Sunday, October 31, 2004

Movie Review: Ray

I've decided to do periodic reviews - of books, music, movies, whatever. So here's my first: A review of the movie Ray.

"Ray" is a movie detailing the life and times, until the mid-sixties at least, of Ray Charles. Jamie Foxx stars as the titular character, and does so absolutely marvelously. The movie is worth seeing just for the performance. And though it's early, I'm still comfortable saying that this performance will make him one of the favorites to win the Oscar for Best Actor. A terrific job by Mr. Foxx.

The rest of the cast does an excellent job as well. My personal favorites were the studio executives. Curtis Armstrong, best known for his role as Booger in the Nerds movies, is dynamic as the talent scout Ahmet. The back up singers do a terrific job, and the music throughout the movie, as to be expected, was wonderful. The songs are all taken from recordings or were done by Mr. Ray Charles himself, who apparently was quite involved in the film while it was in production.

For all the terrific performances, however, I was left bothered by a too-quick resolution. At 2 and a half hours the movie was long enough, but the conclusion was not. The movie ends with Ray kicking his heroine habit, but we never get to see him repair any of the relationships we saw his addiction ruin, and the feeling is a severe lack of closure. My guess is that the cutting room floor saw quite a lot, as 30 years of his life are passed over with a single, quick, collage of clippings and album covers.

The film chooses its focus and sticks to it, with excellent story-telling, pace, and acting. The weakness of the film is that it simply cannot tell enough of Mr. Charles' story. What it does tell, however, it does well. It is a shame that Mr. Charles is not around to see it. Though then again, he lived it.

I give it an A-.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Halloween II

So I went and bought candy for the trick-or-treaters that will be coming to my door this year. It's the first time I've ever been off of campus, so it's the first time I'll have anyone knocking on my door asking for treats. Naturally then, I wanted to make sure I got just the right candy. I finally settled on the "fun size" Snickers. I thought about getting the smaller "bite sized" kind, but those are just too small to hide the razor blades.

Halloween I

There are certain holidays that I love - 4th of July and Thanksgiving for example - and certain holidays that I don't - Valentine's Day for example. Halloween has never fallen into the realm of holidays that I like. Actually, it's always been one of my least favorite. The more I think about it though, Halloween is realy a dichotomized celebration, one of which I enjoy, and the other which I abhor. See, there's little people's Halloween, and then there's big people's Halloween. Some examples...

For little people's Halloween kids dress up in cute costumes. Boys are normally dressed as some crime fighter, and girls are often a cat, or angel, or ballerina. Normally the costume is emulating their favorite copyrighted character (no, seriously, when was the last time you saw a kid wear a ghost costume?)(on another note, why is it that so many parents are willing to pay for a costume when they can just pull something from the closet? In my family, you had to use household items for your costume. And you had to return anything you used, so if you wanted to be a ghost you were gonna be a ghost without eye-holes. I remember one year it was snowing and I went as a mummy... for the next week we were wiping with wet toilet paper). Anyways, little people's Halloween = cute costumes. This I don't mind so much.

For big people's Halloween it's a different story. Frat boys are normally dressed as girls, and the women are often a slutty cat, or slutty devil, or slutty pole-dancer.

For little Halloween, kids go trick-or-treating, trying to get as much candy as they can.
For big Halloween, people go bar-hopping, trying to get as drunk as they can.

For little Halloween, kids throw parties with their schoolmates.
For big Halloween, people hook up with whomever they can at the bar.

For little Halloween, kids dance to the Monster Mash.
For big Halloween, people grind to synthesized drum-machines.

You get the point. Little Halloween is a holiday for children and families. Carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples, handing out candy. This is the part of the holiday I have no problem with. But when people use it as an excuse to get drunk and act like fools then I take issue. Leave the holiday alone I say. It's done nothing to you, so why defame it?

Now, maybe this big Halloween is only a college phenomena, and once we all pass into our real adult lives it'll change, and the costume parties will be about showing off creativity, not cleavage. I'm skeptical, however, from images in film and stories I'm hearing from friends. Not to mention the number of "real adults" I've seen out on Halloween nights. Let's just hope most people grow out of it.

So anyways, this was orignally going to be a light-hearted little column, and I was hoping somewhat funny. I think I missed on that. But I had a point at least here, and it still feels good to rant a bit. So, anyways, there will hopefully be entries which are more enjoyable in the future!


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

If only Jesse Owens played for the Cardinals...

Yes, the Boston Red Sox have won the World Series. Their supposed curse has ended. Of course, we all know the truth about the Red Sox curse - it was a fantastic idea conjured up by Dan Shaughnessy, a Boston sports writer, used to sell his book. It made for good fiction really, but now we can all see that it was exactly that - fiction. There's only one true curse in baseball, and it belongs to the Cubs. No my friends, if you believed in the curse of the Bambino, as at one time I admittedly and ashamedly did, you've been had. The Red Sox organization has played you for a fool. The Boston media has taken you for a sap. Yes, for years now they've marketed the idea of the curse, hyped up the legend and used their ineptitude to draw fans and induce heavy spending. Be fooled no longer! For curses don't end like this, and now we can see what the last 86 years have really been - the fruit of a bad seed.

The Boston Red Sox are the paradigmatic bad baseball team. For the last 86 years they have exhibited every baseball vice. In fact, they've done so more than any other team in the league.

They were the last team to hire an African American player, and even after they did racism persisted in the front office and the club house. They are currently guilty of buying a title. Many people, most notably the Boston front office and fans, have accused certain other teams (coughyankeescough) of attempting to buy a title. In fact, this was one of fundamental prongs of the Boston public relations effort - "we're the good guys because we don't stoop to buying a title like the evil empire." And, unfortunately, a lot of people bought it. Without stopping to look at the fact that Boston has the second highest payroll in baseball. And they're head and shoulders above several other playoff teams. The fact that they accused other teams of vices they were guilty of simply compounds those vices with hypocrisy. There are plenty of other baseball vices as well. They don't develop much of their own talent, and don't invest in younger players. They don't hustle. They don't play defense. They play dirty and start fights. They treat their fans as an animal commodity. They engage in front office warfare. Their strongest asset is their "spin" department.

I could go on. Suffice it to say, the Boston Red Sox franchise is the purest example of evil in all of baseball. In order to illustrate fully how evil they are, I propose a parallel: The Red Sox are to baseball what the Third Reich was to the world. A simple comparison will show the appropriateness of the parallel:
The Red Sox and Nazis were both Racist.
They both proclaimed themselves the good guys.
They both started fights.
They both blamed others for their problems.
They both spent lots of money to fight their enemy.
They both treated their supporters as commodities.
They both were hypocrites.
They both needed better defense.
They both relied heavily on their "spin" department.

Ladies and gentlemen, it seems to me we have a match. I present to you your World Series Champions:
The Boston Nazis.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Votivation

So, if I ever get my absentee ballot, I'll be voting this year. It took me a while to decide I wanted to, what with both candidates being sub-par. Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't the candidates for the most powerful man in the world be slightly more compelling? This position should draw some of the best candidates in the nation, and yet we're left to chose between a semi-literate Texan and a member of the Forbes family who thinks he understands the working class. Either way, for the next 4 years we can't expect much from our President. Which is too bad, since we've got a war on, the Supreme Court will likely face significant turnover, and the whole pantheon of other issues still pokes its head into play every now and then.

Given the lack of quality candidates you can see why I wasn't sure I would vote. At best I wanted to give no more than half a vote to either candidate. I even tried to find someone who would agree to split their vote with me. But then she wanted to give half a vote to the candidate that I wasn't favoring at the time, and it just sort of fell through.

Which brings me to where I am today - I've committed to voting (provided I get the ballot)(let's go US Postal Service)(Boooo)(That's "Boooo" as in disapproval, not "Boooo" as in Halloween, which is fast approaching (had it not been fast approaching I probably wouldn't have needed to clarify the point)). Where was I? Oh yes, I've committed to voting, as I'd feel horribly guilty not voting, and I kind of buy into that whole crap about responsible citizenship... (And let's be clear, the "voting makes you a responsible citizen" argument is most certainly crap. After all, they play the ads on MTV. Need I say more? You want to be a responsible citizen? Recycle.). But ok, yeah, voting is part of being a citizen, and I think I've developed a preference, no matter how slight, and I'm going to voice it.

So you ask, what is that preference? Where did it come from? And I'll tell you.

It all started last February, when the Patriots won the Superbowl. I was at a fun party, (with terrific food by the way), and I thought "well, good for them, they've won twice in a row now." There were several Patriots fans at the party, and their celebration was somewhat aggravating, but I was willing to overlook that at the time - they were rightly very happy. Boston had found itself with the best football team in the nation. That football team has now won 21 games in a row. They're a good team. Best in football most likely (though part of their success has been because of a cushy schedule). So be it. That's fine.

But then, a week ago, the Red Sox beat the Yankees for the AL pennant (I won't go into all the reasons the Twins are still better than the Red Sox). Suffice it to say, a Boston team is now playing in the World Series, and they're up 2 games to none, so it looks good for them to win. This angers me, as I am a fan of baseball, and love to see the continuation of baseball history. Hopefully the Cardinals can come back and win the series, though it'll be tough. It looks like Boston will be crowned the "best" team in baseball.

And finally, there's John Kerry. The Senator from where? Massachusetts. He's a Boston senator. He roots for the Pats and the Red Sox. That's like rooting for the wealthy. He's a bandwagon sort of candidate. But that's not my biggest grudge. No, more than anything else, I just don't think any city should get to have the best football, baseball, and presidential "teams". I don't begrudge the Patriots their winnings - they were there first. The Red Sox, on the other hand, I hate. I'm sick of everyone in the nation jumping on their bandwagon. I'm sick of their "we're just a bunch of hard-playing no-talents" attitude, when in fact they are some of the more talented players in the game (Manny? Schilling? Pedro? Ortiz? No, there isn't a bit of talent in the bunch...). I'm sick of the attitude of the fans - I've dealt with a ton of people here who exude plenty of false-grace pre-fact, and then once the Sox manage a win, shed that false-grace for a hubris that should bring wrath from any and every ancient Greek god. I guess this just proves Olympus is dead, because let me tell you, if Demeter were still around, the next game at Fenway would be called on account of Locust.

Which brings me to the issue at hand. I cannot personally affect the outcome of the Red Sox/Cardinals series. And since I don't really trust a bunch of ancient, fictional, deities to work some sudden magic, I'm left to do the next best thing - help prevent the spread of Boston success in any way possible. Yes, that's right:

I'm voting Bush because I hate the Red Sox.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

The first post.

This, apparently, is my first post. Am I just experimenting as things currently stand? Yes. Am I hoping to write something decent in the future? Yes. Am I currently watching South Park the movie? Yes. And, on that note...

How would you like to suck my balls Mister Garrison?