Daniel Carlson

About movies, mostly.

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Month: May 2007 (page 1 of 2)

I’m Like Lightning On That Buzzer

I stole this idea from McSweeney’s, but was actually inspired to steal it after seeing that Bells On also stole it. Plus, when you think about it, when’s the last time McSweeney’s was so consistently amazing you would feel bad stealing from them? They started out all Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, but have totally slid down into IV. Anyway, here’s my list:
“Jeopardy!” Categories In Which I’m Pretty Sure I Could Beat Ken Jennings:
Living With Massive Debt
Science Fiction Media Of The 1980s
“Timing” And Other Reasons It Didn’t Work Out
How To Apprehend Livestock
Arcane Country Bands Of The Mid-To-Late 20th Century
Acceptable Reasons For Wearing A Shirt Two Days In A Row Without Laundering It
Navigating Strange Neighborhoods While Mildly Inebriated
The Oeuvre Of Luis Guzman
A Walking Tour Of Quesadillas In The San Fernando Valley
Dave Matthews Band Lyrics (Pre-2002)
Indian Leg-Wrestling
Stand-Up Comedians Below The Cultural Radar
What It’s Like To Think You’re Original When Really, There Are A Ton Of Guys Just Like You
Living With Sweat
Possible Retro-Future Ramifications If Kirk Had Saved Joan Collins From Getting Hit By That Truck
Hot Pocket Flavors

Calling All Songs

If you knew me better, you would know that I probably spend too much time compiling imaginary, themed mix CDs in my head. I’m trying to come up with songs that reference every year of your 20s, either in their lyrics, title, or both. I’ve listed songs below that I think could make the cut, though some are there just because they fit the qualifications for the list, not because they’re personal favorites (I’m pretty indifferent on Incubus, for instance). I’m more than willing to double up on songs, since a 10-track CD would be pretty light, so really, any suggestions would be welcome. (Well, not all. Let’s try and keep the cornball stuff to an absolute minimum. Anyone who offers up Five For Fighting’s “100 Years” gets a time-out and a punch in the chode.) Soon enough I can compile them and then rebuild the fourth wall I just kicked over. Anyway, here’s what I have so far, just off the top of my head:
“When Yer Twenty-Two,” Flaming Lips
“Dancing Nancies,” Dave Matthews Band
“What’s My Age Again,” Blink 182
“Pardon Me,” Incubus
“Twenty-Four,” Switchfoot
“Streets of Where I’m From,” Old 97’s
“Let It Ride,” Ryan Adams
“29,” Gin Blossoms
Sure, I could bury myself in Google and try to put the rest of the list together. But really, it’d be a lot easier if you all did it for me. And besides, it’s always better to get songs that have a personal meaning to someone, even if it’s not me, than to just throw them on there because some search algorithm said they’d fit.
So, have at it.
[And, yes, I’m admittedly surprised that the day I published this post, which I originally cobbled together 3-4 days ago, is also the day that Peter Lynn is also writing about themed mixes. I have no idea how these things happen, but I like to think my subconscious sent out some kind of beacon that alerted him to the idea.]

The Man Show: Or, My First Trip To A Gay Club

• It should be noted that the place was called Hotdog. Or maybe HotDog. Or Hot Dog. It’s hard to say. The signage was in all caps, and the one inside was adorned with sequins. Regardless, it stands (or stood, since it’s about to relocate) at the corner of Santa Monica and Fairfax, which is pretty much the pulsing glittery heart of West Hollywood. And it’s called Hotdog. And that’s all I could’ve hoped for in my first experience.
• Being a straight man in a gay club feels a lot like spying on people who shouldn’t have let me into the party.
• Really: Hotdog. I think all gay clubs should be this blatant. Were I to found one, I would name it something like Jimmy Cock’s or Frank’s Ass Shack or Lance’s Bait and Tackle Shop. Or Dudeville.
• Man, some of those guys were cut. Insanely. I wish I had the build of a gay guy. Holy crap.
• There was always at least one dancer up on the mainstage, and sometimes as many as three. He was a ripped but blandly handsome guy in a G-string whose job was to dance back and forth to the insistent house beat, which pumped out a consistent 4/4 thump thump thump thump no matter what song was playing. (The DJ was pretty slick at blending all the crappy songs into one long crappy song, but more about him later.) The performer(s) also had dollar bills tucked into his thong, and the DJ kept exhorting us to “be sure and tip these dancers, y’all.” This was somewhat surprising, as most straight clubs I’ve been to don’t have a scantily clad woman gyrating on a pedestal and letting drunks shove sweaty bills into their underwear, though I admit that would definitely spice things up. But I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the dancers. It’s not like they’re actually doing a routine or anything, and they’re up there for what must feel like hours. And the money has to be terrible.
• More topless guys than I expected.
• And now, presenting The Top Five Guys That Cruised Me:
5) The guy who gave me the eye as he walked past and turned to look. I would place him higher on the list, but since it was just eye contact and nothing else, he’s just good enough for last place. Sorry, bud.
4) The guy who squeezed my upper arm as he slid past me through a doorway. Touching people as you pass them is nothing big, and I do it all the time at clubs to part the sea of humanity. But this guy squeezed.
3) The guy who gave me a shoulder check as he walked past me, even though there was at least 2 feet of clearance to my left and I was standing to the rear of the bar and there was practically no one nearby.
2) The guy who quickly squeezed my ass as I was bent forward over the bar trying to order a Newcastle from a dour-looking Hispanic bartender. Thanks, guy.
1) Eduardo. As I was standing idly near the dance floor, content to chew on a short red plastic drink straw and observe the mass of intricately coiffed and high-cheeked young men frolicking before me, a man probably 8-10 years my senior slyly approached me with a small smile. I made the kind of darting eye contact women use on men in this situation. He came up and said hi. I said hi. He introduced himself, and I did likewise, at which point he said I had nice eyes. A million thoughts and possible rejoinders ran through my mind, not least of which was, “If you like that, you should see my [pick your favorite euphemism]!” I also thought that I kind of agreed, that I do have some pretty good eyes, even though they’re hidden by glasses and a general look of confusion. But instead I just thanked him and, I believe, returned the compliment. (I wasn’t quite sober enough to muster a decent response, and besides, if it were a girl I knew exactly the kind of flirtatious and funny response I would use, but not wanting to totally lead him on, I decided to pass.) So we talked about where we’re from, and what we were doing there, and relationships, or as much as two guys can talk about those things in a few brief minutes while surrounded by a swirl of brawny men in muscle Ts grinding to disco. He was more than a little handsy, but not overly so; he seemed content to settle for mildly exploratory, e.g., tugging on my jacket’s lapels while saying “But we’ll be all right” as he reassured me about how it’s inevitable that people get over bad relationships and move on to new ones. I eventually told him I was going to get a beer and that I’d be around, but I didn’t get another drink, just took a couple laps around the club and then headed for home, the disparate group of acquaintances with whom I’d traveled having long since split up to pursue individual agendas. But that was Eduardo, the No. 1 guy to cruise me, who was polite and soft-spoken and whose breath smelled like vodka and bubblegum and whose English was heavily accented and not completely sure of its idioms. I hope you have a good week, man.
• Everybody smelled pretty good. You’d think that a couple hundred guys all wallowing around in different colognes and who knows how many exfoliants would create an olfactory nightmare, but it didn’t.
• I’m pretty sure the girl in the mermaid costume on stage wasn’t always a girl.
• Speaking of girls: Man oh man, there were some pretty hot women there. And why not? The dancing’s good, if you’re into boring house stuff, and they can let their guards down and go someplace they likely won’t be hit on. This makes for an oddly target-rich environment for a straight man. It’s a little unnerving, almost.
• The air is charged with hormones and the expectation of random hook-ups, which isn’t all that surprising: Aside from being a gay club, meaning a place that’s celebratory and encouraging, it’s also, you know, full of men. Watching men approach women in a straight club is to observe a classic and dangerous game, since the burden is very nearly always on the man to approach the woman (tough), and then to be interesting (tougher), etc. Typically, broadly speaking, the man is the initiator. But Hotdog/Hot Dog/HOTDOG is full of nothing but initiators, all trying to initiate with one another, and they’re all more than a little horny and getting drunker by the second. Hence the ability to walk in and pair up with someone literally within minutes.
• Seriously, though, the giant disco ball surrounded by six smaller ones? Come on.
• The DJ was almost antagonistic to the whole thing, since he kept urging us to “drink the f**k up” and tip the dancers and get nuts. Like, does this really need to be said? Everyone already seems to have had these ideas, and they don’t seem to bear repeating. Talking DJs are annoying. I don’t want to hear you remind me to drink or anything, I just want you to throw on some Kanye and let me works my magics.
• It was a long night, but an interesting one. I made several laps of the dance floor, content to watch various ages of guys and their respective fag hags dance while I just coasted around, oblivious. I don’t plan to make a habit of frequenting gay clubs, since in addition to playing some pretty annoying (to me, anyway) music, they don’t have that much to offer me, what with my not being gay. But I hung out with friends, danced a little, and even got my ass grabbed. How could I top that?

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Long. Boring. Good effects. But I’m not gonna lie, I saw the 9:30 a.m. show, and several times I closed my eyes for 20 seconds at a time just to get some rest. Mainly during the scenes where Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp were making out. You’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a hundred times. Anyway:

With A Devilish Look In Her Eye

Oh please no. No. Please, oh just and loving Creator, not like this. Not like this. Please no. This isn’t Dan and Casey rallying; this is Jubal Early floating through space, lost, alone, unresolved. This is coldness. This is ambiguity. This is heartache. I will miss this show like no other, and it will always hurt like hell that things never got resolved. Do you hear me? It will never get any easier.
I don’t even know what to say. I’ve got a piece over at Pajiba that begins to work through my grief. All I can do is read back over some of my favorite exchanges from the past three years (and there are many, many more), and smile:
Keith: I never want you to think that your mom is the villain in all of this.
Veronica: Isn’t she?
Keith: No, it’s not that simple….
Veronica: Yeah, it is. The hero is the one that stays … and the villain is the one that splits.
Keith: Who’s your Daddy?
Veronica: I hate it when you say that.
Keith: This is important, you remember this, I used to be cool.
Veronica: When?
Keith: ’77. Trans-Am, Blue Oyster Cult in the 8-track; foxy, stacked blond riding shotgun; racing for pink slips. Wait a minute, I’m thinking of a Springsteen song. Scratch everything. I was never cool.
Veronica: I don’t know which bothers me more, “foxy” or “stacked.”
Veronica: It’s all fun and games till one of you gets my foot up your ass.
Keith: So how was your date?
Veronica: Oh, you know. Lousy conversation, but the sex was fantastic!
Keith: That’s not funny.
Veronica: I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it was.
Veronica: [voiceover] Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything. Creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle and then you choose. You can live in the wreckage and pretend it’s still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild.
Veronica: Got any enemies you know about?
Wallace: Well, there’s the Klan.
Veronica: [voiceover] J. Geils was right. Love stinks. You can dress it up in sequins and shoulder pads, but one way or another, you’re just gonna end up alone at the spring dance strapped in uncomfortable underwear.
Veronica: [voiceover] So this is how it is. The innocent suffer, the guilty go free, and truth and fiction are pretty much interchangeable. …There is neither a Santa Claus, nor an Easter Bunny, and there no angels watching over us. Things just happen for no reason, and nothing makes any sense.
Veronica: Mrs. C. I trust you’re well.
Kendall: Oh, well, if it isn’t Little Miss Teen Getaway. Your dad and I were just dealing with a little trouble.
Veronica: Like, trouble with a capital “T,” that rhymes with “C,” that stands for —
Keith: Veronica!
Veronica: I was gonna say “cute.”
Logan: As a rule, I like to start every school day with a hot blond waiting for me in the parking lot.
Veronica: Me too.
Logan: I’m not blond.
Veronica: Or hot. Got a question for you: remember back when you were doing the deed with Dick’s stepmom?
Logan: Mmm, vaguely. I remember she thought I was hot.
Veronica: Were you with her on the day of the crash? You two talked on the phone a few times that day.
Logan: Man, you’re obsessed with my sex life. Do I need to start carrying around a webcam from now on?
Veronica: Logan…
Logan: Day of the crash, day of the crash… uh, I’d really have to consult my feelings journal to be sure.
Veronica: Kendall stood to make millions by sending Dick and Beaver over that cliff. There was an insurance policy.
Logan: Kendall requires a domestic staff to make cereal. You really think she could plot a murder?
Veronica: Were you with her at 7:03?
Logan: Actually, she kicked me out before the sheets were dry. But considering her husband’s fondness for handguns, and the fact that Dick and Beaver could come home at any moment, who could blame her? Anything else? Oh, I, uh, I got to second base with Tammy Forester in 8th grade in Duncan’s closet. Last summer, I made this townie girl moan without even using my hands. Is any of this relevant? Should I make a list?
Veronica: You’re patronizing me?
Keith: To be fair, I am your patron.
And, to cap it off, one of the series’ classic scenes. It would be impossible to pick a favorite moment (Veronica’s tearful paternity scene in Season 1 is gut-wrenching), but this one comes awful close:

Mah Bukket, I Lovez It

So, a few weeks ago, I posted a list of phrases that, I posited, could not be salvaged by adapting them into lolcat pidgin. I mainly did it because the thought of a puppy or kitten on I Can Haz Cheezburger channeling some kind of unspeakable evil seemed funny to me. Sue me.
Now it seems that Lee over at BiWeekly Brilliance has aided me by actually creating one of the fake pictures I alluded to earlier. Check it out.
Anyway, thanks, Lee. I think the whole lolcat thing is beyond weird, yet I find myself powerless to look away. Hell, I even made my own.

Just A Piece Of Pecan Pie, And All I Want Is You

If I had a penny for everything I liked about Waitress, I would have many pennies.
For starters, the film is the first romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long, long, long time that didn’t feel as if it inhabited that godawful stereotype known as “romantic comedy.” You know the ones I’m talking about: Reese/J.-Lo/somebody falls for Matthew/Josh/Matthew again in a sappy, phony, abrasively manipulative piece of tripe that’s a trial to watch. These films are ostensibly aimed at women, but that’s like saying The Transporter 2 is aimed at men, when really it’s aimed at the lowest common denominator who have decided that the cars-go-boom id that often fuels us as a gender is something they’d like to live by every day. Hell, I like a well-done action movie as much as the next guy, but I’m not dumb enough to think that that’s all there is. Same thing with typical romantic comedies: They’re not actually good, but most women don’t even bother defending them as good. They just watch them. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Waitress is wonderful for many reasons, but the one that encompasses them all is its stubborn refusal to be a complacent, shallow, emotionally artificial movie. It’s resonant, honest, open, and downright warm and fuzzy, and screw anyone who wants to bust my balls for saying that. Where most movies are syrupy and off-putting, Waitress is genuinely sweet and engaging.
Writer-director Adrienne Shelly imbues her heroine, Jenna (Keri Russell), with the kind of deep-rooted sadness the genre usually avoids like the plague. She’s living in a small Southern town, where she works as a waitress and lives with her dull, abusive clod of a husband, Earl (Jeremy Sisto), and isn’t happy in the least when she turns up pregnant. Jenna isn’t worried to tears over how she’ll work the baby into her life with Earl; she isn’t frightened of what Earl will do to her or the child; and she certainly isn’t grinning blissfully at the thought of decorating a nursery in her tiny house. She’s worn down by life, and it’s tragic. But that’s not to say the film is overly dark. Shelly balances the mood with a mild, light humor, often driven by Jenna’s fellow waitresses, Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Shelly). Shelly delights in crafting quirky dialogue that sounds almost vaguely formal, as if the characters are inhabiting quaint stereotypes of Southern people who have never actually existed. (Off the top of my head, there’s the moment when diner owner Cal [Lew Temple] explains his theory of life and happiness to a distraught Jenna, ending with something like, “That’s my truth, summed up for your feminine judgment.” It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s still fresher than you’d expect.)
The same goes for the relationship Jenna initiates with her doctor, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion). Rather than (a) rule out an affair from the get-go or (b) have Jenna and the good doctor wait it out until Earl is deus ex machinaed right out of the picture, Shelly has Jenna and Pomatter begin a sexual affair after a few meetings. It’s heartbreaking to hear Jenna’s narration, spelled out in caustic letters to the unborn baby she’s already resenting, in which she relates how she gets “addicted” to actually mattering to someone, to having her words and feelings fall on the ears of a man who isn’t dumb and cold. But Shelly’s film is ultimately a comedy, so she only flirts with the legitimate complications that would bog down a drama: Earl has a few moments of tenderness for Jenna, which doesn’t redeem him but does at least portray him as a feeling mammal. And Pomatter is married to a beautiful, wonderful, supporting woman, which is why she’s on screen for a total of maybe 30 seconds; any longer and Shelly would risk having the audience oversympathize with Pomatter’s wife and start to hate this handsome guy who’s apparently willing to take it wherever he can get it. That’s the tricky part about making a comedy where all these annoying feelings are involved, but Shelly pulls it off by keeping things somewhat light.
Look, this obviously isn’t a full-on review, just a few brief thoughts about a movie I saw on my own time, for my own pleasure. But the film is so relentlessly sweet, and so damn honest about it, that I found myself more moved than I had been for a long time in the presense of a romantic comedy. Not that I was moved to extreme emotions: The humor here are solid, but not uproarious; the sadness here is deep, but not unbearable. Rather, Waitress is so honest about what it wants to do, so willing to wear its heart on its sleeve and quietly lay out a simple, kind, and emotionally true story that the effect is captivating.

Word Has It I Could Be A Bear

me: so, there’s a pretty decent shot i’m going to a gay bar with jeremy next weekend, and i’m looking forward to it
it’ll be a story, that’s for sure
Sis: pajiba jeremy?
me: yeah
Sis: what do straight people do in gay bars? will they be able to tell you’re straight right away?
me: i’m pretty sure they just drink
i’ll be at a bar, knowing i won’t get laid. it’ll be a lot like when i’m at a straight bar

Your Questions Answered

[Wherein the author answers any possible/probable questions you might have. Who knows, one day I might even post the matching questions. But for now, on with the answers:]
More than I’d like
Since I was 7
When I was 20
Maybe someday
Possibly, but right now it sounds totally unappealing
Two gallons a week, and right out of the carton
Only during the playoffs, if at all
More than 1,000
More than 40
About 200
To the right
Once, so far
Grimace, Ray
A few chords on the guitar
Old 97’s
Probably blue
[UPDATE: Peter Lynn has taken a stab at providing the questions. His responses for Questions 2 and 4 are way off, but everything else seems to match up. Damn him. Next time I’ll have to be more elusive.]

Nothing’s Going Right Today

“Veronica Mars” has been canceled.
It wasn’t mentioned on the CW’s fall grid at the upfronts, but that’s no surprise. And sure, there’s a tiny, tiny glimmer of a chance the show could be saved in the next month. A part of me would like to believe that will happen, because at the end of the day I’m a gullible softie. But not even my own weaknesses can distract me from the bad news. I’ll have more on it later, probably next week after the finale, but for now, all I can do is sigh and feel bad and at least try to be thankful the show lasted three years.
“Veronica Mars” has been canceled.
That’s all I got.

Conspicuous Consumption Meets Literacy

I know I’m slightly late with this, and that in the 24 hours since it’s gone up the original post has received something like ~400 comments, which is insane/amazing, but over at Pajiba we’re taking votes on your favorite novels of the past 15 years. Why the past 15 years? Because it’s our game, and those are the rules. The goal is to come up with a list of 5-6 books people would most like to see discussed on the site, meaning we’ll actually have to read them and then talk about them, so try not assign us anything too horrible. It’s tough to limit myself to five, but the timeliness factor helped a little. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
3. Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer
4. The Memory of Running, Ron McLarty
5. The Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem
I know, I’m like a giant walking stereotype of modern twentysomething reading habits. Anyway, we’re taking votes for the rest of the week, so feel free to post your own list. I think the results, once tallied, will be pretty interesting.

We Could Be Heroes. Or, Anyway, I Could — An Online Transcript

me: if i were a superhero, i would be shovelin dan the shovelin man
i would go around planting trees
and speaking out about the environment
and having anonymous sex with groupies
and i would drive a bus
and i would get in adventures
they would want to make my life into a kids’ cartoon, but it would be too risque
Sis: haha
kind of like tek jansen?
me: tek jansen wouldn’t be fit to clean the grit from my shovel or wash my sheets, not without extensive training in my shovelin man ways
Sis: haha
you need sleep
me: i can sleep in my bus while jenny drives me to the rally
Sis: who’s jenny?
me: duh, sarah
the redhead who’s organizing the rally i’m speaking at
she saw my shovelin dan photo and said the image of me in that hat made her feel like a woman should
Sis: wow
just… wow
for i am shovelin dan, the shovelin
gonna dig me a hole, gonna plant me a tree

Music Video Of The Week — 11: Heartbroken ’90s Pop-Rock Edition

Because some weeks all you wanna do is turn up some 1994. With that in mind, break out that Mossimo T-shirt you don’t fit into anymore and listen to these up loud.
First up: I still own this album, and give it the occasional spin, and always enjoy it. I love every track (and am oddly partial to “Cajun Song,” but I digress).
“Until I Fall Away,” by Gin Blossoms.

I don’t know why this next artist has disabled embedding on his YouTube video, which is pretty dick and defeats the entire purpose of the site. His official music video is right here, but for the purposes of convenience, here’s another version:
“Bad Reputation,” by Freedy Johnston.

Finally, this is a great single from an Austin pop group. Mention them at parties; impress your friends that read Pitchfork:
“April’s Fool,” by Cotton Mather.

And, what the hell, in honor of the early ’90s: the original short film Bottle Rocket. Because sometimes it’s good to remember what’s on the list of things Dignan’s not supposed to touch.

Go Forth And Read

It’s time once again for everybody’s favorite religion column:
Jesus, Etc.
Go take a look. In a somewhat related coincidence, Jerry Falwell died today. It’s worth remembering that his family is probably having a rough time right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a divisive, small-minded, angry little guy, who was publicly destroying my faith. Okay then.
That’s all for now.
P.S. A fresh hot pretzel for whoever names the chapter and verse of the two oblique but still pretty guessable scripture references.

Review: Georgia Rule

A sample of the film’s dialogue:
“You can touch it if you’d like.”
Said by Lindsay Lohan to a polite Mormon boy she’s trying to seduce, after sliding off her panties while sitting with him in a boat in the middle of an Idaho lake. … Yeah. Don’t even get me started on her see-through wife-beater with no bra, which was seriously the most exploitative thing I’ve seen on screen all year. Garry Marshall, what the hell is wrong with you?
Anyway: Clickety-click.