Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Post Christmas Post

Life has been insanely busy. The home computer is acting strange and only turning on when it wants to. Working at a Childrens Museum allows for next to no Christmas vacation since all the kids are out of school and visiting the museum. But I'm getting by. Barely. I guess I'll just make a list of the Christmas haul here before hopefully having more time to write in teh upcoming weeks.

1. A fractured kneecap. This actually happened pre-christmas. It's actually a fractured kneecap and top of my tibia. Another indoor soccer injury. The bad thing is it seems to be getting worse over the past week as opposed to better. I am sure being at work at the museum, where it is impossible to get around 9000 people on crutches isn't helping matters. But supposedly I am on crutches till January 25. Needless to say I am frustrated and less than pleased to not be able to run or play soccer. But, considering I thought it was ligament damage initially, I am counting my blessings.

2. A sudden revival for yours and my Philadelphia Eagles. And what a great game on Christmas Day. Seeing the local Philadelphia broadcats after the game was ridiculous. The news anchors themselves could not contain their joy. They realized how much it meant to so much of the city for the Eagles to beat the Cowboys on Christmas day. Just sensational. And to think, a win vs Atlanta will give them teh division title on New Years Eve. How ridiculous. And at this rate, they have as good a chance as anyone in the NFC to make the Super Bowl. What a year. My Eagles Stadium blanket that I recieved will keep my warm at night as I dream of flying back to Philly for the superbowl.

3. A Toshiba Portable DVD Player I can't tell you how handy this came in when I was stuck at teh airport waiting out the traditional US Airways holiday delays. It will also come in contact for me at home and when I am travelling for work. I am just following my parents advice and not bringing it into work, so I don't get fired.

4. Two DVD Box Sets Film Noir Classic Collection Volume 1 and Film Noir Classic Collection Volume 3. The first of which I got with a gift card to Barnes and Noble. These will provide days and days of watching. Great films, great commentaries. I have two copies now of Out of the Past but i can give one to a friend if they are nice enough to me.

5. Giftcards for clothes, tons of food and drink at home, a Philly Sports book of Lists, a painting of the Queen II album cover by the guy who did the cover art to Pavement's Wowee Zowee album (I'm really not making that up!!), another Godard bio (this one not coming out till august, but it's preordered!) and much more.

Yeah, I got much more than I deserved for someone who has behaved poorly. Perhaps fractured kneecaps are the new coal.

I suppose I should get to work for the final time in 2006.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In a Lonely Place

After recently watching In a Lonely Place I have made the decision to watch as many Nicholas Ray films as I can find. At only 90 minutes In a Lonely Place is a quick view, and seems even quicker that that. You have brilliant, snappy dialogue. You have great performances from Bogart and a sensational turn by Gloria Grahame. Good lord, where are Hollywood women like Gloria Grahame these days?

There is so much to love and appreciate in this movie. It starts out with Bogart almost getting in a fight at a traffic light and shortly thereafter punching out another gentleman at the bar. This is supposed to be our hero in the film, Dixon Steele. But when he is questioned as a suspect in a murder the scipt is written just well enough that we aren't entirely sure if he has done it. As a love affair grows between him and Laura (Grahame) we are seeing Steele's violent side at the same time she does. Of course, somehow you wind up rooting for Dixon and Laura to be together, but there is that overwhelming sense of doubt in the back of the mind too, or at least mine that made me wonder if that really is a good idea.

This is often classified as a film noir, but maybe not in the classic sense of a noir. For one, Grahame for as sexy, witty, and wonderful as she is, she just isn't the femme fatale in the classic sense. The film is all about Dixon attempting to beat his own ghosts. If anything she brings out the best in him. She doesn't lead him to his own darker side, he gets there well enough on his own. She's there to save him, not to destroy him. Beyond that, at moments this os just a terribly sad film. The kind that leaves you staring at the screen speechless and wishing for a different set of circumstances.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lamar Hunt

Someday soon, I will post about something other than death.

I heard the news yesterday that Lamar Hunt passed away. Earlier in teh week it was known that he was fighting on his death bed, and that the Hunt family was hoping for a miracle.

As a soccer fan it's hard to measure just what Lamar Hunt meant to the sport in this country. He was a true believer in the game and lost millions of his own dollars helping to get MLS off the ground. The fact that the league even exists right now just shows that we owe Lamar everything.

As a Columbus Crew fan, Hunt's influence is even greater. Hunt poured millions more of his own dollars to get Crew Stadium built. I remember watching the first game at Crew stadium on a TV on ESPN or ESPN2. It was tape delayed if I remember correctly, but I remember seeing a soccer stadium sold out, and IO couldn't believe my eyes. There was actually a stadium built specifically for a professional soccer team in this country. Since then, more stadiums have popped up for more teams all around teh country, but after attending over 50 games in Crew Stadium I can tell you it's still the best stadium and most important stadium in this country.

I was fortunate enough to meet Lamar very briefly many years back. I was at Crew Stadium, which was my home away from home those days and walking around before the game, proud as hell to be a Crew fan and proud as hell to be in that stadium. This was around the time when Oklahoma City was the rumored expansion team/target of MLS. Lamar was walkingbehind the North end of the stadium with two suits from Oklahoma. They walked for another view and lamar was just standing behind 137 looking out onto the field. I took the opportunity to just walk up to him and thank him for his stadium and muttered some other things. He smiled and we carried on conversation for a few minutes. Soon after, the Oklahoma suits came back over and Lamar says, "Hey, I want to introduce you to my friend Scot. He's travelled out here from indy for every home game this season and has gone to NY, DC, Chicago, and LA to follow this team as well." At the same time being friendly as hell and trying hard as he coudl to sell the game and the passion of teh fans that followed the game.

For years, many of us have refferred to Crew Stadium as Hunt Park. It's been as official an unofficial moniker as there is. When initial votes failed to fund teh stadium and when rumors swirled of teh Crew moving to Chicago Lamar put up his own money and got the stadium done in Columbus. It really is the house that Lamar built. We have Toyota Park in Chicago, the Home Depot Center in LA, Pizza Hut Park in Dallas, but somehow the naming rights to Crew Stadium were never sold. Maybe, it's beacuse it was already named in most of the supporters minds. Hopefully this season the Crew and MLS will make the name official and officially change the name over to Hunt Park. It's fitting, and it's the least that we can do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

United 93

I gotta admit, I had no desire whatsoever to see United 93 when it came out. I really am unsure I even want to be writing about it now cause what can you say about those events that the film attempts to show. Last night, however, I did finally watch it.

I don't know what changed in my mind from the time the film hit theaters to a few weeks ago when I decided that I would take the two hours (though it turned out to be longer) to watch the film. Part of it had to be hearing admiration for the film, if that's even the right word, from people whose tastes I respect. Another part of it probably had to do with it being directed by Paul Greengrass who I thought did a fantastic job with Bloody Sunday a few years back.

I am glad that I watched it at home, on my own. I don't imagine I would have taken well to seeing it in the theater, beside some stranger chomping on popcorn or goobers. Or talking through the film, or giving political commentary through the film. Watching it at home also allowed me to pause the film 3 or 4 times as I was just gathering myself. I do think that Greengrass again did a great job, despite some websites calling hsi effort "a very special episode of 24." The images that were shown did not seem in anyway an attempt at shock or jingoism as I worried about and many of my friends worried about.

Whether or not the film is a cathartic experience as some reviews have said I guess would depend entirely on the viewer. I don't know if it was entirely cathartic for me, and I don't know whether thats what I wou;d have wanted it to be or what I was searching for either. In the end though, I didn't find the film distasteful as I initially feared it would be and it is a film I will never forget seeing. And at the same time one I would likely not watch again, and wonder if I would even reccomend it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

US Soccer hires Bob Bradley

Huh. I had a whole 6 paragraphs expressing my confusion and disappointment over this hire. But shockingly, I seem to have lost it all except for the title.

I know it's only on an interim basis, still, I wish someone would tell me this was a joke. What a discourging hire.

The LA Times sums it us such...

"This is yet another grand opportunity missed by U.S.Soccer, and you just wonder how many blows it can keep taking."

It isn't all that mellodramatic. US Soccer will continue to exist, it's just very unlikely to move forward under Bradley.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Claude Jade

Claude Jade died today.

Over the summer and the fall I watched all the Antoine Doinel movies. Like nearly any guy who had an affinity for these movies I completely fell in love with Claude Jade. She was Christine. She was the love of Antoine Doinel's life. And she was the girl that he pushed away. Through his cheating, and foolishness she was the girl he lost. Still after that it was clear that she still loved him, though she knew it couldn't be. I remember shaking my had at Antoine and at the situation when post-divorce in Love on the Run after a conversation waiting for a cab she asks Antoine to a movie. And Antoine says no. And I think to myself what an idiot. And then I realize in the same situation I may have done the same thing.

When I read of this death it hit me a little harder than I thought it would. In the Antoine Doinel films, especially those after the 400 blows, I think a lot of guys saw bits of themselves in Antoine, and sometimes especially in the way he made his relationships harder on himself than they needed to be. And I think that a lot of those same guys saw in in Christine, the girl that they wanted. Innevitably she was a little bit smarter than us, a little bit more pulled together, and of course her family was as wonderful as could be. And beyond all that, she was as patient as cold be. Whatever follies Antoine was going through on his own, or putting the two of them through she was always patient and always there. I, and I suspect many others, hesitate to say she was too good for Antoine. I've already projected myself onto Antoine, so then whoever the girl is would be too good for me. And thats not meant to sound melancholy as much as a whimsical smile appreciation for how much those characters came into and became a part of life.

From the Guardian obituary

The director's love shines through his alter-ego Doinel in Stolen Kisses (1968), Bed and Board (Domicile Conjugal, 1970) and Love on the Run (1978), as Christine puts up with Antoine's foibles and affairs, patiently waiting for him to face up to the adult consequences of being a husband and father. Memorable scenes pass through the mind like a montage: her teaching Antoine the best way to butter toast in the morning, their writing each other little notes, his calling her "my little mother, my little sister, my little daughter" in a taxi, and she replying she would rather be his wife; her attempts to guess Antoine's latest job, amusingly suggesting cab driver or water taster, her reaction when Antoine hangs a scissors on her ring finger, his affectionate response to her wearing glasses in bed, the medium tracking shot of her legs as she stops at a shop for tangerines then heads up the stairs, as one of the neighbourhood men longingly admires them.

Truth told I haven't seen any other films she had been in besides Truffaut's Doinel films. Even if I had, I'd likely still remember her as Christine. I think I'll watch Bed and Board tonight.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Feeling a bit Noirish

I recently viewed and then purchased Jaques Tourneur's Out of the Past. Actually I have viewed it about three times in the past week. I can't get enough of it. Robert Mitchum is outstanding. Jane Greer is a knockout. The dialogue is quick, snappy, and poetic as hell.It's one of those films where it's got that dark atmosphere and you know it's gonna end badly but you sit through 90% of it with a smile on your face because you wish you could come up with quick retorts like they do in the film. It's a whole different world.

Of course after watching that, I want to watch more Film Noir. I wasn't entirely sure that I would know where to start. I still don't know. Thankfully the fine people over at They Shoot Pictures suddenly have up a whole Noir primer, They Shoot Dark Pictures, Dont They? so now I have 250 more films to clutter up my Netflix queue with. But still I don't know where to start, if anyone has suggestions, let me know.