Wednesday, February 5, 2014

LIE #105: Back in the Saddle, Toot Sweet! (And the Films of January 2014) (& RIP PSH)

No way am I gonna let myself get behind schedule like I did last time; nuh-uh! No way, José.

That said, it sucks that Philip Seymour Hoffman had to go and OD. The tentacles of the Mind Parasites can confound and depress even the most successful of us…

I enjoyed PSH in everything I’ve seen him in, especially when the rest of the movie stunk.
And he was someone who could’ve had a LONG career: Not being a “pretty boy,” PSH had a wider range of character choices and possibilities. Growing older, he could’ve been a contemporary Charles Laughton or Edmund O’Brien.

The thing to do is appreciate what PSH did give us, hope that his explorations of a new dimension are successful, and pray that no one decides “Since PSH did dope, so should I.”

[Why the masks? Why not!]

So I just wish X [name of institution REDACTED] would tell me one way or another whether I’ve been accepted into their program.
The waiting’s killing me!
Although if I don’t get in, I’m not sure I’ll have the energy to pursue anything. And I may be too depressed… Dammit! Too much mental energy is being diverted by these worries

Meanwhile, I’ve been busting my ass at a warehouse trying to make ends meet. I’m grateful for the work, but the dude I’m toiling for is such a trip. Grumpy, moany, complainy, jailbait-chasin’ always-right/never-wrong, knows EVERYTHING—etc., etc., blah-blah-blah!

The dude is totally like R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, even in looks, kozmik weirdness, counterculture credentials, and pussyhound tendencies.
I enjoy working for him, but then sometimes I wished he bathed more. And it’s hard to respect someone who, by living in a pigsty, doesn’t seem to respect himself. Meanwhile, some areas in the workspace literally stink! Like trash and garbage and sweat had collected in a puddle for six or seven months….

I find myself questioning his business acumen, as well: He tends to order too much of something, then lose it in the mess, then…get angry at other people. Seems like he’d rather spend more time chatting online than on genuine capitalistic business. To quote Captain Willard: “I don’t see any method at all, sir…”

But what do I know, I work for him—to the point where I have calluses on my calluses—and those are splitting open: OUCH!

As much as I gripe, like I said before, I am grateful to have had the work—but for the next couple of weeks; I need to concentrate on other, more intellectual (and potentially financially remunerative) endeavors, and must remove myself from a smelly, trash-strewn mail-order warehouse-in-a-storefront….of doom!

Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1991; Craig Baldwin)—one of the greatest movies ever made, a beautiful pop-culture mash-up explaining how the CIA protects the U.S. from alien invaders living in the Hollow Earth—and a great way to start the new year.

Of course, the political insanity, shenanigans, bloodletting and coup d’états that have happened since this film was released in 1991, all have worked to make Tribulation 99 almost quaint now. Sigh…

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010; Werner Herzog & Dmitry Vasyukov) Engrossing documentary about the hard-working fur trappers in Siberia’s Taiga region; men who spend enormous time enduring inhuman subzero weather. Watching these guys makes all my moaning about the cold even more pathetic.
Herzog narrates and co-directs, so there is a certain philosophic bent to the proceedings: these are noble, “happy,” people and their lives may be better than yours. Wonderful flick; inspirational, too!

The Red Chapel (2009; Mads Brügger) A Danish journalist uses two Korean comedians (both adopted and raised in Denmark; one with cerebral palsy) in an attempt to “punk” the North Korean government. But the unyielding nature of NK twists and almost crushes the Danish trio’s plans and spirits. Worthwhile view for anyone interested in the North Korea surveillance state of total control.

The Ambassador (2011; Mads Brügger) Brügger, creator of The Red Chapel (see above) returns, but this time in an elaborate scheme to get himself made as a diplomat in Africa. A disturbing look at the corruption rife in Africa, with allegations that it is encouraged by Western powers, especially France. Yet this “documentary” (scam?) is also hilarious with its series of blatant bribery and nightmarish contrasts.

South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut (1999; Trey Parker) Genius stuff that’s still funny and semi-relevant.
Brilliant flick that’s really a meta-movie about itself, commenting and criticizing its backlash before it can even happen, zinging both the Right and Left. And man-oh-man, can these guys write catchy songs!

Smoke ’Em If You Got ’Em (1988; Ray Boseley) Fabulous short film, only about 45 minutes, about a party at the end of the world. This will get a longer review shortly, but if I don’t get around to it before February 28, 2014, make sure to get yourself to the Spectacle movie theater to see Smoke’ Em If You Got ’Em (as well as several other Australia shorts dealing with the Apocalypse). 

[various episodes of] The Wire: Season Five (2008; created by David Simon) Often had it on as background noise, which then usually ended up commanding all my attention. Great, great stuff! Perhaps a little too much “inside baseball” regarding how a newspaper office works (and boy, are reporters a sentimental lot or what?), but still one of the best TV shows ever.

The New York City Ballet, 2014 Winter Season—All Balanchine: “Concerto Barocco,” “Kammermusik No. 2,” and “Who Cares?” [Attended January 28, 2014]
Some incredibly beautiful stuff. I could’ve done with less Gershwin and maybe more of somebody else’s music, but that doesn’t detract from the magnificent dancing.
Wow, I need to see more ballet!

Oh yeah, I caught the Mike Kelley show at P.S. 1 in Queens—don’t remember the exact date; it was after taking my mom out for lunch on one of those interminable days we’ve been having lately where all it does is snow. Jeez, knock it off already!

So the Mike Kelley Show: It was…okay; I liked parts of it. But mostly it was a tad…overwhelming, y’know? And I never really got his “appeal” in the first place, either. I dunno, maybe it’s the slope of my forehead or sumptin’.

BOOKS READ IN January 2014 [an asterisk means I’ve read that book before, maybe even twice…]
*) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks—the late Banks’ first novel is still a shocker, still a mindfuck, still incredible. Young, murderous Frank is worried about his brother, who’s just escaped from the insane asylum—where he was sent for setting dogs on fire. A misanthropic personalized mystery-horror tale, The Wasp Factory is delicious and unsettling Post-Modern Gothic.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum—never read this before; felt I needed to. Fun read, but honestly, the 1939 film is a better constructed story, with better motivation and plot development, as well as snappier, more memorable dialog.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi—fabulous pageturner tribute to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Essentially a fantasy (the biomechanics might as well be magic), but still some wild rough-and-tumble action. Excellent entry to the Space Opera Genre.

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