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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ben wrote an intriguing story about a friend giving a "good talk" at his church. It can be found here.

The good talk is here. The title is "Idealism and the 'Real' World," and it offers a fun alternative to either giving up on humanity and watching My Super Sweet 16 or weeping in frustration every time someone doesn't recycle a can.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

It's Just Like a Mini-Mall

Just in case you haven't seen this yet:

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

From In These Times, "A Politically Correct Lexicon":
African American: In 1988 Jesse Jackson encouraged people to adopt this term over the then-used “black.” As he saw it, the words acknowledged black America’s ties to Africa. “African American,” says Hill, is now “used more by non-African-American people, who cling to it because they are unsure what word to use.” Sen says, “African American” is favored by “highly educated people who are not black. Whether one uses ‘black’ or ‘African American’ indicates how strong your social relations are with those communities.” And Chris Raab, founder of Afro-Netizen, says, “People who are politically correct chose to use African American, but I don’t recall any mass of black folks demanding the use of African American.”

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Monday, March 05, 2007

A summary I wrote for Clint Eastwood's 1997 film Absolute Power:
Clint Eastwood directs a film about an old gem thief who secretly witnesses a lethal dose of executive orders. He's got the president by the jewels, but will he be able to make it out alive when the president exercises Absolute Power?

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Weird thing:

I saw three movies this weekend that contained a female character named "Eve":

- Being There (1979)
- Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
- The Lady Eve (1941)

Two of them were great. One of them was good.

Also, probably going to see Wild Hogs tonight w/Lan & co. It's currently number one in box-office receipts, but that doesn't surprise me. After all, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed was number one when it was released.

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Blog, movies, hilariousness

Ben directed me toward a very good blog by a guy who has decided to watch every last DVD in the Criterion Collection called The Criterion Contraption (also in the blog roll). In his review of Monty Python's Life of Brian, he mentions that "for a comedy, plot and structure are not as important as hilariousness." A wise and true statement. Keep that statement in mind for these two popular comedies: 1

Office Space

Office Space
, first released in 1999, didn't do very well in the box office. It has since become a cult film, and with good reason. It's imminently quotable, it speaks to a large section of the population, and it's funny. But it has that stupid plot about the Superman III penny-rounding scam, and the stupid love interest with Jennifer Aniston. When people talk about that movie, do you ever hear them fondly mention anything about the story? Or the montage of Peter and Joanna getting to know each other through episodes of Kung Fu? The best parts of the movie are the recognizable cubicle characters, the "Yeah . . . we're gonna need you to come in on Saturday . . . ," and the inanity of low-level white-collar work. How much better would that movie be if it were a little more like . . .

Napoleon Dynamite

Just a few years later, first time writer-director Jared Hess made a comedy about high school life in the Midwest with almost no plot--and it was hilarious.2 It did exactly what Office Space didn't. It focused on the wackiness of Uncle Rico, Kip, and Napoleon, and didn't revolve around Napoleon trying to save the school from shutting down due to asbestos, or some story about him falling in love with Deb or something. The movie did, of course, have the loose plot of getting Pedro elected student-body president, but it was at best secondary to the other stuff. It had weak moments and it had forced moments,3 but these things weren't a result of structure decisions, they were a result of Jared Hess's decisions as a writer and director.

I'll finish with another quote from the Criterion Contraption blog, this one from Robert McKee (the writing sage who was made more famous by his role in Adaptation):
Comedy is pure: if the audience laughs, it works; if it doesn't laugh, it doesn't work. End of discussion. That's why critics hate comedy; there's nothing to say.
Other stuff:

- "Napoleon Dynamite" is Elvis Costello's nickname. I have no idea why Jared Hess appropriated it.
- "Joanna," besides being the name of Jennifer Aniston's character in Office Space, is also her middle name.
- A hilarious clip of Life of Brian:

1I should note that this was first pointed out to me by Lan.
2To some people. Including me.
3Like Kip's gangsta outfit after meeting LaFonda.

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