Monday, January 28, 2008


17. “The Education of Shelby Knox”
Yet another Netflix inspired viewing. I seem to enjoy documentaries after 2am.

This film reminds me of why I started a zine. Beliefs held at 16 and 17 are seem obvious then and 10 years later, they still seem obvious. Of coarse sex ed is a good idea, only morons would object. Of coarse GLBTQ groups should exist in every school, only people insecure about their own sexuality would object. Of coarse the people that protest outside of gay and lesbian funerals should be dismissed, only dumb Texans would listen (I realize that I shouldn’t call Texans dumb, but come on, this shit is absurd).

The documentary is good and heartbreaking and follows a lot of stereotypes but the filmmakers don’t try to use them (For example, Shelby’s parents are Republicans but support their daughter and her causes and say wonderful things about acceptance and education and more, but for most of the film and on the film poster, Mr. Knox is wearing an American flag polo shirt).

This film made me want to listen to Bad Religion and “try to make a difference” like I did at 17.

16. “Eels with Strings: Live at Town Hall”
I’ll count this one because it has an IMDB page.

I listen to the Eels more than any other band. I put off buying or renting this film because I own the soundtrack and figured that was enough. I was kind of right. The feature does have some behind the scenes stuff for the string tour and the segments with just E are quite pleasant. I probably won’t watch this again but I did have a few songs from “Blinking Lights” in my head for a few days.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The older I get the more I understand the appeal of Mr. Allen

15. "Mighty Aphrodite"
I probably wouldn't have enjoyed this film as much if I saw it when it was released, when I was 12. There's a good chance I would have been let down that there were no breast shots in a movie with a prostitute as a main character.

I don't care that Woody Allen makes a lot of the same films. They're good films with great dialogue. I should care about the guys personal life, considering he bases his work on his personal life and his personal life includes marrying his adopted daughter. I should really care about this fact considering Woody's character has an adopted son in this film. Whatever. "Mighty Aphrodite" is a great film.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Got ho's in every area code

6. Daniel Kalder "Lost Cosmonaut"
I picked up this travel based memoir at the 2007 Reader Book Swap. I started the book in the spring of 2007. It didn't do much for me.

Last week I ran out of books I brought to my mother's. I tried again with "Lost Cosmonaut." This time I was in the right state of mind.

Mr. Kalder's first book is not upbeat. It's not negative per se, but don't expect many fun tales from wacky locales. The author visits four Russian republics, four grey places where nothing much happens and no one escapes. Sounds boring. It's not. Each section is better than the last and by the time you read "My travels were finished." you wish they weren't.


14. "The Ten"
I started watching this movie at 3am on Monday morning. It's now almost 3am on Tuesday morning. I bought a new coffeemaker and wanted to have a cup and now I'm up at 3am on Tuesday morning. It's snowing and the living room looks barren without the Christmas tree.

How did David Wain get this cast?

"The Ten" is about the Ten Commandments. Paul Rudd kind of introduces each of the commandments and the whole thing ends in a big song. It's fun. I didn't laugh out loud but I did like at least one part in each segment. The comedy is absurd, similar to "Stella" and "Wet Hot American Summer," for obvious reasons.

I am wide awake at 3am.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thanks, DVDPlay

11. "I Think I Love My Wife"
This film is funny on paper. Louis CK and Chris Rock interpreting a French film. A recipe for success. It's not a recipe of success.

Mr. Rock has yet to make a great film. His stand-up remains great. Why can't he do both? Is it his fault? Can he act?

The beginning, middle and end of this film is predictable but easy to watch. I wouldn't seek it out again but I wouldn't turn it off at 3am.

12. "Loan Shark"
Just because a film is old doesn't make it a classic. Such is the case for "Loan Shark."

The 1952 film is about a man released from prison because he fought. Well, people fight all the time and don't go to prison, so what's up with this guy? He was a boxer and therefore, his fists are considered deadly weapons. Once out of the joint, he's offered a job at his brother-in-law tire factory. The head honcho wants the guy with the deadly fists to find out where all his employees money is going, in other words, he wants him to find out the loan shark. He refuses. His brother-in-law is killed, the dude works for the tire plant, ladies love the dude, he has a violent streak, blah blah blah.

The acting is mediocre, the story is weak and the cinematography suffers from time.

I watched this film because Netflix took off hour restrictions because Apple is now letting you download films or something. I finished this film at 5am.

13. "Ratatouille"
It's odd to hear Patton Oswalt in a Disney film. I kept wanting the rat to break into one of his bits, specifically the one about KFC's Famous Bowl.

Like all Pixar films, "Ratatouille" looks beautiful, is suitable for a 5-year old and a 35-year old, has a simple story that almost makes perfect sense (When did the two chef's fall in love?) and leaves your heart filled with rainbows and lollipops. It was good, but not great and I'm not sure why. I felt the same way about "The Simpson's Movie." Maybe it's because the jokes can't be current or the appeal has to span generations. Whatever. See the film. It'll make you smile.

This makes me smile a little more.

Mr. Oswalt reviewed the bowl for "The Onion." Read it here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The hamburger phone was a gag used to make her seem hip, but it really shows how the cool care too much

10. "Juno"
I heard too much about this film before I saw it. I heard that it's great. I heard that I'd love it. I'd heard that the dialogue is quick and witty. I heard that the soundtrack was great. I heard that everyone that saw it liked it, regardless if they were 40 or 14. On Sunday I read the first piece of criticism that didn't like the film at all. Jim DeRogatis wrote the piece and it was on the cover of the Showtime section of the Chicago Sun-Times. You can read it here.

I tend to agree with the article.

DeRo's piece, well at least the reason for the piece, is to review the soundtrack. He gives it one out of four stars, not because the music is bad, but because it's unrealistic. Kimya Dawson of The Moldy Peaches appear more than any other artist. She's 35. The liner notes, according to DeRo, quotes director Reitman saying, "a patchwork of homemade sounds made by teenagers whose sense of humor and honesty rang through the crappy tape recorder they were using to capture their chicken-scratch lyrics." That's total bullshit. Most teenage groups, at least all the one's I've heard, sound like shit and only their friends like them. And that's just fine. Teenagers that I work with, specifically the ones that are juniors like Juno, like what's popular on the radio, their friends bands and bands they've seen open for bigger bands at shows. Few have heard of Kimya Dawson and none of them sing her songs with their boyfriend or girlfriend on their front steps.

The film's voice isn't wholly original. Write Diablo Cody gives Juno almost all the good lines, but she doesn't seem that realistic. I get that she's a clever little S.O.B., but she really only shows emotions in three scenes. Ellen Page plays a 16 year old. Female. That's pregnant. A more realistic portrayal would have her all over the map in most it not all scenes. The supporting cast also seem to be too cool for their own good, everyone except adopted mother Jennifer Garner.

"Juno" never had a chance with me and that really sucks. Maybe it's because I'm too old. Maybe it's because I work with teenagers and pregnancy isn't funny, at least where I work. Maybe it's because I'm tired of 'cool' characters. I really don't know what it is.

Monday, January 14, 2008


9. "Katt Williams: American Hustle"
The sequel to "Pimp Chronicles" does not live up to the original. In any way. Da Brat wasn't needed. Or Snoop. Or Jeremy Piven. Or Ludacris.

"It's your mother-fucking self-esteem!"

I am not an athlete

3. Michael Lewis "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game"
Thanks, Phil, I enjoyed the book. I had no idea about the phenomenon and I feel like I've been told an obvious secret.

4. Kevin Kaduk "Wrigleyworld : A Season in Baseball's Best Neighborhood"
I ordered this book on Amazon because it available for one cent and I've been buying most books about Chicago and especially books about the Chicago Cubs. Since the weather is so horrible I think I've been trying to escape to Wrigley Field.

I am not like Kevin Kaduk. The author is the typical mid-twenties Cubs fan, which isn't all that bad. He's the frat member that probably wouldn't try to fuck your female friends after a few cocktails. His view of Wrigley Field and Lakeview in general is one of the reasons why I don't live there anymore. He enjoys the Cubs, a great thing, but he mentions the eye candy, neighborhood bars and drinking on Addison and Southport as much as he talks about the team. If you're able to get past this stuff, which isn't that hard, the book is an enjoyable read, especially the ways he obtains tickets.

All in all, if you're willing to get past the envy, the book is pretty good.

5. Jeannie Morris "Brian Piccolo: A Short Season"
I couldn't sleep last night. I loathe the unincorporated town in which my mother resides. Regardless of how tired I am, it takes hours to fall asleep. I tried at 2am. No luck. I started to read this book a half an hour later. I finished it that night.

It's difficult to get a grasp on Brian Piccolo's life from this book, written nearly 40 years ago. The author, a friend of the late running back's widow, portrays Piccolo as a caring and hopeful smartass. Time hasn't been kind to some of the homophobic and racist comments, but it seems they were all in jest. In fact, this little tidbit kind of sums up the whole thing. The story is more well known than Piccolo's athletic career, family life and his actual self and the book doesn't do much to offer much more insight into the man, other than he had a good sense of humor.

Piccolo died much to young at 26, but "Brian's Song" does a much better job at making the man seem, well, like a man.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


8. "Waitress"
This film is nearly perfect. The back story makes the film even more poignant.

Secret Asian Man

7. "Casino Royale"
So James Bond used to be a dick?

The 21st Bond film is based on the first Bond novel, so the filmmakers decided to reinvent the character. This means that he doesn't care if his martini's are shaken or stirred and he likes to kill a lot more ruthlessly. He also fell in love. Then he got his heart broke. Now he's a mother fucker.

The film is alright, but not as good as reviews made it seem. The dialogue isn't that great, the situations are still unbelievable and the new Bond doesn't ooze sex. But it's still worth watching.


There's a gym in Humboldt Park run by the city. Kelsey and I visited yesterday. I like the gym. It reminds me of a gym that Rocky would use. I will now be able to crush Russia.


2. Stephen Colbert "I Am America (And So Can You!)
Of coarse I enjoyed this book. I can read and understand words at at least a high school level. I also don't want to shoot at any brown or other non-white people, so of coarse I enjoyed the book.

It's better than "America," the book released by "The Daily Show" a few years ago. Colbert's character Colbert reads just as well as he is on screen. As an odd bonus, the book seemed even better due to the writer's strike.

I read the book peace meal since it was released. I don't think it was harmed by the odd schedule. Then again, it's a fucking book and the words aren't going to change over time, so I think I was fine all along.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's getting better

5. "The Hoax"
The movie made me want to read the book. Not the book that the movie is based on, but the book in the movie.

In the early 1970s Clifford Irving told his publisher that he was writing the autobiography of Howard Hughes. He wrote the book. It wasn't an autobiography. Hughes made his last public appearance by phoning the press to reveal that he had never heard of Mr. Irving. "The Autobiography of Howard Hughes" was pulped. That's the book I want to read.

And now I can!

Mr. Irving runs his own site. You can download "The Autobiography" for a $5.95 donation to Irving's publisher. Or you can just click on the link and read it for free. Whatever. The book technically belongs to the original publisher, at least that's what the film made it seem like, so I'm not sure why you should donate to Irving's publisher.

6. "Shoot 'Em Up"
My main job doesn't begin until Monday and I'm still a little under the weather. So fuck it, I'm watching a lot of movies. I got "Shoot 'Em Up" because I figured Kelsey wouldn't want to watch such a dude film. Also, I didn't want to watch "Waitress" alone at 3 in the afternoon. It just felt sad.

"Shoot 'Em Up" is the highlight thus far. I think I'd watch Clive Owen on a cooking show. The film makes little to no sense but it doesn't matter. It's highly entertaining and kinda has an anti-gun message.

I've done nothing this week.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Mike and I were in Cleveland last weekend to play some shows. We played the shows. There wasn't much else to do. We took a MegaBus from Chicago. It cost $4.50 round trip for both of us. I got sick on Saturday. Anyways, the bus back was late on Sunday so Mike and I saw a few movies.

1. "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"
The shitty movie theater in shitty downtown Cleveland had this and a few other flicks. Mike and I chose this. It was OK. I was kinda let down. Considering that I enjoyed "Superbad" quite a bit and thought Reilly was the best part of "Talladega Nights" I figured that "Walk Hard" would be just as good. It wasn't. It wasn't bad either, just not great. Whatever. It killed some time.

The theater had some of the laxest security I've ever seen. It also had "Alvin."

2. "Alvin and the Chipmunks"
Not so bad. Really. The story was extremely weak, the acting was over the top and the product placement was blatant, but fuck it, it's a kid's movie and it made me smile. I also enjoyed the dialogue.

Some evil guy played by David Cross: "Alvin! Stop it!"
Alvin: "Stop what? Being awesome?"

That made me laugh out loud and cough a lot. My laughing made Mike wake up.

"Alvin and the Chipmunks" was in the same vein as the "Josie and the Pussycats" film released a few years ago. The villains were both portrayed by indie approved actor/comedians (Parker Posey and David Cross) and both films lambasted the industry they needed and both films featured songs sung in a high pitch.

3. "Breach"
The MegaBus driver was an asshole. He wouldn't let us board even after a woman from customer service demanded him. After shaking his head for a few more minutes, he finally waved us on. Throughout the trip he would make jokes, like, "This bus no go to Chicago, we go back to Cleveland." The broken English didn't add to his comic genius. The driver put on "Breach" a few hours into the trip. Before starting the film, he said "Everybody who watch the movie pay $200." Then he restarted the previews.

"Breach" is the type of film I never desire to see. Like "The Insider" and other films that expose harsh realities set a few years ago, "Breach" is an excellent film that makes you think and blah blah blah. Each actor is great at their craft and the story has no holes. But it's boring. It doesn't take you out of own reality (what odd wording) and doesn't make you think either.

4. "The Brothers Solomon"
I'm still sick. Kelsey and I went to Dominick's the other night to get something from DVDPlay. They had this. This had G.O.B. It wasn't good.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

From the writer of the movie with the pregnant and witty teenager

1. Diablo Cody "Candy Girl : A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper"

The "Juno" screenwriters first book, "Candy Girl" is a quick, kinda pleasing read. Fans of Chuck Klosterman will enjoy it. A lot of pop culture references. Not much else to say.

I finished the book around 4am. It was too late to get out of bed and do anything else but my mind wasn't detached enough. I forgot that feeling. I had it most of 2006, the last time I did this wacky experiment. While my mind feels more stimulated, I feel hard-pressed to do more writing, recording, etc. After 20 minutes of thinking about what I should be doing, I devolve into the why, which is always a waste of time.