Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Declaration of Intent to Hiatus

Hola, readers.

I wanted to post up briefly to let you know that, owing to a stint of traveling I'll be doing (to PA and then England -- weddings), the Inanities will go dark for 3 weeks. I'll resume posting on this blog on or shortly after the 7th of June. I'll let you know how everything went.

Until June.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Wife Has Gradumagated!

And, just like that, two years of business school is over and my wife has graduated with honors.

The graduation ceremonies happened this morning and she is now officially done.

Last week she accepted her first post-M.B.A. job and it has been determined that we will be moving, though to where we don't yet know. Her training starts in July, which will take her to Sunnyvale, California and then to Dehli, India, and the job itself begins in August, which is when we'll probably be moving. So pretty exciting. Having listened to a bunch of speeches aimed at "looking back" over the last couple days, I don't feel at all inclined towards retrospection, so you don't have to worry on that score. Maybe as the move-out date draws closer. Anyway, I wanted to let you folks know -- I'll keep you posted.

But hey! In movie news, I saw "28 Weeks Later" over the weekend. Excellent stuff. It's not as good as the original, but it's a strong bit of work. The scares aren't cheap, the suspense is expertly done, and the premise is designed to put the screws to the characters in the cruelest (read: most entertaining) way possible. Good times.

Some other very brief reviews.

1.) "Happy Feet": Wtf?

2.) "The Holiday": Sheer embarrassment all the way through. "Bewitched"-level embarrassment.

And I've got "Little Children" and "A Good Year" on tap. I'm hoping they do better than the last pair of DVDs.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"Spider Man 3" and "Eragon". Both Sink Beneath the "Average" Mark, but One Buries the Needle

6:20 a.m. is too early to be blogging.

My allergies, which I'm thinking are related to grass, are the worst of my life and they've woken me out of a sound sleep. I've never really had them before, and the fact that they've developed at a time when I'd always thought I'd go through my life immune to pollen in all its forms is pretty depressing. It's just another bit of evidence that, sometime in the unknowable future, even more unpleasant afflictions and maladies are likely to develop. In other words, my prolific nostrils and red, irritated eyes are additional proof I am not invincible. Whether you want to know or not, I'll tell you that the roof of my mouth feels like the thinnest of membranes. Up till this past week, I always thought that just above the roof of my mouth were layers and layers of impenetrable skull meat. But now I realize that a series of strenuous tongue-pokes could puncture that membrane and allow me to probe the interior of my skull, whether with my tongue or a finger, in no time flat. Yeah, it's gross, but it's my blog, so I'll bore you with whatever I want.

Anyway, onto movie reviews. [Beware: Below Thar Be Spoilers.]

1.) Spider Man 3. There's a point late in "Spider Man 3" when it becomes clear that Sam Raimi has made a less-than-great film and that there's no hope of saving it. The moment happens in an alleyway in which Sandman (Thomas Haden Church, or Lowell from "Wings") is fighting Venom (Topher Grace, or Eric Foreman from "That 70's Show"). Who knows why they're fighting, they just are. It's what people in costumes do. They quit fighting for a minute at which point the black Venom-suit skin tendrilizes away from Topher's face and Topher suggests that, as neither of them alone can kill "the spider" alone, that they should team up and do it. Lowell thinks about it a second, and then, reluctantly, sadly, agrees. The scene was lazy, expository, implausible, wildly coincidental (among many many wild coincidences that punctuate the movie), and served solely to move the plot forward. The scene implied that this unwieldy monster-budgeted behemoth called "Spider Man 3" had really and truly gotten away from Sam Raimi. If this shitty, throwaway scene was the best way Raimi and his screenwriters could think of to set up the ridiculous, overlong finale, then all hope was lost.

I didn't hate "Spider Man 3", and I don't think it's a terrible movie, but considering the two fantastic films that came before, this second sequel is a big disappointment. The thing we were all worried about going in to the movie, namely that Raimi had crammed too many villains and subplots into this thing a la "Batman Forever", turned out to be exactly right. With hindsight being what it is, I think had the screenwriters taken out the entire Sandman sub-plot and focused on the Eddie Brock/Venom storyline, "SP3" might have been in a league with the brilliant "Spider Man 2". But even then I'm not so sure success would have been assured. Raimi's masterly understanding of the subject and tone of these films faltered a few times in this movie, but never so egregiously as during the jazz club scene, an adjunct of the Venom plot-line. As I watched Peter Parker express the depths of his dark side through jaunty "mean" dancing, I remember thinking, "This is pretty weird." But since it was Raimi, I figured he had everything well in hand; he'd pull it out. But just a few seconds later I understood. Raimi or no, the scene was just bad. And so was quite a bit of what came after.

Though there were a lot of fun sequences in the movie (OK, a few), overall "SP3" just felt muddled and rudderless. A disappointment.

2.) Eragon. The true badness of this movie is not at all apparent in the trailers cut for this movie. From a viewing of "Eragon"'s trailers, the film looks like a fairly low-rent dragon movie for the 12-13-year old male set, but not any kind of cinematic travesty. There are warning signs, sure. The appearance of not just Jeremy Irons, but also John Malkovich, adherents to the I'll Be In Anything school of acting, made me suspect true and depthless badness, but the fantastic dragon effects threw me off the scent. (They are good.) The movie is a testament to the trailer cutters' skills. "Eragon" is abysmal. It is a no-rent dragon movie for kids. The novel on which "Eragon" was based was written by then-16-year old Christoper Paolini, and that's exactly how it plays -- like a 16-year old wrote it. It was as if Paolini had only ever seen "Star Wars", had only ever read a novelization of Lucas's screenplay for "Star Wars", and then decided to write a new version of "Star Wars", except his version would have the same characters but with different names, dragons, and he'd stretch out the story over 3 or more books. The film ends with little to no resolution of the larger plot: for example, Malkovich plays the evil king in "Eragon", and the film ends without our Skywalkerian hero having anything to do with him. I don't want to write any more on this, so I'll just put it simply: the movie's crap.

Wow. I spent about 2 hours writing this post. Crazy.

Anyway. Enjoy your Wednesday.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Glorious "Golden Compass" One-Sheet For Your Thursday Night Enjoyment

After seeing the first bit of footage New Line released, I was feeling that maybe Chris Weitz (the screenwriter and director) was taking the film in a different direction than I'd envisioned while reading the book. This one-sheet, released today, which features the polar bear Iorek Byrnison in all his beary greatness, makes me think Weitz really does get these books. Could be a great movie.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

NBCC Stages a Rally in Atlanta, "Night at the Museum" was Worse Than I Anticipated, and Another Drawing From the Archives

Tomorrow at 10 a.m. in front of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution building in downtown Atlanta, the National Book Critics Circle is holding a "read-in". The AJC's book editor, Teresa Weaver, was recently fired because the paper was essentially eliminating original book reporting, deciding to rely instead on wire reports and the reporting of larger newspapers. I agree with the NBCC. This is no good. The few times I pick up that awful newspaper and found something worthwhile, it was usually some bit of original AJC book reporting edited by Weaver. So for a few minutes there, I was thinking, "I should just go down there. Show my support. What the hell else have I got to do tomorrow morning?"

On the other hand, I don't read the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. I don't think it's a very good newspaper. Even if they reinstall Weaver and renew their commitment to book reviews and author profiles and whatever else, I have no intention of buying a subscription. So, with all that said, wouldn't it be less than forthright on my part to go down there and quietly demand (via "read-in") the AJC reallocate their resources to a robust book section when I don't do any business with the AJC and have no plans to do so in the future? It just feels hypocritical.

The point is moot anyhow. The wife reminds me we have someone who saw our ad on Craig's List coming by to look at some stuff tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Anyway. I rented "Night at the Museum" the other night, mostly to see what the hubbub was all about. This movie's about 99.8% for kids. I know most of you already knew that, but I was expecting a slightly more favorable ratio. Goofy, pointless, not fun, and the kid who plays Ben Stiller's son reminded me less of an actual kid than the creepy "children" in "The Polar Express". "Night at the Museum"'s $250 million domestic gross is even more staggering now that I've seen exactly what everyone went to see during the 2006 holiday season.

And finally, I was looking through my "artwork" folder, and realized a drawing I'm proud of hadn't ever made it up onto the blog. A quick search of this blog for the word "Wright" confirmed my suspicion. So here it is:

I drew this as a gift for my father Christmas before last. Thought it came out pretty well.

That's all I got for today.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Woman Named Kristin Calls and Insists I Asked Her Out at The Grocery Store

So, something weird happened to me last night. The phone rang at 7:43 p.m.. Privacy director listed "Private Name, Private Number". Usually, I ignore calls like this, but against my better judgment, I answered.

Me: "Hello?"

Woman: "Hello, may I speak to Brian?"

Me: "This is he."

Woman: (pause)

Me: "Who's this?"

Woman: (laughingly, as if we know each other well) "This is Kristin." (A trashy southern accent.)

Me: (pause, as I wrack my brain for Kristins I've known. I come up with nothing.) "Kristin who?"

Woman: (as though I'm being dense) "Kristin!"

Me: "Are you sure you have the right number?"

Woman: "This is Brian, right?"

Me: "Yes, but..."

Woman: "We met the other day. You gave me your number, said we should go out some time."

Me: "Uh..."

Woman: "Honey, is this a bad time?" (in the background, a small child is saying, "Mommy.")

Me: "What's my last name?"

Woman: "Hon, do you want me to call another time?"

Me: "No, no. I have no idea who you are, and you're not saying."

Woman: "We met the other day."

Me: "Where at?"

Woman: "At the grocery store."

Me: "Which one?"

Woman: "Kroger."

Me: "Which Kroger?"

Woman: "Oh, I don't remember, the one down in Decatur. Sweetie, if I called at a bad time, I can call back..." (again, the child in the background says, "Mommy.")

Me: "Oh no, don't call here again."

Woman: "Honey, I'll just call back."

Me: (yelling) "No! Do not call back here again!"

I hang up.

Now, that's just a rough transcript from memory. Reading over it, it comes across as shorter than it actually was.

As you can probably tell, I was very freaked out by this conversation. By the end, my heart was racing and I was shaking a little. I think what was most strange about the conversation was how goddamn certain she was that she knew me. Even though I hadn't been inside a Kroger since early last week (which would have been a stretch to include in her vague "the other day" time frame), and even though I was pretty sure I would have remembered something like giving a woman named Kristin my number (or any woman for that matter), her casual certitude made me question my own hold on reality. "Did I hit on some redneck woman at the grocery store and give her my number?" I wondered. It didn't sound like me (to which the wife agreed when I told her about it), but her certainty was, at least during our brief chat, compelling evidence that I was in fact a cheating bastard. Clearly, it doesn't take much to make me doubt my sanity.

After I settled down and remembered I haven't ever tried to start up an affair, much less one in the fruits and vegetables section of my local grocery store, the question became what had Kristin been after? How had she gotten my name and address? The phone book was the simple answer to this question, as my name, number and address are listed there for all the world to see. So what was she doing? Running her finger down the Yellow Pages and calling random Metro Atlanta men by alphabetical order? And all just so she could try and convince them she'd caught their eye at the grocery store in whichever city they lived?

So what if the conversation had gone a different way? What if I'd been the kind of guy looking to score some "alone time" with a random trailer park single mother? What would have happened to me when Kristin and I finally went "out"? Would it have been her and two hillbilly thugs waiting behind trailer #14 ready to drive me and my bank card around to a bunch of ATMs? Would they figure I might not say anything given the circumstances surrounding my kidnapping, thus leaving their crime unreported and them free to run the same scam again? I'm not sure. Though it's possible that Kristin's out-of-the-blue evening call was just a weird prank or maybe the wishful delusions of a mentally ill woman, I think it was likely some kind of scam. Any of you have any theories?

Anyway, you heard it here first. The weirdest, most ineffectual telephone scam you can imagine may be coming to a city near you! Watch for it! But don't hang up like I did! See where it leads!

Also: for more fun telephone hijinx from the Inanities Archives, click here and here.