Runcible Blog

Mystic Rivaaaah and a story


A car burns on Bennington St.

The old man and I went to see Mystic River Saturday night. It was wicked pissa. I especially enjoyed hearing all the culaful accents. Oh, those actors tried so haaaahd to mimic the Boston vernaculaah, so I shouldn't criticize them too much. But, man, were those brutal attempts. Laura Linney (Annabeth Markum) should win the academy award for worst accent. She sounded like she had just gotten off the boat from Cliched-Irish/Catholic-ville. (boy, that was funny....) Surprisingly, Boston.com said this of the accents: "The infamous accent varies from actor to actor, but there's nothing to match the horror that was Rob Morrow in ''Quiz Show.'' For the record: Linney nails it, Robbins comes close, and Penn's all over the map." Uhhh, if she "nails" it, then I must be out of touch with South Boston. whatever.

Oh, and I liked the little references for Boston audiences: the depressing Red Sox, Dunkin Donuts coffee, the WB56 newscast (huh? Nobody watches channel 56. I guess that's the whole "synergy" thing -- WB56 and Warner Brothers studios: both crap.), and of course the ubiquitous Catholic priest child molester (there must be thousands of those).


After the movie I drove around town a little and happened to come across the car fire above at about 12:45am. I spotted it before the fire department arrived and snapped a few mediocre pictures. Fumbling with changing film and the cold weather, that picture was the only decent one. At any rate, I talked to the car's owner, who claimed that some kids had set fire to his car and run away. The fire investigator confirmed that the fire was intentional but didn't make any other conclusions. With the rash of insurance scams throughout the city, I'm a little skeptical of the incident. The owner apparently witnessed the "kids" torching his car but couldn't identify or stop them. Also, it's odd that the headlights were on while the car burned.

Anyway, I left at about 1:30 and sped to the Tribune to report a potential news item. To my surprise and dismay, there weren't any reporters or photographers at work. There was one sports guy and a few cleaners in the newsroom. Since I don't know how to use the C41 processor, I went home with my film and waited until morning. Sunday, I tried to find a place to have my film developed then returned to work around 11am. Again, there was just one guy writing obituaries. What happens on the weekend or at night if something happens? (admittedly, a car arson isn't big news, but with such thin Monday editions, one would think they wouldn't mind some extra "filler") I scanned my few frames and left, and nobody read the email I sent until Monday. By that time, it would've been old news. Ah well. At least I learned a couple things:

  • I really should get a digital camera if I'm going to seriously try to freelance. It's hard enough to find a place to develop film on a Sunday, but just dealing with film scanning is inconvenient enough to warrant a DSLR. (of course I'd still use film and an "analog" darkroom for less time-sensitive things)
  • I was thinking, wouldn't it be neat to start an "alternative" newspaper in Lawrence? It's hard to imagine the logistics and whether there would be a demand/market for such a thing. But maybe an electronic newspaper would cut down on a lot of the costs. Hmm...it sounds like a fun challenge. All I have to do is learn an awful lot more about the city and find a huge amount of time to work on such a thing.
  • Since I've developed a greater appreciation and interest in Lawrence as a photographic subject, maybe the interest will lead to a weekly "paper" of some sort in the future....

    Ah! The wheels are turning!


    the overwhelming wal-mart goliath

    Today I walked around Essex street a bit, looking for something visually interesting to photograph. I'm noticing that Lawrence is largely monochromatic -- mostly dull red bricks. There certainly are plenty of opportunities to photograph urban decay, but that's not really my thing. Since so few people walk around outside, most of the photographs will be devoid of human life -- again, not really my thing. So I think I'll try to narrow the focus for my final project. I've thought about a "day in the life" type of project, but I don't have a lot of time to get this done. I think I'll try "24 hours at work" and see how that comes out, but I doubt it would be as interesting as it seems. hmm

    I'm also interested in fluorescent lights lately. Maybe watching "The Matrix" spurned my interest (although I wasn't impressed by the cinematography), but I'd like to recreate some of that greenish, desaturated lighting. Actually, I'm thinking more of a cross between "One Hour Photo" and "The Matrix" -- sterile, flat, desaturated, artificial light. What better place to go for that than a department store?

    I took a short trip to K-Mart and didn't really see a bland enough light, but I did catch some really beautiful light from a sunset filtering through the large front windows of the store. With any luck I'll have a couple pleasant pictures of window-lit mops from K-Mart. But that's not the light I'm looking for.

    My next stop was Wal-Mart, which has grown even more since the last time I'd seen it. It's become a sprawling store that is too big for its own good. I was overwhelmed by the place -- by the large number of customers for a Sunday night, by the sensory overload at every aisle, by the informercials playing on the TVs and the christmas music coming from nowhere. I also felt a little too paranoid to break out my camera. The place crawls with worker bee employees, not to mention the scores of happy consumers. I haven't seen as many ceiling-mounted surveillance cameras since I'd been to an Atlantic City casino. Nonetheless, I might return and try snapping a glimpse of consumerism before being escorted out by elderly illegal alien "greeters".


    On another note, why do parents lie so much to their young children when they want the kids to behave? Yesterday at Hunt's a woman scolded her little (maybe 3 year old) daughter and said, "everybody's looking at you. stop making a scene." or something to that effect. I felt like saying, "No, it's alright. No one cares if your kid makes a scene. Lighten up, lady." And today at Barnes and Noble another woman admonished her kid because he fell down and started complaining that his sister pushed him. She said, "that man (meaning me, I guess) is trying to read. now he's angry. stop it." Huh? I wasn't even looking in their direction, and they were about 15 feet away.

    Of course I know that the parent (probably mostly the mother. somehow I don't think fathers are as sensitive about making sure their kids behave in public.) will lie in order to make their kid feel guilty and acquiesce. But geeze, it's so blatant. I suppose the lesson of my story is: quit lying to your kids just to get them to behave. Eventually your scheming may backfire.

    Or maybe not. Thank Yahweh, I'm not a parent.


    enough with the matrix, already

    listening to: Casanova from the album "Country Life" by Roxy Music (testing kung-log's iTunes thing)

    Instead of thinking about and working on a meaningful final project for my class, last night I went to see the final (hopefully) installment of The Matrix trilogy -- The Matrix Revolutions. Hey, I had to see how it ends!

    I don't feel like giving a real review, but I'll say that it is an exciting action movie, if that's what you're into. Unfortunately, when taken in the context of a trilogy, it sucks. I think most of the audience didn't care what happened to Neo, Trinity, and the rest of the gang. In fact some people behind me were cracking MST3K style jokes during the supposedly poignant scene of Trinity's death (oops! I just spoiled the movie! eh, get over it.) We're supposed to believe that Neo and Trinity are bound by some infinite love, yet their characters seem linked only by their mutual affinity for leather pants, sunglasses, and cold stares. If anything, it's a dysfunctional relationship that induces more unintended comedy than empathy.

    I actually liked the pseudo-philosophical themes in The Matrix, but Revolutions takes it to a corny, pretentious level. Yeah, we get the whole messiah theme. Just in case you don't understand the message by now, the directors repeatedly pound you over the head with the metaphors. Thanks. Some other reviewers mentioned something about the "guess what I'm talking about" language that the characters loved to use. But I think that innuendo backfires when the audience doesn't care about the characters in the first place. It's hard to be interested in their silly dialog.

    One interesting bit was the huge, mechanical, talking Teletubby baby-sun face in the machine city. Just imagine this guy made of thousands of little machines rather than a baby head baby sun. Pretty scary, huh?

    I'd give credit to the special effects wizzes behind this movie. The effects and action are certainly impressive; it's just the character development and plot that stink. That's all. But you can't have everything.

    The open-ended conclusion reveals more questions that no one will care about. Will Neo rise from the dead again? (oops, more spoilers!) What will happen to the inhabitants of Zion? Were they really inside the matrix the whole time? What's reality and what's the matrix? Will the directors take a page from George Lucas and create another trilogy in 20 years (The Matrix: Resurrection, The Matrix: Rematerialized, The Matrix: Retarded)?

    Personally, by the end of the movie, I was hoping that the earth would be destroyed by the Death Star. At least then we'd have a decent resolution to this charade. Instead we'll be subjected to The Matrix: Resolution in 2025. Either that or we'll be enslaved in a real matrix-like dystopia. I can't decide which is worse.


    the cramps

    For at least the past few years I've occasionally had some serious stomach cramps at night. The other night the cramps woke me up at about 5am. The symptoms are a sort of distended, bloated belly, pain in the bladder (or thereabouts), sometimes gas, and sometimes diarrhea. Yeah, it's gross. I've though that it could be dehydration or hunger, but I don't know. I do know that drinking something seems to relieve the cramps pretty quickly, so maybe I'm not drinking enough. At any rate, I can't go back to sleep after waking up like that. To make matters worse, I started eating a bowl of cereal (with whole milk, of course.). Cue the runs... I've learned not to drink milk on an empty stomach unless I feel like sitting on the toilet for a while. Actually I just shouldn't drink milk at all.

    Well, that's my cramp story of the week.


    Paul Wolfowitz: professional ass

    Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz flapped his jowls at Georgetown University recently. Here's an excerpt from his Q&A after a speech:

    Q: Hi, Mr. Wolfowitz. My name is Ruthy Coffman. I think I speak for many of us here when I say that your policies are deplorable. They're responsible for the deaths of innocents and the disintegration of American civil liberties. [Applause]

    We are tired, Secretary Wolfowitz, of being feared and hated by the world. We are tired of watching Americans and Iraqis die, and international institutions cry out in anger against us. We are simply tired of your policies. We hate them, and we will never stop opposing them. We will never tire or falter in our search for justice. And in the name of this ideal and the ideal of freedom, we assembled a message for you that was taken away from us and that message says that the killing of innocents is not the solution, but rather the problem. Thank you. [Applause and jeers]

    Wolfowitz: I have to infer from that that you would be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power. [Applause]

    ***snip***

    Q: I'd just like to say that people like Ruthy and myself have always opposed Saddam Hussein, especially when Saddam Hussein was being funded by the United States throughout the '80s. And -- [Applause] And after the killings of the Kurds when the United States increased aid to Iraq. We were there opposing him as well. People like us were there. We are for democracy. And I have a question.

    What do you plan to do when Bush is defeated in 2004 and you will no longer have the power to push forward the project for New American Century's policy of American military and economic dominance over the people of the world? [Applause]

    Wolfowitz: I don't know if it was just Freudian or you intended to say it that way, but you said you opposed Saddam Hussein especially when the United States supported him.

    It seems to me that the north star of your comment is that you dislike this country and its policies. [Applause]

    And it seems to me a time to have supported the United States and to push the United States harder was in 1991 when Saddam Hussein was slaughtering those innocents so viciously.

    The sooner he's out of power, the better.

    kudo's to dailykos for this one.