Film Diary: February

February brought my movie total for the year up to 82, which is about 11 movies over where I need to be for reaching my ridiculous goal for the year. This despite taking several days off from watching anything. Even if you discount my first re-viewing of the year (I had to subject friends to the anti-wonders of “Contamination .7”) I have a comfortable buffer built up.

This month’s films tended heavily toward horror, although thematically they were all over. My slow re-watching of the Star Trek films took a detour to cover the most recent series. I’ll get back to “Star Trek 6” in March and start the Next Generation series.

I’d seen “Zardoz” at B-Fest, and it had impressed me as being deeply incoherent. I gave it a go while wide awake, and I’m pleased to report that it’s completely nuts. Sean Connery, dressed in a red battle diaper, has to put immortals out of their misery by jumping into a crystalline computer and… well, it’s not very clear.

The find of the month was “Lilo & Stitch”, which turned out to be one of the best movies to ever come out of Disney. Maybe I’m just a sucker for “found family” stories, but it’s really just warm and funny. Plus Stitch plays ukulele, which makes it all the better. Hell, Bogie simply having a uke in his closet was enough to make me adore “Sabrina”.

Lots of zombies, a rape trial, radical surgery, killer wheels, werewolves, crime rings, radioactive trees, axes, ghosts, demons, Nazis, wormholes, tyrannical logic — it was heady stuff!

Here’s to 10 more months of overdosing on the good, the bad, and the wtf!

Absentia (2011)
The Accused (1988)
American Mary (2012)
Arson Inc. (1949)
Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2013)
Battledogs (2013)
Black Forest (2010)
Christine (1983)
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
Contamination .7 (1993)
Damnation Alley (1977)
Dark Touch (2013)
The Devil’s Carnival (2012)
Devil’s Pass (2013)
Extinction: The G.M.O. Chronicles (2011)
A Haunting at Silver Falls (2013)
The Haunting of Whaley House (2012)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Loan Shark (1952)
Love and a .45 (1994)
The Magic Serpent (1966)
Miami Connection (1987)
The Monolith Monsters (1957)
Portland Exposé (1957)
The Reeds (2010)
Rites of Spring (2011)
Rubber (2010)
A Safe Place (1971)
Salvage (2010)
Scourge (2008)
Shadow Man, aka Street of Shadows (1951)
Shoot to Kill/Police Reporter (1947)
Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)
Sling Blade (1996)
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
They Were So Young (1954)
Uninhibited (2010)
War of the Dead (2011)
World War Z (2013)
Zardoz (1974)

Making My Stand

A few years ago I set up a makeshift standing desk in my cube. I put my monitors on the bookshelves and my laptop on a box. It worked pretty well, and my back pain subsided, so it was all good.

Until a guy from the building’s maintenance crew blamed my setup for the problems with the heating system on my floor. Indeed one of my monitors was near one of several zone thermostats, but I usually didn’t bother even plugging that one in. Nonetheless he wouldn’t even consider anything else until the “computer” wasn’t next to the thermostat.

I removed my standing desk, and he finally did something about the heating problem that hadn’t been magically fixed by my returned back pain.

After that I found a chair that helped with my posture and threw a spring jacket over it to mark it as mine. I’ve moved that chair from desk to desk over the last few years, and in my mind there’s a montage of happy times that we’ve spent together: spinning in a field, watching otters at an aquarium, sharing a frownie sundae, watching old movies at a drive-in — all to the accompaniment of “So Happy Together” by The Turtles.

In the meantime adjustable standing desks have become de rigor for our new developer teams. When my latest relocation landed me in a super-cube berth (that, importantly, had no thermostat) I put in a request for my own standing desk. It had to be stronger than the ones others used, which supported a monitor or two above a platform for their laptops; I use an iMac, which is quite a bit heavier.

Now everyone can see my Tumblr feed...

Now everyone can see my Tumblr feed…

The desk came in last week in an enormous box. (I’d requested that the additional $18 be spent for constructing it before shipping. I am terrible at tasks that require screw drivers.) The stand itself just needed to be set on my cube desk, but I had to remove my iMac from its stand and install an adapter for hooking it up to the unit. This took a while for me to manage, but it was worth the effort. I even managed to not curse. Aloud. Much.

So now I’m standing again, which is nice for the hour or so where I’m actually at my desk. Maybe I’ll try standing at meetings. Who knows — it might make people stop inviting me to them. Then I could stand around all day and get work done!

I Suspend Disbelief, Not Common Sense

Happy endings are the mainstay of Hollywood, and when one is called for we get one whether it makes any sense or not. Miracle resurrections, limited shelf-life clones, spirits that smile as they depart — we’ve been handed the biggest loads of crap in the name of good cheer.

For the most part we nod and go along with it. It may not be believable, but the uplifting feeling is what we expect so we go along with it.

Unless it goes too far.

“Oh Heavenly Dog” sticks in my mind for one reason only: at the age of 9 it was the first happy ending I called bullshit on.

For you lucky souls unfamiliar with it, this film was a vehicle for the comedic duo of Chevy Chase and Benji. As most of us over 30 remember, Benji was a small dog who starred in several movies. Actually, a series of small dogs. Chevy Chase was played by an alien comedy troupe in a suit.

The premise of “Oh Heavenly Dog” is that a low-rent detective (Chase) is killed before his appointed time. As a consolation, he gets to return to Earth as an adult dog (Benji). He then spends the rest of the film failing to protect a young woman (Jane Seymour) from being killed.

Spoiler alert: she’s killed. Her consolation prize? She gets to be an adult cat! Dog and cat saunter down the street together. The end.

This is not a happy ending! Even coming back as babies would have been better. But no, being dropped into the bodies of street animals is what we get. They don’t even know how to hunt, fer crissakes! They’re in for a short, brutal life of hunger and disease. Thanks, movie!

Incidentally, I want to come back as a pampered house cat — well-fed, with lots of warm laps. And maybe a small dog to kick around.

Siri, Where Do You Find This Nonsense?

I was in rough shape today. Worn out from weeks of sinus problems and overloaded with work, i had nothing left in my energy reserves. I only dragged my carcass in to the office today because of a meeting I’d called to make sure I understood an operation that’s my responsibility going forward.

That turned out to be remarkably easy, and the rapid success brought relief that expressed itself as silliness. The co-worker I’d summoned for assistance suggested that we make a new project named for the tree that the Keebler elves live in, but neither of us were sure what kind that was.

So I asked Siri.

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The Keebler tree! Of course! Intrigued by the US naval involvement, I followed the link.

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Well, that makes all the sense! Thank you, internet. You may be filled with lies, but they’re beautiful ones that doubled me over with laughter when I really had no resistance.

If Life Were a Dream Then My Dreams Might Make Sense

I started off working a scam on a bank that involved yarn masks and stealing nothing of any apparent value. My partner wound up in an involved chat with friends inside a boutique while we were supposed to be getting away. I waited outside, still masked, growing anxious.

A crowd grew outside, as customers assumed I was waiting for the store to open. So many witnesses made me even more tense, but nobody seemed to notice my mask. Finally someone tried the door and went in. Everyone laughed and went inside.

I decided to move. I stuck my mask under my hat and wandered off through the snow. During this excursion, I lamented that I still hadn’t lined up a summer job, and I wondered if my comic book ideas were strong enough to earn money for course books next semester.

I went back to the shop and went upstairs to an apartment. Nobody was there, but it was decorated with amusing artifacts and tchotchkes. I decided to leave, but no sooner had I entered the hallway then I was nearly knocked down by a man running away from a chihuahua.

We fed the dog treats, and I figured the two would be friends.

Then I woke up — a baffled, middle-aged man whose school days were long past, wondering what was going on in the depths of my subconscious. I pet the kitten as he ran past me, then went back to sleep.

Thinking Inside the Box

A few weeks ago we lost one of our PO box keys. (We didn’t even want a PO box, but the village post office won’t deliver to us even though we’re only three blocks away. But that’s another story.) We still had one key, so we made do with that for a while.

I spent Tuesday working from home, recovering from a bug. Wendi took the key so she could pick up the mail on the way to work, and she alerted me that there was a package slip. This led to a brief discussion about how getting the slip would be easier if we both had keys, which inevitably resulted in me agreeing to go get another key.

Crazy work things happened, but I managed to drive down to the post office. (Sick, remember?) I expected to have to show ID or at least know my name, but the clerk handed over a new key for just the box number and a small idiot fee.

As a longtime fan of crime fiction, my mind started to race with the implications. Could I have asked for just any PO box? How secure was mine? How incredibly easy it would be for a stalker to gain access to someone’s mail!

Then I remembered that it’s a small damn town, and I’m a large man who’s in all the time to pick up packages for that box.

Life can be so frustratingly easy sometimes.