Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Indiana Jones and Ehhhhhh

As much as he tried, George Lucas did not completely ruin my childhood this weekend. In Entertainment Weekly a few weeks ago, Lucas complained about the fans who wrote him saying their childhood memories of Star Wars were ruined thanks to his crappy prequel trilogy. In the interview Lucas, perhaps shocked that the fans didn’t just bow down and kiss his feet for being gracious enough to deliver three new Star Wars films, actually shifted the blame to the fans for having impossibly high expectations. Never mind that if Lucas had delivered even a half-way decent series of films, the fans would have been ecstatic. And never mind that if Lucas had just put his ego aside and hired a real screenwriter and a real director for the new Star Wars movies, it would have been hard to screw up Darth Vader’s story. No, according to Lucas, the fans just expected too much. These statements were in reference to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Lucas, sounding uncharacteristically insecure, was warning that expectation for a movie we’ve all been waiting twenty years for should be subdued. And if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that when George Lucas tells you his own movie is going to suck, you better listen.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull begins with the Paramount logo morphing into a small mound of dirt. A groundhog pops out of the mound and scurries away. My first thought was “Why couldn’t they just get a real groundhog? Why did they have to use CGI?” I soon discovered that this was because the fake groundhog had to match the family of fake groundhogs seen later in the sequence. And that family of groundhogs had to respond with human expression as Indiana Jones crawls out of a refrigerator he uses to survive a nuclear blast.

I’m not going to bore you with plot details; you can let the movie do that for you. I will say that Harrison Ford is great, and the movie at least serves as a reminder for those who saw Firewall that Harrison Ford can still carry a movie. And of course, there are some great action sequences including a car chase through the jungle that actually feels like an Indiana Jones movie (at least until Shia LeBeouf plays Tarzan with some CGI monkeys).

The plot is explained using a lot of mumbo jumbo about the titular crystal skull and beings from another dimension. This being an Indiana Jones movie, mumbo jumbo is expected, but if you compare it to the simple and straight-forward way the exposition is delivered in Raiders of the Lost Ark, you see the main problem with this movie. There’s just too much. The movie is overwhelming, loud, and never seems to settle into a tone consistent with the other Indiana Jones movies. There are way too many “What were they thinking?” moments.

Ridiculous CGI, too much talking, moments that are over-the-top even for Indiana Jones standards. Sure sounds like George Lucas to me. (At least the aliens don’t look like Jar Jar Binks.) My biggest complaint was that Lucas was notoriously picky when it came to the script . Frank Darabont wrote the original version of this movie, a draft Spielberg was ready to shoot before Lucas decided that he had ideas that he wanted to incorporate instead. We now know that George Lucas wasn’t looking for a great script, he was just trying to stroke his own ego. Thanks George. Thanks for the gophers.

Monday, May 12, 2008


I have but one passion in life-- delivering food.

Each week, Sunday afternoon brings joy and happiness. Each Sunday night, after my shift, comes the darkness and depression, only alleviated by the realization that my next evening of delivering food is only seven days away. From the look and feel of my uniform to the sweet scent of my food bag, there isn’t one thing I don’t love about delivering food. And there is nothing I would rather be doing on a lazy Sunday afternoon than driving my Daewoo and spending quality time with the take-out personnel at California Pizza Kitchen.

Now, if you’re anyone other than a certain customer who I delivered food to last night, you probably understand that the above paragraph is dripping with sarcasm. You see, the customer, let’s call him “Dick,” apparently doesn’t understand what kind of work goes into delivering his chicken fingers.

First, I get a call over my radio telling me to report to a specific restaurant. I now have less than one hour to complete the order. Five minutes into my drive, I get cut off by a yuppie in BMW who is too busy to signal because he is trying to figure out how to text on his new Iphone. He then flips me the bird because I honk at him. Once safely at the restaurant, I am ignored by the take-out person for five minutes for no other reason than he or she hates dealing with delivery drivers. Once the take-out person finally acknowledges my presence, he or she tells me, “Oh, we just got the order,” even though I know the restaurant received the fax twenty minutes ago. Now I have to wait fifteen unnecessary minutes for the food to get ready. So, I tell the take-out person that I’ll be back, run to my car (and almost get smushed by an SUV), and drive to the gas station so I can fill up for the low, low price of $4 a gallon. When I get back to the restaurant, the food is ready but sitting somewhere behind the counter. So now I have to wait for the take-out person to help a line of seven customers before I’m handed the food, which means that I watch the food cool off for a good ten minutes, ten minutes that I could be driving with the food in my heat bag. The only good news is that the now-cold food all has to be remade anyway because there is cheese all over everything despite the note on the fax saying that the customer is allergic to cheese. By the time I finally get the food, I have less than ten minutes to get the order across town. Risking life, limb, and traffic ticket by driving my Daewoo above 40 miles-per-hour, I manage to get to the right address on time, but of course, the customer lives on a block full of apartment buildings, and there is no parking anywhere. I park five blocks away and hike it. When I get to the apartment building, the customer’s name is not on the buzzer, and I’ve left my phone in my car, so I have to get dispatch to call the customer. And then I get another order and start all over again.

So last night, I handed Dick his food, and he asked me if tip was included in the price. I told him it wasn’t, so he tipped me $1.38 on a $36 order, a 3% tip.

Please tip delivery drivers at least 15%. For the love of God.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Random Thoughts and Interesting Facts

Sometimes I wonder how many people were so inspired by Macaulay Culkin’s rap on Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video that they decided they would never again be racist. And then I wonder if these same people ever figured out that Macaulay Culkin was just lip-synching.

Werefish got the short end of the lycanthrope stick. You see, Werefish don’t live long because they usually aren't around a bucket of water when a full moon rises.

Did you know that America’s Funniest Home Videos is still on television?

Just for fun, I think that the lottery should have an “everybody wins” promotion where they draw all the balls, and everybody wins their dollar back.

Can you lose track of your thoughts if you are thinking about trains?

A lot of people say they have “gaydar.” I have something called “atractdar,” which means that I can tell if someone is attractive just by looking at them.

My sister and I have the type of relationship where we both have the same parents.

I have a new idea for a restaurant. It’s like the sushi restaurants where the sushi comes by on a conveyor belt. In my place, when you order a piece of sushi it's delivered by a hamster wearing a backpack.

You know your girlfriend is young when you ask her if she’s going to vote, and she tells you that she’s decided that she isn’t going to prom this year.

A lot of people think it’s homophobic when athletes say that they don’t want a gay man on their team because they don’t want that man checking them out in the shower. But it’s true-- gay men do look at you in the shower. I know because I joined a gay gym and every time I shower I have five or six men come up to me and say, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

I just got a new pet fish. He’s a clown fish. He has a little flower on his chest that shoots air on my face.

I think there may be a ghost in my house. Every so often my belt disappears from its usual spot, only to appear days later. And sometimes late at night I hear weeping. Either the ghost is sad that the afterlife involves dealing with loose trousers, or my girlfriend is still coming to terms with the fact that she moved in with someone who alphabetizes the spice rack.