Thursday, June 25, 2009

Papa Grice, Physics, and "Pi"

I was paid an unexpected visit by my father, Papa Grice, yesterday afternoon. I've been panicked (and driving Mama G crazy) about the upcoming exam that okays you to teach Sciences in 8th-12th grade; upon hearing that, Pops went through his old things and carted over a boatload of physics and chemistry books (he was an engineer).

"Ahh, Morgie, I don't think you need to worry. You were always best at math and science. I bet you don't even really need to study. What was that tournament you used to do? Math...Math...?"

"Math Triathlon! HA! Several of my friends in New York don't even believe I can count!"

"Oh, you'll be fine." He started flipping through one of the books, plucking a page from one that read something about "The Basics." "Here, here's an easy one."

That's just about the worst way to begin an impromptu physics lesson for someone like me. It's not an easy one, but now when I get it wrong, I'll want to drill a hole in my head. Sigh.

As the words dribbled out of his mouth, I wanted to curl up in the fetal position.

Though, a day later, I remember how much I used to love these problems.

Speaking of drilling holes in heads, I'm reminded of a scene from the movie "Pi." Excuse the somewhat graphic nature.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Movie Nights at Home: "Planet Terror" (Grindhouse), "Firestarter"; Writing, Remembering How to Study (?)

It's 5:30 a.m. in the Grice Household; I'm scrambling eggs. Mama G emerges from her bedroom and: "Ooohhh, mija, you're already up! I thought I was going to have to drag you out of bed by your hair!!" she exclaims with genuine surprise, but with a touch of disappointment that she didn't get to yank the old mop.

I have to take her to the Metro in the mornings if I want to use a vehicle.

"Yeah, I don't know -- I just woke up. I was having nightmares ... something involving being chased and being shot at ... and explosions, yeah, I could see faces exploding!"

"Oh, mija."

"Yeah, I don't know why ... well, maybe it was because of the movie last night."

"HA! You didn't watch the movie!"

"Lies! I did so."

"I kept throwing things at you. And you kept lying, saying you weren't sleeping. You always lie, you big horse."

"I was awake!"

"What happened at the end?"

Sigh. "Aren't you going to be late?"

Since being back home, things have gone right back to normal. Well, "normal." The night before, we ended our days as we usually do -- with a movie. Mama G and I sit in the living room, while Brother G shouts at us from the other room and comes out periodically to make sure we're still watching. Nine times out of 10, I "fall asleep," (or so they say), and Mama G begins yelping crazy things at me, throwing pillows, or kicking me with her Flinstone Feet -- depending on how close she is.

Up that night was Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" of "Grindhouse," which I was so embarrassed to say I hadn't seen. While I won't admit that I fell asleep that night (or any other of the thousands of nights before -- I can't help it!), I have now watched it in full. What a crazy film.

"Grindhouse" trailer:

The day before, I had a Drew Barrymore marathon (unintentional!), which consisted of "Never Been Kissed" (still cute), "E.T." (sigh), and ... Steven King's "Firestarter" (!!!!!!) God, I forgot how awesome that movie is.

In "Firestarter," a drug, LOT-6, is administered to Andy McGee (David Keith) and Vicky McGee (Heather Locklear), Charlie's (Barrymore) parents. Charlie develops pyrokinetic powers (her parents develop telekinetic, not nearly as cool). Now "The Shop," a secret organization, is after Charlie and her Dad ... poor Mom died a sinister death ... and Little Charlie goes around exploding police cars, houses, making misogynists' boots blow up in flames. Highly recommended.

I think I made it through 8 movies a couple days ago ... though, I'm "working" while I watch - what I'd do without a computer near the TV (be more productive).

In other news, road trips to the Hill Country and Austin start next week with Brother G; upon returning, Mama G and I begin the long road trip to little New York City the following day. Throughout this time, I'll be writing, watching, reading and studying.

As for the studying, I have some tests to take and some classes to attend ... upon Mama G's urging, I should be certified to TEACH by the beginning of August. (!)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Twiddle, twiddle in JFK; Airplane! and The Terminal

"Does my displeasure please you?" I asked, my three huge bags tottering tenuously in the SmarteCarte that held them.

"Of course not, mijita, never," defended Mama G. "You just have to look at it as a good thing."

A good thing. How, praytell, can being stuck in JFK for a good ... oh, another 8 hours, be a good thing?

"Well, didn't you say you needed to send off that story by midnight tonight? Now you're stuck! You have to finish it and send it off. So, go find somewhere you can be by yourself and finish it, and send it off."

"MAMA! I'm in the loneliest airport known to man, in Terminal FIVE, of all places; you want me to make lemonade? Where is your sympathy?!?"

"You don't need my sympathy. This is good for you. Go and finish your story."

"I can't even get a little bit of sympathy, you awful woman?"

"No, you don't need it."

"You know, I haven't shaved my legs in several days and the hairs are staring at me, menacingly; I'm wearing shorts and now I'm going to have to lug THREE huge bags around with me as I try to talk to strangers, as they stare at my legs, I'm sure -- still, nothing?"

"No, you should've gotten up earlier. And you should've shaved your legs."

"I got up at 7am! For an 11am flight. There was a lockjam in Lincoln Tunnel! I even tried to get Brother to check-in for me online (Brother G, I'm changing my password, don't you worry. I've been down the Internet Rat path before, and I don't want you to see what I say about you in my emails.)."

"Mijita, just go write your story and stop worrying; we'll come pick you up."

"You better."

"We will."

"11:47pm. I know y'all'll be late."

"We won't!"

"You will."

Sigh, "Mijita."

Sigh, back at you.

A couple good airport movies:

This scene in Airplane! was one of my earliest memories of being so comically entertained.

The Terminal -- not super great, but good premise.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fraud, Mama and Brother G -- Adventure, Resumed

How does one write fraud, without really writing it?

When I was "let go," restructured out of "The Vision," etc., I was given an agreement. I'd be paid through such and such a time, given my awarded bonus for the following year at an earlier time, considering I was being restructured out of The Vision, and all.

No such bonus came, of late.

I twiddled my thumbs; I checked and rechecked my account; I clucked my tongue each time at the un-fattened bank account that stared me in the face.

As Mama G and Brother Grice kept sending me emails aplenty, about how much fun our road trips are going to be, I kept refreshing that old bank account, wondering where it was. Those few pennies I was depending upon.

Finally, I just sent an email to the whoa-man who's supposed to be taking care of me, during these times. To think I'd almost just sat there doing nothing.

"The rest should be paid this coming week - I apologize for this mistake. Any questions please let me know. Thanks, XXX"


I almost didn't even send an email, for fear of sounding or coming off as too forward; had I not sent that email, so you could send me a gummy-faced, horrid response, telling me I'll get my due this week ... I'd had never received it.

I sent back a decent response, but one that was appropriately piqued, I'd say.

Brother G, we's gonna have a fine time out there tubing on the river and Mama G, New O'lens never looked so fine.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Slice: THE Final Destination, Right.

I don't know if most people remember Devon Sawa, but a young little Ms. Grice does; he starred in Casper. He was so handsome and ... sigh. Then we saw him again in a later and little-known (not very unknown, we all saw "Scream" and those sorts) film called Final Destination. Weeeellll that latter movie went on to some straight-to-video sequels (some on-screen success, here and there) lore -- and 14 years later, they're releasing "The Final Destination."

One wonders (and hopes) that it's similar to the finality of "The Fast and the Furious", "2 Fast 2 Furious," "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" ilk ...

Only "Alien" and "Terminator" can pull off this type of longevity.

Texas, My Texas ...? And, "The Orphan" -- a Sicker, More Modern "The Good Son"?

Yesterday evening, I made my way to Crooklyn; I had to drop off some things to Margaret Sandwich, since my airline is charging 75 bones, just to take on extra luggage, per bag -- no matter how small (Mine are small.). I suppose they don't recognize quarter-life crises as reasons to store more of your junk on board. Sigh.

So, I went off to Crookville with my big, blue duffel bag (the only thing I took to Colombia) and miscellaneous other things to put under Ms. Sands' bed in Crookway Heights; we both decided it'd be a good thing, to ensure I don't just waste away in TX and the South for the rest of my ever-dwindling years. I said I'd definitely come back by end of July -- if only to gather the rest of my belongings.

Enter a little man we'll call Charley Fatz. He'd just been stumbling around, having entertained another School Friend for the evening, when he stopped by and interrupted our watching of TBS, quietly.

"You're going back to TEXAS?!" He's from San Antonio (Texas).

"Just for a bit! I'm going to tool around the South for a bit, work on my writing, you know ... explore!" I felt a flush come over my face.

"You're never coming back."

Despite the slurring of his words, it shocked the s.h.!.t. out of me.

"Shut up, of course I'm coming back. Margs always goes home! For months!" I tried to defend myself, and pointed at her as a ripe example.

"Yeah, but, she's always coming back. You're not coming back."

So upset.

This morning, he said, "You got upset by me, a drunk man!? Come onnnnnn."

Of course I did. Man, oh, man -- I took it so hard. He even threw in other examples of friends (Texans) he knew who'd called it quits and went home and got married; ha, one wishes. I made Ms. Sands laugh yesterday, telling her of a date I went on the night before where the friend said:

"I don't mean to be ... forward. But. You don't seem to be much into worrying about guys. What's wrong?"

"Ummm, what? I don't know. Wait, what?" I picked up my butter knife and started sawing the edge of my table ... slowly, slickly.

"I just mean, are you just not that into guys? All my girl friends ... that's all ... well, it's all they talk about."

Internal: Oh, Lord.

"Are you into girls?" he asked, with a furrowed, intense brow.

"No. Umm, I need to go."

So, back to Mr. Fatz, it's all thrown me for a clichéd loop. He views it as a weakness, my going home; obviously I have those thoughts and I rationalize them away by knowing (thinking) it'll all do me some good to be home with Brother and Mama G (and the Rat Child) for a bit ... and it'll be cheaper.

I just want to take an adventure. (Run away?)

Internal monologue, over. I'll leave with a preview I saw the other day that shocked some good sense into me, movie-wise.

Orphan seems like a more awesome "The Good Son":

"There's something wrong with Esther."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"The Girlfriend Experience," "Drag Me to Hell," "The Hangover," "Away We Go," Oof

In the past week or so, I've spent a good many hours in the theater ... two of those hours actually included company! I'd forgotten what that felt like. In order of viewing:

The Girlfriend Experience

The GF Experience is Steven Soderbergh's (Erin Brokovich, Traffic, Full Frontal, the Ocean's movies) new film about the life of a Manhattan escort and her physical trainer boyfriend, who is fully aware of his girlfriend's occupation. It takes place in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, so much of the plot and dialogue centers on the financial crisis, Gobama, etc.; there are many scenes where she (real-life porn star Sasha Grey) is lounging about in her lingerie, as some awful financial clown jabbers away on his cell phone about his impending failure and losses.

Chelsea, our escort, has the cold, disconnected act down when it comes to her clients; she realizes that they don't want to know the "real" her (though, it's unclear throughout the film if there even is a real her), they pay her to be who they want her to be. Yeah, yeah, we've heard it before. She's also an obscenely good businesswoman, and Soderbergh shows her meeting with all sorts of straight business types who are helping her brand herself in various forms (one leads to an unfortunate meeting with a NJ website "reviewer" who provokes one of the only scenes where we see her show any real emotion).

All seems pretty hunky-dory until she meets one of her new clients and has an instant connection with him; we learn that though she seems astute in many ways, she also believes in some cooky "personology" and decides she needs to see where this connection goes.

She tells her boyfriend she's going away for the weekend. He doesn't take too kindly to that. After all, he argues, they've been together for a year and a half! They live together!! She's just going to throw it all away? Just like that?

Yes, she says. And so it goes on from there.

There are some major faults. The editing, oof -- it's very non-linear, which is fine, and often ideal for me. But it's no Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs-type of working backwards; rather, it's jumpy and often confusing. It's also unclear why it was so necessary to set it sooooo conscpicuously at the end of 2008 (also, what happened to "movies take foreeeever to make"??). There aren't really any insinuations that Chelsea's pushed to prostitution because of dire straits due to the financial crisis, but Lord knows they won't stop talking about it throughout the movie. Is the gross consumption on the part of her clients during these times supposed to be a criticism or reprimand? He never makes that very clear, if so.

Also, her boyfriend's role and character is very muddled. For all his whining about her abandoning the relationship, you want to punch him in his washboard abs and ask him what he was thinking in the first place? Not only is your girlfriend sleeping with a million other men with your approval, she's also crazy.

Ahh, the more I think about the flaws, the less I like it. Ms. Grey is pretty good, though a little too deadpan even for a cold-hearted, upscale hooker.

The Girlfriend Experience trailer (is pretty ridiculous).

Drag Me to Hell

Ahhh, I'd been wanting to see Sam Raimi's new scary movie since I first saw the trailer months ago.

Alison Lohman (Matchstick Men) plays Christine Brown, a middle-class young woman who grew up on a farm and who now works as a loan officer at a regional bank. She is vying for an assistant manager position and in order to beat out her competition, an annoying and unscrupulous newer coworker Stu (Reggie Lee), her boss tells her she needs to be able to make tough decisions, and, well, Stu, he's just so aggressive.

Enter a crazy old woman with a big, creepy eyeball, warts, and slime oozing out of her denture-full mouth; she's in desperate need of an extension on her mortgage payment. Having just been told she needs to make those tough decisions, however, Christine turns her down. The old woman begs, she pleads, she gets down on her knees and causes a scene!

Nope, no can do, old lady, but she's really sorry, she'd love to help if she could.

"You shame me! You SHAME ME!"

Well, we see where it goes from there. The old woman curses Christine; there's a scene where, having been told maybe sacrificing an animal might help kill this curse, Christine is found saying "Here, kitty, kitty..."; there are some pretty awesome fight scenes between the old woman and Ms. Brown; there are seers, a lot of speaking in tongues, etc.

I was balled up in my chair with my eyes covered for a lot of it, though you laugh at a lot, as well.

Lived up to my expectations, almost.

Drag Me to Hell trailer:

The Hangover

Doug's (Justin Bartha) getting married, so he and three of his buds are going to Vegas for his bachelor party. After a night of hard partying, they wake up in their $4,000-a-night villa unable to remember a thing after their initial Jaeger shot on the roof. Straight-laced Stu (Ed Helms, of The Office) has a missing front tooth; Idiot Alan (Zach Galifianakis) awakes with no underwear on and stumbles into the bathroom where a tiger awaits; and Pretty-Boy Phil (Bradley Cooper) tells everyone to calm down, all that matters is that they had a good time (he thinks) and they should now get a move on and get Doug back home to prepare for the wedding.

But Doug's not there.

The rest of the movie is just a silly series of stumbling onto clues as to the whereabouts of Doug, each clue unfolding a new crazy detail of their night. Stu married a stripper (Heather Graham), they stole a police car, bags got switched and they're being chased by Mr. Chow (the now ever-present Ken Jeong), etc.

It's too silly, and I had higher expectations for Todd Phillips, the guy responsible for Old School -- that probably says something (bad) about my taste and judgment.

Ed Helms was my favorite part, and it was nice seeing Mike Tyson sing a bit of Phil Collins.

The Hangover trailer:

Away We Go

I may have to head back to the movies today to redeem myself for seeing this ... my only excuse is, well, there aren't really any excuses. I'd seen just about everything at Union Square, save for Night at the Museum 2, so... anyway. (I knew I'd see this movie after I first saw the trailer...oh, weaknesses.)

Burt (John Krasinski ... or, better known as my love, Jim Halpert!) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are about to have their first child; they live in the middle of no where near Burt's parents, but we quickly fiind that the 'rents have decided to up and move to Belgium. They've been planning to move for 15 years, but Burt freaks out because he and Verona had only moved there to be close to them. The parents are cooky and over-the-top, and don't understand their son's dismay.

So, Verona suggests they move. They draw up a list of places to check out: Phoenix, Tucson, Madison, Montreal, Miami. Every town they visit has a few friends or relatives where they could see themselves raising their child, and each segment of the movie begins with a white-on-black title shot announcing the new city. Allison Janney plays crazy (and insufferable) Lily in Phoenix; Maggie Gyllenhaal plays "LN" a weirdo new age philosophy teacher who doesn't believe in strollers and believes in parents and children sharing beds ... at all times; their college friends in Montreal can't have a baby, so they run a zoo of adopted children in their apartment.

It was co-written by Dave Eggers ("A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"), and the film is similar in spirit to that book (I think I'm one of the few people who didn't care much for it ...).

I will admit that there are moments when Mr. Krasinski is holding his lady telling her (lies) about his infinite love for her and how their love is different and, oh, he'll never leave her, yadda-yadda where--after suppressing the urge to throw my M&M's and Skittles at the screen--I looked left and right to ensure I was alone, then may have let a tiny tearlet trickle out. But only one.

But I'm moving! I'm having emotional turmoil. Hmph.

It was okay, overall.

Ahh, now that I've spent my morning on this for no reason, back to
a short story involving a Manhattan woman and some trees (that look like "oversized brocoli florets") she's having hoisted to her roof. Page 11 ... aiming for 15 today. What am I doing with my life? Nothing useful, that's what.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor: "See No Evil, Hear No Evil" ... What a Good Friend's Meant to Be

Oh, my, I'd forgotten ... this is one of my favorite scenes from growing up. "See No Evil, Hear No Evil" -- a blind Richard Pryor and a deaf Gene Wilder. God, it's so good.

Here's to no sleep, and movies that came out when I was 6. And, Lord have Mercy, there's a very, very effeminate Kevin Spacey lurking about the movie as well.

Oh, and the movie's all the more endearing because Gene Wilder's character became deaf after a fluke run-in with Scarlet Fever, something I had junior year of college. No one gets that these days, given people's tendency to go to the doc when they feel ill, buuuuuttttt, I thought it better to just wait until red spots started to show up on my forearms; once the spots went up to the face, then I swiftly skipped class and held my head low as I walked through the streets to the hospital.


Tried to Turn the Lights Off, But Then I Wanted to See My "Friends"

What can you do when you can't sleep, per usual? If only I could take medicine. But, then how would I stay up for dozens of hours, looking up at my walls dreaming of adventures?

"Nah, she ain't a sweet chile" - Paper Moon

"Paper Moon"

"Cool Hand Luke"

"Let'im hit you in the nose, get some blood flowin'." - Cool Hand

Cool Hand Luke, Brother Grice, Killing Time -- and a Little "Total Recall"

"I didn't go to sleep until 'bout 5:30am this morning, after your horrible gift," Brother G said.

"My gift of giving you my online Netflix account info?" I asked, knowing the answer.

"Yes, you horrible Sister Woman. I could see what you watched and I was able to route it to the TV -- I looked through your queue and saw you went on another Paul Newman binge, and I couldn't help myself but follow the tracks."

"'Snot my fault you're weak-willed," I responded.

"You even re-watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof! Lord. Why? What possessed you to walk down that trodden path, after having just watched Cool Hand -- again -- what was your reason?" he asked, dumbly.

"Because I wanted to hear the 'mendacity' line, senior idioto. After rubbing my index finger over Paul Newman's face a few times during Cool, I wanted to see him fight against his father and say terrible things. Can I get a break?"

"God, I hate you," he said.

"Same," Me.

"See you in a couple weeks," Brother.

"Can't wait. Love you," me, begrudgingly.

"Love you too," said an unknown source.

You can watch Cool Hand Luke, here.

Only two weeks, Brother G, two little weeks. And then we have some fun.