Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"The Epitome of Corruption Bleeding Star"

Fetor "The Epitome of Corruption" release 1/2/09 at Cal's Liquors, 400 S Wells, Chicago, Il with The Rubs and Cadillac Rope, 9pm, 21+

Seinfeld as a bee reminds me of Tony, December 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Old man

105. "Prelude to a Kiss"
I watched this film because it's set on the North side of Chicago. I finished the film because the odd story was compelling, human and well done. Without being overtly preachy, this play turned into a film tackled aging in a story about switching places. A young bride and a man about to die switch places. That's the story.

Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan meet and fall in love. Within six weeks they're living together. At their wedding an old man requests a kiss and gets his wish. Unbeknownst to anyone, he switches places with the bride. The rest of the film is spent pondering some big questions in a new way. It kind of works. The performance of Sydney Walker as the old man is perfect. He doesn't overact and is much more believable as a twenty something woman in love than Alec Baldwin not playing his character on "30 Rock".

December 25 2008

December 25 2008, originally uploaded by Brandon Wetherbee.

Column 9 "Opening Night"

I've been to a handful of movies on opening night, 12:01am early Friday morning to be exact. I somewhat understand the idea of seeing something as soon as one legally can. I understand it more if alcohol is involved. If you're turning the theater into a bar, it makes perfect sense. At least it did for the "Snakes on a Plane" outing. Anyways, midnight openings are like most things that end at 3am, you end up waking up full of regret, usually with Taco Bell trying to seep out of your body.

Chapter three, which was released sixth, of the "Star Wars" trilogy part two (because the first three, parts four through six, were released together and parts one though three, released fourth through six, were released together) is the only sci-fi film I've attended on opening night. (While most North Americans between fifteen and forty know the above "Star Wars" films, try to explain the sequence to someone unfamiliar with Lucas' cash crop. It makes little to no sense.) The crowd was prepared for the worst. They also planned to be there for the long haul. I went on a whim with my newspaper editor. He decided to purchase tickets to the midnight showing around ten, allowing us an hour to keep working, a half hour for transport and about fifteen minutes to find seats. We were not good planners. People had been camped out since six in the morning. We were screwed. Our tickets to the midnight show would be honored for the three AM show, but since that show looked full, we would be seated for the six AM screening. Thanks to God or god or the Force or the force, I saw an old friend in line for the midnight screening. We sat middle, middle. We split a six pack. We had a good time. The film didn't disappoint and I was in bed by four in the morning. Not a shabby experience.

"Snakes on a Plane". We saw the film because it is called "Snakes on a Plane". Come on! Yes, this existed! And not all that long ago. The theater was packed with potheads, drunks and teenagers. It's the closest I've come to seeing "Rocky Horror" at midnight. Random paraphernalia was hurled at the screen. The aisle I was in was littered with empty bottles of forties. The theater passed out mock in case of emergency instructions. These cardboard sheets flew at the screen with grace. The film was awful. It was a wonderful time. The lines to the bathroom resembled that of an all-ages punk show at a coffee shop. The actual toilets resembled that of an all-ages punk show attended by a few thousand kids.

My most recent excursion to see a film before any of my friends did not go as well as the first two trips. I did not split a six pack and no one shouted catch phrases. Seeing "The Dark Knight" in downtown Chicago in the heat of summer was not as fun as it sounds.

The second installment of the Christopher Nolan "Batman" series was shot mostly in Chicago. It stared an Oscar-nominated actor who had recently passed away. It's Batman, for Christ sake. People wanted to see this film. Badly. All midnight and three AM shows were sold out weeks in advance. My girlfriend had the foresight to seek out tickets weeks in advance. Therefore, we had guaranteed seats. Hooray! Batman! Before everyone else! The film could not be ruined!

The bus was late. By a lot. We did not arrive at the theater at eleven at night. We arrived at eleven forty five. A friend we were meeting had arrived at eleven. He saved seats for us until the ushers told him to stop. We were not able to sit with him. My girlfriend's set of friends also saved seats for us. By the time we arrived they were only holding one. I was on my own. I spotted a seat middle, middle. I had a seat.

Sitting middle, middle at a midnight show is a double edged sword. You're sitting around superfans. They're going to be quiet and absorb each line of dialogue like a trained puppy, adoring each zinger. They're also going to moan at each blow against their hero, salivate at every explosion and cum in their pants at key points in the film. These pop culture obsessed arrogant know-it-all assholes make films awful. The problem is that I must include myself in this category. I'm not as bad as these kids, I don't make any noise during the flick, but I will inform you after the film that it's odd that Heath Ledger made out with Jake Gyllenhaal but not Maggie Gyllenhaal.

To my left sat three white dudes in the early twenties, ripping on each preview, laughing at awful quips about how Shia LeBoeuf does suck and that they are very intelligent, laughed at a few moments in the film, yet gasped at a few action scenes and even clapped, discussed the upcoming "Terminator" film staring Christian Bale before the preview screened and once it did they cheered. To my right sat a female around the age of twenty four that seemingly has never seen a film, gasped at each appearance of the Joker, laughed loudly at each comedic preview, clapped a few times and was the only voice in the theater for the majority of the film. She was never annoying per se, just extremely sad. I wanted to find out if she's ever had a friend, or more specifically, a friend that let her talk about her ideas, feelings, observations on life. The only possible explanation for thinking that Batman might die in the first 10 minutes of a film about Batman would be a Mormon upbringing and this is her first foray into the outside world, but I doubt that's the case because she told me she had been there three hours before the film started.

Why didn't the fan boys sit next to the loud girl? They could've produced the next generation of "Batman" fans.

Column 8 "Father's Day"

Father's Day got me out of the house. Rather than visit my mother or putt around the apartment, I decided to head north, to the Chicago suburb of Skokie, and stop by a book sale.

I've lied to my mother about Father's Day since I can remember. I never wished I could celebrate this day proper, but I play it up like I do every year. "I hate this day. I hate Father's Day." When I was younger I would say the same thing, except the periods would be exclamation marks. No one hates Father's Day because no one cares about Father's Day.

There's something wrong with my 7-day pass. When I put it in the card machine (there's gotta be another word for the thing, not slot machine, obviously, but it's like a slot machine, maybe it's a card reader, but that would seem to be a better name for the machines that are outside the turnstiles at El stops to add money and check the balance) it reads 'INVALID' or "See Attendant: Code 43." It's not a big problem on the bus, the expiration date and time is clearly listed, but El stations are a little more problematic. An attendant was not on duty at the Chicago Brown/Purple line station at 3pm on a Sunday. Rather than miss the next train, I hopped the turnstile. While committing my crime, the speakers blared the automated message "An attendant is needed on the northbound platform. An attendant is needed on the northbound platform." I hid behind a pole before an attendant made it up the stairs.

I've been waiting for the #97 Skokie bus for 30 minutes. The book sale ends in an hour. It's looking like I'm not going to a book sale in Skokie.


I made the book sale. It was held outside of a mall in a large tent. The tent was the size of four football fields (Why are football fields used to comprehend the size of something large? If you've ever been on a football field you'll realize that four football fields are big but not gigantic. For those that haven't been on the field, it sounds bigger than most city blocks.). The sale stayed open an hour later due to demand and due to an overstock of books. The more books available meant the most books to take back to the library and that's good for no one. The fair stayed open an hour later, the prices were cut in half and I had an hour and ten minutes to walk around. I hit fiction first. I grabbed any book by Hemingway, Bellow and any other writer I enjoy. I took any book that would fit in my pocket. I took any book I heard I might like in the last five years. There wasn't a lot of books to take. After fiction I hit sports.

My girlfriend doesn't like me reading books about baseball. I understand her reasons. I tend to talk about baseball for the duration of the reading and the month following. If the book leads me to another book about baseball, I'll continue for even longer. For example, after reading "Money Ball" (which is awesome and I know believe in sabermetrics) I was recommended "Three Nights in August" and talked to anyone that would lend an ear about the Cubs straddling between sabermetrics and old school scoutery. My girlfriend did not want to hear this. She enjoys the Cubs, goes to games with me, gladly watches them on television and listens to Santo rant, but she doesn't enjoy the theory of baseball. Or I should say she doesn't like hearing me go on and on about my theory on why middle relief is indeed important.

I found the Jose Canseco book, "Juiced", in the sports section. I bought the book. I started the book on the bus ride home. I finished the book within two days. The book was so bad it was good. The argument for steroids made no sense. The reasons behind not fucking Madonna did make sense. I did not see that one coming. Canseco blamed his wife for the fights they had, claimed to love his child above all, wanted the reader to know that he totally kicked ass and would still be kicking ass if Major League Baseball had any balls and he is Cuban. Did you know people hate Cubans? Well, they certainly do! Especially Cuban baseball players! That's why everyone wanted him out of the game! Not poor performance! Racist!

Canseco said his father didn't care enough about Jose. Dad went to his games, but wasn't affectionate. His mother provided that role. Yet another Father's Day and yet another time I was glad I did not have a father.

Upon finishing "Juiced" I tried to pawn it off on a friend. No one wanted to read this modern day classic. So it's behind the television, buried beneath wires, cables, cat hair and packing peanuts. Let me know if you want it. I'm sure my girlfriend will be glad to have it out of the house.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Column 7 "Sex and the City and Santa and Casserole"

Yet another holiday, yet another night spent watching ten-year old "Sex and the City" episodes.

"This is how it really is, Brandon. See, he wants to get married and have kids."

My mother provides consistent commentary so I know what's going on. She provides consistent commentary when she's alone.

"What's wrong with a guy like that?"

This episode is about single people and married people and how they're different.


Carrie wrote a column, or is writing...

"Oh, that's funny."

Anyways, she's working on a piece about single vs. married and how it's like the Cold War. I've eaten my four-thousandth calorie of the day. I'm not too worried about the weight gain. I'm the heaviest I've ever been. I also have more facial hair than ever, so I'm just getting my Orson Welles' look down. I'd say I wear it well.

"Want a cupcake now? Yo-oh? Want the top of a cupcake?"

Once the holidays are over I'll shed a few pounds.

"There's only what? Forty-five minutes to eat? Oh no, it's only a half-hour."

I'll walk around more, eat less, stop eating after ten at night.

"Only on T.V."

I'll visit the gym near my house. It's free the first two weeks of the year.

"Oh, that's on T.V.?"

Last night I was thinking about drinking to pass out.

"I never see that Marisa Tomei that much."

Oh, this episode also has a B-story. The lawyer pretends to be gay.

"That's right."

The lawyer is not gay on the show. She is gay in real life. This show is written by a gay man. At least the movie was written by a gay man.

"How disgusting. She just kissed her. I don't want to kiss no girl."

The old one is going to sleep with the doorman. I'm glad I'm a doorman in a bar and not an apartment.

"Look at her figure."

The old one seduced the guy on the street. Good for her.

"Ehh! Isn't that funny?"

I haven't said anything since I began this little piece. I can barely move. I tend to eat all the broccoli casserole I can in the months of November and December.

"She always loved Mr. Big. Always."

That dude is also on "Law and Order." He rakes in syndication money hand over foot.

"Especially him, he's established."

Now the desperate guy that was dating Carrie is dating the not whore and not lawyer. Did I forget to mention the desperate guy? Whatever. They're using Aretha Franklin's "Respect" to show the glory of being a single lady in the city.

"How come that is not boiling? I haven't heard the kettle yet. I don't want that Britney Spears shit. I'm going look at the..."

How long are these shows?

"What is that? We gotta go see that. That's a nice girl movie. I gotta go see that. Would you and Mike wanna go see that? No. I'm stuffed to the hill. What does that clock say? Eleven thirty nine? Twenty minutes. I'm so full. I won't be hungry for that oatmeal in the morning. I need that oatmeal. It regulates my blood sugar. Oh, sixty off. After tomorrow it'll be seventy."

The show is over.

"Oh. I'm so full."

I should abandon the television for a few weeks. The last two days have taught me that nothing is worth watching.

"We have to watch Nancy Grace at twelve. I'll think she'll like being in jail. Did you hear about the Santa shooting up people? It was the in-laws. Funny as hell."

The show is on again.

"See, it was meant to be."

It's a "Mr. Big" episode. Looks to be the first one.
The old one works in P.R.? I guess that makes sense.
This show makes New York City ugly. Maybe it's the time and not the place. It's so old they're not using cell phones.

"Now you know she's in love with him, right? It's terrible. It's so terrible."

Stephen Dorff is in this one. I actually like one of his films.

"Now if you know he's twenty he's too young."

Hey, mom! I'm twenty! I could totally fuck that old one! Even with my Orson Welles stature. Especially because my Orson Welles stature!

"T.G.I.F.! Now he's got to be twenty years old! Because they're twenty years old."

I drank enough to get aide in sleep but not enough to work effectively.

"There he is, Mr. Big."

Now the show is talking about men in their forties.

"What the fuck? What did he go in there for? Five minutes. I watch this every night, Brandon."

I never had much fun in the bars in New York. Probably because I wasn't smoking indoors.

"No, they ain't."

I'm pretty sure The Dandy Warhols is the music in the bar of the young people. I'm pretty sure they're in the basement of the Bowery Ballroom.

"Pony necked beers?!?"

Tongue ring.

"That's disgusting. Ain't that funny. Aren't you going to have some of that Fannie May Santa? Don't you want to taste it. Don't you want to open it so I can taste some."

I'll open the chocolate.
I opened the chocolate.
I ate the head of Santa Claus.


50. Liam Callahan "All Saints"
My mother asked me to read this book at the start of the year. She had gotten halfway through the text but gave up. She wanted to know if the main character had sex with a priest. She did not.

"All Saints" is about a fifty year old high school teacher. She has a thing, not really an affair, with a student. Another student dies. One is pregnant. It's a good book for the beach (I've read one or two books on a beach so I'm not really sure what I'm talking about) and a good book for other fifty year old women. As a twenty six year old male, I somewhat enjoyed the book. A basic understanding of Catholicism helped. A basic understanding of fifty year old women is not necessary.

My Favorite Christmas Song

I would play this song on my college radio show throughout the year. The station had the Lips' "Yoshimi Wins: Live Radio Sessions" and the EP is great. Their cover of "White Christmas" is great. It's so beautiful and sparse and heart breaking. Any decent filmmaker could make the audience cry with this song. Just put it over an image of a adult sitting alone on a park bench watching children build a snowman.

December 25 2008

December 25 2008, originally uploaded by Brandon Wetherbee.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Column 6 "A Vicious Cycle"

I want my tooth pulled. Well, that's not exactly correct. I want whatever is left of my tooth pulled, specifically the roots and whatever else is making it hard to sleep.

A cap fell out during a radio show I hosted in the winter of 2003. I was chewing gum and it decided it had enough and wanted to leave. It left and never came back. To hell with it, I thought, I never really wanted you. I left the tooth unattended until the next winter when I had a root canal. I didn't cap the root canal. The insurance didn't cover it. I had another root canal the next summer. I didn't cap the root canal. The insurance didn't cover it. I have done nothing to the tooth for the past three years. I have done quite a bit because of the tooth.

Large amounts of liquor seems to help. A dentist told me that I'm in pain when new roots are exposed. The alcohol helps numb and kill the nerve. I'll usually do a shot of whiskey and have a few beers. Recently I've been drinking rum. It ain't too shabby. My dilemma is when to start drinking. The hole in my mouth throbs from sunrise to sunset. The desire to self-medicate shares the same schedule. Yet I can't start drinking until most people get off work. Never mind that I don't have a normal nine to five and could start drinking at 9am without it affecting my job performance. That's not the point. The point, I think, is that if I don't drink until the evening, I'm not really an alcoholic. I'm just a masochist that's in denial about a love of hard liquor.

It will cost about $200 to get my roots pulled. Since there's nothing left of the tooth, there's no chance a bridge can be built or the tooth rebuilt. I'm a lost cause. Well, I'm a cheaper cause. Dentists over the years have given me quotes in the thousands. They wanted to rebuild my tooth or build a bridge. No dentist thought either would last for more than five years. Why spend so much on a temporary fix? I could just drink the pain away. Looking back, I've made the wrong decision. I've spent thousands filling this hole with booze.

Maybe this hole has scared me away from alcohol. I associate shots of whiskey with stabbing pains. Therefore, I do not take shots of whiskey without stabbing pains. Hence, doing shots to mask pain prevents me from doing shots for pleasure. Sound logic if I say so myself.

The UIC Dental School opens at 7am. Exams begin at 8am. Actual dental work begins at 9am. This is the place where I will get my roots pulled. The problem is that I've been drinking every night. I've been passing out around 3am. If I wake up at 6am and head over to the dental school I'll still be drunk. I'm pretty sure any competent dentist would not operate on a drunk. I need a dentist that throws competence to the wind. In fact, I need to find a dentist bar and gamble my way into some drunken surgery. This way, even if the procedure is botched, I'll be too drunk to care and I'll be able to sleep in.

I've known about the dental school for years. I've put off any procedure for years. Not so much out of fear of pain, but fear of getting work done, seeing the bill and going to debtors prison. Sure, that doesn't exist in the US anymore, but it's always been in my mind. I don't buy it unless I can afford it, unless it's education. I don't own a car, have a mortgage, pay credit card bills or bills for a wedding ring. I can't afford a wedding ring and I definitely can't afford a child. So I don't get my tooth fixed.

If you have good teeth you probably have decent money. If you have good teeth you have a loving partner that also has good teeth. Sooner or later one of those partners will want a ring. A ring to show everyone that yes, they are taken and yes, that person also has good teeth. While we're at it, now that we have these nice rings, we might as well have a condo with a mortgage and buy furniture that isn't quite good looking but very functional and was paid on credit car bills. We picked out the furniture on a trip to the far west suburbs in our nice sedan. You know what, why don't we move out to the suburbs in a nice subdivision? It's so quiet and nice out in the suburbs.

I am not ready to get my tooth fixed. I'm not against having a good set of chompers, a wife, a house and domesticity, I just don't know where to start and I'd rather start it right then end up in a sedan cycle.

It's been 9 months

Column 5 "Tooth Fairy"

1. What life decisions did I botch to end up here? It's 7:40am and I'm one of thirty or so other adults waiting to be seen by a UIC Dental School student. My tooth is bleeding and pulsing and bulging out of my mouth. Did I floss enough? Rinse with Listerine too often? Too much sugar? Too many cigarettes? Tons of processed food? Probably all of the above. Buy why here? There are other dentists, other options, ones that don't herd the masses outside of school buildings. We don't have insurance. All creeds, colors and sexes are here because we were hoping we'd die before we would need to see a dentist.

Now I understand why my mother told me to make a lot of money.

2. The parade of students has begun. They're my age but not my peers. They made the right decision. I don't really believe this. I'm beating myself up because I'm in pain and hungry. I've eaten an average of 800 calories a day the last week. I'm not losing weight because I'm drinking 2,000 calories a day.

It's the wait that kills me. Show up before 7am to wait outside the building. Sign the sheet at 7 and wait til 8 to see if you'll be seen. Wait an hour to fill out paperwork. You might wait until 5:30pm to be seen. Don't complain. You're 'saving' money.

If I've already gone down this path I might as well embrace it. I'm going straight to the grocery store and buying blond hair dye, baby food, Similac, Slim Fast, microwavable burritos, hot sauce and clearance shelf condoms. A steady diet of psychedelic drugs should help. I could fill this hole with pudding. Banana flavored generic pudding in a yellow box. I'll used condensed milk and powdered milk because it'll stay forever. It'll never go bad. The pudding in the hole will never go bad.

3. Waiting room two is humid. "Jesus loves you and so do I." The ceiling has been vibrating lowly, consistently. The consequences of recreational drug use is in every corner. Diabetes has reared its ugly head. Look to your right, why it's a small child, no more than four years old, and he's holding a bag of Cheetos! It's adorable! Just precious! Why the baby looks thirsty? Why, it is thirsty! Don't worry, momma is here! And shes' got a great ol big bottle of generic cola to wash it all down!

4. This hole should have been dealt with years ago. Literally, it should have been taken care of five years ago. Even that would have been too late. The pliers didn't work. Let me explain, I used pliers to pull out my tooth but it didn't work. The tooth was chipped a little, but I couldn't establish a good grip. I put on gloves to get a better grip, but well, Jesus didn't want this tooth to come out. Oh, Jesus!

Jesus is everywhere in this place. No, there aren't any crucifixes or statues or religious staff, but there are a lot of prayers and big ups to everyone's personal lord and savior. Though I'm wearing headphones and trying my damnedest to drown out the drilling and cell phone use and soap operas, I can still hear prayers. Prayers of thanks mostly. Maybe that's what I need, a chance to say thanks for a hole in my tooth.

5. I will be worked on. This will be taken care of. This shouldn't cost that much money. I should be able to pay rent on time. Thanks, Jesus! You're so crazy!

6. My silence has brought me better service. Other patients have complained. Complaining doesn't work without money or consequence. "I'm next! I was here first!" Everyone knows you were here first, you informed everyone that you were here first. But you also informed all of the staff that you were here first and have angered everyone on staff. No one wants your teeth to be fixed because we're hoping you will die soon. It seems possible.

7. The shots didn't take. It took four extra attempts to numb my mouth. They wanted to make sure I felt no pain. The joy of dental school dentistry is the extra sets of eyes staring in your mouth, mentioning what the student that is in your mouth is doing wrong. Fuck it, I pay for one set of drugs. If they mess up, I get messed up.

The tools being used are sending shivers though my bones. Literally. For almost an hour I've been shaking on odd places without warning.

8. The drugs will wear off four hours after the procedure. I will drool for the next two hours. I lied and said I had a car waiting for me. I have a bus ride waiting for me. I wouldn't mind drooling all over the Ashland bus. I probably won't be the only one.

Soap Operas

I can't sleep on the bus ride to Memphis.

Did Kelsey and I look at butterflies at the Field Museum during a Jimmy Chamberlin concert?

I watched SNL throughout childhood. I thought of New York City as a dark den of desperation. Buildings loomed over everyone, always shades of grey.

I just want to go back to throwing a ball against a brick wall, hour after hour, day after day, left alone in my head.

The bus driver has been swerving for hours.

Maybe I should get off at the next stop and set up a new life. Wash dishes at a diner. Find Jesus.

December 23 2008

December 23 2008, originally uploaded by Brandon Wetherbee.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This I don't understand

"This I Love", track 13 on Guns 'N Roses "Chinese Democracy" sounds like a "Nightmare Before Christmas" outtake. I'm not sure who influenced who, but I can guarantee that this song will be played at proms and weddings for years to come. It's really bad. Here's a really bad video for the bad song.

I kick myself every time I accidentally read YouTube comments. But every once in a while, I see a gem like, "fuck up u little dick, denmark is a hitt place thats not worth of axl thats wh stop bitching u cunt" and I know it's all worth it.

December 20 2008

December 20 2008, originally uploaded by foulinc.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This is a band

Kanye West was on SNL last night. He performed "Love Lockdown" first. His singing goes from poor to mediocre. His stage is the best SNL has ever seen. It's what Nine Inch Nails has been trying to have for the last ten years. It makes the singing OK. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that West trips on some syllables. The stage is the career. The man is the band. The first minute is every band you've had in high school. The last forty seconds is the release every artist strives to attain. At 2:32 a synth line kicks in that sounds like 100 distorted basses. It's the creative peak of the song. This performance is the summary of every band that has tried to create anything on their own.

The new album is his version of Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" or Martha Gaye's "Martha, My Dear", full of songs about heartbreak and loss. The difference between West and these two legendary performers is that he doesn't know private. He blogs. A lot. And understands why people like his blog. It's full of neat looking stuff that no one needs, not thought out musings about art. He doesn't seem to grasp the idea of a private life and that's perfectly fine. I personally think the lyrics on the album are atrocious. He has more in common with Fall Out Boy than Jay-Z. Once again, that's OK. He's being himself. For better or worse, the man is nothing but honest, something that Dylan and Gaye share with West.

Love him or hate him, you have to admit that stage is amazing in every way. Especially when it goes red. That stage will sweep the awards at the Stageys.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


49. Bill Cosby "Love and Marriage"
Bill Cosby writes like he shouldn't be married. He complains about his wife Camille for the duration of the book, albeit in a nice way. Anyways, it's not shocking he had an extramarital affair. I'm not being fair, but the book wasn't that good. It just warned me that I'm not ready for marriage and apparently, most people aren't.

Peaking in the first quarter

104. "The Battle Over Citizen Kane"
This is the documentary that is included on disc 2 of the 2001 "Citizen Kane" DVD. It was now nominated for four Oscars in the documentary category. It's interesting. It tells the story of the William Hearst and how it connects to the flick and Welles. Interesting stuff. Sad stuff.

Welles portrayal of Hearst is the one most of us now, a newspaper tycoon who lives in his own world both figuratively and literally. He dies alone and dreams of his lost childhood. This wasn't the case of the real Hearst, but art prevailed. A good lesson for certain people concerned about their legacy to learn.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


48. Anne Frank "The Diary of a Young Girl"
It is a shame that I did not read this in junior high or high school, I know this. For that I apologize. There's not much I can say about the book that hasn't already been written. It is a classic and extremely important for a reason. Rather than write a review or anything, the following are a few of my thoughts throughout the reading.

-While visiting a friend in Amsterdam, I did not have enough money to visit the Anne Frank house.
-For better or worse, I can not see myself being friend with a holocaust denier.
-The Neutral Milk Hotel album "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" is really good.
-I wish I read the version released after Otto Frank, Anne's father, passed away.
-I should have read this ten years ago.
-It's difficult to read this book on public transportation.
-Anne Frank was a better writer at 14 than most award winning writers.

The Briefcase

103. "Kiss Me Deadly"
This is the one 'classic' that I do not understand. At all. In any way. I do not understand it whatsoever.

The film is considered a noir. I think this is so because its star is a P.I. So what? That doesn't make it a noir. It makes it a film with the lead being a Private Eye.

The story is convoluted. Our P.I. picks up screaming woman, gets in a car accident, watches her being tortured, is left for dead and follows the why behind all this. Why? For the money? That doesn't make much sense. For the mystery? He's not a child. It's unbelievable, poorly acted and the script is awful. It looks more like a B film than a classic. I do not get it at all.

It's supposed to be a warning against nuclear war. It's not a very good warning.

I like seeing Chicago on film

102. "Fred Claus"
Vince Vaughn sure does like making money. Christmas flicks are destined to at least break even and this one did much better than break even. The gross had to be the reason this movie was made. It doesn't really appeal to children, Vaughn fans or film buffs. I think the target audience was families that couldn't agree on a film on Christmas day.

Vaughn plays the title character, the brother of Santa. He lives in Chicago and wants to open an OTB across the street from the Board of Trade. He dates Rachel Weisz and isn't the best boyfriend. He kinda looks out for a neighborhood kid. He goes to the North Pole so his brother will loan him money. It's not a very good story. None of the characters have any clear motives. Why wouldn't Santa, who has seemingly all the money in the world, just give the brother money or say no? Why would Vaughn call his brother for money is he 'hates' him as much as he says he does? Why would Kevin Spacey's (this is the B story) character want to shut down Santa's services? Why would Weisz continue to date Vaughn? Whatever. It's fine. Vaughn does have some monologues that are actually funny and he is charming, like always.

This film taught me two things. 1. Elizabeth Banks (in the C story) is the ideal girlfriend for filmmakers and, 2. Jon Favreau made a much better Christmas film in 2003.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

For fans of 'Waiting for Godot'

101. "Being There"
What a wonderful film. I would have adored this film in high school. Peter Seller's performance is excellent and deserves all the acclaim he's collected in the last 29 years. By now you've either seen it, heard of it or will never see it. I encourage you to see it. The last sentence makes me seem like I am a 'film critic' that takes myself too 'seriously'.

If I were an actor I'd study Seller's performance as Chance.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sad bastard

100. "Role Models"
A very formulaic film. A great Hollywood film. Like a good Britney Spears song, the machine is well-oiled and every once in a while lives up to its potential.

Paul Rudd is smart and thinks he's smarter than everyone else but is unhappy. Seann William Scott is Stifler at 30. Elizabeth Banks plays the stereotypical girlfriend, the catalyst for Rudd's change in behavior. Rudd and Scott are assigned kids from a youth group because Rudd went off the handle at work. The kids present a challenge. Big budget film 101. Doesn't matter. Rudd, who co-wrote the script, is loved for roles like this and there's good reason. He's quick witted and funny to boot. The kids are great and, like all great kids films, there are a few shots of breasts, a pair seen by the younger kid.

See the flick. You won't love it, it won't be your favorite film of the year and you will feel like you've seen it, but it works exactly the way it should.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Now everybody from the 313
Put your muthafuckin' hands up and follow me
Everybody from the 313
Put your muthafuckin' hands up
Look Look

Now while he tries to stand tough
Notice that this man did not have his hands up
This Free World's got you gassed up
Now who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf
1, 2, 3 and to the 4
1 Pac, 2 Pac, 3 Pac, 4
4 Pac, 3 Pac, 2 Pac, 1
You're Pac, He's Pac, No Pac, None!
This guy ain't no muthafuckin' MC
I know everything he's got to say against me
I am white
I am a fuckin' bum
I do live in a trailer with my mom
My boy Future is an Uncle Tom
I do got a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob
Who shoots himself in the leg with his own gun
I did get jumped by all 6 of you chumps
And Wink did fuck my girl
I'm still standin' here screamin' fuck the free world!!
Don't ever try to judge me dude
You don't know what the fuck i've been through
But i know something about you
You went to Cranbrook that's a private school
What's the matter dawg? You embarrassed?
This guy's a gangsta, his real name's Clarence
And Clarence lives at home with both parents
And Clarence's parents have a real good marriage
This guy don't wanna battle he shook
Cuz there ain't no such thang as HALF WAY CROOKS!!
He's scared to death
He's scared to look in his fuckin' yearbook
Fuck Cranbrook

Fuck the beat I go acapella
Fuck a Papa Doc, fuck a clock, fuck a trailer, fuck everybody
Fuck y'all if you doubt me
I'm a piece of fucking white trash, I say it proudly
And fuck this battle
I don't wanna win
I'm outty
Here tell these people somethin' they don't know about me

Guess what I watched tonight.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Stallone was just as good of a writer as Woody Allen

The scene in "Rocky" with Adrian skating and Rocky jogging along side her on the ice is perfect. "Rocky" is close to perfect. It's sad and realistic and hopeful and quiet and a beautiful love story and gives hope to everybody that has ever felt like an underdog. I need to watch "Rocky" more.

"I gotta go too. I gotta go to the bathroom."

I bet Rocky and the Blues Brothers would have gotten along.

Monday, November 24, 2008

One of the best 08 films

99. "Be Kind Rewind"
I'm not sure why this movie was not a hit, or at least seen by more people. It's great. It's whimsical and child-like and hopeful and inventive. It's like Gondry's other film "Eternal Sunshine" but happy. What's wrong with happy?

Jack Black accidentally demagnetizes all the VHS tapes in Danny Glover's store. Mos Def, Danny Glover's employee and Black make their versions of the erased films. They become a hit. Chaos ensues. It's great.

The film doesn't have a happy ending. In fact, it doesn't really have an ending and it's a better film because of that. I don't want to give anything away, so see it and we'll talk about it.

If you don't like the following, you shouldn't see the film.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It was around

47. Al Franken "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right"
Yes, I knew exactly what this book would be about and nothing in it would change my outlook, but I figured that since the man is running for Senate I should read it. It was funny in parts, which is good, really, it is.

I liked "What's the Matter with Kansas" more, but whatever. Franken was writing in broad strokes.

I guess you should read it if you're in high school or something. I'm not sure who the target audience for this type of book. I guess whoever bought "Bush's Brain" or someone who lived in a cave since 1998.

Why would anyone want to make or see this movie?

98. "Entrapment"
It's the one where Catherine Zeta Jones slowly manuevers around the lazers in the museum. The one with the butt shot. It's not good. It's really predictable and a lot of Sean Connery's lines are laughable, like, "Time for another adventure."

I have to stop watching bad films before working at the Brain. Just because it's on and I'm eating dinner doesn't mean I should sit through it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

In a time before youtube

46. Billy Frolick "What I Really Want to Do Is Direct: Seven Film School Graduates Go to Hollywood"
My mother bought me this book while I was in junior high. She knew I wanted to direct films. I told her I only wanted to direct films that I wrote and the seven people in this book wanted to direct films written by them or anyone else and I didn't care to move to Hollywood. If Kevin Smith could make a film for under $30,000, why would I want to go to film school for $30,000 a year? I could make my own. I still kind of feel that way. Due to advances in cameras and editing technology, you can make a film for less than $30,000 and have it look good. Look at something like "Conversations with Other Women," a film shot in 12 days and edited on Final Cut Pro. I'd rather make a film like that than try to get into a studio system. I'm missing the point. The book isn't about that and doesn't say it is. It's about seven film school graduates from the early 1990s trying to break in in the mid 90s.

The seven graduates have different goals. One aspires to direct animated features. One does documentaries. One wants to focus on women's issues. One on gay issues. It seems that Frolick got one stereotypical film student from each different film school stereotype and tracked them for three years. It's difficult to care about any of them. All of them fail in one way or another. They all learn the lesson that Hollywood is a hard luck town and blah blah blah.

Yes we can

97. "Christmas on Mars"
I've been waiting to see this film since I heard about in 2003. Five years later, it has been released on DVD. I probably like it more that I had to wait.

The film is similar to the work of Ed Wood. It doesn't make much sense, the dialogue is extremely spares, most of the actors aren't professionals and it's obvious that we're in Oklahoma and not on Mars. So what? It's a film and supposed to be entertaining. It kind of is. It does drag. It's easy to lose track of what's going on. The black and white film doesn't help much either. So what? (As you can see, I really want to like this film) The cinematography is quite good and the B&W film makes 'space' seem colder. Like most B films, there is a lot of room for improvement.

The film was shot between 02 and 05. In that time period the lead actor, Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd was on and off heroin. It's clear that in some shots he's using. His weight easily fluctuates 20 pounds. Knowing this made the film easier to like. Coyne and Co. obviously had to work through this with their friend. They obviously made this as a labor of love. It's much easier to appreciate it when you know about the struggle.

The score can be deafening. It's wonderful, especially when it wanders into "Transmissions from the Satellite Heart" type stuff. The shots that use color have the same power as early Lips videos, which is a good thing.

If you are a casual B film or Sci-Fi fan, you won't dig this film. If you're a Flaming Lips devote that knows the story behind this, you will be glad you saw/bought this package. If you're in the mood to be inspired to make your own art, you can never go wrong with The Flaming Lips.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's up

The podcast is now available for download on iTunes. Visit for a direct link to subscribe. If you don't want to do that, open iTunes and just search for, "you, me, them, everybody". The first five episodes are available for free download. Please do this. Please tell everyone you know. Please tell people that want to advertise in the wonderful world of podcasting.

Thanks to Kevin for the wonderful logo and site help. Thanks to Daniel for the wonderful songs.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Purple Line Express

I ride the train for work. On Friday I spotted a bug. It reminded me of a Fetor demo. Here's the video.

I'd watch it again if they had a money ticker on the screen

96. "Armageddon"
Other: Brandon, haven't you seen this before?
Me: No. I avoided it when I came out in '98.
Other: So, why did you decide to watch it ten years later?
Me: I was bored at 1am.
Other: You stayed up til 1 to watch this flick?
Me: No, it started at 1. I stayed up til 4.
Other: 4am?
Me: Yea.
Other: Why?
Me: I wanted to look at money for three hours.
Other: What are you talking about?
Me: It's a Michael Bay movie. Every Bay movie looks like money.
Other: Do you know how much it cost?
Me: It cost $140 million to make and grossed over a half a billion dollars.
Other: Why do you know this?
Me: Because I know how to use a search engine.
Other: What did you think of the movie?
Me: I thought it was awful in every way.
Other: So why did you watch it?
Me: Because I couldn't stop thinking about the cast. Billy Bob Thorton got the part because of a small film he made called "Sling Blade". Ben Affleck got the part due to Kevin Smith flicks. Owen Wilson was cast because of "Bottle Rocket". It's like Michael Bay cherry picked every actor with a sliver of credibility and made them rich.
Other: But you could've came to that conclusion by looking up the cast list.
Me: You're right.
Other: Were you drinking?
Me: Not a drop of alcohol.
Other: Were you medicated?
Me: Not in any way.
Other: Suicidal?
Me: Nope.
Other: I'm confused.
Me: So am I.

Possible Bible

45. Nelson Algren "Nonconformity"
This essay is under one hundred pages. I bookmarked about half of it. Algren's writing about writing is, thus far, the best writing on writing I've ever read.

You can read this in about an hour. I took a little over two weeks. I re-read passages, recommended passages to friends and stretched out the first read as long as I possibly could.

Buy this book. It's under $3 on Amazon.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Dentistry? I can't even believe that's something that's real.

95. "The Foot Fist Way"
I think I saw my favorite comedy of 2008 (the film premiered in 2006 but was released in a few theaters by a major distributor in May of this year). Danny McBride stars as a Taekwondo instructor. He kicks ass. He swears at children. He drives a muscle car and has an awesome mustache.

It's funnier than "Napoleon Dynamite". Since it looks like said film and was also picked up by MTV Films, the comparison has been mentioned quite a bit. While "Napoleon" was a safe and awkward film, this one is raunchy and for a select audience. It reminds me of when Will Ferrell guests on Letterman and no one knows what's going on.

I love this film. I want every comedy to be like this film.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Disco Disco

94. "You Don't Mess with the Zohan"
I rented this movie because...
-I remember thinking it couldn't be as bad as it looked
-Judd Apatow co-wrote the script
-Mariah Carey shirts are funny
-It was a free rental
-I heard it dealt with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in a funny way

It was disappointing. I knew it would be disappointing, but...There is no excuse for my behavior.

From the canon

44. F. Scott Fitzgerald "The Great Gatsby"
I haven't read this book for eleven years. I forgot most of what happened. I picked it up because a few newscasters said it was worth rereading due to the current financial crisis. I'm glad I reread this classic.

Since I first read the work I thought of Gatsby as Puffy. I no longer think so. Since reading more of Algren, I think of Gatsby/Fitzgerald in the same way I think of all great authors, someone that could never be satisfied, someone forced into writing, never able to escape it.

Reread this book. I'd like to have a friend I could talk to about books published in 1925.


93. "For a Few Dollars More"
The Man with No Name has a partner in the second installment of the trilogy. Eastwood plays more of a supporting role to the new man in black, an older gun for hire. Both characters lend to each other, making something already badass really badass.

The introduction isn't as neat as "A Fistful of Dollars" but the story is slightly more complex, there's more character development and the score by Morricone is just as good. Highly recommended.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The last one?

Studs Terkel passed away this afternoon at the age of 96. I almost met the writer twice in the last two years. He was conducting an interview at Standard Indian Buffet on Belmont in Lakeview. I whispered to Kelsey, "Is that Studs Terkel?" She thought so. I went to the bookstore two doors down, bought two of the man's books and hurried back. By the time I returned he was gone. Earlier this year he signed copies of his new book. In order to get an autograph and praise the man in person, you needed to buy the book from the museum for $30. I didn't have $30. I went home.

I've been reading Studs Terkel's work for the last seven years. I'll pick up "Working" or "Division Street" when I visit my mother in the suburbs. My current bedside reading is "And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey". I recently started a podcast inspired by Studs show on WFMT. I'm reading Nelson Algren books because Mr. Terkel made sure the controversial, legendary authors out-of-print books (all of them) would remain in print since the late 90s. I've been trying to get a hold of Terkel's television show "Stud's Place" since I learned about it at the Chicago History Museum. The man has done everything I'd like to do, did it well and didn't buckle during McCarthyism. I can't think of a better writer to look up to.

Terkel connected Hemingway to Algren and beyond. The man interviewed some of the most important musicians of the 20th century. He conducted interviews with the common man and made it clear that everyone has a story.

If any of my friends would like to read Terkel's books, send me an email and I'll gladly lend you mine.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

If "Slacker" or "Clerks" influenced you

43. John Pierson "Spike, Mike, Slackers, & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema"
I began this book in 1997. I was 14 years old and wanted to direct films. I loved "Clerks" and "Roger & Me" and this book covered both. I read the chapters about each film but couldn't really enjoy anything else. 11 years later I was able to comprehend it a little better.

If you're not interested in independent American cinema from the 1980s and have no desire to make a film, this book is not for you. It's numbers heavy, name drops films and filmmakers you've probably never heard of and isn't a great story. It's definitly interesting, but not a great narrative. Pierson writes for aspiring filmmakers from the mid 90s. The info about how to edit a picture in your bedroom probably is different now due to advances in cameras and computers. I couldn't help but think of "Conversations with Other Women" during these parts.

It's difficult to find much information about Pierson's current work online. It would be nice to see what he thinks of current filmmaking.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The man as scum

92. "A Fistful of Dollars"
Clint Eastwood is the Man with No Name. He looks out for few, makes money off everyone and has the best shot in town. You can trust him but you won't figure out the angle until it's too late. He's the disease that might make the plague disappear. He is the ultimate bad-ass.

Sergio Leone helped recreate the Western with the first of his "Dollars Trilogy". Yea, he was sued successfully by Kurosawa's for ripping off his film "Yojimbo", but it doesn't matter. It's like saying "Clerks" is a remake of "Slackers". Both films are hugely important. Both films tell similar stories. Only one film has Eastwood.

The score by Ennio Morricone is a classic for a reason. It's haunting, memorable and fun (that is possible).

The dialogue doesn't sync because most of the cast spoke Italian. It's distracting. After 30 minutes you get used to it. By this point in the film, it's about Eastwood staring ahead, thinking who to kill next.

With Jack Lemmon

91. "Bell, Book and Candle"
Thanks to the wonderful MeTV station in Chicago, us non-cable viewers get a chance to watch "classic" films at odd hours any day of the week. Since it's the season of scary films, this James Stewart and Kim Novak flick was pretty great for the first half and not so bad for the second.

It's difficult not to enjoy the duo. Sure, the film isn't scary and definitely not a comedy (though it was nominated for the Golden Globes Best Picture - Comedy in 1958) and doesn't really go anywhere, but the performances are great. Not a bad way to waste a Saturday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kick 'em out

90. "Chicago 10: Speak Your Piece"
You might enjoy this partially animated documentary more if you have no idea about the 1968 DNC protests. If you live in Chicago and have a basic understanding of the Chicago machine, Daley 1 or the DNC, you'll probably already have an opinion on what happened.

Teenagers would love this film, especially ones that are into Rage Against the Machine. Film maker Brett Morgen liberally uses hard rockin' hits from the 90s to make all the cop/protester encounters seem like video game explosions. The computer animation makes the court room seem like the best theater you're not allowed to attend. Wherever you stand, this documentary looks and sounds excellent.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sloppy Joe

Guns N' Roses released the title track single to "Chine Democracy" this morning. You can listen to it here.

I think Axl sounds like Adam Sandler when he sings "Lunch Lady Land". It doesn't help that at around 1:50 Axl sings about "Chinese stew".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


89. "Eagle Vs. Shark"
Equal parts "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Me and You and Everyone We Know", this New Zealand based film is wonderful for people that are alone, read a lot, think they're smarter than everyone but are miserable and those that enjoy stop motion animation. It's good.

Lily works at a burger joint. She has a crush on the guy that comes in. His name is Jarrod. Lily works on an order for Jarrod on her last day at work. He gives her an invitation to pass along. She does. She ends up going to a party Jarrod is hosting. Guests dress up as their favorite animal. Lily goes as an eagle. Mark is a shark. There is a fighting game tournament. Jarrod wins. Lily lets him. They two begin dating. It's awkward. Quietly awkward. Lily and Jarrod go to his hometown so he can settle a score with the guy that bullied him in high school. That trip is also awkward.

A great film for a kid that's lonely in high school. If I find out any of my friends looooove this film I will worry that they are suicidal.