Fido

August 31, 2008

My friend Julie just made me watch this movie Fido. I was eating her apple crisp, so I pretty much had to do as I was told, but on the inside I was all AW MAN, A ZOMBIE COMEDY I’VE NEVER HEARD OF? MADE BY CANADIANS OR WHATEVER? THIS IS GOING TO BE LIKE WHEN YOUR FRIEND SHOWS YOU A SHORT FILM HE MADE AND YOU’RE ALL “…”

BUT, I was totally wrong. In actual fact, Fido is awesome.

It’s a Burton-esque period comedy set in an alternate 50s timeline where, following the Zombie Wars, some giant company has developed collars that control the zombies’ urge to snack on human flesh and instead allow them to serve around the community as milkmen, paper deliverypersons, butlers, ETC. A little boy becomes attached to his family’s zombie, which is fine until Fido starts killing people in the neighborhood.

It must have been impossible to market, but it’s a real shame that more people haven’t seen it. I laughed, I screamed, I coveted the many delightful outfits of Carrie-Anne Moss.

SO. Take it from me! If someone says “Let’s watch FIDO!” you should say “Yes, let us do so!” instead of thinking “…sigh. Well, I AM eating a lot of apple crisp, and I guess there’s no such thing as a free lunch… FINE.”

GLORIOUS x2

August 29, 2008

1) I saw Ratatouille tonight. (Last person to do so. I KNOW.)

It is wonderful! WONDERFUL. I wanted to cry at the end, but I was in someone else’s living room and didn’t want to come off as EMOTIONAL or UNCOOL.

2) LOOK:

I love how they’re all just hanging out, enjoying their orange mocha frappuccinos… not knowing it’s all about to end in horror due to a freak gasoline fight accident!

(Don’t tell me if you think that’s an extended metaphor for a democracy in decline, THANK YOU.)

SAVE US, VIN DIESEL.

August 27, 2008

SO, last night, at Urth Cafe, I had this conversation about how people don’t like to make “women’s movies”.

Which is great! Because I also want more “women’s movies”, except other people usually mean “More sensitive ensemble dramas about divorce or cancer!” whereas what I want is, like, DIE HARD WITH SOME LADIES IN IT.

This brings me to my next point, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. The upcoming fourth movie in the franchise is going to be awesome for two reasons:

First, it has Michelle Rodriguez in it. She can always be relied upon to eff people up.
Second, Vin Diesel!

AMAZING VIN DIESEL FACTS:

1) PITCH BLACK is totally awesome.
2) CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, guys. Who CARES what it was about. It had Vin Diesel breaking out of SPACE PRISON.
3) The only part of XXX that made me frowny was when he walked into his bedroom and there’s a LADY in her UNDERPANTS pole-dancing on his four-poster bed. I mean, I get that I, being a young lady, am not the target audience for action movies about extreme sports stars, but… really. OTHERWISE, XXX was great. I am not being sarcastic.
4) To entertain myself, I used to tell people that I was writing a script called:

VIN DIESEL IS VIN DIESEL IN VIN DIESEL: MAN OF ACTION.

People would go “Wow, that sounds fantastic! Let me know when it’s done!”

That’s how cool Vin Diesel is.

5) Vin Diesel! As mentioned, he’s going to be in the next installment of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. It also stars the sunless void that is Paul Walker. Which is too bad. But come on! Vin Diesel! Dudes, he’ll probably shove someone head-first into a wall. FANTASTIC.

Anyway, to back up, I was at Urth Cafe last night.

Oh… Urth Cafe.

I like the food, but I really dislike the people who congregate there, because I am a Victorian and also cranky, and man, it’s like everything that is horrifying about the Los Angeles/Ladies intersection! Women who would be very nice-looking if they didn’t insist on trying to look like they’re 26! Women who aren’t wearing nearly enough clothes and trying to make up for it with extra eyeshadow! Also, men with truly ridiculous hair, reading things like THE ZEN OF MANHOOD.

This guy had ridiculous Flock of Seagulls hair and hit on a girl waiting in line. The girl was wearing a… mini-dress, I suppose. THEORETICALLY. I was somewhat concerned for her modesty, but more so for my own feelings that I don’t want to see peoples’ cooters when I’m trying to drink iced tea and listen to someone tell me about their new job. ALSO, she was wearing those nonsensical gladiator sandals that come up to your knees, you know?

Anyway, Seagulls guy stands up and is all “Hey, I really like your sandals!” (…because you’re going to buy your own pair? COME ON MAN.) and she does that vapid LA girl expression where she smiles vaguely and listens for keywords, like “PRODUCER”, “CASTING FOR MY NEW MOVIE” or “HELLO, I’M MICHAEL BAY”.

I hope they get married. They’d make the perfect LA couple.

THE WHOLE THING MAKES ME FEEL JUDGMENTAL AND LIKE I WANT TO MOVE TO ALASKA. And THEN, when walking back to the car, I realized that we had to go past VILLA, and thus also the paparazzi waiting anxiously to see if anyone would stumble out with their boobs at half-mast, or covered in coke or AT LEAST start making out with a Lohan.

(I made us cross the street. It was a SILENT PROTEST, man.)

YAY.

August 24, 2008

GLORIOUS THINGS ABOUT TODAY:

*I just turned in my new draft to Manager-Guy.

*Later, there will be a new episode of Generation Kill.

*My friend Julie may be getting a PUPPY. Which means I can go over and rub its tummy and pet its soft ears.

*Had I mentioned that I just turned in my draft? Because I turned in my draft. There was some skipping and off-key singing, possibly both by me. Maybe. I ADMIT NOTHING.

Based on data collected by me from my two friends who are in the same new-writer boat I am, I theorize that the first project you write after getting repped is A BITCH. It just makes you crazy! It’s like this whole new skillset you have to learn, or maybe it just taps into your general writer-insanity, I don’t know. But it is hard, guys. I feel kind of bad for all of my friends who have been forced to listen to me whine about it. I very much hope that the next time I do this, it won’t be as terrible. Or that I will at least have a dog with big paws around to soothe me when it gets really bad.

Speaking of same: I was having lunch with the aforementioned two new-writer pals recently and naturally the subject of What We’re Going To Do When We Get A Check came up.

My answer, of course, is “Get a dog.”

And one of my friends, who didn’t know this about me, asked what kind of dog I wanted to get. So I explained: a dog with really big feet, who is HILARIOUS, and maybe kind of low to the ground and STURDY and he should be so awesome looking that every time he walks into the room, I laugh!

And the girl looked at me and said “…I’ve never heard anyone say anything like that.”

Pffft! I happen to think that thinking of my Future Dog in that way is much more helpful and specific than being all “Well, I think I’d like a dog who’s a mix between a Poodle and a Great Dane – a GROODLE, you know.” SO! The rest of you people are wrong and should come over to my way of describing dogs. Plus, it’s much more fun than just reeling off the make and model.

PS, Manager-Guy sent me a list of other war-themed things he thought I should watch or read (there was a stern admonishment to branch out beyond Vietnam and Iraq) and now I feel like we’re two old duffers with our socks and pants pulled up REALLY HIGH, down at the VFW hall, going on and on about MacArthur.

EXCELLENT.

PPS, this is a real product! I would totally get my dog a porthole. MANY PORTHOLES. Throughout the house! Just to be awesome.

Naomi is talking about words, and then I just read this Dress a Day post where a dress is described as “cinching at the empire”. Meaning, of course, that it’s an empire-waisted dress (for the dudes reading this, those dresses that have the “waist” just under the bosoms), but apparently there’s a shift happening where people are starting to believe that “empire” is a polite word for “the area right under your boobs”.

Isn’t that strange? Until now, the only bizarre thing I’d ever heard people say about empire-waisted dresses was when dim types pronounce it “ehm-PEER”, like it’s French. (OKAY YES, empire IS a word in French, but– NO. NO. It’s EMPIRE, like the NAPOLEONIC EMPIRE TO WHICH IT REFERS WHEN LADIES DRESSED LIKE THIS BECAUSE EVERYONE WAS GOING THROUGH A CLASSICAL-REVIVAL OBSESSION PHASE AND WANTED TO LOOK LIKE THEY WERE GREEK.)

Of course, I should probably stop frowning at this as I only very recently discovered that primer, in the sense of a basic text on a subject, is pronounced “primmer”. HA HA HA. Um. In my defense I mostly grew up in foreign lands, and had never heard anyone say it.

YES OKAY I AM A FOOL.

Also, so my one roommate is super sweet but sometimes says things that are pretty perplexing and hilarious. Tonight she was watching the Olympics, and water polo was on. And I said:

“That is a really ridiculous-looking sport.”

And she said: “Actually, it’s extremely dangerous.”

And I said: “…what?”

And she said: “They could DROWN.”

I looked at her for a moment. “Are you being funny?”

“No.”

“They could drown.”

“Yes. I mean, look at it! They’re playing in water that’s like seven feet deep.”

And I said: “But– but it’s a pool. And these are athletes, not toddlers. And it’s not like they’re in the middle of the ocean. And. I just don’t think you’re right about this.”

And she gave me a very skeptical “YOU ARE WRONG BUT I’M GOING TO LET YOU LIVE WITH YOUR DELUSIONS” look and that was that.

So there you go, water polo! One of the world’s most dangerous sports. Apparently.

I am within SPITTING DISTANCE of completing my rewrite on my Manager-Guy-coached project. It has been the hardest and most painful and generally awful* writing I have ever done. But! I’m almost done. I keep fantasizing about sending it off to him. I am deeply torn between the these two emails:

1) “I wrote you this excellent feature.”
Pro: It’s like Napoleon Dynamite when he tells his girlfriend that he “Caught her a delicious bass”!
Con: Nobody will know that I’m referencing Napoleon Dynamite, or read it aloud in Napoleon Voice, so I’ll just sound like a moron.

2) “Okay, here it is, FINALLY, SO YOU CAN’T BE MAD AT ME ANYMORE. I’M SORRY IT TOOK SO LONG AND I GOT SO PANICKY AND WROTE YOU THAT BAD PILOT TO DISTRACT MYSELF FROM MY REWRITE AGONY.”
Pro: Well, it’s TRUE.
Con: May be awkward to just lift the polite-fiction veil like that.

I could of course also go with your basic:

3) “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DON’T HATE IT.”
Pro: Honest depiction of inner turmoil.
Con: I’m really hoping that over time I can lull Manager-Guy into a false sense of how cool I am, this would blow my cover.

Anyway!

Last night I was at El Coyote with my friend J., and as we inhaled various foodstuffs covered in melted cheese, we discussed my (possibly bizarre and wrong) fondness for war-themed books and movies and documentaries. I promised that I would give her a list of things I like. And here it is, because you never know who out there is sitting around thinking “Gosh, I really wish someone would recommend some war-related media.”

Books, all non-fiction:

Dispatches, by Michael Herr (Vietnam)
This is my favorite book in the world. Here is the first paragraph:

There was a map of Vietnam on the wall of my apartment in Saigon and some nights, coming back late to the city, I’d lie out on my bed and look at it, too tired to do anything more than just get my boots off. That map was a marvel, especially now that it wasn’t real anymore. For one thing, it was very old. It had been left there years before by another tenant, probably a Frenchman, since the map had been made in Paris. The paper had buckled in its frame after years in the wet Saigon heat, laying a kind of veil over the countries it depicted. Vietnam was divided into its older territories of Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin China, and to the west past Laos and Cambodge sat Siam, a kingdom. That’s old, I’d tell visitors. That’s a really old map.

Everything We Had: An Oral History Of The Vietnam War by Thirty Three American Soldiers Who Fought It . Edited by Al Santoli (Vietnam)
This book is GREAT. Out of print, but you should track it down. My copy is in a garage in Holland, or I would totally lend it to you.

Larry Burrows: Vietnam (Vietnam, photography.)
The justly super-famous photo essay One ride with YANKEE PAPA 13 is in this book.

Generation Kill – Evan Wright (Iraq)
Evan Wright, writing for Rolling Stone, embedded with the Marines of the First Reconnaissance Battalion when they invaded Iraq. This book is so excellent. It’s profane and violent and horrible and compassionate and strangely sweet on occasion. It’s also really funny. IF YOU ONLY READ ONE BOOK ON THE IRAQ WAR, etc.

One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer – Nathaniel Fick (Iraq)
Fick was the platoon leader of the Marines Wright was embedded with (I KNOW, BLOWING YOUR MIND) so if you’re a nerd you can go through and cross-reference scenes. Or you can just enjoy the book. Fick is much more diplomatic and, you know, MILITARY than Wright is. But it’s very good. Also, Fick is inevitably going to run for political office and you will probably vote for him. He’s a smart dude.

My War: Killing Time in Iraq – Colby Buzzell (Iraq)
Colby Buzzell is awesome. AWESOME. He’s like every dude you know who’s genuinely cool, not cool in that fake way that involves shopping at Urban Outfitters or talking about Franz Ferdinand a lot, but actually cool and smart and and weird and generally neat-o. He left the Army but has, unfortunately, been recalled in that sneaky “WE’RE RUNNING LOW ON DUDES AND NEED YOU TO RUN AROUND IRAQ AGAIN EVEN THOUGH YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE DONE WITH THAT STUFF.” way.

Documentaries

I am obsessed with documentaries and will watch ANYTHING. (Just so long as it’s actually a documentary and not a two-hour polemic on why Democrats/Republicans/Druids are WRONG and you are RIGHT.)

Here are some Iraq-related documentaries I recommend:

Alive Day Memories: James Gandolfini interviews Iraq vets who were wounded in action. This documentary is really respectful, it doesn’t do that WOW THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE HERE IS A BUMPER STICKER crap, it gives people space to talk about what their injuries mean to them. YOU WILL CRY. I bet even James Gandolfini cried.

Shadow Company: this is an excellently entertaining documentary about mercenaries. Man, there are some colorful people in this. Also, you spend about half of it going “Oh God! This is it, isn’t it? RIGHT HERE, THE FALL OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION!” and being appalled and the other half laughing in spite of yourself.

Baghdad ER: this is another HBO film, like Alive Day Memories. It follows the doctors and nurses in a combat support hospital, so it’s sometimes quite gory.

Gunner Palace: I liked this okay. It’s not my favorite, but a lot of people loved it. I didn’t feel that it gave much context to its images. It also seems kind of dated now, with the sequences where people are having pool parties.

Off to War: From Rural Arkansas to Iraq: obviously, many (many, many) of the people fighting in Iraq are some variant of reservists and National Guard types. This series follows a group of Arkansas National Guardsmen who are called up and sent to Iraq, and the families they leave behind for their 18-month deployment. It’s amazing/horrifying how unprepared for war these guys are in the beginning. I mean, dang, can they get some trucks that run?

Carrier: a recent PBS docuseries. I liked it a lot. My favorite part was when the boss of the pilot dudes (SO I AM NOT UP ON MY NAVY LINGO) awkwardly said, of his lone non-Republican pilot, “He’s– he’s a blue guy“, like he had just admitted that his pilot had three or four spare heads, but they were hoping you hadn’t noticed, he’s a really terrific guy in spite of his challenges.

SO! That concludes my post about things you might want to read or watch if you happen to like to read or watch things about modern warfare.

(This whole post made me sound like a total creep, didn’t it? I KNEW IT.)

*Awful as in, you know, I AM GOING TO GO UP TO MY RAT-INFESTED GARRETT AND SMOKE CLOVES AND THINK ABOUT DEATH AND HEMINGWAY, not awful as in “Literally the worst prose I have ever produced”. (I hope, my God, I hope.)

This morning I had to park somewhere else because something is filming and all the slots were full. The lot where I had to park charges you, and so I had to give the attendant five dollars.

Unfortunately, I had two dollars. And after frantically digging through my purse for a while, I came up with three additional dollars in change.

SMALL change. We’re not talking your glamorous quarters here. It was pretty much nickels and dimes all the way through, with a small burst of pennies at the end.

I handed it to the guy all apologetically, “I’m sorry, this is all I have! But I counted it out, and it’s right.”

AND THE GUY GETS ALL HUFFY. You know, like I’m holding out on him, refusing to use the five-dollar-bill dispensing ATM I recently had installed in my car, just to be a dick.

“I can’t deposit this!”

Which unfortunately activates this part of my brain:

“Actually, that handful of nickels is LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE.”

(I didn’t yell. But I did think things like “Um, if I want to pay you in FIVE HUNDRED PENNIES, you know, THIS IS AMERICA! We have the freedom to pay in annoying ways!” and “WE CAN CALL THE TREASURY IF YOU ARE UNCLEAR ON HOW THIS SYSTEM WORKS” and “If you’re waiting for a return the gold standard, we’re gonna be here ALL MORNING.”)

I felt like 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon in that episode where she pays for a bottle of water with a hundred-dollar bill and the guy is all “You’re holding up the line!” and then she’s all “No, YOU’RE holding up the line!”

(…except for me it didn’t culminate in finding love with a suspiciously handsome MSNBC staffer/my cousin but instead in Parking Guy glaring at me and sighing a lot. Alas.)