Saturday, May 07, 2005

Miracles on 14th St.

I'm four episodes into Miracles, the cancelled series just released in a box set.
When the show first aired I managed to catch episodes 1 and 2 and then it was swallowed up into a scheduling escher strip never to be seen again.

Having rewatched the first two eps, and sat through the 3rd and 4th for the first time, I've got the same ugly feeling I had watchign Firefly. Here's a show rich in mystery, teeming with plotlines and motivations and purpose, and it gets murdered in the crib. Yet, somehow, we're up to season 3 of The Simple Life.

This convinces me that God has a sense of humor.

There's a hell of a plot to this thing. Since they only managed 13 episodes before getting the axe, I'm guessing that a lot of it won't get tied up. Which means that watching this thing is a little masochistic on my part.

But, its really, really, really good. Without a doubt the creepiest show I've seen in a long time, and one of the smartest. I was pleasantly surprised to recognize David Greenwalt's name on this thing. Always an indicia of quality.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Neo Cons to American People: Shut Up And Let Us Rule You, Dammit!

Courtesy of Oliver Willis (

This routine misuse of polls and public opinion is creating severe distortions
in assessing where we stand on issues like judicial nominations or Social
Security. And it leads to a more provocative question: even on a big issue like
Social Security, why should public opinion even matter?

This is why neo-cons make me want to beat them around the face and hands with solid objects.
If the above question is "provocative" at all, Patrick, its because its idiotic.
But lets pretend, for just a moment, that you aren't a lunatic, and answer your question as posed.

In fact, lets all answer it. Why SHOULD public opinion matter?
We'll go slow, for the benefit of those who, like Patrick, obviously skipped out on Democracy 101 when they decided to start spewing their useless, hateful nonsense into the internet void.

Patrick, I find it amusing and ironic (though, given your having posted this, you obviously don't know irony even when it bends you over and treats you like a schoolgirl) that in your public opinion blog, posted for public reading, on the very-public-internet, you give your public opinion on a matter you impliedly suggest should not be subject to public opinion.

I find it troubling, but still amusing, that you seem to feel that America, a country built on dissent, and on the backs and blood of men who died so that their voices would be heard by a government that listened to them, and did not rule them like some tempermental diety, should operate more as a benevolent dictatorship, deciding significant, deeply important issues despite, not because of, the feelings of the people themselves.

Why should public opinion matter? Because its our money, pal. Because it's our government. Because its America, not Soviet Russia. Because I'd rather die than be ruled.

Why does public opinion matter? Because the day people like Patrick start deciding they know what I need more than I do is the day I go to his house with a heavyset, brassknuckled associate.

Crossroads: An Appreciation

Ah, Ralph Macchio. Come back. We miss you.

Well, not really.

It's not easy, having one of my favorite guilty pleasures from the Me Decade continually confused with Britney Spears' lone foray into the world of teeny-bopper cinema. It's also not easy explaining to folks that its not that movie, its the one where the Karate Kid joins an elderly black man on a road trip to the deep south to learn how to play blues guitar.

See? You're running away.

But, wait. Before you high-tail it outta here, let me try this again.

Maybe you've heard of Robert Johnson. A legend of Delta Blues, Johnson recorded 29 haunting songs and then died. How he died is unknown. Some say he was shot, some that he was stabbed. Some say that the man that killed him was the husband of one of Johnson's many lovers. Some say he simply vanished.

Some say the devil took his due. For a long time, it was said that Johnson had sold his soul to the devil to learn how to play guitar like he did. His mysterious death only added fuel to that fire.

In one of his more famous songs (covered by Eric Clapton, among many, many others), "Crossroads," Johnson sings "You can run, you can run. Tell my friend, Willie Brown. I been standing at the crossroads. I been sinking, I been sinking down."

And when Crossroads, the movie, opens up, Eugene (Macchio, playing Macchio) is tracking Willie Brown down. Eugene is a classically trained guitarist (I know, I know...stay with me) with a deep love for the sound of the Delta Blues. He's so obsessed, he's become convinced that the Willie Brown Robert Johnson sings about is real, alive, and living in New York City.

Eugene wants to find him, because although Johnson recorded 29 songs, there was one he never laid down. One song he took to his grave. Eugene reasons that, if anyone will know this song, it's Brown, a friend of Johnson's when he was alive. He's convinced that, armed with that song, he can finally be what he wants to be, a real bluesman.

He finds Brown, aged and crotchety, rotting away in an Old Folks home (or, as the video box tells us, "from prison"! Is this a black thing?), and Brown tells him that if Eugene will get him out of there, he'll teach him Robert's lost song. Only, once they're out, Willie won't give him the song. Not until he's back down south. What Eugene doesn't know, is that Willie desperately needs to get back to the Crossroads. The place Robert told him about, all those years ago.

The place he met the devil one night.

I won't spoil any more for you. Should you have the good fortune to run across this flick in your video store (and its unlikely, given that they haven't bothered to release it on DVD), pick it up. Yes, Ralph Macchio is in it. But he's pretty good in it. Really. Joe Seneca, who plays Willie Brown, is marvelous. In a better world, this man would have been as big as Morgan Freeman or, at the least, Ozzie Davis. Damn fine acting. And he blows a mean bluesharp, too.

And the end, a musical duel of eargasmic proportions, is genuinely stirring. Eugene finds himself circling back to himself, finding himself, and the song that wins the day for him is the one he's spent the movie trying to escape.

Ry Cooder produced the soundtrack, and with the exception of one terribly cheesy 80's style "blues" song its solid, evocative stuff. Cooder's one of our great musicologists, and some of the pieces in the film are golden.

I'm not saying this is a great film. It's not. Macchio's pretty good, but I'm kind, and I can't help but wonder how much better the film would have been with a more credible lead. Preferably an actual black person. Jamie Gertz is useless as the tough girl with a heart of gold. But there are many nice moments. Macchio and Seneca's wooing of a deep south bar crowd is fun, the great Joe Morton pops up in a fantastic and somehow deeply creepy performance, the script's obvious respect for the Blues, and for its traditions and legends and Myth, is unique and appreciated.

I saw this movie for the first time on one of those 80's cable channels, and it made me go out and buy a Muddy Waters album. For that alone, I'll always love it.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Y'know, I'm Feeling Kinda Betrayed Myself

Many in Runaway Bride's Town Feel Betrayed--(Las Vegas Sun)

Do I get to say I told you so? I'm in a pissy mood at the moment. I've been up all night cramming my head full of Environmental Law, International Business Transactions, Federal Practice and Criminal Procedure, and at the moment I feel like 50 pounds of shit in a 10 pound bag. So, y'know, I might not be as mirthful.

Runaway bride 'needed some time alone'--(CNN)Family: Wedding postponed, not canceled

I came home today after a long, frustrating, possibly higher-education-ending exam, and on a whim, I decided to type Ms. Wilbanks' name into the Mysearch function on my browser. I did this because I was hoping to prove a point to myself.

Now I'm just...I don't know what I am.

Duluth, Georgia
Runaway Bride May Face Charges in Georgia--(Las Vegas Sun)
A prosecutor said Sunday that he wants to review whether the runaway bride-to-be who admitted she made up a kidnapping story should be charged for making false statements to the police.

No, wait, yes I do. I'm furious. It's a sleepy sort of fury, but its there. Yes, you read that right. The "Runaway Bride" may be brought up on charges for lying to the Police. I've got my issues with the Boys in Blue. I know a few cops, and the ones I know are decent people. I know how hard the job can be. I also know what an unrepentant penis it can turn you into if you aren't careful. NYC is a great city, but you don't want to get on the wrong side of the law here. You end up jailed or shot, seemingly based on skin color and/or the color of their mood rings.

But this seems crazy excessive. Sure, she lied to the Police. She left a wedding party of 600 people and traveled across the country to escape her wedding day. I'd have lied too. "Uh, yea...I was kidnapped...*sucks on a slurpee*" And of course, the Media hasn't quite let her go. They've attached themselves, electric remoras, to her life. And those fuckers hang on tight.

Welcome to the new age of Entertainment, ladies and gentleman. You might be next. Got a skeleton in your closet? A dark secret? We're dying to know. It's your fifteen minutes, baby. Come on. Everybody's doing it.

It's so easy to sit back and watch these people's little sob stories play out for us on the "News." It demands so little of us. But its porn. Emotional porn. Every runaway bride, every murder, every health scare that's not really a health scare at all, every "terror alert". We're devolving. Becoming a Nation of slovenly, overweight, unimaginative, reactionary fetishists who can tell you who's dating who in the Hollywood cosmos, or who this year's american idol is, or whether they think Micheal Jackson did it or not, but not who our Congressman is.

Did you know that over 50% of Americans surveyed recently could not find their own country on a map? I shit you not.

The born agains can stop praying. The apocalypse isn't coming. It's here. Swaddled in US Weekly and The Bachlorette, and woeful, unforgivable sloth.

I feel strangely better now.
Now, all of you, go do the world a favor and kick it in the ass for me. I'm not the only one tired of this bullshit Media we have.