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Posts in Category: Pop Culture Rants

Five Steps to a Better Blog!

I have a lot of friends with LiveJournals. And they have a lot of friends with LiveJournals. And they have a lot of well-wishers with LiveJournals. The LiveJournal community is fascinating, if not utterly baffling, but it really did make me realize that, as a blogger, I am not maximizing my emo potential. So I’ve constructed a series of rules that will alllow readers to really feel my bland white-boy pain, instead of just reading and laughing uproariously.

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Coffee Article

Starbucks Economics

I’m actually officially off the sauce at this point, and assuming the migraines and irritability go away at some point, I’m all the better for it. But this article just…pissed me off. Here’s why:

The problem with large cappuccinos is that it’s impossible to make the fine-bubbled milk froth (“microfoam,” in the lingo) in large quantities, no matter how skilled the barista. A 20-ounce cappuccino is an oxymoron.

Both of those statements are outright lies. It’s actually remarkably easy to essentially fill an entire steam pitcher (which is usually 32 or 40 ounces) with foam using small quantities of milk. We used to do that all the time at Tully’s, no matter what the size or drink (lattés also have foam, albeit less), because we’d get so crowded we needed to multitask and make a half-dozen drinks simultaneously.

While the company line at both Starbucks and Tully’s was to fill any size cappuccino halfway with milk and fill the other half with foam, we’d usually go a quarter, because most people didn’t like all that milk. And if people asked for it “dry,” we would put as little milk in as humanly possible, often spooning out the foam rather than attempting the spoon-and-pour combo we baristas have to master.

Also, I’m sure this has changed because he’s insisting he’s ordered them, but when I worked at Starbucks we didn’t even have a “short” size—I never saw that until I worked at Tully’s.

The reference to the venti weighing 20 ounces and being more than 200 calories is misleading. Yes, the cup holds 20 fluid ounces, and as I said, the company line is to fill it halfway—theoretically, 10 ounces of milk (maybe eight if you include the espresso) and the rest is just almost-weightless foam. And if people are really worried about the calories, I’m sure they’re familiar with skim milk (which would also give them a stronger coffee flavor, since the its consistency is thinner—plus it foams better).

Let’s get down to the weights and measures of it all. At Tully’s, the espresso increment went as follows (from short to viente): 1-1-2-3. So let’s break it down: one shot of espresso is roughtly 1.5 ounces. Let’s assume for a second that we’re towing the company line—although we never did—and filling it halfway with milk before spooning in the foam. Now, right off the bat, if you have half a brain you’ve noticed that if the mixture is perfect, the short and the grande have a exact, proportional concentration—it’s just that the grande is twice the size.

Then there’s the viente. Three shots of espresso. Four and a half ounces of pure, concentrated caffeine magic cut with five and a half ounces of milk. Versus one and a half ounces of espresso mixed with two and a half ounces of milk. So we’re dealing with an espresso ratio of 8.18:10 in the viente and 6:10 in the short. (And let’s not even get into the cost ratio—a grande is 60¢ more than a $2.35 short, but you get double.)

So who’s getting fucked by the secret menu now?

His whole point is kind of weird, too. It’s partly true, according to Tully’s (like I said, Starbucks didn’t have shorts when I worked there), that they make the cheaper product less attractive (by not advertising it directly), and I was told exactly what he says: the price on the shorts is too low to justify the cost.

However, the actual reasoning is a little different than what he says—again, he’s misleading—because we buy cups and lids in bulk. And so if the cost of 100 8 oz. cups is roughly the same as the 20 oz., we sell so few (and as he points out, there’s less markup) that it doesn’t justify the store spending money to replace the cups and lids. When they were advertised early in the company’s existence (or so I’m told…), it cost more in the long run than it does to not advertise them at all.

It’s weird in the sense that it’s exclusionary—John Q. Non-Regular doesn’t have any idea he can save a whopping 30 cents on his cappuccino—and maybe shouldn’t be done at all, but it is nice on those rare occasions when somebody would ask, “Gee, can’t I get something smaller than 12 ounces?” But that happened maybe twice in the four months I worked at Tully’s, so that’s what I mean: without advertising, our individual store probably could have lasted a year on a box of 100 cups, which doesn’t hurt the profit margin.

I’m not really trying to justify the tactic—personally, I never understood why we offered the size at all—I just don’t see it as devious as leaving roofs off of third-class train cars or constructing shitty airline lounges to encourage people to pay a premium.

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Bulletin!

I’ve been on MySpace for almost a year at this point, and I’ve seen the following bulletin posted by at least four different people in just the past month or two:

You’re on my friends list. I’d like to know 25 things about you. Just hit reply. Thanks!

You’ll be surprised how much you didn’t know about your friends after this!

1. Ever punch someone in the face?

2. How old are you?

3. Are you single or taken?

4. Eat with your hands or utensils?

5. Do you dream at night?

6. Ever seen a corpse?

7. Have you ever wished someone dead?

8. Do You Like Bush, the president?

HERE COMES THE EQUALLY INTERESTING PART…

9. Whats your philosophy on life and death?

10. If you could do anything with me, and have no one know, what would it be?

11. Do you trust the police?

12. Do you like country music?

13. What is your fondest memory of me?

14. If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?

15. Would you date me?

16. What do you wear to sleep?

17. Have you ever peed in a pool?

18. Would you hide evidence for me if I asked you to?

19. If I only had one day to live, what would we do together?

20. What is your favorite thing about me?

21. Do you think I’m attractive?

22. What’s your favorite color?

23. If you could bring back anyone that has passed, who would it be?

24. Tell me one interesting/odd fact about you?

25. Will you post this so I can fill it out for you?

The first couple of times I saw this, it seemed pretty innocuous. I didn’t read through all the questions, and I actually think some of the early questions could lead to a little more insightful rambling than your average online survey. I’d start filling it out, and then I’d get to the later questions and get tripped up.

15. Would you date me?

How can you answer this honestly and elicit a positive response from the person who sent the questions? It’s a simple yes or no question, with enough of a gray area for you to say something retarded like, “Durr, I don’t know, maybe if the right circumstances presented themselves and blah-blah-blah, then I guess so, but it’d be complicated.” That seems like the only road to prevent awkward feelings.

If you answer yes, either out of honesty or politeness, the only way this will have a happy ending is if you are being honest, and if they feel the same way and both are unattached. If you say “yes” and you’re lying, but the sender is interested, that’s an unnecessarily rough situation to get into based on a MySpace bulletin. If you say “yes” and you’re being honest, but they don’t reciprocate the feelings, it’s just going to lead to awkwardness, especially if they’re seeing someone.

But what if you’re both into it and one, the other, or both are involved with someone else? What happens if you feel like this MySpace bulletin has caused the stars to align, and you can finally be with this person you’ve had a crush on since fifth grade, so you each dump your significant others to get together and…it’s the worst possible relationship in the history of time, and each resents the other for being forced into a corner based on something as stupid as a question on a MySpace bulletin?

Saying “no” is equally hazardous, but for the opposite reasons: whether you’re being sincere or not, telling someone “No, I’d never date you,” is offensive. I mean, how could it not be? It’d be way easier to go the half-assed “Gee, maybe if things were different, I don’t know,” staying wishy-washy enough for them to not do something crazy like dump their boyfriend of seven years for your middle-of-the-road non-answer. But then what if you say “no” and are lying, but you get a response like, “Phew, I’m so glad you said ‘no’ because I always thought you had a crush on me but you and me dating would be horrible!” And then you have to hide the hurt feelings and pretend to be friends with them, all the while resenting their casual dismissal of you as a lover and secretly plotting to break them up whenever they start dating.

13. What is your fondest memory of me?

18. Would you hide evidence for me if I asked you to?

19. If I only had one day to live, what would we do together?

20. What is your favorite thing about me?

21. Do you think I’m attractive?

These are all, to varying degrees, loaded questions that all seem to be fishing for the same thing: how interested are you in me and/or will we ever be “more than friends”? Give the wrong answer, and you risk ruining a friendship forever. Even a “funny” question like #18, depending on the answer, could speak volumes about how serious the respondant feels about the sender. It’s rough, but it reveals a bigger question that I’ve started to wonder every time I see this bulletin posted:

Why is this person posting this particular bulletin and searching for answers to these uncomfortable questions, buried near the end for people who aren’t smart enough to read ahead?

For this question, I have no answer. Sometimes I wonder if they’re looking for sincere answers from their opposite-sex friends, and if I had a crush on the girls who have sent it, maybe I’m missing the boat on something because I usually ignore it for fear of humiliating myself if I admit the crush, or humiliating myself if I don’t.

This is why online survey questions should never be more insightful than “Coke or Pepsi?”

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Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue

After bandleader/songwriter/producer/arranger/brother Brian Wilson’s breakdown in 1967, the Beach Boys had to fend for themselves. It was a strange, tumultuous time, producing some of the band’s most ecclectic and bizarre music. Some of it is great; most of it is awful. In one of the band’s many hilarious-if-it-weren’t-so-depressing ironies, Dennis stepped up as the brother who was by far the band’s best songwriter (after Brian).

Rarely taken seriously by the other band members, mostly because he rarely took the group seriously, many of his songs were rejected in the group’s democratic selection process for album cuts. Dennis was considering a solo album as early as 1970, and Beach Boys versions of songs that would later appear on Pacific Ocean Blue were being played live as early as 1969. If you look at the band’s creative output from 1969 (when his first compositions appeared on Friends) through 1979, the standout songs are nearly always written by Dennis. (One notable exception, Brian’s “‘Til I Die” from 1971’s Surf’s Up, remains one of the Beach Boys’ best songs.)

With Dennis’ rampant drug and alcohol abuse and womanizing, it’s probably not a huge surprise that a solo album originally conceived in 1970 was not finished until 1977. But part of this has to do with the difficulty of his recording process; despite many liner-note attributions to the usual gang of Beach Boys session musicians (no actual Beach Boys, because even back then Mike Love was lawsuit-happy and threatened to sue if Dennis Wilson tried to release a solo album featuring other Boys), legend has it that Dennis played every instrument and most of the vocal parts himself, meticulously experimenting with arrangements (thanks to the relative safe haven of Brother Studios, where he could record for free).

The third contributing factor was that the Beach Boys simply didn’t have enough material for complete studio albums. Even though nobody respected Dennis’ efforts (or perhaps they were jealous that somebody who was so much more interested in having a good time could write songs that were far more interesting, mature, and contemporary than anything they could create), he still wrote and produced a whole lot of songs for the Beach Boys, many of which were originally intended for the solo album. That put him behind, and unlike Bruce Johnston and Mike Love, he wanted a solo album that wasn’t just rerecordings of material from Beach Boys albums.

The end result of Pacific Ocean Blue came at the Beach Boys’ weakest period. After a hiatus partially prompted by a total lack of good material and extensive touring*, a huge “Brian is Back!” campaign led up to the release of 15 Big Ones, fifteen songs, most covers of hits from the 1950s. It has a few supposed Brian Wilson originals that don’t sound like anything Brian wrote before or since, leading to theories that these had music by Mike Love and lyrics by Love and either manager/scumbag Jack Rieley or therapist/scumbag Eugene Landy. It’s easily the worst album in their history. Even worse than Wild Honey.

They followed 15 Big Ones with Love You, the most bizarre album I’ve ever heard, and I’ve listened to a lot of weird shit out of morbid curiosity. Weirdly, repeated listens (which come as a result of the initial amusement/”what the fuck?” factor) actually reveal the album as something…well, “good” is too strong a word, but it’s not nearly as bad and off-putting as it initially seems. It was also a mild triumph because, insane as the music is, it’s all pure Brian Wilson. He wrote and produced every track, and you can tell because it sounds like the kind of album a lunatic would love.

This was followed by 1978’s M.I.U. Album, 1979’s L.A. (Light Album), and 1980’s Keep the Summer Alive. And holy shit, if there’s a worse run of albums in any band’s catalog, I’d love to hear about it. The uneven output from the late-’60s through mid-’70s all had at least a few great songs that transcended the mediocrity (or outright shit—thanks for “The California Saga,” Mike and Al!). Excepting Love You and the tiny offering of Dennis Wilson songs on these albums, there is nothing to redeem these albums. They are absolute shit from start to finish, with Light Album tamping down the shit with its 10-minute disco remix of a song from Wild Honey (their worst ’60s album) that wasn’t even good in the first place. Shit!

It’s really tough to believe that Pacific Ocean Blue even came from the same universe as the Beach Boys of the late-’70s. An album full of passionate, heartfelt, depressing songs, with boundless surprises and an interesting contemporary sound—the total opposite of the cold, calculated, deliberately out-of-date style of lounge-lizard-wannabes Mike Love and Bruce Johnston. At this point it seems like Carl had just given up, Al was along for the ride, and it’s a known fact that Brian went back to bed after Love You. How could the same band—the same lead singer, in this particular case—produce a song as bad as “Mona” [download link removed 3/13/08] in the same year Pacific Ocean Blue came out?

I guess the important thing is we have it, the one and only Dennis Wilson solo album. A second album, supposedly titled Bamboo, was in the works, but only a few songs (of varying quality and stages of completion) survived. Brother Studios—and Brother Records, the band’s imprint—were shut down shortly after Pacific Ocean Blue, so he had nowhere to toil. He had no money. He—I swear I am not making this up—knocked up the illegitimate daughter of cousin Mike Love (he knocked up his assistant in the mid-’60s) who had been largely disowned by the family. She was underage at the time, but he was determined to see this through—and only a year and a half after the baby was born, Dennis drowned. He had alcohol and drugs in his system (no surprises there), but at the time he was pretty beaten down and many of his close friends suspected suicide. Quite a downer. But it’s nice that we have this one album…

…Oh, except we don’t. Even though you can buy the entire late-’70s Beach Boys shitfest (a shitfest that continued through the ’80s and ’90s, CDs of which are all currently available), Sony Music has left Pacific Ocean Blue out of print since 1992. Does the twofer release of Light Album and M.I.U. really sell that well?** Jesus.

So fine, then. Fuck Sony. I have it. And I’m putting out there for the Internet masses (all both of you who read my blog, who have probably stopped reading by this point because as soon as you realized this was me ranting about Beach Boys history, you checked out). Because what will Sony do? Say I’m depriving them of money from an album they no longer print? Hell, if anything, I’m promoting this album, exposing them to it so Sony realizes there’s demand for this album and it will make money. Also, I’m saving all the people trying to buy out-of-print copies for hundreds of dollars. Sure, maybe the CD copy will be better—if it’s actually one of the original CDs and not just somebody burning a CD-R of these same lower-quality MP3s. So download to your heart’s content.

Update, 3/13/08—Sorry, random Internet folks. I offered a download of this album, in its entirety, for the reasons above—but some sites have abused it. These spiders troll the Web, looking for illicit MP3s, so if you do a search, up pops all the MP3 links—without this entry. Consequently, the server was getting hammered to hell with requests. It has nothing to do with a C&D from Sony or anyone else, which once again demonstrates how little folks care about this album. It has more to do with bandwidth abuse and reducing the server load. (A site with virtually nothing but HTML text—even six years’ worth of my long, rambling entries—should not be approaching 1GB of bandwidth usage 13 days into the month. That’s inexcusable.)

If you aren’t a Beach Boys fan but like ’70s rock, this is worth checking out. It sounds absolutely nothing like the Beach Boys (from any era), even to the extent that Dennis Wilson’s voice was so ragged by the late-’70s that it doesn’t even have a sunshine-pop vocal sound. It’s more like Bob Seger with a sore throat.

*Ironically, their biggest hit album of the ’70s was a compilation of all their old hits that coincided with American Graffiti and exploited the nostalgia craze for all it was worth. Even more ironically, while the band could barely play their instruments during their initial wave of popularity, the mid-’70s incarnation of the Beach Boys was one of the best live acts around, despite Mike Love’s horrid between-song “banter.” [Back]

**I’m aware that Capitol owns all the old Beach Boys stuff and Sony owns the Dennis Wilson album, but come on! [Back]

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The Bailiff

Most people know that Judge Mathis is my favorite TV judge, and my chronic unemployment has allowed me to sample a wide variety of TV judges. He’s by far the most interesting and entertaining, and the cases are usually more bizarre and hilarious than the other courtroom fare. Longtime watchers of the show (like me…I will at least admit I’m kind of ashamed to have watched it for this long) might have noticed the abrupt bailiff shift a few years back. According to this horribly designed website:

Judge Mathis Bailiff Dead at 37

As announced on a recent episode of Judge Mathis, former bailiff Brendan Anthony Moran died on December 28, 2002 at the age of 37. Moran’s death has been officially ruled a suicide; he passed away after falling off a balcony. Moran’s family disputes the ruling, claiming that Brendan would not kill himself. Still, it is an unfortunate fact that suicide spikes during the winter holidays, when people who are only moderately depressed fall into even deeper levels of depression.

Saying Goodbye and Moving On

On the first edition of his show taped after Moran’s untimely death, Judge Greg Mathis briefly eulogized his friend and coworker, finishing by saying “Goodbye, my friend,” and dedicating that episode of the program to the late bailiff. Of course, the show must go on, and Mathis, who is fighting to increase the ratings on his show in order to make it to a fifth season, is now working with a new bailiff, pictured at left.

R. I. P.

Brendan Anthony Moran

1965-2002

Clearly the site is regularly updated, since this five-year-old announcement is plastered on the main page and it claims this all was announced on a “recent” Judge Mathis episode, but who am I to mock? I obviously missed the eulogy episode and had no idea what happened. I just assumed he quit for whatever reason.

I can’t deny this news is kind of depressing. I wonder if they ever investigated and found out it was…murder?! It’s doubtful. The “we’re his family and we know he’d never commit suicide” routine is pretty common.

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The Worst Song Ever Recorded

Everyone knows I am a fan of the Beach Boys in general and Brian Wilson in particular. Seriously, I’m really annoying about it. Almost as annoying as I am when I talk nonstop about Guns N’ Roses history. But the history of G’N’R, while hilarious, can’t quite match the bizarre saga of the Beach Boys. It also can’t match the multiple accounts from various band members, friends, family, hangers-on, and industry insiders. Even more, nothing in the Guns N’ Roses musical canon can match the absolute horror of the Beach Boys’ lowest lows.

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I Stand Corrected

Recently I reported that I hadn’t heard a worse song than Brian Wilson’s “Smart Girls.” I can admit when I’m wrong, and my unfortunate prolonged exposure to Top 40 radio over the last few weeks has given me some perspective. In fact, the absolute worst song ever recorded (or, at least, the worst song ever to be a #1 hit) is “The Sweet Escape” by Gwen Stefani. [Downloadable file removed 3/13/08 because certain websites were direct-linking.]

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Juno

With the critical accolades, awards nominations (and wins), boffo box-office, a can’t-lose premise, and a fine ensemble directed by the man who made 2005’s best movie (Thank You for Smoking), I don’t think I was looking forward to anything more than Juno. I even had usually reliable friends raving about this thing. One said, “It’s the rare movie where you can believe every good thing said about it.” He has very discriminating tastes, so it didn’t even seem as much like quote-whoring as it looks there, nakedly in print. He acted astonished and impressed, and I decided, “I must see this movie.” Unfortunately, laziness prevailed, so I didn’t bother to see it until two weeks ago…

…and then I nearly walked out before the first scene gave way to the opening credits. The only thing that kept me there, aside from hardly earned money that could no longer be refunded, was all the external goodwill this movie had built up. But right off the bat, my first thought: “This is some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever heard.” Seems like as good a place as any to start.

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Dull the Hate

I’m not going to lie and say I don’t hate things, because anybody who’s taken even a cursory look at that blog would burst into either laughter or tears (both?) at such an outrageous lie. My recent outburst against the movie Juno might look, on the surface, like a hateful diatribe. I mean, the post has the word “hate” in the title, right?

I did hate Juno. After initially feeling indifferent-yet-positive, closer inspection revealed an aimless story and a protagonist who grew more unlikable the more you learned about her (and she didn’t start out terribly likable in the first place). My real objection, if you cut through the rage, is that it blew a shitload of raw potential on a movie that’s kinda crappy. Making a film is a difficult, expensive process, so why spend the time and money on something that isn’t the absolute best you can make it? Sometimes, it’s just a matter of a weak link; sometimes, it’s a big-ass weak chain.

You might think, based on my review, that the weak link in the film is Diablo Cody and/or her screenplay. Granted, it’s all kinds of bad, but it has so many moments of raw potential that could have been good if, as I suggested, it had undergone a few more rewrites (preferably with a different writer). It had all the elements of a great story, then blew it on an unstructured mess of painful dialogue and cloying sentiment. She missed two great opportunities: (1) pregnancy is hard, especially for teenagers, and (2) there’s so much wonderful irony in the idea of an obnoxious expectant mother inadvertently destroying the marriage of her unborn child’s surrogates.

I’m not saying they had to take it in a pedo direction with Mark and Juno—in fact, I thought what was there was already uncomfortable and unnecessary enough. They just needed to see the storyline through and make it even more destructive and difficult. This would have given Juno her much-needed comeuppance, it would have fleshed out Mark and Vanessa’s ill-defined relationship satisfactorily, and it would have caused all three of these characters to grow and change in interesting ways. As it stands, the divorce is a bump in the road, and both Mark and Vanessa are largely ignored after their dull discussion of it. And yes, I believe they could accomplish all of this while maintaining a sense of humor.

Believe it or not, I didn’t want to turn this into another rant on Juno. I’m just trying to illustrate the untapped potential of that screenplay, which either nobody noticed or nobody cared enough about.

This brings me back to the weak chain. Diablo Cody’s screenplay could have been great if she hadn’t wussed out at every opportunity to make these characters truly come alive with genuine dramatic conflict, which might make you think she’s the weak link. Seems reasonable…

…and yet, people bought this screenplay. People put it through the development wringer (which, contrary to popular opinion, doesn’t always ruin a movie). A great cast and a novice director who made one great movie signed on to it. To hear all of them tell it, this screenplay is the greatest thing in the history of time. I can see certain admirable qualities in the screenplay—including superficial qualities that might appeal to actors, directors, and producers (such as the acting challenge of spewing out that atrocious dialogue, or the “edgy” subject matter)—but at the end of the day, the good doesn’t outweigh the bad. The good doesn’t justify the bad, doesn’t make you ignore the bad, doesn’t redeem a bad movie. There’s just not enough of it, and what is there isn’t good enough.

So I don’t hate everything. I just get disappointed. And then I hate the thing for not living up to standards that, frankly, I don’t think are very high. (Case in point: I watched Point Break this morning. Point fucking Break, a movie I haven’t seen in a few years…and it’s just unbelievably good. Even the ending, which I sorta hated at first because it felt like the studio-imposed “three endings to make sure the broadest group of idiots leaves happy,” started to work for me this time around. So no, I do not have high standards. I just have standards.)

I saw Gone Baby Gone and No Country for Old Men in the same week that I saw Juno. The latter is great, about as good a Coen Brothers movie that’s ever been made (and that’s saying something), but the former was—dare I say it?—a masterpiece. No, “masterpiece” might be too strong, but it’s easily the best movie I’ve seen in a year (not just including movies made within the last year). If anybody wants a lesson in how to do crime thrillers or modern noirs—and based on Hollywood’s output, they need a lesson—Gone Baby Gone is the movie they should start with. Great, economic storytelling, great cast, the best use of cinematic misdirection since Marathon Man.

Why didn’t I write about these movies? Because this blog exists to get the rage out. I like feeling happy; I don’t like feeling rage and distress. One could argue that my lack of posting means I’m happy. I have an ulcer that would suggest otherwise; in fact, maybe that ulcer is saying, “Post more.”

And maybe I will…

…but first! I’ve noticed more than a dozen (which is a lot for this blog) searches for Pan’s Labyrinth and Garden State since I posted the Juno review (which contains a barbed reference to each of those movies). I never reviewed them because, frankly, neither one disappointed or annoyed me. They were awful, but they didn’t spark the rage.

Theoretically, they should have, because of the hype surrounding each. I had been told by many that Garden State is the defining movie of our generation. If it is: wow, what a boring, disaffected generation. At the same time, many of the rugged, manly men I carouse with broke down just before last call and whispered through their tears that Pan’s Labyrinth is the only movie that truly made them weep, and they loved every minute of it. Really?

So here’s a generalized assessment of each:

Garden State—I don’t have much to say except that, in a much less irritating way than Juno (but still kind of annoying), it tried way too hard to find deep meaning in largely meaningless words and actions. On top of which, the pacing was a bit ponderous. Yes, I know this was to underscore the malaise of the characters, but fuck, why would I want to watch a movie about listless people that’s boring as shit? Kevin Smith made Clerks, tackling similar themes about the same age bracket, and managed to make the tedium and malaise snappy and entertaining. (And before you get mad at me for defending Kevin Smith, who is essentially the male Diablo Cody: Clerks is still a good movie. It and the insane animated series spinoff are the only things Kevin Smith is associated with that I still enjoy. I used to be a fanboy; then I stopped being 15. It’s juvenile, but the jokes still work, and its depth and understanding of the sad-sack characters holds up better than the treacly sentiment of his later movies.)

Pan’s Labyrinth—Okay, so Sergi López plays creepy like nobody’s business. So the fuck what? The problem here is the fantasy element. I’m all for magical realism, but this is what Jay Sherman would call “fantacrap.” So you have a little girl. She has a shitty life. She escapes into a fantasy world that’s actually about 1000 times more disturbing than her actual life, but for some reason she has a strong desire to keep escaping to this world, without the movie giving us any firm understanding of why she would (other than the shittiness of her life). At the end, she’s killed and escapes permanently into the fantasy world. I was almost on board with the movie until this point, where all the subtle, disturbing imagery suddenly turned beat-you-over-the-head obvious as the little girl is hailed the queen of this goofy alternate world and can finally be happy in death. Duh! I might have actually been okay with the movie—though not nearly as positive as everyone else on the planet—if Guillermo del Toro hadn’t gone the Jane Campion route of explaining to us how deep his movie is like we’re third-graders. Either be deep or confusing as shit and let us sort it out (like David Lynch), or make a normal movie for the unwashed masses. You can’t have it both ways.

Huh, I guess Pan’s Labyrinth did sort of get the rage going. I should blog more.

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Your Source for Juno Hate

To my delight, my rant on Juno is now Google’s top choice for the following keywords:

i hate juno
i hated juno
hate juno (though, for some reason, I’m not even on page one for “juno hate”)

I’m also #2 for “hated juno” (damn you, Jim DeRogatis!) and #3 for “hating juno.” I tried some other keywords like “terrible,” “horrible,” “worst,” “embarrassing,” “awful,” and so on. Nothing, but who needs it? I have “hate” largely to myself.

And what am I going to do with it? Gosh, I’d like to concoct some sort of Diablo Cody-esque attention-whore meltdown out of it, but being #1 on Google doesn’t exactly reach the epic proportions of taking a hip and edgy stand against wearing million-dollar shoes to the Oscars, even if you picked them out and were heavily involved in the design process. It barely even hits the level of publicly stating I’m going to leave town for self-reflection purposes, then staging photos with my #1 on Google statuette and turning where I’ve gone into a guessing game for rabid fans and hangers-on. I guess I don’t have the Diablo Cody spirit.

But I do have hate.

Also, I have this video link:

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