Saturday, June 20, 2009

Two Great REM Songs

From 1986 to 1992, "R.E.M." used to be my answer to the question, "What's your favorite band?' Then, from 1992 to 1999, my answer was "The Band," and from 1999 to 2005, my answer was "Radiohead." Now, music reporters have stopped "catching up to" me to fire questions at me. And frankly, I am enjoying the anonymity.

But wait. I was talking about R.E.M., not my decline in popularity among music critics. Here is R.E.M.'s finest song, "Fall on Me":

And here is a great song from the unplugged MTV show that didn't make it onto the unplugged CD for whatever reason.

There's that great moment when Mike Mills breaks in and takes over the vocals. It gives me chills. I should write a blog entry called something like "Greatest Little Outbursts in Songs." I'd add the moment when Neil Young sings the "Ma, send me money now / I'm gonna make it somehow / I need another chance" in "Cinnamon Girl" and when Bruce Springsteen sings"But I remember us riding in my brother's car / Her body tan and wet down in the reservoir" in "The River." But I don't want to take the suspense away from the future exciting web log entry that I'll most surely write.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Best Movie-Going Experiences

Andy and I were talking about movies, and the issue of how various factors can affect someone's appreciation of the movie. This seems so obvious, yet rarely do people like Roger Ebert say things like, "I thought I would have enjoyed Room Without a View more, but the theater restroom had rough toilet paper, thus putting me in a state of discomfiture. That, and the movie sucked."

I know I've seen movies that I should have liked more. There was The Sacrifice by Tarkovsky, which I walked out of. You see, I was caught up in March Madness at the time, so I wasn't in the right frame of mind to appreciate dripping water. I would have been fine with three or four minutes of dripping water, but forty-three minutes of dripping water was too much.

Then the subject turned to which movies Andy most enjoyed in the theater. I asked him to separate what he felt about the movie afterwards or in repeated viewings, and just try to think of the experience itself. He gave his list, but fortunately for you, dear reader, I wasn't able to give my list, for dinner was served. The frustration of an incomplete conversation led to this web log entry.

Here's my list, in order of viewings:

Silent Movie - This Mel Brooks movie was on cable television the other night, but I refused to watch it. Deep down, I know it's a crappy movie, but I want to preserve it. When I saw it in the theater, I was a young teenager with a bunch of friends -- Paul, Steve, Mark, Dave, and Lance I think -- and we were all sitting in the same row, and the laughter was infectious. I've never laughed harder during a movie. The only thing I remember about the movie was a slapstick scene with clumsy people dressed in armor. Oh, and Marcel Marceau is the only person who speaks during the movie. Get it? He's a mime.

Jaws - My parents wouldn't let me see this movie because it was too violent. When they finally relented, the buzz built up my expectations to impossible heights, yet Jaws was one of those rare movies that couldn't be overhyped.

Citizen Kane - Pretentiousness alert. Sorry, but it's true. I loved this movie so much when I saw it in the old Joseph Smith Building auditorium that I sat through the next viewing as well. I was taken in by a bunch of movies I saw for that film class at BYU -- Shane, The Story of Adele H, The General, Nanook of the North, The Best Years of Our Lives, Being There. The only movie I really didn't like at the time was The Best Years of Our Lives because it didn't have enough action for an alleged World War II movie. Now it's my favorite movie on the list. Go figure.

Raiders of the Lost Ark - I saw this movie the day before I left home to go on my mission to Peru. Fantastic thrill ride. The movie, I mean. Well, the mission was exciting too. I vomited on a family and had bricks dropped at me from tops of buildings. But the movie was even more exciting, because it had jungles and snakes.

Silence of the Lambs - While Anthony Hopkins was great as Hannibal Lecter in that movie, that other guy was just as good as Jame Gumb.

"Wait, was she a great big fat person?"

"Yeah, she was a big girl."

The Sixth Sense - This nearly forgotten movie totally sucked me in.

Titanic - No, I wasn't a 13-year-old girl when I saw this movie. The scene where the upraised stern starts sinking is one of the finest moments in cinema history, along with the horse ride through fire scene in Gone With the Wind and the shower scene in Private School.

The Hangover - I bent over with guffaws at least three times. "Tigers love pepper. They hate cinnamon."


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Most Irritating Driving Move

I've been trying to think of the most irritating driving move. For a time, I thought it was the guy who weaves through traffic under the premise that no one else will change speeds or switch lanes. But that's not it. That kind of person is actually interesting in a way. I imagine he thinks everyone else is an automaton, whereas he is a rebel, a maverick -- someone who stands high enough above the crowd to push everyone out of his way. There's something about that guy I respect. I wouldn't even mind listening to his collection of self-actualization cassettes.

What about the Bloomington woman who yields her rightful turn at a four-way stop because she's a very nice person. No, I know I stopped here before you, but you go ahead. No, you go ahead. I've very nice. Go ahead. Oh, I'm sorry. We both started to go at the same time! You go. Just go ahead. Oh, and maybe you should turn that frown up-side-down! She's in the running.

There's the guy who tailgates, and there's the guy who turns without using his blinker. I'm a little reluctant to throw stones at those guys, because sometimes I drive too close to the car in front of me, and if I'm holding something in one hand, a lot of times it's much easier to make a turn without turning on the blinker, and only later do I realize someone was behind me and had a moment of confusion due to my failure to use a blinker. So I'm inclined to give those guys a pass.

There's the oblivious cell phone driver. Yeah, Dude, I'm totally gonna buy pretzels. I said I'd buy pretzels and that means I'm going to buy pretzels. Don't bring up the Doritos again. I never said I'd bring Doritos. I said I might bring Doritos. Dude, you're pissing me off, and there's some dude in a Rodeo giving me the bird.

As a commuter cyclist, I have to call out the people who drive too close to me when there's no oncoming traffic. If I happen to dodge a pothole or broken glass at the wrong time, there's going to be an ugly collision. I could get bounced backwards off the windshield and go flying in the air, and maybe strike a speed limit sign, which would knock the wind out of me. Then I'd have to fish for my cell phone to call Wendy and tell her to come pick me up because my bike is jammed in someone's wheel well.

Or there's the classic goofball move of speeding up to pass a cyclist and then cutting him off with a right turn. I'd guess that happens to me once a month.

Or there's the person who gets grouchy and honks at me when I roll through a red light, even if it's a red light at a t-intersection where there's no danger to my right, and no reason for me to stop, other than the law. I've dealt with enough guilt and shame as a Mormon without having to fight off the guilt imposed by jealous honkers. But let's forget about cyclists and get back to drivers.

I just thought of a winner. It's the guy who's behind you when you approach a bus or some other slow vehicle, moves out in the left lane and doesn't make it clear whether he's going to pass you or let you pass in front of him. He just kind of hangs out behind and to the left of your rear bumper while you approach the bus. If he zips past you, fine. If he hangs back and lets you pass, fine. But just sitting there, zoned out, thinking about his dog and how much he likes his dog and how much his dog means to him and how much meaning his dog adds to his life, well, I think we have a winner.