No Country for Old Men is probably the best movie you will see this year; it is also the most unsatisfying. The Coen brothers have always been praised for their artistry and technical brilliance, but No Country is a significant leap forward. Earlier Coen brothers’ films have dealt with similar themes (Miller’s Crossing, for example, or Fargo, which had heretofore been their most highly praised film), but none of them, not even Blood Simple, the first stitching of the thread, have anticipated No Country. The only thing simple or easy about blood in this movie is the cool ease with which Javier Bardem dispenses with his villains. His bullets and air-capsules are as cold and terrifying as the Coen brother’s cinematography and mis-en-scene.

This review will be a positive one, if only because I promised the eyebiter that we could write dueling reviews. But any honest review of this movie should itself be a dual or dueling one, all reviews of No Country for Old Men should take on the different reactions the movie elicits without hiding behind a veil of technical artistry. I’ve thought more and more about the movie since I left the theater, and not only because I knew that I would have to collect my thoughts in code. And in that time everything has faded (Bardem’s killer is just too cinematic to be horrifying when you leave the theater) except my sense of confusion. No Country for Old Men was a movie. Something to be seen and admired, something even to be studied. But beyond that? Like David Byrne suggested, I ask myself, “Well, how did I get here?”

No Country for Old Men is first and foremost a movie about storytelling. The first ten minutes of the movie play with the idea of perspective.The movie is introduced with a voice-over by Tommy Lee Jones that summarizes something. It perhaps describes the whole movie, or perhaps only the pre-history. Either way, by the time the movie proper begins, the the story is already in the middle. Javier Bardem is being arrested by the police; what has he done? A dramatic, horrific shootout has occurred, yet we only see the bloody stillness. There are two minor characters who look alike, two deputies, such as to introduce the possibility of confusion and flashback, before Tommy Lee sets the story straight, coolly describing the events so far. “That’s very linear of you,” the deputy tells him, and Tommy Lee tells him that when you get to his age you prefer things that way. Linear storytelling; no jumping through time, playing with narrative forms. Tommy Lee Jones is not a narrator like Sam Elliot in The Big Lebowski, inserting himself into the story. The movie is a defense of old-fashioned, A-Z film-making, while also offering a corrective. Dramatic, important moments are told off camera, elided in a sense. It’s direct storytelling, but there’s nothing cut and dry about it. The Coen brothers might have matured into more classical film-making, but they haven’t abandoned everything that made them who they were. Read the rest of this entry »

Hottest Cartoon Redheads

December 20, 2007

  1. Jessica Rabbit. Anyone who tries to argue otherwise either thinks its pathetic and creepy to discuss the hotness of cartoon redheads, or is just plain crazy.
  2. Jane Jetson. Jane Jetson is not as hot as Judy Jetson, but then again Judy Jetson is not a redhead.
  3. Erin Esurance. Technically a pinkhead, I allowed Erin Esurance on this list because she’ll kick the asses of all my robots if I don’t include her.
  4. The Little Mermaid. Ariel is pretty hot, but certain physiological unknowns cause her to drop a few spots.
  5. Jean Grey. Technically a comic book character first, and a cartoon second, otherwise she would probably challenge Jessica Rabbit for number one.
  6. Mary Jane Parker. Again, she’s technically a comic book character first. But Jean Grey is a little hotter, plus I have a lot of respect for Spider Man so I wouldn’t necessarily move on Mary Jane unless he did something really awful… like wear his hair down and dance with another woman right in front of Mary Jane (at her place of business!) just to make her jealous.
  7. Louis Griffin. I originally had Lois higher on this list, but my girlfriend talked me out of it. Also, the woman who voices Lois is also the woman who played Ms. Swan on MadTV, and Ms. Swan is about as unattractive as she is hilarious.
  8. Daphne Scooby Doo. I’m not that into Daphne, but shepicksyournose thinks that she is cartoon sexy.
  9. Wilma Flinstone. I like the bod that Wilma “Rocks,” but a woman’s eyes are important to me and Wilma’s share a little too much of a likeness with Frosty the Snowman’s.

This is the story of how one poor man (me) was electronically stolen from, and then verified, transferred, and “yes sir”ed by his bank to the point where he was forced to question his own humanity.

Last week, I received my first paycheck for the month of December. A day after that, my health insurance payment (paid for entirely by myself) hit my account, and then half of my paycheck was gone. I had just enough money left to get me through the week without feeling like I couldn’t buy at least one sandwich or Mac-Donald’s value meal – or maybe that two dog and small ice-with-a-little-drink special at Gray’s Papaya – during the week, in addition to making a small contribution towards those monthly expenses necessary to life (rent, groceries and television). Then another day passed. At the end of this day, a visit to my online banking center showed me that this “just enough” amount of money had become a “negative number written in a red font because it’s not a real” amount of money. A Chinese thief had charged the entire amount left in my account (plus a little bit more!) to my check card.

Probably, plus another clause, the thief was not even Chinese. The charge was made to the PayPal account of a Chinese man, but I’m decently sure that the thief is really some pimply-faced, nerdy white kid from the suburbs who when I find him will have brittle bones and will not know karate. As of now, I haven’t found him, because I never will, because the beauty of the internet is also the beauty of internet crime: identity and location are mostly relative. As far as I will ever probably know, the thief is who he appears to be, a Chinese man with a PayPal account.

Needless to say, I called my Bank (of America!) immediately upon noticing the charge. Here’s how my customer service experience went down:

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A Bright and Sunny Post

December 13, 2007

I was riding the good old New York City Subway a few days ago when I came face to face with a scary looking character. This character was a man of average height and build, his clothes and his face both appeared slightly worn, and his eyes were swollen and about as red as his jacket. The jacket was old and too big for him. He had a beard, too, which needed a trim, and his hair had needed cutting two weeks ago. He looked tired and he looked beat and at the same time I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him snap or explode then and there.

This scary looking character was me. My reflection in the train window.

Part of the damage was done by insomnia. There’s really no describing the effects that prolonged sleeplessness can have on a person. The best explanation that I can come up with: it gives you a taste of insanity. Real insanity. Not pleasant. Insomnia bites my eyes.

The rest of the damage is less easy to explain. I don’t think it’s separable from the insomnia. It shows up with relative frequency, and is the result of an ongoing beating that I’ve unfortunately gotten a little too used to taking. This is the beating of artistic circumstance. I am a writer, and there’s no changing that. There’s no arguing against it, there’s no fighting it. There’s no being anything else.

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NOTE: This is a blog post dedicated to ridiculing Heroes, particularly Season 2 of Heroes. If this sounds despicable to you, don’t read this blog post. If it seems despicable to you and you’re going to read it anyway, please note that there are a few mistakes in the post – something that the author has admitted in the comments section. If you came here looking for information on Season 3 of Heroes, it’s not here, and it never will be. When someone says that they are going to fix something that doesn’t yet exist – with a gun – it’s usually safe to assume that that person is joking in some way, shape, or form.

* * *

For a few episodes, it seemed as if Heroes might rescue itself from the slow stupid suckage that has been its second season. This past week’s episode, however, plus another clause, was probably the single worst of Heroes’s’s’s short history. Probably, this is because it dealt not with a handful of worsening characters with worsening storylines, but two handfuls of worsening characters with worsening storylines.

Moreover, the show creators have not followed the advice that I offered in this post. A-hem:

  1. Ali Larter is not dead. Kill her. I don’t like her. I’m not sure anyone else does either.
  2. Hiro might as well still be stuck in ancient Japan, for all you are doing with him.
  3. Peter Petrelli is back, thank you for that. But instead of kicking ass, he is just turning into a dummy.
  4. Sylar is back to being a baddie, but instead of rediscovering his power, he has discovered how to be Darth Sidius.

In regards to number three on that list, let me just say that Peter is not the only character getting dumber by the episode. Everyone is getting dumber, if not in what they say and do then in what THEY DO NOT DO WITH THEIR SUPERPOWERS!

Case(s of beer) in point:

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Ibiteyoureyes was sitting on the outdoor patio of a beach-side restaurant with a bikinied shepicksyournose. We were sipping on some Dos Equis. That’s Spanish for almost pornography. The beer and bikini, both, were good.

Then, from the table behind us, a shrieking child. Let it be known that shrieking children do not often annoy me, especially in public places, especially outdoors. I can forgive them for simply being children. But whining beyatch children…Ibitetheireyes.

“Gimme my camera!” he shrieked at someone. “Gimme my camera! Gimme my camera!” Later he made a noise like a comic book superheroine in explosive pain: “Aiieeiiiiiiiiii!” I missed what happened in between those two things, because I was busy stuffing napkins into my bleeding ears (and busy admiring the print of that bikini). Probably the little hooligan had received a light smack.

Fast forward only a few minutes later. The mother of said shrieking child was sending him away to play on the beach and/or to drown. But before he left…

“Gimme my camera! Gimme my camera! Gimme my camera!”

This was actually the mother, shrieking also, and setting a bright, shiny good example for her child.

I bite her camera, I bite her parenting, and I bite the harsh reality of that little boy’s future.