Saturday, February 19, 2005

Dollar Bets Are Lame Anyway.

No, dollar bets are okay. I'm still a fan of the subjective dollar bet. It's just that, well, let's just say I didn't run off buying any two dollar milkshakes after Constantine. For the record, I paid Matt and Will a dollar each because they and our impartial judge - Dan - deemed Constantine less than 50% good. I must also note that I enjoyed the film, was even engaged in the semi-ridiculous plot and did not chuckle once at the cheesier elements. No, I'm not bitter. Not even bitter about getting caught in a maelstrom of theater-going obnoxiousness. Hey, man, I'm cool. I can tolerate some noise, some fidgeting, some youngsters illustrating their lack of comprehension with short bursts of screaming. I am not one of fragile nerves. But I must further note that I was impressed by our proximity to:

1) A loving father who brought four kids under the age of 5 to the Friday night premiere of the R-rated Constantine and sat 'em down to Matt's right. I'm not sure what freaked me out more: their completely understandable yelling and carrying on and shrieks of fright OR their catatonic like state in the movie's second act induced presumably by the repeated graphic visions of Hell, Demons and Satan up on screen. Happy nightmares, kids!

2) A couple sitting in front of us that couldn't sit still, bouncing up and down in their seats, 'getting comfortable' for the greater part of 2 hours. "Oh, did we fracture your kneecaps? We don't give a fuck. We're sorta in love! YAY!"

3) A handful of people behind us making jokes about the movie that STARTED at 'unfunny' and finished up 2 hours later at 'depressingly unfunny and loud.' Example: "Oh man, he got fucked up. He got fucked up good in the movie. In the movie I'm looking at right now, there is a man who got what he deserved. Keanu ha ha Keanu and the devil and wheeeee I'm in the movies and I'm talking so much now because I'm so lonely during the bulk of my life. Ha ha Keanu shut up! He did shut up! HA HA HA!"

Stay tuned for future adventures in low stakes, matters of opinion betting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dollar Bet

There's been a lot of BAD sci-fi/comic adaptation movies birthed recently. Hellboy. Elektra. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But not Constantine. No, ma'am. I've got a good feeling about this one. I've got such a good feeling about it, I have engaged in a dollar bet regarding its quality. The way the dollar bet works is I win a dollar from Will and Matt is it is good. They win dollars from me if it is bad.

The dollar bet can be used to spruce up any potentially boring, awkward or unrelated situation. If two people want to see different movies, you can use the dollar bet as a means to justify seeing both - probably bad - movies in one sitting. We all know gambling makes everything more interesting. And if you're worried about losing, you can always put off seeing the movie in question thereby never having to make good on the dollar owed to your betting partner. For instance, I bet Will that Gangs of New York was going to be better than Catch Me If You Can. After seeing Gangs of New York, I realized I'd be short one dollar once I got to see the latter film. So I put it off for a year - during which time I managed to win at least one other dollar bet - and never actually had to pay. So Ha!

But I've got a good feeling about Constantine. Oh yeah. Keep in mind, it only has to be 51% good for me to collect that dollar.
I know there's going to be some tough hurdles including a spunky sidekick (-10%), a fashionably contemporary hard rock score (-15%), an americanization of a truly british character (-10%) and probably a couple of other attributes that could go both ways. But damn, the movie can fail. It just has to have the smallest of majorities in the positive column.

Also, betting on subjective events really adds a new dimension to gambling. It's not about winning a poker hand. It's not about a horse finishing first. You only win if the person you're betting against sees the thing in question the same way you do. I'd like to see more bets like this. Dollar bets on whether the Mona Lisa is as good as people say it is. Dollar bets on whether you're in love. Dollar bets on whether the host of the party will be charming. Dollar bets on who had a more fun childhood. Dollar bets on whose afterlife will be more satisfying. Plus, in these inflationary times, it really brings one closer to the dollar - a currency currently being victimized in most regions of the world.

But back to Constantine... Who else wants in on this action?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Vermillion Scholar Gravy

I caught a matinee of Million Dollar Baby today before work, and yes I did down an entire large popcorn and soda from an enormous cup that easily held the equivalent of three cans of coke. Three quarters of the way through the film, my heart started pounding in my chest like it does when the THC kicks in, and it twern't the drama!

Million Dollar Baby is a very fine film, but suffers from some extremely distracting extras. One of the problems with boxing movies is that static shots of the corners of the ring, whether between rounds or post-fight, necessitate a lot of face time for crowd extras, and relatively close up at that. A lot of them get way too excited, and unable to think of anything better, start faux boxing in this manical fashion, as if they're so into it they feel like they're up there in the ring. No one really does that... but in boxing movies, every other guy in the crowd is doing that very thing. In one shot, an impossibly excited and unfortunately featured man, overcome by the excitement of women's boxing, awkwardly forces the man next to him to high five. This is after he's been jumping up and down for fifteen seconds straight and shadow boxing. It rivals Kitster and that little Rodian's post-podrace high-five in The Phantom Menace for sheer discomfort. I can't believe Eastwood used that shot, or didn't tell that guy to calm the fuck down when he was shooting.

I don't want to spoil anything about Million Dollar Baby for those that haven't seen it, nor am I really about to, but still, don't read further if you haven't seen it. I just want to say that I love how grey Eastwood's filmic universe has become, because you just never know how things are going to shake down in the last half hour. There I was, watching the title fight, thinking... yeah, maybe they'll go for a kind of bittersweet ending... worst case, she somehow loses this fight. Cut to me twenty minutes later, jaw on floor.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Not to get all journal on you, but gosh, I've been working hard lately. At work-work as they call it. There's good work and there's work-work - which can sometimes be good-work but is more likely work-work or bad-work. I think the dashes are crucial. Work-work is never BAD work nor GOOD work. It is only every so often good work which is to say no dash and no capitalization. Sadly, work-work can also get in the way of good work like blogging which is not GOOD work but is definitely more often good work. Sometimes I get scared to write in the blog because I fear it's going to be bad-work or bad work or BAD work. But anyway, there's been a lot of work-work lately. Every year around Oscar time it gets busy at my job and I start to sweat at weird times in unusual places.

Like now, I am sweating on the upper right side of my stomach. It's cool - even clammy. I drink more coffee at work-work and I certainly enjoy it less than I do when I am drinking coffee doing good or GOOD work.

I have funny anxiety dreams when I am doing too much work-work. Two nights ago, I dreamed that I had bought an Apple Mini AND been given an Apple Mini by my parents and I was struggling to articulate to them how they shouldn't feel bad for the gift because two Apple Minis are even more useful than one. I think in my dream I was sweating in unusual places too. Is under my knee an unusual place to sweat? The back of my knee. That was clammy in my dream. Seriously. I could not actually articulate the value of two Apple minis and kept making a bad joke about how I could use them to skate with. My parents did not understand this and when I looked back on this dream, I do not understand it either.

The idea of having a lot of Apple Minis is appealing to me. Just like when I go to the Apple site, I secretly yearn for eMacs and U2-engraved ipods. These things would officially not make my life better. But in my own tip of the hat to our consumer economy, I desire them. Apple officially has me under their influence. I crave their clean, stark but user-friendly design.

Speaking of impulses, missing an L train the other day aroused a curious feeling in me. As I walked up the platform against the direction of the train leaving the station, I felt the urge to hold out my hand and slap the conductor as he went by. Not so much slap him but since the conductor was leaving his head exposed and the train was in motion, he would be slapping his head into my hand. Don't worry, I didn't follow through on this urge. But I think it was the tilt of his head and inability to respond after such an act - not to mention a long sweaty day of work - that made such mischief appealing.

This is the kind of point I usually make at a party after a series of successful jokes. People are laughing and everyone's trading stories and I tell a couple good ones and people keep laughing and then I recount my impulse to slap the train conductor (who arguably has one of the more stressful jobs around) and everyone stops and stares at me aghast and I curse myself for pushing my luck.

More train news: A conductor the other day closed the doors of the L train and then told everyone that we were going directly from Union Square to Bedford Avenue. There was a lot of cursing and fidgeting in close quarters as people realized they were going to have to get to First Ave. by way of Brooklyn. A curious tactic on the part of the conductor to be sure. But also, I never realized so many people took the subway from Union Square to First Avenue. It's just four blocks. No, no... It wasn't even that cold.

Lastly I recommend digging one's four-wheel drive car out of a giant snowdrift about halfway and then crashing through the remainder of the snow in dramatic fashion. Your girlfriend will be mildly but not really impressed.

I am glad Chris Rock is hosting the Oscars. He is funny.

A Puppet to Haunt Your Dreams

Everyone with iTunes who hasn't done so needs to visit the iTunes store, go to the music videos section and watch the video for Interpol's "Evil". Maybe it's just because it's 3:45 in the morning, but I'm seriously creeped out.