Tuesday, March 30, 2004

I wonder what the poor people are doing tonight?

Going, going, gone! Get your bid in now for Ben Affleck's Razzie Award!

Sopranos Death Pool?

I haven't seen any of the remaining Sopranos episodes this season and have no spoiler information, but the timing of this announcement sure is curious, especially given the previews for Sunday's episode. True, the previews are notoriously deceptive, but if by some chance Adriana sleeps with the fishes this week, I can imagine the HBO brass is a bit miffed by the NBC announcement. Someone may wake up next to a horse's head.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

SXSW wrap-up. This is basically a tidied up version of the stuff I already wrote here, minus all the parts about who I went drinking with where.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Hey, kids! The new issue of Alternative Cinema magazine is now on newsstands, featuring a cover story on Bam Margera and CKY by yours truly! You know Bam, he's the guy who beats up his fat hairy father on William Shakespeare's Jackass. Yes, it's true, I'll write about anything if the money's right. Everyone pick up a copy or ten so they can pay me even more! I'll autograph it for you! Personally!

Jinkies! Scooby-Doo 2 is a real dog.

Sorry, Maury.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

There's Maury boy at SXSW, surrounded by his adoring fans. Ladies love cool Maury!

TV Westerns

I watched the premiere of HBO’s new series Deadwood in a post-SXSW delirium Sunday night, so I figured I needed to give it another shot on one of its replays, which I did last night. So far most of the attention the show has gotten has focused on its salty language, and indeed words like “cocksucker” do sort of jump out at you in the Old West context. I have no reason to believe this isn’t historically accurate, and there’s something enjoyably Mamet-y about the way writer David Milch weaves the profanity into the characters’ antiquated speech patterns. Other than that, I still haven’t formed much of an impression, even after two viewings. I’m giving it at least a couple more episodes, though; I like the setting, at least, and what are the odds another TV western is gonna come along anytime soon?

Well, there was Firefly, a quasi-Western sci-fi show from Joss Whedon that aired briefly last season on Fox. I didn’t catch it at the time; I’m not a Whedon worshipper and in fact had managed to avoid Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the entirety of its run. But just as that show reached its finale, the bird I fancied urged me to borrow her third season DVDs, so I decided to give it a shot. (Hey, under the circumstances I would have even given Touched by an Angel a fair shake.) Much to my shock and horror, I got sucked into it pretty quickly, and by the end of last summer I had seen pretty much every damn Buffy episode.

I’m not saying it was all brilliant. Whedon’s trademark dialogue grates as often as it delights, and there’s an awful lot of tedious crap to slog through (the abysmal final season is pretty much nothing but tedious crap), but at its best, it’s a witty, surprising and even moving take on the horror genre. Then there’s the spinoff Angel, of which I’ve only seen the current season. As such, there’s a lot of backstory I don’t quite grasp, and the thing disappears from the schedule for weeks at a time, making the already disjointed arc even harder to follow. That said, I have enjoyed a number of the individual episodes, so I’ll probably stick with it to the end (easy for me to say, since it’s been cancelled and only a few episodes remain).

So that brings us to Firefly, now on DVD in its entirety. I borrowed the set and have seen the first three episodes so far. I’m willing to stick with it, but I’m not quite convinced it’s the startlingly original creation its makers seem to believe it to be. I mean, I’m sure they don’t really believe they came up with the Western-in-space shtick, it’s just that they’ve made it more overt than it has been previously. (Except for that one Star Trek with Kirk and Spock at the OK Corral, but the less said about that the better.) I guess I’m just waiting to see if the Western stuff develops into more than just window dressing. There’s been a few clever visuals – a guy getting thrown through a holographic window during a bar brawl, for instance – but horses and sixguns alone do not a Western make. I’m willing to bet it gets better, since the first couple episodes were hampered by network interference – Fox didn’t want to air the pilot, so Whedon and his co-creator had to hammer out an episode in one weekend and load it up with awkward exposition. Which I guess also explains why the lead character, Captain Mal Reynolds, suddenly transforms from humorless hardass to fun-loving jokester.

I’m sorry, am I still writing? Nodded off for a second there.

Richard Simmons rampage!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

You know what toy I never got when I was a kid? The Oscar Goldman action figure. He came with a plaid jacket and a briefcase full of very important papers. Every kid's dream. I did have the Six Million Dollar Man with the roll-up skin on his arm and the bionic implant underneath. I remember I lost the implant and wrote to Kenner asking for a new one. They sent me a whole new arm. No wonder bionics were so expensive - such inefficiency.

Yeah, you guessed it, I'm bored out of my mind today.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

The whole sleep thing? That didn’t work out too well. Apparently the city got wind of my notion of power napping on the couch and decided it would be a good time to tear up the street in front of my house. It went on for hours – sounded like the whole house was inside a cement mixer. Then, in the middle of the night, some critter – a mouse? a bat? an evil clown? a telltale heart? – got up under the floorboards of my bedroom and started SKRITCH SKRITCH SKRITCH-ing. Real loud. I had to get out of bed and jump up and down on the floor to scare it away. Maury was snoring away, no help at all.

So – a little irritable this morning. Here’s a happy link: Penguin Baseball

Monday, March 22, 2004

So the fun is over, and now I’m a bit depressed. Part of it is just the normal back-to-the-grind stuff after a week of whirlwind excitement, and part of it is something I should just shrug off, but which leaves me with hurt feelings anyway. I’ve bounced from high to low, but I should even out in the middle in a day or two, after some much needed rest. Regrets, I’ve had a few. Fun, I had a lot. Sleep, I really need. And speaking of good memories…

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

(Oh, I forgot to mention that, in the midst of all that SXSW-ing, I had to attend a 10 am screening of Scooby Doo 2. I tell you, a lesser man would have cracked.)

SXSW Diary

Day Five

Wait, which was day five? I’m confused and tired. I guess it was Tuesday. I don’t think I did anything Tuesday.

Day Six

The music portion of SXSW begins and all hell breaks loose. It also happens to be St. Patrick’s Day. I picked up my wristband at the convention center around 1:30, then headed over to the Caucus Club to meet a couple of my poker buddies for Experimental Aircraft and a band that wasn’t called My Cousin From Norway, but I’m calling them that anyway. Swirly indie rock stuff. Some big lummox next to me was doing an unsightly spazz dance. We also played some foosball. Not me and the lummox, me and the poker buddies.

Went home to tidy the house in anticipation of late arriving guests, then headed out to the Music Hall to catch a bit of the Austin Music Awards. Stayed about 30 minutes then realized I didn’t need to know who the Best Musical Saw Player in Austin is. Met GVC at Opal Divine’s for St. Paddy’s Day. There was no Irish content to the music the first band was playing. Then Shoulders were unthawed for their annual performance, and they were in fine form. I think. I may have had a beer or two. Then Andrew arrived, having already deposited Amy at the manse for safe keeping. More drinking ensued.

Day Seven

First event of the day was a neighborhood party with – yes – free beer and music. We decided this would be a good event for Maury to attend with us, and it was. There was a potentially unpleasant chance encounter in the parking lot, but enough out-of-town visitors and festive spirit to provide a buffer against it happening. I just turned on my blind spot, there being a time and a place for everything. The party was good fun – folks sprawled on lawns and standing in the street, bands playing in the front yard, kegs o’ beer and BBQ. The shoeless hippie manning the keg tried to make some analogy between operating the keg and bringing a woman to orgasm, but it wasn’t much appreciated by his audience. Maury was in his glory – his whole posse of adoring female fans was there to fawn over him and give him walks and tummy rubs. (Maury is a dog, for those who may be confused at this point.) An ideal SXSW afternoon, surrounded by good friends and good vibes. (Mostly.)

From there we went for Mexican food, then to a movie at the Paramount, The Mayor of the Sunset Strip, the depressing tale of L.A. rock scene fixture Rodney Bingenheimer and the whole awful Hollywood culture of fame worship. The movie really captured it. Then we wandered Sixth Street, stopped at the Driskill, Lovejoys and Casino el Camino, then back home.

Day Eight

Let’s see. I’m drawing a blank. I think we didn’t get going very early. Then we walked down to the drag and did some bowling at the Union Underground. I got as close to a turkey as you can possibly get – strike, strike, nine. What a shattering disappointment. Then on to the Hole in the Wall, where a grizzled folkie played old timey tunes while a man in overalls cranked wax paper illustrations through a makeshift television set. We played pool and that game that might be called shufflepuck, but we’re not sure.

Thence down to Auditorium Shores for Kris Kristofferson, who was sort of aural wallpaper and did not have the special guest we expected, Willie Nelson. Then Toots and the Maytals, who were still reggae-riffic after all these years. Then to the Saxon to meet GVC for the Asylum Street Spankers. She had the special hidden reserved booth I’d never even noticed before. Great show as always. After that, I sent the kids on their way home and made my way to the “top secret” They Might Be Giants show at the Parish. They were peppy and played a ton of new material, which I didn’t really absorb. But they made the place shake, and it’s always good to hear the live “Fingertips.”

I stumbled out of there at quarter to two in the morning to find Mary Lou Lord busking on the corner. Stayed for a couple tunes, then made the long walk home.

Day Nine

Today was tourist day for Andrew and Amy, so while they went to the LBJ museum, I met Hayden at Club DeVille for something or other. I forget who they were. Then we went across the street to Red Eyed Fly for the Mendoza Line, where we met up with Jennie and Paulie. Eventually A & A made there way down there and announced they were treating me to dinner. Sadly, Stubb’s was closed for a private party, so we did Indian food at the Clay Pit instead, followed by ice cream. By now we were feeling our age, so decided to make it an early night. Went home and watched a couple of Sopranos episodes and Dazed and Confused, then turned in early.

Day Ten

A low-key day. Some shopping on South Congress, followed by chickenshit bingo at Ginny’s Little Longhorn. The place was even more packed to the rafters than usual. Sadly, the last ticket for chickenshit bingo was sold to the woman directly in front of Amy in line, so my guests didn’t even get to play. Still, it was the most Texas-y experience I could give them, and an ideal wrap-up in its own way.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

SXSW Diary

Day Three

Not much today. I was a little movied out. I hit the trade show and managed to track down the guy I asked to write my introduction at last year’s SXSW. Fortunately, he remembered agreeing to this, so I later dropped off a copy of the manuscript for him. (I won’t name him, though, in case it falls through the cracks.) Then I saw Mail-Order Bride, an amusing mockumentary. A schlub agrees to have a film crew follow him as he procures himself a mail-order bride, but complications ensue when the filmmaker falls in love with her. I doubt this will ever surface again, but I got a few laughs out of it.

Day Four

Just a couple of SXSW movies today. Actually, that's an exaggeration, since the first one was $5.15/Hr, Richard Linklater's unaired pilot for an HBO series we'll never see. It wasn't bad, wasn't great - it's a workplace comedy set in a Denny's-type restaurant. The post-show Q & A was much more entertaining, as Linklater and his co-creator were both pretty openly bitter about the fate of the show; apparently everyone at HBO loved it except the top guy, who couldn't fathom why people would want to watch a show about minimum wage workers. The reasoning seemed to be that HBO's audience wants shows about rich people.

After that I saw Napoleon Dynamite, one of this year's Sundance buzz movies. To which I say, "Feh." It's a relentlessly "quirky" high school movie, sort of like Rushmore Takes the Short Bus. Stylistically, it's a thrift shop of the tackiest and kitchiest America has had to offer for the past 30 years - it's chock full of bad haircuts, bad clothes, orange vans, wood-paneled basements and all the worst music you'd hoped to never hear again. The lead kid gives a fearlessly dorky performance, there are quite a few laughs and in the end, I think the movie's heart was in the right place (although this is debatable, and I’m still debating it). But it just annoyed the shit out of me.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

SXSW Diary

Day One

First night of SXSW, film division. I'll spare you the harrowing details of trying to park anywhere near the convention center in order to pick up my badge. Suffice it to say that I missed the first screening of the night, so I killed some time in the Driskill hotel bar, where I was able to eavesdrop on the most pathetic attempts of 50-somethings to pick each other up imaginable. (I nearly withered away from embarrassment when one guy asked the loungy piano entertainer if he knew "Subterranean Homesick Blues.")

Did manage to catch the official kickoff film, the new Winterbottom, Code 46. For the first twenty minutes, I was convinced I was going to love it. Alas, no. It's sort of a cross between Lost in Translation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, yet not anywhere near as good as either. It's the kind of movie where you get the impression that most of it is locked away in the director's head, and he didn't really find a way to let you in on it.

Then went to the kickoff party, where I had a peculiar Six Degrees of Separation moment and couldn't burn through my drink tickets fast enough. Hopefully tomorrow will bring better things.

Day Two

A bit more fruitful. There's an emphasis on political documentaries this time (apparently it's an election year or something), a couple of which I saw today. The Hunting of the President is Harry Thomason's adaptation of the Conason/Lyons book. It's done in a hyperkinetic tabloid style reminiscent of JFK, which is off-putting at first, and it makes no bones about its bias (Thomason is, of course, an old Clinton crony). But it is a concise primer on the whole Clinton smear campaign, from the Little Rock hillbillies to R.M. Scaife to Kenneth Starr, and when it gets to the Whitewater stuff involving Susan MacDougal, it's actually quite moving.

The other political doc was Bush's Brain, which oughtta be required viewing for anyone voting in this year's presidential election. It's a hot-off-the-presses adaptation of the book by Wayne Slater and James Moore, the whole sordid tale of Karl Rove and his long history of dirty tricks. By the end of it, I'd say everyone in the Paramount Theater was ready to march on the White House and leave with Rove's head on a stick. This guy is the scumbaggest scumbag who ever scumbagged.

Also saw I Love Your Work, Adam Goldberg's second feature, which had sort of a clever premise - a movie star who becomes a stalker of an ordinary couple - but was a bit on the pretentious side. And meant to see Super Size Me, the doc by the guy who ate nothing but McDonald's for a month, but by then, I was movied out. Which kind of sucks, because there's really nothing I want to see tomorrow - they should have saved it for then, dammit. But no one consulted me.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Two new ones:


Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Since SXSW starts tomorrow (the film portion, joined by the music portion next week), I’m gonna have little time to post here, though I will try to comment on SXSW highlights whenever I get a chance. Since the first anniversary of Moonshine Mountain (this version of it, anyway) rapidly approacheth, herewith are some highlights from the past year, presented without context, in the fashion of a Larry King column, for your reading pleasure:

The key to my success: The Chubbchubbs!… Uncle Sam is cornholing me but good this year… Some joker tries to give me the high hat, he'll be finding teeth in his
oatmeal for a month… it’s a veritable golden age for the vertically challenged… Thank you, Squanto!... I would prefer not to have a governor I've seen in tight shorty-shorts… Don't you never eat nothin' that starts with T-U-R-D... If Lill wins, I will shit stuff I have not eaten… Telly Savalas falls into the crowd, nearly crushing a small child with his gold chains… you'd think no one had ever barricaded himself inside the lavatory with the drinks cart before… no futuristic memory eradication for me, thank you very much!... Life? Confusing. Perspective? Fleeting. Moments of clarity? Priceless… Yes, that's your boyfriend's face, but that is not your boyfriend… If drum circles and fragrant hippies are your thing, Eeyore’s is the place to be… I know 17 ways to kill ya with my fingernail!... I don't think he should be eating my socks… Lions don't live in the jungle… One billion Red Chinese don't give a shit… nobody wears Daisy Dukes like Claudia…it was not a great day for democracy.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I can't say it was the most uplifting day of my political life, but I did my civic duty today and voted in the primary. Since the Democratic presidential nominee is a foregone conclusion and I've been gerrymandered into some pretzel-shaped congressional district that cuts me off from Austin's representative, I had few options on my ballot. Sheriff, a couple judges, a county commissioner or two - those were the contested races. I guess it's the act of voting that's the important thing, but it was not a great day for democracy.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Body found may be Spalding Gray.

What brings you to Moonshine Mountain?

Recent search engine queries that led unsuspecting visitors here to experience inevitable disappointment:

the apprentice trump spoiler
elisabeth sue film where no electricity
"evel knievel" and "mardi gras"
"tom waits" iowa cheerleader
"chihuahua beagle mix"
pictures of Driskill mountain

and the inevitable...

battle of network stars dunk tank

Friday, March 05, 2004

So the redneck book is done and on its way to the publishers, and now I don't know what to do with myself. Oh, I know! Sleep! All damn weekend! Sleep!

Thursday, March 04, 2004

As promised: The Sopranos: Season Five

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

In today's mailbag from my good friends at HBO:

The Sopranos #53: "Two Tonys"

The Sopranos #54: "Rat Pack"

The Sopranos #55: "Where's Johnny?"

The Sopranos #56: "All Happy Families"

Ahhh, life is good. Look for a review later this week.

Monday, March 01, 2004

So I got 18 out of 24 right. I had Lord of the Rings in every category it was nominated except Adapted Screenplay. Lordy, what a dull Oscars show it was. I’m sure everyone’s very happy for the hobbits, but enough already. Let’s move on.