Sunday, June 29, 2003
But the home movies are a relatively small part of the film, which is by-and-large a traditional crime documentary, hindered, in my opinion, by the guilt of the supposed victims of injustice. The father is a pedophile, and if you can believe his son's rather sleazy lawyer (who apparently doesn't get too caught up in matters like attorney-client priviledge), seems almost certainly guilty of molesting children. So how worked up can you get over police misconduct, which almost certainly led to an overstatement of the magnitude of the crimes committed, but which, I believe, is based in truth? It may shock me to hear a judge say, paraphrasing, "I knew they were guilty all along," but really, who could blame her?
The film worked better when it dealt with the family's destruction, and the notion of privacy. Hearing David say in his video diary, that it is private, and if we are not him, we shouldn't be watching it, is unsettling when you've paid your money and are settling in to peep into his private life. But we still watch. And that's the most interesting aspect of the film; unfortunately, the speculation as to the subjects' guilt, and whether we can ever know for sure either way, distracts from this aspect of the film.
I enjoyed, as ever, Stuart Klawans' review in The Nation. (I subscribe pretty much exclusively for his reviews) He observes that the film calls for commentary on two fronts: are the Friedmans guilty, and also, "what degrees of violation are involved in using child pornography; following the TV news coverage of a juicy indictment; keeping a camera trained at all times on the members of your family; paying ten bucks to sit in a theater and gape at someone else's family breakdown. To its credit, Capturing the Friedmans urges the latter question on its audience." I also agreed with him that the film has an agenda, despite the insistant claims to the contrary. He writes, "I believe the filmmakers have every right to take sides this way. In fact, I admire the subtle persuasiveness with which they've done so. But I'm also intrigued that so many people deny it's being done." I would speculate that most viewers view the presence of vast amounts of incriminating evidence as counterbalancing an obvious empathy for the family; the strong suspicion of guilt, which the filmmakers cannot (and do not try) to eliminate, conveys a sense of even-handedness in a sympathetic portrayal of the family.
Where I disagree with Klawans would be in his observation that the film's title could have a third meaning, beyond the arrest of the Friedman's and their capture on celluloid: "Capturing the Friedmans quietly convinces us that we, as viewers, may now own the truth--which makes us superior to the cops, the lawyers, the judge and the TV reporters....So the title has a third meaning, as the boast of a satisfied audience." To the contrary, I left the theater feeling a touch of despair, having been reminded how often the truth is unknowable. My contention, as I have said, is that some form of molestation took place (Naked leapfrog? Probably not. But just because the police fumbled the investigation--and probably traumatized some children for life--doesn't mean nothing happened). But I'll never know, and unfortunately no amount of access to home movies and audio cassettes and other things I don't really have a right to access will change that.
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Friday, June 27, 2003
Chad, recently laid off as a teacher in Lemon Grove, has accepted a position to teach in South Korea, for the Department of Defense. I can't quite imagine it, he doesn't strike me as the type able to cope well with foreign environments, but it should be an exciting opportunity for him, force him to go beyond his comfort zone. I just know that Chad has at one point deeply offended just about everyone he's ever met, so I don't know how he will fare in a society which puts an emphasis on decorum and honor. Not to mention the nearby demilitarized zone and all. But it pays well, and will give him experiences he never would have had otherwise.
I got The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the mail today. I've read the first fifty pages or so, it's enjoyable. I'll write more about it once I've finished it.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Amy Sedaris was on Conan last night, very funny. Then today, the Strangers with Candy DVD finally arrived. Pretty sweet. Unfortunately, the "I've Got G.A.S." episode, a pivitol moment in television history, in my opinion, is not part of season one. So I'll just have to pray seasons two and three some day come out. But what is included is pure gold.
Further update for those following the saga of the morning mail: Still no book from Barnes and Noble. Also, my copy of Neal Pollack's Beneath the Axis of Evil still hasn't come. Filed a compaint with Paypal, which finally got me a response from the company, which assures me it is on its way. As for the Barnes and Noble package, it shipped out of Pennsylvania a long time ago, but still hasn't made it here. Thank God for package tracking; now I know it left Pennsylvania and then dropped off the face of the planet. Amazon definately seems to have them beat as far as shipping speed. Though, in full fairness, in addition to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, I ordered a ton of books from their clearance rack, so maybe its the weight of the package that is to blame for the slow shipping. Still, I'm getting antsy waiting.
The thing that surprised me about the Foundations' report was, how many pornographic websites were able to get past the filtering software, while legitimate sites were blocked. I mean, if a web site contains words like cunt, fuck, and pussy, how can it get past filtering software, while sites like the one I link to above are blocked? I just don't get it.
I should add, I agree with the Supreme Court decision. I think the law was pathetically ill-advised, but, since an adult library patron can request the filters be overrided if they need to access an improperly-blocked site, I don't see it as a First-Amendment issue.
I voted in MoveOn.org's presidential primary today. I voted for Howard Dean. I figure he's the most electable candidate I can still be fairly proud to vote for. I liked that, in addition to taking my vote, MoveOn asked me to select which candidates I would support, should they get the Democratic nomination. I selected all the declared candidates, except Joe Lieberman and Al Sharpton.
I hope this post has been insightful. I'm pretty drunk. Was feeling depressed today, can't quite say why. So I had a few apple martinis while listening to some of my favorite Randy Newman CDs. Fun times. Always nice to take the time to review the albums, and re-affirm that Sail Away is the greatest album ever.
Monday, June 23, 2003
For those demanding closure regarding my trip to the post office, my book did not arrive today.
Sunday, June 22, 2003
Today was a boring day at work. Did get some reading done. The Vanity Fair teen issue made me feel old. All those 1986 birthdays, attached to people who could buy and sell me many times over. It was interesting to read, with some sketchy moments; when they refered to Amanda Bynes' "ripening," I was a bit disturbed.
Amber was working; I hadn't worked with her in awhile. I meant to ask her what her plans were, now that she's a college graduate, but I didn't get a chance to talk to her much. We chatted in the morning, but we mostly just discussed Weird Al; turns out she and Paula were also in the audience.
I agreed to work tomorrow, 11-3. I should've just said I'd work all day, get a bit more money. But I wanted to make it to the post office, see if a package I'm waiting for is in. I'm rather eager to read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Saturday, June 21, 2003
Went for a nice 5 mile run this morning. I originally planned to run in San Clemente Canyon, but as I headed in that direction, I encountered rain, so I turned around and went to Mission Trails Regional Park, where it was dry. My feet are a bit sore, though, think I need to get new running shoes.
Friday, June 20, 2003
To summarize the rest of the fair, not as horrifically boring as I remembered, but not a lot of fun, either. Did some shopping, saw a hypnotist show. The hypnotist was actually more entertaining that I thought. Early in the show, a big fat guy who volunteered was sitting on a folding chair, when the hypnotist pushed down on him, the chair collapsed. This unplanned moment of hilarious humiliation delighted the crowd, there to see planned moments of hilarious humiliation. We then ate, good food, terrible service, it took us an hour and a half to eat, we barely made it in time for the concert (which ended up starting twenty minutes late).
I wasn't quite sure how the show would be; I was a big fan of Al as a youngster, and I still enjoy him, but wasn't quite sure what a Weird Al show would be like. I had heard he was an energetic performer, and put on quite a show. And I was not disappointed; it was a great concert. Lots of costume changes for the various songs (including full fat suit for "Fat"), which just emphasized his talent in being able to switch gears so effortlessly, into so many different musical genres. The crowd was an interesting lot, lots of kids, lots of parents, and lots of the Nerd-and-proud-of-it types. I was sitting next to two girls, about twelve or thirteen, with their home-made signs (which deposited quite a bit of glitter on me when they were shaking them for Al) and lots of enthusiasm. The girl immediately next to me, her excitement apparently was only surpassed by her BO; the stench was actually quite a distraction at times...but then I guess the odors are part of the excitement of a fair, no?
The show opened with a video montage, which was amusing. I liked that, alongside such things as The Brady Bunch and Looney Tunes clips, Al included stuff from more eclectic sources, like Freaks and Un Chien Aundelau (he cut to something else before the razor met the eyeball). After a few minutes of this, Al emerged.
I did not take notes or anything (it wasn't a Randy concert, after all), so I have just recreated the set list to the best of my ability...I know I've left out several songs, and I can't guarantee the order is right, but I think it will give you a good idea of basically what he performed:
--"Couch Potato," Al's Eminem parody, which really is impressive in its performance. The song is amusing, but really its Al's rapping skills, and ability to adopt a persona so antithetical to his own performing style, that impressed me.
--"Angry White Boy Polka" took on a whole new level seeing it performed, with Al's smiling face and emotive eyes intensifying the dichotomy between lyrics and music.
--"Party at the Leper Colony" Um, Al, they actually perfer "Hanson's Disease." I don't really care for this song too much.
--"Trash Day" Good performance, but an unremarkable song.
--"Dog Eat Dog" I had the Polka Party album as a kid, but haven't listened to it in well over a decade, and did not remember this song. Al had gone off-stage to change, some video clip was shown, and I suddenly perked up when the band began to play "Life During Wartime," one of my favorite songs ever. I was unaware Al had ever parodied the Talking Heads. But then Al came out, in David Byrne's trademark oversized suit from Stop Making Sense, probably my personal high point for the concert. The song was more of a stylistic parody, borrowing from several songs, including "Life During Wartime" and "Once in a Lifetime." The song was great, and also featured Al's most impressive dancing that I've ever seen. I know I have often put on the Stop Making Sense DVD and tried to emulate Byrne--It's hard! So kudos to Al...now I have to either find my Polka Party cassette, or buy it on CD.
--"Your Horoscope for Today" This is a fun song. A lot of his fans were singing along. The "kill them" moment was classic.
--"All About the Pentiums" Another enjoyable twist for Al. But does computer programming and "bling-bling" still go together?
--"Wanna B Ur Lovr" I didn't really care for this song too much on the CD, but live, it was funny enough.
--"Melonie" An oldie but a goodie.
--"One More Minute" I like this song. Unfortunately, I was listening to it from the bathroom, so I missed most of Al's wandering through the audience on this one.
--I believe it was now that Al went into medley mode. This including bits from "Beverly Hillbillies," "Jurassic Park," "E-bay," "Rye and the Kaiser," "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi," "Gump," "Ode to a Superhero," and other songs I'm forgetting now. I was glad "E-bay" was just in the medley, its not my favorite (and it doesn't help that E-bay's own advertizing has such great parodies). "Rye and the Kaiser" is one of my favorites, one of those rare breed of Weird Al songs that are both funny and also seem to powerfully evoke the same emotions as the original song ("King of Suede" is another).
--"Eat It" Of course.
--"Smells Like Nirvana"
--There were more songs, I believe, but my addled brain will have to skip to "Fat," his closing song. Fun song, great performance, love the fat suit.
--Encore: Star Wars-themed. "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda." Nice way to end the evening.
I hope that was accurate, I make no guarantees. But I did have a lot of fun, and am glad I went. Unfortunately, the concert wasn't over until ten, so when I went back to buy the Amazing Pasta Pro and other must-have items I intended to pick up after the concert, they were closed. But I did bring home some roasted soybeans (yummy), the memories of eating a deep-fried Snickers bar (not very pleasant), and great memories of Al.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Skip to that morning. I had contacted Cecily that evening, and she agreed to allow me to use her computer. She would be in class, but I had a key and could let myself in. But first, I have to go to the library, because I forgot to write down the author of a magazine article I had cited, and the database that had directed me to that article could only be accessed by computers on campus. So I went to CLICS, a more convenient library, as far as parking is concerned, than the HSS library where the article is located on microfiche. So I pull up the database, and it turns out it also does not know the author of the piece. So I have to hike over to the main library and again find the original article to get the author. And then rush back to my car to get over to Cecily's to fix my paper before the deadline. So I get to Cecily's, make the changes, which took longer than I anticipated, and printed the paper. With one page to go, the printer runs out of paper. I don't know where Cecily keeps her paper, and don't want to rummage through all her possessions, she might frown on that. But I look all over, and am about to give up and print the last page on some sort of scratch paper, when I find the paper right under the computer, where I'm certain I'd looked before. So I get the paper assembled and am off to hand it in. It's finals week, parking shouldn't be too bad, I'm sure I'll at least find a metered spot. Like virtually every day, the metered spots had been roped off for some VIPs, and there is no parking. I finally find a twenty-minute loading spot, which should be plenty of time, but when I get to my professor's office, no professor. I still have about fourty minutes to hand in my paper, so she should be there. I decide to move my car into a legal spot, and then investigate. I see a metered spot, but I turn onto the wrong street, and by the time I get turned around, its gone. As are any spots at all. I go back to the loading zone I was in, but its full, too. I'm getting pissed off, and eventually decide just to park in the one open faculty space I can find. I go back to her office, still no professor. Finally, I decide just to get a time/date stamp from the front office and put it in her mailbox. On the way home, I'm getting annoyed at the professor, until I get home and consult the syllabus, and discover the paper had been due the day before. So I write a very contrite e-mail to my professor, but get no response. The paper is only 20% of our grade, and I think I had an A going in, so it shouldn't be a major deal, but if she elects to not accept the late assignment, and enforce the "all work must be completed to receive a passing grade" proviso of the syllabus, I'm toast. Which sucks, because I thought this quarter was going swimmingly.
Well, that was long and dull and of no interest to anyone, I appologize. I just felt like getting that out, so I can move on to whatever post-school issues might bear discussion. I'm going to the Fair tomorrow, to see Weird Al Yankovich. Should be fun, I think. I loved Weird Al as a child, even before listening to the music he was mocking. Until I was old enough that the image of Paula Abdul's gyrations in "Cold-Hearted," themselves a Yankovichian parody of All That Jazz, could bring me over to the sexy world of pop music, Al's wide-ranging humor, on topics as diverse as TV and food, were very satisfying. And I hear he puts on quite a show.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Sunday, June 08, 2003
Friday, June 06, 2003
This was the second time I attended a scoring session with Randy Newman (I previously attended a session for Monsters, Inc.). What did I learn this time? Really, the same things I learned last time. Two things in particular stick out. One, Randy Newman is an amazingly kind and generous person, and a brilliant composer. And two, Hollywood studio musicians are incredibly talented. Playing music they have never seen or heard before, and which is being re-written as they perform it, and being forced to constantly adapt to the requests of the composer and film director. And they are almost flawless, I don't think there was more than one or two missed notes the entire day. Oh, and a third thing I took away, which I can't believe I almost didn't mention because it is really the most impressive thing when you are actually there, in person, on the set: Scoring a film involves a lot of money. It's amazing how much time and effort goes into the process. I don't think they finished more than ten minutes of film the day I was there. And there was talk about redoing some of that music later in the week (the director wanted to add a fiddle, or as he called it, a "bluegrass violin").
Thank you, Randy, for such an amazing experience. I'm looking forward to seeing him in Saratoga in August (he'll be in Cerritos in August as well). UCLA Live is putting together a two-day tribute to Randy Newman in January (a Newman concert one night, followed by an all-star tribute to Randy the next). You better believe I'll be there both nights. (They're also going to have Firesign Theatre, Michael Moore, and a Kronos Quartet tribute to Edward Gorey, so I might have to look into season tickets or something...can't wait until they announce the details).
School's done, except for finals. I thought I got a decent night's sleep, so I don't know why I'm so very, very tired.
Monday, June 02, 2003
Today was my group presentation on Ernest Hogan for my African-American Humor class. I arrive in class, and the professor arrives and writes the list of presenters on the board. We are dead last, fifth of the ten-minute presentations to give in the fifty-minute class, and all the groups thus far had been going over their alloted time by a wide margin. So I figure I'll have to wait until Wednesday, which really blows, since I would like this over, not hanging over my head during the excitement of tomorrow. So three groups go, and their is only about six minutes left in class. So the professor says something to the effect that, since the Redd Fox group had audio-visual tools to use, they couldn't go in six minutes, so Ernest Hogan would go instead. So having wiped all thought of giving my presentation from my mind, I had to quickly regroup and begin my presentation. No sooner than I had finished my first portion of it (about five minutes) and passed off to my partner, than the professor pulls the plug, telling us to give her our notes and she'll evaluate us from those. So, its over with, and I assume we'll probably be graded more leniently given the circumstances, but it was a stressful hour. Glad to have it done, though. Now, I just have to crank out a research paper on Eddie Anderson and Robert Guillaume, and take an econ final, and this quarter is done and the summer is mine! Apparently, work is fine with me continuing to work just three days a week, so I'll have plenty of free time to do all the things I want to do (though I'm pretty certain they'll bump me up to four days pretty soon, which is okay, more money for me).