Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book Report: Fight Club


It's a narrative of pure poetry in the manner of Dante, Homer or Milton. Oozing with existentialist angst, it shields its eyes and blindly spelunks the dark, directionless fears of a lost generation in the way Kerouac and Fitzgerald did. I want to learn entire chapters and be able to recite them on demand at parties. Every phrase is a war cry that stings and leaves resounding echoes that bounce around in your head.

The only knock I have on the book is it's not as good as the movie based on it. It's one of the best books I've read, but these are still just the dusty bones into which David Fincher breathed bitter.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Book Report: The Secret Garden



It's a long, slow burn that pays off really well at the end with emotional impact that hits you sideways and ties a bunch of meandering narrative choices together in  a resonant finale.

It's tough to get behind the protagonists, two who are snot-nosed punks who take an alarmingly long time to evolve and show redemptive qualities, and the other who's a paper-thin caricature without any depth.

What the book is best at is capturing the thought and discussion patterns of sheltered kids as they try to make sense of the harsh realities of the world. It reminded me a little of To Kill a Mockingbird in that sense. Overall, the book is a worthwhile, but rocky trip.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Movie Review: Entourage




Coolio should have sung the theme song for the Entourage move.

Been livin' most our lives livin' in a douchebag paradise.

This isn't a complaint against the series' douchebaggery. To like Entrouage is to embrace its solipsistic bubbleworld, in which everyone is rich and fulfilled and their only problems are fleeting worries that they may not be able to be even more rich and fulfilled by the time the movie ends. The worries are unfounded, of course, because the show is as upbeat and giddy as My Little Pony. Friendship is magic, and to dream something is to have it come true, easily and automagically.

And I love it. That's exactly what I wanted from the show, as well as this movie. It's fun, Sex and the City-for-dudes escapism, and the movie frolics in its comfort zone without worry or consequence.

Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), freshly divorced off a weeklong marriage, is ready to fulfill his lifelong goal of becoming Ben Affleck by directing and starring in a tailor-made Oscar contender. Agent/new studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), hooks this up without a problem, and the crew of hangers-on-turned-Vince-made-millionaires E (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) are all along for the nonstop party thrillride they have become accustomed to.

There might have been a little drama had writer/director Doug Ellin decided to make Vince's movie a bomb, but instead it's a surefire Oscar contender that's gone overbudget. Only the deep pockets of a Texas oil baron (Billy Bob Thornton) and his snotty, entitled, Vince-hating son (a puffed-up Haley Joel Osment) can make that happen. So the guys juggle personal problems (i.e. which insanely hot women from their rosters should they bump to the top) while working the political minefield to get Vince the money to finish the movie.

None of this is exciting or consequential, but it's interesting, if only for the flood of self-referential/deprecating celebrity cameos, witty-in-a-frat-house-sorta-way dialogue and Piven's stinging one-liners. The movie works just as the TV show did, and in cramming a season's worth of plot developments, proves that each season of the show could have done the same.

But all the padded-out time with the series was well wasted. If nothing else, the movie proves that the franchise is still viable and belongs back in a weekly slot on HBO. Since that's not happening, this is the next best thing. Are annual sequels too much to ask?

Starring Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Dillon and Jeremy Piven. Written and directed by Doug Ellin. 104 minutes. Rated R.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Book Report: Uncle Tom's Cabin



The book is so prophetic in its projections of racial dynamics that it's hard to believe it was written before the Civil War. This book was probably responsible for shaping social thought and consciousness in the minds who would permanently change society for the better. Harriet Beecher Stowe was not only enlightened and forward thinking, but also blessed with the ability to sympathize with those who held a completely opposite worldview.

Strictly going by storytelling, the book is kind of dry and static, but that doesn't take away from the emotional and spiritual strength of the writing.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Good Job, Baltimorons

For burning down CVS. CVS was clearly at fault for Freddie Gray's death. How else will convenience stores learn to stop letting cops kill people if protesters let them remain unburned? Glad you were there to teach CVS a lesson.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I Did It!



Disney did its darndest to try to make me lust after the $90 Star Wars digital bundle, but I avoided the siren song and kept my money. My escape involved forcing my children to watch the first two prequels on Blu-ray this weekend. No buffering or choppy streaming. No download space taken up on my PS4 or Xbox One hard drive. Luddicism wins out, although the force was strong with this one.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Near-Death Experience

Sunday night on westbound I-10 at Orange Grove, a car going the wrong way in the far left lane barreled toward me. There was a semi to my right, and I swerved into the middle lane. The semi swerved as well, making just enough room for me, and the wrong-way car just kept on going. I called 911 as I drove and the semi pulled over, probably to do the same. I'm grateful to be alive and unharmed and thankful that guy apparently didn't kill someone else.

I found out the next day that a DPS officer ended up tracking down the guy, who was a drunk, and ramming him off the road. Several other potential victims narrowly skirted death, just like me. I plan to attend his court appearances, volunteer myself as a witness and do whatever I can to make sure he is locked away for as long as possible.