Thursday, May 29, 2008

Numb or Check This Out--Matthew Perry Can Act!

I don't know about you, but when I hear things like "unconventional romantic comedy" I lose almost all interest immediately, because generally the first convention they "un" is the funny. But because Perry's really only done one unwatchable thing (The Whole Ten Yards)--er, two (Almost Heroes)--and the premise seemed interesting enough that I could ignore the whole "unconventional rom-com" thing.

So here's the deal: Perry plays a guy named Hudson, who's half of a screenwriting team. The other half is Kevin Pollack's Tom. Pollack gets underused, criminally so--but I'm not going to complain too much. He looks like he's had some work done, and just looks wrong--he looked more natural in the aforementioned Ten Yards. Hudson suffers from acute depersonalization disorder, to the best of my knowledge, Perry nails it. As far as I know, I've never met anyone with the disorder, but Perry acts like I'd imagine someone would who feels like he's an outside observer of his mental processes and body--and, I guess, for a movie, that's good enough.

Thanks to the disorder Hudson's struggling with family issues (altho' they'd be around without the disorder), his work is suffering, and enter the romance. From her list of credits on IMDB, I've seen Lynn Collins a handful of times, but honestly, I don't remember any of them. This one, I think I'll remember. She's good in this, as the sweet gal who falls for a very unlikeable guy in a pretty serious way (reminds me of a certain someone). Hudson's so smitten he tries to get serious about treatment. He sees a series of therapists--most of whom would make people want to dig up Freud's corpse and kick it around awhile.

One such therapist--the best in treating depersonalization, supposedly--is Mary Steenburgen's Cheryl Blaine. No reflection on her, but Steenburgen's part is the weakest thing in the film. The label on my Netflix envelope describes her as "libidinous," which works about as well as describing Robin William's as "hirsute." Thankfully, she's just a blip to the story.

On the whole, I wouldn't classify this as a ha-ha comedy, but it does have it's moments. Nevertheless, this does fall into my "unconventional" rule of thumb. Frankly, it shouldn't have been marketed that way. It's not the strongest story, and honestly, when considered, it's not the most clever or inventive. But Hudson's a different kind of character, and Perry just nails it. For anyone wondering whether Perry's more than some goof from sitcom-land, this is the proof.

The Perry thing really doesn't surprise me, what did surprise me was that this film came from the pen of Harris Goldberg, whose past work included such great films as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (and the European sequel), Without a Paddle, The Master of Disguise, and I'll Be Home for Christmas. Don't get me wrong, he's not going to be collecting a statue for Best Original Screenplay anytime soon, but this was decent stuff. I trust his previous work was just to pay the bills/learn the craft.

Taking the General Equity of Deuteronomy 22:8 too far?

You know it's only a matter of time until this kind of 'wisdom' jumps the Pond:

For nearly a quarter of a century, Lourdes Maxwell has celebrated the arrival of summer by putting a paddling pool in the garden.

This year, however, her two grandchildren and the children of her neighbours may have to find another way to cool off in the heat.

Miss Maxwell's local council has decided that the pool - which is only 2ft deep - needs a lifeguard.

The 47-year-old divorced mother of three has also been told she must have insurance before she can inflate the toy outside her house in Portsmouth.

from The Daily Mail.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Joshua Allen has done the world a service, he's calculated (I'm not exactly positive how) the length of the perfect pop song: Two Minutes and Forty-Two Seconds (note the '42' there. A sure sign he's on to something).

It's a clever, impassioned, vulgar piece that seems exactly right. Perhaps with some thought I could find the flaw in his argument ("Layla", "Freebird" or "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" come to mind as counter-examples), however when I read it, I don't really want to try. Particularly when I get to the clincher:

...this song by a group that pretty much defines one-hit wonder: the La’s. The song is "There She Goes," and is so flawless that it instantly made everything else the band did pointless. This ditty is two minutes and 42 seconds, and is all about songwriting economy.

I listened to it and said, in my rich and sonorous timbre, in my typically concise and absolutely-nailing-it fashion: "Here is a song that has everything I need and nothing I don’t."

The main riff acts as the intro. The verses are the chorus. The solo is 100 percent fat-free and leads right into a tidy bridge. And then we’re back where we started. It’s like some ingenious IKEA futon or Japanese love hotel where every component is doing double-duty. When "There She Goes" is over, I guarantee absolutely no one in the room goes: "[expletive deleted] finally."

I’d hit upon the perfect song length. I fist-bumped somebody.
He goes on from there with some stunning supporting evidence--and better yet, a playlist of perfect 2:42 songs.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Towel Day 2008 (observed)

We observed Towel Day on Monday, once again celebrating the author who permanently skewed my mind back in Junior High. Couldn't get things organized enough for a group shot this year, but I was able to snag some individual shots:

oh, yeah, and a little gift from The Love of my Life...

(will try to get a better shot of that soon)

Nice Quote

Think I've read this once or twice before, but when I stumbled upon it today, it struck me as worth dwelling on (besides, if I put it here, I can easily find it for future reference)

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.
- Bart Giamatti

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'm Not There, but I wish I had been

Today is International Talk Like Bob Dylan Day, and I'm trying to participate some, but to be honest, my Bob Dylan is really my Steven Banks doing Bob Dylan. But hey, bettern' nothing, right?

It starts at about the two-minute mark here (no need to skip ahead to it, the first two minutes is funny anyway):

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A More Savage Place Than You Remember

I am, of course, speaking of whatever room they lock C. S. Lewis' novels in with the screenwriters.

Naturally, the fam and I went to Prince Caspian last weekend. Frankly, I'm not that sure how to respond, I had two trains of thought going through my mind as I watched the movie, and they're still pretty much on the same tracks. On the one hand, I thought it was a fun family movie, a good sequel to the first movie. On the other took so many liberties with the novel, it made Peter Jackson look like a slave to Tolkein's The Two Towers.

On the pro side, you have great performances, wonderful sets, costumes, makeup, etc. Georgie Henley aged a bit faster than she should've (curse these parents, like the Potter kids' folks who care for their children so well), but still sold it. I was still more than content to see Narnia through her eyes. Skandar Keynes stepped up his performance (not that I had much to complain about) and really shined as Edmund. I've probably seen more of Peter Dinklage than almost any other actor this year, and his performance as Trumpkin shows why I'm seeing him everywhere.

The children's reactions when they first return to Narnia, as they figured out where (and when) they are, and what that meant for their friends...great. Wonderful. I also appreciated the exploration of the idea that the Kings and Queens had abandoned Narnia all those years ago.

On the con side...where to begin? It really felt like someone wrote down about half the scenes of the novel on index cards, shuffled them, and then wrote the screenplay. It's really a shame that where LWW was more faithful than most, this film departed so much. Individually considered, I could defend most (not all) of the changes, including some of the new scenes--not unlike the scene with Tumnus and Edward in LWW. But all of them? Nope, sorry.

My biggest beef is, of course, the attack on Miraz's castle (and the rivalry between Peter and Caspian that spurred Peter on). Very uncharacteristic of Peter--and so unnecessary! I'll spare everyone another verse of "Trust the Source Material!" but...gak. What were Adamson et al thinking?!?!

I also would've enjoyed (but didn't expect to see in detail) Aslan and the Queens romping through the countryside awakening the land. In particular, I wanted to see Aslan freeing the children from their schools--knew that was a pipe dream.

Incidentally, outside of the Pevensies, Caspian, and Miraz, I think I heard characters referred to by their names no more than once. Most, including Reepicheep, are never called by their name! It's a minor thing, but it really bugged me. Not just because names like Reepicheep, Trumpkin, Nikabrik, and Doctor Cornelius are fun, but names are important. Also, it's so much easier to discuss films if you can call characters by their names rather than, "You know...that guy with the thing. No, not that guy, the other thing."

A friend called this flick a bastardization. And it is one. But a good one, one I wouldn't mind watching again on DVD (which is a good thing, cuz I know I'll have to see it a few dozen times the week it's released).

(updated and reposted to plug Loyal Reader #3's take, in which she reminds me of some of the things I meant to gripe about)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Yes, Baseball is a Game of Failure, but Come On

Yeah, I've been awfully silent about the Yankees lately, 'cuz what can you say about these guys? "Rock bottom" seems to be the theme this week from the Manager's mouth, blogs, news stories, and now Hank Steinbrenner. There's a few other words that might stick finer point on it than that, but I try to keep from working blue (even when it comes to these pinstripes).

Rock Bottom...swept by the Mets (including one massacre) with the two best pitchers on the team; getting spanked by the O's, yeah, can't get much lower. Until now...I'm reading a bit on the official site and...Hank Steinbrenner's comments today seemed restrained and rational. What twisted world is this? (actually wish he'd come out yesterday and complained bitterly--particularly about Moose, that really seems to help the team win lately)

Let's go Rasner! (yes, I actually said that)

A Sober Warning's Lore Sjöberg provides a greatly needed warning (and then a few more that are helpful). If his words are heeded, we all owe him a great debt of gratitude.


Back in February, I made an appointment with a specialist--which was about 2.5 weeks away from the date I made it. The symptoms went away, and so following medical advice, I canceled.

Symptoms came back a couple of weeks ago, so rescheduled with that specialist. This time it was 1.5 weeks to get in--and I got the impression that was quick.

So I went in Tuesday, and was scheduled for both some diagnostic tests and a follow-up visit on Thursday.

So here's the thought I can't get out of my head: how concerned should I be that they're moving so quickly?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #23

From Ref21's blog:

Them that honour me...

Some of today's Scottish newspapers are running a story about our local school's girls' football team. Against all the odds, they beat off older teams from larger schools all over Scotland, to reach the final of a national tournament sponsored by Coca-Cola - only to discover it was scheduled to be held on a Sunday. To not a little disappointment, the decision was taken to pull out of the opportunity to win the national tournament because of the religious convictions of our community.
read the rest of Iain D Campbell's post here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wonderful Timing

This Little League season as been uncharacteristically cold, this week it almost got up to where it should've been weeks ago. Thursday was the warmest day yet, and where was I come game time?

At home with a fever and 18 hours of non-stop sneezing.

Perfect. Juuuust perfect.

I hope to get back to regularly scheduled stuff soon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Playing the Carter Card

I keep reading about how Sen. Clinton is attacking Sen. Obama like a Republican would, which is one of the many reasons she should prove she's a good Democrat and drop out. I don't know about that. But I am pretty sure Clinton wouldn't put out this ad.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

An Episode that Made Me Miss the WGA Strike

While Scrubs has a tendency to be uneven in quality--particularly over the last two seasons, I honestly never thought I'd say I saw an episode I didn't like. A few I was disappointed with, a few I was "meh" about. But flat-out bad? Nahhh, not those guys.

Boy, was I wrong. Just finished "My Princess," the 7th season finale/NBC finale. Wow. Wow. Wow. Was that a stinker! If you haven't seen it yet, watch it up until the first joke about The Todd (00:45 on my timer) and then stop it--delete it from your DVR, close your window, etc. Because that's the end of the comedy on that one.

The supposed 'homage' to The Princess Bride contained one real reference to the movie other than most of the story being framed as a bedtime story Dr. Cox was telling Jack. Other than that, it was more of a fairy tale homage. Oh, and a totally pointless one, too.

NBC, for reasons unknown (conspiracy theories about NBC trying to kill audience good will for the show before it's move to ABC abound), aired this out of sequence--so Kelso shows up as Chief of Medicine very early on, which made me (and, from what I read online, several others) think I was watching a re-run instead of a new episode. The time references to JD and Elliot's most recent 'bout of almost getting back together were also out of sequence and contradictory.

In short, this thing was a giant mess. I'm now more than ever looking forward to the ABC episodes, because this show shouldn't go out this way, it deserves so much more.

It was a fairly funny The Todd joke, tho.

Monday, May 12, 2008

West Winging It

In my ongoing effort to stay awake during the wee small hours of the morning when there's nothing to do but make sure that sleeping teenagers are sleeping, I've started re-watching The West Wing, thanks in no small part to it being one of the few series that the library has a complete set of.

Like Sports Night before it, I just love listening to these people talk--I could watch this show every moment I'm awake and be perfectly content (particularly the early seasons).

There are, however, a few problems with the show, and as I go through the DVD's I'll mention a few of them here. Not talking necc. about internal problems (tho they are there) but thinking of it's effect on the culture as a whole.

First and foremost, The West Wing was very, very good at selling it's "The Government is our Savior" message. See, for example, the State of the Union episodes in Season 1 where Toby rebels against the idea of saying that the end of Big Government is here. No, what we need is a bigger government!

Even worse, actually, is how smart, convicted and passionate all the characters are. Too many viewers think that it reflects reality, the show feels real, people in Washington must be like that, too. Sorkin characters are always smart and passionate people of conviction. Not everyone in the government is that smart, convicted and passionate. Period. Just impossible. No human being can maintain that level of passion for that long. Nor are there that many people of conviction in Washington--for long, anyway. As for smart? No human is as smart as an Aaron Sorkin character--Sorkin isn't as smart as one of his characters (no way would Leo, Toby, Sam, Josh, Donna, Will, Danny [Rydell, Concannon or Tripp], Casey, Jeremy, Dana, or Natalie would come up with a show about a comedy series that didn't feature...funny things).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Weekend

Around here, we observed Mother's Day yesterday--I presented TLomL with a stunning diamond necklace, followed up with a group gift of a croquet set--which Samwise almost has enough patience to play, it turns out. The rest of us spent some good quality time knocking the balls around before the afternoon got too hot. I tried to make one of her favorite Chinese dishes for dinner, the results were definitely...edible (I think I learned enough that my next attempt will be tasty as well). Thankfully, there's a cheap pizza place nearby :)

Today, almost by accident, we saw both of our mothers and my two grandmothers. One grandmother's health is pretty shaky, this could very well be the last time we saw her. Frankly, I was pretty much a mess leading up to the visit. But we all had a really good time, the visit did me a lot of good--and inexplicably, her, too.


Frazz basically sums things up for me...

Friday, May 09, 2008

A Classical Education

Spent today either in a tremendously deep sleep or in really horrible pain. Was able to find a little relief through the magic of destraction via youtube. Whilst doing so, the idea occurred to me to pull up this classic and introduce it to my kids. They didn't erupt in howls of laughter (clearly, mine aren't the only genes in them), but they did find it funny. How many things on SNL and the like today will be funny 50 years from now? Maybe I should be asking how many of those comedy bits in 50 years will be able to distract from Kidney Stone pain? That's the real test, isn't it?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Finally, a happy ending

Tho quite honestly, at this point, I'm just happy there's any ending.

One month after getting rear-ended by a questionably insured dimwit in my then three-weeks old van, we got it back. Thankfully, we can now return my aunt's 1982 Chevy "Who Needs a Humvee to Leave a Carbon Footprint?" Van. It was so nice to drive our Caravan again--the visibility alone made me feel like a kid again.

That may be the most in-depth post you're getting out of me for a few days (and yes, I realize fully how non-deep that was), a family crisis may be on the horizon.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

This is a musical trend I can get behind...

They Might Be Giants just put out their second album of children's music, and now BNL just released one (hopefully their first)...stuff my kids want to listen to that I can enjoy, too.

Now if I could only get Linkin Park and Alanis to do the same, think we'd be all set...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Don't click this link too close to bedtime

Nightmares will ensue if you do.

Kim Riddlebarger, URC pastor, notorious amillennialist and Yankee fan (2 out of 3 ain't bad), linked today to Worst album cover ever? from South Florida Sun-Sentinal's site. Some of this stuff is truly horrific. Best case for using iTunes (or the like) exclusively is that cover art like this won't be laying around for impressionable young children to find and suffer the emotional damage.

Monday, May 05, 2008 update - Shuffle-riffic

You ever have one of those times when iTunes' shuffle feature seems to have a mind of its own, and is either picking just the right songs to fit your mood? (or all that are absolutely wrong) Feels like there's somebody, somewhere that deserves a 17% tip.

Had one of those times today, and since it's been awhile since I updated the, figured I'd grab the first few songs of the day (with some minor editing, to be honest) et viola...

Obvioiusly, no real theme to these...other than "Songs that'd sound just awful recorded by Linda Ronstadt (even tho' she did record at least one of them)" alternatively, "Songs that David Archuleta would butcher."

Fantasy Advice

My generation spoiled everything for you. It has always been the special prerogative of young people to look and act weird and shock grown-ups. But my generation exhausted the Earth's resources of the weird. Weird clothes -- we wore them. Weird beards -- we grew them. Weird words and phrases -- we said them. So, when it came your turn to be original and look and act weird, all you had left was to tattoo your faces and pierce your tongues. Ouch. That must have hurt. I apologize. - P.J. O'Rourke
It's graduation season, which means it's time for newspaper columnists to do their annual "Imaginary Commencement Address" columns--many of which are worth reading a good fifth of. One or two a year, however, are actually worth the money spent on the ink--or, increasingly the bits of server space they take.

I haven't been subjected to many of these yet this year, but I'm willing to bet that P.J. O'Rourke's is about as good as you're going to get this year, very likely the best of the batch.

Which means, naturally, that no educational institution in this nation would let him give it. In brief, if you want to have a good life and make a postive difference in the world: get a job, make money, stay out of politics, be thankful life isn't fair, and read your Bible (not for the reason normally given). But he puts it so much better.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Why the Silence?

No stranger to controversy, politics (local or otherwise), and desperately in need of a fresh blog post, why has Polymathis remained silent about this AP story?

DENVER — A Denver man who wants the city to be prepared for space aliens is proposing a commission to deal with the matter.

The assistant city attorney says he doesn't know what officials will ask about Jeff Peckman's proposal during next week's "review and comment" meeting.

Peckman says an 18-member commission would form a strategy "dealing with issues related to the presence of extraterrestrial beings on Earth."

The 54-year-old Peckman also needs 4,000 signatures to get his proposal on the November ballot.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Just got back from Iron Man

no time/inclination to say much right now, been one of those days.

In brief, this movie rocked. Good summer flick, good action flick, great comic book flick. Don't think I have one real complaint...maybe a quibble or two, but that's for another time.

In honor of the director, let me rephrase that brief statement: it was so money, baby.


And if you have any comic geekitude in you at all--stay til after the credits.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Speaking of good ol J. I. . . .

After talking briefly about Packer's decision the other day, I've been thinking of the monumental way his work shaped my thinking years ago. There was a time that my reading list consisted of "things Packer wrote or endorsed." Sadly, haven't really read him in years (still give his books out as recommendations and/or gifts, tho). His Knowing God and A Quest for Godliness were life-altering. Keep in Step with the Spirit, Growing in Christ, Hot Tub Religion, Rediscovering Holiness were all very helpful (I know I'm leaving titles out...this is all off the top of my head here)--I found Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God disappointing, but I've always chalked that up to having heard several people tell me about the book before I got to it--basically reading it myself was a review.

And you can't talk about Packer's writing without mentioning his monumental introductory essay to John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. It really impressed me when I read its reprint in A Quest for Godliness, but I distinctly remember being floored by it a few months later when I read it as I started Owen's work.

Too often overlooked, I think, is the essay penned by Packer and O. R. Johnston introducing their translation of Luther's The Bondage of the Will. I've been trying to find an electronic copy of that over the last few days (my copy of Luther is in a box somewhere), but have thus far been unable to. That's a shame--it's not on the level of his Owen essay, but it's within spitting distance. Now, I know all too well that even the mighty Google (all hail our coming electronic masters) lets something fall through the cracks--and sites like miss things too. If any of you readers know where there is a copy of the Luther essay online, please leave the address in the comments below.

If you haven't yet taken the time to read Packer...time to fix that, folks. He's one of the best things that the 20th century produced.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ew! So glad I finished breakfast before I read this...

from BBC News

Consumer group Which? said tests at its London offices found equipment carrying bugs that could cause food poisoning.

Out of 33 keyboards swabbed, four were regarded as a potential health hazard and one harboured five times more germs than one of the office's toilet seats.

Microbiologist Dr Peter Wilson said a keyboard was often "a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut".

During the Which? tests in January this year, a microbiologist deemed one of the office's keyboards to be so dirty he ordered it to be removed, quarantined and cleaned.
"What is in your nose and in your gut." Great line.

I need to go wash my hands for a few hours now...