Monday, July 28, 2008

More on The Abyss

After reading yet another article on Heath Ledger's brush with The Abyss, I had to check out The Dark Knight to see what all the fuss was about. So, taking a cue from andtheend., I pulled a two-for-the-price-of-one double feature on Saturday. It worked out perfectly. I caught Wall-E at 11 a.m. (my first ever private viewing--I was the only person in the theater! I felt like a big shot!) and The Dark Knight at 1 p.m. There wasn't even a lag between showings. I took a leak between movies to throw off any overly ambitious snoopy ushers and didn't even have to run a gauntlet to get to the opposite side of the theater (the usual way theaters thwart this type of maneuver). Wall-E was OK. I thought its dystopian future of bloated Rush Limbaughs and Roseanne Barrs was a bit much (I'm not sure what the kiddies would make of it; I'll have to check with my niece and nephew). The Dark Knight was enjoyable for the most part, but felt a little long. I could have done without the confusing sonar cellphone nonsense toward the end that turned the screen into a giant video game (I can't tell you how much I hate that shit!). Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker was fine, but then again, he did have the best role and best dialogue in the movie. Also, the make-up helped a lot. And the tongue wriggling! I'll give him credit for the tongue wriggling. Maybe this is what drove all the critics to such hyperbolic heights (although I suspect the fact that he was dead probably helped). Just to prove my point, after the movie I returned to my apartment and doused my face with baby powder, blackened my eyes with shoe polish, and smeared my mouth generously with ketchup. Then I stood in front of the mirror and wriggled my tongue vigorously. The sight was so horrifying I had to avert my eyes. I think me and The Abyss will have to agree to go our separate ways for now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Observed while flipping channels between innings during last night's Mets game: "Why am I watching these assholes in sunglasses running around again?" Answer: "No idea." The best explanation I could come up with is that my tendency to flip to A & E is sort of a reflex now from my unhealthy interest in "The First 48" and "Intervention."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The horror, the horror Part II

More proof that the sense of shame seems to be diminishing at an alarming rate in human beings. Does he really say, "A dip dip a doo I love you!" at the 1:25 mark? And is she wiping away tears or Corey's spit? I can't stop watching!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


David Denby goes off the deep end in The New Yorker this week in his review of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight." Describing Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, he writes: "His performance is a heroic, unsettling final act: this young actor looked into the abyss." Really?! Is that all it takes these days to get a gander at the mythical abyss? I never knew "the abyss" was so accessible! And while we're at it, what's so "heroic" about playing a psychotic villain in a comic book movie? Granted, Ledger probably got pretty close to the edge when he took all those pills, but I suspect he lost consciousness before the abyss came fully into view.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Fall

The major revelation in Albert Camus' The Fall occurs when the rambling narrator reveals that he witnessed a woman committing suicide by jumping off a bridge and that he did nothing to save her. As callous as that may seem (and it was probably pretty shocking at the time it was written), it almost seems quaint compared to the death of Kitty Genovese or this more recent fall. Ah humanity!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Problem of Existence

"When you consider how great and how immediate is the problem of existence, this ambiguous, tormented, fleeting, dream-like existence--so great and so immediate that soon as you are aware of it it overshadows and obscures all other problems and aims; and when you see how men, with a few rare exceptions, have no clear awareness of this problem, indeed seem not to be conscious of it at all, but concern themselves with anything rather than with this problem and live on taking thought only for the day and for the hardly longer span of their own individual future, either expressly refusing to consider this problem or contenting themselves with some system of popular metaphysics; when, I say, you consider this, you may come to the opinion that man can be called a thinking being only in a very broad sense of that term and no longer feel very much surprise at any thoughtlessness or silliness whatever, but will realize, rather, that while the intellectual horizon of the normal man is wider than that of the animal--whose whole existence is, as it were, one continual present, with no consciousness of past or future--it is not so immeasurably wider as is generally supposed."--Arthur Schopenhauer

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Single Life

I may not have done a lot right in my life, but surveying the wreckage of the marriages of my family and friends, not getting married (or having kids for that matter since they're no longer mutually exclusive) seems to be one of my prouder achievements. At this point, I frankly don't think I have the patience for it (one of the downsides of living alone as long as I have, I guess). I don't believe in "romance" (the couple times I thought I was "in love" I now look back on as periods of mild mental illness). The companionship and regular sex, marriage's biggest selling points, can be great in the early stages, but by most accounts that doesn't last (how could it?!). Sure, the loneliness of the single life can get to some people, but I've never had a problem with it (television and booze are great antidotes). Being single just gives me more time to do what I really want to do instead of being tugged in different directions by my "other half". And before you all start yelling at me for being selfish, think about this: with most households requiring two incomes, marriage has become mainly a financial arrangement (which becomes crystal clear during the divorce proceedings). Getting married to improve your social status is kind of selfish too, no? OK, you can start yelling at me now.

Low Energy Gas Station Attendants

One of the many things I appreciate about living in NJ is the fact that I don't have to pump my own gas. Manly types will grouse that they like pumping their own gas, but I've found that the Jersey system is faster and more efficient (mainly because it doesn't require my waiting on line in a convenience store behind some doofus with a Slurpee and a Slim Jim and a pocketful of change to pay). But lately I've become aware of a noticeable drop in the energy level of the attendants at the gas stations I visit. Since my gas tank is on the passenger side of the car, this requires the attendant to insert the nozzle into the tank and then walk a maximum of ten feet to my side of the car to take my order. And I'm not asking that he bow and tip his hat at my window; I realize the 1950s are long gone. All I'm asking is that he approach my side of the car so that I can turn and tell him how much I want. It doesn't seem like a lot to ask especially with the price of gas these days. But lately I've been meeting resistance in this seemingly simple procedure. The young, surly, Middle Eastern-looking men who man the pumps can't seem to muster the strength to walk ten feet. Instead they stand on the other side of the car waiting for me to roll down the passenger side window or yell at the top of my lungs or flash the amount with my hands like I'm back in kindergarten. So what I do now is sit there staring straight ahead until he gets the point and makes that colossal effort to take my order. And the looks I get! It's like I've asked him to cross the goddamn Sahara! Fuck you, buddy, and fill it up!

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