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robert Below are 20 entries, after skipping 20 most recent ones in the "robert" journal:

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June 20th, 2010
11:36 am

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Never Let Go
Huh,  I had no idea Never Let Me Go was being made into a movie until I saw the trailer on the IMDB just now.  It's kind of a shame, really, since, as I wrote after I read the book, "the joy in reading it lies in the way the actual premise is only gradually revealed to us."  Which of course is now ruined for everyone who hasn't already read the book and who pays even the slightest attention to current movies.  I can't imagine reading the book already knowing what it's about.

And damn you, Tony Awards, for rekindling my enthusiasm for the theater and making me want to see everything!  There's a reason why I closed off that part of myself: theater is an art form for people with money, which does not include me.  And it seems that every Broadway show I want to see is coming to L.A. over the course of the next year and a half: Avenue Q, American Idiot, Rock of Ages, Next to Normal, Spring Awakening, Leap of Faith... I'm going to go broke.  On the other hand, I'm also discovering that going to the theater is a lot like going to college: at first it seems prohibitively expensive, but once you start looking into it you realize that there are affordable ways to go if you're really determined.  And I don't mean buying the cheap nosebleed seats, either.  For instance, Jason and I just bought half-price (well, not quite half-price) tickets for In the Heights on Goldstar.com.  They also have $25 rush tickets for students, but Jason lost his student ID, which leaves us out.

I don't understand fogless shower mirrors.  I don't understand how they work, or why they stop working after you use them like twice.  I'm guessing that they're treated with some sort of moisture-resistant chemical, which then wears off.  So then what's the point?

And what's the point of long city piers that jut out far into the ocean?  It can't just be so that they can build Ruby's Diners at the end of them.

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June 18th, 2010
07:38 pm

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Dead Again
Okay, ummm... film critics?  Could you please stop giving every Pixar movie ridiculously high ratings the likes of which Citizen Kane would have trouble achieving if it were released today?  Because it's really creeping me out.

I'm a bit troubled by this claim that a Hollywood movie has to make double its budget in box office sales just to break even.  If that's true, then the only movies this year that have made a profit are Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Last Song, Death at a Funeral, Valentine's Day, Dear John, and Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?, and I just don't see how that's possible.  Or sufferable.

I've found that having a conversation with anyone over the age of 60 is a lot like chatting with Leonard from Memento.  They never remember your previous conversations, so you end up repeating the same discussions over and over again.  Thus, for instance, when my mother visits, it's only a matter of time before we must perform the Grocery Store Dialogue:

Mom: Do you shop at that Stater Bros.?

Robert: No, but Jason does.

Mom: Where do you shop?

Robert: Vons.

Mom: Huh, the most expensive one!

Robert: No, Albertson's is the most expensive.

Sometimes I vary it a little, but her part is always exactly the same.  Maybe next time I'll say I shop at Food 4 Less just to see if the scene branches off into a wildly new direction and creates an alternate timeline or something.

This also means that every time I see my aunt and uncle, I get to hear them describe the same scene from the same episode of Dead Like Me, every single time.  You'd think that eventually one of them would remember that they've already told me about it numerous times.  I was almost considering avoiding the show just on sheer principle (I have no idea what that principle actually is, though).  But then I decided that A. these are the same people who exhorted me to watch Northern Exposure, and that worked out well, B. it's on Netflix Watch Instantly, so I might as well give it a try.

And it's phenomenal.  Really, I can't tell you how good this show is.  Barring some unforeseen shark jumping, I think it might be my favorite show ever.  Why does no one talk about this show?  Why did it only last two seasons?  Why has the star, Ellen Muth (who's remarkable, by the way), not appeared in anything else since then? Did casting directors seek her out only to keep hiring Ellen Page by mistake?  Because that would explain Ellen Page's career, as well.

The rest of the cast is great, too: Mandy Patinkin, Cynthia Stevenson, Random Hot British Guy, Whitley from A Different World, and a few unknowns, all of whom are equally terrific.  Actually, perhaps the best actor on the show is someone named Christine Willes, who I see now was also on Reaper.  Weird.

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June 11th, 2010
08:59 pm

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Abacab to Ziggy Stardust
I love the Sound 100.3.  They're currently in the process of playing every song in their library, in alphabetical order.  They've been at it for 36 hours now and they're only on the "D's"  It's like porn for anal retentive people like me.  It's a shame, then, that I dislike at least half of their library.  But whatever, it's fun trying to predict what song is next, or what song will mark the beginning of each letter (I correctly guessed that "Baba O'Reilly" would kick off the "B's," but of course that's obvious, since it couldn't be anything else... unless there's a rock version of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" that I don't know about).

It must have been so bizarre being a Beatles fan during the actual Beatlemania.  I can't imagine what all those screaming, crying teenage girls thought when Revolver and Sgt. Pepper came along.  It's like they started out as the Jonas Brothers and suddenly turned into Pink Floyd.  And we think of them having this big musical career spanning a dozen different albums, but those dozen albums literally came out within a span of seven years.  Imagine the Killers having twelve albums, and an "early period" and a "late period."  It's unthinkable.

I'm not trying to praise the Beatles here, and in fact I kind of hate them now.  I thought it would be fun to download all of their songs and listen to them in chronological order (it was the chronological part that appealed to me more than the Beatles part), but all it did was make me want to never hear any of their songs again.  Which I guess is a good lesson: never try to listen to the complete works of a band if you don't absolutely love them to begin with.

I still love Across the Universe, though.  I think that movie exists to make the Beatles listenable.  TV Carpio's rendition of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is still astonishing to me.

I can't believe I used to confuse Journey with Foreigner when I was a kid, considering Journey is one of the best bands ever and Foreigner is one of the worst.

I also never realized that the "village" in "the Village People" is Greenwich Village.  I always thought they just sort of became a gay icon.  I didn't know that the band was created with the express purpose of being a gay icon.

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June 6th, 2010
07:57 pm

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It's a shame Arrested Development was canceled just when it was starting to get really brilliant.  Or rather, it's a shame they waited until they were in danger of cancellation before they started making it brilliant.  I really hope this movie happens.

But as much as I like Michael Cera (never thought I would say that, either, but after Youth in Revolt and AD, I'm starting to get what people see in him), and as much as I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I have to say that Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World looks depressingly stupid.  It looks exactly like a movie Napoleon Dynamite would make.  It'll probably be a big hit.

Oh, wait, except Ann is in it.

Nope, sorry, it still looks stupid.

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May 27th, 2010
11:19 pm

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Arrested Development
I swear, Linkin Park is the Ann (from Arrested Development) of the music world.  Has there ever been a more forgettable band?  Every time I hear one of their songs, I think, "Who sings this song?"  Then after I've looked it up, I'll hear it again the next day and think, "Who sings this song?"  Even now, I couldn't tell you the names of any of their songs or hum any of their melodies, even though I hear them all the time.  In fact, for years I thought they were a rap group.  I think I thought they were Cypress Hill.  Cypress, California, also happens to be the world's most forgettable city.  Maybe that's why they're called Cypress Hill.  Wait, who was I talking about?

There really needs to be a show in which Michael Bluth, Chandler Bing, Jim Halpert, and Dan Rydell just hang out and be charmingly snarky to each other.

I really hate that I had to write that last sentence grammatically incorrectly in order to word it the way I wanted to.

I've been watching Arrested Development, if you haven't guessed.  So far I like it but I don't love it.  I can see why people find it hilarious, and it often seems like something I would and should find hilarious, but somehow I don't.  Mostly it's just mildly amusing.  I think part of the problem is that I find GOB  (whom the writers clearly believe to be the best comedic weapon in their arsenal) more annoying than funny.  And most of the biggest laughs come from walk-on characters rather than the main cast.

I suppose I should say something about Lost here, but I'm not sure that I have the energy.  Much has been said about the lack of resolution for most of its mysteries, its fuzzy plotting, its dangling plot threads, and its confusing structure, but at last, there is one thing about the show that is completely certain: it's a bad show.  In fact, it was always a bad show, we were just duped into believing otherwise.

I had my misgivings even during the much beloved, Emmy-winning first season.  The constant flashbacks grew tiresome, and it always bugged me that every single character had a colorful, abnormal background.  But there also seemed to be a purpose to these back stories.  Now, of course, we know that there was no purpose, to anything.  Claire's special baby, who had to be raised by her and her alone, wasn't so special and could have been raised by anyone.  Hurley's magical numbers were just... magical numbers.  The show was quite literally made up as it went along, which wouldn't have been a problem, except that the entire show hinged on unraveling mysteries, on following a single, over-arcing plot line that we thought existed, but which was all smoke and mirrors.  Or smoke monsters, rather.  Well, just the one smoke monster, actually.  Who is really a nameless guy who just wants to leave the island, but no one will let him, and who was transformed into a smoke monster by his brother, who is in charge of protecting light.  Actual light.  It's not even really a metaphor, except insofar that it's light and light is a good thing.  And dark is bad.  Honestly, what grade are the writers of this show in?  Because when they get to junior high, they're going to get beaten up a lot.

So after years of suffering through pointless flashbacks, characters who were intricately developed only to be killed off and forgotten about (remember Mr. Eko?), story lines that went nowhere, whole episodes in which nothing really happened, and an entire season spent trying to stop the entire series from ever happening in the first place, this, it turns out, is what it's all about: the island has Light, and it has to be protected from the smoke guy who just wants to leave the island.  That's it.  I've seen more thematically complex storytelling in a greeting card.  For fuck's sake, let him leave!  Hell, maybe going back in time to stop the events of the series from ever happening wasn't such a bad idea!  Maybe the entire fifth season was a metaphor for how much the show sucks and how it never should have made it to the airwaves in the first place.

That would explain why, for the sixth season, the writers just gave up completely.  "Okay, here's a temple, and some people who live in a temple.  They serve no purpose whatsoever, but they're something to watch while we figure out how to end this damn thing."  They gave Sayid a mysterious Evil Disease, which was then forgotten about completely, even though Claire supposedly has it, too.  Claire's psycho, then she's not, then she is, but, whatever, Kate wants to take back home and give her child back to this crazy lady.  Oh, yeah, and there are flash-sideways, which are really flash-forwards to the after life, where everybody gets together before Moving On, but only after they all remember that they fell in love with someone on the island.  "Oh, yeah, Shannon.  I remember you, we had a brief fling on that island.  I'm going to spend eternity with you instead of with Nadia, the love of my life."  Desmond gets to play Michael Landon, they all go to church and hold hands (what, no "Kumbaya"?) and... what the fuck?!  Is this a television show or one of those leaflets you get from Christians trying to get you to go to their church?  This is not how you end a TV series.  This is how you end a Forest Lawn commercial.

And then there's FlashForward, which was riddled with flaws, sure, but which was exciting and thought-provoking and thematically complex and which actually had a purpose.  And now, thanks to ABC and the legions of Lost fans who ignored this vastly superior show, I'll never know what happens after that ridiculously stirring season ender.  It's like Twin Peaks all over again, and it's heartbreaking.  I'm at a loss, America.  I really am.

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May 23rd, 2010
07:58 pm

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Netflix Short 23.976
I like how Netflix and its users are collaborating on a sort of free-form avant-garde comedy routine.  Watch the video and then read the comments, and you'll guarantee yourself 12 minutes or so of hilarious entertainment (I especially like yku 939128's comment).  This could be like the next cultural phenomenon.

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May 22nd, 2010
10:03 am

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I'm On a Horse
I can't help but notice that radio stations never play "Human" anymore.  They play "Spaceman" instead, which is an infinitely better song.  I feel so vindicated and grateful.

I'm actually going through a kind of music renaissance.  I'm discovering things about my musical tastes, thanks mostly to 100.3 The Sound (they're "all about the music"): I like '60s music a lot more than I thought I did; I hate '70s southern rock, country-rock, folk-rock, and anything from the '70s that sounds remotely country-ish (even a lot of Who songs sound like country, which I don't get); and Styx is the most awesome rock band in the world.

I really wish Jason had not taken me to see Babies.  I think The Human Centipede would have been less traumatizing.  Seriously.  I'm still haunted by the image of the Namibian mother getting pooped on her by her baby and wiping it off with a corn cob.  I don't think I'll ever recover.  And I saw way more boobies, bodily fluids, baby butts and baby pee-pees than one non-parent should ever have to see in one 79-minute span of time.  At least there were kitties, though.

Can commercials be art?  I'm beginning to think so.  I mean, I've seen few movies and TV shows lately that are as fundamentally satisfying (or as funny) as the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" ads.  Or that Old Spice commercial (why is that guy not the biggest star in the world?).  They've raised advertising to an art form... not just in terms of the production of the commercial, but in the actual act of advertising their product.  Commerce has never been more beautiful.  I still don't want to drink Dos Equis, but if I did drink beer, I would prefer Dos Equis.

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April 28th, 2010
10:04 pm

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For those who don't know
Project Bijou lives again.

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April 23rd, 2010
07:52 pm

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Rocket Science
The next time I decide to rent a quirky indie comedy, especially one for which the words "coming of age" appear anyway in the plot synopsis, will someone please inject me with something lethal?  Better that than to endure a fascistically quirky abomination like Rocket Science.  The dad drives over the trash bags every time he backs up the car!  Ha ha ha ha ha!!!  The (white) mom dates a Korean man!  Ha ha ha ha ha!!!  A middle-aged couple plays Violent Femmes duets on the cello and piano!  Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!!!  Oh, these characters are so hilariously quirky!

Weirdly, Anna Kendrick, who was the worst thing about Up in the Air, is the best thing about this movie (indeed, the only good thing about this movie), which has me confused about life.

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April 9th, 2010
07:55 pm

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Fonzie's Been Cloned!
Never mind, Mad Movies really wasn't very funny.  I forgot that I was like 10 at the time.

Of course, after discovering this, I don't see how I'll be able to find anything else funny, ever again.  I think it's the funniest thing ever made.  If it were just a minute longer, I do believe I would have died from laughing, like the weasels in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and thus lived (or, rather, died) Jason's biggest fear.

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April 4th, 2010
11:18 pm

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Mad About Mad Movies
If someone asked me what the funniest TV show of all time is, they'd probably expect me to say Family Guy or The Office or Friends.  But they'd be wrong.  The funniest TV show of all time is something called Mad Movies, which aired on Nickelodeon in the '80s and hasn't been heard from (or even remembered, really) since.  It was sort of a forerunner of Mystery Science Theater 3000, except they simply took a movie (well, a 30-minute condensed version of a movie) and dubbed over the soundtrack with new dialogue.  And it was freakin' hilarious (of course, so is the "Film Dub" game from Whose Line It It Anyway?, which is the same thing... I guess I just have a weakness for that kind of humor).   I've thought about this show often over the years but never really expected to see it again.

Well, it turns out the people responsible for that show are doing live dubs of cheesy old movies once a month at the Laemmle Royal Theatre in L.A., and showing an episode of Mad Movies afterwards!  I am so there!

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March 29th, 2010
08:11 pm

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Dark Luck for the Journey Forward
The other night I saw a teaser for the news that said that Barack Obama would be telling us what he thinks about Tiger Woods.

And tonight, Nelson Mandela will finally give us his thoughts on Tonya Harding!

It doesn't look like FlashForward is going to make it past this season, which annoys me.  Why don't good sci-fi shows (FlashForward, Journeyman, Strange Luck, Dark Skies... and Firefly, if the rumors concerning its brilliance are true) ever make it anymore, while bad sci-fi shows (The X-Files, Lost, Sliders, Heroes, V) become popular and linger for years?  Or maybe they were good because they were canceled so soon, before they had a chance to turn into crap, like Battlestar Galactica.

Okay, The X-Files wasn't really a bad show (the Darin Morgan episodes were actually brilliant), and Dark Skies wasn't all that good.  I just preferred the latter because it had a more interesting premise (does anyone but me even remember that show?).  I seem to have a tendency to prefer rip-offs to the shows that spawned them.

Lately, every time I walk into a room in which a TV is on, Everybody Loves Raymond is the show that's playing.  Or King of Queens.  Or According to Jim.  Or Yes, Dear.  Whatever it's called.  That's all the same show, right?  Whatever, it's always playing.  Every single time.  And this is what disturbs me.

And every time I have to stop at a train crossing because of a freight train, the train will be moving really slowly, and then it will stop, right in the middle of the road, and then go back the way it came.  Every single time.  I don't understand what's happening to me sometimes.

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March 21st, 2010
06:17 pm

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Ultimo!
Okay, this is what I'm talking about.  This is an actual speech given by Iron Man's arch-nemesis, the Mandarin, to Tony Stark (who at this time was still pretending to be Iron Man's employer, rather than revealing that he actually is Iron Man), in an old Stan Lee-written comic book.   This was written completely seriously and unironically, and I haven't changed a single word:

Actually, it was Iron Man I sought... but I could not locate him on my multi-dimensional trans-scanner!  Therefore, as his employer, it is only fitting that you take his place!!  Iron Man is the only foe ever to have defeated me in the past!  And now, as I stand on the thresh-hold of my greatest triumph... it is only fitting that he... or you, his compatriot, be forced to helplessly witness my earth-shaking victory!  It is a pity Iron Man himself was not in your car when I trans-dimensionalized you to my castle!  My very soul hungers to have him cringe helplessly before my unassailable power!  For I am about to unleash... Ultimo!  Ultimo!!  My greatest creation!  Ultimo!  The one who shall give me dominion over... the entire human race!  For, I can still feel the sting of his iron fist as it struck me... me, the Mandarin... who had never known physical attack before!  But, eventually my chance will come!  Once Ultimo has risen, I shall find the hated Avenger once more... and destroy him bare-handed... with the mightiest karate chop ever known!

Wow, that's awesome.  Ed Wood would weep to read that.  I love how it doesn't even make any sense at all.

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12:28 pm

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Kick-Asshole
What's the big deal about Australia?  I always hear people saying, "Oh, I'd love to go to Australia!"  Or "I went to Australia and I can't wait to go back!"  I don't get it.  Australia is nothing but a giant desert with an opera house and some kangaroos and about a gajillion small creatures that want to kill you and can do so with tremendous ease and efficiency.  It's a wonder there's anyone left alive down there.  Australia is the last place I'd ever vacation in.

Well, no, Iraq is the last place I'd vacation in, but you know what I mean.

I used to think I'd like to visit England, or even live there, but I'm pretty much over that.  Lately, every English movie and book  I've come across (and there have been a lot of them for some reason) has painted England as this depressingly bleak, almost dystopian place.  Especially Yorkshire.  Everything about Yorkshire is just awful: the landscape, the weather, the accents, the terriers, the pudding, the Ripper...

Besides, I've decided to take up hating the British as a hobby.  Especially ones who sit around pubs drinking pints of bitter and watching football and complaining about the Yanks.

Actually, I think the main reason I've been reading so many English (and Irish) novels lately is that 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, despite its claim that it was written by "over one hundred international critics," was, as revealed by closer inspection, actually written by what appears to be the entire staff of the English department at the University of Sussex, and so the selection is weighted heavily in favor of British and Irish literature.  I feel slightly betrayed.

Yesterday started out annoying and inconvenient for me but turned out quite all right in the end.  I went to the Arclight in Hollywood to see Greenberg and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, having already prepurchased my tickets the night before.  I left my apartment with what seemed to be plenty of time to get there, but I hadn't reckoned on the ridiculous traffic on the 101 caused, apparently, by a car fire, so I arrived too late for the first movie, Greenberg.  This really pissed me off, seeing as how I had already bought the ticket and I had two hours to wait until the next movie, until I realized I could just get a free pass with my unused ticket and redeem it for a ticket for Greenberg after the other movie instead of before.  And since my original ticket for Greenberg was at a bargain matinee price, this meant I could see a movie at night for the price of a matinee (since passes don't differentiate between matinee and regular prices... or, as the Arclight calls it, "peak" and "non-peak").

And I was able to spend the intervening time reading Kick-Ass (all eight issues) at the Borders across the street, which I'd been wanting do do for a while anyway, so it was all good.  Thus, I was able to confirm that yes, Mark Millar is a shit writer, quite irredeemably so.  I have no idea why he's so popular, or how he keeps getting his comics made into movies (he also wrote Wanted).  And so quickly!  I mean, literally, it was like the first issue of Kick-Ass came out and suddenly the movie was being made.  And meanwhile, far superior comic book writers still don't have movie deals, or, if they do, nothing has come about from them (where the hell is this Y: The Last Man movie we're supposed to be getting, for instance?).

Actually, I do know why he's so popular.  It's because he writes like a teenage boy, and comic book fans read like teenage boys (or are teenage boys, but most of them seem to be older).  Superman and Batman are the two most famous comic book characters ever created, and they were both created by teenage boys (I mean, actual teenage boys).  It's a teenage boy industry.  Except Mark Millar is in his 40s, which just makes it sad.

And plus he's just a douche.  There's a splash page in Kick-Ass depicting nothing but Hit-Girl saying, "What a douche," and for a second I thought for sure she was talking to Millar.  You can tell he's a douche even if you don't read all the douchey things he says in interviews and on message boards.  His comics are just drenched in vinegar and water feminine hygiene products.

But what annoys me the most about Kick-Ass is that it's vaguely similar to the comic book I wrote and submitted to Marvel as part of their aborted Epic line (basically, anyone could submit a comic book to be published, but the whole thing fell through once they realized they hadn't thought through the legal implications of the arrangement).  Except it's like a twisted, perverted version of my comic.  Actually, it's sort of like the exact opposite of my comic, the Bizarro version: Kick-Ass is about a teenage fanboy in the big city who puts on a lame costume and fights crime despite having no fighting skills; my comic was about a teenage fangirl in the suburbs who puts on a lame costume and fights crime because she has fighting skills.  Kick-Ass is a hard R-rated comic, mine was a soft PG.  But the plot has a lot of disturbing similarities.  I'm not saying Mark Millar stole my idea (or even read my idea), but it annoys me all the same, if for no other reason than mine was better (I'm not even going to tell you what I named my superhero, but you can guess it easily if you know me at all.  It even begins with the same letter as "Kick-Ass").

I still think I want to see the movie, though, because it looks like it could be good.  It's like with Iron Man: he's a shit comic book character created by a shit writer, but he makes a great movie character.

Anyway... The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo turned out to be surprisingly retarded.  I didn't know it was basically just a serial killer whodunit (the trailer makes it look much cooler and more interesting than that).  The overwhelmingly positive reviews puzzle me, as it's just as dumb as your average Hollywood thriller, but it's in Swedish and it's two and a half hours long (feels more like four hours, though).  The success of the novel that spawned it also puzzles me.  I've never heard of a Swedish crime thriller having that kind of transatlantic appeal, and there's nothing about this story that screams "international bestseller" to me.  What am I missing?  The original Swedish title translates as "Men Who Hate Women," which is a pretty good plot summary.  The movie is just as crass and simple-minded and misandrist as that title implies (there's even a tacky and disturbing rape scene that has nothing do with anything).

I liked Greenberg, though.  I've heard people complain that the title character is an asshole, but there's nothing necessarily wrong with that.  I'm thinking of becoming an asshole myself in the future.

Incidentally, both movies are about a nascent and awkward sexual relationship between a man in his 40s and a woman in her 20s, one of whom was recently released from a mental hospital.  Which isn't that coincidental, but still, the trend continues.

Apropos of nothing, I remembered another movie audience pet peeve of mine: 1. Movie character is given an alcoholic beverage, takes a sip, 2. Cut to shot of movie character in advanced state of inebriation, 3. Cue audience laughter... every single fucking time!  Why is this funny?!  There's this perception among the general populace that alcohol and anything having to do with alcohol is inherently funny and cool and edgy, and I find this extremely irritating.  It's why we get so many anecdotes beginning with, "I got so wasted last night!"

Oh, and people who laugh at things in a movie that they already saw a hundred times in the trailer.  Basically, everyone just stop fake laughing.  Genuine  laughter is a wonderful thing, but most laughter you hear in a movie theater is of the fake, "appreciative chuckle" kind.  Nobody cares that you get the joke, or that you appreciate the joke!

Thank you, that is all.

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March 17th, 2010
01:38 pm

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I just found about this movie called The Human Centipede.  It's about a scientist who sews three people together, mouth to ass.  Why this is important or medically beneficial is unclear to me, but I must learn more.  The only thing better than that plot description is the quotes they use on the poster.  One says, "Shockingly controversial."  Then below that it says (again, in quotation marks, as though it's a quote from a film critic), "100% medically accurate."

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March 13th, 2010
06:09 pm

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I do, on the other hand, now have a Twitter account (horkology).  At present I only have four followers, but my power base is growing.

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04:31 pm

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Attention, everyone: I do not have a Facebook account.  Matt has a Facebook account with my name and picture because he's obsessively in love with me, but I do not have one.  Do not befriend me on Facebook.  Do not try to contact me on Facebook, because I will not see it.  I don't even know how to see it.

Thank you, that is all.

(and the part about Matt being in love with me was just a joke.  Please regard it as such.)

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March 6th, 2010
01:23 pm

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La Mauvaise Soupe
I had another vaguely surreal "label emergency" trip up north the other day, this time to Sacramento.  The drive up there was beautiful.  If a proposition was put on the ballot to create a vast irrigation system that will keep all of California looking green and pretty all year round, I'd be all for it.  It made my drive so much more pleasant (and it makes the drive into Riverside much more pleasant, too... even Corona is beautiful right now).  The rolling green hills evoke Ireland at its greenest and most rolling.  In the Gorman pass, I even saw snow on top of the rolling green hills.  Green and white are not colors you often see in Southern California, and certainly not together.  But the best part was when I actually drove under a rainbow, and thereby discovered what happens when you get to the end of the rainbow (answer: it disappears... I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere).

After I dropped off the labels (if it weren't for me, the entire wine industry would grind to a halt, because the wineries wouldn't have their labels), what I really wanted to do was have a nice lunch before heading home again.  And I didn't want to go to just any restaurant, I wanted a good restaurant.  So the first step was locating the nearest Barnes & Noble or Borders so I could consult a Zagat guide.

This was not as easy as it sounds.  The closest one seemed to be the Barnes & Noble at the Downtown Plaza, except when I got there, there was no Barnes & Noble.  There was another bookstore, but it had been closed down.  And I discovered this only after I had parked in the $1.25-per-half-hour parking structure, so I was greatly annoyed.  Apparently there are no bookstores in downtown Sacramento.

Sacramento is weird, by the way, although I'm not really sure what I mean by that.  Surely the lack of a bookstore in downtown is part of the reason, though.

I finally found a Borders all the way in East Sacramento.  According to the Zagat guide, the best restaurant in all of Sacramento is a place called La Bonne Soupe Cafe, which serves nothing but soup and sandwiches.  It got a score of 29 out of 30.  The highest score any restaurant in New York or L.A. has received is a 28.  A score of 29 is normally reserved for places like the French Laundry.  Well.  These were apparently fucking amazing soups and sandwiches, so clearly I had to go there.

Unfortunately, this meant driving back to downtown, and paying for parking again.  I hate downtowns.  By the time I parked, it had been two hours since the start of my mad quest, so I was naturally starving and irritable.  I found the place, relieved that there wasn't a line out the door like the Zagat guide said there might be.  I thought, "Oh good, there's nobody here," only to find the front door blocked by a mass of people waiting inside.  Upon entering, it turned out that there were only about ten or so people in line.  It's just a really, really small place.  The owner is also the sole employee.  He makes the sandwiches and works the register and apparently washes the dishes himself.  As you might expect, the line moves really, really slowly.  I actually waited for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, I couldn't help noticing that there were only a small handful of tables, and every time one was vacated it was instantly claimed by someone else.  So I was standing in line wondering just where the hell I was going to eat my fucking amazing soup and sandwich if and when I ever got them.  Fortunately, a table opened up when I was next in line, and when nobody claimed it right away, I was able to put my jacket on the chair and thus reserve it for myself.  Unfortunately, a moment later, some creepy, possibly homeless man sat at the other chair at the table.  I ordered the brie and prosciutto sandwich and the French onion soup (which Zagat had informed me was the best in the world).  Still more unfortunately, the people in line ahead of me had gotten the last of the French onion, leaving me with nothing but broccoli cream or vegetable soup.  I picked the broccoli cream.

These people ahead of me in line, incidentally, belonged to that peculiar class of couple, the kind where the man is quiet and pudgy and nebbishy, but nattily dressed in a suit, while the woman is loud and obnoxious and has big hair.  I seem to be plagued by these couples ( I saw another one just today).

The creepy man was still at my table when I got there.  Worse, he declined to vacate it after I sat down.  And it was a very small table.  I really didn't know what to do.  Nothing in my previous experience had prepared me for this situation.  Do I ask him to leave?  Do I wait for another table to become available (a dicey prospect, no doubt)?  No.  What I opt to do is ignore him.  Maybe it wasn't the best choice, but it was the only one I was prepared to make.  Of course, I could hardly enjoy my soup and sandwich with this creepy, yes, I'm quite sure by now that he's homeless, man staring at me, praying to myself that he won't start muttering unintelligibly at me.

He started muttering unintelligibly at me.  Oh, dear lord, why is this happening to me?  What am I doing here with this creepy, homeless, psychotic man muttering unintelligibly at me?  Why am I always being unintelligibly muttered at by creepy, psychotic men?  Can't I just enjoy my lunch?  Lunch, what lunch?  Yes, apparently I am eating a sandwich and soup, but being unable to concentrate on anything but the creepy man, I'm only vaguely aware of it.

But finally he got up to bother other people, though everyone, including the owner/cook/cashier seemed blissfully unaware of his presence.  Everyone, that is, except for the girl at the next table, who looked at me and said, "So he wasn't part of your...?"  I shook my head.  She said it was weird, and I agreed that it was very weird.  I asked her what she was eating.  She said it was creme brulee.  I went back to my soup and sandwich, which, I now realized, was just soup and a sandwich.  I could get better soup out of a can of Campbell's, and the sandwich was basically the same thing they serve at the Champagne Cafe, and that's a chain, usually found in shopping malls.

Sacramento is weird.

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February 27th, 2010
09:20 pm

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Deja Vu
Okay, this is getting weird.  Last weekend I saw Shutter Island and The Ghost Writer, and remarked upon the surprising similarities between them.  This weekend, I saw A Prophet and Ajami.  Both of these movies are foreign films shot in a gritty, hand-held camera style, and both movies are about the relationship between Arabs and other ethnic and religious groups in general, and, specifically, they're both about young Muslim men who become involved in drug dealing and violence and who have precognitive psychic abilities.  Wow.  So apparently all movies come in pairs now.

And why do all foreign films nowadays have to begin with white titles on a black background and the soundtrack of the opening scene playing over it (and no music).  And when I say "all foreign films," I'm not speaking in hyperbole, I actually mean every single one.  I'm starting to hate those damn non-Americans.

The other day I saw a bumper sticker that said "Avada Kedrava (if only)".  I normally hate bumper stickers, but that one amuses me.

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February 22nd, 2010
07:57 pm

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(93) Days of Summer
Has there ever been a more depressing summer movie line-up than the one we're getting this year?  I mean, there's Iron Man 2, which kicks off the summer movie season, and which I'm excited about, but it's all downhill from there.  We've got yet another Robin Hood movie, directed by Ridley Scott, who hasn't made a movie I've liked in quite some time (though to be fair I did skip some of his recent films).  Then we've got a new Shrek movie and a Sex and the City sequel (I can't imagine a more nightmarish double feature).  We've got a Prince of Persia movie starring the Gyllenhaal without talent (has there ever been a good movie based on a video game?  Go on, name one, I dare you!).  We've got movie versions of Marmaduke and The A-Team, and a remake of The Karate Kid starring Will Smith's son.  We've got Toy Story 3, from the writer of Little Miss Sunshine; Jonah Hex, a live-action comic book movie from the director of Horton Hears a Who (seriously); another Adam Sandler/Kevin James buddy movie (yes, from the director of I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry);  the next Twilight installment; the new M. Night Shyamalan abortion, this time based on a cartoon I didn't like; something called The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which is apparently a live-action remake of the first segment of Fantasia, starring Nicolas Cage (yeah, I don't get it, either); some Tom Cruise action movie and some Angelina Jolie action movie; a sequel to Cats & Dogs (what the fuck?!... although it is called The Revenge of Kitty Galore, which is the best title anyone has ever created, ever); a Ramona the Pest movie (which might have interested me in 1982); a Will Ferrell buddy cop movie; another Step Up movie (in 3D!)... and so on, and so on.  I mean, is this a joke?  I keep waiting for the studios to say "Just kidding!" and then reveal the real summer line-up.

And yet, then there's Inception,  a sci-fi movie written and directed by Christopher Nolan, which sounds kind of awesome.  Except it has Ellen Page in it, whose face I'd very much like to punch.  Not for the reason you think, though (Juno).  She's actually at her least annoying in that movie, because she's not all whiny and innocently doe-eyed like she is in most of her other movies, An American Crime in particular.

I really need to find something to do while I'm working, to keep from going insane from the tedium.  I've tried listening to the radio, but they play the same (mostly crappy) songs over and over again, and I'm bored of it.  I tried AM talk radio, but that's just some annoying guys with strident voices (actually, they all have the same strident voice) bitching about politics for hours on end.  I tried listening to a book on tape, but that was even more boring than the radio.  So mostly I just sing extemporaneous songs about kitties and prettiness.  Sometimes I throw in some puppies and bunnies to shake things up.

If you're a straight guy, and you find yourself alone in an elevator with a pretty girl you've never seen before but whom you would like to get to know socially, I think a good way to break the ice would be to say, "You know, I could totally rape you right now."  Then, when she looks at you, you can say, "Just kidding," and then you can both have a good laugh together.

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