Monday, April 24, 2006

Old, New, SOS, and A Bit More

This past weekend, still fresh in my mind and body, was a study in contrast -- for half thereof, it was rainy, windy and cold, and the other half was sunny, comfortable and uplifting. And the weather was freakish, too.

First of all, this weekend marked the first hockey playoff game for the New York Rangers since 1997, the first year both Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier wore the same sweater since each (on separate terms) departed the city of Edmonton. That year was a bit more memorable than most: the Rangers went much farther than anyone expected, but their season ended with a loss rather than a win.

So Saturday's return to playoff hockey was bittersweet for me; obviously I was excited knowing my team was back -- at least in theory -- in the thick of the hunt. But, while the Rangers had a great season and had the chance to win their division, they wound up collapsing down the stretch -- five straight losses in unspirited, by-the-numbers fashion -- and limped into the post-season. And then Saturday, facing the New Jersey Devils, who are their biggest rivals, and who rode a 10-game win-streak into the playoffs on the back of their Hall of Fame caliber goaltender Martin Brodeur.

And the Rangers, in awful fashion, threw the game away and lost 6-1. Penalties, mental mistakes, turnovers, etc. As they say in France, feh.

Meanwhile, since it was rainy, I wound up doing a bunch of catch-up work at home -- and managed to get a bunch of new movies/stuff queued up: Syriana, Hostel, Wolf Creek, The Family Guy Movie, The Transporter 2, Sarah Silverman's Jesus Is Magic, Just Friends, Kinky Boots, Munich and Prime. I only managed to watch Hostel and The Transporter 2, and a little of The Family Guy, as I spent a bunch of the days running around and then a little time Friday night out with a friend.

Hostel, by the way, was a horror movie directed by Eli Roth ("Cabin Fever") but conspicuously was advertised with the tagline "Quentin Tarantino Presents" -- meaning that QT signed off on this film, ramping it up at least a couple notches on the legitimacy scale. So between that and the promise that this film would somehow scar your mind and scare you half to death, I -- in a dark apartment over a rainy evening -- fired it up in otherwise complete silence. Watching this kind of film alone, in the dark, late at night, somehow seems about as intelligent as one shaving his scrotum with a rusty cheese grater.

Yet I persevered.

And to be frank, it was a good film but it wasn't the scare-fest I expected. The early-80's horror films -- Halloween, Friday The 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street, Cocoon -- those are scary movies. They all have some of the same things in common -- supernatural, eternal bad guy, spooky music, incredibly taut suspense, and a lot of corpses. In contrast, Hostel, much like Saw and Saw 2, wasn't just a gore-fest (yeah, it's very gory and very repulsive and very nauseating -- mmmm, good), but it was the proverbial "mind-fuck." By that term I mean movies that put someone -- an ordinary, typical person you might know, or you might be -- in difficult situations, whether moral entanglements, life-or-death decisions, or simply one person playing with another's mind. It's more on a par with the movie Se7en, starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. That movie wasn't a horror movie, but presented a variety of characters -- some of whom were John Doe's victims -- who were forced to make choices. Hostel was brutal, graphic and disgusting, but it wasn't really scary -- the premise, which I won't reveal herein, is actually quite plausible, except given the big picture, I think there are far worse things happening around the world than what was being depicted in this particular film, so the revelation(s) therein weren't horrific to me.

Personally, I think the scene at the end of the first Halloween movie, when the Doctor (good guy Donald Pleasance) shoots Michael Myers (aka the bad guy) off the balcony and he lands flat on his back, dead, on the lawn, only to suddenly sit up, is far scarier than anything I witnessed in Saw, Saw 2 and Hostel combined. Watching a movie like Se7en, The Game, or even Saw, the concepts and the ideas being presented are twisted, but they're more intellectually disturbing than purely frightening. Perhaps the difference is irrelevant but for me, anyway, I find the horror tag is being applied to gross-out movies that would never have been made save the improvement in technology since blood and gore was first the sole reason to make, let alone see, a movie.

* * *

Kaia spent part of the weekend at her parents' house, as her dad was out of town for a high school reunion so she and her mom had a girls' weekend. We hung out a bit here and there, but we both wound up doing odds and ends, errands and other checklist items -- and nap -- so by the time the weekend wound down, we both felt like we hadn't spent enough time together. I'm sure we'll correct that problem, but it struck me as interesting how, after 18 months (holy shit), we still crave each other. And as per usual, even though I got a bunch of stuff done this weekend, I still didn't feel quite complete until she and I spent last night talking and getting to sleep. Until next month, that's about as good as it gets -- and I know I could complain, but it could be lots worse, so for now I'll focus on the good and forget the rest.

For now, anyway.

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