Thursday, November 29, 2007

Other people have said it better than me.

"If I had my way, I'd shuffle off to Buffalo, sit by the lake, and watch the world go by."

"For reasons I cannot explain there's some part of me that wants to see Graceland."

"It's not hard, not far to reach. We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach."

"And all of it is yours and mine, so let's ride and ride and ride and ride and ride."

"Hitching on a twilight train. Ain't nothing here that I care to take along."

"Working on a mystery, going wherever it leads, running down a dream."

"I'd love to stick around but I'm running behind. You know, I don't even know what I'm hoping to find."

"Everybody needs a place to stay to work on all their schemes and scams. If I could get my record clean, I'd be a genius."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In a world where movies win awards, One Man must see them all...

Confession: I have a hidden resistance to watching good movies. They are frequently depressing. Or boring. Or shocking. Or something else. Good movies tend to make you feel things. Or think about things. I usually find it much more enjoyable, and comforting, to watch a rather silly flick and make sarcastic comments about it. Or, even better, make all kinds of pompous and pretentious claims about the 'symbolism' found within it as if it were some weirdo arthouse show. There's no real downside to well made cheesy movies. For example, I can watch Steven Seagal save the environment by beating the crap out of ugly mulleted dudes and enjoy it on face value for an hour, and then the rest of my days I can laugh at the inherent goofiness of the movie and enjoy watching it again in search of more goofy stuff to pick out.

Also, it turns out that I probably have terrible taste in movies. If I get bored in the near future, which is a distinct possibility since I talked myself out of asking out Paula at work today, I might blog just exactly how bad my taste is. For now, just know that I just clicked through the 100 worst reviewed movies on Rotten Tomatoes, and frequently found myself saying, "Come on, that one wasn't bad. It had plenty of entertainment value."

Lately, though, I've been passing up the Frankenfishes and Stay Alives of the world and been grabbing your critically acclaimed types instead. I think Rain Man caused the change, mainly because this is probably about the fifth time I've mentioned it in the past three months. Maybe, I thought, I should give these Oscar nominee type movies a shot. Perhaps I enjoy good movies more than I think I do.

And so began one man's quest to watch all of the Best Picture winners. Let's pull up the Big List (ones I've seen are in bold):

2006 The Departed*
2005 Crash*
2004 Million Dollar Baby*
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2002 Chicago
2001 A Beautiful Mind*
2000 Gladiator
1999 American Beauty
1998 Shakespeare in Love
1997 Titanic

1996 The English Patient
1995 Braveheart
1994 Forrest Gump
1993 Schindler's List

1992 Unforgiven*
1991 Silence of the Lambs
1990 Dances with Wolves
1989 Driving Miss Daisy
1988 Rain Man*
1987 The Last Emperor
1986 Platoon*
1985 Out of Africa
1984 Amadeus
1983 Terms of Endearment
1982 Gandhi
1981 Chariots of Fire
1980 Ordinary People
1979 Kramer Vs. Kramer
1978 The Deer Hunter*
1977 Annie Hall
1976 Rocky
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest*
1974 The Godfather Part II*
1973 The Sting*
1972 The Godfather*
1971 The French Connection
1970 Patton
1969 Midnight Cowboy
1968 Oliver!
1967 In the Heat of the Night*
1966 A Man for All Seasons
1965 The Sound of Music
1964 My Fair Lady

1963 Tom Jones
1962 Lawrence of Arabia*
1961 West Side Story
1960 The Apartment
1959 Ben-Hur
1958 Gigi
1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai*
1956 Around the World in 80 Days
1955 Marty
1954 On the Waterfront
1953 From Here to Eternity
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth
1951 An American in Paris
1950 All About Eve
1949 All the King's Men
1948 Hamlet
1947 Gentleman's Agreement
1946 The Best Years of Our Lives
1945 The Lost Weekend
1944 Going My Way
1943 Casablanca
1942 Mrs. Miniver
1941 How Green Was My Valley
1940 Rebecca
1939 Gone With the Wind
1938 You Can't Take It With You
1937 The Life of Emile Zola
1936 The Great Ziegfeld
1935 Mutiny on the Bounty
1934 It Happened One Night
1933 Cavalcade
1932 Grand Hotel
1931 Cimarron
1930 All Quiet on the Western Front
1929 The Broadway Melody
1928 Sunrise
1927 Wings

Total: 32/80
*watched since Sept. 07
(Also note that this is a good opportunity to make "Oh my God you've never seen Gone With the Wind?" type comments.)

When the Academy Got It Wrong (also to be updated as I see more also-rans):

1999, American Beauty over The Iron Giant. The Iron Giant is as good as any movie on this list. It's considerably better than Shakespeare in Love, and Gladiator doesn't even come within shooting distance of it. I just say this to point out that if it had been released a little earlier or a little later, I wouldn't have to feel bad about ousting my favorite Kevin Spacey movie, and one of the few movies on this list that could give The Iron Giant a run for its money, from the list. Luckily for American Beauty, The Iron Giant is animated, and is therefore only for kids and can never, ever be taken seriously by anyone else.

1990, Dances With Wolves over Awakenings. Nothing against DWW, but Awakenings was just better. Also, for those keeping score at home, this makes two movies involving Vin Diesel that got jobbed out of an Oscar, and unlike most people I don't even count Saving Private Ryan.

1981, Chariots of Fire over Raiders of the Lost Ark. I base this on the fact that all of the Indiana Jones movies are fun to quote, and the only thing I've ever quoted from Chariots of Fire is the theme. Plus, Chariots of Fire is a movie about Olympic runners that somehow manages to be slow.

1976, Rocky over Network. I risk losing my share of the inheritance over this, but Rocky is one overrated movie. Underdog nobody boxer stands up to arrogant image-conscious champ. Well-made, inspiring, cool soundtrack, great movie all around, but pretty standard plot. Network, meanwhile, is witty, cool, and prescient in all its superbly acted lunacy.

1964, My Fair Lady over Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. As a rule, I don't make these decisions unless I've seen both movies, but God I hate My Fair Lady. I've never seen Dr. Strangelove, but the title alone is more interesting and better written than anything in My Fair Lady. The Musical Era is going to be tough to endure, I think.

As I see more, I'll update my list, and then maybe write a review of it or something.

Last movie: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Next movie: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thoughts on Songs I Heard On the Radio, Christmas Edition

"Santa Claus is Coming To Town," Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: I like Bruce Springsteen well enough, but, I don't think there's hope for this song, no matter who sings it. It's designed for four year olds to sing, and I think it should be left to its target audience.

"All I Want For Christmas Is You," Mariah Carey: This has to be the most played Christmas song. I heard it twice yesterday. And as much as I would like to make fun of Mariah Carey, I can't really find much about this song I don't like. I like the full-sounding instrumentation with the ambient bells, I like the use of the back-up singers, I like Mariah eschewing the crazy diva soprano lines in favor of a simple, catchy melody line, and I like the simple, straight-forward lyrics. It's not my favorite Christmas song, but it's upbeat and innocuous, so it can stay in the Christmas canon, as far as I'm concerned.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra: I'm not sure if the TSO names their songs. The radio never tells me. I have yet to hear a song that does not make me think, "And here's another track from that beloved holiday favorite, Jim Steinman Saves Christmas." Actually, that sounds like a good idea for a Christmas special. Jeff Lynne can play his eccentric, goofy sidekick. Together, they can use the power of bombastic, over-synthesized rock to raise enough money to stop the orphanage from closing. Or rouse Santa from his post-Thanksgiving food-induced slumber in time to deliver the presents to the children of the world. Or melt the heart of closed-minded cynic who has forgotten what Christmas is all about. Really, the script writes itself from this point. Pity the WGA is on strike, otherwise I'm sure they'd jump on this idea.

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid: Meanwhile, a group of baritone pop stars banding together to end world hunger with music is a siren song I can't resist. I heard that on my way to Meijer on my break, and had to buy one of their $10 sacks of food to be donated to the food pantry that they have every Christmas, even though I don't have the money to feed myself right now, let alone the world. Then I came back to work and was still singing it, and got in a fight with my coworker Kelli. It went something like this:

Andy: Feed...the...WORLD...
Kelli: God no. No.
Andy: What?
Kelli: I hate that song. Worst Christmas song ever.
Andy: what?? What???
Kelli: That song---
Andy: "Christmas Shoes" is the worst Christmas song ever.
Client: Let them know it's Christmastime!
Andy: Yes. See? That song is awesome.
Kelli: No. It's lame and cheesy.
Andy: No, it's about saving lives.
Kelli: It's still stupid.
Andy: But there won't be snow this Christmastime in Africa.
Kelli: I don't care.
Andy: Well, tonight thank God it's them instead of you.
Client: Feed... the... WORLD!
Kelli: Dear God. Are you happy now Andy?
Andy: Let them know it's Christmastime!

Which brings us to today's YouTube.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

So I haven't gotten around to working any overtime yet. Last night my brother was in town and wanted to hang out, and I am not in the habit of passing up opportunities to chill with Aaron. So I came home and played video games. A good time was had by all.

Tonight there was no OT available, so I'm home again.

At work today, a coworker brought in some Christmas specials, and our clients had a good time sitting around watching them. I requested "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" because I love stop-motion animation and it's an old favorite. Now that I've watched it through the eyes of an adult, I find it a lot more disturbing. First, there's Fireball the Reindeer. He wants to be Rudolph's friend until he sees he has a bright red nose, and then decides to lead the other reindeers in teasing and taunting him. I had forgotten about him, but as soon as I saw him, I knew he had to be an evil jerk, because he has gratuitous blond hair on top of his fur. Remember Andy's Rule of Hair: Assume any blond-haired male in a movie is a villain until proven otherwise.

Then there's Santa. I'm not sure there's a bigger jerk in the history of film. When I'm being exceptionally assholish in an over-the-top kind of way for the amusement of all around me, I'm still not as mean as Santa is in this movie. This is hardly the only instance, but it is probably the most heartless: After Clarice tells Rudolph she thinks he's cute at the reindeer games, he gets all excited and has a perfect take off and flies around a bit. He lands beside Fireball, and they celebrate by horseplaying, and his false nose falls off and everyone is shocked by how bright red his nose is. Santa comes up to Donner (Rudolph's dad), and says, "Donner, you should be ashamed. And he had such a good takeoff, too." This is exactly one scene after he tells the elves that he hates their singing. When the lion who rules the Island of Misfit Toys tells Rudolph he wants Santa to find homes for the misfit toys, I half expected Santa to jump out and say, "Fools! I personally instructed the elves to screw these toys up so they'd live out their days in misery exiled in an Arctic wasteland. Muahahahaha!" When he picks them up in the end, if you listen closely, you can hear Santa say, "We can give this garbage to those worthless crybabies at the orphange." Seriously, Santa is a dick.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

That reminds me...

If anyone wants to buy me the perfect Christmas gift, I would really like a fountain drink machine installed in my kitchen. And if I could take it with me in the outside chance that I ever decide to leave this apartment, that'd be nice too. A portable fountain drink machine. Yes. That will do.

Just When Mark Trail Was Getting Even Awesomer

My millions of readers.

I apologize for sucking in the near future. You see, my bank account yesterday was sitting pretty at negative $43. Today I got paid, but this paycheck was for the rent, and I basically have almost enough money left to buy gas to get to and from work.

Normally, at times such as these, I'd turn to blogging because it's cheap entertainment for me. However, this time, I'm a little bit too broke, and I'm going to need to turn some overtime, quickly. I could be working for the next 10 days straight, pulling double-shifts 2 out of three times. I'm afraid it might be necessary after the $1000+ of unforeseen expenses killed all of my savings and the last couple paychecks. And my soul via proxy. I find few things as soul-killing as working overtime, and I try to avoid it at all costs.

Seriously, I'm so broke at this point that I'm beginning to twitch as I realize I'm not going to be able to buy pop for the next two weeks. And I buy the $2 Meijer variety. My backup plan is to flirt my way to free fountain pop from the cute chicks at Hardee's who flirt with me. I'm thinking they might just take good looks there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Curious Link Between My Blog and Mark Trail

One of the recurring topics of this blog is Jack Elrod's awesome serial newspaper comic, Mark Trail. For those unfamiliar, the comic revolves around a freelance reporter who works for various outdoorsman magazines. Your typical plotline will involve Mark investigating his new story, uncovering some unspeakable crime against nature, discover the perpetrator of the heinous crime, usually a man with an evil looking mustache and/or mullet, and punch him in the face. If you've ever seen Fire Down Below, you'll know the basic story.

8/16: Mark Trail wraps up the extremely awesome and gripping political drama that was the bird strike storyline. An intriguing new plotline is introduced, involving a shopping center being built at the edge of Lost Forest. I get tantalizing visions of Mark Trail punching the crap out of a construction crew to protect the Lost Forest wildlife preserve.

8/28: In two short weeks, it's obvious that the Shopping Center story is going to be about a depressed construction foreman named Homer who decides to dedicate his life to protecting a duck and her eggs that would be destroyed in the construction. He names the duck after his ex-wife, Shirley. It gets really, really boring really fast. Also, I lose interest in blogging.

9/22: For reasons no one realizes, the duck story refuses to end, despite the fact it has already appeared like it is about to wrap up a couple times. The internet has neither seen nor heard of me in nearly a month.

10/28: The extremely boring and horrible epic of Shirley the Duck finally, finally comes to an end.

10/29: The new storyline appears to involve a French-looking hillbilly named Johnny Malotte and his gigantic family. And by "Gigantic family," I mean "wife and 6 kids," which is the same size as my family. They apparently have to entertain two businessmen.

10/30: I laugh heartily to myself when Malotte tells his oldest son, Paul, "If they like our camp, maybe we can get a lot of business, and you can go to college." "Great!" comes the reply.

10/31: Paul Malotte is in danger of being run over by a boat. Also, I start blogging again.

11/10: After hearing that a competitor swamped his son's boat and stole his customers, Johnny Malotte begins speaking in BOLD PRINT CAPITAL LETTERS, grabs a gun, and jumps in his boat to confront his rival. My posting increases in frequency.

11/17: After a week of fisticuffs, bold print, and goofy dialogue, a strangely-attired Mountie/Park Ranger/Highway Patrolman breaks up the fight by saying, "I don't object to a little brawling, but you two hotheads are getting out of control." Needless to say, I'm back to blogging full time.

UPDATE: And today, there's a sniper waiting for Johnny in the shadows! I tell you, this is looking to be the most awesome Mark Trail storyline ever, and Mark hasn't even entered the plot yet.

Wasn't yesterday Monday?

And once upon a time in these parts, that meant a YouTube video was posted. I'd like to thank the fine administration of Richmond State Hospital for giving me the opportunity to watch this one. I have adopted it as my pet cause, and spread the truth to everyone.

In fact, I'll start a review of all my favorite parts in comments. I'm sure you'll all have several as well.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thoughts on Songs I Heard On The Radio Today

"Don't Stop Believing," Journey: I swear this song haunts me. Anytime I'm in a bad mood, suddenly Journey appears on my radio, as if to add insult to injury. I know this song was meant to be uplifting or something, but Lord does it suck. Plus, I end up singing random snippets of it for a couple hours. I am 98% sure this song will somehow be the last thing I hear in my life.

"Come and Get It," Badfinger: I have no idea why this is considered an acceptable rock song. Yes, it's catchy. Yes, it's easy to sing along to. But it lacks elements like verses, or a bridge, or cool solos, or interesting guitar riffs, or cool instrumentation, or really anything outside of "If you want it, here it is, come and get it." Did Paul McCartney just write this on a napkin, throw it in his suit pocket, forget about it for a couple years, then just give it to Badfinger so they'd have something to sing? I cannot think of a single other song that has no verses whatsoever.

"Angie," The Rolling Stones: Have I mentioned this song in this occasional feature before? Seems like I have. I love the poignant interplay between the violin and the piano in this one enough to make me consider starting a rock band with just a piano and a violin. But the thing I really love is Mick Jagger's singing in it, because it's so loose and not concerned with being exactly on pitch that I can sing along with it even though it's probably way out of my normal range and still sound good.

"The House of the Rising Sun," The Animals: The Animals, on the other hand, believe in singing at the very edge of my normal range perfectly on pitch, which usually means I sound terrible for a couple beats when I sing along with it. This makes me sad, because I really like this song and I want to sing along with it but hate sounding terrible. The discomfort this situation causes always makes me want to change the station, but I stay for the cool organ solo. I'm a sucker for cool organ solos.

"Sultans of Swing," Dire Straits: Dire Straits, meanwhile, somehow made a music career out of nonchalantly breathing four notes for three and a half minutes backed by catchy guitar riffs. I'm pretty sure tone deaf toddlers could handle Dire Straits' vocals with minimal difficulty. I like the groovin' guitar solo in the middle of this one. I suppose the lesson here is that decent lyrics, catchy guitar riffs, and groovin' solos can mask ridiculously simple vocals, because I never noticed them until I sang along with it after struggling mightily with The Animals.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Somebody needs a vacation

First, sinuses... sini... whatever you call yourselves, I'm sick of you. Because you always make me sick. I'm not sure what you're supposed to do, what vital part you play in the mystery of human anatomy. I like to think that you're probably part of the immune system, and it's your job to make sure I don't get sick. Well, news for you, sinuses, you suck at it. Damn you and all the gallons of day-glo green snot you produce.

Second, car, why do you continue to irritate me? It wasn't cool when the vacuum that prevents the engine from sucking all the gasoline straight into the engine when I press on the pedal broke. It wasn't cool when heating knob broke, preventing me from doing anything but defrosting my windshield. It wasn't cool when the tire spontaneously developed a hole. Previously, it was not cool the front headlight literally flew off the car, and it wasn't cool when the tie rod decided to snap. It was sort of cool when you ran over that ladder, but that's not cool enough to redeem you. Gyah.

Third, health insurance, why do you not cover any of the prescriptions I want to buy? Wait, that's because I selected "Healthy young single male insurance." I'll give you a pass.

Fourth, JJ, why do you continue to puke on my floor right in the doorway where I absolutely have to walk, usually without shoes on? And why did you knock my cough syrup under that damnable bike in my apartment, where I wouldn't find it this morning? Why do you spend all night meowing at a wall? And what in the name of all things holy did you do with my glasses?

Fifth, Cute Chick That Works At Meijer on Night Shift, why do you look the other way anytime I'm walking toward you? You are supposed to smile and flirt shamelessly with me, which will no doubt make me uncomfortable and all stammery. Please correct this in the future.

All right. I'm not all gripes; no, I'm all for solutions. Here are my solutions.

1. Sinusectomy.
Pros: Sinuses will never be infected again.
Cons: Probably not covered by worthless insurance (see solution 3).

2. Give the car to charity, buy a scooter.
Pros: Better gas mileage, at least as much climate control.
Cons: Difficult to pick up groceries. Or chicks.

3. Move to Sweden.
Pros: Fish! Meatballs! Chefs! Bikini Teams! The lovely lakes. The wonderful telephone system. Many interesting furry animals. And the Majestic Moose!
Cons: A moose once bit my sister. No really, she was carving her initials on the moose with the sharpened end of an interspace toothbrush given to her by Svenge, her brother-in-law, an Oslo dentist and star of many Norwegian movies: "The Hot Hands of an Oslo Dentist," "Fillings of Passion," and "The Huge Molars of Horst Nordfink." Mind you, moose bites can be pretty nasty.

4. Squirt guns. Lots of friggin' squirt guns.
Pros: Cheap.
Cons: Since I'm not around when he does it, it'll seem like random meanness instead of legitimate punishment.

5. Actually go up and talk to her.
Pros: I would get noticed.
Cons: I would get noticed.


5. Flirt with the cute girls who work at Hardees instead.
Pros: They usually flirt with me first. There is two of them.
Cons: It's probably because I'm the only customer who isn't a smelly 55 year old obese trucker. Also, I can't afford to eat at Hardee's regularly.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Most Annoying Feeling Ever and Other News

There are a great many things in this world that make me feel stupid and frustrated, but I think the most annoying of them would have to be losing my glasses.

First, my glasses are probably number three on my important things to never lose list, behind my wallet and my keys. I should always, always know exactly where my glasses are.

Second, I don't really have a lot of places where I could leave my glasses. I either take them off on my computer desk before heading to brush my teeth, in my bathroom after brushing my teeth before heading to bed, or on my bedside stand before falling asleep. When they do not seem to be in any of these places, my mind just shuts off and I end up looking everywhere imaginable, throwing all logic and reason out the window. Was I watching a movie or playing XBox before I went to bed? Maybe the TV is the right place. Did I get a snack before going to bed? Check the pantry. What about the piano? Maybe I was practicing. Check there. Did I take them to work and leave them in the car? It's possible. Check the car.

Third, and this is the most frustrating thing, I know exactly where the last place I had them was. They were on the roll of toilet paper on my bathroom sink. They're not there now.

Fourth, I'm sick, and any time my head is positioned somewhere other than directly above my neck and shoulders, I get a horrible pounding headache. This makes getting on the floor and looking for my glasses a literal headache that I just don't want to experience right now.

Bah. If anyone finds my glasses, could you let me know? They could be anywhere at this point.

Other news: I went to the doctor and got charged a good million dollars for my prescriptions. My deductible is higher than I could ever fill in a year. Oh, I went to the doctor because I have a sinus infection from hell combined with a touch of bronchitis. This has resulted in my sneezing and coughing continuously. On the plus side, I put on a clinic on how to properly sneeze and cough for my coworkers on Thursday. On the downside, I had to use my last sick day until December 2, so I could be in a spot. Also on the plus side, depsite the fact that my prescriptions cost a buttload of money, they seem to be working, so the next time I have a sinus infection, I'll have the Nasonex at the ready.

Also on the downside, I'm going to be broke until my next paycheck, which is pretty much already spent on bills. Having no money for a month is probably not a feasible option, so I now I'm going to have to, horrors, work overtime.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Poor Poor Pitiful Me

You know what sucks? Having problems, that's what. It's such a total drag that my personality and behaviors have been aligned so as to avoid ever having any problems at all. Because they suck.

You know what else sucks? Having problems that are totally not as important as everyone else's. My problems are so not serious that I feel guilty even complaining about them. It'd be like me going up to a leukemia victim and saying, "Yeah, that cancer business is probably rough, but I've got some serious respiratory issues too. I've got this zit right under my right nostril that is constantly agitating my nose and making me sneeze frequently. It's pretty rough."

But anyways. Here's my list of stuff that's bumming me out:

I'm not sorta kinda dating Rachel anymore, and that makes me sad in a very, very selfish and personal sort of way.

- Also I am exceptionally awful at meeting women, so it doesn't appear that I'll be dating anyone anytime soon.

-- Well, ok, my mom has been trying to introduce me to a new teacher at the elementary she thinks I'd like. According to Mom, "She's blonde... and she's tall. Those are good things."

--- However, if she teaches during the day, and I attend psychiatrically during the evenings, that leaves approximately half an hour a day that I might be able to talk to her. I am not optimistic.

---- I cancelled my subscription to Yahoo! Personals after it insisted for months that no one within 50 miles was interested in dating me.

----- Moving on.

My car is falling apart, one light and knob at a time. My passenger tire randomly went flat.

- I have no spare.

-- My car's vacuum is also not working properly, I'm told.

--- I've been dead broke up until today, and next paycheck is already earmarked for bills, so my hopes of having money in the bank for a couple of weeks have been absolutely shot.

All of my friends, Rachel included, are going through way worse stuff than this right now. Worse, only two of them seem vaguely concerned or aware that I'm having problems.