Last night was a typical Sunday summer evening in Los Angeles when the traffic all comes sighing back into town at the same time. When you follow the 210 in from East of the 15, there's a blissful stretch where the road is advertisement free. But once you cross the freeway, all bets are off. You're marketed to left and right about lat bands, AM talk radio shows, upcoming places to eat, places to shop, and bridges to drive your car off of. If you're listening to anything like Gavin Byars' "The Sinking of the Titanic," or Aphex Twin, you'll want to hit an embunkment at high speed.
Unfortunately for me, high speed equals whatever my car can get up to. On Friday my car overheated while heading up into the mountains around Big Bear, and that was a fun experience. Waiting by the side of the road while the water in my car percolated like piping hot coffee is enough to make you want to live off the grid like a hermit, riding your bike into town once every six months to pick up supplies.
However, once my chugged two gallons of coolant and was freshly hydrated, I was back on track and loving my gas-guzzling non-eco-friendly metal footprint. I think I got off easy with a $30 repair, and now I have to teeter on the edge of buying a new car, or learning to love the old one until the bomb actually does drop.
Writer / director Sophie Barthes manages to make a Charlie Kaufman film without Charlie Kaufman involved at all. When a friend points Paul Giamatti (who plays himself in this movie) to an article in The New Yorker about a technology that lets you have your soul removed and put into storage, he decides to try it out because he's been angsty and burdened by the role he's playing in a stage production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. Of course, once he has his soul taken out, things go about as badly as you'd imagine. I could literally watch Giamatti in anything, and he doesn't disappoint here. Emily Watson is terrific and understated as Giamatti's wife, and Russian actress Dina Korzun is perfectly empathic as a mule who ferries souls over from St. Peterburg. Highly recommended.
I'll readily admit here that I saw Baby Mama under protest during the holidays, and that I loved every minute of it. The Tina Fey / Amy Poehler combination is just pure gold for some reason, and they were a hell of a lot funnier than their best moment on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update. Somehow I thought the same magic would carry over into this Rachel Dratch / Parker Posey / Amy Poehler comedy where middle-aged women decide to go on spring break in South Padre Island. Boy, was I wrong. While Poehler was the funniest thing in it (especially the 30 seconds with husband Will Arnett who cameos), most of Dratch's jokes fall completely flat and Posey seemed like she phoned it in. Thankfully it's going straight to video, which means you'll be able to dodge this one at your multiplex with no effort at all.
Okay, it's cute. Like cavity-inducing cute. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel star as a cute-as-a-button couple who just might not be meant for one another. There's a terrific musical number the first time Levitt has sex with Deschanel, and as he adjusts his appearance in a reflection, Harrison Ford's Han Solo appears and winks back at him. A really fun film geek moment. It's a fairly realistic look at love and how we only tend to remember the good things, and it proves that Hollywood doesn't need to adhere to a hardcore line of giving everything a happy ending... right up until this one tacks a happy ending onto the last five minutes. The final line caused the audience, including me, to release a pretty loud groan. Not a perfect movie, and definitely not a first (or 50th) date movie, but perfect for cynics or people who just got dumped.
The Screaming Blue Messiahs opened for Echo and the Bunnymen in Fort Worth back in 1988, and honestly I was there just to see them. I've asked dozens of people if they remember this band, and I'm always met with blank stares, which is a real shame. Their 1987 album Bikini Red is one of the best examples of a real rock and roll work of art. It's all grit, grime, oil, and chrome, and it really should be heard by more people. You can sometimes find their albums on eBay, and most of their stuff is out of print or in limbo. Thankfully, there's a lot of it on YouTube, free for the listening.
The above video shows an ultra-rare live performance of "Someone to Talk To" from Gun-Shy, which needs to be seen just for Bill Carter's frenetic, sweaty guitar playing and frontman singing. But my two favorites were off of Bikini Red. You can hear "Lie Detector", an incredibly simply song that drills to my core for some reason, right here. The title track "Bikini Red" can also be heard right here, and this song always reminds me of driving on the back roads around Arlington, Texas, and being late for work at Six Flags Over Texas.
Clutter. We've all seen it. We've all had to deal with it. But some people handle it a lot better than others. I was driving my car around yesterday, and I can't remember the point at which the back seat of my car went from "cherished object that I shall never sprinkle litter into" to "catch all junk drawer that holds everything". Seriously, I have everything back there from a rubber Spaldeen ball to a bag full of dice to an extremely overdue Blockbuster DVD.
And it doesn't stop with my car, that's pretty much the last domain to get junk-ified. No, I have closets, cupboards, and trunks full of junk. For some reason I thought it would be smart to save all of my college notebooks, thinking that one day I might need to refer back to something. Why on earth I thought I'd need to look up something from Algebra II, I have no idea. But, they sit there, just in case I need to make some advanced calculations. I opened up one of those notebooks since college, the only tme I've peeped into any of them. And that was just to check out what kinds of doodles I used to put in the margins.
I'm not sure if it's a gene or a trait that gets inherited. My dad has extremely few belongings, and almost lives like a Spartan, but my mom and my aunt (on my dad's side) both rathole things away like I do, "Just in case." At this point, I've just about had it... but I can't just toss the stuff out, and I don't have the time needed to eBay all the stuff. What's a guy to do? This is when I wish I had some sort of futuristic space time little box with infinite storage capability. Is that coming anytime soon?
My dad lives in Kaufman, Texas, which is about an hour outside of Dallas. Which means it's in the country. Like, the real country. Cows, pickups, a shotgun in every home. That kind of country. Near Kaufman is a town called Canton, where they have a massive, sprawling flea market called First Monday. If there's anything in the world you're looking for, they probably have it. Dad and I went out there the day after Thanksgiving to do some exploring: I was looking for old board games (found some!) and Dad just wanted to stretch his legs, so we wandered around for a couple of hours.
While tons of booths seem to be selling the same stuff, this one cap stood out above all others. It proudly proclaims that the wearer of the hat is a Super Bitch (complete with Superman's s-shield. DC Comics, don't you hold a copyright on that thing?), yet, she also loves Jesus. I really cannot possibly understand why someone would wear this hat, although I was sorely tempted to buy it just to prove it actually existed. The best I could do was this snap from my phone. If anyone ever spots someone wearing one of these, for the love of all that is holy (including Jesus), please send me a photo.