Any given Sunday, a moviegoer can see a film that catches them completely off-guard. Yesterday, the Sunday after Christmas, I saw such a film. Now, I don't much care for football. Nor is Oliver Stone typically my type of filmmaker. Nor am I a big fan of Al Pacino or Cameron Diaz or anyone in the movie for that matter. So why did I go see it? What was its appeal? I can't really say for sure, but when I saw the trailer for Any Given Sunday, I thought, "That should be a pretty good movie."
To say this movie was good would be not be doing it justice. I was floored. Astounded. Any Given Sunday is a visual and aural masterpiece and quite possibly the best movie I've seen this year... and I've seen American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, and other amazingly good movies. For three hours last night, I was enthralled, sucked in, completely involved in the story of an aging football coach, a hot shot new quarterback, the legend that preceded him, the cold-hearted, hard-nosed team owner (played amazingly by the completely opposite Cameron Diaz, and so many other incredible characters. I've always appreciated Oliver Stone as a filmmaker, but I have never been able to personally connect with his films, until now. I like that he has departed from his usual controversial subject matters and decided to tackle (no pun intended... okay, maybe a little intended, but don't tell anyone) something a little more fun. His use in this film of superimposed footage of old football heroes and coaches and crowds is used in such a fantastic way. It's just... wow.
If you have read any of my reviews, you may think that I tend to love every movie (except maybe the horrid Wing Commander), which is not far from the truth; I admit I'm a bit of a movie whore, but I typically only write about the movies that compel me to write (i.e. the good ones or the extraordinarily wretched ones). So I haven't written about all the middle-of-the-road stuff - just the stuff I want people to see or avoid, at all costs. I can be selective because nobody pays me to do this. Point is, I don't love every movie, so when I say that Any Given Sunday is one of the most astounding films I have ever seen, I am not just saying that. This movie has been given a permanent place on my Favorite Movies of All Time List. Don't miss it.
Monday, December 27, 1999
Any given Sunday, a moviegoer can see a film that catches them completely off-guard. Yesterday, the Sunday after Christmas, I saw such a film. Now, I don't much care for football. Nor is Oliver Stone typically my type of filmmaker. Nor am I a big fan of Al Pacino or Cameron Diaz or anyone in the movie for that matter. So why did I go see it? What was its appeal? I can't really say for sure, but when I saw the trailer for Any Given Sunday, I thought, "That should be a pretty good movie."
Wednesday, December 15, 1999
So I've never reviewed a TV show before. And I'm sure you've found this, you've certainly read other reviews singing the praises of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Last night, December 14, 1999, I saw not only the best episode of Buffy, but the best episode of any television series ever. At least that I've seen. You don't need to be a Buffy watcher to enjoy this one. In fact, I've got to try and get a hold of a taped copy to show my friends, and none of them watch the show.
In the middle of the night, the town of Sunnydale is quietly invaded by a group of terrifying hovering demons called The Gentlemen. They show up, open this tiny wooden box and suck the voices out of every inhabitant of the town. When they all wake and find they are speechless, we're only about 20 minutes into the show. The remaining 40 minutes is dialogue-free as Buffy and her gang try to figure out what's going on. Their attempts at communicating with one another are riotous and the scenes with the Gentlemen are bone-chillingly creepy. No movie or TV show has ever given me the willies like these demons did.
It is astounding what creator Joss Whedon and his cast and crew are capable of. If this episode does not earn an Emmy, I will personally be mortified. I am already kicking myself for not sticking a tape in the VCR. Ugh. If it repeats, please watch. You don't have to have ever seen a previous episode. I implore you all!!
Wednesday, December 8, 1999
So I visited my son at college on Parents Weekend, which is a nice event that colleges hold so that parents will have a chance to feel old.
I started feeling old the moment I got to my son's housing unit and saw a sign on the door that said: END WORLD HUNGER TODAY. This reminded me that there was a time in my life, decades ago, when I was so full of energy that I was going to not only END WORLD HUNGER, but also STOP WAR and ELIMINATE RACISM. Whereas today my life goals, to judge from the notes I leave myself, tend to be along the lines of BUY DETERGENT.
I felt even older when I entered my son's apartment, which he shares with three roommates and approximately 200 used pizza boxes. When I was a college student, we also accumulated used pizza boxes, but we threw them away after a reasonable period of time (six weeks). Whereas my son and his roommates apparently plan to keep theirs forever. Maybe they believe that a wealthy used-box collector will come to the door and say, "If you can produce a box used to deliver pizza on the night of Sept. 12, 1999, I'll pay you thousands of dollars for it!" Because they WILL have that box on file.
They keep their pizza boxes in the kitchenette, which is also where they keep their food supply, which is an open jar containing a wad of peanut butter as hard as a bowling ball. You may be wondering: "What happens if a burglar breaks into the kitchenette and steals their pizza boxes?" Do not worry. They keep a reserve supply of pizza boxes in the living room, and if a burglar tried to get those, he'd trip over the cord that stretches across the room from the TV to the video-game controller held by a young man who is permanently installed on the sofa. This young man is not one of my son's roommates; for all I know, he's not even a student. But he is stationed in the living room 24 hours a day, focused on the video game, although he always gives you a polite "Hi" when you walk through the room and step over his cord. I'm not familiar with the game he's playing, but I noticed, as I stepped over the cord, that the screen said: "YOU HAVE BEEN AWARDED EIGHT THUNDERS." Maybe this has something to do with world hunger.
After passing through the living room, I stuck my head into my son's bedroom. I was reluctant to enter, because then I'd have been walking on my son's clothes. He keeps them on the floor, right next to the bureau. (I don't know what he keeps in the bureau. My guess is: pizza boxes.) My son assured me that, even though his garments appear to be one big intertwined pile, he knows which are clean and which are dirty.
"Like, this one is clean," he said, picking a garment off the floor, "and this one is clean, and this one is . . . never mind."
There were no sheets on my son's bed. Asked about this, he explained (this was the entire explanation): "They came off a couple of weeks ago."
I'm not complaining about my son's housekeeping. He is Martha Stewart compared with the student who occupied his bedroom last year. According to true campus legend, when this student moved out, his laundry was so far beyond human control that he simply abandoned it. As a kind of tribute, his roommates took a pair of his briefs outside, climbed a lamppost and stretched the briefs over the lamp. They remain there today, a monument to the courage and dedication it takes to put underpants on a lamppost. I was gazing up at them in admiration when a student said to me: "That's the cleanest they've ever been."
Not all student rooms look like my son's. Some are occupied by females. If you stand outside the building, you notice that those rooms have curtains and pictures on the walls; whereas the males' rooms have all been painstakingly decorated with: nothing. The only designer touches are lines of bottles, and the occasional tendril of laundry peeking coyly over a window sill. We stood outside my son's building one evening, noting this difference; my son, looking at a tasteful, female-occupied room, said, with genuine wonder in his voice: "I think they vacuum and stuff."
Speaking of which: During Parents Weekend, I took my son shopping, and we bought, among other things, a small vacuum cleaner. When we got back to his room, one of his roommates opened the box and held up the vacuum cleaner. We all looked at it, and then at the room. Then we enjoyed a hearty laugh. Then the roommate set the vacuum cleaner down on the floor, where it will be swallowed by laundry and never seen again. This is fine. These kids are not in college to do housework: They are there to learn. Because they are our Hope for the Future. And that future is going to smell like socks.
Saturday, October 30, 1999
The first rule of Fight Club is... oh, hell, how unoriginal to use that in my review. By now, I'm sure you know the first two rules of Fight Club. But do you know that the film is one of the most brilliant cinematic experiences of all time? That's the first thing I want to discuss, I'll get to the actual subject matter in the next paragraph. I remember when Alien 3 came out and everyone I knew hated it and said "Damn that David Fincher, he ruined Aliens!" My reply to those people was this: "The story sucked ass, but the directing was amazing. Fincher is going to be big time." To which my friends replied: "Yeah, but a director has input on the story." To which I retorted: "A first-time feature director? I don't think he's got as much input as you think." I don't know, maybe he did. If so, he more than made up for any errors he may have made with Seven, then with The Game, and now with Fight Club. This film is a visual and aural masterpiece. Technically flawless, cinematically a creative powerhouse. If you like filmmaking, no matter what you feel about the story or its subject matter, you absolutely must see this film. Period. Run. Now.
Now, about the actual stuff of the movie. I didn't really find it as violent as the media is making it out to be, first off. There's some extraordinarily bloody faces, but that's really it. Second off, the media is worried that it sends out a socially irresponsible message of violence to solve problems. What they're really saying is that the stupid masses will misconstrue it as an advocation of violence, and maybe they're right. But please. It is not art's job to cater to the stupid. Art is meant to be provocative, to make you think. Most of the time, movies don't really do that. And when it does, people tend to get themselves all worked up. I wish they'd just shut up! I'm going to go kick their butts, that's what I'm going to do! Wait. Sorry. Strike that. Um, just see the movie. Unless you are stupid. Then, don't see it; it's not for you. The acting, especially Ed Norton, is top notch. If there was a notch above the top one, though the logical possibility of that is nil, that is where the writing would be: every word of dialogue drips with dark wit. As for the technical aspects, I was completely blown away. To paraphrase some dialogue from the film, I am Jack's profound sense of appreciation and gratitude.
Tuesday, October 19, 1999
Kevin Spacey has a knack for appearing in the type of movies that I particularly enjoy: The Ref, Seven, The Usual Suspects, Swimming With Sharks, and now American Beauty. The film follows Lester Burnham (Spacey), a burnt-out, bored, depressed, self- titled "loser", who experiences a reawakening inspired by his teenage daughter Jane's (Thora Birch) seemingly promiscuous teenage friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). His newfound youthfulness leads him to address many of the issues that have been plaguing him: his thankless job, his "joyless" wife (Annette Bening), and his distant daughter. Meanwhile, a new family moves in next door to the Burnhams: Retired Colonel Fitts (Chris Cooper), his bizzare, catatonic wife (Allison Janey), and their enigmatic son, Ricky (Wes Bentley). The two families' lives begin to intertwine, primarily through Ricky and Jane.
Typically, movie taglines are extraordinarily lame. But American Beauty's, "Look Closer," is as apt as the film itself. It encourages you to, yes, look closer at the seemingly average American suburban family - and see just how average they're not. It examines what the world sees versus what really goes on behind the closed red front door of the Burnham house. These are real people, with real problems - and this exists behind every door on every home. This film unflinchingly explores many domestic issues: violence, apathy, disenchanted children, affairs.
Acting: Tremendous, especially Spacey and Wes Bentley.
Directing: A superb job for first time film director Sam Mendes, a theater veteran. Unique visual style, with help from cinematographer Conrad Hall.
Writing: Also superb for first time feature writer Alan Ball, a sitcom veteran ('Cybil', 'Oh Grow Up')
Music: Amazing score by Thomas Newman
I urge you, if you haven't seen it, look closer.
Tuesday, September 7, 1999
"FROM THE MAKERS OF THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY COMES OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE!!!"
Ah yes, another case of poor advertising. Though not as horribly misguided as the ads for The Iron Giant, the trailers touting Outside Providence as a film in the style of the Farrelly brothers' There's Something About Mary are pretty bad. Sure, the film has a couple of colorful, gross-out gags, but for the most part, Outside Providence is a sweet coming-of-age story about Tim, an aimless pot-smoking teen from Pawtucket, RI, who is sent to a prep school for his senior year in high school by his gruff but caring father. So that's the set-up, and, if this were like Mary, hilarity would now ensue. It does, but for this movie, the laughs come more from the heart than from the gut. At prep school, Tim makes new friends (including Jizz, a nerdish guy who earned his nickname his freshman year in a horrendously embarrassing flashback) and meets Jane, an attractive, popular and intelligent girl bound for Brown ("Hey, they got one of those in Providence!") University.
Of course, Tim butts heads with the evil dorm master, and grows up a little and all that stuff that coming-of-age movies are made of. Now, I'm not the biggest Alec Baldwin fan - in fact, I often avoid movies he's in - so it's no small compliment to say that he is a riot in this movie as Tim's father (who calls his son "Dildo"). The story is nothing new, but the writing is fresh and the characters have depth and heart, which more than makes up for that. And, yes, there are some gross gags. See it, and bring a date.
6:30 Wake up and lie awake in bed.
6:31 Realize you spent $18 on last night's dinner, means no eating out for the next 6 weeks.
7:00 Wake up suddenly with heart in mouth when you realize you didn't hit the snooze button--you turned it off.
7:01 Fall asleep again.
7:44 Wake up with heart in mouth again.
7:45 Ready to go to school, will shave tommorrow, will eat early brunch at (Denny's/Penny's/Lenny's/Dinko's whatever cafeteria).
8:03 Arrive at school. Realize your foreign officemate arrived arrived earlier today and must have got more work done.
8:04 Pass by Advisor's office, chat with Secretary to find out if he is coming in today. He is, darn. Need to start work on the draft due this afternoon.
8:15 Read electronic mail.
8:20 Delete mail from students taking CMPSC201 regarding questions about the class. Hate your TA job. Depression: too much work to do today.
9:00 For jumpstart: go to Pepsi machine.
9:05 Kick Pepsi machine; promise yourself to call up the company and ask for your money back. Wonder why they would believe you.
9:33 Start printing out loads of stuff that may be vaguely related to your work.
9:41 Early morning stupefaction. Mutter racist comments to yourself about your officemate.
9:43 Curse your officemate in a low tone he would not comprehend. Feel good about him not grasping English well.
9:58 Finger everyone in the department and most people half way around the world (using the "finger" command, of course)
10:19 Feel sleepy, should not have stayed late playing tetris last night.
10:31 Momentary panic attack!!!!!!!!!!!!
10:43 Edit .plan file. write a shell program to edit .plan more easily.
10:59 Drop in at advisor's office and borrow something you don't need & and kinda make him aware you are working hard on your project.
11:05 Perverted daydreams
11:11 Read electronic news. Mid-morning yawn time.
11:34 Start typing junk at a very high key-in rate to pretend you are working hard as your advisor passes by from outside.
11:35 Press the BackSpace key for one and a half minutes until all the garbage you typed in is erased. Realize that you can type more than 256 characters per half minute.
11:41 Flirt with the new girl in the department.
11:45 Print out some slides for afternoon's draft + presentation.
11:47 Print them again, you forgot to change the date from last presentation.
11:49 Print another copy in case this one gets lost.
11:51 Completely forget about sueing the coffee machine company.
12:15 Hunger pangs: 12:20 BigMac/Fries time. Drink a not-so-cold generic can of cola from your desk. Ch-Ching, you just saved 35 cents by buying bulk cola.
1:00 Group Meeting with advisor.
1:14 Sudden awareness of one's shallowness resentment towards foriegn officemate for sucking up to your advisor. Get reminded by your advisor that you need to do some more work for your literature survey.
1:51 Advisor hands you the reddened copy of your draft for corrections.
1:51:02 The 49 second urge to murder advisor begins!!
1:51:52 Realize that he controls your assistantship/grade/ graduation possiblity/graduation date/all job opportunities and the rest of your life.
1:52:53 Thank him
1:52:54 Thank yourself for not saying something stupid to your advisor 1:53:00 splitting headache #1 1:59 Check electronic mail, don't reply though, you are too busy to do that.
2:06 More generic cola.
2:17 Oh No, it is my turn to cook tonite :-(
2:30 Sit through the class you were told to sit through.
2:39 Look outside the window make unrealistic plans to quit this degree program and take up a job. Wonder why blonde girls are so pretty.
2:48 More perverted day-dreams. Close office door and open a few .gif files. Sharpen pencil.
3:06 Worry about never graduating. Time to write a letter--NOT! No time for that. Rearrange desk. Call up bank, see if you have any money. Fear of losing aid next Fall. Read latex manuals manuals to figure out how to put &$%&% in %$^% format.
3:43 Watch the clock. Make plans to do a all-nighter tonite. Vow to watch only 2 TV programs.
4:58 Notice advisor leave.
4:58:01 Sudden sense of freedom. Go home for quick, short dinner break.
9:00 Come into the office
9:01 The hard working grad student you are, you have to come to the office late at night to "get the work done."
9:03 Check electronic mail. Decide it would be a good time to attack those ftp sites since network won't be loaded. Run into "since network won't be loaded" traffic and get the pictures into your machine. Compress all the unwanted research/class directories to make space. Back up all your pictures.
10:11 Admire pictures. Begin work; Realize you need references. Realize its too late today to go to the library. Sudden feeling of having wasted the day.
10:49 Sudden feeling of possibly having to waste the night, decide to turn in early and come back very early tommorrow morning. Decide to play a Tetris on the system to put yourself in a good mood.
11:15 Play game after game after game to improve your score and get on the scoreboard. Realize that your officemate is still at number 6, two notches above you on the scoreboard.
12:20 Play until you beat your officemate into the 7th place. A sense of achievment!! Yes, today was not wasted!! Return home to find your roommate watching David Letterman reruns on NBC. Tell him about the "hard working grad student day you had." Discuss philosophy with roommate.
1:09am Think about becoming a philosopher and dining with 4 others. (The Dining Philosophers problem, hee hee :-) (Comp Sci joke) Argue with him about politics, why people prefer Japanese cars and whether it is better to set the heat to "hot" or "cold" to defrost the windshields faster.
1:49 Realize neither of you have bought milk today. Get reminded of the "too much milk problem."
2:04 Forget about getting up early. Turn the phone ringer off and go to sleep.
Thursday, August 19, 1999
Twas the night before finals,
And all through the college,
The students were praying
For last minute knowledge.
Most were quite sleepy,
But none touched their beds,
While visions of essays
danced in their heads.
Out in the taverns,
A few were still drinking,
And hoping that liquor
would loosen up their thinking.
In my own apartment,
I had been pacing,
And dreading exams
I soon would be facing.
My roommate was speechless,
His nose in his books,
And my comments to him
Drew unfriendly looks.
I drained all the coffee,
And brewed a new pot,
No longer caring
That my nerves were shot.
I stared at my notes,
But my thoughts were muddy,
My eyes went ablur,
I just couldn't study.
"Some pizza might help,"
I said with a shiver,
But each place I called
Refused to deliver.
I'd nearly concluded
That life was too cruel,
With futures depending
On grades had in school.
When all of a sudden,
Our door opened wide,
And Patron Saint Put It Off
Her spirit was careless,
Her manner was mellow,
She started to bellow:
"What kind of student
Would make such a fuss,
To toss back at teachers
What they tossed at us?"
"On Cliff Notes! On Crib Notes!
On Last Year's Exams!
On Wingit and Slingit,
And Last Minute Crams!"
Her message delivered,
She vanished from sight,
But we heard her laughing
Outside in the night.
"Your teachers have pegged you,
So just do your best.
Happy Finals to All,
And to All, a good test."
Wednesday, August 18, 1999
Leaps tall buildings in a single bound
Is more powerful than a locomotive
Is faster than a speeding bullet
Walks on water
Gives policy to God
THE DEPARTMENT HEAD
Leaps short buildings with a single bound
Is more powerful than a switch engine
Is just as fast as a speeding bullet
Takes a few steps on water
Talks with God
Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds
Is almost as powerful as a switch engine
Is faster than a speeding BB
Walks on water in an indoor swimming pool
Talks with God if a special request is honored
Barely clears a quonset hut
Loses tug of war with a locomotive
Can fire a speeding bullet
Is occasionally addressed by God
Makes high marks on the walls when trying to leap tall buildings
Is run over by locomotives
Can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self-injury
Climbs walls continually
Rides the rails
Plays Russian Roulette
Walks on thin ice
Runs into buildings
Recognizes locomotives two out of three times
Is not issued ammunition
Can stay afloat with a life jacket
Talks to walls
Falls over doorstep when trying to enter buildings
Says "Look at the choo-choo"
Wets himself with a water pistol
Plays in mud puddles
Mumbles to himself
Lifts buildings and walks under them
Kicks locomotives off the tracks
Catches speeding bullets in her teeth and eats them
Freezes water with a single glance
She IS God
Tuesday, August 17, 1999
I'm 24 years old. I'm college educated. I was raised by a family that was never too strict, but never too lenient either. Somehow between their gentle instruction, school, and general common sense, I became a well-mannered and conscientious young adult. Really. Which brings me to the question: what the fuck is wrong with everyone else? When I go to a movie theater, I expect to sit in a quiet dark room with a hundred or more other people in the mass collective experience that is movie-watching. The key word in that previous sentence is "quiet." Which means: no cell phones, no talking, and no, repeat: NO, babies.
Now don't get me wrong: I love babies just as much as the next guy, provided that guy is not a cannibal or a freaky pedophile. But a movie theater is no place for one. You can see what I'm getting at and I'm sure you all have baby/theater stories of your own. Why does this happen? I think that it should be theater policy to not allow babies. If someone shows up with a baby, they should not be sold a ticket. If they already have a ticket, the ticket-taker should not allow them in. This is why God invented babysitters.
By now you realize that there was a baby in the theater when I went to see The Sixth Sense. The little bundle of joy blessed us movie-goers with a constant screaming and crying, but luckily its parents brought along a music-making toy(!!!) to placate their spawn. It got so bad at one point that a man (at wit's end) yelled, "GET THAT BABY OUT OF HERE!!" which was echoed by several other frazzled audience members. The father (I assume) yelled back, "Yeah, wait until you have children!!" (Like that was an excuse to bring his screaming child to a movie and never once take it out to the lobby when it started screaming). The wit's-end guy screamed back, "I've got three kids - and I had the good sense to leave them AT HOME!" The altercation ended there, but the baby stayed. And cried. Some people got up and left, mumbling about getting a refund as they shuffled up the aisle.
Is this what American society is coming to? Is everyone so self-absorbed that they have ceased entirely in having regard for others? Have we become so wrapped up in our own lives that we fail to notice that other people also inhabit the world? It's not just movie theaters either. I ride the subway to and from work every day, and on the subway are poles that people can hold on to so they don't topple over when the train turns or stops or goes. Quite often, someone will lean their entire body up against the pole, effectively preventing anyone else from utilizing it for balance. What is that? Doesn't the thought ever cross their minds that maybe, just maybe, the pole is for more people than just them? Somewhere - everywhere - behavior like this is occurring, unabated. And it will only get worse as people become more and more oblivious to others.
Oh yeah, The Sixth Sense was pretty good. A creepy, moody, slow-moving, ambient thriller about a boy who claims to see dead people and a child psychologist who tries to help him. Wonderfully subdued acting, directing, photography. I really miss slow-paced movies in today's cinematic world of MTV editing and instant-gratification action and horror movies. Slow pacing allows you to build to something, instead of being at a constantly frenetic speed. The action is a pay-off when you build to it, instead of just being action for action's sake. You get more character development, more mood establishment, more thoughtfulness, more thematic content. Maybe this is why audiences have become the way they are: they are expecting instant eye (and ear) candy, as opposed to a thoughtful examination of characters and story. Whatever. If that describes you, don't see The Sixth Sense; it's too intelligent for you. Go see Wild Wild West or re-rent Armageddon. But for those of you who miss good movies, see this one.
Tuesday, August 10, 1999
It's a shame about The Iron Giant. The movie's opening weekend box office was dismal (9th place... one above The Phantom Menace). Really, I am not surprised. The TV ads and theatrical trailers for this film, to use the colloquial, sucked ass! When I first started to see previews for the Iron Giant, I laughed and thought "How LAME!" Rotten, rotten, rotten advertising from those folks at Warner Bros. Marketing. So why'd I see the movie, you ask? Well, because of all the glowing, superb, excellent, splendiferous reviews on Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool News web site, that's why! As I read through all the reviews there, I thought to myself, "Geez, this movie must be alright. Maybe I should check it out." After all, it wouldn't be the first time that a film was completely mis-advertised - although usually, the trailers make the movie look approximately 8 gazillion times better than it is.
Anyhow, Friday night I was intent on dragging my poor girlfriend to see South Park. I had already seen it twice, but she hadn't and, despite her lack of enthusiasm, I needed to take her. But, lo and behold, it was sold out! Two hours before show time! What to do, what to do? Well, The Iron Giant starts in ten minutes and that ain't sold out! I figured, since I'm forcing my better half to see one animated movie, what the hell! Her protests were far bigger than they were for South Park, but I was paying so I got her in. I know, I'm a lousy boyfriend... like your relationship is perfect, if you have one, that is.
So the movie: young Hogarth Hughes, who lives with his divorced, overworked mom, befriends an alien and has to protect it from the sinister US government. E.T., right? Wrong. This movie has many more themes, all - like E.T. - conveyed with heart and a richness that so many movies today lack. The characters - including the giant, Hogarth, his mother, local beatnik Dean, and paranoid government agent Manley - are so much more human than most non-animated characters in films today. The style and animation are beautifully nostalgic, well-suited to the 50's era in which the story takes place. The writing is flawless, from the dialog to the film's broad themes. The laughs are genuine, the tears are genuine, everything about this film is, well, genuine.
Please ignore all the commercials that make you want to avoid this movie. Please ignore the fact that "it's just a cartoon" (a sentiment that I hear all too much). Please ignore the fact that it's tanking at the box office. Just see this movie. It deserves to be seen. And you deserve to be treated to such a great movie after tolerating all the crap that's been coming out recently. And drag your girlfriend, too.
Thursday, August 5, 1999
So I recently got a DVD player, and I have to say that it makes a huge difference - even on my 19" TV - when I hook it up to my stereo. The picture and sound quality are phenomenal. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.
Anyway, I rented the DVD version of October Sky with high hopes, having read the book during my vacation in May. Homer Hickam's book, a nostalgic autobiographical story that is more coming-of-age than rocket-building, is excellent, and made me regret not catching this in the theater.
Despite some changes, the movie does not disappoint. In fact, it enhances and builds upon the key theme in the book, Homer's squaring-off with his father in regards to his future, and his desperate need to win the old man's approval.
Following the Russian's successful launch of Sputnik, teenager Homer Hickam decides that he wants to build rockets. So he and his friends do just that, starting off badly and then slowly excelling in what they do. Homer dreams of one day working for the famous rocket-building scientist, Dr. Werner von Braun, which is at direct odds with his father's expectations that Homer follow in his footsteps to work in the coal mines. Needless to say, father-son disputes ensue.
Anyway, I dug it. The film's production design, direction and photography capture the nostalgic feel of the book, and the actors all do a superb job, especially Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Cooper, as Homer and his father, respectively. Lewis Colick's screenplay takes the best of the book and hones it down into a great, two-hour story.
My one major problem with the film versus the book: the name change of the father from Homer, Sr., to "John." It suggests that the audience is stupid and can't follow a story with two characters named Homer, and, worse, de-emphasizes the sharp similarities between the father and the son, despite their being opposed to one another. Oh well. It's still a very good movie.
Wednesday, June 16, 1999
So I got to see an advance screening of this last night, and all I can say is "Wow!"
Actually, that's not all I can say, because that would be a very short review.
This is easily the best Disney animated "classic" since Aladdin. A great, personal story with strong characters and amazingly beautiful visuals (I caught myself actually saying "wow" at some points during the film).
Everyone knows the story of Tarzan -- orphaned baby raised by apes, meets Jane, yells, etc. -- but this is the most touchingly human version I've seen. The connection between Tarzan and his ape-mother is so much deeper than past Disney protagonists (e.g. Belle and her dad, Ariel and Tritan, Simba and Mufasa, etc), and the attraction between him and Jane so tangible, it's just, well, shucks, it's just a good freakin' movie.
A new musical technique here has Phil Collins' songs playing in the background, as opposed to the characters bursting into song. And it works. Very well. The score, by Mark Mancina (Speed, Bad Boys) is also wonderful.
For anyone who has given up hope that Disney can make good animated movies (and who hasn't after Pocahontas?), please do yourself a favor and see this movie.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
I am wondering something: Did the critics see a different movie than I did? I have seen The Phantom Menace three times now, and it keeps getting better and better, revealing more subtleties and nuances that foreshadow things to come. Not to mention it kicks ass.
Of course, there is the Jar Jar factor. He truly is an annoying creation, albeit pivotal to the story. But upon multiple viewings, he is not so obnoxious. I read one review that complained that the film is - paraphrased - "nobody's story. Not Anakin Skywalker's, not Obi-Wan Kenobi's, not Qui-Gon Jinn's." My question is this: was Empire Strikes Back (arguably the best film of the series) anyone's story in particular? We followed all the characters around. Does that not make it a good film?
The Phantom Menace has an epic saga to introduce to us, and only about 2 hours and 10 minutes to do it.
This film is pure Star Wars, especially the last 20 minutes. Great story, great non-wooden acting by all, and amazing action sequences, including the best lightsaber duel in any of the Star Wars films.
I can't wait for Episode 2.
Monday, April 5, 1999
So, what is The Matrix? Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is... you have to see it for yourself.
I went into this movie expecting a lot, which usually leads to severe disappointment. Not in this case. The Matrix is an amazing, story-driven action/special-effects extravaganza. I do not want to reveal anything, except to say that it deals with one of those paranoid "we are all being controlled by some unseen entity" ideas. I know that does not appeal to some people, but if you're one of those people, please, see it anyway.
The action sequences are nothing less than phenomenal, and the special effects compliment the story rather than detract from it. Outstanding performance by Lawrence Fishburn, and Keanu Reeves more than holds his own (as he did in Devil's Advocate). This film reminds me of Blade Runner, but, even though everyone tells me that I am supposed to revere that movie as a masterpiece, The Matrix is so much more enjoyable.
To put it simply, The Matrix ROCKS.
10 out of 10.
Tuesday, March 30, 1999
I have to admit that a major incentive for me to see this movie was the 2nd "Phantom Menace" trailer that was playing before it. However, the previews for "Wing Commander" looked like it could be a pretty decent flick. Looks, as they say, can be deceiving.
The flat directing, ludicrous special effects - especially the evil aliens' appearance - and (mostly) sub-par acting would have prompted me to leave the theater early (the Star Wars trailer was worth the $9.00) were it not for the guys around me completely trashing the film as the story unfolded. Their MiSTing (that's Mystery Science Theater-style mocking) of the movie kept me (and others nearby) interested and laughing the entire time. So I had fun. Had I seen it alone, I would not be alive to write this review; I would have impaled myself on the broken, jagged, plastic cup holder/armrest thoughtfully provided for me by the movie theater.
This is the worst movie I have ever seen. Worse than Iron Eagle II, even.
Friday, January 1, 1999
If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let'em go, because, man, they're gone.
If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason."
To me, it's a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, "Hey, can you give me a hand?" You can say, "Sorry, got these sacks."
One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh no," I said, "Disneyland burned down.
He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.
The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.
If you lived in the Dark Ages and you were a catapult operator, I bet the most common question people would ask is, "Can't you make it shoot farther?" "No, I'm sorry. That's as far as it shoots."
Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk.
I believe in making the world safe for our children, but not our children's children, because I don't think children should be having sex.
If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is, "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is, "Probably because of something you did."
If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid seeing yourself in the mirror, because I bet that's what REALLY throws you into a panic.
Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if I was an ant and she fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny.
To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography and the dancers hit each other.
I hope if dogs ever take over the world and they choose a king, they don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas.
If life deals you lemons, why not go kill someone with the lemons (maybe by shoving them down his throat).
Instead of having "answers" on a math test, they should just call them "impressions," and if you got a different "impression," so what, can't we all be brothers?
Probably the earliest fly swatters were nothing more than some sort of striking surface attached to the end of a long stick.
I wish I would have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I'd just quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway.
I think a good gift for the President would be a chocolate revolver. And since he's so busy, you'd probably have to run up to him real quick and hand it to him.
Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at that word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it's made up of two separate words "mank" and "ind."
What do these words mean? It's a mystery and that's why so is mankind.
If you go flying back through time and you see somebody else flying forward into the future, it's probably best to avoid eye contact.
It's easy to sit there and say you'd like to have more money. And I guess that's what I like about it. It's easy. Just sitting there, rocking back and forth, wanting that money.
If you ever reach total enlightenment while you're drinking a beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose.
To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kinda scary. I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad.
As the light changed from red to green to yellow and back to red again, I sat there thinking about life. Was it nothing more than a bunch of honking and yelling? Sometimes it seemed that way.
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.
I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its eggs in my brain, because later you might think you're having a good idea but it's just eggs hatching.
Whenever you read a good book, it's like the author is right there, in the room talking to you, which is why I don't like to read good books.
What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk?
And after you're real drunk, maybe go down to the public park and stagger around and ask people for money, and then lay down and go to sleep.
Instead of a trap door, what about a trap window? The guy looks out it, and if he leans too far, he falls out. Wait. I guess that's like a regular window.
During the Middle Ages, probably one of the biggest mistakes was not putting on your armor because you were "just going down to the corner."
If I ever get real rich, I hope I'm not real mean to poor people, like I am now.
When I found the skull in the woods, the first thing I did was call the police. But then I got curious about it. I picked it up, and started wondering who this person was, and why he had deer horns.
I remember how my great-uncle Jerry would sit on the porch and whittle all day long. Once he whittled me a toy boat out of a larger toy boat I had. It was almost as good as the first one, except now it had bumpy whittle marks all over it. And no paint, because he had whittled off the paint.
Here's a good thing to do if you go to a party and you don't know anybody: First take out the garbage. Then go around and collect any extra garbage that people might have, like a crumpled napkin, and take that out too. Pretty soon people will want to meet the busy garbage guy.
Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don't know what your rights are, or who the person is you're talking to. Then on the way out, slam the door.
If you're a cowboy and you're dragging a guy behind your horse, I bet it would really make you mad if you looked back and the guy was reading a magazine.
If your friend is already dead, and being eaten by vultures, I think it's okay to feed some bits of your friend to one of the vultures, to teach him to do some tricks. But only if you're serious about adopting the vulture.
Broken promises don't upset me. I just think, why did they believe me?
If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you.
One thing vampire children have to be taught early on is, don't run with a wooden stake.
- Insist that you are a vegetarian and protest anytime your roommate eats meat. Then leave "Slim Jim" wrappers on the floor and lie on the bed holding your stomach every time your roommate walks in. If he/she asks about the wrappers, say you know nothing about them.
- Get some hair. Disperse it around your roommate's head while he/she is asleep. Keep a pair of scissors by your bed. Snicker at your roommate every morning.
- Every time your roommate walks in yell, "Hooray! You're back!" as loud as you can and dance around the room for 5 minutes. Afterwards keep looking at your watch and saying, "Shouldn't you be going somewhere?"
- Trash your room when your roommates not around. Then leave and wait for your roommate to come back. When he/she does, walk in and act surprised. Say, "Uh-oh, it looks like THEY were here again."
- Every time you see your roommate yell, "You son of a..." and kick him/her in the stomach. Then buy him/her some ice cream.
- Set your roommate's bed on fire. Apologize and explain that you've been watching too much Beavis and Butthead. Do it again. Tell him/her that your not sorry because this time they deserved it.
- Put your glasses on before going o bed. Take them off as soon as you wake up. If your roommate asks, explain that they are Magic Dream Glasses. Complain that you've been having terrible nightmares.
- Eat lots of Lucky Charms. Pick out all the yellow moons and stockpile them in the closet. If your roommate inquires, explain that visitors are coming, but you can't say anything more, or you'll have to face the consequences.
- Set up meetings with your roommate's faculty advisor. Inquire about his/her academic potential. Take lots of notes, and then give your roommate a full report. Insist that he/she do the same.
- "Drink" a raw egg for breakfast every morning. Explain that you are in training. Eat a dozen donuts every night.
- Every thursday, pack up everything that you own and tell your roommate that you're going home. Come back in an hour and explain that no one was home. Unpack everything and go to sleep.
- Every time you wake up, start yelling, "Oh my God! Where the hell am I?!" and run around the room for a few minutes. Then go back to bed. If your roommate asks, say you don't know what he/she is talking about.
- Draw a tiny, black spot on your arm. Make it bigger every day. Look at it and say, "It's spreading, it's spreading!"
- Buy a McDonald's Happy Meal for lunch every day. Eat the straw and the napkin. Throw everything else away.
- Buy a plant. Sleep with it at night. Talk to it. After a few weeks, start to argue with it loudly. Then yell, "I can't live in the same room with you," storm out of the room and slam the door. Get rid of the plant, but keep the pot. Refuse to discuss the plant ever again.
- Buy a Jack-In-The-Box. Every day, turn the handle until the clown pops out. Scream continuously for twenty minutes.
- Hang up pictures of chickens all over the room. If your roommate eats eggs, yell at him/her and call him/her a cannibal.
- Buy some knives. Sharpen them every night. While you're doing so, look at your roommate and mutter, "Soon, soon..."
- Lock the door while your roommate is out. When he/she comes back and tries to unlock it, yell, "Don't come in, I'm naked!" Keep this up for several hours. When you finally let your roommate in, immediately take off all of your clothes, and ignore your roommate.
- Bring in potential "new" roommates from around campus. Give them tours of the room and the building. Have them ask about your roommate in front of him/her, and reply, "Oh, him/her. He/She won't be here much longer.
- If your roommate comes home after midnight, hit him/her on the head with a rolling pin. Immediately go to bed, muttering, "Ungrateful little..."
- Pile dirty dishes in your roommate's bed. Insist that you don't know how they got there.
- Collect hundreds of pens and pile them on one side of the room. Keep one pencil on the other side of the room. Laugh at the pencil.
- Feign a serious illness for two weeks. Have a priest come and visit you. Write out a will, leaving everything to your roommate. One day, miraculously "recover." Insist that your roommate write out a will, leaving everything to you. Every time he/she coughs, excitedly say, "Ooh, are you dying?"
- Live in the hallway for a month. Afterwards bring all of your stuff back into the room and tell your roommate, "Okay, your turn."
- Keep a tarantula in a jar for three days. Then get rid of it. If your roommate asks, say, "Oh, he's around here somewhere."
- Tell your roommate, "I've got an important message for you." Then pretend to faint. When you recover, say that you can't remember what the message was. Later on, say, "Oh yeah, I remember!" Pretend to faint again. Keep this up for several weeks.
- Bowl inside the room. Set up tournaments with other people in the building. Award someone a trophy. If your roommate wants to bowl too, explain that he/she needs bowling shoes.
- Walk backwards all the time. Then pretend to trip and hurt yourself. Fake an injury and go through a long, painful recovery. Start walking backwards again.
- While your roommate is out, glue your shoes to the ceiling. When your roommate walks in, sit on the floor, hold your head, and moan.
- Explain to your roommate that you are going to be housing a prospective student in the near future. One day, bring in a pig. If your roommate protests, hug the pig and tell your roommate that he/she hurt its feelings. Watch t.v. with the pig, eating lots of bacon.
- Make a sandwich. Don't eat it, leave it on the floor. Ignore the sandwich. Wait until your roommate gets rid of it, and then say, "Hey, where the hell is my sandwich!?" Complain loudly that you are hungry.
- Punch a hole in the t.v. Sit and watch it anyway, complaining about the bad reception.
- Wear a cape. Stand in front of the window for about an hour every day. Then, one day, when your roommate is gone, go outside the window and lie down underneath the window, pretending to be hurt, and wait for your roommate to return. The next day, start standing in front of the window again.
- Collect potatoes. Paint faces on them and give them names. Name one after your roommate. Separate your roommate's potato from the others. Wait a few days, and then bake your roommate's potato and eat it. Explain to your roommate, "He just didn't belong."
- Fill an empty shaving cream can with whipped cream. Use it to shave, and then spray some into your mouth. Later on, complain that you feel sick. Continue this process for several weeks.
- Cover your bed with a tent. Live inside it for a week. If your roommate asks, explain that "It's a jungle out there." Get your roommate to bring you food and water.
- Keep a vacuum cleaner in the middle of the room. Look at it with fear for a few days. Then, stay out of the room entirely, opening the door only a crack and whispering to your roommate, "Psst! Is it gone?"
- Break the window with a rock. If your roommate protests, explain that you were hot. Open and close the broken window as you normally would.
- Throw darts at a bare wall. All of a sudden, act excited, telling your roommate that you hit the bull's eye.
- Send flowers to your roommate, with a card that says, "I'm sorry. It won't happen again." When you see them, start ripping up the flowers. Repeat the process for a few weeks.
- Call your roommate Clyde by accident. Start doing so every so often. Increase the frequency over the next few weeks, until you are calling him/her Clyde all the time. If your roommate protests, say, "I'm sorry. I won't do that anymore, Murray."
- Hire a night watchman to guard the room while you are sleeping.
- Move everything to one side of the room. Ask your roommate if he/she knows how much an elephant weighs, and look at the floor on the empty side of the room with concern.
- Practice needlepoint every night. At one point, grab your thumb and scream, "Owwwww!" Cry hysterically for a few minutes, and then go back to bed. Sob and sniff all night.
- When your roommate comes in, pretend that you are on the phone, screaming angrily and shouting obscenities. After you hang up, say, "That was your mom. She said she'd call back."
- Every time your roommate comes in, immediately turn off the lights and go to bed. When he/she leaves, get up and loudly yell, "Okay guys, you can come out now!"
- Start wearing a crown, all the time. If your roommate tells you to take it off, say, "What the hell do you think you are? A king?"
- Sit in front of a chess board for hours, saying nothing, doing nothing. Then look up and say, "I think this game goes a lot faster with two players."
- Talk back to your Rice Krispies. All of a sudden, act offended, throw the bowl on the floor and kick it. Refuse to clean it up, explaining, "No, I want to watch them suffer."
- Change the locks on the door. Don't let your roommate in unless he/she says the secret word. Change the secret word often. If your roommate can't guess the secret word, make him/her pay a tithe.
- Scatter stuffed animals around the room. Put party hats on them. Play loud music. When your roommate walks in, turn off the music, take off the party hats, put away the stuffed animals, and say, "Well, it was fun while it lasted."
- Hang a tire swing from the ceiling. Act like a monkey. If someone besides your roommate comes in, cease acting like a monkey and claim that the tire swing was your roommate's idea. When you and your roommate are alone again, continue acting like a monkey.
- Unplug everything in the room except for one toaster. Pray to the toaster. Bring it gifts. Throw some of your roommate's possessions out the window. Say that the toaster made you do it.
- Challenge your roommate to a duel. If he/she refuses, claim that you have won by forfeit and therefore have conquered his side of the room. Insist that he/she remove all of his/her possessions immediately.
- Sign your roommate up for various activities. (Campus tour guide, blood donor, organ donor)
- Start dressing like an Indian. If your roommate inquires, claim that you are getting in touch with your Native-American roots. If your roommate accuses you of not having any Native-American roots, claim that he/she has offended your people and put a curse on your roommate.
- Wear your shoes on the wrong feet, all the time. Constantly complain that your feet hurt.
- Hit your roommate on the head with a brick. Claim that you were trying to kill a mosquito.
- Steal something valuable of your roommate's. If he/she asks about it, tell him/her that you traded it for magic beans. Give some beans to your roommate.
- Instead of turning off the light switch, smash the light bulb with a hammer. Put a new bulb in the next day. Complain often about the cost of lightbulbs.
- Videotape yourself hammering a nail into a wall for awhile, and then stopping. Play the tape in your room. Right before the hammering stops on the videotape, look at the screen and say, "Don't do that."
- Buy a lamp. Tell your roommate it's a magic lamp, with a genie inside it. Spend a week thinking about what to wish for. At the end of the week, report the someone has released the genie from the lamp. Blame your roommate.
- Whenever your roommate brushes his/her teeth, watch him/her do so. Take notes. Write a paper on it, and circulate it around campus. If your roommate protests, say, "The people have a right to know!"
- Collect potato chips that you think look like famous people. Find one that looks like your roommate. Burn it, and explain, "It had to be done."
- Read the phone book out loud and excitedly. ("Frank Johnson! Oh wow! 894-8302! Holy cow!")
- Shadow box several times a day. One day, walk in looking depressed. If your roommate asks what's wrong, explain that your shadow can't box with you anymore due to an injury. Ask your roommate if you can box with his/her shadow.
- When you walk into the room, look at the roommate in disgust and yell, "Oh you're here!" Walk away yelling and cursing.
- Put up flyers around the building, reporting that your roommate is missing. Offer a reward for his/her safe return.
- Buy a watermelon. Draw a face on it and give it a name. Ask your roommate if the watermelon can sleep in his/her bed. If your roommate says no, drop the watermelon out the window. Make it look like a suicide. Say nasty things about your roommate at the funeral.
- Draw a chalk outline on the floor. When your roommate comes in, say, "Don't worry. It's not what you think." If he/she asks about it again, immediately change the subject.
- Drink a cup of coffee every morning. When you finish it, gnaw on the mug for about ten minutes. Then look at your roommate, immediately put the mug away, and quickly leave the room.
- Paint a tunnel on the wall like they do in cartoons. Every day, hit your head as you attempt to crawl through it. Hold your head and grumble, "Damn road runner....."
- Leave memos on your roommate's bed that say things like, "I know what you did," and "Don't think that you can fool me." Sign them in blood.
- Hold a raffle, offering your roommate as first prize. If he/she protests, tell him/her that it's all for charity.
- Make cue cards for your roommate. Get them out whenever you want to have a conversation.
- Talk like a pirate all the time. Threaten to make your roommate walk the plank if he/she doesn't swab the deck. Arrrrrrrrrrgh!
- Set up about twenty plants in an organized formation. When your roommate walks in, pretend to be in the middle of delivering a speech to the plants. Whisper to them, "We'll continue this later," while eyeing your roommate suspiciously.
- Buy a telescope. Sit on your bed and look across the room at your roommate through the telescope. When you're not using the telescope, act like your roommate is too far away for you to see.
- Keep some worms in a shoe box. When doing homework, go and consult with the worms every so often. Then become angry, shouting at the worms that they're stupid and they don't know what they are talking about.
- Watch "Psycho" every day for a month. Then act excited every time your roommate goes to take a shower.
- Wear a paper hat. Every time your roommate walks in, say, "Welcome to McDonald's, can I take your...Oh, it's just you." Take off the hat, sit, and pout.
- Go through your roommate's textbooks with a red pen, changing things and making random corrections. If your roommate protests, tell him/her that you just couldn't take it anymore.
- Leave the room at random, knock on the door, and wait for your roommate to let you back in. If he/she complains about it, go on a tangent about the importance of good manners.
- Hang a horseshoe above the door. Make up stories about having had good luck. Then, take the horseshoe down and wrap your head in bandages. When you see your roommate, look above the door where the horseshoe used to be, hold your head, and mutter, "Stupid horseshoe..."
- Carve a jack-o-lantern. Complain to your roommate that the jack-o-lantern has been staring at you. The next day, tell your roommate that the jack-o-lantern thinks he/she has been staring at it. Confide in your roommate that you really don't like the jack-o-lantern, but you can't convince it to move out.
- As soon as your roommate turns off the light at night, begin singing famous operas as loud as you can. When your roommate turns on the light, look around and pretend to be confused.
- Hang a basketball net on the wall. Challenge your refrigerator to basketball games, and play them in front of your roommate. Do so for about a month. Confide in your roommate that you think that the refrigerator has been taking steroids.
- Drink lots of lemonade. Talk obnoxiously for hours about how much you love lemonade. Then, one day, paint your face yellow. From then on, complain about how much you hate lemonade.
- Late at night, start conversations that begin with, "Remember the good old days, when we used to..." and make up stories involving you and your roommate.
- Whenever your roommate sneezes, go and hide in the closet for about an hour. Look around nervously for the rest of the day.
- Sit and stare at your roommate for hours. Bring others in to join you. Eat peanuts, throwing a few at your roommate. Then say, "Boy, these zoos just aren't what they used to be."
- Tell your roommate that your toe hurts, and that means that there's going to be an earthquake, soon. While your roommate is out, trash everything on his/her side of the room. When he/she returns, explain that the earthquake hit, but only on one side of the room.
- Buy a gun. Clean it every day. One day, put a band-aid on your forehead, and refuse to discuss the gun ever again.
- Buy a lobster. Pretend to play cards with it. Complain to your roommate that the lobster is making up his own rules.
- Make pancakes every morning, but don't eat them. Draw faces on them, and toss them in the closet. Watch them for several hours each day. Complain to your roommate that your "pancake farm" isn't evolving into a self-sufficient community. Confide to your roommate that you think the king of the pancakes has been taking bribes.
- While you are ironing, pretend to burn yourself. Start a garbage can fire in the middle of the room. Toss the iron inside. If your roommate objects, explain that you are just trying to get even.
- Buy some turtles. Paint numbers on their backs. Race them down the hall.
- Put out a plate of cookies at night. Tell your roommate that they're for the Sandman. Take a bite out of one of the cookies while your roommate is asleep. The next morning, accuse your roommate of having bitten one of the cookies. If he/she tries to tell you the Sandman did it, insist that you know what the Sandman's teeth marks look like and that those are, in fact, not the Sandman's teeth marks. Grumble angrily and storm out of the room.
- Create an army of animal crackers. Put them through basic training. Set up little checkpoints around the room. Tell your roommate that the camel spotted him/her in a restricted area and said not to do it again. Ask your roommate to apologize to the camel.
- Make brown-bag lunches for your roommate every morning. Give them to him/her before he/she goes to class.
- Every time you enter the room, sit in a chair, lean back too far, and fall over backwards. Laugh hysterically for about ten minutes. Then, one day, repeat the falling-over exercise, but instead of laughing, get up, look at the chair sternly, and say, "It's not funny anymore."
- Read with a flashlight when the lights are on. Pretend to read without one when the lights are out, remarking every so often how great the book is.
- Get a surfboard. Put it on your bed. Stand on it, and pretend to surf for about fifteen minutes. Then, pretend to "wipe out," and fall off the bed onto the floor. Pretend you are drowning until your roommate comes over to "rescue" you.
- Keep a hamster as a pet. Buy a blender, and make milkshakes everyday. Then, one day, get rid of the hamster. Make a shake using a lot of ketchup. When your roommate comes in, look at the shake, look at the empty cage, and tell your roommate, "I was curious."
- Make toast for breakfast every morning, but don't plug the toaster in. Eat the plain bread, looking at the toaster angrily, and complain that the toaster doesn't know what it's doing. If your roommate suggests plugging it in, go on a tangent about fire-safety hazards.
- Pack up all of your things and tell your roommate that you're going away to "find yourself." Leave, and come back in about ten minutes. If your roommate asks, explain that you're not a hard man to find.
- Never speak to your roommate directly. If you need to ask or tell him/her something, go to another room and call him/her on the phone.
- Every night, before you go to bed, beg your roommate for a glass of water. When he/she brings it, dump it on the floor and immediately go to sleep. If he/she ever refuses to bring you a glass of water, lie on the bed and pretend to be dying of dehydration, making annoying gagging sounds, until he/she does so.
- Every time the phone rings, turn on the stereo at full volume and begin to violently slam-dance with your roommate. If he/she asks about it, say, "Oh, that damn hypnotist...."
- Hang a picture of your roommate on the wall. Throw darts at it. Smile at your roommate often, saying things like, "How nice to see you again."
- Get a can of beans. Label them, "Jumping beans." Eat them, and then jump around the room. Get another can of beans. Label them, "Dancing beans." Eat them, and then dance around the room. Get another can of beans. Label them, "Kill Your Roommate beans." Eat them, smiling at your roommate.
- Every time your roommate falls asleep, wait ten minutes, and then wake him/her up and say, "It's time to go to bed now."
- Insist that your roommate recite the "Pledge Of Allegiance" with you every morning.
- Recite "Dr. Seuss" books, all the time. Eventually, think up melodies for the words and sing them, loudly, directly to your roommate. If he/she tells you to stop, act offended and spend the day in bed.
- Put up traffic signs around the room. If your roommate doesn't obey them, give him/her tickets. Confiscate something your roommate owns until he/she pays the tickets.
- Walk, talk, and dress like a cowboy at all times. If your roommate inquires, tell him/her, "Don't worry little buckaroo. You'll be safe with me."
- Complain that your elbows, knees, and other joints have been bothering you. Get a screwdriver, and pretend to "fix" them.
- Paint abstract paintings, and title them things like, "Roommate Dying in a Car Crash," and "Roommate Getting Whacked in the Head with a Shovel." Comment often about how much you love the paintings.
- Wear glasses, and complain that you can never see anything. Bump into walls and doors. Put your clothes on backwards. Say, "Who's that?" every time your roommate enters the room. When you're not wearing the glasses, act like you can see fine.
- Buy a lava lamp. Stare at it for hours, imitating its movements with your face. Explain to your roommate that you have established a connection with the spirit world through the lava lamp. Tell your roommate that "Grandma said hi."
- Keep empty jars on the shelf. Tell your roommate that this is your collection of "inert gases." Look at them often. One day, act surprised and angered, and accuse your roommate of having released one of the gases. Cover your nose and mouth and run out of the room.
- Wear scary Halloween masks. Look in the mirror and scream hysterically for about five minutes every time you put one on.
- Rollerskate up and down the hallway. Every time you see your roommate, crash into him/her and knock him/her down. Apologize, and say that he/she looked like "the enemy."
- Put headphones on your roommate while he/she is sleeping, and subliminally teach him/her to speak Spanish, play the trombone, and memorize all the major imports and exports of each African nation.
- Stick your head out the window, but forget to open it, so that your head crashes through the glass. Then say, "Silly me," open the window again, and try to stick your head through. Act like you hit your head on something.
- Dress like a military officer. Insist that your roommate salute you upon sight. If he/she refuses, insist that he/she do 100 push-ups. Keep saying things like, "Your momma isn't here to take care of you any more."
- Keep a collection of teeth in a jar. Act excited whenever you add to it, and say things like, "In a little while I'll have enough for that sailboat."
- Get a pet rabbit. At a designated time every day, take the rabbit into the bathroom and engage in loud shouting matches. If your roommate inquires, refuse to discuss the situation.
- Spread toothpicks all over the floor. Stare at them, acting like you're trying to read something. Tell your roommate it's a message from God, but you're not sure whether it's a warning about a loved one in danger or a recipe for really great chili.
- When ever your roommate has company walk over into the middle of the room and sit down, cross legged without saying a word. Be oblivious to their presence. Pull a long piece of string out of your pocket, leaving one end still in your pocket. Take the other end and place it in your mouth. Make LOUD chewing noises as you chew on the string. If anybody says anything give them a questioning look, grunt, and continue to chew while staring, unfocused, straight ahead.
- Buy a copy of_Helter_Skelter_ or_Silence_of_the_Lambs_, or any equally gruesomely titled book. Sit in a room with your roommate and read the book (or pretend to) with a highlighter mumbling "that looks good" as you highlight pages in the book.
- Every now and then start twitching violently and scream "snakes snakes!"
- Subscribe to as many mailing lists and reply to as much junk mail as possible under your roommates name. Complain that you never get mail.
- wear your clothing backwards and walk around the house backwards.
- Carry a pair of walkie talkies with you at all times. Insist that they use it when ever they want to talk to you.
- Play hide and seek with yourself. If your roommate asks what you're doing behind the couch, under the table, etc, look at them exasperatedly, come out of the hiding and tell them that they gave away your hiding place. Refuse to talk to them for several hours.
- Tie bedsheets together into a rope. Use it to get out of the house every morning.