Sunday, May 27, 2007

Two Events.

Yesterday, Friday, was kind of emotionally overwhelming for me. (No, I’m not getting personal. Still talking about art/entertainment/culture here.)

The first thing I do every Friday, after I’ve clocked in at work, is to listen to the new Never Not Funny podcast. It’s become a part of my daily life, an hour (and change) every week of hanging out with three of the funniest, most personable, least-obnoxious people on the planet. Running gags from its past year of recording have become a part of my life and way of thinking about things. I’ve even started to think that Peter Cetera might not be so bad.

Well, everything changed this week. One of the three is gone, and like other listeners have said, it’s a bit like seeing your aunt and uncle (both of whom you love and can’t imagine without the other) divorce. I was pretty shell-shocked the rest of the morning. Mike Schmidt is one of the most quick-witted people on the planet, and the fact that I won’t be hearing him every Friday, while I will be hearing Jimmy and Matt, makes my world a little darker. Of course, que será será and all that; what’s best for the guys is what’s best overall. And reading Mike’s point of view made me feel easier about it. It’s not Alec Baldwin/Kim Basinger time here.

(By the way, the only reason I know about the Baldwin/Basinger thing is because my favorite TV show of last season was 30 Rock. In general, I try not to keep up on the personal lives of celebrities.)

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After leaving work, I went to a matinee of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Which is notable partly because I almost never see movies — in fact, if I’m not mistaken, the last time I was in a theater was to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest — and partly because if I’d been feeling numb before, I was nearly dead afterward. I enjoyed myself immensely, but my primary memory is of an experience that went on and on and on. (This is how I usually remember movies, though — I don’t see very many for a reason.) There are some beautiful, strange, delightful, and even lyrical moments in the movie, but mostly it’s a big, dumb, action-packed, goofy, cheaply sentimental extravaganza. Which is what I was expecting: I bought popcorn and Coke and gave myself up to hedonism and spectacle. Which isn’t to say that I don’t understand the criticisms of the movie: it’s too plot-heavy, too convoluted, too ... much.

On the other hand, it’s not quite standard Bruckheimer: there are some surprisingly gorgeous and inventive sequences, especially in the first half. Gore Verbinski’s a better director, and about half the cast is better actors, than the movie deserves. Which is what made the first one such a pleasant surprise — it was better than it had to be — but now, of course, expectations are higher, and it’s bound to disappoint. I miss the low-pressure fun of the first movie, but if we must have supernatural pirate trilogies, then this is about as great a one as we could expect given the realities of blockbuster filmmaking. (And I do hope it’s just a trilogy. Star Wars is the cautionary tale of our generation.)

I did like [spoiler alert, and I mean it] that Orlando Bloom’s character, who the audience obviously doesn’t care about, gets his heart ripped out and an eternal curse laid on him at the end. Didn’t make him any more interesting, but at least he wasn’t sacrosanct, which is generally how the movies treat the boringly noble.

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So then I went home and spent the next six hours scouring the Internet for a rare 1971 Japanese psychedelic album. Love Live Life + One’s Love Will Make A Better You, where are you?

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