Friday, April 30, 2004

Tiny reviews of two peculiar foreign films:


The Return

New Tom Waits album due this fall!

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Which Bob Dylan song are you?

Ballad of a Thin Man

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Monday, April 26, 2004

I’m way behind on the updates here, eh?

[sound of crickets chirping]

Let’s see – the kinfolk have departed Moonshine Mountain, but not before a trip to the Alamo, followed by a trip to the Alamo Drafthouse to see The Alamo. (All of this on San Jacinto Day, no less.) Also, some Texas BBQ at the County Line (where the waitress was kind enough to give me a big bag o’ brisket bones for Maury) and James Hand at the Broken Spoke. That’s enough Texas for anyone, I imagine.

Anyway, they departed Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon I was slated to participate in a softball game of all things, but it was rained out. However, the accompanying crawfish boil did go on as scheduled. And I thought lobster was a pain in the ass to eat. As much fun as it is to rip the little crawdad heads off, the payoff just don’t seem worth the effort to me. Fortunately there was beer to be drunk, friendly folks to chat with and live music to enjoy (the big crawfish bucket was magically transformed into a handy bass drum – now that’s resourcefulness).

Spent much of my rainy Sunday with mankind’s third greatest achievement, the Freaks and Geeks DVD set. How did I miss this the first time around?

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Ricky Gervais on Fresh Air.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Last night’s touristy doings: Holy Bat-cruise! You’ve never really seen the bats until you’ve seen ‘em from a pontoon boat under the bridge with a cooler of beer at your feet.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, there’s a million bats living up in the cracks of the Congress Avenue bridge, and at dusk they come out in a huge impressive swarm, blotting out the sky with their bat-itude. Sort of. You can read all about ‘em here.

Monday, April 19, 2004

We got kinfolk visitin' Moonshine Mountain this week. Yesterday we went out to Fredericksburg and visited the Nimitz Museum. You may ask yourself, why a museum dedicated to the commander of the US Pacific fleet during WWII in the middle of the Texas Hill Country? Well, turns out Admiral Nimitz was born right there in Fredericksburg, the German-est town in Texas. On the way back to town, we stopped in at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Yes, if you haven't guessed, it's a week chock full of sights and events here on Moonshine Mountain I would probably never even know about otherwise. But my usual tour of dive bars isn't gonna cut it, so this is a good excuse to see my home from the touristy perspective. Coming up next: bat-watching cruise! Stay tuned...

Friday, April 16, 2004

The Punisher

Last night's poker results: After a dismal first hour - I think I lost the first eight straight hands, including a heartbreaking game of Screw Your Neighbor where I made it to the final round and traded threes with the dealer, who then pulled the winning card from the deck - I staged a stunning comeback in the wee hours of the morn. I really cleaned up on the last game of the night, a hi-lo game the name of which escapes me for the moment - Mexican Baseball, maybe? Anyway, I turned my $20 into $50.75. Not too shabby and much needed, besides. I have yet to lose with this group, so next time I'm probably going down in flames.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

So when you look up the amount of tax you owe on these tax tables, that's just a suggested amount, right? Kind of like tipping? Right? Hello?

Oy. Well, at least I'm playing poker tonight. I'm sure all my financial woes will be behind me after that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Another shot of Maury hamming it up during SXSW, courtesy the Paul X. Hoff Archives.

I owe an entry here, but I'm struggling to finish my new High Hat piece and I've got to write a review of The Punisher and then there's all this goofing off I've got to squeeze in somewhere. So instead of something new by me, here's the first paragraph of Moby Dick:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

You can read the rest here. It's good! It's about a big whale.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Today's main event: my second annual Easter weekend hike at McKinney Roughs. The weatherman said overcast in early afternoon, thunderstorms afterward. I set out at high noon, figuring I had a window of a couple hours. It's a good park for hiking - the Pine Ridge Trail is just breathtaking, offering vistas you have to stop and admire practically every ten feet at some points. It passes through all types of terrain - jungle-like vegetation, lush piney woods, scrubby pastures, muddy riverbanks, you name it. I stuck to the same trails as last time until I got to the river, then decided to forego the roundabout ridge that nearly did me in last year and head straight back on the Riverside Trail.

Well, this turned out to be a brutal scramble up a steep, loose gravel trail, and just as I started up, the sun decided to come out. This wasn't on the program. It just about wiped me out, but eventually leveled off. I'm in the home stretch, but now, about 20 feet ahead of me, there a big-ass black snake stretched across the trail. I'm not 100% sure it's a snake yet, so I take a few more steps. Yep, it's a snake, but now the question is, is it alive or dead? I dunno what to do. Can't turn back. Should I throw a rock at it? I stand there like an idiot for another minute, then take a step forward. The snake lifts its head. Okay, alive. Now what?

The snakes relieves me of making a decision by turning around and slithering back into the grass. I don't waste any time getting back to the parking lot.

Dark clouds are gathering as I drive back into town. Stop at the Dog and Duck to quench my thirst with a pint. By the time I'm done, the rain has begun.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

First hot-off-the-presses thoughts on Kill Bill: Vol. 2: For me, it basically renders the first movie irrelevant. The whole story is in the second movie, and now Vol. 1 (which I had some problems with, see here) looks even more like a collection of footnotes and digressions. If you didn't see the first one, that's no reason to skip Vol. 2 - it stands alone just fine. It's still just a revenge tale and pastiche of 70s B-movie styles, but this one is more enjoyable because:

a) It has a beginning, middle and end

b) It has Tarantino's latest resurrection of a 70s drive-in star, David Carradine, who was barely glimpsed in the first movie but is all over this one. He's fabulous, too - all gnarled and leathery, but cool as a cucumber. He has a big Superman speech that was cribbed (I think) from Jules Pfeiffer and adapted to Tarantino's rhythms - you can easily picture the geeky way QT would have delivered it, but Carradine transcends the dorkiness with his dry, raspy delivery.

c) As you might deduce from the above, it has more of the trademark Tarantino dialogue, as opposed to the stilted badly-translated-Japanese style of the first movie, maybe because most of this one takes place in the USA.

d) Instead of the boring-ass samurai sword-maker from the first one, there's a cranky, kickass kung fu master with eyebrows in homage to the Master of the Flying Guillotine.

e) Instead of boring Lucy Liu, a midget.

f) Uma Thurman/Daryl Hannah deathmatch.

In conclusion, I like.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Every now and then a hearty crew of beer-swilling action heroes gathers for Manly Movie Monday, selecting a testosterone-fueled classic like Ride the High Country, Reservoir Dogs or Steel Magnolias for viewing, discussion and/or mockery. Last night was such an occasion, and the feature presentation (after sampling selected fight scenes from Master of the Flying Guillotine) was Hard Boiled, John Woo’s ode to bullet wounds. I confess, after seeing this movie twice now, I still have no idea what the hell it’s all about, so I decided to consult some experts via the Movie Review Query Engine. Here’s what they had to say.

According to the Grim Reaper’s Movie Guide, “violent shoot-outs are followed by long, boring scenes where nothing much happens,” but “then, the last forty-five minutes occurred, a time in which my opinion of the film completely changed. The hospital shoot-out has to be one of the best moments ever in an action film, it just goes on and on as criminal after criminal is shot, no, riddled with bullets, glass smashes, and literally loads of people die.”

From MovieJustice we learn: “According to several sources on the internet, this movie holds the record for the highest number of on-screen deaths clocking in at around 230. Not bad for a two hour long movie, after all that comes to about two deaths every minute if you did the math.”

The Mutant Reviewers From Hell site decries “a lot of largely unecessary talking and plot exposition between gunfights, but unless you're really starving for clarinet music and meaningful looks between two grown men, it's a good excuse to test your ‘next chapter’function on the DVD.” However, the review goes on to note: “It's so manly that as a guy, I had to rip off my shirt in the middle of this film and growl for the rest of the day, chewing on uncooked red meat.”

Well, that settles it. It appears we made the right choice.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Two reviews I never bothered to link Friday, but will now because I can't think of anything else to post:

Home on the Range

The Prince and Me

Accomplishments of note this weekend:

Lost ATM card
Nearly caused dog to have a stroke by dragging him to Spamarama
Nearly caused dog to have a nervous breakdown by taking care of another dog for the night
Set clocks forward one hour

Friday, April 02, 2004

I have another retraction to make. Right before it started, I claimed Survivor: All-Stars was going to be the most entertaining thing in the history of the universe. Sadly, this has not been the case. On paper it was a great idea, but in execution it’s been something of a bust. Everyone’s playing it safe, except for Lex, who has hit on the admittedly original strategy of voting out all his allies. I’m still trying to fathom last night’s boneheaded play. With a golden opportunity to vote out the closest ally (Amber) of the strongest player (Boston Rob), Lex & Kathy decide they don’t want to piss Rob off and instead boot Jerri – who was 100% loyal to Lex. Is there some master strategy I’m missing here? Even if Lex believes Rob will have his back after the merge, why would Kathy and Shii Ann go along with this?

With any luck, the merge – which is apparently finally happening next week – will give this edition a much-needed shot in the arm. I never thought I’d say it, but I miss Jonny Fairplay.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Ron Howard to remake Pink Flamingos; Nathan Lane to star.