Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vampires and Other Things That Suck

Last night a friend texted me after seeing that new teen-scream vampire love story hottie-with-unruly hair phenominon Twilight. Of course she saw it with her mom and a niece and of course loved it. What a fun girls night out.....I would rather be buried alive in a coffin wired with John Tesh's greatest hits in a continual loop than spend two hours watching anything that makes a teenage girl squeal like livestock.

But it did make me realize there are a lot of types of movies that I don't like. Maybe I have a narrow view, but I like what I like and I'm very seldom pleasantly surprised by a film in my "categories to avoid."

In general, it's like this. I like movies that could actually happen. A film that makes you think, something that advances your brain just a little bit, not just another excuse to sit like a tree stump for two hours getting dumber by the minute by computer generated special effects or anything starting Keanu Reeves

So let's eliminate the types of movies I hate. Many of these blend in together, but here are my criteria for films that make me wanna cut myself:

* Vampire movies. The fact that many women find vampires slightly or very erotic confirms my belief that I will never in my lifetime understand women. (I think it's connected to this odd infatuation with that weird little half man/half pgymy Prince.)

* Horse movies. This refers to a film in which the horse is the main mode of transportation. These include overacted westerns starring men who speak like their chaps are riding up something fierce, 19th century English love stories in which a shy mousy girl falls for the humble messenger boy who is not from a proper family despite her aristocrat Daddy's stern warning, and some civil war crap about the ordinary man who becomes a leader of men only to die in the end for nothing more than selling a few Jujubes at the concession counter. Mmmm. Jujubes.

* Space movies. Okay, people. We may or may not have landed on the moon almost 40 years ago and yet we still hold our breath every time we launch something. We will not see space travel in our lifetimes (unless Sir Richard Branson takes us there), so let's not worry about aliens, strange life forces, and unrecognizable creatures that happen to perfectlyunderstand English. Even the aliens know that Chinese is the language of the space age.

* Movies that can't happen. Take "Ghost" for example. In addition to being possibly the most annoying combination of any three people on the planet, how can a living breathing person be moved by a "ghost" sliding a coin on the floor. And Demi Moore kissing Whoopi Goldberg? Ew. Could two women kissing be any more disappointing? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

* Hobbits, trolls, children with magical powers. Now I'm all for imagination and reptilian creatures that, if you saw them in your bathtub you would squish them like a cockroach. But could we keep it to 90 minutes people. And do we need to make sweeping trilogies and endless series of these movies? I keep waiting for the next installment, something like Harry Potter and the Pubic Hair.

* Long, drawn out love stories whose endings are clear about 38.12 seconds into the movie. You may remember Cold Mountain, in which Nicole Kidman's love interest (no! not the senstitive blue collar boy from a family of modest means? I NEVER saw THAT coming) goes off to war and inevitably and predictably comes home to her. Towards the end of that movie, he limps up the mountain and Kidman is holding a rifle and has him in the cross-hairs. If only she shot him in the aorta I would have danced in the movie theater and personally lobbied Cold Mountain for Best Picture. Of course she didn't and they fall in love and make a baby. (The one good thing that resulted from her non-shooting of him was we got a nice Nicole Kidman boobie shot a few minutes later. Woo hoo!)

* Sci-fi. Three words: The Fifth Element. Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman should lose their Screen Actors Guild cards for being involved in that piece of futuristic turd.

* Romantic comedies. Just pick your favorite and keep watching it. They are all the same. Unless there is a chance to see Jennifer Aniston boobie, there is no reason to see yet another sack of crap. I mean do we really need to see Hugh Grant play that bumbling English chap again? Really?

So what ARE my favorite movies? The include Shawshank Redemption, Crash, Mystic River, Bull Durham, Good Will Hunting, The Usual Suspects and my favorite of all time: Field of Dreams. I know what you're saying.... "You hypocrite, Field of Dreams is one of those movies that could never happen. There are ghosts for chrissakes. What, ghosts can't make pottery but they can play baseball on a field in the middle of Iowa, you jerk?"

You're right, however I will say this: The movie did NOT have Patrick Swayze or Whoopi Goldberg. It DID have Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones. I mean that's like trading Bob Eucker for Alex Rodriguez. That's gotta count for something. But the reason it's great is that the the movie comes down to a father's relationship with his son and what could have been, for both of them. And the last scene, where they play catch without saying a word.....great stuff.

So I'm sure you'll disagree and want to get your two cents in. I just ask if you do come to debate my movie tastes, that you don't take a horse to get here. That's just so cliche.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Not Like Any Other Day

I've voted every year since I was 18. I've always viewed it as my duty and I was proud to cast every ballot. Often, I was not inspired by my choices and I've chosen not to cast a vote for president since 1996. (I voted, just not for that office. Imagine if 240 million out of 250 million votes chose a candidate for dog catcher or probate judge but not president. Think they'd pay attention then?)

I was dreading the vote. Long lines, a new voting system in my home state, God knows the polling place would be hot, or, cold or smelly. Who knew would be outside the polling place telling me how to think, or why.

But as soon as I got there, I knew this was a different day. There was an energy I've never felt. I'm good with words but I couldn't describe it. But I had goose bumps as soon as I pulled into the polling place.

I helped make history today. As you know, I voted for Senator Obama; yet I don't believe Senator McCain is a bad choice (without getting into 'what ifs'). Either way we make history today. A black man for president. A woman as vice president. A good friend of mine called it "a revolution" and I can't agree more.

But I think it's a revolution of a different kind. I think we, as a nation, fought to get our voice back today.

We voted against apathy. We voted for greatness (both men can be described as great, I believe). We voted for a higher standard and a new country.

Now I'm not the weepy liberal you might think. I am unaffiliated because neither party represents me, and I voted for Republicans in other races today.

This is why I feel what I feel today: When I was leaving the polling place and was about two feet from my car, I noticed an elderly black woman, maybe 90 years old, struggling to make her way up the slight slope to the doorway. I went over to her and took her arm and offered my help for the last 30 feet.

When we got to the table, I told her "God Bless You. Enjoy this day."

The only words she spoke were "thank you," which she said three different times despite being slightly out of breath.

But her eyes said it all. Having a black man on the ballot, her eyes told me, was an indescribable pride that I will probably never know. She might even be a Republican for all I know.

But the ability to vote AGAINST a black man would mean the world to her too.

Here we were, a 36-year-old white man and a 90-year-old woman standing in a Presbyterian church to cast our ballots in an incredibly important election. This might be the only way we would ever be in the same place at the same time. In that moment, we understood each other as if we had known each other our whole lives (okay, my whole life!).

I hope -- win or lose -- we all feel the same way 4 years from now, 40 years from now --as we do today. And I hope you feel as I do.

So no matter who you're voting for today, please remember what a powerful tool we've been given. No matter what's happening we have the ultimate power. We have the ability to vote, or not vote, and to voice our opinions.

Let's keep them honest and remember how powerful our voice is, when we come together for what's important. Win or lose, let's come together and stay as active as we were today.

And if you didn't vote. You don't know what you're missing. It was one of the best days of my life.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SNL: The once and future "Struggling" sketch show

Despite having an "extra hour" of Sunday today, I'm a little bit sad.

The election is about to be over. Oh, I'm very happy about that, believe me. It's not only a long road (in which we learn frighteningly little about all major candidates), but the campaigns get ugly in the final days. There is a light of mudslinging. Mud, of course, being a synonym for the word "turd."

But I'm sad because Saturday Night Live is about to suck again.

I mean, technically it sucks now. SNL-Tina Fey = mediocrity minus funny.

Let's face it, the show is not funny. Instead of doing the TiVo thing, we could watch the funny skits on YouTube the next morning. And you would not need an "extra hour" to do so. Maybe an extra bowl of cereal. And those funny moments? Provided by Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, the real Sarah Palin, and Mark Wahlberg (hey, say hi to your mother). (I give props to the Mark Wahlberg talks to animals skit and, as you'll see, to former Weekend Update anchor Amy Poehler)

I watched last night. The QVC skit with McCain and Fey, moderately funny. (Was it just me or was Tina Fey seemingly spent?) Ben Affleck was "okay" as Keith Olbermann. But, naturally, the skit was about 10 minutes too long and made me a little squirmy.

In a story about McCain's SNL appearance, the writer described the show as "once struggling sketch show." Uh.....had he watched it? It's atrocious. When the first sketch after a dull monologue and crappy fake commercial makes you yearn for Benny Hill, it is A.) Time for Bed and B.) Time to start from scratch. Lorne Michaels, come back to us. When did you lose your funny?

And, the best cast member in years, Amy Poehler, will not return as a regular cast member. I'm glad I saw her last skit, the "Palin Rap" bit during Weekend Update. (I say Obama, you say Ayers...) Poehler is leaving on the top of her game. Can you even name the last cast member who left on top of their game?

But I'm not sure it's the cast members' fault. I wonder how strong the writing is.

I mean, the Daily Show staff writes shows four days a week and delivers brilliantly every night. Ditto for Colbert's Crew. How can this be so difficult?

So I'm sorry to be a bummer (or as Palin might say, Super Debbie Downer) when you should be cherishing your extra hour today.....One more hour to be bombarded with political ads, and hopefully an extra hour for the SNL cast to be funny on the next episode.

I won't bank on it though. Where is Joe Piscopo when we need him???

P.S. (Please go vote Tuesday. If not, shut your pie hole about anything and everything in the next four years)