Archive | December, 2009

Things I Don’t Want for Christmas

15 Dec

In case you’re considering buying me anything, I wanted you to know what I like. And since it’s easier for me to tell you what I don’t like, I thought this list would help.

So, things I don’t want for Christmas:

  1. A flaming bag of poo upon my doorstep.
  2. Tickets to “Lorena Bobbit on Ice!” (The doorprizes are just gross.)
  3. A copy of Chris Brown‘s new CD. (I think it’s called, “Please forgive me… anybody? Please?”)
  4. A copy of Rihanna‘s new CD.
  5. A colonoscopy.
  6. Ear hair.
  7. A tie that Craig Sager would wear.
  8. Driving lessons from Adrian Peterson.
  9. A Zhu Zhu. (Further proof that we are on track to follow the Roman Empire into the dump heap of history.)
  10. A guest spot on “Jersey Shore.”
  11. Wang Chung’s greatest hits album. (Sad part is, I was trying to be funny. Then I Googled it and found out it really existed…)
  12. This.
  13. A season’s pass to “Six Flags Over Hoboken.”
  14. Tim Tebow’s book, “How to Keep Your Composure on National TV.”
  15. The Nobel Peace Prize. (I want to earn it.)
  16. A $2 million dollar raise. (Again, I want to earn it.)
  17. The Defensive Coordinator’s position at UGA.
  18. The Ambassadorship to Afghanistan.
  19. A draft notice.
  20. A wasteful, do-nothing federal government that lacks sense and is disconnected with the American public. (I already have one of those.)
  21. This.
  22. I would like to know how the critic on the cover of the above item still has a job though. You can get me that information.
  23. The Big Book of Literary Criticism from the Marxist/Nihilist Point of View.
  24. The Big Book of Dry Political Memoirs That Reveal Nothing.
  25. A wedgie.
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Happy Start to Hanukkah – Here’s Some Neil Diamond

11 Dec

Since Hanukkah starts tonight, just thought this most awesome cover of Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” deserved to be shared.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the one, the only… Neil Diamond.

Top Five Most OVERRATED Movies Ever. Period.

8 Dec

This list is going to get me in trouble, if for no other reason than number three. I know that several of my friends will disown me for even suggeting it.

But, what’s the purpose of lists like these if not to generate controversy and discussion? So, into the breach. Here’s yesterday’s Top Five Most Underrated Movies, so you can have some basis for comparison.

Scent of a Woman (1992) – God awful. Tripe. Chris O’Donnell gets smaller and smaller throughout the entire movie as Al Pacino chews more and more of the scenery. This was the first flick that I noticed “The Pacino Technique”, in which an actor simply shouts key lines as a way of projecting emotion. Interestingly, Pacino has been stuck in that mode ever since. I think he passed the threshhold for audience’s tolerance with his awful performance in “Any Given Sunday” which would have made this list if anyone had considered it worth anything to begin with. On the plus side, “Scent” did give us an early glimpse into the gifts of Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Titanic (1997) – this is a movie that has diminished as time passes despite the fond memories of its “brilliance”. The special effects are not-so-special now (this is strictly in reference to CGI shots; the set pieces remain some of the best artistry ever put on film) and the story, much maligned when the flick was released, is even worse now. This movie tapped into a momentary flux in the zeitgeist and became huge. Today it wouldn’t even pass muster as a Lifetime Movie of the Month. Well, okay – Lifetime would green-light it, but even that’s telling you something, if the silliness of their recent flick “12 Men of Christmas” is any indication of their selection skills.

Star Wars (1977) – I’m going to get killed on this one. I love Star Wars. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker when I was a kid. And when I was in high school. And college. But now, as a grown man and father, looking back on the storyline and dialogue – dear Lord, is there a wussier hero than Luke Skywalker? It took Yoda and a butt-whuppin’ for the blond haired one to become a real hero instead of a whiner and then he stepped into psycho by the time Jedi rolled around. So we get a total of five minutes that feature Luke as even remotely heroic. As a kid, I never understood why so many people identified with Han Solo; now, I wish the movie were told from his perspective alone.

King Kong (1933, 2005) – both the original and all of its remakes. Stop-motion monkeys and blue-screened scream queens do not captivating film make. And it gets even worse when Peter Jackson stretches out a thirty minute story (at best) to almost THREE FREAKING HOURS of tedium. I didn’t even go see this one on the big screen; I waited until someone in my circle of friends was silly enough to buy it, then borrowed it. On the plus side, though, let’s hear it for the T-Rex vs. King Kong fight scene in the movie’s early moments. That should have been the entire film right there; or Kong could have gone on to face other massive animals in sort of UFC fashion. That would have been cool to see.

Transformers (2007) – I wanted to love this movie, I really did. But Michael Bay let me down by focusing too much on Shia LaBeuf and the other irrelevant human beings. Why couldn’t they just tell the tale of the Autobots vs. Decepticons and let the machines be the stars? As it was, there was too few Transformers and too many human beings, specifically John Turturro, who must have done something horribly wrong in Hollyweird to have to take crap roles like this. What happened to the dynamic actor in Quiz Show? Where’d he go?

 

So there they are. What movies are missing? Which ones deserve to be here more? Leave a comment below to add to the discussion.

Five Completely Underrated Movies You MUST Watch

7 Dec

I was originally going to go negative at first – Five Completely Overrated Movies You MUST Avoid – but it’s the Christmas season, and why not spread a little cheer?

Movie tastes are like socks – lightly examined, dirty little choices that reveal a lot about the person wearing them. Some stink. Some are cute. Some make you rethink your previous position on footwear (or cinema). After reading The New Yorker’s recent list of the dceade’s 10 best films and thinking “What the hell?” I thought this would be fun.

So, five completely underrated movies you must see:

1. Unforgiven (1992) – I was tempted to make the list Clint Eastwood’s Ten Best, but that seemed silly. But, for a thought-provoking exceptional western with beautiful photography and stellar acting (just check out the movie’s Oscar wins), you can’t beat this masterpiece. William Munny might be the most memorable cowboy EVER.

2. Star Trek (2009) – Granted this movie isn’t even a year old, and the hype surrounding J.J. Abram’s reboot of the classic space franchise was anything other than underrated. But, as a Team Vader kind of guy (meaning I always liked Star Wars much more than Star Trek) I was absolutely blown away by this movie. Mesmerized by the writing, the castin and the visuals, my wife and I went to see this for our 8th wedding anniversary – and loved every minute. I can’t wait to see if Santa drops the DVD into my stocking for Christmas.

3. Ronin (1998) – DeNiro. Great car chases. International espionage. More great car chases. This movie is an adrenaline rush on DVD. The plot and acting are great, and the highly underrated Stellan Skarsgard is absolute brilliant as the movie’s main villain. Perhaps the best part is Jonathan Pryce as an I.R.A. warlord on the hunt for the film’s MacGuffin. If you’ve ever seen Pryce as a bad guy in any other movie, you won’t believe how well he pulls it off here.

4. Dan in Real Life (2007) – Just saw this for the first time the other night, and dang near fell off the couch laughing at Steve Carrell. This really got to me because Carrell plays a writer on the cusp of making it into syndication, and the struggles between his real life and the life of his advice column is as distant as Obama’s relationship with the G.O.P. Poignant, funny as hell, and featuring the insufferable Dane Cook as a sufferable fitness instructor, this movie has plenty of warmth to go with the obvious comedy.  Must, must see.

5. Elf (2004) – What would a Christmastime top five list be without at least one Christmas movie? This cute movie is underrated because it was the first and last time that Will Ferrell was charming instead of annoying, funny instead of insipid, and likeable instead of loathsome. And James Caan as a father figure is priceless.

So there’s your list. Which movies did I whiff on? Which ones would you recommend? And tomorrow, five totally overrated movies. Starting with this one…

Tiger Woods’ Failure as a Father

4 Dec

Just a dang shame...

Yeah, there’s a reason the picture is taking up half of the column space, and it’s not the guy holding the baby.

It’s the baby.

Lost in all of the ugliness that has become Tiger and Elin Woods’ life are the faces of Sam (the pictured infant, now 2 years old) and Charlie (the nine-month old son that many people didn’t even realize existed until the scandals broke). Their dad, arguably the most famous man on the planet, will now be remembered in an entirely different way.

And those two kids will have to live with that.

It’s hard enough when people refer to your dad as “the Black Jesus”, “a golf god”, “the greatest athlete of all time.” That’s a heck of a legacy to live up to; the kind of thing that has driven other children of famous parents into the world of depression, addiction, even suicide.

Now tack onto that pre-existing fame the collective disappointment that many of our nation are experiencing right now, and it becomes an almost unbearable burden:

To bear not only your father’s greatest successes, but his greatest failure as well.

I don’t much care how the media views Tiger. I don’t much care if things get better for him, personally, in the near future. He deserves the excoriation as much as he ever deserved praise. I agree with Jesper Parnevik to some degree: whatever Elin dishes out, he’d better shut up and take.

But I do hope this blows over quickly for the kids. I hope that Tiger can get back on the golf course and win five or six tournaments in a row, put the focus back on his exceptional and singular skills as a golfer, and let his family rest in relative peace for a while. Maybe by the time Sam is old enough to darken the door of the local Kindergarten, the events of the past few days will be lessened in the overall pantheon of their family life; maybe by the time Charlie hits school, the past few days will only be a lame taunt lobbed at him by an overly jealous classmate.

I hope that’s the case. I hope.

But I don’t know. Until then, I’m praying for the kids.

Outstretched Hands

2 Dec

She comes to me every afternoon when I walk through the door, a smiling little metronome, each day asking the same thing.

“Play with me Daddy?”

Normally, my hands are full with my jacket, my laptop bag, maybe some books, and my answer is always the same.

“Not right now, honey. Daddy needs to change.”

Her face falls. Her shoulders slump. She recedes back into living room, a disappointed tide going back out into the sea of solitude for at least another ten or fifteen minutes. And I make my way down the hall and into my bedroom, exasperated by the unending need of an almost four year old daughter for my attention. The laptop bag slams into the bed. The tie comes off with a snap then gets thrown into the closet with my pants, shirt and shoes. I grab a pair of jeans, maybe my house shoes, and trudge back to where she sits. Continue reading

Back In Action

1 Dec

I’ve been away, working on some things for the past few weeks. Personal issues mainly, and most of those having to do with my writing. I shut down TSG for awhile because I wanted to concentrate on ficiton writing. And so I did.

And while I did, I was reminded by several things that my nonfiction writing is as popular, if not more so, than my fiction.

So, The Southern Gentleman is back in action.

There will be some changes. First of all, the number of archived posts will be culled to the Top Ten posts of all time here on TSG. Everything else will be new stuff.

Secondly, the name of the blog will change: from The Southern Gentleman to A Southern Gentlman, for better search engine optimization.

Thirdly, I will hopefully invite more participation from the people who read. Of course, most people get here through random search engine stuff, but that’s another story altogether.

Lastly, I’m just going to have fun. I’m not going to try and draw anyone here. Whoever ends up here is who I’ll be writing for. My time of straining so hard to become “somebody” is over. I just want to be me.

Welcome to the New South.