Graveyard Movie (and TV) Reviews

At the moment I'm working graveyards, 8pm to 6am, 4 days a week. My job mostly involves simply being here, so in between what little work there is to do, I watch movies. It's kind of an unspoken agreement that this is okay, so I don't feel too bad about it. So, here are Friday and Saturday nights offerings:


French film about a young hoodlum, always scheming to scheme a buck. Well, he ends up selling his kid for some bucks. His girlfriend ain't too keen on that, so he goes to get the baby back, and ends up in a downward spiral, which, ironically enough, may be the best thing to happen to him. I can't tell you for sure, because the movie ends vaguely. Good movie though. If you can handle subtitles,check it out.

Colbert Report, December 20

One of the greatest Colbert Reports ever. This one is the Colbert Report Rock N Awe Countdown to Guitarmageddon, in which Stephen and the Decemberists settle their blood fued once and for all. It's probably all over YouTube and the like, so make sure to watch it. I almost peed.

Me, You, and Everyone We Know

Arty film about, well, something. But quirky enough for me to recommend. Feels like sort of a cross between Magnolia, Ghost World, and Happiness. If you like those, I gaurantee you'll like this. Plus, it features the ))<>(( scene (below), which was the funniest thing I saw all year.


Guy Ritchie film. I likes Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, but this movie was pure garbage. Really, really, awful. My man-crush on Jason Statham is officially over. And Ray Liotta, man, what were you thinking? Also, Andre 3000 cannot act (at least in this movie).


Documentary on what went on behind the movie Boondock Saints, which, if you read this blog, you know I hated. This movie makes me hate that movie more, even though this is a good movie. Understand? Troy Duffy, the writer/director and member of some shitty band no one's ever heard of but was going to apparantly change the face of rock as we know it, is a complete egotistical asshole. He tries to run his band and his movie like he's Michael Corleone or some shit. Manages to piss off just about everyone he meets and his movie, which had garnered significant buzz (god knows why, even the screenplay sucks), barely gets made and is released by some unknown company. Generally, I'm anti-violence. But some people just need their ass kicked. Not for revenge, but to bring them down a notch. Troy Duffy is definitely one of those dudes. Why no one ever stood up to that paper tiger pussy, I have know idea.

And yet somehow, Boondock Saints has a cult following on DVD. If you're part of that cult, I don't want to know you. Anyways, definitely watch this movie (Overnight) and avoid Boondock Saints.

I work hard for the money, so you better treat me right.


A Sedaris Christmas: Six To Eight Black Men

My second annual blogging of David Sedaris' hilarious story. Merry Christmas all two of you who read my blog!

by Davis Sedaris

I've never been much for guidebooks, so when trying to get my
bearings in a strange American city, I normally start by asking the
cabdriver or hotel clerk some silly question regarding the latest
census figures. I say silly because I don't really care how many
people live in Olympia, Washington, or Columbus, Ohio. They're
nice enough places, but the numbers mean nothing to me. My second
question might have to do with average annual rainfall, which,
again, doesn't tell me anything about the people who have chosen
to call this place home.

What really interests me are the local gun laws. Can I carry a
concealed weapon, and if so, under what circumstances? What's the
waiting period for a tommy gun? Could I buy a Glock 17 if I were
recently divorced or fired from my job? I've learned from
experience that it's best to lead into this subject as delicately
as possible, especially if you and the local citizen are alone and
enclosed in a relatively small space. Bide your time, though, and
you can walk away with some excellent stories. I've heard, for
example, that the blind can legally hunt in both Texas and
Michigan. They must be accompanied by a sighted companion, but
still, it seems a bit risky. You wouldn't want a blind person
driving a car or piloting a plane, so why hand him a rifle? What
sense does that make? I ask about guns not because I want one of
my own but because the answers vary so widely from state to state.
In a country that's become so homogenous, I'm reassured by these
last touches of regionalism.

Guns aren't really an issue in Europe, so when I'm traveling
abroad, my first question usually relates to barnyard animals.
"What do your roosters say?" is a good icebreaker, as every country
has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, where dogs bark "vow
vow" and both the frog and the duck say "quack," the rooster greets
the dawn with a hearty "kik-a-ricki." Greek roosters crow "kiri-a-
kee," and in France they scream "coco-rico," which sounds like one
of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label.
When told that an American rooster says "cock-a-doodle-doo," my
hosts look at me with disbelief and pity.

"When do you open your Christmas presents?" is another good
conversation starter as it explains a lot about national character.
People who traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve seem a bit
more pious and family oriented than those who wait until Christmas
morning. They go to mass, open presents, eat a late meal, return
to church the following morning, and devote the rest of the day to
eating another big meal. Gifts are generally reserved for
children, and the parents tend not to go overboard. It's nothing
I'd want for myself, but I suppose it's fine for those who prefer
food and family to things of real value.

In France and Germany, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, while
in Holland the children receive presents on December 5, in
celebration of Saint Nicholas Day. It sounded sort of quaint until
I spoke to a man named Oscar, who filled me in on a few of the
details as we walked from my hotel to the Amsterdam train station.

Unlike the jolly, obese American Santa, Saint Nicholas is painfully
thin and dresses not unlike the pope, topping his robes with a tall
hat resembling an embroidered tea cozy. The outfit, I was told, is
a carryover from his former career, when he served as a bishop in

One doesn't want to be too much of a cultural chauvinist, but this
seemed completely wrong to me. For starters, Santa didn't use to
do anything. He's not retired, and, more important, he has
nothing to do with Turkey. The climate's all wrong, and people
wouldn't appreciate him. When asked how he got from Turkey to the
North Pole, Oscar told me with complete conviction that Saint
Nicholas currently resides in Spain, which again is simply not
true. While he could probably live wherever he wanted, Santa chose
the North Pole specifically because it is harsh and isolated. No
one can spy on him, and he doesn't have to worry about people
coming to the door. Anyone can come to the door in Spain, and in
that outfit, he'd most certainly be recognized. On top of that,
aside from a few pleasantries, Santa doesn't speak Spanish. He
knows enough to get by, but he's not fluent, and he certainly
doesn't eat tapas.

While our Santa flies on a sled, Saint Nicholas arrives by boat
and then transfers to a white horse. The event is televised, and
great crowds gather at the waterfront to greet him. I'm not sure
if there's a set date, but he generally docks in late November and
spends a few weeks hanging out and asking people what they want.

"Is it just him alone?" I asked. "Or does he come with backup?"

Oscar's English was close to perfect, but he seemed thrown by a
term normally reserved for police reinforcement.

"Helpers," I said. "Does he have any elves?"

Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, but I couldn't help but feel
personally insulted when Oscar denounced the very idea as grotesque
and unrealistic. "Elves," he said. "They're just so silly."

The words silly and unrealistic were redefined when I learned that
Saint Nicholas travels with what was consistently described as "six
to eight black men." I asked several Dutch people to narrow it
down, but none of them could give me an exact number. It was always
"six to eight," which seems strange, seeing as they've had hundreds
of years to get a decent count.

The six to eight black men were characterized as personal slaves
until the mid-fifties, when the political climate changed and it
was decided that instead of being slaves they were just good
friends. I think history has proven that something usually comes
between slavery and friendship, a period of time marked not by
cookies and quiet times beside the fire but by bloodshed and
mutual hostility. They have such violence in Holland, but rather
than duking it out among themselves, Santa and his former slaves
decided to take it out on the public. In the early years, if a
child was naughty, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men
would beat him with what Oscar described as "the small branch of
a tree."

"A switch?"

"Yes," he said. "That's it. They'd kick him and beat him with a
switch. Then, if the youngster was really bad, they'd put him in
a sack and take him back to Spain."

"Saint Nicholas would kick you?"

"Well, not anymore," Oscar said. "Now he just pretends to kick

"And the six to eight black men?"

"Them, too."

He considered this to be progressive, but in a way I think it's
almost more perverse than the original punishment. "I'm going to
hurt you, but not really." How many times have we fallen for that
line? The fake slap invariably makes contact, adding the elements
of shock and betrayal to what had previously been plain, old-
fashioned fear. What kind of Santa spends his time pretending to
kick people before stuffing them into a canvas sack? Then, of
course, you've got the six to eight former slaves who could
potentially go off at any moment. This, I think, is the greatest
difference between us and the Dutch. While a certain segment of
our population might be perfectly happy with the arrangement, if
you told the average white American that six to eight nameless
black men would be sneaking into his house in the middle of the
night, he would barricade the doors and arm himself with whatever
he could get his hands on.

"Six to eight, did you say?"

In the years before central heating, Dutch children would leave
their shoes by the fireplace, the promise being that unless they
planned to beat you, kick you, or stuff you into a sack, Saint
Nicholas and the six to eight black men would fill your clogs
with presents. Aside from the threats of violence and kidnapping,
it's not much different from hanging your stockings from the
mantel. Now that so few people have a working fireplace, Dutch
children are instructed to leave their shoes beside the radiator,
furnace, or space heater. Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black
men arrive on horses, which jump from the yard onto the roof. At
this point, I guess, they either jump back down and use the door,
or they stay put and vaporize through the pipes and electrical
wires. Oscar wasn't too clear about the particulars, but, really,
who can blame him? We have the same problem with our Santa. He's
supposed to use the chimney, but if you don't have one, he still
manages to come through. It's best not to think about it too hard.

While eight flying reindeer are a hard pill to swallow, our
Christmas story remains relatively simple. Santa lives with his
wife in a remote polar village and spends one night a year
traveling around the world. If you're bad, he leaves you coal. If
you're good and live in America, he'll give you just about anything
you want. We tell our children to be good and send them off to bed,
where they lie awake, anticipating their great bounty. A Dutch
parent has a decidedly hairier story to relate, telling his
children, "Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things
together before you go to bed. The former bishop from Turkey will
be coming along with six to eight black men. They might put some
candy in your shoes, they might stuff you in a sack and take you
to Spain, or they might just pretend to kick you. We don't know
for sure, but we want you to be prepared."

This is the reward for living in Holland. As a child you get to
hear this story, and as an adult you get to turn around and repeat
it. As an added bonus, the government has thrown in legalized drugs
and prostitution-so what's not to love about being Dutch?

Oscar finished his story just as we arrived at the station. He was
a polite and interesting guy-very good company-but when he offered
to wait until my train arrived, I begged off, saying I had some
calls to make. Sitting alone in the vast terminal, surrounded by
other polite, seemingly interesting Dutch people, I couldn't help
but feel second-rate. Yes, it was a small country, but it had six
to eight black men and a really good bedtime story. Being a fairly
competitive person, I felt jealous, then bitter, and was edging
toward hostile when I remembered the blind hunter tramping off
into the Michigan forest. He might bag a deer, or he might happily
shoot his sighted companion in the stomach. He may find his way
back to the car, or he may wander around for a week or two before
stumbling through your front door. We don't know for sure, but in
pinning that license to his chest, he inspires the sort of
narrative that ultimately makes me proud to be an American.

Boondock Saints

Person: Have you seen Boondock Saints?

Me: No.

Person: WHAT? You have to see Boondock Saints. It's sooooooo good.

So I saw it.

It sucks.


Not Domino bad, or Twister bad, but probably in the top ten of the dumbest, most pretentious movies I've ever seen.


Pot, Meet Kettle

That is, like, the most hilarious subtitle ever. Christopher Hitchens, the arrogant asshole (who confounds me by sometimes being sensible) who has been wrong on All Things Iraq has the balls to start saying who we should and shouldn't listen to re: Iraq. Fuck that guy.
There would never have been a better opportunity to "address the root cause" and to remove a dictator who was a permanent menace to his subjects, his neighbors, and the world beyond.
Funny, cuz back then, your argument, presented just as arrogantly as today, was that Gulf War I was a huge mistake.

Oh yeah, I forgot, you quite publicly changed your mind (coughflipflopcough) after the first Gulf War was over. Boy, it’s always nice to have 20/20 hindsight. So how many years will your beautiful powers of hindsight kick in regarding our present debacle?

San Francisco Values

Desperate, the new Republican bogeyman is “San Francisco Values”. Apparently, you’re supposed to shit yourself at the thought of Nancy Pelosi and her “San Francisco values”, since I hear that frace every thirty effing seconds on Fox News. But what are San Francisco values? Have you ever been to San Francisco?

In SF, you have the freedom to be yourself. Gay, straight, bi, crazy, sane, liberal, conservative.

In SF, you have the freedom to worship who or what you want, or the freedom to worship nothing at all.

In SF, you have the right to say what you want. No matter how stupid. (And it’s probably stupid.)

In SF, the only thing not tolerated is intolerance. But if you want to be intolerant, well, that’s okay too. After all, Michael Savage lives in SF.

So basically, San Francisco’s key “value” is freedom.

So, Republicans hate San Franciscans because of their freedom.

Did you shit your pants yet?

(plagiarized from Will Durst)


The Secret Mainstream

So when people ask me what I’m “into” regarding music, movies, books, whatever, I always struggle for a response. I’m not one of those “Oh, I like everything” type people; I definitely have strong opinions on what I like and what I don’t like. For the most part, I don’t like “mainstream” stuff. At the same time, I’m not really into pretentious art-house stuff either. Stuff I like tends to be slightly different, but not so different as to make in inaccessible to most people. The stuff I like isn’t difficult to find, either. Plus, stuff I like tends to have a large, but not enormous, fan base. So what to call it?

In the latest issue of Harper’s, Werner Herzog nails it. When the director is asked if it frustrates him that his films are not more well known, he answers, “I believe in what I call the secret mainstream”. Exactly! Secret Mainstream. That almost exactly describes what I’m into. Popular, but just out of the mainstream enough to where you still feel camaraderie with fellow fans. Subversive, but not to the point of abstract pointlessness and incomprehensibility (did I just make up a word?).

The casual reader doesn’t know who David Foster Wallace is, but almost anyone really into modern literature is at least aware of him. Same with Herzog and movies. Same with Mr. Show and comedy. Same with Dillinger Four and punk.

I finally found what I was looking for.

Having A Bad Day?

A surefire cure........KITTIES!

Spend some time scrolling through this page and drown yourself in disgusting amounts of teh cute.

Some faves:

The Poor Man provides me endless inspiration.


Army Vs. Police

I keep hearing about the training of the Iraqi military being essential to success in Iraq. If that's true, doesn't it undermine the whole notion of "democracy" in Iraq? If the military is responsible for internal control of the country, well, then, that sounds like a militarized nation to me. Police forces are responsible for internal security, not the military. When the military goes to war internally, you get martial law at best, civil war at worse, and in the middle you have Chile 1973. Call any of those outcomes what you will, just don't call them democracies.


The Editors On Obama

Obama is my man (my prediction: he ends up VP with Wes Clark), but The Editors, as usual, makes a good point.
Obama can’t win. He’s a born politician, and perhaps a bit more besides, but can we take a moment to be slightly serious? Obama sounds like a Scary Arab and apparently dresses like a Scary Arab *, too. Also, Obama is black. Further, Obama is a black Yankee who is way smarter than you, more charming than you, nicer than you, better looking than you, and could probably seduce your wife, you daughter, and your mom, in front of you, at Christmas dinner, in five minutes flat. Obama is approximately one pair of assless chaps away from being the Sum of All Cracker Fears, which means you can forget about winning the South at least. I wish it weren’t so, I would be so proud of America if Obama got elected and then proved it weren’t so, but it is so. It is so fucking so.


Victor Jara

Victor Jara was a Chilean artist/teacher who was toturtured and murdered in the days follwing the coup which brought Augusto Pinchet to power. He wrote the following poem, describing the conditions of the soccer stadium in which thousands of people held, days before his murder. He hid the poem in the shoe of a friend who survived.
Somos cinco mil
en esta pequeña parte de la ciudad.
Somos cinco mil
¿ Cuántos seremos en total
en las ciudades y en todo el país ?
Solo aqui
diez mil manos siembran
y hacen andar las fabricas.

¡ Cuánta humanidad
con hambre, frio, pánico, dolor,
presión moral, terror y locura !

Seis de los nuestros se perdieron
en el espacio de las estrellas.

Un muerto, un golpeado como jamas creí
se podria golpear a un ser humano.
Los otros cuatro quisieron quitarse todos los temores
uno saltó al vacio,
otro golpeandose la cabeza contra el muro,
pero todos con la mirada fija de la muerte.

¡ Qué espanto causa el rostro del fascismo !
Llevan a cabo sus planes con precisión artera
Sin importarles nada.
La sangre para ellos son medallas.
La matanza es acto de heroismo
¿ Es este el mundo que creaste, dios mio ?
¿Para esto tus siete dias de asombro y trabajo ?
en estas cuatro murallas solo existe un numero
que no progresa,
que lentamente querrá más muerte.

Pero de pronto me golpea la conciencia
y veo esta marea sin latido,
pero con el pulso de las máquinas
y los militares mostrando su rostro de matrona
llena de dulzura.
¿ Y Mexico, Cuba y el mundo ?
¡ Que griten esta ignominia !
Somos diez mil manos menos
que no producen.

¿Cuántos somos en toda la Patria?
La sangre del companero Presidente
golpea más fuerte que bombas y metrallas
Asi golpeará nuestro puño nuevamente

¡Canto que mal me sales
Cuando tengo que cantar espanto!
Espanto como el que vivo
como el que muero, espanto.
De verme entre tanto y tantos
momentos del infinito
en que el silencio y el grito
son las metas de este canto.
Lo que veo nunca vi,
lo que he sentido y que siento
hara brotar el momento...

We are five thousand
Confined in this little part of town

We are five thousand
How many of us are there throughout the country?

Such a large portion of humanity
With hunger, cold, horror and pain
Six among us have already been lost
And have joined the stars in the sky.

One killed, another beaten
As I never imagined a human being
could be beaten
The other four just wanted to put an end
To their fears

One by jumping down to his death
The other smashing his head against a wall
But all of them
Looking straight into the eyes of death.

We are ten thousand hands
That can no longer work
How many of us are there
Throughout the country?

The blood shed by our comrade President
Has more power than bombs and machine guns
With that same strength our collective fist
Will strike again some day.

Song, How imperfect you are!
When I most need to sing, I cannot
I cannot because I am still alive
I cannot because I am dying

It terrifies me to find myself
Lost in infinite moments
On which silence and shouts
Are the objectives of my song

What I now see, I have never seen
What I feel and what I have felt
Will make the moment spring again.

(Victor Jara, Estadio Chile, Septiembre 1973)

Selling Out

I agree with Idolator.
"What a sellout."
You read that right--we said sellout. For our younger readers, "selling out" is the charmingly antiquated notion that a musician diminishes his or her work by aligning themselves with a commercial entity. It's an idea most hotly debated during the alt-rock supermarket-sweep of the early '90s, when the indie scene was cherry-picked by the major labels. Back then, artists thought hard and long over whether they should endorse a sneaker, or lend a song to a soundtrack, or even appear in Time. Such navel-gazing may have been a little self-important, but at least the gazers cared about maintaining a modicum of credibility.

And then the '90s ended, and a whole bunch of bands got dropped without making a dime. Suddenly, the profit-scorching machinations of the biz became clear, and we all became a little more forgiving of a cheesy advertorial or a song being used in the Happy Gilmore trailer. Everyone's gotta eat, we thought, and we saw enough bands break up over money problems to know that credibility is a bank-breaking burden. Sometimes, a little sponsorship keeps the overhead down.

But somehow, in the last few years, this casual acceptance became less of a slippery slope, and more of a Wile E. Coyote-sized perch, one in which we've all been too willing to jump off. No one's going to deny that Internet piracy and label mergers have made ancillary sources of income more important than ever, but we've become way too forgiving: Jay-Z starts hawking Budweiser Select and NASCAR, and we turn a blind eye. 3 Doors Down take a two-page spread for Verizon Wireless, and we forget we ever saw it (for numerous reasons). These aren't little indie acts trying to clear next month's rent; they're big-name acts that like to cover up their greed by talking up their "branding" and "cross-synergy platforms." And even the ones that aren't commanding big mechanical-royalty checks should at least do a little soul-searching: Hey, Common--you know what? If you really need a cringe-inducing Gap spot to sustain your career, maybe you shouldn't have a career at all.

Look, we're not suggesting that everyone go live in a cave with Ian MacKaye, holding ten-hour debates on whether or not to appear on the fifth stage at the Warped Tour. We're just asking for a little less complacency on the part of the fans, and a little more outrage. Sure, everyone's gotta eat--but do they have to be so goddamn gluttonous?
I always feel a little juvenile crying sell out (although in 1993, I labeled just about anyone who didn't have an ad in Maxim Rock N Roll one), cuz who knows what I'd do in a similar situation. But I think in the MySpace sponsored age, the term needs to be thrown around a little more.

Microsoft = Punk?

I've always thought of Microsoft as "the man" (we'll temporarily forget how much my life is dependent on them), but sitting here at a coffee shop (shaddup), looking at all these Apple laptops, I gotta say, I'm feeling kinda punk rock. Not as punk as Linux or anything, but these Apples are the definitely the preps.


Chargers-Saints Super Bowl?

The advertisers and networks would hate it, but are there two teams you'd rather see play right now? Of course they would play up the 'Brees vs. his former team' angle until the nation collectively pukes, but that's alright. As a Chargers fan, it's nice to see Brees move on. There truly is no ill will from Chargers fans, and we are all secretly rooting for him. It's really worked out well for all sides involved, so I'm crossing my fingers that they'll meet in February.

Ding Dong Another Witch Is Dead

Due to moving and a temporary graveyard shift at work, I haven't been posting, but since a large part of my life between 1996-2000 was studying the horrors of the authoritarian regime in Chile, I'd thought I'd chime in to say FUCK YES Augusto Pinochet is dead.

It's just too bad he was able to live until the age of 91. Hell is too good for that piece of shit. I hope the families of those who were murdered and disappeared sleep at least a little better tonight. It doesn't bring their loved ones back, but at least they don't have to be subject to the daily humiliation of seeing Pinochet alive.

What a short memory we have. The US was behind the coup that put Pinochet in power (ironically, it happened on September 11), and our government openly supported him, yet you never hear about that in our discussion of tyranny and freedom.


The Dumbest People In The World

The Rite has their collective undies in a wad because Keith Ellison does not wish to be sworn into office by taking the oath with his hand on the Bible.

I should probably tell you that Keith Ellison is a Muslim.

Yep, the Rite wants to force a Muslim to swear on the Bible. Oh, you gotta love that freedom of religion!

I mean, holy crap.
Take Action

1. Send an email asking your U.S. Representative and Senators to pass a law making the Bible the book used in the swearing-in ceremony of Representatives and Senators.
Yes, send those emails! Demand the Bible become the book of the land, or we risk our country being taken over be intolerant religious fanatics! Oh, uh, wait...