Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Stupidest Idea Ever

There's word coming down from on high that Aaron Sorkin is planning to make a movie about the founders of Facebook, a popular internet social networking site.

Wow. I really have no idea what Facebook is, and, apparently, neither does Sorkin. But, when I think back through history, and all the things that have been invented or developed, this is the thing Sorkin wants to make a movie about? Why not Eli Whitney and the cotton gin? Or Buckminster Fuller and the geodesic dome? Or, if you're just dying to do something about this new thing called the "World Wide Web," why not Larry Page and Sergi Brin and their development of Google? Hell, a movie about how they make Goober Grape would be more interesting than a movie about Facebook, because, seriously, how do you get peanut butter AND jelly into the same jar?

But, I guess this is why I'm not a famous Hollywood writer: I just don't know what John Q. Moviegoer wants to see. I know that I am literally fucking dying to see a movie about Facebook. And I know you are, too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Collection For The Ages

In this month's issue of Milwaukee Magazine, there's was a brief blurb about the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee's collection of nurse romance novels. I found this to be a ridiculous notion, as who in the world would collect a punch of crappy paperback romance novels about nurses? But dumb things like this interest me. So, seeing as I actually do my banking on UWM's campus, I decided to stop in and have a look.

The collection, which was entirely donated by an alumnus, is housed in the Special Collections section of UWM's library. When I told the woman at the front desk what I was there to see, and stated the reason for my visit as "curiosity," I'm certain she thought I was insane (which I am). She pulled several titles for me to peruse, with title like Ski Lodge Nurse, Confidential Nurse, Nurse in Acapulco and Cherry Ames, Cruise Nurse. They all had the same basic premise: the titular nurse finds love in some difficult situation. I think these books a truly a case of "you've read one, you've read them all." But, the fact that the library carries more than 400 nurse romance titles, and that the back page of each novel lists dozens of other titles tells me that these were probably extremely popular at one time.

Max Yela, the head librarian, even stopped in, I'm sure, surprised that someone was actually looking at these things. He, too, finds the idea ridiculous, but fascinating as well, as they chronicle a mindset of days gone by that no longer exists. Seriously, when was the last time you thought of a nurse as an object of desire? Or seen one in a white starched uniform, once commonplace apparel that has basically been relegated to a Halloween costume?

Yela didn't think the magazine article did the collection any justice, calling it a "puff piece." But, had it not been in there, I wouldn't have seen it and wouldn't have stopped in to visit. Media exposure, shit or not, always raises awareness. I'm sure he'd be happy just to have people come in and take a look out of intellectual and literary curiosity.

If YOU are curious about the nurse romance collection, stop in and see it at UWM's Special Collections library. Or visit this special page of their website devoted to it. Or, hell, check out this website that I blundered across of another collection of nurse romance novels.

I guess if you're going to collect something, you could do a lot worse.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Best Video Store In The World

Since moving back to Milwaukee after a near 10-year absence, I've been trying to reacquaint myself with some of the places I used to enjoy frequenting. And, basically, that means the video stores I used to frequent. So, I broke out the old wallet and pulled out all those old video cards.

A lot has changed in eight years. VHS is pretty much dead as a format. All of the big chain stores (Blockbuster, Hollywood, etc.), which, back when, used to have unique libraries from store to store, have standardized their libraries so that basically every store is the same. Some stores don't exist anymore. But there is one that is still around that makes all of these other changes irrelevant.

When I last lived in Milwaukee, my chief video store was Video West, a tiny independent store, crammed into a triangular building at a five-way intersection. Ten years ago, they were the best video store in Milwaukee, with thousands of VHS titles and a couple dozen DVDs. In the years since, they have virtually replaced all their VHS (yes, they do still have hundreds of VHS tapes) with DVD, and then added several thousand more (something to the tune of 10,000 titles). If you can think of it, they probably carry it.

Actually, when you walk in, it's pretty underwhelming. Couple of racks of DVDs sprawl out in front of you. It's not until you turn around and see the wall of VHS tapes that you begin to understand the scope of what they carry. When you enter the back part of the store (to which you'll pass a section of every Oscar winner), you're greeted by just about every musical ever made, as well as a couple of hundred of classic movies. They have entire sections devoted to Bob Hope, John Wayne, The Three Stooges, Jerry Louis, Elvis, Hitchcock, Jimmy Stewart, Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. This section alone makes it the best video store I've been in. But, there's more.

Go through that section into the next, and you are greeted by roughly half of their collection, crammed into a 12'x15' room. Here are the war movies, karate movies, foreign films (including several hundred devoted solely to British cinema) and, the pièce de résistance, their sci-fi and horror collection, which takes up nearly two thirds of the room. (This collection will have a write-up in Milwaukee magazine in October.) If there is a horror movie on video, chances are it's in that room.

Oh, and did I mention all of this is sitting atop the largest porn collection I've ever seen?

When I stopped back in after all those years away, I found they still are not computerized, with all the rental receipts still written out by hand. When I asked if my membership was still good, the man behind the counter said I'd just have to update my membership. He pulled out a file folder and produced my original paper application. Where else in the world does this happen?

Seriously, if I'm the CEO of Blockbuster, I'd be embarrassed to go in a video store like this. After seeing what they carry and how they run their business, I'd be ashamed to call what I do "video rental."

If only all stores were like this. The world would be a better place.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Last Five Movies

Tropic Thunder (2008)
After all the hype surrounding how great this movie is, much like with The Dark Knight, I was disappointed when this turned out to not be as funny as I had expected. Oh sure, it IS funny, and everyone (especially Downey, in the most racist role since Amos and Andy) is great in it, but it's not the laff riot that critics like Roger Ebert and Peter Travers made it out to be. I will say one thing, though: Tom Cruise is nearly worth the price of admission. And, based upon his work here and in Magnolia, I'm beginning to think that "less-is-more" may be a good direction for Cruise's career to take.

McQ (1974)
No one's career was hurt more by the death of the Western than John Wayne. So, he did what any aging star would do, and remade himself in the image of Old Dirty Harry (or, Dirty Harry's dad, if you will). It's odd seeing The Duke in any context other than a cowboy and it really doesn't work. Brannigan!, Wayne's second take on the genre (essentially McQ in London) is even odder, as seeing Wayne anywhere outside the United States is a little freaky.

Something of note: McQ also stars Eddie Albert, who was older than Wayne when he made this movie, and would outlive him by nearly 30 years. There's something to be said about living well.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Typical late-model Woody Allen comedy. Not as joke-filled as some of Allen's movies, but what do you expect from a 70-year old who cranks out a movie a year like clockwork? I will say that the Spanish cast of this movie makes the American cast look like dinner theatre in Des Moines.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (1987)
Seriously, sometimes I watch movies just to watch a movie.

I was really surprised that I liked this, but...

Pineapple Express (2008)
The trailers for this movie do it no justice. When I saw the trailers, I thought, "That does not look funny at all. I don't see why anyone would see that." But, me being me, I saw it anyway. And was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it is the funniest movie I've seen all year. I didn't think a Stoner Action Movie would work, but, turns out, it does. I also think that Seth Rogen should write all Judd Apatow-produced movies, because they just aren't any good when he doesn't. A good time.

Check it out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sorry For The Delay...

...But, apparently, when you move to one of the largest cities in the Midwest, it takes two weeks to get your cable and internet hooked up.

Who knew?

Anyhoo, I'll try to keep things interesting while I get back to full internet capabitlity.


So, This Is What Happens...

...When you don't have a computer, television, phone, and don't read the paper: people die left and right. (Actually, I do have access to terrestrial TV, but the only station I get is NBC, which is Olympic City right now, and has no time for such frivolities as news.)

Both Isaac Hayes and Bernie Mac dropping dead on the same weekend is quite a shock. And I'm completely oblivious, as I'm living like Abe Lincoln at our new place. As death tends to occur in threes, I wonder who the third will be.

If I were Jessie Jackson, I think I'd be worried. That death curse that Barack Obama put on him may just take hold this week.

Get those death pools updated!

This Is Just Great

Seriously, I never thought I'd be happier in my life than when I saw this picture to the left. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to Packers fans since..well, this is better than when they lost the Super Bowl.

Actually, it would be better if he were wearing a Vikings or Bears uniform, but there was no chance in Hell that was going to happen. "Yeah, right: we're going to trade our Hall of Fame quarterback to a team we play twice a year. Oh sure, we hate the guy, and are glad to see him on another team, but...c'mon."

I wish him all the best and hope he has a great year.