Sunday, February 28, 2010

on "the road"

I don't know why, but I've always been a sucker for the apocalypse. Maybe it's from growing up under the shadow of the Cold War. Remember "The Day After?" I was in early high school when that came out. Damn. And then you've got "The Road Warrior," which was simply one of the greatest movies of all time. And there's a few other great works with an apocalyptic theme, but I can't think of them right now. (And no, I'm not including either "The Postman" or "Water World.")

When I heard about "The Road," the recent movie with Viggo Mortensen as a nameless man trying to protect his young son in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, I was intrigued enough to track down and read the novel by Cormac McCarthy first. And really, it's a great book. I've been meaning to start reading some of Cormac McCarthy's stuff for a while now, so it worked out real well. And then I saw the movie a couple nights ago. My thoughts:

Well, it's always tough to be impartial about a movie when you've just read the book and formulated some pretty strong images of what you expect the movie will be like. And I had some very specific images, knowing that the guy from LOTR would play the main role. I wasn't expecting hobbits or anything like that, but ... it could've been better. It was all right, not too bad. I hate to be critical of child actors, but the kid who plays the son was no Dakota Fanning. But he was no Scott Baio either. Know what I mean?

The biggest thing that the movie lacked: the main character's resourcefulness. That was one of the facets of the book that made it so vivid and interesting - the shrewdness and survival instincts of this anonymous man who's been able to keep both himself and his son alive for years in a world where the sun is blotted out and nothing goes. Can't hunt for food, can't grow food. Can't collect nuts and berries. What would you do? Not to spoil it for anyone, but let's just say that *some* of the people in the book do pretty bad things. But not Viggo's character.

And I would have to say that Cormac McCarthy gets the post-apocalyptic world just about perfectly. It's hard to argue with the way that he depicts anything. He's a damn good writer. I have a few technical quibbles with the way he writes (primarily his overuse of the word "lave"), but really they're just quibbles. I'll be going back for more! I hear he's got a book about the early drug trade back in the 80's that's kinda interesting. Goes by the title of "No Country for Old Men." Maybe they should think about making it into a movie ...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a slight modification

There's been a slight change to Mad City's new feature, "The Daily Schadenfreude." It will run only on certain Fridays, not every week, and will henceforth be called "Sch├Ąden-friday." What better way to start your weekend than with a delicious dose of someone else's misfortune? That's the theory behind it, anyways.

The format will otherwise remain the same. The column will continue to have a snarky tone and focus on a somewhat loathable character, and it will continue to close with the catchphrase, "Boo yah! That's sch├Ądenfreude."

Props to my friend B-Phat for introducing me to the wonders of SDF. All right, that's it. Peace out.

the daily schadenfreude, part I

Today is the start of a new feature here at Mad City, where we celebrate some small bit of misfortune that has befallen one of our nemeses. Today's subject: Kevin Smith. I have to confess, I've long had it in for this guy. He's loud and arrogant, but worst of all, he's *untalented*. Somehow the American independent-movie-going public has been bamboozled into believing that he's the next coming of Orson Welles. "Clerks" is, I believe, one of the most overrated movies of all time. Who cares if it was made on a shoestring budget? Half of Lars von Trier's movies have been made for a pittance, and he's at least 10 times better than this schlub.

So anyhow, the big news recently about Kevin Smith is that he's let himself go such much, with his arrogance and ill-deserved fame and fortune, that he can't fit properly in a single airline seat anymore. So Southwest Airlines recently bounced him from a regional flight in California. (He had actually, and appropriately, bought two seats for a flight but tried to get on standby for an earlier flight, and thus got the heave-ho.) He then squawked about Southwest on Twitter ad nauseam, possibly to pre-empt the story coming out on Yahoo or People without his side of the story.

Well here's a news flash for Kevin Smith: sure you're fat, as you've proudly confessed over and over again. But your mouth isn't the only thing that bites: your movies do too! Body habitus is the only thing you share with Orson Welles, homey.

Boo yah! That's schadenfreude.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

the snows of cajun-manjaro

Apparently, there was a period of time last week when all 50 states had some amount of snow present to varying degrees (Hawaii allegedly has some snow-capped volcanoes), after a storm system blew through the lower half of the country. Well, I can personally vouch that it did snow one morning in southern Louisiana. True, it was all gone by later in the day, but that didn't stop me, my friend Troy and his kids from making the most of it. That's us below with our snowman, Prudhomme.
To be honest, I think Troy and the boys enjoyed the snow a lot more than I did. I went down to Louisiana to escape the snow. Who else but me could leave Wisconsin and then get my ass snowed on in f*&#^ing southern Louisiana??? Damn ...

Friday, February 19, 2010

olympic fever

You know, I just wanna say that Lindsey Vonn is a sweetheart, and I admire her determination and fortitude (not to mention her skiing skills!). But if I hear one more word about her shin, I might send Tonya Harding's ex-husband to whack her in the other leg. Enough already! Suck it up, babe! And the same goes for you, Tiger.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

fat tuesday

So I survived my first Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Or rather, I should say that I survived my first pre-Mardi Gras in New Orleans, because I flew out this past Monday. But if you've ever been to the Big Easy around that time, you know that there's plenty going on right before Mardi Gras, mainly a series of massive parades over about a week or so centered in the Uptown area.

There's a so-called Big Three of these parades, and I was lucky enough to hit two of them: Endymion and Bacchus. (And yes, I also made it to the Saints' Super Bowl victory parade, which rivaled the Big Three.) Bacchus, which was on Valentine's Day, was preceded by several smaller parades, so Sunday was like one big all-day parade for me. I was on Napoleon Ave. from about 6:30 am, when we arrived to secure our parade-viewing spot, until about 9 pm. I shit you not. That's how they roll down there.

And if you've been to one of these parades, you know that they're all about sheer, unbridled excess. My friend Troy's kids brought large bags, about the size of a decent-sized backpack, to hold the beads they'd catch, and someone told us that they'd probably fill their bags. I kind of smirked, but then the floats started rolling and the beads just rained from the sky. Not just beads: mini-footballs, drinking cups, toy spears, all sorts of other cheap plastic crap. I literally had the wind knocked out of me by beads. Not a string of beads - a 10-pound bag. Somebody chucked it at me from one of the floats. I saw it coming, just mis-timed the catch because it was getting a little dark and I thought it was a stuffed animal headed my way. Went through my hands and hit me right in the solar plexus. And it was not at all uncommon to see a big bag of beads come flying off a float, interspersed with dozens of individual strands.

I will readily admit that I had a hell of a time catching stuff from the floats, especially since my friend's kids were excited to get all the loot. But I couldn't help but think: what's gonna happen to all the beads? It's not like people in New Orleans walk around draped in them all the time. And we're talking a LOT of beads. Let's say that the total attendance for all the parades was 3 million people (a pretty conservative estimate), and each person got 5 lbs. of beads (even more conservative estimate). That's, like, 15 million lbs. of beads. Every year. I would also estimate that 70 percent of them end up in a landfill within a month of Mardi Gras. I hate to be a wet blanket about the whole thing, but sweet Jesus! But what are you gonna do? Anyone want to join me on a bead-recycling campaign? No? Maybe you just have to let the good times roll ...