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December 19, 2004 - December 25, 2004 Archives

December 20, 2004


Today's celebrity sighting:

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...


Now, celebrities normally don't lay down in front of your car in the middle of the road- although there was that one time with Paris Hilton on Little Santa Monica Boulevard- but this afternoon was special indeed. He would not, however, give autographs.

(This was a couple of hundred feet away from the Keys Rock overlook in Joshua Tree National Park this afternoon. Photo by Fran. There's video, too- I'll post it at some point, because there's a huge difference between boring people to death with your home movies at home and doing so on the Web- hey, it's the Internet, so it MUST be cool)


December 21, 2004


What? You want to know how I feel about Terrell Owens? You want to know if I think the Eagles can win with Todd "Don't Hurt Me!" Pinkston and Freddie "All Talk" Mitchell attempting to catch passes?

I TOLD you this was a bad year.

Besides, I'm tired. Slack-blogging continues with more Animal Planet Lite. Yes, after yesterday's coyote picture, there's more. Meet none other than...

Al Jolson!

Actually, it's a dog named after Al Jolson, Jolie, to be exact, the Greyhound-German Shepard mix who is the pride and joy of Chuck (of Westwood One) and Rita (of her own publicity firm) Rich in fabulous D.C.-Adjacent. Jolie's here because I had to write about a million news items for an All Access Net News update today. I have to get away from this computer.

Coming next: radical expansion into the world of baby pictures!


December 22, 2004


We hid from the carolers last night. Is that a bad thing?

It's not that we hold anything against Christmas, or any of the trappings of the season. Far from it. We like the season, like the festive surroundings and the good will and all that. But it was night time, we were relaxing on the couch watching TV and just as Hugh Laurie was about to tell off another patient before reluctantly accepting the case and curing her by the end of the episode as always, we heard voices, not the usual ones in our heads but voices from outside, laughing and singing and shouting in the darkness. And that's when I remembered the flyer in our mailbox the other day- caroling, the neighborhood was getting together for a night of caroling.

"Turn the lights off!"

We turned the lights off, and the TV, and peered through the drapes. The carolers were just then sizing up our house, standing at the end of the driveway with lanterns and songbooks and screaming kids in tow. Had we darkened the house in time? Would they get the message?

"The bedroom- now!"

We raced into the bedroom, lest anyone see our shadows through the window, and we waited. It was just three or four minutes, but it seemed like forever. The voices were there, then faded, and soon they were gone. I went back to the front window- the street was abandoned once more. And we returned to the living room for more TV.

Why were we cowering in the back of the house rather than enduring a few bars of "Silent Night"? Are we Scrooges? I don't think so- I think that the desire to be left the hell alone trumps whatever joys of the season might be inherent in standing at your front door listening to the neighbors' offkey warbling of "O Holy Night" or "Good King Whatshisname." I have all the holiday cheer I need. I work all day, I'm tired, I want to relax, I want to see nobody but Fran and Ella the World's Most Famous Cat and whoever deigns to entertain me on my TV.

And the carolers never go away when you've had you're fill. You stand there and they sing, and sing, and sing, and at some point you're thinking "they're not going to sing the whole song, are they?" And of course they do, and you end up standing there awkwardly shifting from foot to foot and smiling in that frozen way you smile when you're scared NOT to smile. You're not enjoying it, and you'll never get those precious moments back.

And that's why we hid from the carolers. Of course, it doesn't help our case that we later watched the episode of "South Park" in which the Woodland Critters celebrate their holiday by giving birth to the Anti-Christ, only to be mowed down by the blaxing Uzi of Santa. So it's a Sacrilegious Christmas in our house this season. At least we're not stuck at the front door, listening to the big solo by the brat from down the block.

Merry Christmas, everybody! Stay away! We'll all be better off!


December 23, 2004


OK, I think you should turn the computer off and go do something else for Christmas. Now. Not a Christian? Fine, do what we do- rent some movies (tonight's feature: "Shaun of the Dead," highly recommended), eat, have a beer, maybe some cookies or a chocolate Santa, relax. Christian? Tree, gifts, family, the whole bit. TNT'll be playing the Best Christmas Movie Ever, "A Christmas Story," all day- put that on.

But reading blogs on Christmas? Almost as pathetic as WRITING one on Christmas. Take the freakin' weekend off, will ya?


December 25, 2004


I think I've figured out why I'm so hypercritical about every movie I see.

(That's hypercritical, not hypocritical. Although...)

We saw "The Aviator" today, and when Fran asked me what I thought, the words "I liked it" didn't come to my lips, not right away. I DID like it well enough, but I didn't say so. Instead, I rattled on about the fact that the movie really didnt go into the most interesting part of his life, his mental illness (they show some of the symptoms, but never anything about what it was or why so many people indulged his behavior), how it used hack devices like fake radio gossip reports or newsreels to explain the action, how embarrassing a flashback to his childhood was. I noted the fact that most characters in the movie- his toady Noah Dietrich, his plane engineer "Odie" Odekirk, his staff meteorologist Professor "Fitz"- age not a single bit in 20 years, that when you see Leonardo DiCaprio in anything, you can't get past the fact that it's Leonardo DiCaprio playing a part rather than accepting that he's the real guy.

Yes, but was it entertaining?

Yeah, but.

The "but" is this: you have Martin Scorsese directing an all-star (sort of) cast in the story of a legendary weirdo, and you get what amounts to a standard Hollywood biopic, nothing more. There's an impressive crash sequence, some OK CGI for the "Spruce Goose," but the story's reduced to what you'd know if you even remotely followed his life story. There's no insight, and, more unforgivably, nothing at all unique or creative or different. Martin Scorsese can't come up with anything more creative than just telling the rote story that everyone already knows the way any director would do it?

It's about expectations, I guess. The night before, we saw "Meet the Fockers," and it was not a disappointment, because I didn't expect much and didn't get much. Sitcom on the big screen? Check. Allegedly wacky slapstick? Check. Same as the first movie? Pretty much, check. Good thing we saw it for free? Definitely check. That's okay- you don't expect better. But Scorsese? Martin Scorsese?!? Come on, he has to have better left in him than "The Aviator."

And then I remembered what I thought about "Ray."

And then I went to the men's room at the theater, and the buzz in there was all about how brilliant the movie was and how incredible it was and how best-picture-ever it was.

And that's when I realized that my criticisms are misplaced. It's not Scorsese's fault, or Hackford's. No, they're only providing the service for which they've been contracted. The problem is that the audience doesn't want better. The by-the-numbers writing, the overblown, fakey scenarios, the total lack of insight into the subject? Good enough. The vast majority of moviegoers don't care for more. And there's nothing particularly wrong with that- they're paying their ten bucks, they want something that won't interfere with their popcorn digestion. Good for them.

Besides, I don't want to be like an alt-weekly critic, elevating obscure foreign films to the "10 Best" list just to prove how cutting-edge they are. Check some of the entries on the L.A. Weekly's critics' lists: "Moolande," 81 year old Senagalese director Ousmane Sembene's "exuberant, masterfully executed study of African village life." "Distant," Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Chekhovian tale of a middle-aged still photographer and his country-mouse cousin." "Since Otar Left," whatever that is. Sorry, they weren't playing at the Regal Avenue 13. Ever. Not that they're bad movies- they might well be genius- but you put movies like that on a "10 Best" liust when you're trying to prove how cool you are. (Actually, blowhard film critics Paul Malcolm and Ernest Hardy are worse with their DVD gift box picks- imagine your loved ones' delight at receiving a gift of the Alan Clarke Collection or the Wong Kar-Wai Collection instead of that Looney Tunes set they asked for. They'll thank you in fifty years.)

Maybe I should stick to watching TV. It should be about time for "Green Acres" on TV Land. Expectations high, expectations met. That's entertainment.



Add to the list of Fun Excerpts From the L.A. Weekly this opener to an article headlined "Global Warming: Five Studies and Five Actions" by someone named William Kelly:

    In a year in which the movie The Day After Tomorrow dramatized global warming, the world especially California finally seemed to get serious about climate change.

Yes, it's significant that someone made a bad special effects movie this year, because... why? Did it prove global warming's real? Did it propose a solution? Did it show... well, what DID it show? It showed nothing except that Dennis Quaid still can't act.

Next: how "Fat Albert" is significant in studies of American obesity.


About December 2004

This page contains all entries posted to PMSimon.com in December 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 12, 2004 - December 18, 2004 is the previous archive.

December 26, 2004 - January 1, 2005 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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