Monday, April 28, 2008


AHG 19 – The “Green” Issue.

So, to celebrate Earth Day, we decided to do our part. We threw away all our non-environmentally friendly trash bags, lightbulbs and everything that looked even remotely nefarious and bought all new “green” things. It was about a truckload of stuff – both coming in and going out. But we felt pretty virtuous by the end.

And, for that actual “Earth Hour?” Well, we put away the remote control for the night. We cracked open some organic wine from Australia, ate some nice Chilean Sea Bass ceviche, pulled out candles and a board game. It was very lovely and serene – like it must have been in the days before the internet.

About ten minutes in though, Al managed to place his score sheet on a lit candle and start a small fire. He then started frantically waving a lit piece of paper all around the room – little pieces of it breaking off and scattering and starting new little fires all over the room. Al then started to run around, picking up the newly lit things and waving them about. Within seconds, there were about half dozen
little fires.

After stamping out all the little fires with my bare feet, the obvious question had to be asked: “Where did he ever learn that oh-so effective technique of fighting fire with oxygen?

Al: “I was trying to snap it out. Sometimes you can just snap it out.”

Anyhow, at that moment, I did several things. First, I made plans to buy a fire extinguisher. Next, I turned every light in the house back on, got some good old non-organic champagne and put on a movie - There Will Be Blood. Then I swore we’d never do another “Earth Hour” stunt again.

Now, it could have been the previous near-death experience (or the fact that I kept shaking my head and replaying the phrase ‘snap it out’ in my head) but, I have to say, I don’t think this movie lived up to the hype. For one thing, it was way too long.

158 minutes of non-stop Daniel Day-Lewis, mind you, is not even a record. It was a merciful eight minutes fewer DDL minutes than Gangs of New York was, for example. But still. So we stopped and watched Blind Date. We tried to watch it again the next day. Even with a fresh outlook it seemed long, slow and kinda pointless.

Next was No Country for Old Men. You’ve all seen it, so I’ll keep it brief. Way better than that P.T. Anderson film – even if it’s kind of artificial and forced to compare the two. Pretty good for a Coen Brothers thriller – I usually prefer their comedies.

Anyhow, after that, we were pretty much done with the new releases and on to looking for hidden gems. And, at first, when he kept picking Billy Bob Thornton movies, I thought this was going to be Al’s worst month ever.

Then, I think Al was really trying to make up for nearly burning down the house (and Mr. Woodcock) and so he rented Inside the Smiths. I’m pretty sure it was to make me happy. First of all, the day before I’d taken a break from non-stop Peggy Lee and listened to a little Violent Femmes and, to Al, I’m pretty sure any bands from the 1980s who aren’t Steely Dan sound pretty well all the same.

At any rate, even though I did listen to the Smiths in high school andcould name at least two and a half band members, Inside the Smiths was way, way, too far inside, even for me, let alone Al. You’d have to start that movie with a working knowledge equal to or better than, say, Johnny Marr’s. And don’t expect to ever actually hear any Smiths songs in this doc, either. Our Smiths needs are a little more basic
and pop-y, I think. The Smiths for Dummies is probably about our level.

So we moved on to a great doc about a slightly less obscure genre: Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. “Ann” had actually recommended it some time ago and, I must say, she was dead on. Lots of Motorhead. And, thanks to an ex who was obsessed with that group, I have a certain soft spot for Lemy.

Another good doc (which Al actually picked all on his own) was My Kid Could Paint That. It’s about a little kid who supposedly painted these abstract masterworks. Sounds dull, I know. I thought it would be some schmaltzy feel-good crap about elephants, cats and small children with paintbrushes who Oprah likes. But it was actually a truly excellent film about art, narrative, celebrity, savant-freaks, the limits of journalism and even a bit of Heisenberg.

Then was King of California, which was kind of slow but had some nice themes about prospecting and mass culture. It also had a really nice ending. Or at least a really nice Billy Bragg song at the end. I can’t remember which.

And last, but not least, was Wristcutters: A Love Story. The premise is great. If you kill yourself, you don’t get to go to heaven, hell, purgatory or any of the good places like that. Instead, you go to an afterlife where things are pretty much the same, only a little worse.

Probably a lot of Billy Bob movies there.

It was really pretty funny, starring that kid from Almost Famous (who isn’t a kid any more) and, officially, this month’s hidden gem. There you have it.

Al’s Corner.

Just what we need – a fire extinguisher. Another energy-sucking
appliance.

And it wasn’t anywhere, like, six fires. Unless you’re one of those who thinks six is near, like, four.

And it wasn’t just any board game but the Simpsons version of “Clue”and those scoresheets take some thinking ’cause the weapons aredifferent from the original – the poisoned donut, for instance, and, of course, the extend-o-glove. The rooms are pretty much the same, though. You know, The Kwik-e-Mart, Barney’s Bowlarama and so on.

Christine always insists I be Smithers and when I ask why, she keeps
saying, “Don’t you know?”

And it wasn’t a piece of paper, it was a paper towel and they burn a lot differently than a piece of paper. With a piece of paper, you can just snap it out. Nine times out of 10.