Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Well, I Am From Williston....

Remi: Never argue on the internets. It will break your heart. Like a stripper your momma introduces you to.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Michael Jordan of EVIL

I've been following the scandal surrounding the dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys for apparent political reasons, and I've come to one conclusion: Alberto Gonzales is the world's most evil Mexican-American. Why, he's up there for the world's most evil person. Here's a list of his accomplishments so far:

1. Along with former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card*, ambushed incapacitated Attorney General John Ashcroft in his hospital room--in the middle of the night--to get him to reauthorize the warrantless wiretapping program.
2. In 1996, helped then-governor George W. Bush avoid jury duty, presumably so he would not have to reveal his own DUI in Maine two decades earlier.
3. My favorite thing he's done, however (aside from support of the USA PATRIOT Act) is his participation in the following interchange:

Whaaaa? I'm no legal scholar, but that seems both slimy and genuinely dishonest.

So, how else can A.G. the A.G. be evil?

1. Initiate the Federal Harry Potter-Spoilers act.
2. Order the destruction of all balloons, cotton-candy machines, and marshmallow factories in the land.
3. Un-invade, then re-invade Iraq.

Oh wait...I know!

Wow. Lazy humor and lazy Photoshopping. Gooooo meeee!

*We are alumni of the same university. Bastard.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Trust The Onion to distill an argument that goodhearted, but inarticulate, protestors of the war (myself included) have been trying to make for about four years just perfectly:

Thank you, The Onion.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


A few of my friends have been assaulted by my preaching about the inadequacy of nostalgia. It's why I don't see the appeal in the Transformers movie, or this movie:

Yikes. See, just because you remember something fondly, doesn't mean that you're going to like seeing it again. Now granted, I didn't watch much television as a kid, but I have rather neutral, detached reactions to my childhood TV memories, rather than the orgasmic joy the above image is supposed to elicit.

I mean, I could be an anomaly, because my TV watching was restricted by my parents, but I think it's deeper than this. I don't really have many good associations from childhood at all. Not that I had a bad childhood, it's just the stuff that sticks out in my mind is mostly the humiliating or painful stuff: pissing my pants during P.E. class, failing math in seventh grade, being completely confused playing baseball*, and getting run into a row of lockers by a bully, slamming my face into said lockers, and catching my bright yellow braces (they were yellow because the bands or whatever were yellow, not because they were gross) on my top lip, and bleeding all over myself and the band room. So how does an "Are You Afraid of the Dark" movie make me feel good, now?

One really great memory of childhood that I retain are all of the books I read. I'm not sure if these are still in elementary school circulation, but I remember them being the "kids' books" that I didn't graduate from, and still haven't:

1. A Wrinkle In Time
2. Island of the Blue Dolphins
3. Time for the Stars (all of the "Heinlein Juveniles", really)
4. The Homer Price books
5. The Giver

I have only good memories of these books. One set of books that really engaged me, and helped to further my interest, in myth and history, was The Dark is Rising sequence. It has everything: historical puzzles, Arthurian legend, and the main character is named Will Stanton. Which is why I nearly started quaking in my chair when I saw this:

Patience, Joe, patience. It was too complicated to adapt, probably. The Dark is Rising contains tons of puzzles and nuanced mythical references--it'd be hard to express a lot of the things that happen in that book onscreen.

But does Will Stanton have to be American, really?

And what's all this puberty shit? I mean, the book is about a kind of puberty, but it's the kind of puberty where you learn that you are imbued with a terrible power and are forced to make decisions that will drastically effect those you love. I don't remember Will getting all drooly over some other pre-adolescent, ever. He has a world to save. Christ. I guess this is to book adaptations what turning Optimus Prime into the backwards-baseball-cap wearing fratboy is to toy franchise adaptations.

I think there is potential to make great film adaptations of children's books. I'm looking forward to the film version of The Golden Compass**, even though it's the only book in the the series that I've read. I think that a lot of the books that I listed above could be really great movies. I just wish that filmmakers would be ambitious. Instead of making The Dark is Rising into Bratz with horses and magic, why not just challenge viewers with some dense Arthurian legend? It'll be good for everyone, and I won't feel the urge to peel out on somebody's face so often when I'm browsing around You Tube***.

*I'm still mostly confused.
**A lot of this has to do with Sam Elliott.
***No guarantees. Have you ever been on You Tube?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Joe Stanton: The Show

If you can, come see me perform on the following days:

-July 19, 8:00 PM: My team, 1,2,3, Ingestion, will be playing during the improv jam.

-July 21, 9:30 PM:

I am hosting, as Phil Mitchum.

-August 4, 5:00 PM:

I won't be mad if you grown-ups don't come to this one.

-August 18, 7:30 PM: Regular ComedySportz.

Clip, Courtesy of BWE Blog

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New York: Part Fashion

I'm not that impressed by H&M. I walked in expecting to be transported to some super-hip fashion paradise, and found myself in The Gap. Okay, that's harsh, but I found that the men's clothes there were pretty boring. The women's clothes were fun, though.

I don't claim to be that fashionable. I try to dress nicely, but I have only a basic understanding of what makes something work, fashion-wise. When I've needed to look good, I've always recurred to a basic slacks-and-nice-shirt style, and that's gotten me through some tough times. That said, I'm trying to vary my style a little and take a few risks, partially because I don't want to bore my girlfriend, and partly because...well, slacks. Really.

So I went shopping in New York to make some inroads in both pleasing my girlfriend and myself (in the sartorial sense, wink). And, like I said, I was disappointed by H&M: I bought a green shirt at the one in SoHo and sort of puttered through the other ones* we visited.

But Uniqlo, lord, god. That store is amazing.

I never thought I could really have fun shopping, as I've always viewed it as kind of a utilitarian enterprise in which you got the best selection while spending the least possible amount of time and money in a store.

Uniqlo has a wall of amazing Japanese t-shirts. It has cool music playing inside. Its bags are covered with colorful, filigreed designs (I kept mine). While I was browsing, I spotted a trio of black men in their late teens who were dressed head to toe in old-school hip hop gear, but not ironically. They were simply dressed that way because it was cool, and I was amazed. I even stared for a second. And I bought three things.

Well, now that I've finished my ham handed attempt at fashion writing, let me give you a rundown of the rest of the trip:

1. I saw noted improv team Death by Roo Roo perform at UCB. It was great.
2. Went to MoMA on Friday. Also great.
3. Ate at Katz's Deli. Great.
4. Went dancing. Great.
5. Met/hung out with a bunch of Becky's old friends. Also great. They have glamorous jobs and are generally fun.

And that pretty much sums it up. It was a frantic couple of days, but completely worth it.

*There is one on every goddamn corner in Manhattan.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Start Spreading

Tomorrow I'm heading off to New York City to rendezvous with Becky's college girlfriends. I'll be there for the weekend, and have a feeling that I'll be doing a bit of shopping, and maybe trying to get out and see a museum, but a lot of that has to do with what Becky and her coterie want to do. I'd like to eat some righteous food, but I'm short on cash, so the restaurants I read about on The Amateur Gourmet (who has a disturbing entertainment budget for a "professional playwright") are out, and my rolling crew are mostly vegetarians, so I may not get to cruise by Katz's Deli (one of the highlights of my first NY visit). I do feel badly that I don't have more activities planned. After all, this is only my second time in New York, a city that makes futures** , and the jewel in the crown of the United States. Or whatever. So maybe I'll take some time tonight to think about what to see.

Of course, I'm a horribly nervous traveler, and I'm less prepared for this trip than for the last one I went on (which I survived). I'm not packed, my tickets aren't printed, and I've no idea how we'll get from LaGuardia to where we are going to end up (somewhere in New York, I guess).

Wish me luck.

**Please kick much ass, DSI people.

Monday, July 9, 2007

For All You Music People Out There

Today, in the trash outside of Harris Teeter, peeking out amongst the banana peels and condom wrappers, was a burned copy of Moby's Play. I want to imagine it was a halfhearted gift from an annoying ex-boyfriend.


A bit of a conversation with my friend, Matt Elder:

me: gotta go
ack in a bit
Matt: I know that's a typo, but it's great anyway.

For Scott Jennings and Nick Faber

I'm in your consciousness, deconstructing your memez.

I know, another Achewood post. But still.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Set Your Phasers on Funky

Lately I've been turned on to Kiwi folk-parody duo Flight of the Conchords. They're dry to the point of sometimes telling anti-jokes, but their comedy is infused with such a sense of fun that I can tell that they love what they are doing and want us to love it, too. Case in point:

This isn't their funniest song, but I think that it's a shining example of a certain kind of parody that stands parallel to, and engages me more than, say, the deservedly cruel fun that Stephen Colbert has at the expense of conservative punditry, or the skewering of religious idiocy so often found in The Onion. The above video is a parody along the lines of Blazing Saddles, Kung Fu Hustle, or anything by Weird Al. These works are love letters. Can you imagine how much Bowie F.O.T.C.* had to listen to to do that impression? A parody like this says "David Bowie (or Westerns, or wuxia/gangster flicks, or whatever), you are silly in a lot of ways. And I still love you." And these parodies aren't just love letters to some new girlfriend, or an object of lust. They're love letters to a spouse, or a first love, or a family pet. And while I think that the cheeky vitriol of The Onion and The Colbert Report is necessary (and hilarious!), I just get down with love way more than I get down with hate.

*Kicky acronym, ne?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I Agree With Teodor

Ah, Achewood. Purveyors of good taste since 2001. Click on the strip to read a bigger version.

You're A Soldier Now! - A Review of Transformers (The Movie, not the Franchise)

My July 4 pseudo-weekend was great fun, from beginning to end. On the actual holiday, Becky and I loaded up a cooler full of beer, delicious rice-fruit salad, broccoli salad, taco dip, and family reunion dessert, all Becky's creations, grabbed some chairs, and went out with a cohort of D.S.I. people to enjoy the festivities at Regency Park in Cary. I had a great time, and even rode a mechanical bull.

Tuesday night I went to see Transformers. The complaints about this movie have been well documented. I find Nick Faber's review of the film to be both concise and true. I'll expand upon it thusly:


The film is basically one long, bad sketch, the premise of which is "What if the Transformers were just, you know, regular dudes?" There are far too many stupid asides, sight gags (a chihuahua pees on a Transformer), and lame shots across the pop-culture bow for the script to have any urgency behind it. When we are finally given a scene that isn't encumbered by horrible bits, Michael Bay's "throw indistinct flashes of light at the camera, combined with loud clanking noises" style of directing*, keeps the audience from seeing what we paid to see: giant fighting robots. This really disappointed me, because the robots were very cool: when a police-car Decepticon turned into a car in midair and shot off at full speed, the theater broke out in applause, and the battle between an interstate-skating Decepticon and Optimus Prime (who was, incidentally, played less as a fearless leader and more as a bumbling sitcom alien, albeit one with a huge sword coming out of his arm) was quite thrilling.

To make matters worse, writers Roberto Orci (who, according to IMDB, wrote an indeterminate nubmer of episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess), Alex Kurtzman (writing the upcoming Star Trek movie), and John Rogers (he wrote Catwoman!) apparently studied at the Moran and Mack school of screenwriting, because the film is really irresponsible with its minority characters. There are two black "mammies"** and two big ole' fat black goofballs, one of whom hilariously crashes through a glass door, and another who is phoned in by the talented or not-talented (I'm not sure yet because he keeps taking roles like this) Anthony Anderson. Tyrese Gibson's character seems to exist solely to say words like "dawg" to Josh Duhamel's withered stump of a soldier. Bernie Mac plays "the cool-but-slightly-flustered black dude" he plays in the Ocean's 11 films. The one Latino character often lapses into Spanish and is chastised for it by his buddies, in a move that is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but comes off as chauvinistic. And then there's Jazz.

Jazz's only line that means anything, other than the mild shit-talk he throws at Megatron when he's fighting him and is summarily dispatched, is something to the effect of "This looks like a good place to chill and kick it."

C'mon guys. I'm not mad that you have a "hip hop" (read: African American) Transformer. I'm really not. I'm just mad that all of the black characters in this movie were curious goofballs (with the exception of Gibson's, who was more of a curious bad-ass). And unfortunately, this kind of lazy filmmaking perpetuates itself: mammies are easy to make jokes with (see Norbit and Big Momma's House), it's easier to write hollow jive dialogue than to have a character who uses African American vernacular and still says something meaningful, and it's easier to show white, middle class audiences stereotypes than it is to ask them to think about race.

I realize I'm coming off as a prickly liberal for writing this, but I figure that it has to be said, because it seems obvious to me that Hollywood is really inadequate in its treatment of race. Transformers would still be a one-star movie without all of the racial issues, but the offhand way in which the stereotypes are thrown around is really disconcerting.


Uh, also...God Bless America.

*That said, I'm not going to spend too much time lambasting Michael Bay. He isn't an artist, or if he is, he's a bad one. And his movies are mostly unenjoyable explosion-fests. I know. But if I were a producer, and wanted to make an explosion-fest, I would want a director who was the right kind of asshole to figure out the direction of a movie that has n explosions, a huge crew, and a huge production budget. Something tells me that Michael Bay is that guy. The movie still largely sucks, though.
**Ups to Jeremy Griffin for pointing this out to me.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

You Guys, He's So Fucking Good At Math

I don't know if he reads this, but I'd like to give a 21st birthday shout out to my brother, Will Stanton. He's great at math, singing, and besting me. I love you, bro. In this picture he's posing with his lovely girlfriend, Elizabeth:

He's also posing with Elizabeth in this picture:

God bless her.

You Know It Has to Happen

The second book in the Remi Treuer Reading Project was Finder: Sin Eater, a beautiful and entirely unconventional book that you should all read. I won't review it further.

The third book is The Amulet of Samarkand, the first book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Johnathan Stroud. The essential premise of the trilogy is that wizards can control demons, and use this control to pacify "commoners" and create an authoritarian state.

It's already easy to see where these books intersect with Harry Potter, which I've always thought was deeply rooted in fears of totalitarianism: Voldemort's original rise to prominence parallels the rise of facism in Europe, and his return strongly implies fear of a present-day reversion to that system, especially in Britain.

And okay, J.K. Rowling is not a great writer. She traffics in cliche, her dialogue is stilted-- I know these things. But these are important books. I mean, Star Wars is pretty silly too, but it's such a part of our cultural vocabulary that you can't help but want to know what it means.

But rather than spend my precious writing energy on some dense Harry Potter criticism, I have to say one thing about the final book:

Harry Potter must die.

Everyone I say this to says "Of course, it's prophecied". Yep, I know, but I also know how easy it would be to simply end this book happily. Harry's death* is the only acceptable end to the series. I don't think Rowling is that lazy, but I swear, if Harry Potter doesn't die a virgin, I'm going to set England on fire.

*And maybe one of the Weasleys', there are too many of them, and definitely Snape's.