Sunday, April 27, 2008

I'm All Right Jack

I had to think for a bit about I'm All Right Jack before I could offer it a solid recommendation, which I definitely do. It was a question of pride, really. I've always, at least in theory, supported organized labor. It's a question of respecting my working class roots, going back generations. This film could ostensibly be accused of being anti-union, and that wouldn't be unfounded. I decided, having thought about it more though, that it is very even-handed and doesn't portray unions any worse than it it portrays management and it does a good job of showing what happens when management/labor relations are stymied by crass self-interest. Greed is greed and power is power and given a bit of power, most people get greedy.

And even the most staunch labor supporter has been confronted with this illogic (spoken by Peter Sellers as Fred Kite, the shop steward at Missiles Ltd.:

We do not and cannot accept the principle that incompetence justifies dismissal. That is victimisation.

And that, as much as anything that comes from the management side, undermines the cause of organized labor.

It's all funny as hell though. We're not talking an English version of Matewan here. Ian Carmichael is Seymour Windrush, a hapless, utterly earnest rich boy, unwittingly exploited in a feud between his rich uncle's firm and the union. He's berated by fellow workers for working too quickly (I was called out for that by the shop steward when I worked for UPS ["They'll expect it from you and everybody else every night!!!"])

Rich uncle is in cahoots with other industrialists and Arab oilmen to cheat their respective governments. Fred Kite (Peter Sellers) waxes poetic about the Soviet Union ("all those corn fields and ballet every night"), a paradise where workers run the show and do as little work as they can.

Neither side is portrayed with any amount of sympathy... They're craven, greedy, lazy and racist. Seymour is told he's working "like a black" and that once the blacks are brought into the labor force it's all going to hell. Management announces in press conferences that they're trying to keep the work in the hands of the British so the "darkies" don't take the jobs... this no doubt plays on the ugly fears in the U.K. at that time (and now? and in the U.S.?)

The movie is a riot... were I not feeling so burned out I'd do it justice and be more articulate. Damn shame though because I feel like I was rode hard and put away wet. Just consider the movie. It's a lot of fun. Peter Sellers is, as usual, genius. Ian Carmichael is great. I'll give it 4 of 5 stars.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Utter bullshit!!!

Yahoo appropriately placed this story under their sensational OMG news heading, but giving Wesley Snipes THREE FUCKING YEARS for income tax evasion is a crime.

We have corporate bozos skating away with billions after ruining the lives of tens of thousands of people and some judge thinks it's appropriate to level a 3 year sentence against someone for a personal income issue??? I'm appalled!

While I don't think that one's celebrity should absolve them of crimes, I also think it's a gross miscarriage of justice to see someone punished for being a famous. This is the biggest load of bullshit I've seen in ages...

This coming down from a government that wages war to line the pockets of the people who voted for the war... and they're worried about one little man enough to put him away.

Who are they trying to kid?


Rock Paper Dandelion Scissors?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dandy In The Underworld

An Unauthorized Biography, by Sebastian Horsley

Every scathing bit of criticism leveled against this book is spot on. Every bit of praise is as well. It's perverse, pointless and probably not altogether true. It's the most delightful piece of pure shit since THE DIRT the Motley Crue bio. It's also funnier because Motley Crue is entirely lacking in anything approaching a sense of humor about themselves or anything else.

This is a brutally funny book but it will probably make you gag a few times. I managed to wretch only once but we'll see what happens when I read it again.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Ahead/Fall Down

It was only a couple weeks ago that I was ruminating on the sticks that the city fathers planted about Brooklyn, optimistically hoping the sticks would transform into mighty trees. It seems they were half right to believe this could happen. It's early days yet but about half the sticks have budded. A few more seasonably warm days and the others may follow suit, or not. We'll keep our fingers crossed and chant and dance and all that and watch the others expectantly... or expectorantly, as no doubt we will cuss and spit when the others remain bare.

It's spring though and on the warm days about Park Slope people have been coming out in hordes to wander about. Many of my neighbors have come out of hibernation 8 months pregnant or even with a new papoose strapped tightly on. A time of rebirth, or not. The elderly are out and about also, a few familiar faces missing from the benches around the park, and from stoops. With the same hope that I have directed towards the sticks I would rather believe that these ladies and gentlemen have packed it in and headed for warmer or just simply less hectic, less expensive avenues.

It's been a weird few days though, in regard to my elderly neighbors. I have, in my travels over the last few days, witnessed no less than four elderly people tumble to the sidewalk where they've struggled against all odds to upright themselves. (I've also witnessed acts of compassion as younger neighbors, men, women and children helping the old folks up.) These collapses, not the result of anything larger than a random crack in the pavement added to the weakness of age, got my fevered mind working (yes, I've come down with this horrid dengue virus that's plagued the city all winter), on the subject of aging, and decline, and related cheery topics. It may not have occurred to me had I only seen one or two people careen ass over tit, but four... count 'em... four, over the course of a couple days. It's like some cosmic message... or merely just an overwrought fevered brain. What must be going through their minds as they feel themselves going over, unable to prevent the impact, and then helpless to get back to their feet without assistance from strangers? And before the fall, were they wondering like me what became of the other regulars? Were they distracted looking at the buds on the sticks? And once down, did the buds matter any more?

And as I am wont to do, I of course internalized it and started thinking about growing old. I could be in better physical condition for a middle aged guy. Is it too late to reverse that a little? If not, will it make a difference, or will my body take it's own path and betray me and leave me vulnerable to cracks in the sidewalk and navigating stairs?

And as much as spring is considered symbolic of new life, the dark truth is that the spring sticks and their buds are feeding on the remains of old life. I can write it off and say that's just the way things go--that it is simply the nature of things. I will grow old and a trip out-of-doors into the new season will be fraught with risks that weren't there when I was young. Spring is not a time for old knees and achy backs and other symptoms of the ailment of age.

And these are my cheery thoughts for the new season... not the sum total of my thoughts and I'm sure the impact of this realization of the double-edged sword of spring doesn't hurt nearly as much as connecting with the sidewalk. It's right there though, along with the warm rays of sun, cherry blossoms, budding sticks and the start of the baseball season and the optimism that it will be a good summer to come.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Raymond Carver--Cathedral

So the professor asks if I ever read any Raymond Carver. I never read anything by him though and she said I should and that's what I did. I went to the store the next day and got a book of short stories. They call it an anthology or something like that. She said get one with the story called Cathedral. She said everybody in grad school reads Raymond Carver. She read a lot of Raymond Carver in grad school and loved him she said. She's real smart so I figure if she says it's good it probably is. The stories are about regular people she said. The sort of people you pass by on the street every day. Or sit next to them in the diner and you might listen in on what they're talking about and learn something about their lives and what they think. She said she loves Raymond Carver and I should read his stories. So that's what I did. I read his stories. I went to the Barnes & Noble and went up and down the aisles until I found his name in alphabetical order right after Carbajal who I never heard of and a couple Carters I never heard of either. Then I took it up to the register and wondered if anybody would think I was a graduate student. I don't look like one but who knows what they look like. I was never there so I don't know.

Then I put the book in my bag and I was disappointed that the guy who rang me up didn't even look at me curious. It didn't look like he wondered if I was in grad school. It didn't look like he was thinking about anything but lunch or maybe what he was doing that night. Maybe he had a party to go to. I had no party to go to. I was going home to read and that's what I did.

I took the book home and started reading. The stories were familiar but I never read them before. It felt like I knew all the people in them. It was like everybody I knew my whole life but I was looking in their windows watching them and I could tell what they were thinking. Everything in their heads was right there in front of me. The professor was right. They were all regular people. Not like the kind you find in so many books who are really smart or lead exciting lives. They were all regular people like the people I knew growing up. The guys that worked at the mill. The cashier at the Grand Union and the man at the liquor store. The strange guy that lived next door and always came and went and nobody ever knew what he did or who he was. The two guys that always sat on the bench talking a lot about nothing but just talking every single day. The lady down the street that got all dolled up to go out every Saturday night but nobody ever knew where she was going. The people on the train that you looked at in the corner of your eye because something didn't add up because they just sat and bickered even though they looked like a married couple.

When I read the book it felt like the stories were all these memories that I stowed away because they just didn't feel so important, but I stowed them away anyway for some reason and they stuck with me and I never forgot. The stories gave me this floating feeling like I was reliving all these memories of all these people I didn't know but wondered about. And now I was there with this book and it felt like this Raymond Carver guy had rooted about in my memories and pulled out all these people and made me remember them. This Carver guy gave me this floating feeling like whole parts of my life I didn't figure were important were being dug up and put in front of me. It made me sad that I didn't get to know them and let them tell me their stories. Maybe I thought I was better than them. Maybe I thought they were boring and had nothing to say and they'd never done anything I wanted to hear about.

I stopped wondering why grad students wanted to read stories about these people because maybe their heads are full of all these people too. Maybe all these grad students at all these universities got the same floating feeling too, like their memory had been dug out of an attic and some guy wrote it all down and brought them to the window and inside all these folks' heads. All these sad stories that they would rather not think about at the time. All that wondering that they could have done but put away because maybe they were sitting at a diner doing their own thing that maybe some writer would look at and wonder and then write about it. Regular people. Regular stories. I used to think nobody would write a book about regular people or maybe nobody would want to read about them. Who would want to? Who would want to read about me?

The professor was right. Raymond Carver was just what I should read.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Hang Tough


Now... if Donnie Wahlberg (Donnie Don?) hadn't already been killed off, I think it would be really cool if SAW V featured all the members of NKOTB competing against each other, or maybe another defunct boy group, for survival.

Who is your favorite New Kid and how would you like to see him killed off in a Saw Sequal?

Perhaps Jordan (the sensitive New Kid) being eaten alive by Robbie Williams or Bobby Brown...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Nuthin' goin' on but the weather...

So I went to look at my horrorscape today and this is what it showed me:

Daily Overview for April 01, 2008
Provided by Daily Extended Forecast



That's right... totally blank. This brings up a lot of cosmological questions...

Like... am I here or was someone dreaming me.

The internet fucks me head up some days.

Armed to the teeth? (alternatively titled Octopussy)

They flirt, hold hands and guard their lovers jealously. That pretty much says it all, doesn't it.

They stand outside their girlfriends' cribs and beat the crap out of anybody that comes close. The smaller guys try to sneak by in drag to get a little. They mess around several times a day. Then he gets her knocked up, they pop out kids and they die. Sounds like bad television to me...