Looking out the window of the train

From Pathetic Life #2
Saturday - Sunday,
July 9 & 10, 1994

SATURDAY — I spent the morning eating peanut butter with a spoon, thinking things over, and writing four pages of sappy words about Margaret. There was even a poem. I don't want to be that guy, writing his heart out about that dame, so I deleted it, all of it.

Let's try again, but with a 100-word limit:

Maggie visited. It went shitty. I'm still bummed about that. I am fat, poor, messy, uncouth, anti-social, and lonely, and Margaret is all those things too, yet we fizzled instead of sparked. And here I am, alone again.

There are worse things to be than alone, though. I've got my health, my porn magazines, and my peanut butter and a spoon, so I'll be fine. Shut that daydream down and drop it in the dumpster. I hope Margaret's story goes great, and maybe my story too, but we'll have no more stories together.

♦ ♦ ♦   

SUNDAY — Today was another day with Mom, and my brother Clay and his wife and kids. They're on the rebound from visiting Disneyland, stopping in San Francisco to see me again, and tomorrow they're driving back to Seattle.

We were supposed to meet in the lobby of my rez hotel at 2:00, but BART can be confusing for visitors, so they didn't arrive until a little after 4:00. The rest of our afternoon and evening was pleasant enough — many words spoken and most of them heard. Mom cried about Dad, and so did I. I was wearing his shorts, in his honor.

We talked about Dad three or four times today, and twice my mom asked me, "Do you regret that you weren't there when he died?"

Her intent, of course, was to make me feel guilty about my absence as Dad's life ended. And I do regret it, sure, but regret isn't the same as guilt. I have no guilt about it. Mom looked disappointed, so I tried to explain.

I had to leave Seattle, and had to be out of touch for a time. These were requirements for my sanity. It sucks that Dad died during my out-of-touch time, and I regret that I wasn't there to see him off, but — I had to be out of touch. Period. So that's among my smallest Dad-related regrets.

Much more, I regret a big argument Dad & I had when I was a teenager, that neither of us ever apologized about, and both of us pretended hadn't happened. I regret that I owed him hundreds of dollars when he died, a loan unpaid until I settled with Mom today. I regret that I never told my father that I respected him, and of course, I regret that he never said he respected me.

Goes without saying, there was always much, much more to respect about him than about me.

Maybe my greatest but weirdest regret about Dad is that I never bought him a meal, or even a doughnut. Whether it was a cup of coffee or breakfast in a restaurant with any of his children, even long after we were grown, Dad always insisted on paying.

That generosity was a relief when I was broke, but when I had the money and wanted to buy him breakfast, Dad's stubbornness meant that I never paid. Not once. We never even went halvesies.

To make up for that, if ever I return to Seattle for a weekend or a week, I'll leave a doughnut or a cheeseburger on my father's grave.

All this I said to Mom & Clay & Karen & the boys, and I don't think any of them understood that it wasn't a bad joke, or a joke at all. I meant it.

That's the thing, with my family. They were there all the years I was growing up, but in many ways they don't know me.

Walking from my rez hotel to lunch, Clay and Karen paused to gaze longingly through the window of a Christian bookstore, and asked whether I'd shopped there. Nope, I've never shopped at that or any Christian bookstore. I'm not in the market for Christian books, and hadn't even known there's a Christian bookstore in my neighborhood.

Clay had already decided we'd be lunching at Tony Roma's on Ellis Street, a chain pasta place I'd never been to. The sign on the door boasted reasonable prices, but those were 'lunch' prices, and it was 'dinner' when we got there so all prices were stratospheric.

I suggested we eat at Tad's Steak House instead, a more affordable meal, but Clay said he was paying, and money was no object, so Tony Roma's it was. I ate it and said thanks when it was over, but it tasted like SpaghettiO's with meatballs.

Then we went to Chinatown — my third trip through the trinkets and tourists in a month.

San Francisco's Chinatown is fabulous, if you stay out of the shops obviously targeting tourists, but of course, those were the shops where my family wanted to linger.

They were also fascinated by the existence of Christian churches in an Asian neighborhood. Mom said, "I wonder if their Jesus is yellow?", and I couldn't find a single word to reply in my whole damned brain.

Clay & Karen's kids were well-behaved. I should say something more about them, but I don't know what to say about kids. They're people in progress. They didn't annoy me, so they were fine.

We all BARTed back to Walnut Creek, walked to their hotel (the same hotel where I'd stayed with Mom last weekend), and I declined the family Bible study (same as I'd declined last weekend). After they'd finished, we all hugged goodbye, and Clay insisted on saying a prayer before letting me leave. "Dear Lord, Please protect this prodigal son ..."

I rode the subway back to San Francisco alone with my thoughts, jotted on a paper placemat I'd swiped from Tony Roma's.

Mom had visited, along with Clay and Karen and their kids, and it had not gone shitty. It also did not go great. They're good people, but the full-fledged "family" vibe eludes us.

Maybe it eludes everyone, in every family? Does anyone feel fully accepted by kin, like your brother is your best friend, or does that only happen in fiction?

My family isn't fiction. We connect, but intermittently. Big chunks of who they are, I don't understand at all, and I'm certain they feel the same un-understanding of me.

A couple of times today, Mom repeated her invitation for me to "come home to Seattle" and visit for a month or two. I told her I couldn't afford even a week off work, let alone months, and she said I could look for a job while I was visiting. She was serious.

One day I will visit Seattle for a weekend or even a week, but I won't be looking for work, or an apartment. San Francisco is my home. Mom doesn't understand that.

Look, I ran away from Seattle, from all the people who knew me and the few who loved me, and ended up in a San Francisco flophouse — where I'm happier than I've ever been.

Some of that happiness, maybe most, is because I'm seeing myself through my own eyes, no longer defined as Mom's son, Clay's brother, April's ex. Here in San Francisco, I'm me.

♦ ♦ ♦

Those last six words, wow: Here in San Francisco, I'm me. I'd never thought of it that way until just this moment, riding BART home from Walnut Creek, staring out the window and into myself. Maybe it's the so-so pasta and suspect sauce from Tony Roma's, but it felt profound to me.

It was good seeing you, Mom, and Clay and Karen, and the nephews. And it was also, with no meanness intended, good seeing you leave.

That sounds like a bastard thing to say, and if they ever saw these words they'd misunderstand. So they never will see these words. But all I mean is, I'm a better man here than there, and better with them there than here.

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Groundhog Day, Growing Up in America, and a few more movies

The Groove Tube (1974)
Streaming free at Internet Archive

Here's a bunch of comedy sketches, but every one of them spends far too long getting to what's supposed to be funny, and a lot of what's supposed to be funny isn't.

The movie's best joke is when a TV anchorman finishes his newscast by reciting all the 1970s TV anchorman tag lines at once:

"And that's the way it is, was, and will be, and this is Robert Elgin for Channel 1 News, hoping that your news is good news. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow. No matter what the news may be, this time or any time, until next time, have a good time all the time."

It's the only joke I laughed at in the entire movie, but even that bit is stretched to about three minutes.

Trying to give The Groove Tube every benefit of every doubt, let's remember that it's from before Saturday Night Live, so the comedy they're rebelling against is Bob Hope and Sid Caesar.

But jeez, this is bad.

Richard Belzer and Ken Shapiro sorta star, and pre-fame Chevy Chase is not a high point when he pops up in a few sketches.

Verdict: NO.  

♦ ♦ ♦

Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

Grosse Pointe is a wealthy white suburb of Detroit, population about 5,000, so no wonder you've never heard of it. And 'Blank' is the unlikely name of the movie's main character. It's a stupid title for a fairly good movie.

John Cusack plays Blank, a hired assassin, and Cusack is likable in almost any role, even as a killer for cash. A hit-man generally doesn't talk about his work, but Blank is going to Grosse Pointe for his 10-year high school reunion, so his career will definitely come into the conversation.

#309  [archive]
JULY 10, 2024

Joan Cusack, every bit as reliably watchable in the movies as her brother, is also featured. The score is by Joe Strummer, but I barely noticed it; mostly the music is a snappy collection of pop classics from the era.

Overall, Grosse Pointe Blank is kinda fun, but it has two major liabilities in addition to its clunky title.

Minnie Driver has an underwritten role as the personalty-free perfect ex-girlfriend, willing to quickly forgive and fuck Blank despite him standing her up at the prom and then disappearing for ten years. Driver does what she can with the empty writing of her character, but the movie stands still whenever it's about her.

A bigger problem is Dan Aykroyd, who plays another hired killer out to kill Blank. Cusack's hit-man performance is so relaxed and real that you might not even notice Grosse Point Blank is a comedy until you hear yourself laughing, but every time Aykroyd shows up, mugging ridiculously, all the movie's subtlety disappears.

Verdict: YES, but only for Cusack and Cusack.

♦ ♦ ♦

Groucho (1982)

Welcome Back Kotter was a sit-com I rarely watched, starring Gabe Kaplan, who did a Groucho Marx impersonation as a running gag on the show. After Kotter was cancelled, Kaplan was hired to play Groucho in a (mostly) one-man stage performance, written by Groucho's son. This is a film of one of Kaplan's performances. 

The script touches on the basics of the brothers and Groucho's biography, retelling his life along with most of his most famous jokes. Unlike a Marx Brothers movie, there's no romantic subplot or unfunny musical interruptions.

Kaplan is surprisingly not disastrous in the role, but you'll never forget for a moment that he's Gabe Kaplan.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Groucho Marx on The Dick Cavett Show: 9/5/1969
Streaming free at YouTube

Watching Groucho (above) made me grouchy. I wanted to see the real thing: Groucho Marx as Groucho Marx.

In this video, Groucho is the only guest on an episode of The Dick Cavett Show from 1969. 78 years old, sharp as a paper cut but lots funnier, Groucho comes out singing "Hello, I Must Be Going," then sits and riffs for an hour of spontaneous brilliance.

It's a talk show, and Cavett cleverly doesn't talk much. He just sits back and watches Groucho, laughing along with you and me and the studio audience.

Verdict: YES. 

♦ ♦ ♦

Groundhog Day (1993)
Streaming free at Tubi, beginning August 1

I remember seeing the previews for this, before it opened, and thinking it looked like a real turd. So this guy is stuck in time, reliving the same day over and over again? How is that not going to be trite and repetitive?

Plus in the preview, star Bill Murray seemed very sour, and Meatballs, Caddyshack, and Stripes were funny and all, but nothing special, so Murray's presence wasn't a selling point.

That's why I didn't see Groundhog Day until it arrived at the Strand in second run, on a double feature with I don't remember what. Of course, I'd judged the movie wrong, and it's the perfect big-time comedy with a heart.

Phil Connors (Murray) is a self-centered son-of-a-bitch TV weatherman, assigned to remote coverage of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA, where a famous rodent is pulled annually from a box to decide whether spring is coming sooner or later.

For Connors it's later, because for reasons (wisely) never explained by the script, he's stuck repeating that day, February 2, all through the movie.

"Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."

Through at least months, perhaps years of living the same day, Connors sees the same people doing the same things, and it makes him an even bigger ass than he already was. Being a man, he uses the repetition to learn about a women he wants to bang, but when even nookie loses its appeal, Connors becomes suicidal. He kills himself several times, but it changes nothing — he still wakes up in Punxsutawney to relive the same day, every day.

And somehow, none of this ever feels trite, or even repetitive.

Groundhog Day is sweet but not saccharine, pessimistic as hell but with optimism, and delivers lots of laughs and glimpses of the profound.

There's an excellent scene at a bar, early on, where Connors complains of the futility of his one-day-only existence, being stuck in a place where every day is the same, nothing you do makes any difference, and there's no way out. "That about sums it up for me," says a drinking buddy. Sums it up for a lot of people.

Andie MacDowell, who's usually not much of an actor, is pretty good here, not merely pretty. Chris Elliott and Stephen Tobolowsky provide more laughs, but mostly the magic is the script by Harold Ramis and the performance from Bill Murray. Groundhog Day is the career best for both of them.

Verdict: BIG YES. 

♦ ♦ ♦

Growing Up Female (1971)
Streaming free at Kanopy, with your library card

A feminist documentary, this film shows the way girls are trained to be less than the boys — that their future is marriage and motherhood and not much more.

The film spends time with girls and women, ages 5-mid-30s, asking how their lives and their images of themselves have been shaped by the expectations of education, marriage, advertising, and popular culture. Teachers see girls playing with dolls and boys playing with construction toys, and any girl who plays with the wrong toys will be nudged back to where she belongs.

In a telling moment that seriously pissed me off (though the film is quite soft-spoken and matter-of-fact about it), we're told that every girl in high school must attend a six-week course on the subject of marriage. Boys aren't invited, and don't have any similar requirement. The movie is fifty years old; gotta hope that class no longer exists.

Growing Up Female is generally described as the first film reflecting the modern women's movement, and it must've been startling in 1971. Good news for women but perhaps bad news for the movie, things have changed a lot since then, and while it's still gawdawful how women are held back by society, some of the film's most radical points now seem to go without saying.

To which I'll say: Hooray for that!

Verdict: YES. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Growing Up in America (1986)
Streaming free at Internet Archive

This is a loving look back at some 1960s radicals, and I've heard of and know at least a little about 7 out of 8 of them — Allen Ginsberg, Fred Hampton (killed, so represented by his widow), Abbie Hoffman, William Kuntsler, Timothy Leary, Jerry Rubin, and John Sinclair. The one I'd never heard of is Don Cox; he was a Black Panther, and fled to France where he was still living and still radical at the time of this film. 

This movie is described as a sequel to Breathing Together, a documentary I've never seen, made 18 years earlier by the same filmmaker, Morley Markson. There's footage of these guys from the 1960s and from the earlier documentary, and follow-up interviews with them in '86.

As seen here, everyone comes off well except Ginsberg, who seems kooky, singing songs and giddily reciting some of his lesser poems; Sinclair, who's stoned and smoking dope during his interview; and Leary, who seems so very naïve, assuring us that America will be a glorious place after its WWII-era leaders are replaced by a generation of political and military leaders raised in the 1960s, "who share the '60s sensibility of a peaceful, harmonious, intelligent, cooperative, productive, enjoyable, consumer-rich society."

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦

Why physical media still matters in the streaming era


• • • Coming attractions • • •     

Grudge Match (2013)
G-Sale (2003)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (2004)
Guess What We Learned in School Today? (1970)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

... plus schlock, shorts, and surprises

— — —
Now accepting movie recommendations,
starting with the letter 'H'.
Just add a comment, below.
— — —

Illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Arguments & recommendations are welcome, but no talking once the lights dim, and only real butter on the popcorn, not that fake yellow stuff. 
← PREVIOUS          NEXT →

Not drunk, not disorderly, just ... lost

From Pathetic Life #2
Friday, July 8, 1994

If you're a normal person, you wouldn't know about life in an SRO building, so I'll tell ya. 

SRO = single-room occupancy. You get a room, and only a room. The toilet and showers are down the hall. Fifty years ago, this building was cheap but respectable housing for working-class people. Now it's a hobo hotel, run by someone named Patel.

He makes an effort to keep the place livable, so the halls get vacuumed, the toilets get plungered when they're clogged, but the last major repairs were probably done before I was born. It's lowlife living.

Some of the people in my building are poor, like me, here for the cheap rent. Some are alcoholics or addicts, and they'd be homeless if this hotel closed. Some are mentally ill. That's not an insult, just a fact.

There's a mumbling man who lives on my floor — a white guy, maybe 50, always wearing filthy clothes, hurricane hair that's never combed. He's mentally ill, or not-all-there. It's his natural state, I think, not alcohol or drug-induced. Not that I'm an expert, of course, but after a few years around such folks you can see the difference between booze and bonkers.

I only see this disheveled mumbling gentleman in the lobby or in the hallway, or when we both happen to be coming or going or in the men's room down the hall. He mumbles to himself, and only a fraction of his words ever make sense to me.

Tell me I'm awful, but I don't pay any attention to him. You can grow accustomed to anything, I guess. I notice him about as much as you'd notice the same wallpaper as yesterday and the year before. He's there, that's all.

Today, though, he was sitting on the carpet outside the door to his room, and mumbling to himself. Always he mumbles, but never before have I seen him sitting on the floor.

"Are you locked out?" I said in my gentlest voice, like when you're speaking to a dog but not sure whether it's tame or vicious. He didn't look at me, just kept mumbling. I noticed a puddle under his pants.

I was unsure what to do. The front desk is staffed from 10AM-6PM, but it was already after 6, and anyway, I was on my way out. Calling 9-1-1 would bring the police, and police are the worst possible way to handle a mental case. Cops would arrest him, ruin his night and maybe beat him up. That's what cops do, and I'm not sure my neighbor wouldn't fight back, which would make things worse.

Instead I slipped a note through the dropbox at the front desk, on my way out of the building. "The mumbly guy in room 306 might be locked out. He's sitting on the floor in front of his door." Maybe someone's in the office, despite the locked door.

Having pretended to do something helpful, I then rode the subway to the Castro Station, and (super-swanky!) there were seats available on the train, so I didn't have to be a strap-hanger. A seat on the subway happens so rarely that I was looking around for my butler, Jeeves.

At Walgreens I bought some candy, and at the Castro I bought a ticket and some popcorn. Great popcorn. Not so great movie. Highbrow animation from the 1940s called Tale of the Fox, never distributed in America, and it got a rave review in The Chronicle so there I was at the movies. Maybe blame my mood or maybe I'm not highbrow enough, but it bored me to a stupor.

♦ ♦ ♦

When I returned to the hotel, my neighbor was still sitting and mumbling on the threadbare carpet in the hallway, outside his door.

"Are you locked out?" I asked him again. He mumbled, the same indecipherable non-words as before I'd asked. I tried twisting his doorknob, but it was locked, wouldn't turn.

I looked at the poor sap, felt sorry for him, thought about asking him again, "Are you locked out?" But, (a) I've already asked and my question's not getting through to him, and (b) what am I gonna do if he actually answers? I'm not inviting him into my room.

So I walked away. 306 isn't mumbling loud enough to keep anyone awake, and he's not hurting himself or anyone else. I entered my room, closed the door, and left him to sit in his urine overnight. It ain't pleasant but it's not my problem. That's life in the big city. I'm not my brother's keeper, and anyway, he's not my brother.

It still bothers me, though.

Is there something more I should do? Send a post card if you have any suggestions, but meanwhile … sweet dreams, mumbly guy outside of room 306. I hope you get a good night's sleep in the hallway.

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

The Grifters, Grindhouse, Grizzly Man, and a few more movies

The Grifters (1990)
Streaming free at Internet Archive

Con artists Annette Bening, John Cusack, and Anjelica Huston pull a series of cons on each other and everyone else they meet or bump into.

The swindles are fun, it's all noiry and stacked with deception, wackadoodle plotting, arch dialogue, and dang fine performances. It rolls along at a wicked pace, and in the best tradition of con job movies, you're never sure who to trust, so your best bet is to trust no-one.

The Grifters isn't as great as everyone seems to agree that it is, but it's very good — slicker 'n snot, and like a runny nose it never lets up.

Directed by Stephen Frears, it's based on a novel by the great Jim Thompson.

Verdict: YES. 

♦ ♦ ♦  

A Grin Without a Cat (1978)
Streaming free at YouTube (part 1)
Streaming free at YouTube (part 2)

"The struggle continues."

From Chris Marker, maker of La Jetée and Sunless, this is a more explicitly political film. It's a documentary, sort of, but more like an audio-visual presentation for the cause, and the cause is left-wing progress.

The best of it is about civil disobedience, the anti-war movement of the 1960s, and some shocking footage from that era — Republicans openly calling for 'Negroes' to be shipped back to Africa, an American fighter pilot who's nearly orgasmic about strafing and killing people as he flies over, lots of detail on the American-led coup that toppled Allende in Chile, and more.

#308  [archive]
JULY 9, 2024

Tellingly, the film was made in 1978, but not released in America until 2002.

It's three hours long, though, and Marker spends a lot of that time letting leftists make speeches to the camera. I'm the farthest left person I know, but I've never been a "by-the-book" lefty, and my eyelids grow heavy when people talk and talk about the virtues of communism and the principles of socialism, Lenin this and Marx that. I have never been big on sermons.

Still, it's unlike any movie an American would be allowed to make, and certainly earns my recommendation.

Verdict: YES. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Grindhouse (2007)
Streaming free at Internet Archive (Planet Terror)
Streaming free at Internet Archive (Death Proof)

Robert Rodriguez and his pal Quentin Tarantino decided to have some fun, making a big-budget recreation of a low-budget double feature that might've played in scuzzy theaters in the 1970s. Both halves are feature length, which makes Grindhouse the length of an epic film, and both halves star Rose McGowan.

Grindhouse is a tribute or homage to low-budget schlock, but it's two very rich moviemakers spending very much money to make fun of a previous generation's moviemakers who had very little money at their disposal. Punching down, is what that's called.

But I quibble. The film is an intriguing idea. Like a genuine double feature, it comes with several fake previews, which are all amusing, a few so much so that they've later been made into actual schlock movies.

The Rodriguez effort is called Planet Terror. It's sci-fi, about genetically-engineered infections killing people gruesomely. Josh Brolin and Bruce Willis are featured, with lots of icky effects. It's true to the intended spirit here, but movie-gruesome doesn't do much for me, and neither did the story. I watched about a third of it before fast-forwarding to move the plot along quicker. 

Tarantino's half is called Death Proof, and it's better. Serial killer Kurt Russell (has he ever played a bad guy before?) drives a car that's specially rigged to keep the driver safe through almost anything, but the passengers and anyone in another car, not so much. In the style of a cheap 1970s horror, Death Proof is bloody as hell, and plays into my lifelong hatred and fear of cars, but same as Planet Terror, it has long boring stretches that had me zooming ahead.

All is forgiven, though, because Death Proof has legendary stuntwoman Zoë Bell, playing herself and strapped to the hood of a speeding car, with psycho Kurt Russell in pursuit. Now, there's something you don't see very often.

Verdict: MAYBE for Planet Terror.
Verdict: YES for Death Proof.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Grizzly Man (2005)
Streaming free at Watch Documentaries

Werner Herzog does it again, makes a movie nobody else could've made as well.

Grizzly Man delves deep into the bizarre tale of Timothy Treadwell, who lived among bears in Alaska, interacting with them all relaxed and friendly, for thirteen summers. He filmed many of his bear interactions, but YouTube didn't exist yet, so Treadwell's celebrity grew slowly.

He wrote a book about his buddies the bears, and even appeared on David Letterman's show, where the host asked, "Is it going to happen, that we read a news item one day that you have been eaten by one of these bears?" Treadwell replies no, immediately.

Spoiler: On October 5, 2003, Treadwell and his girlfriend were eaten by a bear.

Does Herzog intend this documentary to be sad, terrifying, or humorous? Yes. It's simply the facts, that's all. He lets Treadwell have his say, and it's clear that Herzog has some admiration for the guy, but he also argues with the dead man's dumber statements, corrects him when he's wrong. Which is often.

Herzog interviews people who knew Treadwell, including a forest ranger who was un-surprised at the grizzly man's death. We're shown footage of Treadwell goofing around with the bears, close enough to hug them, saying "I love you," to a particular bear. He names each of them like they're pets — Mickey the bear, Mr Chocolate the bear, Wendy the bear...

"Treadwell is gone," says Herzog. "The argument how wrong or how right he was disappears into a distance, into a fog. What remains is his footage."

It's up to you to decide: Was Treadwell a hero? A hippie? A wingnut? A serious animalologist? Was he fantastically stupid, flat-out crazy, perhaps mentally subnormal? My answer is yes seven times, and it makes for a fascinating hour and a half.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦

Grizzly Rage (2007)
Streaming free at Tubi 

Four young white college kids are hate-worthy from their first moments of blabbery dumbass conversation, and then one of them accidentally drives his shiny new SUV over a grizzly cub. "There's a real pissed off momma grizzly real close," one of the completely interchangeable characters says.

Of course, four teens vs an angry bear wouldn't even be a movie — it would be a short subject. But this gets dragged out to feature length, and you'll be rooting for the momma grizzly, which is the only pleasure in watching this super cheapo flick.

Revel in high school-level scripting that's incompetently filmed and directed, and nonstop non-action that's flooded with bad rock songs and inexplicable strobe-light effects in the wilderness. Or better yet, watch almost anything else.

Verdict: BIG NO. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

"There are no old movies. There are only movies you haven't seen before." 

On the set of Apocalypse Now


• • • Coming attractions • • •     

The Groove Tube (1974)
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Groucho (1982)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Growing Up in America (1986)

... plus schlock, shorts, and surprises

— — —
Now accepting movie recommendations,
starting with the letter 'H'.
Just add a comment, below.
— — —

Illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Arguments & recommendations are welcome, but no talking once the lights dim, and only real butter on the popcorn, not that fake yellow stuff. 
← PREVIOUS          NEXT →

No words

From Pathetic Life #2
Thursday, July 7, 1994

At work today, it occurred to me just before noon that I hadn't said good morning — or anything else — to anyone. I'm the not-strong but very-silent type, and if I could go halfway through the day saying nary a word, I decided to see if I could make it mute through the entire day.

My phone never rang, and I when the 'team' line rang I let others answer it. I'm nobody important, so I didn't have any meetings scheduled. On breaks and at lunch, I never hang out with anyone; I sit at my desk and read a book. So yeah, I could do this.

The office has a high-tech messaging system that lets you type a sentence, pick a recipient, and when you hit 'send' your message pops up on that person's screen. Everyone hates it, because the arriving message nudges whatever's already on your screen down a few lines. But I didn't want to talk, so when I had a work-related question, I used the system to make a message appear on my sorta-boss's screen. She's my 'lead', really, but acts like my boss.

When she came over and answered the question confusingly, I just nodded, pretending she'd made sense. She usually doesn't make much sense so I do a lot of pretending.

With my question unanswered I took a guess and moved on; if my guess was wrong then the price of a certain brand of pantyhose at a certain department store might be 30¢ lower than management intended. I can live with that.

In the afternoon, a few people said hi to me in the hallway; I smiled and nodded. Someone came to my desk to ask a question; my answer was a shrug. And then, as I was logging off at the end of the day, putting on my windbreaker for the short walk to my rez hotel, Louie walked by and said "Good night" to me. Instinctively I replied, "Good night."

Damn it, I'd spoken — but it was a minute after 5:00, so I'm declaring the experiment a success: I worked an eight-hour shift without saying a word to anyone.

Next challenge, let's see if I can do it again tomorrow. Or maybe all next week.

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.