Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rantastic Damage

I'm a simple man, full of simple intentions, led by simple desires, and misled by simple arithmetic. When I'm tired, I go to bed. When I'm hungry, I eat. When I'm bored, I touch myself. When I seek companionship, I play Japanese dating simulations. Above all else, when I need money, I go to an automated teller and withdraw money. End of story.

Not all people feel the same way about life, and I can respect those viewpoints, even if they confuse -and amuse- me incessantly.

On Friday, I pranced into the local KB branch to withdraw some cash, as Friday nights require a fair amount of transactions to occur, and I got in line. There were three machines, all occupied upon my untimely arrival.


Middle-aged woman, using the machine, but not for any manner of transaction known to the common man. In the span of five minutes, during which I awaited my turn at bat, I never saw this woman deposit (or remove) money of any kind, nor did I see anything that implied a transfer whatsoever. Have you seen those touch-screen games at bars, the ones that people drop coins into for the sole purpose of making themselves appear engaged by something other than alcoholism? That's what it was like, with her pressing buttons, as if she were locating the missing flower amidst two seemingly identical pictures. Fun stuff.


Elderly gentleman, accompanied by a tiny, annoying dog, that withdrew 20,000 won. He then removed his card, inserted it again, and proceeded to remove an additional 20,000 won. Again, and again, and again; at least six times, as best I kept count. I haven't the slightest idea as to why he elected to do so, nor do I really care to understand. It was for the best, really, and watching him elicited mild nausea.

ATM Three

Younger guy, in his early twenties, that merely stood in front of the screen and inspected his hair meticulously. To be fair, I understand that elvish sideburns require the utmost care, and one should take pride in their appearance whatever the situation. My only complaint was that his cellphone probably had an equally reflective surface in which gaze upon his terrible beauty, so the automated teller machine could have been freed up.

The sideburns guy was 'finished' first, so I arose to meet my fate and, honestly, it took me all of one minute to take care of my business. Cash in hand, I left the building, while the old man and the lady were still getting their groove back. In all honesty, I really don't understand the necessity for such lethargic transactions, but this isn't my show, so I'll leave it at that.

Another thing that boggles my mind is the family that dwells in the apartment across the street from me. Occasionally I open my window to let the cool breeze in, and to allow the cigarette smoke to seep outward, and what do I see? In their living room, for all eyes to see, is -and I'm not making this shit up- a palm tree. I don't know if it's real or fake, but it's definitely tall enough to reach the ceiling, and the leaves stretch out a considerable distance. This is odd enough, but the decisive factor is that, any time beyond midnight, the father walks around naked, whether it be to check the fridge for more soju, or to watch television while drink soju standing up. The guy must be proud of his body, or just doesn't give a damn, and I can respect that, but coupled with the palm tree, it's rather disorienting. Neither his wife nor his kids do the same, but to reiterate, he does this while his wife does housework, and his kids are in the other room playing a bootlegged version of Starcraft. Classy, like Psychedelic Kimchi.

Life is nothing, if not for the memories.


The Broccoli and Refried Bean Burrito

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The PK 27 -- Track Epsilon

Bob to this.

That's right.

Monday, March 24, 2008

As Far as I Know (Captain America is not Dead)

On Saturday night, just before two business men STOLE MY EVENING* (fuck) and the bikini bar closed, I was lamenting to Psychedelic Kimchi's resident lycanthrope that I'm not feeling it these days/weeks/year. I brought up 2006 and the posts that made me proud to be running this shit, then admitted that, perhaps, I've lost my fastball. Then I corrected that; I'm still throwing heat, but my ambition ain't what it used to be.

Why? Like Jack Horner contemplating Eddie Adams's new name, I've had some thoughts on it, yeah; and I've come to the conclusion that it's a combination of two things. First, like the Miami Heat, I tend to rest on my laurels. Second, 2006 was a fucking tumultuous year, and, as cliched as it is, I really do write better in a chaotic environment. Put me in a nice, happy place in mind and matter and I turn into Complacent Man, a shadow of my former self like cheddar cheese Pringles were once the almighty Cheezums.

There is another factor to consider. I am by most accounts -- and anyone who says different doesn't know me too well -- a raging egoist. As such, I want recognition and praise in equal measure (and, occasionally, vindication). Apart from mind-bogglingly stupid poetry and a few PK booty calls that ended badly, I've never been ashamed of anything I've written for this

(hip-hop bible)

site, but, shit, how the fuck would I know whether anyone else likes it? There are more people buried alive in graveyards than those who post comments here; and I've long hated that anytime a post gets comments -- and even that is rare these days -- they're usually from The Funky Four Plus One More**. Shit like that is alienating, surely, and it's partially (mostly?) my fault. But when I don't get any feedback apart from in-jokes, it makes my passion shrivel a little. Fuck that, a lot.

The illustrious and P(k)raiseworthy KMart posited that Psychedelic Kimchi is written in such a way that it defies comments -- that after we say what we say, ain't shit else to say. That makes me feel special, if true, but I'm afraid it's a false sense of security. I feel as though I'm lying to myself if I believe that.

Honestly, what's more likely is that people who aren't regular readers of the site (read: nearly fucking everyone) don't comment not because there's nothing left to say, but rather because What the fuck did I just read? That's wasn't only abstract, it was stupid. Crazy stupid, but not in a good way.

Partly my fault. And while I'd never, ever consider a PK kibosh, perhaps it's time to, at least in my own stylings, consider a Crisis on Infinite Earths-style restructuring. That is also unlikely, because to regain the passion and the fire of two years' past I would also have to quit my job, break up with my [replicant], and watch a fuckrat load of NBA ball.

So, I guess what I'm saying is this:

I'm my own worst critic and my biggest admirer. That sucks zygote liver (a delicacy in China, I hear). Validate me or I'll cry.

Or not. Whatever the case, I am hereby handing over the title of PK Overlord to KMart so that I may find myself yet again. It's going to be a steep journey of self-rediscovery, full of contemplation and shaving cream, but I'll be back after I figure shit out (read: catch up on life, love, and the pursuit of Dracula).


* but after KHot stole my thunder vis a vis flirty waitresses

** Mr. T? Paging Mr. T?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Meat is Murder

The Outback in Cheonho doesn't have paper napkins at tables because they're "trying to be environmentally friendly."

I don't know about you, but I'm just not comfortable wiping my mouth with those big-ass folded napkins they wrap up their metal utensils with.

Maybe that makes me ghetto; maybe that makes me beneficent toward whoever would otherwise have to clean my greasy stains and snot off of such pristine cloth. Whatever the case, I'm sure the Outback braintrust can find better ways to serve customers and protect Earth than taking away a diner's god-given right.

(And don't get me started on the lack of neither salt nor pepper shakers.)

You want to do the world a favor, Outback Cheonho? Don't have the TV behind the bar always on SBS Golf. Golf is not the new-millennial mounted deer's head, okay? Ironically, know what you could do if you wanted to appear a little more like a fancy-schmancy dining establishment?

Put napkins at your tables, jerkasses.

And give every male customer a complementary blowjob.

(I'm not saying the cream of mushroom soup and strawberry smoothies are bad or anything, but if you really want to get a leg up on the competition...)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

(Twix) Barred and Feathered

This post is not about:

1) Dark Chocolate Twix (recently introduced in Korea), although I'll freely admit to being hooked on the semi-sweet goodness with a cookie crunch, and I've been told that such a product is widely available in

2) Australia, and though I've been denied entry into the country numerous times, mostly on account of

3) Denz, I'm not saying that it's entirely his fault that I'm not allowed onto that fine slab of dirt. Yes, he once held a meeting with immigration bigwigs, during which he threatened to have their ass if I somehow slipped through, but there's more to it than that, like the fact that I have a creeping mancrush on him. It's not that he has a car, good job, attractive wife, etc. but, rather, he always reminds of a song by

4) Men at Work, you know the one. I once discussed the notion of 'coming from the land of plenty' with a neighbor that hailed from Australia, and his gentlemanly response was to punch me right in the face. Unfortunately, I had braces attached to my teeth at the time, and the hooligan's hook literally caused the aforementioned braces to pierce my dainty lips. I won't contend that the guy was a total dick, nor will I write about

5) Cunnilingus, possibly because I lack a girlfriend, but also due to the fact that I've never been adept at slipping my tongue into the vaginal crevices of any species. I once had a terrible experience with this scenario, and although I shan't mention any names in particular, let's just say that those women would, when pressed, admit to the nefarious condition of their respective clitoris. I won't discuss odors, let alone flavors, especially not

6) Mustard. Who would have though that such grievous arguments could arise from a delectable, necessary component of any hamburger? A while back, veiled within the mist of drunken lacuna, Sparkles went a step too far, given that I was purposely -playfully- trying to circumvent his statement about the obvious, superlative nature of one yellow condiment. As I said last week, we're not

7) Dorks, but we'll come to blows about the dumbest shit. It's pretty funny but, also, oddly cathartic to know that there are people in this world with whom you can avoid sweating the big stuff, yet mustard can set you on the warpath. Strange, or not, but things like this often transpire at the local

8) Burger King, but never in the way I'd hope they would. Some years ago, on Halloween, I sat with Josh Woodland at the local BK, stuffing my face with two chicken sandwiches (I didn't do fries at the time). Through the swinging door strode a young woman, her face enshrouded by the hood of a tombstone grey sweatshirt, which was normal enough, but chocolate syrup was splattered across her clothing, as if she had been under a hydrant at Wonka's Chocolate Factory. I couldn't be certain that it was syrup, but that her index finger plunged into the darkness of hooded space (followed by a sipping sound) cemented the notion into my brain, and so that's how we'll let the veracity remain intact. I watched this; watched her order a Whopper, watched her take a seat in the smoking section, watched her remove (and begin smoking) a stick from a pack of

9) Marlboro Lights, watched her remove the hood. Beneath and beyond all these things, was a beautiful woman, one with auburn hair splendidly accentuated by a profusion of chocolate syrup that dampened her flowing hair. The chocolate strewn about her face, haphazardly I presume, merely enhance her alluring, angular features, and I often wonder about the flavor of syrup mixed with the noxious -albeit insanely pleasurable- fumes of a cigarette. I'll never know about that (I don't have the balls to cross streams in such a way), nor will I never know anything about the woman, because I didn't make an effort to converse with her whatsoever. I had the upper half of a painted rubber skull atop my actual face (securely fastened with latex glue) amongst other things, such as a mildly offensive lack of courage. I suppose that women aren't for me, just like

10) Video Games fail to stimulate the slightest erection on a daily basis. Nonetheless, if I were to mention a video game, I'd applaud the efforts of the Streets of Rage Remake folks. It's just a group of guys, doing what they love, pouring their hearts into enhancing a classic 16-Bit game, which doesn't remind me of the once prolific

11) PKollective, but that's not what this post is about.

This post was about shapeshifting marsupials.


Philippe Mora

Monday, March 17, 2008

Because the only allusions I know are related to -- in order -- hip-hop music, basketball, rock, movies, and Terry Michos, this may sound amateurish, or, possibly, Amish, but when I haven't been fantasizing about the PK collective as the starting five of a basketball team

(PG - Sparkles; SG - K-Hot; SF - denz; PF - TMH; Bison Dele - Idealjetsam)

I've dreamed that we're in a rock band.

Like to hear it here it go:

Sparkles: lead vocals (the apocalypse is nigh!)

KMart: main guitar (ride the lightning)

denz: rhythm guitar (talk like sex)

TMH: drums (a dangerous man who can speak with his hands)

Idealjetsam: Richey Edwards

The Psychedelic Kimchi -- I'm doing a reverse Pink Floyd thing here -- are manifold, minus the old men. We're like the white NWA, only poorer. We're like The Beatles, only poor. Talent doesn't grow on trees; so when four and a half of the most creative and lazy/busy minds in show business convene on one stage/in one blog, people take notice. Important people. People I know. Vaguely, or sometimes imagined.

(Usually imagined.)

Nevertheless, this midnight train passed Georgia long ago and wound up on a planet you can't pronounce unless you speak Mongolian.

And that's fine by me.

Because I'm comfortable in my skin, but I'm more comfortable bound for Mars with a satchel full of fuck that, a pocketful of mustard and torn rayon shirts and plywood hexagons.

But I miss my home planet. Mars to Earth: send a kite every now and then, okay? It's cold as fuck up here.

And someone stole my last Playboy magazine to light a fire.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Grant Longing

As is usual for me on a Saturday morning, I awoke in a love motel (and not a very good one). I've no cable at home, so when I find myself in such situations as the one described I always make sure to check the tube to see if there are any basketball games of the NBA variety being aired.

Sometimes I get lucky, but what usually (read: always) winds up happening is that the game runs later than 11 a.m. KST, which means my stupid ass has to check out. Also, the games are invariably blowout(comb)s, so no biggie.

Enter: yesterday. Hornets vs. Lakers. My first chance to see Chris Paul play (yeah, I live in Korea; I don't know what's sadder: that it took me three years to actually see Prince Paul work his magic, or that I haven't eaten corn chips in half a decade).

Conclusion: Paul, barring injury, might very well be (read: definitely will be) the best point guard I've ever seen play. Better even than Payton, Kidd, or Nash. You dig?

If dude doesn't get the MVP award, I'm waving automatic guns at nuns.

Anyway, that taste of greatness whetted my appetite for the Rockets/Lakers game tomorrow, which, unfortunately, I'll have to wake up in the morning and read about. Go Rockets.

By the way, with Dwyane Wade done for the season, it's okay for me to call Chris Paul my favorite active player, right? That's not infidelity, is it?

I miss you, National Basketball Association.

(PS - Save the Sonics!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Good Times (that passed through your open fly)

About a week ago, give or take an hour, Sparkles noted that Scorcese's Casino was one of those things; you know, the stuff that you once thought cool, but now couldn't bear to look at, even if beer goggles suitably distorted your perception. Actually, he preceded that comment with the infuriating utterance of 'Fuck Casino' to which I responded something along the lines of 'You're right, many things seemed cool when I was younger, like Radiohead, but I can see that they really suck now.' This comment was met with extensive silence. I proceeded to note how lame John Carpenter's -seminal work- Halloween was, given the power of hindsight.

We're not dorks, but let's just say that had I been entirely serious in my assertion, there is little doubt that the Forbot would have flown into an incalculable rage, and we may have come to blows.*

Having said all that, I took it upon myself to watch the extended edition of Halloween and, to be candid, it still is a fantastic example of horrific cinema. I do acknowledge the veracity of Sparkles' point about some things being less enthralling as you get older and, furthermore, I partially retract my slanderous statement about Carpenter's film; not completely, of course, as the film does have its quirks, especially when considering the extended edition.

Before going any further, a bit of explanation is necessary. The extended edition of Halloween was the product of two influences, the first of which being the advent of Halloween II. The aforementioned sequel, looming on the horizon like a rabid, bloodthirsty stepchild, demanded some additional explication to validate its existence, and Carpenter, not wanting to alienate a film of which he penned the initial script, felt obligated to insert some extra material into the original. The second reason behind the additional sequences lie with the television network that had paid some four million dollars for broadcast rights. The network required that Halloween take up, commercials included, a two-hour slot of time, and Carpenter felt pressured to inject filler space. I won't hold a grudge against the director for this unfortunate set of circumstances, but I won't be overly kind to them either.

The following list of thoughts spewed forth as I watched the film. Some of my qualms stem from the injected material, some do not. Take that as you will.

(film time) 0:57 Nancy Loomis as Annie, PJ Soles as Lynda. To be honest, as a lad I had a bit of a crush on these two ladies, albeit for different reasons. I thought Loomis was cute, and Soles, well, she had the sexpot feel to her. Even so, you would think that Carpenter could have found some way to put Adrienne Barbeau into the film, possibly as a hot mom. I don't think that would be asking too much, really.

3:04-5:10 Michael's sister and some guy go upstairs to have sex, and it's over in roughly two minutes, which includes the time it took for the couple to traverse the steps. Some folks are fast, but...

7:01-10:53 Doctor Loomis discusses Myers with his peers. The scene itself isn't too shabby, but check out that meeting room (pictured at the top of this post). Holy fuck. Pure fucking seventies, and not in a classic, More than a Feeling way. The tables -chairs, drapes, actors- belong in the Don Mueang International Aiport, not here.

15:36 Michael leaps over the back of the station wagon. No problem here, although the uptempo bleeping sounds that accompany the act could have been omitted with no loss to the film whatsoever. In fact, cartoonish sound effects actually hinder an otherwise suspenseful moment.

16:23 For a guy that has been pretending to be catatonic for years and years, Myers sure knows how to drive a car.

22:40 Laurie Strode becomes unsettled by the appearance of a strange, unknown station wagon parked outside her high school. It's 1978, and there is a station wagon parked around a high school. Yes, very strange indeed.

22:50 Dr. Loomis makes a phone call from a phone booth by the side of a road, and then proceeds to discover an abandoned car, which tips him off to further details of Michael's escape. Him calling from that precise phone booth, which just happens to be near the abandoned truck. What are the odds of that?

28:28 Annie shouts 'Speed kills!' toward the station wagon that is driving into the distance. The wagon stops. Apparently, Myers can hear some girl shout (and I use that word loosely) a meaningless phrase from a distance of thirty meters away.

30:00 Okay. William Shatner wants to take Laurie out on a date?

33:30 Laurie looks out the window and sees a shape by the clothesline. The camera goes back to Laurie, who never happens to look away from the window. The camera goes back to the yard, and the shape is gone. I understand the concept of what Carpenter was trying to achieve, but as it stands, the shape must have, literally, vanished into thin air. I shit you not.

36:00 Lynda bursts through the door of Laurie's house, noting that some strange man has been following her. She then proceeds to crack numerous jokes, and asks to borrow Laurie's silk blouse. What the hell is wrong with her? Imagine if I came into Sparkles' apartment, raving about how some scary person had been chasing me, and within thirty seconds, I started saying things like 'Hey. Let's play some Nintendo DS' or 'Can I wear that one pair of jeans you have? The pair that makes my ass look hot'.

39:23 I totally want Annie's car. Totally.

45:36 I know you've been smoking joints for hours, ladies, but that goddamn station wagon has been following you for the whole time. Myers not only drives a car, he proficiently tails another car without being noticed. I owe you a Coke, Forbes.

47:30 Sheriff Brackett hypothesizes that the carcass of a deceased, eviscerated animal might have been a dog, or a skunk; one of the two. I'm neither a zoologist, nor a pathologist, but my diagnosis is that Brackett is mildly retarded.

50:13 Laser Man? Neutron Man? Tarantula Man? I know you're intentionally being facetious about comics, Carpenter, but that's pushing the envelope of daft presentation.

59:10 Jolly Time!

1:01:37 I don't care how much the announcer hams it up: no single person, ever, considered Nyby's 1951 atrocity, The Thing (from Another Planet) to be terrifying, let alone having a terrifying conclusion. Carpenter surely knew this to be true, so I grant him bonus points for being cheeky.

Lynda: Let's look for a note.
Boyfriend Bob: Let's don't.

Let's don't? I can see why you get the girls like Lynda, Bob, and why I get stuck with a bowl of ramen** every night.

1:12:02 There's a lit Jack-o-lantern in the bedroom where Lynda and Bob make love. Seriously.

1:16:10 Now Lynda has a nail clipper. Odd timing, honestly, and I'll just presume that she took that out of...her pocket?

1:20:06 Dr. Loomis finally notices the station wagon parked in the neighborhood, even though he's been standing around for an extended period of time. I can deal with that, since it helps the film reach its climax.

1:28:38 Laurie calls for help, and pounds on a neighbor's door. The porch light turns on, the neighbor looks out the window, and the resident decides to close the blinds and turn off the light. Actually, I like this part, as it implies an unwillingness on the part of people to help even their neighbors when something crazy happens, which has more than a granule of truth to it. Still, lady at the window: what the fuck is your problem?

1:33:30 Myers can't easily break through a flimsy closet door? It's made out of cardboard, at best.

1:36:40 The additional scene of Loomis trying to stop Myers with something akin to a 2x4 was going more than a bit overboard.

1:40:32 'The filmmaker gratefully acknowledges the likeness of William Shatner and the contribution of KB Toys, Inc.' Odd. I wonder if the producers of the Hunt for Red October gratefully acknowledged the Cold War, too.

Nonsensical complaints aside, I love this movie, although not as much as I adore Big Trouble in Little China. That's another story, for another pair of jeans.


The Shape

* Catfight!

** Yeah, my dick goes in there.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fare the Well Gone Away

This post contains no spoilers of the season, sorry, series finale of The Greatest Show in the History of Television, a.k.a. The Wire. Read on without worry.

Nadia fucking Comaneci, by which I mean a perfect 10. I don't think I've ever been this happycontentedecstaticandyeahmaybeevenalittlebithorny after watching a TV program. My generation is used to letdown in every facet of life, but in no more way do we bemoan our disenfranchisement with society than we do as it relates to entertainment. I blame the Internet. And George Lucas.

So when we are presented with absolute beauty, we cherish it. We appreciate it. We hold onto it like it's a part of our lives that we can't live without. And when it's gone, we mourn. Often, we even resent it a little bit. Sometimes a lot.

For the precedent has been set a hundred times or more. It's easy to start out strong; the challenge lies in the conclusion (God, how I know that's true). To quote Keith Elam, "It ain't easy, motherfucker." It's hard to say goodbye, but it's even harder to stop imagining what could have been. What if Kurt Cobain hadn't done so much heroin? What if Dostoevsky had written the second Karamazov novel? What if Biggie and Tupac had squashed their beef? What if Pringles sold grilled-kimchi-flavored potato chips? What if Len Bias hadn't taken that speedball? What if Scott Norwood made that kick? What if Bison Dele didn't set sail in the South Pacific? What if Roland Deschain never met Eddie Dean? What if the Portland Trailblazers had drafted Michael Jordan? What if you weren't such an insufferable, psychotic rhymes-with-Mitch?

That, of course, is figurative; the literal is more painful. Why did you have to leave me? We had something special. It wasn't our time. There was so much more left to be said.

That's why the series finale of The Wire is such an achievement. The plot ends. There's little closure for the characters, yet there is for viewers. The curtain slowly draws closed, and while these characters will live on in our imaginations, there's no frustrating ambiguity as it relates to the series' plot. And with a series chock-full of such well-written, memorable characters, that alone places it second to none*.

Drinks on me, let's toast the dearly departed.

What a run.

(By the way, if Hasbro sold The Wire action figures, tell me you wouldn't buy them. Then tell me the truth.)

* To paraphrase Teddy Duchamp, The Wire is a real guy. No way The Simpsons could beat up a real guy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

My Blueberry Nights (Review)

Wong Kar, Wai? Did you learn nothing from John Woo's crash-and-burn Hollywood exodus? I'll admit, the charming visage of Jude Law and Norah Jones's square-jawed, expressionless staring are a step up from a mulleted Jean-Claude Van Damme and Wilford Brimley's pussy scratcher, but My Blueberry Nights -- an awful title for a non-porno movie, by the way -- is neither a good way to introduce yourself to American audiences nor a (Jones) high point of your oeuvre.

But for a minute I was convinced. While the film begins as a compilation of Wong's Greatest Hits (available from K-Tel), it hits the right notes in the right places. Jeremy (Jude Law) is proprietor of the -- gag -- Cafe Klatsch (in fact, for much of the film he seems to be the only one who works there), a cafe/diner in New York City, which is apparently rife with cafes owned by Englishmen. Norah Jones has DSLs and a philandering boyfriend (been there). They form a bond over the symbolism of the keys customers leave for their significant others to pick up -- as though that shit actually happens -- and blueberry pie, apparently the red-headed stepchild of the pie family.

Here we are in familiar Wong territory, and that worthy's direction helps the mundane relationship between the two somewhat interesting; although, even as a grown man and father, I can't help but predict that the scene in which Jones's character, Elizabeth, passes out at the diner with ice cream on her lips will elicit crude thoughts and even cruder laughter from audiences weened on bukkake; and when Law kisses her, I wouldn't be surprised if snickerings of 'snowball' were bandied about.

Unfortunately, the scenes between Law and Jones are mostly the film's bookends. After Elizabeth tearfully realizes that her man really don't want no part of her no more, she alights for the territories (lamentably, no Wolf), winding up in Memphis (sadly, no Pau Gasol).

It's here where the film starts to gain momentum. Elizabeth works days at a diner, and to save money for a car she works nights at a bar. Arnie (David Strahairn, in the film's best performance) is a regular. Estranged from his wife (played by Rachel Weisz, in the film's breast performance), he spends his nights drinking until close, hoping his wife will return and that his addiction to alcohol will tomorrow stay away, at least for another day. Neither work, and Arnie, frustrated, takes his regret out first on his wife's lover, then on himself.

And when Arnie died, that's when the film died. (It's also the point where the film's editor runs amok by beating you, unrelentingly, over the head with Wong's directorial style.) The next evening, Arnie's wife, Sue Lynne, shows up at the bar, proposes a toast to Arnie that falls on deaf ears and mocking mouths, gets wasted, is asked by the bar's owner, Travis, to settle Arnie's tab -- an asshole move, by the way -- freaks out and leaves, and Travis asks Elizabeth to go outside and make sure she's all right. The following scene between Weisz and Jones is possibly harder to watch than to read my comma-inflected previous sentence. Props to Wong: you probably lost interest in this review a lot sooner.

Elizabeth writes postcards to Jeremy, and Jeremy gets boners every time he reads one. He tries to call her (because he wants to snowball her again), but she's nowhere to be found. Apparently, this bitch has never heard of email.

When Elizabeth finds herself in Nevada (again working as a waitress; set your career goals higher, girlfriend), she meets Leslie (Natalie Portman, trying to look like a hot lesbian). And if the film was already DOA, here's where it re-animates itself to eat your brains. Leslie is a card shark. Apparently. She loses a big hand and asks Elizabeth to stake her, her brand-new Jaguar as collateral. Elizabeth, bending to the will of every character in the film, agrees. Leslie loses, gives Lizzie her car, then asks for a ride to Las Vegas, where she promises she can get staked and get herself out of such a poor plot.

When the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants arrive in Vegas, Leslie learns that her father -- who taught her that the number after 10 is Jack -- has passed away. She confronts Lizzie, thinking her father set up some scheme something, and shouts. Then she visits the hospital and picks up her dearly-departed dad's cowboy hat.

It was at that point that I wanted to walk out of the theater, but I'm not a respected film cricket, so it wouldn't have been the spectacle I wanted. I did, however, audibly mutter "fuck that" when Leslie admits to Lizzie that she, in fact, won the game of poker she pretended she lost, because she wanted to keep the money for herself. There's just no way that Leslie's winnings were even a third of the Jaguar's value, so why would she lie?

Because Elizabeth is dumber than a sandbag, I suppose.

Elizabeth gives Leslie back her car and buys one of her own: a 3500-dollar used Mercury.

Then she drives back to New York and tries to recapture the magic of the final scene of Chungking Express, failing horribly.

What an awful film.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Loneliest Number

I have a confession to make. I'm weird. You're probably weirder, but that doesn't make me feel any less comfortable with my own weirdness.

Regular readers of this

(monument to the English language)

blog probably don't find that admission too far-fetched, but let me assure you, if you were to meet me, and neither alcohol nor bowling were involved, you'd find I'm pretty straight-laced, often vexingly so. But when I'm alone, man, do I do some odd shit.

As an example, a few minutes ago (current event, dig it!) I went into my bathroom to smoke a square. As soon as I lit up, The Clash's 'I'm So Bored With the USA' started playing in the fucked-up jukebox* part of my brain. That's not the strange part, this is: I started lip synching the lyrics and spasmodically contorting my neck, hips, and arms.

Then I caught myself. Then my cheeks, despite me being completely alone**, reddened. Then I wondered why the hell I do shit like that.

See, it wasn't an isolated incident. I've done weirdo shit like that most of my life, the absolute nadir being the time I came home early one afternoon during my junior year of high school, thought no one was home, and started singing NWA's 'Straight Outta Compton' in operatic falsetto while scooping out a bowl of strawberry ice cream, only to cut short my performance when my father, home sick for the day, walked into the kitchen.

That was nearly 14 years ago. I'd like to think I've grown up a lot since then, but, sadly, that doesn't appear to be the case. If you were a fly on the wall in my chateau of hedonism, you'd regularly see me making faces in front of no mirror, bobbing up and down like a toddler (or someone on meth), and displaying all manner of other cringe-worthy gestures.

Why do I do it?

Answer "you're crazy" and you might be half correct; but, word to Joseph Heller, I've thought the same thing, and you're not truly crazy if you worry you might be, right? (You're just paranoid, AKA crazy-lite). Answer that it's genetic and you may have something, because my father has been known to sing to animals when he thinks no one's around***. But the real reason, I believe, is that human beings in isolation (ie. alone) instinctively need to reassure ourselves that we're alive, that we exist.

Perhaps that's why you sing in the shower, or why you talk out loud when you watch TV alone. Perhaps that's why you blog about pseudo-psychoanalysis.


My key point is that we do these things in private. Talk to yourself, break out in song, scratch your ass then smell it, or jerk off candidly (ie. not alone) in public, and you just may be a little socially fucked up, a little out of touch with the world we live in.

Then again, who am I to say what's improper? I just spent the last 40 minutes -- interrupted by two phone calls and one Wikipedia page on the snow leopard -- talking to myself.

I have to stop doing that.


* iPod

** Nancy Lang hopped out to pick up some canned coffee. And Tootsie Rolls.

*** also, pick nose

Monday, March 03, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is many things*, but what it isn't is dull, which is what surprised me the most. A tale of an oil man who gets rich and eventually sees his world crumble at his own hands isn't a particularly intriguing one to me, but I forgot what special qualities PTA brings to his pictures. Loosely based on Upton Sinclair's novel, Oil!, Anderson borrowed strictly the framework, and with his creativity molded a modern American masterpiece of cinema.

(Hyperbole! Than again, maybe not.)

Whereas Quentin Tarantino doesn't hide his influences and tends to blatantly showcase every nook and cranny of his often-obscure lexicon of filmmaking through character dialogue, music, and scene construction, Anderson is more subtle, and, thusly, more palatable to a certain demographic of cinephiles who scoff whenever they notice a nod or homage to directors who have come before. I'll admit that most of the stuff Tarantino "borrows" is caliginous to me, and maybe that's why I give him a free pass; if I were well-versed in myriad sub-genres of film, maybe I wouldn't let the loveable pothead so easily off the hook. Then again, I probably would, because despite a lack of pure invention, every idea he lifts is reborn as something new, something entertaining.

Paul Thomas Anderson is a lot less obvious in his inspiration, but it's still there. It's just a little subtler. And like Tarantino, the man has the will to turn every one of his influences into something equal to -- or greater than -- its source material.

Take Boogie Nights, for example. Anyone smarter than a bucket of hair noticed Martin Scorsese's influence, but that doesn't stop the film from being one of the greatest movies of the 90s. Because instead of flat-out aping one of his heroes, Anderson topped his masterpiece with Scorseseesque direction -- and a soundtrack as keen as the master's -- like katsuobushi on top of the tastiest okonomiyaki. That culinary reference may be oblique**, but it's proper; top chefs, after all, learn from the best, and they carry with them the knowledge they've acquired.

In food or film, it's not easy to define yourself as unique. Original? Damn near impossible. Anderson has loads of uniqueness. Originality, well...

Maybe that's why I can't say There Will Be Bowling is a better film than Boogie Nights. Because Nights was such an obvious-yet-overlooked subject: the porn industry. The power and corruption of oil, however? Like your mom's vagina, that territory's been charted more times than I can count.

Still, while I may be suffering from every fanboys' instinct to proclaim the most recent work by one of his favorite artists as "the best," it's a fucking close call. There Will Be Blood touched me in the right places at the right time. And that's no mean feat. Because I have leprosy.

Quick synopsis: Daniel Plainview is looking for gold, finds oil, gets a kid, gets rich. Gets richer. Occasionally, he has bouts of treating people cruelly and slapping the shit out of them, but such acts of violence are offset by his desperate desire to be kind, or a reasonable hand-drawn facsimile thereof. But not really. Eventually, his selfishness and failure to establish any sort of bond with those closest to him lead to his downfall. (I've heard it's Kobe Bryant's favorite movie.) In the end -- and I'm confused -- he professes his love for a certain beverage made of milk and ice cream***.

Sounds kinda boring, right? Therein, friends and Navers, lies the magic. Not for a second is the film anything other than engaging.

Original? Well...

Aside from Paul Dano's wonderful turn as Paul and Eli Sunday -- which is at first awkward, then weird, then weirder****, and, eventually, sublime -- There Will Be Cribbing. Daniel Plainview is a fucked-up amalgamation of Charles Foster Kane and Tony Montana; the opening scenes are reminiscent of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (never a bad thing).

I'm sure that the more

(I drink, the prettier you'll look)

I watch it, the more I'll notice; but from the opening title, to Johnny Greenwood's score reminiscent of the opening music to 2001: A Space Odyssey, to that long shot of the bowling alley, and the carnage that occurs thereafter, Stanley Kubrick's legacy is the biggest impression I was left with after seeing the film for the first time.

And didn't it feel good.

Also: who would ever believe that Tom Selleck would win an Oscar?

* How's that for a vague, trite opening sentence?

** I've been watching too much Hell's Kitchen.

*** You have three guesses.

**** I'm no clair(forlani)voyant, but I have to imagine/know that filming Dano, especially during his healing sessions, was the most fun Anderson had during filming.