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I don't want ya'll to miss out, but I done moved my blog over to wordpress.  Lets all head over there and mock the hell out of some people.  Don't miss the Top Five Films that Should Have Never Been Made!

The King's Speech

King George bursts into song to practice speaking.  Camptown Races is fine, Swanee River is fine, but Once Upon a Dream was not written until 1959, for Disney's Sleeping Beauty. 
 
Iris rates this film: Just Okay


-EDITED!-

Okay, that isn't fair, to seem to dismiss a film for a single anachronism.  I'm not changing my rating, but I do have actual reasons for rating it thus.

First of all, some good things.  The performances, as most of you know or have heard, are really quite good.  Firth delivers a comprehensive stammer that had me sinking into the sofa with second-hand embarrassment.  I was sympathetic to his character and identified easily with his hang-ups and fears, not because I harbor any similar, but because the part was well-written and human.  Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist has more to work with in terms of character and expression, and though he performs very well, it's almost because of this that Firth runs away with the show: the scope of Bertie's character exceeds the range of emotions appropriate for or befitting his station, and this battle between Bertie the man and King George the figure-head is visible through the subtly and restraint of Firth's portrayal.  
 
Bonham Carter is the weakest of the three, in the role of...Queen.  If I haven't caught the character's name after two hours, it must not matter very much.  Anyway, her performance was far from poor, but it was transparent at times, and rather than watching her character, I could see the wheels turning as Bonham Carter played the character, which is always disconcerting, especially opposite Firth's exceedingly strong performance.  What she may have been able to get away with in other roles didn't fly here, and I more than once caught her at a loss for what to do with her hands.  However, I did enjoy her moments as the Pushy Noblewoman trope, as much as that trope annoys me in general.  That brings me to what brought the movie down for me, and I'll be the first to admit it's extremely subjective.
 
I  have difficulty watching monarchy-themed movies, probably because I'm American and the cultural context sails right past me.  It was fascinating to watch Rush's spirited Lionel still to cold anxiety in the face of Bonham Carter's whoever in blue-blooded hell she was.  Obviously, as mentioned above, it wasn't the performances I found problematic, but the apparent cultural belief that the nobility is excused from civility and basic courtesy.  If Michelle Obama showed up in my kitchen, she certainly wouldn't preface the encounter with  "You may call me Your First Ladiness."  That's just straight obnoxious. You don't qualify for automatic awe just because you inherited the throne; I'll respect you when you earn my respect.  
 
Americans don't want to be governed by anyone we don't think would fit in at the family barbecue, least of all by those who believe themselves too good for our barbecue. This royal family definitely thought they were too good for any barbecue, and they might get away with that in England, but people immigrated to this country expressly to get away from that brand of bullshit.  The value system on which this country was founded is completely different:  Big News, I know.  I'm not saying one is better, I'm just explaining why the context of the movie set a rift with me from the very beginning.  I can't judge the quality of the film on that criterion, but obviously it influenced my overall enjoyment.  
 
The movie is long, somewhere around two hours.  In that time it meanders a bit trying to convey the circumstances of Bertie's condition.  While I never felt it was dragging, there were an awful lot of circumstances that need covering, from his overbearing father the king, to his teasing brother, the heir to the throne; plus multiple incidents of crippling anxiety facing a crowd.  I don't know that for all that information the story arced as well as it could have.  By the end of the story, this guy still can't speak in public.  I liked the contrast of the confident sounding voice on the radio against shots of the nervous wreck delivering the speech at the end, but really?  This guy has loosened up, kind of.  He's a little bit better at public speaking, except that wasn't even public speaking.  He was standing in an enclosed room with his speech therapist, which is not at all similar to the conditions of the film's opening non-speech before thosands.  I think it's interesting though that the radio, the bane of his public life, becomes an unforeseen boon when he can just deliver his speeched in private and then wave it off on the balcony afterwards.  There were interesting things going on throughout the entire thing; I'm just saying, for a two hour film, becoming marginally better at public speaking doesn't really cut it.  Becoming somewhat less of an asshole to your friend and articulation coach isn't really a very strong character arc.  
 
Maybe I'm just used to the sweeping success stories of American Cinema.  Actually, it's not as though I needed him to become a phenomenal public speaker.  I didn't need him to open up and become a completely different person.  But the sum of all these subtle changes could have left a greater impact, possibly, again, if I were British and had a better historical context for King George VI.  I don't know anything about this guy but what the film gave me; I have no idea what sort of reputation he garnered during World War II.   I imagine understanding George VI historically adds dimension to the character, but frankly such an argument in support of the film is fallacious.  Most movies aren't biographical and thus are required to build characters from scratch.  That most movies are worse than this one is beside the point: I'm saying it can and has been done often, so I'm not letting The King's Speech off the hook.  Character building was there, but it seems like they were relying on history to tell the second half of the story, which doesn't even make sense.  A story from start to finish is a closed circuit.  History may present context, it may be the allure of certain types of films, but it's no substitute for content.
 
In all good films audiences either want what the protagonist wants, or emphatically hope for the opposite.  It's called emotional investment, and it wasn't clear what ours was supposed to be in this film.  Does Bertie want to become king?  Does he want a close friend?  Does he want to be a powerful speaker?  Sort of, to all of the above.  If I'm not sure what the protagonist really wants, how am I supposed to empathize when he does or doesn't get it?  Bertie sort of wants all of those things, he sort of gets them, and he's sort of happy about it.  Okay, well, that's why it was only a sort of good film.  Hence, I reiterate:
 
This film is Just Okay.
 

SMALL RAGE!!!

 Alright I work at this shave ice place in Hawaii and we offer a strawberry-coconut flavor called Tiger's Blood, which is popular because people think it sounds cool or whatever.  Apparently some dumb guy from some stupid sitcom made an idiotic remark a long ass time ago that was widely reported in the moronic tabloids, and now when people come up to place their order they think we named a flavor in honor of Charlie Sheen.  In honor of who?   Why would we name a dessert flavor after some asshole who's only claim to fame is that he's some kind of colossal dipshit? How does that even make sense? It makes me hate the customers who keep making the same insipid remark. So fuck you Charlie Sheen, it is long past time to sink back into the obscurity from which you hail.

It's that time again!

Time to get my life in order!  Not that I have any delusions about the potential for success in this endeavor.  Paul has announced his intent to discontinue his lease on the shave ice place when it expires at the end of the summer.  Now, he has said this before on several occasions, but this time I believe him, probably because it is more convenient, or at the very least of lesser consequence, for me.  As some of you may know, I intend to take off this year for a quick global once-over, beginning sometime towards the end of August when I will have been able to save up some money from the summer tourist rush.  Not enough money to get around the world, probably, but that is a trivial detail.  (That's right, I refuse to learn!)

Now, actually in terms of convenience for me, it would be better if Paul kept the business and slaved away without me, and then when I felt like it I could return and pick up where I left off.  That's asking a bit much, really, and it's not even what I really want.  Maui has been great, don't get me wrong, but three years of tropical oasis has about done me for down time, especially as that down time has consisted of a minimum wage job with no advancing prospects that doesn't even pay all of the time.  That's not technically a complaint because I at least have some form of income, and that sort of job is about all that's available around here.  Anyway I used to think I was at least a little bit smart but the last three years have not been advancing that hypothesis in any way.

So Paul wants to pack it in at the end of the summer and move to Kauai where his kids are at, or LA where the money's at.  In such an event I'm sure I could just hang onto the apartment, snag a roommate, and hunt desperately for a new job, but then my situation is identical to the present one, and the idea is to advance in life somehow, spiritually, economically, etc.  My problem is, traveling around the world is going to take all my money, and it's non-negotiable.  But when I finally return to point A, right here where I'm sitting right now, I'll be broke and out of work.  Last time that happened I ended up living in a cave with rats and scorpions.  Interesting but not worth repeating.  And,  as I have already established, I don't really want to live here anymore, and am thinking of moving to San Francisco.  What's in San Francisco, you ask?  Hell if I know.  That's just the way it is.
 
Now, do you think a good way to skirt the broke/homeless issue is to return to school?  I can get the government to give me money to do that, but then I have to pay them back, and I already owe them from the last time I went to school, an amount that does not appear to be diminishing with time or timely payments.  Knowing my aversion to gainful employment, is it wise to dig that hole any deeper than it already is?  
 
Plan B: my friend's step mother has vanished and is assumed dead.  She was very old and lived alone, so this somewhat macabre pronouncement is not so awkward as it appears at first glance.  The property will be divided up in December, and it is likely the greater portion of the estate will go to my friend through his father's will.  If he gets the house in West Hollywood, as you might imagine there will be good times to be had by all.  Forget being a responsible adult!  The problem with this plan is A) it is completely unreliable, and B) I don't think I could put up with this friend for that long, especially if he inherits enough money to be drunk constantly, as would certainly be the result.  On top of that, if he inherits the means to be drunk constantly, he will probably die on my watch because he is old and has already drunk his way to heart failure, so it's probably better if this never goes through.  Plus, Hollywood Hills is not in San Francisco, it's in LA and I have no desire to live there whatsoever.  In fact, I have opposite the desire to live there.  Well, anyway, that is not so much Plan B as it is pure speculation.
 
I've thought about this about as much as I am able to for one day.  
 

Some Outriggers









This is an outrigger at the cove across from where I work.  In the far distance you can see Molokini, a popular snorkeling spot to which, being poor, I have never been.  Not the form in the middle distance.  That's just a rock.  Behind Molokini is the island Kaho'olawe, which is good for nothing, as far as I can tell.  Rumor has it it is used to conceal and conduct top secret military experiments, but the person who told me that was a ways off his nut, so who knows.  He also said they were conducting top secret military experiments in the cavernous bowels of Mt. Haleakala.  I don't know, but that seems like an awful lot of top secret ops for just a few square miles.  This is also the  guy who revealed his murder method of drowning the bludgeoned victim in a bucket of salt water before tossing them in the Pacific.  As far as I know that has not happened.
 
Anyway, what we do know is that back when the US declared martial law on the islands during WWII, the military used Kaho'olawe for not so secret target practice and continued to do so until 1990.  This is probably because Hawaii was a US state by then and all the live-fire training was putting off tourists looking to lounge on the white sandy beaches of Maui.  How the actual residents of the island felt about it was largely irrelevant and always has been.  White Supremacy, GO!  I can't get too uppity about it really because I would have needed a visa to get here otherwise, which probably would have deterred me completely and I would have ended up in Fresno or something.  I don't know what Fresno is, but it sounds horrible.
 
So a conservation party got a hold of Kaho'olawe and are working to rebuild the native tree population, which has been difficult because there isn't one.  The island has no fresh water and it nearly never rains.  It was used as a penal colony in the 1800's which didn't really work either because the prisoners would just swim back to Maui when they got too hungry.  It failed also as a cattle ranch for obvious reasons, and after they were no longer let to pelt it with bullets the US couldn't really think of any use for it, so they had no problem handing it over to the native Hawaiians for their wildlife and cultural preservation projects.  Of course, by then there were hardly any native Hawaiians left because most of them got small pox or various sexually transmitted diseases from European traders way back when.   I was wondering, if Hawaii only became a state in '59, what did the US do for an even number of stars on the flag?  Did they just leave the rows uneven?  Or did they just put a bunch of stars on it and later decide they represented states?  Anyway as far as flags go, I don't think the US is a very good one, as it isn't very visually striking.  Same with the Union Jack, and especially the Hawaiian state flag, which looks Jack and Old Glory vomited forth an incestuous love child.  Even Canada has a better flag.  I mean, it's got a leaf on it, which isn't real tough.  Bhutan has dragon.  Tough but not visually effective.  Although, being culturally illiterate, maybe in Bhutan dragons aren't tough either.  Here are some more outriggers:


 

This is the same spot, from a different angle, on a different day.  These things are here all the time, but they were only twice worth taking pictures of.  I have a digital camera which, on a sunny day, is actually worse than my starter camera back when I was nine.  You all remember what film was, yeah?  Well, on that camera I had to look through the viewfinder to line up my shot, and hope it came out alright.  Sometimes entire roles at a time were undevelopable, which was a bummer.  My current camera doesn't have that problem.  In fact, no pictures are ever developed, but they do make it onto this blog now and again.  Actually that isn't true because Long's Drugs has been sending me "a courtesy call" since February, reminding me to pick up a couple of head shots that I don't want, since I needed them that day within one minute of the order, and thought they could just print them off like most people can generally do in their homes.  Well, they couldn't and after that day the pictures were no longer relevant so I'm waiting to see who caves first, them or me.  It's April now and they just called this morning, so it looks like they're really after their twenty cents.  It's just a recording, so I don't feel bad hanging up on them repeatedly.  
 
Anyway like I was saying, my digital camera is the next best thing to crap on a sunny day because I can't see the screen and it doesn't have a viewfinder, so I just snap away and hope it turns out alright.  I mean, I can kind of get the gist of it, if I know where my visual landmarks are.  That random swimmer in the first shot was not one of them.  Even this wouldn't be a problem if A) I were rich or B) ...

Well, this wouldn't be a problem if I were rich because A) I could buy a camera with digital output and a viewfinder, and B) I could afford a proper computer and photo-editing software so that I could fix my crappy shots into works of magnificence.  That's just going to have to wait until...That's just going to have to wait.
 
Movies I recommend: The Fighter.  For the first time in a very long time Christian Bale has put forth the performance of which I  have long known he was capable.  I was rooting for him back when he was working for Disney and singing for his supper.  Then he finally made it, but all of his movies were absolute crap.  Well, they finally gave him something to work with, or else he got sick of being crap, so he plays an excellent crack addict in this film and I can feel smug in my ages old prediction that he would prove himself worthy.  
 
Other people I have made positive predictions about long beforehand: Heath Ledger, but he up and died.  I don't think anyone will argue with me though that at the time of his death he was on the fast track to renowned success, and not the fleeting kind.  Prediction two: Joey King.  She starred as Ramona Quimby in the recent adaptation of Beezus and Ramona, and she acted her costars straight off the set.  She will make a significant name for herself, and her child-star status will have no effect on her later career unless to bolster it.  The chick who plays her sister, who's on the teen tabloids these days, hang on, wikipedia...Selena Gomez, has maybe a year left before her career takes a dive, unless her agents are really creative.  Even then, creative agents are no substitute for charisma and talent, of which she has neither.  Two years tops, but that's optimistic.
 
Movies that sucked: Due Date, with Robert Downey Jr. and that bearded guy who''s in pretty much every movie lately.  Downey Jr. is a talented actor, but word around the campfire is he leads what could be considered an excessive lifestyle, which would explain why he appears to be taking whatever crap movie comes his way and pays the best.  Felony ain't free, boys and girls!  Anyway, that bearded guy isn't half bad either, nor was the concept for the movie, which was something along the lines of "Odd Couple on the Road."  In fact, I was looking forward to seeing it.  So imagine my disappointment...
 
What did them in was the writing.  It was shit.  The writer's thought process was entirely transparent, and not to mention juvenile.  First of all, the movie is divided into roughly one thousand mini scenes, each of virtually no consequence.  The writer thought "Here's a one liner.  Oh, that's great!  Here's another one liner.  Here's a zany monologue!  This is hilarious."  The problem was that he wasn't very intelligent, so his one liners are trite and forgettable.  On top of that, he wasn't able to work more than one into a conversation, so every scene ends before it gets anywhere.  That means the entire thing is inching along on the power of these crap jokes, and you're left not so much wondering where the movie is going, but where it went.  I'm an hour into this thing and they're dumping Beard Guy's father's ashes into the grand canyon, and I'm like, how the hell did we get here.  I know shit has been happening, but the scenes were so short that none of it appeared to have any meaning.  And, at the end of the day, it didn't.  It was a meaningless film with a level of humor that might appeal to teenage boys, but even they won't be quoting the better lines amongst themselves.  It will make its way onto no one's favorites and die the silent death of mediocrity.
 
Anyway, Downey Jr. better jump to it, because he can't ride the wave of Tropic Thunder forever.
 
That's all for today.  I have my cast party tomorrow the Pulp Fiction play that I didn't tell you guys I was in.  That film has withstood the test of time, and is quotable to this day.
 

Mar. 11th, 2011

Just so you know, if you go under a desk or table during a severe earthquake, a falling ceiling can crush the table with you beneath it, so don't believe what you see on TV.  The safest place to go is beside some solid object, such as a sofa, bed, freezer, etc.  Falling objects will hit this at an angle, creating a safe triangular pocket where you can wait it out.

In other news, only a small tsunami hit Kihei, and it smells a bit like pond water, but there has otherwise been little to no damage.

Just Go With It

I went to see that stupid Adam Sandler movie last night, AND MY BLURRY FACE IS IN IT, YOU GUYS!  My friend and I made it as far as that scene, and then we got the hell out of there because frankly it was terrible, and we were too drunk to follow an Adam Sandler movie, which really is saying something.

Okay, I have returned!

Holy Hell, I am so glad to be back on Maui you would not even believe it.  First of all...i washed my clothes.  Let me tell you a little something about my parents place in NJ, and it isn't pretty.  For some reason, the road the house is situated on is considered private, which means solely that the county won't plow it or maintain it in any way.  However, for various reasons the county still calls the shots on whether you can dig a well on your property.  Their answer is no.  So the community well is at the top of the street, and is maintained by the neighborhood water committee.  What is that, you ask?  I'm pretty sure no one has any idea.  Years ago, the well just...went off, and now the iron content is so high it's actually visible.  I mean, that's what I'm hoping it is, but it's obviously no very pressing matter as It's been like that for years; perhaps as few as five, perhaps as many as ten, I can't recall.  In any case it means clothes are visibly dirtier after being washed.

Alright, that's an unfair exaggeration.  The whites are off-white, that's all.  But still.  I thought long ago that the neighborhood should have petitioned to join the public road system.  Then the county would have to pave the street, which is eroded daily by runoff from the mountain, as well as the numerous springs which have surfaced in people's driveways.  As they are not permitted to sink any wells, this water simply trickles into the road, contributing to the great runoff ravine, which in winter freezes over to glacial proportions.  My parents cars were sliding out of the driveway, I mean it.

Due to my inability to lie for my own good, my parents are now aware and concerned that I am throwing away my youth on an older man, or just even throwing away my youth in general.  My advice to those like me, who lack the knack for falsehoods, is to stay well away from your family until you have something to show for yourself, preferably a Nobel Prize.  Otherwise all those well meant questions about what you've been up to all this time start to take on the color of judgement, and when you try to distract them with copious liquor, well, then they just think you're a drunk. 

Anyway, once I got back to dear old Maui, my apartment was broken into and robbed, which makes three times on this delightful island that I have been extensively ripped off, like, more than just the grocery store charging five bucks for a quart of milk.  In Philadelphia I took it for granted that all first story windows were barred.  Getting mugged was a fact of life, so try not to keep  anything valuable on you.  Here, you start to think everything's all island style with umbrellas on it.  And it is, if you've got nothing to lose.  Now that the television is gone, it's just one less thing I have to worry about being stolen.

I'm saving up for an around-the-world-in-eighty-days this summer.  But before I can save, it means I have to get an actual job!  Drat.

Hooray, flight is booked!  I'll be in NJ from the 16th to Jan. 6th.

Now why does anything to do with the airport cause such phenomenal anxiety?  I have no problem flying, I can sit on a plane almost indefinitely, but try getting me to book a flight?  Panic.  Get me to the actual airport?  uuurrrrrr, it doesn't matter how many times I do it.   I have an ulcer just from today.

Back to the Usual...


I made up for seeing one good movie by watching Sex and the City 2, which just about counterbalances every good film ever made with its sheer suckitude.  I did not pick this movie out, before you blame me for wasting a dollar on what promised beyond doubt to be one of the worst films ever produced.  However, unlike most bad films, which I simply turn off, I watched the entire thing, and I was trying to figure out why.  As I watched it I realized that the problem was that there was an actual story, and it wasn't entirely bad.  Mindblowingly original, no.  But there was a driving conflict, much as the film struggled to stifle it under fifteen tons of OMG-Girls-Just-Wanna-Have-Fun!

Carrie McSuperFab at some point in the history of Sex and the City married the man of her dreams, Rich-o McAlsoFab, but tragically, after two years of married life, he no longer wants to accompany her to fabulous parties and glitzy events.  He just wants to stay at home and watch TV.  And you know what, I agree that that sucks.  So I was glad when Carrie popped a verbal cap in his ass and forced him to attend to his half of the relationship.  I think it's a perfectly decent premise for a movie.  Unfortunately, after that brief nod to plot development, the rest of the film degenerated into someone's bedtime fantasy : "Oh my god, wouldn't that be so great if I got to wear this awesome dress, and then go to a red carpet event, and then, oh, I know, I would get invited to be the empress of Abu Dhabi for a week, and have sexy hunks wait on me hand and foot, and wear all these SUPERFAB outfits!  Let me think about what I would wear..."  Meanwhile, I'm sitting on the couch waiting for the story to resume, and in the meantime wondering in what reality it would be sensible to wear a one-sleeved, off the shoulder rayon pantsuit to go camel riding in the goddamn desert.  For one thing, hello, tan lines?  I thought the Fab Force Four woud at least care about that.  And this is after McSuperFab complains that she's not dressed for camel riding.

In fact, the magnitude of suck defies recapitulation.  I've actually pissed myself off thinking about this movie.  I mean, I can find a dollar in the street, but those two hours are GONE FOREVER.  And I know I've already posted a rant about the depiction of homosexuals in the media, but while other minority representation seems to have been shelved for the time being, people are so forward about homosexual representation that it's actually backwards.   I mean come on.  "Her gay best friend is marrying my gay best friend!" like they belong in the specific subset "Gay" of the category "Friend", wherein they might achieve "best" status, but are excluded from ever being just plain "friend."  Would anyone ever proudly announce "My black best friend is marrying her black best friend!" or "My Chinese friend is marrying her Chinese friend!" or "Her dwarf is marrying my dwarf!  Isn't that SUPERFABULOUS??"  It's fucking ridiculous.  I'm sorry, I'll stop now.  I have a preoccupation with the machinations of the media, and it runs away with me sometimes.

For some good news, I'm coming to NJ for Christmas.  My sweaters here were stolen, so please allow me to borrow some winter clothes when I come to visit!  I'm serious.  I don't think I even own any shoes that aren't flip flops right now.