October movie reviews

Contagion
I wasn’t supposed to see this movie. My anti-social, hypochondriatic ass doesn’t need a *scientific* rationale for my solitude. Alas, I went, I have one, and now I’m sealed in a hyperbaric chamber with a shotgun with two shells. It was a good movie. Gritty, fast paced, they don’t stay on any one group of characters long enough for you to want them dead, so when they die, you’re sad. Might just be the BEST Gwyneth Paltrow movie EVAH!

30 Minutes or Less
It’s probably not fair to include this movie, as I only saw it because I arrived at the theater 79 minutes too early for Colombiana and I walked out before the end… Um it’s about some guys who try to rob a bank. The facebook guy and the brown Parks and Recreation guy are in it. Super dumb… Unless the end is sooo brilliant that it saves the film. Doubt it.

Fright Night
I saw the original in the theaters with my mom when I was a mere lad. It scared the beejezus out of me. Though I have no beejezuses left, the remake was plenty scary. First, McLovin was GREAT in this! I love that kid. Also, David Tennant was perfection. Love him. And they were just *supporting cast*! The special effects were boss (I don’t think it *needed* to be in 3D, but whatevs.) the main characters were good, except for the girl love interest, she was kinda terrible. But all around fun horror!

Colombiana
Zoe Saldana and her ubiquitousness is starting to strain my last nerve. That said, this movie about an assasin out to avenge her parents’ murder was a fun action flick.

The Debt
I didn’t know what this movie was about when I went to see it, but when I left, I went straight home and googled the hell out of “mossad assasinations.” It’s a great movie, though it’s a stretch to say Helen Mirren “stars,” since she plays the old lady version of the young woman who is at the center of this political thriller.

What Dreams May Come
Oh man, was this movie bad. I mean, no, it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it was truly terrible, especially considering it stars two Academy Award winners. It’s about a family who all die in various ways in a 24 month span and how they find each other again in the afterlife. Barf.

The Forgotten
I forget what this movie was about. I’m not even kidding…oh… Wait… that lady is in it… Julianne Moore, I think? Redhead? Oh, she plays a mom whose son died, but then everyone tries to tell her that she never had a son. Aliens end up being involved. Double barf.

Carriers
I watched this movie because Stephen King wrote that it was the best horror movie he’s seen in seven years. Either Stephen King doesn’t know shit about horror movies or he is secretly an investor in this movie. It was not good. Your typical a-virus-is-loose-and-killing-anyone-who-catches-it apocalyptic tale. There are six main characters who you don’t care about. They don’t all make it and you don’t care about that either. Snooze.

Down to the Bone
Um…the woman from Up in the Air stars as a drug addict mother of two trying to get clean. Super boring.

The people under the stairs
This movie is about a kid who goes with his uncle to break into this huge mansion on their otherwise poor street. Turns out there are mysterious people under the stairs. O_o I watched this cause there were black people on the cover. Does that EVER work out for me? Okay. Moving on.

Shutter
This was the original Japanese version of a Sarah Michelle Gellar movie I forgot I saw until I was halfway through the movie and feeling like I’d seen it already. It’s basically exactly the same with English subtitles. It’s good.

The Lost Boys
This movie was AWFUL! Why are people always “oh my God, you haven’t seen Lost Boys? You just have to!” I spit on Lost Boys. The vampire creation process makes zero sense. The ultimate bad guy is implausible AND the effects suck. No pun intended. Blech.

Your Highness
This movie about a lazy prince trying to prove himself to his father and keep up with his superstar older brother is pretty funny. There are quests and sword fights and possibly gay pedophilia.

Something  Borrowed
This. Movie. Is. WRETCHED! It’s about supposedly best friends, but when one sleeps with the other’s fiance, it becomes quite clear that they hate each other. Ugh. This is, how hollywood always views female friendships.  And this one….ugh…awful awful awful. Not funny, not touching, not romantic. Big heaping waste of time. On my deathbed, I’ll still be regretting this.

Insidious
Holy shit! So, I’m watching and it’s so slow and I figure everything out and roll my eyes forty minutes later when they explain it to the main character cause…DUDE, SO OBVIOUS! Heck, in my head I’m already writing up the bad review I’m going to give it and THEN the last ten minutes happen and I’m screaming and turning all the lights on in my apartment.

Thor
I didn’t hate this movie. The Thor dude is hot and spends an appropriate amount of time in a state of half dress. I liked the fighting and the twist…it’s no Ironman 1, but it’s better than Ironman 2.

Paul
Vomit. I love Simon Pegg. This movie made me want to find him and thump him in the stomach. This movie is about an alien trying to escape Area 51 and he enlists the help of these British tourists. Jason Bateman and Sigourney Weaver are hot on their tails. I fell asleep at least three times. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Irresistible
Crappy Susan Sarandon movie where she lives in Australia and is a stay at home mom afraid her husband is cheating on her, but he’s not, so he thinks she’s crazy and takes the children… Or something.

Barney’s Version
Um…this movie was pretty good. Paul Giamiatti is in his wheelhouse here as an insecure middle aged man looking for love. There’s an uninteresting murder subplot that is unnecessary and a bit distracting. Minnie Driver is hilariously annoying.

The Secret in Their Eyes
This is a great Spanish film. Equal parts love story and mystery. Very good from start to finish.

Red Riding Hood
Um. This movie wasn’t terrible, but there’s really no need to see it unless you’re bored on a plane. The big “who’s the wolf?” mystery ain’t that great.

Limitless
I liked this movie starring the Hangover guy as a failure who starts taking experimental genius pills and becomes an overnight success. He predictably gets caught up in the wrong element and there’s a lot of running.

Drive
Wow, so Ryan Gosling’s career appears to be back, huh? Here he plays a loner who works at a garage and is a stunt driver for movies. Then he falls for his next door neighbor. Dun dun dun. The casting is excellent, including that comedic jewish guy from “The In- laws” as a badass gangster (you sorta laugh about that for a while, but by the end, he sells it.) Carey Mulligan is good. I liked it.

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A September to Remember

Just Go with it
Adam Sandler movies used to be good. Sigh. Now, I shall insert some glib pun like “just go see something else” because this movie about a plastic surgeon who realizes his homely assistant is really JENNIFER ANISTON will make you roll your eyes so hard you will need corrective surgery.

Piranha
HOLY SHIT this movie kicked ass! I mean, if Jerry O’connell screaming “It took my penis,” doesn’t make for a top notch, grade A movie, how about giant ass piranhas eating people in mid air?! AWESOMESAUCE! Was there a Piranha 2?? I actually have honest to goodness follow up questions.

Horrible Bosses
I liked this movie. I laughed A LOT. That little guy from It’s Always Sunny is always funny! And Jason Bateman is a terrific straight man. The bosses were also geniusly cast! Brava.

Glee 3D
Speaking of AWESOMESAUCE…this movie had extra heaping ladles of the stuff! I don’t even think you need to watch the TV show to love this movie…though, if you’re not watching the TV show… WHY NOT? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? And please leave your name in the comment section so I have the correct spelling to give to Homeland.

The Help
This movie is about a spunky young white girl who comes home from college and wants to be a reporter. She gets a job writing the cleaning column for local newspaper. But she realizes “I’m white! I don’t know anything about cleaning!” And gets her friend’s maid to answer all the questions while she transcibes the answers. As she spends time with this woman who is cleaning and raising her friend’s kid *IN ADDITION* to answering the questions for HER columnist job, she realizes that the help sure aren’t treated very nice. She then asks the maid to tell her what it’s like to be a maid, so that she can submit the stories to a publisher in New York. I saw this movie in a theater full of about 75% old white women. Eff yo nostalgia! My little hands were balled into fists for two and a half hours. It’s a right good fine movie. Reminded me of Avatar. O_O. Seriously, when are we getting the sarcasm font? But no, really, if you liked Avatar you will LOVE THE HELP! Also, if you liked Avatar please leave your name in the comment section along with which high school signed over a diploma to you.

Planet of the Apes
This movie was terrific! This is EXACTLY what happens when we start letting animals live in our homes, eat our food and get human names. They blow shit up, murder people and destroy property! Finally, Hollywood stops pandering to the bleeding heart liberals and shows us the truth!

Vincere
A foreign movie about Benito Mussolini and his first wife that he apparently dumped and then disavowed. It’s weird at the beginning. There are all kinds of “greek chorus” interludes and random spinning newspaper wipes in between scenes, but the movie settles into a nice pace about an hour in. It then becomes a movie about a woman trying to prove she is who she says she and her son are from the inside of a mental hospital. Not to spoil anything, but, um, it does not go well.

The Cove
This is a documentary about the brave soldiers standing on the frontlines protecting humanity from the impending dolphin threat AND THE SPECIES TRAITORS trying to stop them! O_O I can never run for office now, huh? So yeah, apparently, they brutally stab schools of dolphins to death until the water in the cove runs crimson with blood. Most people are appalled. Others think to themselves, hmm… I like that color, I think I’m buying a red coat for winter. *whistles*

The Lincoln Lawyer
This isn’t the worst Matthew Mcconaughey movie I have ever seen. Still, it *IS* a Matthew Mcconaughey, so it’s bad. He plays a shady lawyer who suddenly grows a conscience when he realized he talked an innocent client into taking a plea. OH NOES! Dumb.

The Eclipse
I really liked this movie and I think it’s because I didn’t know anything about it at all because when I googled it later and read descriptions like “horror” “thriller” I was like “What movie did they watch?” This was a short, simple story about a dude volunteering at a literary festival. Some stuff happens, he meets a pretty lady, gets in a fight, maybe sees a couple of ghosts. But that’s it. Also, there was no eclipse…so the title’s a bit weird.

16 Years of Alcohol
I rented this movie because I loved the series Rome and the lead actor in this was the lead actor in that. (He plays a shitty character on Grey’s Anatomy now.) This movie is wretched. And not JUST because it relies heavily on stupid voice over narration…not that it helps. It tells the tale of an Irish boy whose mother leaves home and whose father is an alcoholic, so he becomes an alchoholic…oh wait, I already said “Irish,” so the rest was redundant. Oh snap #RACES But yeah, skip it. There are way better Irish tragedy movies.

Ajami
This is an Israeli flick about too many damn things. Like, seriously, they could have broken this movie up into five movies and we’d all be better off for it. There’s the Romeo and Juliet story, the Godfather story, the Oliver story, some comic book story… I dunno. I guess it was good…but it was all very superficial, too fast and you ultimately don’t connect with any of the characters… plus, all middle eastern people look alike and it’s confusing. #DOUBLERACES

Stripes
When am I going to learn that until I find inappropriate breast jokes hilariously funny, I need to stop renting Hollywood “comedies”? Oy. This movie is implausibly dumb even for the genre.

Fish Tank
This movie is awesomely sad, yet not sad, yet totally sad. Four thumbs up! Rent this instead of that 16 years of alcohol crap…they’re not Irish, but they are British, so that’s practically the same thing. It’s a coming of age story of a girl from some poor English neighborhood. I don’t quite understand how it got the title… but if you figure it out, let me know.

The Baby’s Room
Dumb horror movie about a guy who crosses into a parallel universe and ends up coming face to face with the him that he might have been under different circumstances. Blah.

Paranormal Activity
I totally wrote off this flick about a couple dealing with sounds and objects moving in their new house, as a dumb horror movie. But then, the next day, I was in the shower, jamming to my itunes morning playlist and my computer screen suddenly went to sleep, plunging my bathed in pale blue light bathroom to total darkness. You have never heard such loud, panicked, incessant screaming in your life. So…um…yeah…this movie might have made an impression. Also, I’m getting a shower radio.

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Here’s the thing: the makers of this movie about one man’s journey through the European healthcare system, totally ruined it with the title. I’m sayin. But it’s a good movie and it’s nice that someone isn’t picking on the US healthcare system for once.

The Machinist
This movie SUCKS IT! Ugh. I guess I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who still wants to see this so-called “thriller” starring the dude from Batman Forever…er…Batman…but SERIOUSLY IT’S SOOOOO DUUUMMMBBB. For instance, and listen, close your eyes if you plan to see it… but the main character comes home to find someone has started a hangman game with him and theyve posted the puzzle on his refrigerator. First of all, THAT’S NOT HOW YOU START A GAME OF HANGMAN! How will you know if the letters you guess are right or wrong?! Someone’s gotta be there to DRAW THE HANGED MAN! OK, but that’s not even the worse part…the word that the puzzle is has TWO ELS, but he only writes in ONE of them and then forty minutes later, puts in the second one! THE HELL?? If you get a letter right, they’ve got to PUT THEM ALL IN THE WORD AT ONCE! *Head desk*

Then She Found Me
I thought I hated this movie, then I liked it, then they tacked on the Hollywood ending and I hated it again. Boo. It stars Helen Hunt and Bette Midler as a mom who gave up her baby for adoption then tracks her down as an adult after her adoptive parents die. If it had ended like 15 minutes earlier, it would have been a strong movie. As is, meh.

I’m Through with White Girls
I got this because it had a black guy on the cover. And I thought “Ha! A movie that’s going to not skewer black women!” Uh huh. This movie sucked and I was punished for my racism. It’s what I deserve. And also, he ends up with a half black, half white canadian girl in the end. AS IF there are even half black people in Canada!

Eight Men Out
I’m obsessed with baseball cheating scandals…mostly I keep hoping there is some effective way that the Mets can cheat their way to winning another World Series. This movie provided NO helpful suggestions. It was also not a very good movie. There was no nuance to any of the characters…I was surprised to find a John Cusack movie I hadn’t seen though.

Let the Right One In (original)
Story of a boy and the vampire who falls in love with him. I preferred the American version. These kids were too “kid actorish.” Also, the American version improves on the supporting characters and makes their stories more plausible.

Hall Pass
Meh. I didn’t hate this movie. I also didn’t laugh at anything in this movie until the 60 seconds following the credits where the funniest shit ever happens and I couldn’t stop laughing for like 20 minutes. I could almost recommend this movie on the strength of those seconds alone…almost.

Arthur
Yes, I cried during this movie. SO WHAT? I WILL FIGHT YOU! It’s not a comedy per se (and as such, I don’t consider it a remake of the Dudley Moore classic) but there is a grown man wearing tights and a cape, so it’s not exactly a drama. But if you are not made of stone you WILL WEEP!

Battle: Los Angeles
GOT DAMB EFFING ALIENS ALWAYS TRYING TO COME FOR MY GOT DAMB PLANET! Earth is so lucky Americans are bad ass alien fighters! This movie falls just shy of awesome, but only barely. You get sucked into the story and the way it’s shot makes you feel like you’re totally in the movie. It’s pretty good!

Rango
Um. So…um…yeah…I find myself at a loss for words because I can’t say terrible things about a Johnny Depp movie, right? I mean, he’s Johnny Depp…wait…never mind…Depp was in The Tourist…I can do this. This movie WAS WRETCHED HORRIBLENESS WRAPPED IN A CRAP BURRITO. I don’t know how it got made or why it was then released or why every copy wasn’t then rounded up and burned, but I’m writing a letter to my congressman. Ugh. Woman. Hate her sooo much.

Unknown
Here’s a tip everybody: if you get in a taxi cab in Berlin and your driver is a smoking hot blond woman, SOME STUFF IS ABOUT TO GO DOWN! This was a pretty standard action flick. There’s a twist, but it’s not really that twisty. Stuff blows up and there are impressive car wrecks. I can’t complain.

Last train home
I can’t tell for sure if this was a documentary or not…I’m 79 percent sure it is. In which case, this movie about a family of parents who work in the big city and the two kids they left behind to be raised by the grandma, is pretty good. If it’s fiction, it’s just okay. My favorite part was this scene where thousands of Chinese people (oh, it’s set in China about the workers who take a train home for Chinese New Year because that’s the only time they see their families) are waiting for ten days for the train because there’s been a power outage. There was no food or facilities and the conditions are wretched. But there’s this one dude who tells the reporter he’s excited about China hosting the Olympics and he “hopes the Chinese win all the gold medals. There are billions of us! Why should we not beat America, there are only millions of them!” I laughed so hard! Nationalism is nationalism even when you live in a facist psuedo communist country. Which that dude does.

Blue Valentine

I want to say this was the perfect movie, but I fear that may reveal exactly how twisted I am, so…er…this movie was so sad and these characters are damaged and flawed…nah, can’t do it. Movie was perfect…that’s exactly how life and relationships are. *B-boy stance*

The Adjustment Bureau
Why does Matt Damon keep making bad movies? Does he want me to Ben Affleck him? OH MAN THIS MOVIE WAS BAD. However, I did start paying attention to my every minor decision making for the next week wondering if I was really choosing or if the Adjustment Bureau was choosing… but then I lost interest and stopped. Or did I? Maybe they wanted me to stop because I was getting too close!

Source Code
Jake Gyllenhaal is officially Ben Afflecked.

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The middle of the road is for yellow lines

“…ain’t no such things as halfway crooks” – Mobb Deep

I’ve long lived in a world of extremes. The only kid of an absentee father, who couldn’t spell my name correctly if you spotted him seven letters, and an uber present mother who, to this day, grabs my hand if we’re crossing a street together. The only girl in the GI Joe/handball world of boys. The only black student in advanced college prep courses.

Right/wrong. Good/Bad. True/False. Black/White. All/Nothing. Winners/Losers. Mets/Yankees.

I’m comfortable here.

My first year of law school, I was exposed to a concept of “contributory negligence.” To wit: given a set of facts, you can portion out blame among parties. For example, a pedestrian may be paralyzed after being hit by a speeding car, but she was drunk and jay walking, so she’s 40% responsible for her plight; the speeding driver bears 60% of the blame for breaking the traffic law.

I hate contributory negligence.

Drunken jay walkers get what they get. Keep your drunk self on a sidewalk. Or reckless speeding car drivers are a menace and need to be punished. Get a couple of lawyers, collect some evidence, duke it out and get a judge or jury to decide who’s right…est.

Occasionally, I’ll wonder if this is a childishly simplistic worldview, a hold over of some lesson overlearned in kindergarten. But making firm decisions is hard. It takes patience and education and, most importantly, a conviction that can only come with age and experience.

Not everyone wins. There is evil in the world and bad people who should not be appeased.

There is a controversial black and white photo of me from my halcyon Yale days. I don’t remember who or when it was taken, but I am wearing a placard with a pro union slogan and my arm is raised in the black power fist, I’m smiling and staring straight into the camera. The “controversial” part is, at the time, I was editorials editor for the campus daily newspaper and the editor-in-chief had forbade me from attending any protests with the striking maintenance and dining hall workers. Something about neutrality of the press, he said. But I grew up in a union household, I was working as a dining hall worker AND I was EDITORIALS editor for a, God’s sake. I have opinions and a moral compass that pointed straight to the front of the picket lines.

“Fire me if you want, I’m going.”

He didn’t, but for years afterwards he blamed me for two of his ulcers.

Right. Wrong. Eff your neutrality. (True story: My high school mentor tried explaining an “independent” to me. I was in twelfth grade and working on the Bill Clinton campaign and I could not wrap my mind around this push for “the independents.” After he explained about the “independents,” I sat in his office and laughed for twenty minutes straight. “Why should we care what they think? They don’t even know what they think!” And don’t get me started on agnostics and vegetarians who eat chicken and fish.)

Alas, I’m fully aware that not everyone sees the world in such stark contrast. I always think about two of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten…well, that’s probably not accurate, I’m sure I’ve gotten better advice…but these, well, they made me laugh AND they’ve stuck with me because they resonate with who I am on a fundamental level.

Years ago, I had just resumed talking to a friend of mine after a giant falling out. Concerned, another friend, Kearns cautioned me about the path I was on. “I don’t think this is a good idea,” he said.

“Don’t worry,” I replied, “My eyes are open and I’m keeping an arm’s length.”

Without missing a beat, Kearns replies “you have very short arms.”

I laughed and laughed and laughed.

But he was right.

I couldn’t sustain a “fake friendship.” I’m either in or out. If caution was really necessary, then I needed to be out.

Similarly, earlier this year, I had been stewing for a few days, when my friend Dave happened to text me. I decided to ask his opinion.

So, if someone, who has known me for a long time, promises me something and then renegs, without valid explanation, they clearly no longer wish to be friends with me, right?

There is a loooooonnggg pause after which, he finally replies:

To me, that seems to be an extreme interpretation.

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH The pause is probably my favorite part of the exchange. Followed by the “to me.” Why is Dave always trying to avoid getting stabbed to death by Stephane Clare?

It was a well timed reminder that, while I am compelled to make sense of things with my neat compartments, the world outside can be a messy place, no harm in giving it a week before I make any super final judgments.

But in the end, extreme or not, I will choose.

On?

Off.

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Happy Birthday, President Obama

Half the promises people say were never kept, were never made.  – Edgar Watson Howe

It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he is in love, drunk, or running for office.  ~Shirley MacLaine

This post has been stewing in my brain since the President announced, in April, that he was running for reelection. The announcement basically triggered an early Liberal Festivus!

All the sad sacks with “Hope” and “Change” bumper stickers fractured limbs and strained muscles to take the proverbial stand to show America where, on the doll, Obama had touched them. In an essay popularly circulated in some twitter circles, one author estimates that President Obama promised him almost more than two thousand dollars in undelivered funds!

Dyyyaam.

To think I was pissed when President-elect Obama didn’t send me my “O” t-shirt in the promised 6-8 weeks! I should have held out for cash!

The litany of angry charges pouring in from the left are diverse, layered and lofty. Much like the left itself.

The President started a war without congressional approval!

The President didn’t close Gitmo!

Where are all the gay marriages we were promised?!

And here’s an actual quote: So I deem him not just a failure, but a menace, a stain on our nation, a disgrace, a big fat black mark in the history books.

Yikes!

(I don’t want to know what that guy says about Jefferson, whose own children were bought and sold; or Jackson who slaughtered American Indians; or Roosevelt who authorized internment camps; or Lincoln who burned half the country to the ground; or Hoover…)

Yet, here I sit (actually, lounge, cause that’s how I roll) prepared to make the case for President Obama’s reelection. And I promise to do so without even pointing at his possible opposition. Much. (DUDE. Have you ever listened to Herman Cain speak? Say…about the constitution?
LOL.

Let’s just say I’m all in on the Bachmann/Palin challenge to the Obama/Anybody but Biden…ugh okay, fine Biden 2012 ticket.

By way of background, there is something about me that you may already know, if you’ve been reading the brilliant prose I’ve been publishing on the interwebs for the last (gulp) eight years, or that you may not know, having only recently discovered my brilliant prose.

The first President I voted for was Jimmy Carter. Not because I’m that old, though I am pretty old, but because my mom thought it would be fun to let her four-year-old pull the levers. And I pulled them but good! She picked me up and and I slid my tiny little hand all the way down the Democratic line DESTROYING those levers along the way! And then with two hands (and an assist from mom) I pushed the metal bar to record the votes and free us from the booth. It was AWESOME. And, without divulging too much, this is how I’ve voted in every election since then. Although, now New York has some weird faux electronic system and there are the five years I spent voting in Connecticut. So, there you have it, I am a Democrat through and through.

Unapologetically so.

While I have great affinity for socially conservative principles, the Republican party embodies none of those. I can’t even “argue” with Republicans anymore because the only consistent party identity that I’ve discerned is “we’re for whatever the Democrats are not for.” Unedr President Bush the federal government MORE THAN DOUBLED, yet now they’re all about small government? Under president Bush, the United States government essentially nationalized more than 30 banks, yet President Obama is the communist boogie man? President Reagan presided over one of the largest tax increases in our history, but President Obama is robbing the ruch blind? Um…er…okkaayyy. Good talk, good talk.

So, *I* will be voting for President Obama in 2012 *knock wood* *spit spit* that I am still alive AND that he’s still alive (oh man, why do I freak myself out with thoughts like those??!) because he’s the Democratic nominee. And that’s how *I* do. But I can hear you now, “but Stephane, I am not you, why should I vote for President Obama in 2012?”

Well, the reasons are various and many.

President Obama has only been in office a little over three years and he’s already accomplished sooo much.

He negotiated the historic healthcare reform bill and now 32 million additional Americans will receive healthcare coverage. I personally, am now saddled with enormous premium bills because the insurance companies have pretty much just passed the added costs on to consumers, but should I have a layabout child one day, it’ll be good to know that said slacker will be covered well into his or her twenties.

He authorized a number of stimulus packages that saved the American auto industry and stabilized the financial sector. This is something that both Democrats AND Republicans should like since it continued the bailout policies started under President Bush/Paulson AND rescued the union heavy auto industry in the same way the Republican administration protected their friends in corporate America.

President Obama’s justice department has deported more illegal aliens than any other administration in the history of the United States. How can anyone who seriously thumps their chest about undocumented immigrants NOT support the administration that is so vigorously enforcing our nation’s laws?

President Obama initiated military action against Libya to defend America’s interests.

Oh man, this is sounding real Republicany and is making me uncomfortable. So how about this, President Obama also, made improving America’s infrastructure a priority, reversing President Bush’s policy of doing nothing – the first President since Coolidge to so neglect the nations highways, grids and buildings. President Obama’s cash for clunkers program got inefficient vehicles off the road, spurred auto sales and subsidized my Beamer. His goal to get fuel efficiency above 50mpg is next up.

The President also lifted bans on stem cell research, retired the clunky and expensive shuttle program. He reversed many of the Bush administration closed door policies and now allows photographs of our war dead, requires all federal agencies to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and refuses to let corporations in arrears on taxes, bid for federal contracts.

President Obama is also seen as a leader on the international stage, winning the Nobel Peace Prize just months after taking office!

The President is a constitutional law scholar and given that the new Republican house spent their first days in power reading aloud from it, such a scholar should be exactly the man to work with this Congress. Indeed, even as Speaker Boehner threatened to slit our nation’s econimic throat, President Obama was able to forge a compromise to maintain our AAA rating.

The President appointed twice as many women to the US Supreme Court than any President before him. He provided incentives to employers to hire chronically unemployed Americans.

The list of his accomplishments go on and on, click the link I provided above.

But what of the things the President *promised* to accomplish? Well, Gitmo is still open, but I don’t think anyone seriously believes that the President could shutdown the Bush administration’s terrorist holding pen without thorough vetting of the occupants and adequate relocation facilities. No one wants to answer to the parents or children of victims murdered by prematurely or inadvisably released terrorists. 

DOMA and Dont Ask Dont Tell are still the law of the land. This reality is disappointing, but I will use my “one time” chip and punt this away with “there is no Republican candidate that will overturn either of these laws. We have a two-party system, so either you’ll have a Democrat discriminating against gay Americans or a Republican. I choose Democrat and hope this shameful chapter in my country’s history soon comes to a close.”

The President promised immigration reforms and seems to have gone the other way. Indeed, as you know he’s the deportation champ. However, for now, these are our immigration laws. He took an oath to uphold them. The same as I did when I became an attorney. I don’t like all the laws… I certainly don’t understand why Americans over the age of majority aren’t given one freebee murder or why BMW drivers can’t drive as fast as they want, but there it is. When the laws change, the Justice Department will move on.

President Obama made good on his promise to wrap up the war in Iraq — sans obnoxious banner flying — and he has ramped up efforts in Afghanistan. Not to mention he gave the kill order that ended the 10-year-long hunt for Osama bin Laden. Oh, did I mention it? Whoops. My bad.

The President did not end the ill-advised Bush tax cuts, but given that the Republican opposition was willing to send the United States into default over the debt ceiling fight, my guess is compromising with the lame duck Congress on these tax cuts saved yet another melodramatic stand off with the Republican leadership. The President’s current plan to begin taxing the trappings of luxury and the mega rich may well go a long way to close the gap between the national debt and disproportionate taxation.

But what of the lamentations of the Matt Damon types who believe the President has let them down? Comedian Elon James White has hilariously dubbed these (mostly) white liberals “Emo Progs.” They believed that the magical negro, dubbed by EJW, Jesus H. Dumbeldore would deliver free love and legal drugs and Priuses in every driveway, maaannn! Except, candidate Barack Obama ran a distinctly centrist campaign… he didn’t even come out in favor of gay marriage on the campaign trail. I don’t know why they thought he was some kind of secret hippie… I blame Donald Trump and his “sources.”  And Oprah.

I’m kidding.

I would never blame Oprah for anything. That woman is a saint whose visage should be printed on our money.

President Obama has the tricky task of being the President of *America.* That means he’s the President of men like Vice President Dick Cheney, who would never in a bazillion years vote for him and he’s the President of awesome bloggers like Stephane Clare who would never vote against him unless he signed some “Stephane Clare will be imprisoned for life if she votes for me” bill. My interests as someone who loves the United States and wants to see my country thrive, prosper and win all the gold medals in every sport ever, are most closely aligned with President Obama’s steady cool, cerebral leadership. I may not understand why Larry Summers has a job in the Obama administration, as opposed to say, a job breaking rocks in a prison yard; but not for one second do I believe the President doesn’t understand the economic, social, or geo-political forces at play. I don’t know that he’s making every decision I would make, but I trust his decision-making.

He’s not a God, he is a man. Probably the second best man I’ve seen in that job in my lifetime. Plus, I could stand another four years of listening to the President’s melifluous addresses and staring dreamily into his pretty pretty face. (Though, Mr. President, please quit smoking! I want to see you around for a long long time and I do not want your face destroyed by smoke or your awesome voice snatched by a cancer tumor. Please and thank you. What? You don’t think the President reads my blog? He totally does! I would read his blog if he had one! Oh, does he have one…um…*whistles*)

So, go forth and prod some sense into a Republican — President Obama has represented their interests (he’s even explicitly signed laws saying that abortions would not be funded at all under the new healthcare bill) far better than half the current field of Republican candidates. Then, go hug an Emo Prog, I guess they’re not used to not getting their way (man, imagine being a poor black teenage girl who campaigned her little heart out for Bill Clinton only to have him throw all her interests under the bus in, oh, 16 months flat. I COULDN’T EVEN DRINK MY SORROWS AWAY, YET!).

My advice? Curl up in your twin bed with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and play this song till you feel better:

Happy Birthday, Mr. President. I wish you five more years in the White House and decades more of life! 

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Oops, I did it again

Be with me

This is a weird flick of four different love story vignettes. It’s in Chinese. Don’t do it.

Biutiful

I think I liked this movie. It’s not what I thought it would be at all. Javier Bardem plays a single dad to two kids and then he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He’s also a criminal exploiting the illegal immigrants in Spain. He has to figure out how to provide for his kids after he dies and how to reconcile his bad deeds before he goes to hell, presumably. And then he kills a baby. Yikes. It’s a deliberate, though not always linear movie…But good…I think. (I’m still more than a little terrified that Bardem will show up to my door talmabout “friendo.”)

Cedar Rapids

Sigh. I had, not exactly high hopes, but hopes of some kind, for this movie. Instead, it ended up reconfirming the theory that me and my college roommates came up with decades ago about movies…if it can’t even get to 90 minutes, it’s going to suck. Sure enough, this movie about a button up insurance salesman who goes on a bender of crack, alcohol and adultery is not funny or sweet or even remotely interesting. I especially hated that we were supposed to be shocked that the black man speaks proper English and gardens — but then it’s hysterical when he goes all “gangta.” Eyeroll. I expected better from this cast. Also…whoa, I wondered what happened to Anne Heche.

Country Strong

I keep forgetting to review this movie. Or forgetting if I did already. But just in case, ARRRGHH GOOD LORD THIS MOVIE SUCKED IT! Whoever told Gweneth Paltrow she could sing…oh wait, this line is sounding familiar, maybe I did review it already.

Cowboys vs. Aliens

Dear Super 8, please take note: THIS IS WHAT A SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER SHOULD BE! See the title: Cowboys v. Aliens. Wanna know the plot? THERE ARE COWBOYS FIGHTING ALIENS! SEEE??? That’s how that shit should work! Anyway, loved this flick. I clapped when Harrison Ford came on screen — ever since that craptacular Indy sequel, I’ve been pissed at him. But he’s back in awesome shape in this movie. I also played the “guess who’s an alien game.” I was 1 for 4, which is pretty good if you ask me! Plus, I got to yell out “TAKE THAT ALIEN”! And, honestly, isn’t that really what summer blockbusters are about? No? It’s not? Is that just for black people? #races

Exit through the giftshop

Documentary about grafitti artist Banksy and possible street art fraud “Mr. Brain Wash.” If this were twitter, I’d slap a #whitepeopleproblems tag on this.

Dune

So how much money did George Lucas get when he sued David Lynch for this blatant Star Wars rip-off? Like really? Was it new mansion money? So, I’m apparently not allowed to say anything bad about this movie because it’s a “classic.” Instead, I will say you know what the hallmark of an amazing movie is? When every character needs to have a voiceover explaining what the hell they’re doing and why because otherwise no one would have a clue. And such a movie further ascends to the pantheon of awesome cinema when on top of those voiceovers, they have an overarching narrator because it STILL doesn’t make any sense. Yarf!

Vera drake

It took me six weeks to do it, but DAMMIT, I FINISHED THIS! I have no idea why the first hour and ten minutes exist, as an hour and ten minutes after the last half hour would have been infinitely more interesting, but I finished it! *slow clap*

Captain America

I took @VinNay to this movie for his birthday because he refused to watch Dune with me. We both fell asleep during the movie, though at different parts. This movie was fine, I guess. I just don’t like the notion that “Captain America” won World War 2. America won World War 2. (Shut it. I will fight you.) Like, if they make some movie where Sam Jackson’s eyepatch guy frees the slaves…um…actually, I might go see that… *whistles*

Harry Potter: Part 72 3D: The revenge of Voldemort’s Hammer

This movie might be the best one in the series. I say “might” because it’s been, what? Eight years? Who can remember! And I forshizzle ain’t watching them again. This one might also be better than the book about the same events.

Transformers 3: Michael Bay,needs a hobby

Robots from outer space battle for Earth supremacy. Somehow, Shia Lebouef is an asset. Things go boom. Frequently.

True Grit
The Coen brothers tricked me! Tricked! This movie was okay. Kinda boring. Really predictable. And boring. I guess some dude kills this girl’s dad, so she hires Jeff Bridges to track him down, but Matt Damon is already on his trail, so they go off on a “two scruffy men and a little lady” adventure. There’s a bunch of shooting. But not the cool rapid fire kind.


The Company Men

This effing movie is such a bullshit, racist, sexist, craptacular piece of crap that I will punch Ben Affleck in the FACE ON SIGHT if I ever see him! Arrrgghhh. He gets laid off, but keeps his Porsche and golf club membership, and his wife, conveniently, goes back to work as a nurse. Then, his brother-in-law gives him a construction job. Then his old boss is fired and decides to open a new company, on some Pretty Woman “let’s build ships together” tip, and he makes Affleck the head of it. Nevermind that all the women are either retarded or sleeping with men 40 years their senior or that the black guy is the best educated of the bunch and ends up working construction for free…wait, did I say nevermind? Correction. MIND!! Double mind! TRIPLE MIND! Right. In. The. Face.

Illusionist
This is a weird creepy cartoon about this wandering middle aged magician and a teenaged girl who decides to stow away with him. Uh huh. She’s all “I want new shoes!” “I want a pretty dress!” “Get me that coat in the window!” And he has to get like three extra jobs to buy them for her while pretending he gets them by “magic.” After a few years, she’s now a young woman and takes up with the first dude to bat eyes at her through a window. So, then the magician is all “you know what? Fuck you, whore!” I may be paraphrasing. Also, there’s no talking in the movie cause the magician speaks French or something and the girl doesn’t. I said weird already, right?

Posted in Movies | 18 Comments

Happy Birthday to me! (cross posted)

I’ve had this blog so long, I feel like I must have told all my stories already. However, it’s my blog, my birthday and I shall be indulged.

(I’m currently sitting behind right field at MCU Park in Coney Island watching the Brooklyn Cyclones take on something called “the Monsters” on Irish night. There are Irish line dancers doing a jig around the field while bag pipers bag pipe.) The only part of this setting that makes sense for this story is that it’s a temperate Brooklyn night on the eve of my birthday. For that is where my story begins…

You may find it hard to believe, but I wasn’t always a proponent of the birthday season. Sure, my earliest birthdays were elaborate affairs with multiple cakes and pinatas and games and prizes (my mother loves to remind me that one year I threw such a tantrum after losing at musical chairs that I had to be taken to a toy store where I could be bought a prize for coming in second. “And after that, I just bought a prize for you and a prize for the winner.” Damn straight, woman. It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.)

However, those were the halcyon days of 365 days a year day care center. All of my cousins were still in single digits and pinatas and cakes were exactly where they wanted to be.

But once I was properly in elementary school, it all fell apart. My cousins were teenagers, my classmates were away for the summer and my birthday became a hodge podge of whatever riff raff kids happened to still be in East Coco Beach come the second week of July. And then when this stupid girl caused me to crash my brand new bike at my tenth birthday party (she was trying to run alongside me and grabbed the handlebars once I hit the downhill slope) I had had quite enough.

“Nah, I don’t want a party this year,” ten-year-old Dawn declared in June. My mother shrugged. On the fourth of July, she said “are you sure?”

Yup.

And that was that. My birthday became such a non event that *my mother* forgot my sixteenth! #rude (Oh, she’ll swear up and down that she did not, but then how come she didn’t say “happy birthday,” till after I was all “ahem. Um. Do you know what today is?” And then my “present” was a necklace that she dug out of her jewelry box. Uh huh.

But when I turned seventeen, I was working at a corporate law firm in Manhattan and HR arranged a surprise party for me, with an ice cream cake and everything! (OMG! A leprechaun is currently rounding the bases! I KID YOU NOT! He’s like two feet tall, y’all!! I’m transfixed!)

I worked at the same place again the following year, but there was no party, so I just went around subtly telling everyone it was my birthday till my boss took me and the other interns out to lunch.

Score!

(National anthem gives me goosebumps EVERY TIME!)

Where was I? Ah, yes, birthdays were making a comeback! We got derailed at 19 cause my birthday fell on the first day of camp, so I didn’t know anyone and then I fell off the stage during an improv performance. I rallied though, and pretended that I meant to do it. I didn’t. Ouchie.

(Update: turns out “the Monsters” are short for “The Vermont Lake Monsters.” I just booed their lead off batter. Incidentally, do you know what you can see from these seats behind right field? Right field. And a bit of center field. Also, the PA announcer just made the following annoucement “Will the owner of a maroon Chevy, plate number blah blah blah. Please report to the parking lot. Your lights are on, your windows are down, your car is running and your keys are inside.” O_o I guess I should mention they were giving away free jerseys to the first 3000 guests. I didn’t get one. Sadface. However, had I been quicker, I coulda gotten a free Chevy!)

I don’t remember my twentieth, but I do know that I was so stoked for my 21st! I had crazy plans, maaaan! I could finally drink! I made a list of all the places that gave out free drinks on your birthday and I would be damned if I wasn’t gonna hit every one!

And then do you know what happened? Do *YOU*?? My spiteful, vindictive, rude, mean-spirited grandmother died on July 3rd!

Aarrrggghhhh.

So on my awesome 21st birthday when I was *supposed* to be doing a free pub crawl, I was in a hot Baptist church in Panama *eulogizing* this woman! And since my family was now in mourning, we couldn’t play music, dance or be happy in any fashion. Do you know what that puts a damper on? My BIRTHDAY!

That woman was EVIL, I TELLS YA! EEEEEVVVUUUULLLLLL! That’s right, with a U! Hmph.

So, I was annoyed with birthdays again, because the following year was spent having her dumb year-dead memorial thingy.

(Ah, but I whined about my ruined birthday so loudly and frequently, that my college roommates threw me a surprise party in the middle of that December.)

And then…the summer I turned 24, I was again working at a New York law firm, but this time I was a summer associate, the corporate market was booming and they were totally in the “convince Dawn to come work here full time” business. (That business has, sadly, since gone under.)

I had a party at the top of the World Trade Center. Went to dinner at all the highest Zagat rated restaurants each workday in July. I was taken to plays and WNBA games. I got box seats to the subway series games… It was magic on a stick! And thus, the birthday season was born!

The following year, my mom threw her first birthday party for me in like 15 years. My cake had a water fountain! No, seriously. A working water fountain. And so the July birthday was redeemed. I see so many Cancers on twitter celebrating their July birthdays, that I know the modern-day youth do not suffer the fate of neglect so prevalent in my tween years.

(Aww, the right fielder just collided with the first baseman. Neither ended up catching the ball.)

Social media ensures that birthdays are no longer just for the lucky September through June set. As for me, I still have like nine years of missed birthdays to catch up on. Starting…..NOW!!

Happy Birthday me!!

Yaaayyy!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

JU-LIED

See what I did there? July? Ju-lied? I am so great!

It’s my birthday month! Are you all excited? Ready to shower me with praise and adoration? I am gearing up for daily parties and international cake eating. I’m looking at you, Toronto.

So yeah…here I am again. Listen. LIS-TEN! THINGS HAPPEN! Though not to me, apparently. I am somehow always watching movies. Stop staring. It’s rude. Anyhoo…so I sorta kinda saw a bunch of movies! Want to hear about them?

Super 8

Okay, this one is kind of a funny story. Through no fault of its own, I thought Super 8 was going to be about superheroes and super powers — I take that back, I thought that because of the NAME, so it’s totally the movie’s own fault! Anyway, I decided that since I was actually going OUT to the movies, I should do it properly. So I paid TWENTY dollars to see this flick in the IMAX theater. By the end, I. was. PISSED! In retrospect, this movie was fine for what it was, think more ET than Batman. The guy from Friday Night Lights is quite good as the worried, stern dad and the heavy child-actor cast did not make me want to vomit. That sister of the little blond girl might just be better than the blond girl herself. HOWEVER, at the time…I was maaaad that I had wasted $20 when there weren’t even that many special effects scenes. I could have seen this movie three months from now, on my flatscreen and been perfectly happy. So, in protest, I walked across the movie theater hall to see…

X-Men: First Class

Now, I was almost super mad at this movie too, because it starts off very cerebrally without much stuff flying around. But it turns around about forty minutes in and becomes a fairly kick ass, ass kicking movie. I’m not a comic geek, so I don’t have much to say about adherence to the real origin stories, but I did love the first two X-men movies and this was a GREAT prequel. I also highly dug the cameos from Wolverine and John Stamos’ ex-wife! Two thumbs up. However, this still meant that I had paid $10 for Super 8. I found that distateful, so I went to see my boyfriend in my head, Ryan Reynolds, in…

Green Lantern: 3D

Sneaking into a 3D movie is not without its challenges. Needless to say, I overcame them…happily I LOVED this movie! I thought the 3D parts actually made sense (unlike most totally unnecessary 3D fare.) I liked the alien spaceship guy and of course, Ryan Reynolds was practically perfect in every way. Heck, I didn’t even hate Serena from Gossip Girl, even though she was throwing herself at my boyfriend – how embarrasing for her. I liked the storyline. The mad scientist part was kinda sad, he just wanted a little love, was that so wrong… but I don’t really see how they do a sequel. A TV show maybe…or like a live action play that Ryan Reynolds will perform in my house every day…*whistles*

Pirates of the Caribbean 4

Okay, now I felt completely justified seeing this movie for free because the last Pirates of the Carribean was just SO bloody awful and I felt the franchise owed me. This movie was not horrible, in fact, I rather enjoyed some parts of it…though, holy crap it was long! And for the life of me, I cannot remember what happens to the mermaid or that christian man… anyway, it was fine. Of course, I had now spent something like 12 hours staring at giant movie screens. I was starving, dehydrated and had a severe headache. So, I went home and watched…

Mao’s Last Dancer

The trailer for this movie made it seem more arty than it actually was. It told a surprisingly linear story of a Chinese dancer who was reluctantly loaned out by the communist regime to spend a summer dancing with a texas troupe. It then disappointingly gets very formulaic with him falling in love and marrying the first american girl to smile at him. He clashes with his government about going back blah blah blah. There weren’t even any horrible consequences. Also, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t actually Mao’s last dancer. Lame.

The Hit List

Man, once again, Cuba Gooding Jr. sucks me in with a delightful premise of a man, who is down on his luck and having the worst day of all time, running into a disillusioned hitman who promises to eliminate the guy’s enemies for him. The guy doesn’t take it seriously and writes down five names. But when they start dying off…dun dun dun. Awesome, right? Wrong! Cuba Gooding juniors all over it and all that’s left is a sucktacular mess!

The Good German

It took about seven hours to see this movie one Sunday. I put it in, fell asleep twenty minutes through. I woke up, started it over, fell asleep 24 minutes in. Decided not to start over, fell asleep twenty minutes after that. And so on, till I was well rested and had sorta pieced together that Cate Blanchett was some kind of race traitor in this horrible knock off of Casablanca. And I think George Clooney was in it…but that might just have been an awesome dream.

Shallow Grave

Alceste not only *recommended* this flick to me; he loaned it to me because he OWNS it. O_o Yeah, I have to fight him now. With fists. This piece of crap is a so-called morality tale about four friends who take in a boarder. The man dies and they discover he was hiding a suitcase of money. Instead of calling the police to collect the body, they devise an elaborately ridiculous scheme to hide the body so they can keep the money. And everything that happens after that moronic decision is, predictably, equally moronic. Ugh. WITH FISTS, ALCESTE!

Another Year

This movie ranks up there with Black Swan and Catfish as one of the best movies I’ve seen. It’s haunting, depressing, cute, touching, funny, depressing…oh, did I say depressing already? Basically, it follows a couple and their friends and family for one year. One character, who believes her whole life will change if she could only get a car, will just about break your heart. Poor thing. Great movie.

Happy-Go-Lucky

I gave Another Year so many stars that Netflix felt that I would definitely totally love this movie about a happy go lucky woman who has to learn to drive after her bike is stolen. I must now fight Netflix with my fists. Bleeecchhh.

School of Life
stars Ryan Reynolds as a teacher with some kind of terminal blood disease that inspires him to approach teaching his middle schoolers with that Robin Williams “seize the day” spirit. This upsets the conservative headmaster’s son teacher and he sets out to destroy Ryan and his life seizing ways…until he learns the tragic truth. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry…no, actually you won’t do any of those things. This movie is bad. On the plus side, you do get to watch Ryan Reynolds.

A summer in Genoa

The previews for this movie about a mom who dies, leaving behind her husband and young daughters, intrigued me. It wasn’t clear where they were going with it. Does the mom’s ghost come back or does the family just move to Italy and start over. After seeing the movie I’m still not sure. Blah. It did make me want to go to Italy though!

Inside Job

A documentary about the 2008 financial meltdown. Like all good documentaries to raises up the hackles and angries up the blood! I want prison sentences and I need the President to explain to me why these people are still working in his administration as financial advisors?! I demand answers! But then the movie ended and I forgot. But now I remember again! ANSWERS!

Get Low

Yet another movie with an expert trailer. The story of a dude who decides to throw his funeral before he dies so that everyone in the town can tell a story about him, seemed like something I would enjoy. But instead of committing to that premise, the movie changes into a sentimental story about regret and a quest for forgiveness. Boo. I wanted the movie where all the townspeople roast this old dude.

Multiple Sarcasms

One of those “married man has female best friend and then half way through the movie realizes he’s been in love with his best friend the whole time and then tells her one drunken night” movies. Those movies can be good, if done properly. This one isn’t cause it isn’t. Boo. Also, why is Stockard Channing in this? Why?

Double Take

A faux documentary about Alfred Hitchcock having dinner with himself from the future. And about Hitchcock’s real life double…it’s weird and eery, and it intersperses lots of stuff about the cold war. Honestly, I still don’t know what I think about it…the meeting yourself from the future part is fascinating and being a celebrity doppleganger sounds cool…I dunno. It’s weird. But short. So there’s that.

Posted in Movies | 19 Comments

An open letter to New York Catholics who are freaking the eff out

I want to tell you to calm down.

However, as a chronic hypochondriac who is easily startled by small animals and loud noises, I know that “calm down,” is the last thing you should say to someone who is freaking the eff out.

Instead, I will tell you a story.

I grew up in a very poor urban neighborhood in Brooklyn. In the 1980s, it was called “the ghetto.” I’m pretty sure that today there is some touchy feely name for it. My mother couldn’t afford to send me to Catholic school, so I went to public school during the week and got my Catholic training at CCD on Sundays before church. My mother also taught CCD at our parish to the older kids preparing for confirmation. These classes met after church. So, all told, I would spend about four hours every morning at church. An hour in my CCD class, an hour and a half in mass and another couple of hours waiting for my mom to finish teaching. The latter hours would be spent sitting with Sister Frances in the rectory listening to the Mets game on the radio. (She grew up as a die-hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan and taught me to spit at any mention of the L.A. Dodgers (ptui) and several ways to curse the name of Walter O’Malley.) But against the backdrop of the Amazins on the radio and packing away the supplies from the morning CCD classes, Sister Frances also instilled a love of scripture and the Church itself. I loved learning bible stories and I memorized prayers the way other children memorized pop songs. It was Sister Frances who fielded all my early questions reconciling my secular world education with my religious beliefs.

So despite my public school curricula chock full of sex education and evolution, I was still extremely active in my faith. I was the youngest CCD teacher at Holy Cross and served as a lector during mass all through high school. When I was a teenager, I was chosen to represent my East Flatbush parish at Catholic World Youth day in Poland. I think we were in Poland for eight days. Toward the end of our trip, a few of the other kids managed to get ahold of the communion wine.

Appalled at the sight of my fellow Catholic youth taking swigs from the decanter, I firmly declined.

“That’s stealing. What you guys are doing is completely wrong,” I said in a language I can now safely identify as “uncool square.”

The kid who had extended the decanter to me, shrugged and pulled the bottle up to his own lips and drank.

“Yeah, but Jesus will forgive me.”

Touche, tall rebel kid with that teenage mustache all the boys “grow” as soon as they “can,” touche.

The next night, still buzzing from hearing Pope John Paul II speak and meeting thousands of other Catholic young people from all over the world, we all stayed up engaged in the much more appropriate activity of talking about our favorite bible stories and our first confessions — turns out I wasn’t the only smartass to make-up a sin and then say “Lied during my first confession.”

Hi.Lar.Ious.

When I graduated from high school, I went out to one of those elite Ivy League universities. I went to church every Sunday for about a week during Freshman year. Yeah. But mostly I went to church on Easter Sunday until I moved back to New York.

I started to study law in Harlem and joined a tiny on-campus parish. I loved going to mass there. I very quickly knew everyone and was surprised at how comforting I found the familiarity of the liturgy. Between managing my first apartment, working nights to pay bills and attending first year law classes, being someplace where I knew all the words and could predict with absolute certainty what would happen next, just about saved my sanity.

That spring, I volunteered in New Orleans to work on the death penalty appeal of a teenager on Louisiana’s death row. I ended up going to mass in New Orleans with a few of the other Catholic law students on the trip. AND IT WAS EXACTLY THE SAME! It was my first mass in a different state and I just couldn’t believe it! A thousand miles from home and mass was the same!

A couple of years later, I was in Jamaica, waiting out the impending Y2K worldwide meltdown on a beach and I went to the local Catholic church in Negril on Christmas Day. There were about twenty people attending and when the priest asked if I would do the readings, I said sure. I read the Greatest Story ever told on the altar wearing shorts and flip-flops. It was magic!

Last year, after hearing the sad news that one of my friends had taken his own life, I found myself seeking answers in a small chapel in a Boston suburb. I was surprised that I didn’t feel that usual sanctuary. The homily didn’t seem relevant. The readings were unhelpful and the endless announcements at the end were just annoying. I didn’t return to church for six months. It was a long, lonely winter. And I wish I wasn’t about to undermine all of my credibility in the next sentence, but…

And then one afternoon, I was watching an Anthony Hopkins movie about demonic possession. Yeah, I know. But you have to understand strange things had been happening to me the WHOLE weekend! I was half-convinced I was a witch. (I’m not a witch, I’m you. ™) The movie convinced the other half of me that I might be possessed. Just to be sure, the next morning, I was at the 11:45 mass. As it so happens, this was a confirmation mass. Twenty-five shiny teenagers in their Sunday best, surrounded by beaming family members as they, as adult members of the church, confirmed the vows made on their behalf at their infant baptisms.

Magic, no, better…faith!

The homily was a wonderful story about how important confirmation was because everyday for the rest of their lives, so many things would serve to pull them away from their faith. And one by one, each of those youngsters made their way to the altar and, with their sponsors, rejected Satan and recited the belief in Jesus.

Mass the following week was about Pentecost and the week after that, the Father’s Day mass was about the holy Trinity. I haven’t missed mass in five weeks.

But the face and sound of Catholics beaming into my home from my television during these last few weeks were not the comforting, welcoming faithful voices I hear in church on Sundays. This was an angry, terrified Catholic church. I heard callers screaming that “they want to get rid of the church. They‘re closing down churches and now they want to take away our sacraments.” The caller never did clarify who the “they” were. Then, Archbishop Dolan said marriage equality would be “terribly detrimental” to the Church. I learned that the church’s lawyers were going to battle against marriage equality. My friends mocked me because Catholic churches were banning the use of rainbows.
Damn you, Canadia!

I started to become angry. My Catholic church isn’t about fear and exclusion and lawyer armies! When victory for your side means “haw-haw no marriage for them!” You’ve strayed a ways from the catholic and Catholic way.

The Sunday after the marriage equality bill was signed into law, a despondent Archbishop had this to say:

“This is about prayer,” he said inside the cathedral. “I sort of needed a good dose of the Lord’s grace and mercy because I’ve been down a little lately as you can imagine.”

Archbishop Dolan said he was disheartened that the same-sex marriage bill was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

“I would have to say I was sad because it’s not good for the common good,” the archbishop said. “I think society and culture is at its peril.”

And I felt so sorry for him. Every week he gets to perform a miracle on the altar of one of the finest cathedrals in the world and he’s bummed out because two chicks can marry each in New York? How is he not celebrating the hundreds of thousands of children still being confirmed in the church despite all the sex, drugs and rock n roll in the streets? Is he seriously scared a marriage certificate bearing the names Adam and Steve “endangers” the Church? The Church built on Peter, who was so badass that when the Romans came to crucify him was all “okay, but can you crucify me upside down because I’m not worthy enough to die the way Christ did?” Does the Archbishop think Governor Cuomo’s pen is mightier than the church that inspired St. Stephen to continue reciting scripture even as he was stoned to death?

That feeling of loss the New York bishops are feeling is basically the manifestation of the principle of political philosophy that separation of church and state is important for each to thrive. New York should not be governed by Catholic doctrine; the head of New York’s Catholic community should not be drafting legislation for state governance. And even if you disagree with that principle, why wouldn’t you start with Catholic driven legislation to require food for the hungry or jail for adulterers or mandatory baptism for all babies? Those seem to hit more universal tenets of the Catholic faith than this blind “defense” of the sacrament of marriage — incidentally, a sacrament none of these activist bishops have ever participated in.

The church is made stronger when its clergy, its congregations, its army of lawyers are focused on strengthening the church. Make sure it’s safe for kids to hang out in rectories with nuns and priests. Make sure you’re spending money keeping Catholic schools open, not making settlements to abuse victims. Instead of giving “sky-is-falling” interviews, the church leaders should be getting to know their congregations, answering questions, providing comfort. Fear, anger, and hate have no place in the Catholic church; the church should a refuge from those things. We reject them.

The Catholic church has provided a framework for most of my life and I’m sure the same can be said for many of the Catholics currently freaking the eff out. But the truth is, the church is you. It’s me. It’s our faith that will keep it strong and serve as an example for the future generations of Catholics. Attacking “society,” and using scare tactics to frighten people about the coming of fire and brimstone, stands in stark opposition to the church’s teaching that God is love. Live and let live; render unto Caesar and all that jazz.

It wasn’t sodomy that brought the Roman empire to its knees, it was Christianity!

There is nothing for us to be afraid of! We are Catholics! We get crucified upside down, son! We say the same mass in Brooklyn and New Orleans and Jamaica! Nothing the state of New York does diminishes the Catholic church in any way. Being part of the Catholic church, despite the fact that most of my classmates were “agnostics” or thought black people should be Baptists made me used to being a lone voice; it gave me the courage to tell my fellow trip participants that wine stealing is wrong. Being Catholic gave rebel teen the faith to know that if he did, and he asked for it, Jesus would forgive him. How awesome are we? Pretty darn.

So, I’m not going to tell you to calm down. But I will repeat what we hear every Sunday “Peace be with you.”

Let the states run their governments the way their elected leaders and their voters see fit; let the church provide a place where young kids can learn to love God and hate the LA Dodgers.
Ptui.

Posted in Memoir, Personal | 17 Comments

End of an Era

I must start with a bit of breaking news from the Summersverse…I just canceled
my blockbuster subscription.

The company has been recently acquired by Dish Network or something and for the last five weeks have not gotten in any new movies… or most accurately, have not sent me any new movies, as you’ll shortly see in my movie reviews. So, the long and the short of it (Did I get that saying right? Hell does that mean??) is that I’ll have an extra $25 a month and this is probably my last lengthy movie reviews post unless and until I’m all unemployed again. Or Netflix finally brings streaming to the Droid X. I know you’re all sad. Shut up! You’ll miss me! #Rude

I wish I could say I’ll be going out with a bang here, alas…

Funny Face

First off, I thought this movie was Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. It’s not.
It’s Funny *FACE* with that Audrey Hepburn lady from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
It’s TERRRRRRIIIBBLLLEEEE. It’s a musical, but she can’t sing. It’s about “funny looking girls,” but she’s not funny looking. It’s a love story with a romantic lead old enough to be her grandpa! BOO! LAME! EWWW!! Oh, and it’s Gene Kelly dancing, which should be awesome, but he’s like 300 years old in the movie and I spend all his dance solos terrified that he’s going to break a hip. NO. BUENO.


Meet Me in St. Louis

The best part of this movie is in the first ten minutes, where the little girl
is talking about how much she loves St. Louis (she’s like 5) and she says “It’s
my favorite city! Wasn’t I lucky to be born in my favorite city?” I laughed so hard! THAT’S HOW I FEEL ABOUT BROOKLYN! Except it’s not ridiculous for me to say
that because I’m a grown-up. And I’m well traveled! Anyway, it’s a musical, but
not a really good one. I didn’t leave my couch singing any of the songs, though I did recognize a couple of them. Acting is predictably hammy, as was the way in
the olden times of Judy Garland movies.


Finder’s Fee

So, a couple of months ago I decided to go all in on Ryan Reynolds. When I go all in, I go ALL IN. So here we are. This is a “Jeff Probst” production (head desk) about a guy who finds a wallet. Turns out that inside the wallet is THAT NIGHT’S WINNING LOTTO TICKET! OMG! (Seriously, worst scene ever. The lotto ticket is only three numbers, but the camera keeps going back and forth between the TV screen of the winning numbers and the ticket like it was the White House nuclear codes. AND THEN the guy takes a pencil to double check AGAIN. I’m like 8 23 91, MORON! IT’S THREE NUMBERS!) Anyway, he had called up the lost wallet guy before he realized the 6 million dollar ticket was in there, the guy comes and then the cops lock down their building so the old man has to stay and tell his sob story as the guy feels guilt about taking the ticket. Think a beating heart beneath the floorboards. Except much much much worse. Not even Ryan Reynolds could save this. There is some really bad poker in it.

Foolproof

Yet another Ryan Reynolds flick from the way back machine. He and his friends plan a faux jewelry heist, but their plans are stolen by a Mafia big wig and carried out. He then blackmails them with the threat of telling the cops they did it unless they help him carry out the heist he really wants to work on. They agree. It’s bad, but not terrible. And I like Ryan Reynolds in this. I also like saying Ryan Reynolds. I also now believe that typing is speaking. Moving on.

Catfish

Okay. Wow. WOW WOW! This and Black Swan are the best movies I’ve seen all year. Catfish is a documentary about a New York City photographer’s relationship with a family in the Midwest. People have questioned whether it’s real or if it’s like that Joaquin Phoenix fauxmentary thing. I can understand the skepticism because the whole thing is so brilliant you can’t believe it’s true. It held particular fascination for me because I do live so much of my life online (so much so I think typing is speaking.) But this flick made me seriously consider deleting my facebook account. So good!


Somewhere

This movie, like all movies directed by Sophia Coppola, makes me long for the
days when she was an actress. Oh yeah, I said it. Sophia the actress >>>>>>
Sophia the Director. AND SHE SUCKED AS AN ACTRESS! So here’s Somewhere: Opening
scene: Guy driving his Beamer around a racetrack three times. Closing scene:
Guy driving his Beamer down the LA Freeway. Get it? GET IT?? First he was going
nowhere BUT NOWWWWWWW he’s…going….SOMEWHERE! Kill me.

Rabbit hole

This movie is weird. It’s about a couple who loses their four-year-old son to a
car accident. The husband wants to go to group therapy; the wife doesn’t. So the
husband smokes pot with a lady from group and the wife has playdates with the teenager who drove the car that killed her son. And there’s a mother and a pregnant sister. I dunno. It’s not the worst, but…yeah.

The Rite

This movie is what can only be described as “Catholic Porn.” Anthony Hopkins is a priest who does exorcisms and an unbeliever seminary student from America is assigned to shadow him. Of course, the student thinks the old man is faking the exorcisms, but then when the old man himself becomes possessed it will be up to the young man to find his faith and vanquish the demon! “I believe in the devil, so I BELIEVE IN GOD!” Cheesy, sure. Effective, hell yes. My ass was in church the next morning for the first time this year. Also, I didn’t just say hell. And I definitely didn’t say it two times.

I love you Phillip Morris

I rented this movie from the store in a predominately Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn. I was wearing a Patriots T-shirt and the clerk goes “Tom Brady can lick my balls.” Um…and then, a few seconds later, as he takes the movies from my arms, he goes “You don’t want to watch this movie,” he says holding up the box, with Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor on the front, by its edges lest he catch the AIDS “It’s all faggy homo stuff. Disgusting.” Now, there are a hundred and one clever responses to both these statements that I have since come up with, but at the time what I said was “That’s okay. I’ll still take it.” Sure enough, the movie is a romantic comedy about two inmates who meet in prison. It’s also part that movie with Leo DiCaprio where he steals a pilot’s uniform and is walking through the airport with a bunch of stewardesses even though he’s like a teenager. (Oh, you guys are so gonna miss these reviews, aren’t you?! AREN’T YOU?) Jim Carrey is pretty good in this. So is Ewan. I liked it, but I have to admit, if this movie were about a man and a woman, I would have thought it was cheesy. So, it might just be my impulse to not be heterosexist that makes me like it. You know, like how white people give Academy Award nominations to crap like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Amistad just not seem racisty.

Gulliver’s Travels

I rented this movie because Donna Noble from Doctor Who is in it. She’s not even really in it all that much. It’s mostly a bromance between Jack Black and Marshall from How I met your mother. It’s okay. Some cool effects. But you so see the end coming a mile away. Amanda Peete also didn’t shine at all and I usually love her! Meh.

Gnomeo and Juliet

Um. Yeah. I rented a movie called Gnomeo and Juliet. And now I’m putting that in writing and publishing it. With my name on it. Um. Yeah. So what can I say? It’s about garden gnomes. Rival garden gnomes. Who fall in love. And…did I say that they were garden gnomes? Why am I still typing?! Little kids might like it though. And I can’t wait for them to get to junior high school and be all “hey, this play is just like that cartoon I saw with the garden gnomes!”

The Dilemma

Vince Vaughn discovers his best friend’s wife is having an affair. When I saw the trailers I thought there would be some twist like…it was really the wife’s cousin or the wife had a twin sister. But no. It is exactly what it says it is. The rest runs very predictably through the bromance formula which has become so popular. Yawn. Queen Latifah is extra weird in this movie. Like extra. Weird. Oh, but it has some hockey in it! What? Hockey is cool.

The Roommate

This movie stars Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girls and Lila from Friday Night Lights. I watched it with my friend F-train, who was visiting from Las Vegas. He did not enjoy it. His comment “oh, these people have TV shows? So they’re not desperate enough to have to do nudity.” He was right. There was no nudity. (The next day we were watching The Good Wife and his only remark was “wait, rewind the lesbian sex scene! I can’t believe they can show this on network TV!) Anyway, The Roommate is a psychological thriller in the vein of “Single White Female.” But it was neither psychological… nor thrilling. I liked Blair in it though. She did a good psycho chick.

No Strings Attached

Ugh. Okay, so this movie sucked, which you totally expect from an Ashton Kutcher
movie, right? BUT THEN it has NATALIE PORTMAN in it! I was TRICKED I TELL YA!
TRICKED! Why is she in THIS??? WHYY?? She’s got Star Wars money, man! I want my 101 minutes of my life back! Eh…who am I kidding, I woulda just wasted them. But dude, this movie was AWFUL. It’s a “romantic” “comedy” about a girl doctor and a man writer who decide to just hook up all the time, but then they fall in love. And then you vomit.

The Mechanic (2011)

I also saw this movie with F-train. In my defense, I planned to spare him my Sunday night movie watching ritual, but the first five minutes of this movie was SO AWESOME that I thought I was doing him a favor by letting him watch it with me. Unfortunately, there were like 100 not so awesome minutes which followed the first five and um…no bueno. Why did I then make him watch the roommate? Well, in for a penny, in for a pound, I say!

The Trial (2010)

This movie stars Matthew Modine. I do not know why I know who he is. I avoided this movie about a wrongfully arrested teen who is paired up with a lawyer whose whole family was just killed in a car crash, FOREVER. It was literally the last movie left on that wall that I hadn’t seen, so I just rented it. It was SO BAD. It’s was like a Tyler Perry movie with white people. Just ham handed morality tale, obvious plot twists and awful awful awful dialogue and plot points. Blech.

Greenberg (2010)

Ben Stiller’s latest pretentious crapfest is…pretentious and crappy! Huzzah! I
actually didn’t mind it because it met my expectations exactly. Skip. Skip.
Skip. Oh what’s it about? A 40-year-old man moves in with his brother after having a mental breakdown and starts up a relationship with the nanny. And then, he takes her to her abortion. Well, not hers, her fetus’. Touching.

The Romantics (2010)

This movie stars every B list actor you can name. I watched it with my six week old nephew. He cried, screamed, spit up and pooped his pants twice. And then he fell asleep. Personally, I thought that was generous. It’s about a “Friends-like” group of six friends who have all dated each other and they are gathering for the wedding of the last pair, but the man is really still in love with one of the other girls and then they quote terrible poetry and then it rains. Or something. AWFUL!

Just Friends

More Ryan Reynolds. Ryan Reynolds! Um…here, he is in love with his best friend, but she has a boyfriend. He decides to proclaim his love anyway, but his note is intercepted by the high school bully and read aloud. In shame, he flees his town never to return until he is a hot, successful bigshot producer. Turns out his crush still lives with her parents in town and he sets out to woo her. But he’s an asshole now. It’s an okay movie. There is hockey in it. Which is weird for a movie starring only American actors. Hush.

Buy the Cow

Oh man. The things I watch for Ryan Reynolds. I swear, Ryan Reynolds himself probably hasn’t seen this movie. There is five long minutes of totally nude Ryan Reynolds in this. And then there’s a plot of some kind involving women as cows.

Back to School

Vinnay recommended this movie in that “how could you have never seen” tone of voice. When in actuality, I coulda lived my whole long perfectly fulfilled life without ever having seen a Rodney Dangerfield movie. Alas, this wasn’t the worst. There were some funny lines. The football team at my high school, now they were tough! After they sack the quarterback, they go after his family! But it was just an hour and a half of Rodney standup.

Blade: the Trinity
Ryan Reynolds FIGHTS VAMPIRES! Listen. I wasn’t fucking around here. All Ryan Reynolds EVERYTHING! He totally saves this otherwise wretched film. I mean, he doesn’t make it good, but he makes it so you aren’t rooting for the vampires to kill everybody. You root for them to kill everybody except Ryan Reynolds.

The In-laws

You know who plays the groom in this awful terrible “comedy,” about a spy’s son marrying a dentist’s daughter? Ryan Reynolds. Again, he’s great. Everyone else? Horrid. He doesn’t save the movie though. It’s unwatchable, no getting around it.

The Green Hornet
I THOUGHT RYAN REYNOLDS WAS IN THIS! ARRRRGHGGGHHHH. *smashes a lamp* Anyway, there are 24 great minutes in this movie. Unfortunately, they’re spread out randomly through the rest of this (inexplicably) 135 minute mess. I don’t know who told that guy from Knocked Up that he was a leading man who could anchor a movie like this, but THAT GUY should be hired by the US Government to handle future negotiations with China about our debt. He’ll SO convince them that we paid already. “What?! You didn’t get the check? This is ridiculous! What’s your address again?!”

Casino Jack

This movie stars Kevin Spacey and that “I’m not lying” guy from SNL. You know, Chanukah Harry… I so just dated myself. Um… movie is okay, the documentary I saw last month was way better.

Van Wilder: Van Gone Wilder

Heeyy, it’s another Ryan Reynolds movie! What’re the odds?! Actually, I all kinds of loved this movie about a seven year undergrad who finally has to get it together to graduate. I actually saw this right after Back to School. They are kind of alike, but Van Wilder is actually funny. Except for the racist “they have to fly in an Indian girl for Kumar to get a girlfriend” part.

And that’s a wrap! It’s been a wild four years, Blockbuster. But it’s time that we part ways. I need to do other things… Like figure out how to beat Kearns at Kinect Sports. Peace.

Posted in Movies | 9 Comments

Back to School

I met up with Alexandra Robbins for a talk she was giving at the High School of the Future High School. I’m pretty sure that’s the name, even though, as I sat in the auditorium in wooden recoiling chairs, I very much felt like the little kid I once was in Elementary School of the past.

The principal made a joke about how the school has been around for twenty years, but the building has been around for a hundred. Alexandra was looking particularly glamorous on that Cinco de Mayo evening.
“I know, right? I did the Today Show!”
“Wait. What? When?”
She gave me a look.
“When was the Today show”?

I did mention it was Cinco de Mayo, right? Official only day of the year on which Stephane drinks tequila?

Alexandra had been invited to talk about her new book “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth,” that I’ve been going on about nonstop because, well, if it’s true, I’m going to be getting *Earth*!

As if she could read my mind, Alexandra began her speech with my own personal geek story.

Stephane was an outsider in high school. She was made fun of for her clothes and said she never fit in.

Who are you telling, sister!

“Ten years later Stephanie is on the cover of Forbes and Time magazine…”

What? When?! Why was I not informed?!

Yeah, so…apparently there’s some other used-to-be-a-geek Stephane, who spells her name funny, out there stealing all my magazine covers. RUDE!

The rest of Alexandra’s talk was also not about me. She talked some about the book – there was a cute moment where she asked the mom of some kids in the audience if it was okay for her to use the word bitch. It was.

She cited a study about, I want to say caterpillars, which showed that caterpillars will follow the lead caterpillar around a room even though the tasty caterpillar food was only a few inches off the beaten caterpillar track. Those caterpillars died. The plight of blind sycophant caterpillars were mirrored in the tales of the popular kids, who cling to the code of popularity, lest they suffer the fate of the uncool geeks.

She talked about the frustration of one of her protaganists who complained that his own mother would chastise him for not being “normal” enough and she advised parents not to worry if their kid only had one or two friends. I almost called my mother to say “I told you so,” but to be fair, Alexandra did not opine on whether imaginary friends counted. I maintain that they should.

What I most like is that this topic seems to be giving everyone a chance to tell their own story, or that of their child. One mom at the talk, dissolved into tears talking about how her daughter’s two closest friends had shut the girl out of the group. My own twitter guru, @basseyworldlive tweeted a link to an article about Geekiness in Jezebel and wrote “I was such a geek in high school.” If you’ve ever seen Bassey Ikpi perform, you’ll quickly believe in what Alexandra calls “quirk theory,” the idea that the very thing that makes one a “geek” is what leads to excellence in adulthood.

It’s a theory that resonates. The Yahoo article about the book was on yahoo’s most emailed article list and has made its way all around “the facebook”, as my mother insists on calling it.

At the end of the High School of the Future lecture, Alexandra talked about her own high school experience on the fringe and ended with “I’m a dork, I married a dork and now I have a dork family.”

See kids, it all works out in the end.

Okay, now where is my Earth?

Posted in Books | 15 Comments