; “El Scorcho” is still a brilliant oddball love song that could have only come from the dying convulsions of the time when major labels let bands write the songs they wanted to then, you know, release them. When people started coming back to Weezer, half for love of the band and half for the embrace- every- decade- before- this- one- because- this- one- is- so- frightening- and- empty phase that we’re hopefully going to emerge from enough, and discovering the other album– the one without “Buddy Holly” on it– for the first time, I already knew how good it was. The rest is history… and judging by Make Believe, what awful history it has been.

The world of metal, though, makes this a feat even harder to pull off. In a realm where one shitty album means your band is strewn on the “suck” pile right in between Obituary and Entombed until you pull off a late-career “return to form”, consistency is key. That or breaking up after your best album is released is key, then touring on it 15 years later to help with those mortgage payments (Tomas Lindberg and Jeff Walker have some sweet real estate somewhere, I assume). This is not helped by the fact that many metalheads stick only to that: metal. This means experimentation comes off more forced than revelatory, and straying from what originally made you kickass means you’re a sellout. I mean, Slayer have been making the same record for 25+ years, and it’s been doing wonders for them lately… I think.

So when a band like Neurosis comes into play– a band that put “experimental” and “metal” next to eachother long before Myspace made it cool– expanding on an already relatively expansive sound could result in an album that’s harder to swallow than most Old-Guards-Trying-New-Music metal records. The Eye of Every Storm is the epitome of a metal time-release record: it was met with so much critical and audience confusion that every critic that heard their follow up Given to Rising referred it as a triumphant return to form. In retrospect, most cast it as a low point for Neurosis, a time when one of the great metal bands had to walk away from everything good and metal in order to make themselves better. The thing is, though, they’re wrong. The Eye of Every Storm is by no means a misstep; in fact, it’s arguably the band’s most interesting hour, filled with some of their most emotionally effective and challenging music.

Obviously, Neurosis wrote the book on challenging metal. While death and black metallers looked to grind the faces off of casual and non-metalheads, Neurosis took on the genre itself, taking the long-forgotten psychedelic element that Black Sabbath used to found it and immersing every bit of their riff-heavy onslaught in reverb and unconventionality. The result created a different form of attack in metal: while the aforementioned death and black metal used the extremity of violence and blasphemy to engage their listener and jar naysayers, Neurosis used slow, lumbering dissonance to make their listeners uneasy. While their contemporaries evoked Satan, Neurosis aurally evoked Jonestown; while death metal drew upon the real life exploits of serial killers and the (apparent epidemic of) unnecessary surgery, Neurosis drew upon our society’s imminent collapse, resulting in a record as jarring as Reign in Blood, In the Nightside Eclipse, or Left Hand Path: their 1996 masterpiece and touchstone Through Silver and Blood.

But if Through Silver and Blood sounded like the end of the world, The Eye of Every Storm sounds like the devastating aftermath: slow (still) and sad, drawing upon melody to recreate what was once familiar and pleasing. The Eye of Every Storm sounds wounded and vulnerable, but never fragile or frail. Whereas their previous records took softness and sparseness to make their heavier parts more fucking massive, The Eye of Every Storm is the mirror image of that: it’s a record that uses metal as a condiment to occasionally add to their post-apocalyptic stew of melancholy and weariness. And it sounds wonderful.

The most remarkable thing about it is the fact that a record like this was even made. Metal is founded upon heaviness, and heaviness is what keeps casual fans out. Heaviness is not known for its subtlety, and therefore much of metal is about beating your skull about with heaviness. Sure, some space is allowed for quiet parts and other influences to make your heaviness more dramatic in comparison, but the heaviness is always at the center; it keeps you salivating after sitting at work all day listening to your vapid fucking co-workers blather on about who’s going to win American fucking Idol. The Eye of Every Storm is composed almost entirely of that space. Where the band had based its sound in dissonance before this record– occasionally too much so– this record is the opposite, using beautiful, lilting vocal and guitar melody to drive each of these songs home. And while building up momentum to a heavy-as-balls riff was certainly not new to Neurosis, this record has parts that virtually build up to nothing. In fact, the two most Neurosis-iest riffs in the record are found in the first and penultimate tracks, the latter of which doesn’t unleash it until 2 minutes away from its 11 1/2 minute endpoint.

But the brilliance of The Eye of Every Storm lies in these quiet parts. Whereas they relied on hoarse shouting on Through Silver and Blood, almost entire songs (!) composed of singing were present on TSAB‘s (tighter) followup Times of Grace. This record takes them to new heights of effectiveness. The band beautifully incorporates Tom Waits-ian grumbling and groaning throughout the record, illustrating the ruin the record is surrounded in. The title track and “Bridges” both break 11 minutes without getting particularly heavy until the end of the track, if at all. But before it gets heavy, the band comes almost to a halt, bellowing from what sounds like either the bottom of a canyon or the in-between area of two dimensions. Most bands would approach almost-laughable levels of pomposity in this; Neurosis just sound fucking epic.

The most damning accusation made is this record does nothing but meander. Those that insist this weren’t fucking listening; the best part of this record is the fact that it all sounds so damned deliberate. When most artists experiment– down to the Beatles– there’s an air of “Hey, let’s try this, just ’cause!” But Neurosis know what they’re doing on this record, every long passage of sparseness and melody planned completely as to allow for maximum heaviness. The phrase “experiment” implies trying and failing; Neurosis are just doing what they do, knowing and meaning every bit of it. While there are those that charged that The Eye of Every Storm is nothing but pretentious filler with some good riffs every now and again, I argue that every fucking note of this record needs to exist, and while it may seem tedious to some, the payoff is spectacular enough to warrant letting these masters indulge in their unedited vision.

Or maybe I’d wait through a year and a half of Scott Kelly’s drunken Carrie Underwood impression to hear the closing riffs of “Burn” and “Bridges”, respectively. But please God, don’t let it come to that.

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Like the Superbowl for Art Fags

February 22, 2008

As previously mentioned (so goddamn previously that if you scroll down slightly, you’ll see it), this marks the first year in a long time, if ever, where I’ve seen 3 of the 5 Oscar nominees for Best Picture before the ceremony. Due to constraints of time (2 1/2 hours plus the amount of my day ruined by the supposedly devastating ending of Brokeback Mountain have kept me from seeing it), money ($10 for a movie I won’t even like, blah blah blah…), and the complete lack of interest in seeing white, liberal guilt manifest itself (I suffered my way through Syriana enough to never, ever want to sit through the “Shaun, this movie is fantastic! It’ll change your outlook on things! Really!” tripe of Crash), I usually only see one a year, if even that. I typically catch up after the hype dies down (as was the case with Babel–the anti-Syriana— which I saw a year after it came out and with Traffic– the terrific mold the vapid corn syrup of Syriana was poured into– almost ten years after) due to the aforementioned restrictions as well as my general antisocial nature OK-ing Blockbuster but not a movie theater. So this year’s Oscars are kind of exciting (or at least they will be until I start watching them and realize that maybe jumping back and forth between them and a Futurama marathon may be more my speed). And like many, I’ll throw a trash can through the window of my local McDonald’s if Juno takes home Best Picture over the sparse, dark intensity of No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood.

This is not to say that Juno was not an enjoyable movie; it is simply that Juno wasn’t THAT enjoyable of a movie. Much like an overeager friend that means well but sometimes tries too hard to be funny or provocative but really means well beneath it all (*ahem*), once you let down your uber-hip defenses, Juno is a movie that will leave you feeling warmed and even somewhat moved. Much like last year’s version, titled Little Miss Sunshine, sometimes a movie that tries to evoke indie quirk even more than the Strokes or The Life Aquatic can still pull off some cool stuff, even yielding enjoyable results. Hell, the movie sports BOTH Michael and George Michael Bluth; no film that gives a subtle nod to Arrested Development can be all bad. No, Juno is not unique, and even if it is, it’s not for the right reasons. But it’s by no means the shit film that many make it out to be. (Go here for a much better synopsis of this idea.)

The biggest problems with Juno lie in the forced-quirky directing of Jason Reitman (Ivan’s son, and if you can’t learn from the mistakes your dad made in Evolution, My Super Ex-Girlfriend and the second half of Stripes, go open a Hedge fund… can you open a Hedge fund?) and the force-of-ipecac-forced-quirk script by Diablo Cody, noted ex-stripper and blogger (you see what I’ll have to do to get a screenplay taken seriously?). And they’re both nominated in their respective fields. While Reitman could be argued for, Diablo Cody is like a five year old that wanders downstairs after being sent to bed and starts to dance for her parents’ drunken friends: if you laugh at the cuteness of the child begging for attention, it will only encourage it into more bad, obnoxious behavior. Even nominating Ms. Cody for her terribly flawed script is giving her an OK to do more crap like this; if she wins, it will only solidify her one good thing/ sixteen “good?” things approach to writing. Juno would have been a near-excellent movie if she would have toned the script down. Granted, this would have meant our YouTube-ified culture wouldn’t have gravitated toward it’s near-constant stream of wackiness and pop-culture references (can we pass legislation ruling that Thundercats is no longer a hip and exciting reference?). An Oscar for Best Original Screenplay would teach Diablo Cody nothing, and judging by the genuinely sweet and moving moments this movie possesses even despite its occasionally cringeworthy dialogue, if she does things right, she could write a wonderful script right around the time her “I USED TO BE STRIPPER!!! REALLY!!!” looks start to fade.

The other two I saw– There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men— have been receiving the kind of acclaim that automatically sends movies right to the overrated bin (my second-least favorite bin at Wal-Mart). The problem is that they’re not overrated in the least; they’re two disturbing, dark, intense films that truly simultaneously skullfuck our gore-phobic and gore-obsessed (Hostel and Captivity, anyone?) cultural wasteland while providing the depth and weight usually associated with films like Atonement. Another problem is, despite the chatter that these two films needs to be compared to eachother (which on top of both being violently misanthropic films coming out in the same year, they were both filmed in the same town), they’re both unique films that can be equally appreciated separately. And in true snob/hipster fashion, if you compare two things, one must become complete and utter shit in comparison to possibly the best thing ever made.

No Country for Old Men is the harder of the two to penetrate, which is part of its appeal: it’s a smart, well made movie that through its cold, unconventional characterization and mindfuck of an ending effectively weeds out the casual “this movie got great reviews” moviegoer that could at least nuzzle up to the semi-warm quirkiness that lay under the cold exterior of Fargo. And that is by no means a knock against Fargo; while Fargo was occasionally kind to its audience, No Country for Old Men out-and-out loathes it, resulting in a movie that allows for no one to think its “okay.” Like any great piece of art, No Country for Old Men doesn’t cater to those who may like it casually; it cuts right to the goddamn chase in the first few minutes of the film with Javier Bardem choking the shit out of a podunk local cop with the handcuffs he’s locked into. Half the audience squirms and looks at their watch while the other half squirms, smirks, and marvels at the merciless tone that’s set. The ending, though “controversial”, is the perfect period to the film (though undeniably an ellipsis): 3/4 of the New Rochelle theater I saw the movie in gave out an audible, frustrated bellow. Dumb motherfuckers.

With NCFOM walking that fine line between complex and unaccessible jackoffery like an acrobat, the moments of raw emotion that pepper There Will Be Blood as to lift it above a cold period film with lots of wide-angle shots make it look like Hallmark Channel fare in comparison. And yes, I’ve seen this movie twice in the theater already compared to No Country for Old Men‘s once, but this does not make There Will Be Blood any less of a cold, disturbing movie. While the irony of calling a film There Will Be Blood only having 5 or so instances where there is some stands in contrast to NCFOM‘s offputting and realistic gore-o-rama, the film’s emotional violence is just as look-away-from-the-screen intense as that scene where the aforementioned Bardem is digging a bullet out of his own thigh. The growing (or arguably always-present) distance between Daniel Plainview and those that care about him is brilliantly enthralling. And those that creamed their tight hipster jeans over No Country for Old Men immediately upon its release shamed There Will Be Blood‘s final scenes for being too over-the-top. While a great amount of independent cinema is based in all-tension-no-release as to jar typical audiences hungry for closure, the impact of There Will Be Blood is based in the intense release of tension in its final act. Daniel Plainview’s collapse is epic and disturbingly tragic. I considered the movie pretty overhyped during its first two hours the first time I saw it. The ending, though, reframed the first half of the film as the walkway leading to Daniel Day Lewis’ International House of Acting. While isolated, yes, cynical motherfuckers may be somewhat right in calling it Oscar begging. But as an end to the film, it functions as the justification of the movie’s first dry and sparse two-thirds. Much like Al Pacino’s brilliance in the Godfather movies lies in his restraint rather than the few times he explodes, Daniel Day Lewis earns the virtuoso flair he exhibits in the movies final minutes. And that last scene, the most hated by the movie’s detractors, is an awe-inspiring punch to the fucking gut that leaves me breathless each time I see it, and will continue to after I purchase it when released on DVD, walking right past the overrated bin to the $10.44 rack.

So the Oscars better not suck this Sunday. And unless the South Broadway McDonald’s doesn’t want me to go all Serbian protester on their ass, Juno better not win. No interpretive dance, no long montages paying tribute to the use of the telephone in movies, no warmed over Jon Stewart (you’ve got writers now; fucking USE THEM!) , no validation for Diablo Cody. You hear me, Academy? And Comedy Central, I expect that episode where everyone crashes on the Amazonian planet with Bea Arthur as the voice of the robot to be a part of your Futurama marathon, just in case I need it.

In defense of: “Rumours”

February 12, 2008

“In Defense of” is a series of essays defending things I enjoy that don’t always hold up to scrutiny.

A good friend of mine who happens to be black once voiced his dislike of black metal on the premise of “it has nothing to offer me.” And he’s right. A bunch of lanky white guys in what is essentially evil clown makeup doing their best banshee impression over trebly guitars and rigid, grooveless drums while lyrically touching upon ridiculous themes ranging from Norse mythology to garden variety misanthropy to good ol’ fashioned racism and antisemitism would have literally nothing to offer anyone that isn’t obscenely white. I still have a soft spot for black metal, even despite its many immediate and glaring flaws. And, in a much different way, I feel the same about Fleetwood Mac, especially their iconic folk-rock masterpiece Rumours.

Much like black metal (ironically, despite its moniker), Rumors has nothing to offer black people. And I don’t say that in a “this album is OURS!” kind of way; I say that in the way that this album is constructed, from its muted opening chords to “Gold Dust Woman”‘s fadeout, for super lame white people. In theory, if you put this album next to Miles Davis’ The Birth of the Cool, it will explode much like a chameleon will hypothetically explode when walking over plaid. And I don’t say that because this album is essentially rooted in folk and country; I say it because Fleetwood Mac water down every bit of folk, country, and even the few attempts at rock into a beige, murky paste perfectly fit to be consumed by the masses petrified by metal’s Satanism, disco’s hedonism and punk rock’s anarchy.

I say this because there is absolutely nothing offensive about this album. It rebels against nothing; the closest Fleetwood Mac come to rocking the boat on Rumours is Lindsay Buckingham’s gritted tooth instistence that “packing up” and “shacking up” is all his wrongdoing lover wants to do, and while bordering on racy, it had been said so many other more vulgar and suggestive ways that even considering it’s origin in 1977, it could already be taken as pretty goddamn tame. Though the album was famously recorded by five coked-the-fuck-up ex lovers, there’s no trace of drugs or sex anywhere. Mick Fleetwood could perhaps be the most grooveless of all the ’70s AOR rock uber-drummers: he doesn’t attempt to match Keith Moon’s 40-fills-a-minute pomposity or John Bonham’s thick Mississippi Delta rhythm. Even the harmonies, still one of the most impressive parts of the record, are essentially the Mamas and the Papas without any of that pesky counterculture. There’s a great line from one of the original “Wayne’s World” sketches about how Rumours was handed out to people who moved to the suburbs along with free samples of Tide. Much like Dark Side of the Moon, Rumours is seen by many as existing solely so the punks could have something to hate and rebel against. If someone throws Rumours on at a party, that party has either become indescribably lame or was from the beginning; it’s almost certain that if you survey the room, there will be a girl in overalls.

The problem? The album, much like Wonder bread and Applebee’s, is a terrific, easily consumed piece of America. It works as an excellent way to calm yourself down after a long day of work or as a breakup record when you don’t have the kind of patience to put up with the funk Blood on the Tracks or Disintegration would put you in. While it won’t jostle your world and permanently alter your perspective, it’s nice. And sometimes you need nice. After hours of getting sneered at by Mission of Burma and Shellac, bitched at/to by Morrissey, preached to by Fugazi, or getting your skull pounded by Neurosis or Mayhem, sometimes you need nice. The radio singles on this album are, for the most part, so ubiquitous that there’s almost no way you don’t know them. But when they come on, the fatigue that now accompanies some of classic rock’s once greatest hits (“Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Start Me Up”) subsides for a feeling of, “Hey… alright.” Even the so-so songs on the record (“I Don’t Want to Know”,”Oh Daddy”) are great because you know “Gold Dust Woman” is waiting to give a relatively interesting and ominous closing to the album.

The flipside to Rumours‘ comforting blandness is that its the sound of Fleetwood Mac as a band, with everyone’s annoying eccentricities kept in check: Stevie Nicks’ public library “mysticism” is delegated solely to “Gold Dust Woman”, and its forgivable, because you know the woman was waiting the whole album to throw on some ridiculous, flowy black dress and talk about magick; the quirks and weirdness that Lindsay Buckingham would employ to make/mar (depending on who you ask) Rumours‘ follow-up Tusk is sidelined in lieu of delicate fingerpicking and unimpressive and therefore non-distracting guitar leads; Mick Fleetwood’s limitations as a drummer were inconsequential as he took a page from Ringo Starr’s playbook in just being the functional, rhythmic backbone of the band as opposed to trying to be a focal point (the drum solo he arbitrarily adds to Tusk‘s title track is easily Top 5 Worst of All Time); John McVie adds nothing discernible to the album except the terrific bassline that puts “The Chain” back into motion; and Christine McVie… oh, Christine McVie.

The album’s lost gem is clearly Christine McVie’s “You Make Loving Fun”, usually obscured by the shadow of “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop (THINKING ABOUT TOMORROW!!!)”. McVie’s sassy electric piano strut is the closest to funky the record gets, while her voice and vocal melody are of a level of richness that is all but unattainable in our world of R & B’s masturbatory melisma and Nickelback and Hinder’s constipated bellow. The song epitomizes Fleetwood Mac’s place in the classic rock pantheon and the 70’s pantheon perfectly: it’s there as the perfect soundtrack to driving home in the dying humidity of an early August evening after a long and grating day at work, and while the world wouldn’t be any worse off if it wasn’t there, at the time, it’s certainly nice that it is.

Going it alone

February 10, 2008

So as many of you may have noticed, or may have heard from the dozens of film critics shouting in your face over the last 2-3 months, 2007 was a great year for film. Of course, I didn’t see what the big deal was until well into 2008, when I finally caught up with “There Will Be Blood”, “Zodiac”, “No Country for Old Men”, “Juno”, and “Once”. I felt moved by all the aforementioned films, even despite the cynical response the latter two have received (and I think that’s prickish… which says a lot, because I’m a cynical dude). There was also more good cinema this year: the one-two punch of “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” (though albeit a weak, vaguely pro-life punch followed by a significantly “That’s more like it!” punch) and… well, that was it, as far as I know. Really.

Not that there weren’t more that I would have liked to have seen/ still would like to see; it’s simply that before early this year, the last movie I saw in a theatre was “1408”.  It was actually a rather fun experience, and I’m not taking a shot at the experience or with whom I saw it. It’s just the fact that it was the last in a long line of movies I’ve seen in a theatre for the sake of something to do. And “1408” came out in that dreadful valley between blockbuster season and Oscar handjob season, so the sole reason I saw it was because the person I saw it with and myself wanted to get out of the house and do something. There’s nothing wrong with this in theory; hell, you could even be pleasantly surprised by something when expecting it to be dreadful. At least there was nothing wrong with it when movies cost $4.

I’m not trying to make this a “Movies are too damn expensive nowadays… did you know there was a time when you could see the new John Cusack movie and get a Butterfinger for $5? And not those new fives they have today, but the old ones where Lincoln’s face was in the middle and smaller. Your new-fangled five dollar bills frighten me” issue; I’m more concerned about this in that if it costs so much to see a movie, why spend it on one you’re not going to like? When I was growing up in the leafy suburbs of Western Massachusetts, there was literally nothing to do on the weekends except see a movie in West Springfield or drive 45 minutes up to Northampton to have everything close an hour after getting there. So I saw a lot of movies for the fuck of it, and I can tell you that a very small handful of them were anything remotely resembling “good.” Part of this is that apparently no one wants to see the movies I want to see unless they’re a film critic or someone who thinks they’re cool enough not to see movies with me. The other part is basically that Oscar handjob season coincides with buying your friends and loved ones gifts for the sake of Jesus, the Maccabees, Allah or… Colin Powell… which doesn’t lend itself kindly to your expenses. And blockbusters have an uneven suck-to-good ratio, so seeing a gigantic film may as well be seeing “27 Dresses” in January. So, thanks to Blockbuster Video and (more recently and conveniently) Netflix, I’ve seen most of the movies I wanted to see months after they’re theatrical run is over with.

“So why didn’t you just go see those movies by yourself, Shaun?” you may ask, and you’d be right to. Up until a month ago, I had never gone to a movie theatre on my own. When finding people I liked spending time with, I unfortunately rarely-to-never took whether or not they’d see the same movies I wanted to see into account. And up until a month ago, I considered making up an application for prospective friends so I could see more movies. But instead, I considered saving the time it would take to go to Kinkos and sparing myself the frustration that would arise were they out of goldenrod card stock, and after reading the 94th glowing review of “There Will Be Blood”, I decided to throw caution and possibly my dignity into the wind and catch the 3:15 showing of the film.

What’s the big deal about seeing a movie by one’s self? I’ll tell you: nothing. People go to movies by themselves all the time; this particular showing of the movie had 2 or 3 single dudes, I’m assuming much like myself, sitting in the audience.  Because the act of going to a movie takes so much more effort than watching one at home in the dark in raggedy sweatpants (putting on actual pants, driving/taking the train to the theatre, standing in line behind loud/smelly families, figuring out which showing of what movie you’re asking the person behind the ticket counter for, having your ticket torn in half then torn in half by people with the disposition of an orphan giving toys to other children with two happy parents, navigating your way around seats and rows until you find the perfect/best available seat, how to best cross your legs without kicking the seat in front of you, etc.) that I assumed it should be combined with others as to justify it as a social event so all your effort wouldn’t be in vain. Make sense? No, but I didn’t know that until I went to a movie on my own.

While going to movies with others is still fine and is still my preferred method of moviegoing, there’s a certain romance to going to a movie on your own. My first question after walking up those sticky-ass stairs and seeing if they’ve started showing previews yet (because I need to leave my house to find out what Steve Carell is doing this holiday season) is, “Where do you want to sit?” If the question is asked of me, I always prefer the aisle, being that I always think for some reason I’m going to vomit in the middle of the film and don’t want to have that mar the event, be it date or platonic. When you’re on your own, you sit wherever the fuck you want, and this is great because you’re only concerned with your own view of the screen, not the legally blind douchebag you brought along to the movie with you (assuming you go to movies with legally blind douchebags). For “There Will Be Blood”, I sat halfway up the theatre, 2 or 3 seats away from other people, and put my elbows and both arm rests. That’s the other great thing about going to movies by yourself: none of those awkward armrest moments. Say goodbye to those “Will she or won’t she mind if I rest my forearm on hers? Is she using the other armrest, because we’re both entitled to one…” instances. I was a little petrified that I may have taken off my pants and let out a loud satisfied sigh, because I was so goddamn comfortable that I could see myself crossing normal social boundaries to be as satisfied as I was.

Which leads me to the real reason I waited 26 years to go to a movie dateless: people will talk! He’s alone! Why would someone go to a movie alone when they have friends? Doesn’t he have friends? What’s wrong with him that he doesn’t have friends? Why the hell does that child molester have to ruin this movie for me?!  The fact is, seeing a good movie in its natural habitat– spread across a panoramic screen with all the characters and scenes impossibly bigger than you–is something to be enjoyed, and whether or not that something is in the company of another human being is inconsequential. I obviously don’t go to movies by myself at 8 PM on a Saturday, because nothing leads to loneliness, Hagen Daas and blackberry schnapps faster than being alone in a room full of whispering, canoodling couples and packs of ugly, possibly canoodling teenagers. But that being said, being in a room in the middle of the afternoon with a few other couples spread out across the capacity of a movie theatre is nothing bad. In fact, it’s liberating. Some movies need to be seen in as much grandiosity as possible; why should the fact that no one wants to sit through a character-based greed allegory based at the turn-of-the-century starring a literal total of no women (or many other people other than Daniel Day Lewis, for that matter) limit me to watching it on my roommate’s Wal-Mart TV in my darkened living room drinking lukewarm Honey Brown because it was the cheapest non-shitty beer they have at the A&P? There’s no answer to that. Thus begins the new phase of my cinematic development: seeing movies I want to see in the environment in which I would like to see them as often as possible. God for-fucking-bid, right?

So as I mentioned earlier,  I’m not done seeing movies with other people. In fact, that’s how I would still prefer to see them. But if this year, like any year, there are movies that I would like to see that none of you want to spend your time on, I’m still going to see them. But I might as well ask now: Does anyone want to see “Iron Man” in May? Because that movie looks pretty fucking awesome.

February 9, 2008

Meriam Webster defines blog as:

a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.

I find this troubling for 2 reasons: a) “blogging” has become so prevalent that it became one of those “HEY, A NEW EDITION OF THE DICTIONARY IS OUT, AND LOOK WHAT WACKY AND SUPER-CURRENT WORDS THEY ADDED” segments at the end of the news after they talked about various rape, death and weather events, joining what I’m sure are other timeless and culturally relevant words like “crunk” and “macarena”, and b) it’s known as an “online personal journal” more than anything, which means there’s more sad teenagers and even sadder adults with blogs talking about nothing more than their feelings and personal lives for the entire digitalized world to see. Though I am sort of a hypocrite regarding this, as I was briefly (or not so briefly) caught up in the “I can say anything and there’s a possibility that at least SOMEONE will listen to me?!” fever of the early ’00s, I think as we enter an era where feelings have become another element of you that can be co-opted into getting you to buy shit, it can be considering sad-to-grating that going online and expressing everything you do throughout your day is categorized as important to too many (the advent of viral video, particularly the “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE” dude, has only worsened this trend). In our Celebreality TV universe (which I’m sure I am far from the first to notice that Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame theory has truly manifested itself), the ubiquitousness of blogging further goes to prove that, no matter how obscenely mediocre or unintentionally terrible you are at anything, what you’re doing is important and people should– nay, HAVE TO– pay attention to you and what you’re doing.

So yeah, here’s my blog. In all seriousness, I started this because I have fleeting ideas for opinion pieces, essays, and other assorted crap, and no realistic way in which to publish them. Everything expressed on this BLOG is my opinion, and no matter how full of vitriol and vulgarities it may be, I don’t insist that you swear by it, even if I say you should. (Much like in movies and television where some guy goes into somewhere and says, “No matter how much screaming and begging I do, don’t open the door to let me out.”) For in this hyperfast-paced, microwavable breakfast world we live in, we all must remember that blogging is not important. It is not journalism (being that you can post whatever the fuck you want and not have to have it fact checked) and it is not art. I can promise you one thing, dear reader: I will never forget that in the end, no matter how much I think Heroes sucks or how fucking sweet I think the new Isis album is (whenever that happens), that this is a blog I got for free on the Internet, and there are literally millions of others vying for your attention with the same bloated sense of self importance. At the end of the day, I’m writing this because no one else is paying me for it yet, if they ever will at all. Donations are always welcome…

This blog is brought to you by the fine folks at Arby’s and E*Trade.

This is here for your enjoyment, and it is here for you to ignore. Do what you wish; I’m going to go have lunch.