Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Is This Thing On?

Yes! I'm back, had a lot of extraneous activity for a bit, there, but I need to write some stuff down before I completely forget about it. So, let me talk about our trip to Florida over the MLK week-end. Some of us (but not me) get that Monday off, so we decided we would go and visit my fiance's grandmother in Daytona Beach. He hadn't seen her in roughly twenty years, which is a long story, but we figured it was about time. Since we are about eight hours away by car, we decided to drive.

Sightings from the road:

There is a Welcome Center in South Carolina that is smack dab in the MIDDLE of the state. There is NO WAY that the Welcome Center is welcoming anyone who hasn't been in the state for at least a couple of hours. My thought was they are welcoming all the incoming paratroopers, or the crash-landing aliens.

Speaking of South Carolina, I finally laid eyes on South of the Border. There are signs for this thing all the way into North Carolina along I-95, but I had never actually seen this monstrosity of tourism. The worst part is that we didn't have time to stop. I want to visit the monstrosity! Maybe some other time. I hear they have ashtrays with pictures of Elvis on the bottom that even the non-smokers can't resist buying.

So, we made it to "Florida," or so they claim. It was between 30 and 40 degrees almost the entire time we were there, including the day we spent walking around outside in St. Augustine. Probably the most humorous part of this is that the Floridians apologized for the weather. Then the day we left (naturally) it was in the 70s. I know this, because everyone we met told us. "It's nice today!" "It's in the 70s! Too bad it's windy." I have never heard people talk about the weather this much. Something in the water, maybe.

We had a good time with granny. She had cancer in her throat some time ago, so doesn't speak above a whisper, and eats through a tube. All the same, she seems to have boundless energy and practically leapt around her home, cooking us so much food I thought I was going to go into food coma every time we ate. The problem with having someone cook for you that can't eat is that there is absolutely no tolerance for leftovers. She's a good cook, however, and everything was really delicious. We played penny-ante poker, and while we had our lucky moments, I believe she would have cleaned us out if we had stayed longer.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Do You Hear the Lambs, Clarice?

If you have a list of ten movies everyone should see, feel free to email them to me, still. My email address is at left, all code-like to avoid the evil spammers (hopefully).

Speaking of evil, there is a guy in our office building that has been creeping me out ever since he got here. If the police suspected that a serial killer was renting in our building, I would know EXACTLY who to point to, assuming that my safety was guaranteed. He is maybe a little old for "the profile" that they talk about in the movies, but he is very quiet, nondescript, keeps to himself, etc. Also, he will dig through every candy dish in the building to find the gold-wrapped Brachs candies. He will go to every dish, take ALL the candy out of it, and mumble to himself the whole time. I have seen the work he gives to the our shared secretary, and he literally cuts up other letters he's written and pastes the sentences onto a new piece of paper for her to type. He will then underline parts of them in pen. They look like ransom notes to me, and I'm sure she has her reservations. The other day, I walked to the kitchen and he was standing in front of the door, just staring in. I politely said, "excuse me," as I edged cautiously around him, and he looked startled, walked into the kitchen, and proceeded to stand in front of the soda machine, staring. As Strongbad would say, "That guy gives me the jibblies." Jibbly.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Dave's Ten Movies Everyone Should See

This means you.

I have known Dave since high school, and he has always been interested in literature, movies, drama, you name it. Hopefully, he still writes in his spare time, other than the vastly entertaining emails that he sends me (and other people too). Furthering his credentials, he managed a movie rental place for a bit, which means he has seen many more movies than I have. If some of his descriptions sound a bit touchy-feely, that's as a result of the San Francisco atmosphere he's breathing. Heh. I would like to point out that not only does Dave read what I write, he reads for content. You have to respect that in a friend.

1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: I'd like to count the original trilogy as one movie, but picked this because a) it's the best of the current 5, and b) it's cheating--if a Star Wars virgin sees just this one, they will be obligated by forces of natural curiosity to see the other two. References to this movie abound in culture so much that one needs to be familiar with the story to prevent becoming a social pariah.

2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off: it reminds everyone of what it's like to be young and to seize the day. The kids aren't carefree--indeed real teen angst about relationships, college, et all pervades the film--but it demonstrates that those worries can be set aside, if only for a day.

3. The Breakfast Club: I wanted to let only Ferris represent the genre, but The Breakfast Club details class strife so well that it needed a shout-out. Nobody uses a pop movie to discuss the caste system as well as John Hughes, and no movie does it better than this. Plus, I think it's useful for society as a whole to know that 'Claire' is a fat girl's name.

4. Airplane: you can't watch it and not laugh (again, and again, and again) but the comedy comes in 2-5 layers PER SHOT. Hopefully people will walk away recognizing that life has complexity, but, more importantly, you should always look for the joke.

5. Dances With Wolves: nature is beautiful; destroying it is bad.

6. Trainspotting: if you take enough drugs and hang out with enough drug-users, you'll eventually end up grinning over a bridge with a sack full of cash. No... wait... drugs are bad! If you take enough drugs you'll see spirit visions of the baby you killed climb across your ceiling. Actually, it's just a good story of another culture and it uses music beautifully to help tell its story (I'm thinking specifically of "It's Just a Perfect Day...")

7. Pulp Fiction: no excuses, just a wonderfully entertaining movie. The only morals I can think are (again) drugs, organized crime, and pawn shops are bad. And it's not a motorcycle, baby. It's a chopper.

8. Holiday Inn: even black & white movies can be good! Irving Berlin wrote "White Christmas" for Bing to sing in this movie, and no one should die without seeing Fred Astaire glide across a floor as though he were on ball bearings.

9. The Shining: this movie uses brilliant suspense, contains a brilliant story, and has the best steady-cam big-wheel shot I've ever seen in my life. It's good to be scared every once in a while (vicariously, at least) and it teaches one never to disturb someone else when they're writing--good lesson. Ed. note: That's right. All work and no play make Super Jen all crazy.

10. Dead Poets Society: I know people have problems with this flick, and that's fine, but don't underestimate the utility of the life choice Carpe Diem. It also discusses the benefits (and punishments) of resisting totalitarianism, introduced a new generation to the sweaty-toothed madman, Whitman, and above all, teaches you to think for yourself.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Ten Movies Everyone Should See

I decided that I wasn't going to try and tackle something like "The Ten Best Movies of ALL TIME" like one of those corny VH1 shows (that I love watching, don't get me wrong). But let's face it, I do not have the time or the resources to watch every single movie ever made and make that sort of judgement call. So, I decided to list ten movies that I think everyone should see, whether it is because they are good movies, or just to increase cultural IQ. I encourage anyone (anyone?) who reads this to email me your list, and I will post it here. And like me, you don't need to have any credentials whatsoever. Whee! So here are mine, in no particular order.

1. The Breakfast Club - this is one of those cultural relevance ones, if you're wondering.

2. Dirty Harry. I only recently watched this movie. Not only does it have GREAT lines (including the one that everyone already knows), it feels like a documentary about what 70's movies are all about.

3. Star Wars. Speaking of the 70's... even if you "don't like Sci-Fi movies," watch the first one. At least you'll be able to correctly identify wookie impressions.

4. Lord of the Rings. Same advice as #3. Also, I realized that all my movies were old. So here's a new one.

5. So I Married an Axe Murderer - If only to witness the Scottish comedy in the middle, oh so worth sitting through the rest of it. A rare Mike Myers vehicle in that it contains very little if any potty humor.

6. Braveheart. This way I have my epic bases covered. Yeah, I liked Gladiator, but this one wins that little duel, at least for me.

7. Pulp Fiction... unless you don't like cursing with your movies. That's the only complaint I have ever heard about this movie.

8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You'll thank me when the office geek starts quoting it. Believe me.

9. The Princess Bride. This movie makes me smile.

10. The Blues Brothers. Nothing like an original. Music superstars galore, and lot of quotable lines.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Another Mystery Solved

A couple networks are struggling to answer that nagging question, "How long do you have to wait after a tragedy before you can profit by putting out a made for TV movie about it?" The answers vary, however. Some say a year and a half, while others are a little more conservative and say heck, let's wait a full four years. Wow, I'm glad they have that figured out.