Friday, April 25, 2008

Halfway There

Aside from the fact that the sun isn't quite out as of yet, I expect today, Friday, will be a nice day. It's the end of a long, difficult week -- yet another -- and despite the fact Kaia's back in SF and I'm back in NYC, I'm looking forward to the weekend.

It's strange coming home to an empty apartment; more importantly, I wouldn't mind coming home to an empty apartment if I knew she was elsewhere nearby. Knowing she's not within a subway, bus or cab ride's distance is the really shitty part of the whole equation. But given the near future's plans for this summer, knowing this temporary situation is about to change -- for the better, and permanently -- is worth our patience.

In the meantime, I've got shitloads to do since I missed a couple days this week due to the holiday, so I'll probably be buried in paper this weekend. Considering it's supposed to be rainy and bleak, I doubt very much I'll miss running around with my other half. It will definitely be strange not having her around to make me laugh or to make laugh, and even when it's crappy and rainy outside she always manages to make me smile no matter what, so whether it's rainy or beautiful out, not having her there will make the weather sort of inconsequential.

There isn't much news beyond that to address; we've been attempting to settle back into our "normal" routines -- or irregular ones, if you're keeping score -- and both of us have been trying to get sleep and back on the clock vis-a-vis work and life. The problem is that since we're an integral part of one another's lives, that re-emergence is difficult, to say the least. It's a bit like the lyrics from Peter Gabriel's "Washing Of The Water." The song, which comes from his album "Us," is a confession about his break-up with Roseanna Arquette. While we're not broken up, every time she and I part company for a matter of weeks or months, we both sense that same sort of loss inherent in a long absence, which in many ways mirrors a break-up. Of course we don't have the same sense of emotional loss that break-ups incur, but not having your best friend there with you after having her there every minute of every day is jarring and an experience I'm glad to say will soon be coming to an end.

My apologies for today's dark, less-than-uplifting observations; for the most part, it's easy for me to look beyond the half-emptiness of the glass and see it as half-full. And this situation, despite the immediacy thereof, is actually a "half-full" one. However, as of the short term and how we each feel, that glass is half-empty for sure and we both are looking forward to when it's not just half-full but spilling over.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cloverfield on DVD : Spoilers Ahead...

So after all the hype, speculation and hush-hush viral marketing, what's there to discuss? Despite the proclivity of some to obtain vid-camera-captured copies of theater showings of movies and upload them to the masses online, after months of Kaia and I both salivating over the opportunity to see Cloverfield on one of our televisions, we finally were able to obtain a advance copy of the actual DVD. While there were some slight negatives, the truth is that, given the tense times in which we live -- especially those of us who live in New York City -- the film was absolutely a keeper.

Set in "modern day" New York, the film begins by establishing that what's being shown on the screen is actually the video recording found in the area formerly known as Central Park. Since a lot of what the film is about has been leaked, it's clearly an ominous beginning to a roller-coaster ride.

The video commences with a couple, Rob and Beth, filming one another in various states: her naked in bed after, presumably, a night of intimacy, and then the couple discussing their planned venture to Coney Island.

The next -- immediate -- cut is to some friends doing some shopping for a bunch of people coming by that night for a farewell party for the aforementioned Rob. Turns out Rob has gotten a job as Vice President -- a mighty achievement, if the revelers are to be believed -- and he's off the next day to Japan.

Suddenly we are at his farewell party where 40 or so people are gathered to send him off via a surprise good luck party, and after a bit, a huge noise and a thud interrupts the festivities. Looking through the eyes of the camera, it seems like something has hit a building nearby and created some sort of major explosion somewhere a bit further downtown. As the partygoers ascend the roof to get a closer look, more explosions begin rocking the downtown area and panic ensues. Soon after, as the entire crowd hits the stairs to get to the street, the explosions continue -- as one guest asks in the background if this is a terrorist attack -- and then the real chaos begins. People running everywhere, screams and overall panic grip the entire city as seen through the single lens, and the attack continues, only now, at street level, it is clear that something huge -- 30 or more stories high -- is actually decimating the city, block by block. The creature -- which resembles a giant bat on steroids atop bulging legs -- is causing destruction and attracting the attention of the military, who are firing at it with everything short of nuclear weapons. The destruction ramps up and the intensity does as well, to the point that much of the remainder of the second act is spent with the protagonists on the run to avoid the huge creature and human-size offspring that it seems to emit.

Without giving away any further details, the film isn't a true horror film in the "Halloween" mold. There isn't much sit-and-wait suspense; there's no let-up in the intensity or the attacks. The protagonists find themselves in a subway station (underground, at Spring Street) and attempt to make their way north after the Brooklyn Bridge is destroyed. Thereafter, they're attacked by the miniature offspring of the giant creature. As they attempt to escape the City and the chaos, one by one they are picked off by the circumstances by which they have found themselves in.

This film might very well represent a true picture of post-9/11 horror; much of the panic and the destruction is reminiscent of that day in our recent history. If one was to really reach for comparison, the giant creature and its offspring might have some sort of direct correlation to our modern history with respect to extremist Muslim terrorism. But more likely this film represents a unique perspective on what feels extremely real, if only because it depicts characters that react and find futility in a situation that mirror how we might react and that we, if we were in their shoes, would find ourselves in.

Granted, there's been no monster attack chewing up and destroying the entire city; there is no impromptu military HQ or full medical triage center on the main floor of Bloomingdale's at 59th Street; and for certain, Central Park is known as Central Park and not Cloverfield. However, given a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief, this movie goes from rollicking, entertaining scare to an intense, disturbing episode in one possible future.

Incidentally, one of the reasons we waited to see this film via legit DVD was because we wanted to enjoy the experience and the breadth of special effects featured therein. The CGI and the creativity of JJ Abrams, Screenwriter Drew Goddard and Director Matt Reeves are nothing short of amazing. Due to the creative nature of the "one camera" storytelling, there are some creative twists and omissions that let your imagination fill in the details. However, the CGI depicting the creature and its offspring is riveting, and the city-wide destruction is incredibly detailed and absolutely realistic. Moreover, what we see and hear on screen is so over-the-top it's hard to not be pulled into the action as if we're experiencing the events depicted in the film rather than simply watching them on a screen.

I would recommend, incidentally, anyone interested in watching this film do so in a completely dark environment with no interruptions and with the sound as loud as it will (comfortably) go. The immersive, all-encompassing of this film deserves and demands it. More importantly, when watching this film, disconnect your phone and don't plan on stopping the ride until the director decides it's time for you to get off. You'll be glad you obeyed.

No question this film is as much a phenomenon as it is an 84-minute motion picture. However, if you view it without judgment or preconceived notions about the marketing and the hype, this is one film you may not love but one film you will not soon forget. It's a solid 8.5 or 9 out of 10, whether or not "horror" or "sci-fi" are your kind of films. It's easily one of the best movies I've seen over the past 18 months, and that's definitely saying something...

For those planning to get the film on DVD, note that in addition to a slew of extras -- a director's commentary, deleted scenes, some outtakes and 2 (!) alternate endings -- the fact is that the behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was created (eg CGI, sets, etc.) are as fascinating as the movie is captivating.

And knowing the creature is nicknamed "Clover" by the film's crew and that the area "formerly known as Central Park" is where the camera is eventually located suggests that Central Park was re-christened Cloverfield.

Told you there were spoilers ahead... ;-)


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Don Henley Was Right...

"The more I know, the less I understand."

Those words, proferred by Don Henley in his pathos-heavy "End of The Innocence" album, definitely apply these days. However, his use thereof concerned, if memory serves, divorce and love in the song "The Last Worthless Evening." For me, these words apply to the increasing stupidity of America as a nation, and, in tandem, my inability to believe we manage great strides in achieving new degrees of stupidity each day. And thereafter, the two paths diverge; in fact, contrary to Mr. Henley's last worthless evening, mine would be watching The Jerry Springer Show sandwiched by two Montel Williams shows, all of which focus on sex-change children born from interracial marriages. That wouldn't simply be worthless; that would be enough to inspire me to throw myself from a tall, tall building.

Several items formed the impetus for my observation regarding our increased stupidity; the first was this, a story about a Randolph College field trip. Randolph College is located in Lynchburg, Virginia; the class, entitled "American Consumption," observes various facets of American culture and then, subject by subject, observes each facet by taking a field trip. This particular field trip, however, brought the students to the Chicken Ranch.

For those not in the know, the Chicken Ranch isn't a food establishment -- it's a whorehouse.

I'm not exactly sure how, if I was a parent of a student on the trip, I'd react; however, unless Randolph College is a free educational experience, I'd be seriously pissed. I have no moral opposition to prostitution per se. It's legal in Nevada, so even if some of the students wanted a very up-close-and-personal look at some of the employees of the Chicken Ranch, so be it. But I'd gravely question why I was sending my child to a school that would encourage students to take a peek behind the curtain. In other words, are we actually going to start encouraging the youth of society to consider stripping and/or legalized prostitution as viable sources of income? I recall a story in which a Florida high-school guidance counselor was fired because he encouraged women in a soon-to-be graduating class several years ago to consider stripping, and that incredible lapse in judgement was nothing compared to an administration official okaying a trip to see hookers. If my son or daughter was dumb enough to be enrolled at Randolph College, I think I'd tell people he or she was actually clinically retarded and was a refuse collector in Wichita rather than admit he or she was attending a college that sent students to a whorehouse. I would lie about where he or she was going to school not to protect his or her self-esteem, but (sic) my reputation.

Again, to reiterate, I have nothing against the ho's ;-) It just seems like this is another example of our culture slowly but surely inching closer to Idiocracy. It's one thing to hear about one adult's dumb decision when it comes to a bunch of kids; it's another when institutions of higher learning seemingly are managed, if one can call it that, by a bunch of shitheads.

Next up on the Asshat agenda is a story of unrequited love, loyalty, sadness, and's the story of a Spanish taxi driver by the name of Jordi Bassas Puigdollers. Mr. Puigdollers -- Pug for short -- is a life-long, obsessive Debbie Gibson fan. Not only has he started up a Debbie Gibson fan club, he's traveled all over the place to see her concerts, attended her personal appearances, and has recently followed her to her hotels and visited her home. So it's, of course, no surprise that Ms. Gibson, aka Washed-Up-No-Talent-Hack, filed a restraining order against Pug. What's even more interesting is that he's been barred from being within 100 yards of her, except at concerts.

First of all, how much money is this guy making as a cab-driver to be able to follow Debbie Gibson all over the country? Second, if she was able to get a restraining order, why is this shitbird still permitted to attend her concerts? Third, if you were going to throw your life away stalking someone, wouldn't you try and stalk someone that was a) attractive; b) talented; c) worth stalking; and d) not lame? If you're a loser and opt to head to the US to stalk someone, don't follow Pug's example; make it someone interesting. Some good choices are Carmen Electra (duh), Stephen Hawking (it's not like he's going to be able to run away and hide behind the gates of his mansion) or James Caan (it worked for Kathy Bates).

Personally, if I were Ms. Gibson (aka Washed-Up-No-Talent-Hack), I'd be thrilled someone actually gave a shit that I was still alive and not doing dinner-theater in Lincoln, Nebraska. Granted, I'm not being entirely fair to Ms. Gibson; I'm sure she's a nice person and doesn't deserve to be called a Washed-Up-No-Talent-Hack. However, um -- she's washed up, she doesn't have any more talent than those six-year-old beauty pageant contestants (think Jon Benet Ramsey, only alive) and she's being stalked by someone who might very well possess more talent than she does. But it's creepy -- who wants to be stalked by a taxi driver halfway around the world named Puigdollers? To me, that sounds like something you find growing on your undercarriage, if you know what I mean. Plus, every time I think "obsessed taxi driver," I think DeNiro in the mohawk putting bullets into anything moving -- Harvey Keitel, etc. -- and John Hinckley Junior (and that whole Jodie Foster/Ronald Reagan thing). Now I'm sure Pug didn't stop to think of the company he's keeping, but short of Jeffrey Dahmer, are those names -- Travis Bickle and John Hinckly Jr. -- the kind of people you would aspire to be among? No, unless your name is Pug and you think Debbie Gibson is worth stalking.

In short, stupid people stalking worthless former celebrities says a lot about where we're headed as a culture, if not at the very least where we are. Yikes.

However, if we really want to understand just how fucked up and moronic we've become as a nation, we need look no further than Commerce City, Colorado, the home of Joseph Manzanares. Congratulations are in order for Mr. Manzanares and his girlfriend, who -- four years ago -- had a child (Editor's Note: Mr. Manzanares is currently 19 years old, which would make him 15 at the time he fathered his -- presumably -- first child. Lovely). Unfortunately, Mr. Manzanares and his girlfriend disagree on one very important topic: the gang in which the child will be raised.

Apparently, Mr. Manzanares is a member of a gang called the "Westside Ballers" and his girlfriend is a member of the Crips (Does anyone else sense an imminent "West Side Story" fanfare about to break out?).

Beyond the main problem, ie that these clearly moronic individuals successfully procreated, what makes it even worse is that Mr. Manzanares got so irritated about his child's eventual gang choice that he confronted his girlfriend -- at her job at Hollywood Video -- and threatened her. So he was sentenced to a year of probation for the threats (as well as knocking over some movie posters and a computer).

One can only hope that, years from now, the happy couple will likely be celebrating their lives together at the tender of age of 42 as great grandparents and will recall how silly they behaved in their youth as they fought over the Crips, the Bloods, the Westside Ballers and the LA Kings. And then they'll go out for a rumble on the West Siyeeeeed in the SPC and they'll both, sadly, be killed in the skirmish with the cops.

Nothing beats a storybook ending, except maybe a good Jerry Springer Show brawl as the credits roll.

This should be a lesson to us: two people whose combined IQ's are below 100 should not be permitted to procreate. If the Supreme Court says it's okay to execute people who are clinically mentally disabled, why should those who are marginal idiots be allowed on the streets? If the statement "Smart people have smart children" is true, it would follow that empty-headed half-wits from the middle of nowhere are going to breed kids that're dumber than rocks.

And we wonder why they're tearing down libraries to build overcrowded prisons.

The more I know, the less I understand.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back To Now

Well, despite the fact it's been awhile since I last stopped in to say howdy, it's been a non-stop party-boat to Crazy Central. Come to think of it, that's pretty much an accurate description of my daily ride to "today," regardless of whether I'm reporting on life's absurdities, calamities, happiness and good times. But I digress...

Earlier this month -- ten days ago, to be precise -- the party came together. And holy shit on a shingle, did it come together... We had a big -- not huge -- crowd that kept it going 'til well after 3AM, and despite the location being a new venue and me unsure as to how everything would go down, everything did go down, for the most part, as we expected. Not only did everyone seem to have fun, despite a minor bump here or there -- everyone went home happy, tired, exhausted and with smiles on their faces. And that, more than anything else, is the reason why I bother with these mongo soirees in the first place.

On top of that, Kaia had come in for the party but also for the dual purposes of us celebrating my birthday, St. Patrick's Day, and to look for an apartment. It's one thing to do telephone and internet searches -- she's been dealing with brokers and real estate people for several months now -- but doing so in New York is the only real way to pull the trigger, so to speak. She's seen a few -- and I've accompanied her on about half of her jaunts -- and there are some decent places. The real question isn't so much where, ie what neighborhood, she wants; it's more of an issue of the apartment itself. So having, ostensibly, an entire city in which to poke around and look is a bit daunting, if not doable, task. So we'll continue. I 'spose the bottom line is that as of sometime this summer she'll be officially changing zip codes, and inasmuch as we both love San Fran, knowing we'll be able to spend time with one another is the main thing.

Speaking of San Fran, we're heading West -- together -- late Friday to spend Passover on the other coast with her family. I'll probably be heading back East late Monday or early Tuesday and be jet-lagged a bit next week, but it'll be worth it. We won't have much play-time but I love that city ("Put Your Hands Up For Detroit" -- either you dig or you don't) and it will be nice. The only hard part is the travel, but I don't mind it much, and more importantly, work-wise I'll only be out for a couple days and I'll keep up online. Between that and the fact the Blackberry -- both voice- and e-mail wise -- keeps me in touch with 95% of my clients, I should be relatively sane come next Wednesday.

Other than that, we've both been working hard and despite our best intentions, we've basically found ourselves in to have dinner and spend our time together rather than running around the City. We managed a visit to Mercer Kitchen over the weekend -- one of our usual haunts -- and actually saw Zach Braff (a regular Mercer guest, from what I hear) floating around outside. Despite Kaia's assertions to the contrary, I kept telling her that I was under the impression ZB was dating Anne Hathaway, so she decided to bet me dinner at our current favorite NYC restaurant. Sure enough, right after we agreed to the bet, I did a bit of peeking on my Blackberry to confirm the news, as I remembered seeing a picture of Anne Hathaway with her boyfriend, aka Zach, at some fashion show or benefit (perhaps a combo thereof). Sure enough, I came across a blog post proclaiming "Anne Hathaway's douchebag, check-bouncing boyfriend LOOKS A LOT LIKE Zach Braff."


After I realized I was wrong, I quietly lamented -- while Kaia loudly and proudly gloated over -- the fact that information isn't anything if it isn't timely... ;-)

Then again, I realized it wasn't that big a deal -- I get to take my other half to dinner at our favorite place. Wow, that's a kick in the ass ;-)

In other news, there's very little else to report...lots of work, lots of hang-time, lots of computer issues at the office with which I've had to contend, and lots of smiles. Like Billy Joel once observed, "I'm warm from the memories of days to come."

Tomorrow is another day. But not until today's finished.