Monday, January 31, 2005


I have another fun link from my dad, who always manages to find fun, interesting sites for me to steal and post as if I found them myself. Therefore, from now on, he'll get no credit for his discoveries, like this one, about a man who peed his way out of an avalanche. Whether it's true or not, it's too fun to be missed.

Also, my brother sent me this link, to show me how famous I am - I'm actually on the internet. How (and why) he managed to find such a link is beyond me, but I thought I'd show you. As a result, I did a search for my name on the internet, to see how often the name "Ben Wyman" would come up and in what situations. Here's a Top-Twenty list of what I found:

1.My WACW Production Manager bio.
2. An entry on Andy Fowler's journal from the time that we gave blood and he fainted.
3. The town meeting minutes from when the Town of Goffstown hired me to dig graves.
4. Apparently, I've been named to the BankSA Shield Team of the Year for 2005 for my splendid work as a captain with Adelaide. I didn't even know that I was Australian.
5. A Hungarian site about Ronald Reagan.
6. A story about a speech I gave as a Santa Monica psychiatrist on the loneliness that marriage often becomes. I'm quite moving.
7. Peracchio's site with an entry about how I've started a blogsite.
8. A journal by Michael Zenke of Madison, Wisconsin, complaining that he hasn't seen me "in a coon's age." I agree, mate. It's been too long.
9. My results from a fairly solid swimming effort at the Hamilton Aquatic Club. The fly's always been my best event.
10. My sixth place finish at the Highgate Bridge Club. I blame my partner, the ever-incompetent Martin Amos.
11. An article about The Cherry Orchard, in which it notes that "Saturday night, Beth Coakley, who plays adopted daughter Varya, threw Wyman onto the couch." My finest hour.
12. The announcement of my being chosen for Northern New England Second Team Defense, for my excellent work with New Hampton. This one stunned me: there's another Ben Wyman in New Hampshire? What are the odds?
13. My first place finish at the Highgate Bridge Club, where I was finally paired with the excellent Peter Cox.
14. My inclusion into an under-12 Saskatchewan basketball team.
15. The IMDB biography on Benjamin Wyman Beck, the voice of Dilton Doiley in the Jughead cartoon.
16. A picture gallery of Platteville Student Senate. I look pretty buff.
17. My "Student of The Year" award at South Cheshire College for my work in Business Studies, ICT, and Music. I'd be proud, but there are about 300 other recipients for the same year, which somehow defeats the purpose of a "Student of The Year" award in my mind.
18. I'm a "related topic" in a real estate mortgage directory when you type in the words "New Hampshire." I don't know what that means.
19. Pics from a time I went snowboarding with my wife Tina, at Attitash in New Hampshire. This is the third completely random New Hampshire connection that I've come across in only about 30 websites. Eerie.
20. I was born in Woburn, MA in 1674 and died there in 1735. What's cool is that I was a maltster. I always wanted to be a maltster.

You get five bonus points if you can correctly identify how many of these are really me (hint: I'm not from Saskatchewan).

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Review: Ned Kelly (2003)

Starring Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Naomi Watts, and Geoffrey Rush

Well, starring might be too strong a word. Watts and Rush float at the edges of this picture, while Ledger and Bloom get all the face time as this picture slowly slips from a mediocre historical drama into one of the most God-awful movies I have ever been unfortunate enough to sit through. And I own this movie. My brothers said it was good, it was only five bucks, and I bought it. I've been had.

Why is this picture so wretched, you inquire? After all, all of the actors named usually do excellent work - in fact, this picture is no exception for them. Ledger seems born to play Ned Kelly, the young Australian bandit driven into a Robin Hood-esque role by a corrupt police force, and Bloom is... well, he's Orlando Bloom. He plays Ledger's best friend just like you'd expect him to play him: Legolas the Australian bandit. He gazes across barren landscapes as if trying to use his Elf eyes, says all his lines with that elfin know-it-all attitude, he even speaks the language of every ethnic group they run into with perfect fluency. Watts spends most of her time on screen making out with Ledger. Rush stands around and looks bad-ass. In a lot of situations, this is the recipe for a great movie - just look at Pirates of the Caribbean, which also features Bloom, Rush, and composer Klaus Badelt. And yet it is not great. It is terrible, for two clear reasons:

1. Screenwriter John M. McDonagh is clearly incapable of fashioning any sort of understandable plot from what very well may be an well-written book by Robert Drewe. He somehow manages to make a fairly straightforward narrative about a man driven outside the law by a crooked cop (I've never seen that particular plot before, have you?) into a messy plot involving a circus that he steals, battle armor that recalls the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and a lot of Braveheart-type speeches that Ledger delivers to rally the troops. However, all of these speeches are delivered, not to his own men, but to the people that he is holding as hostages while he robs banks. No, it doesn't make any more sense than it sounds. For all I know, Ned Kelly was a heroic outlaw whose brave stand against the law is a part of Australian lore. However, the schizophrenic plot simply leaves me wondering why anyone would ever care - all of Kelly actions seem completely arbitrary. Nothing he does makes sense. At one point, he kills his own horse, and he and all his men eat it raw. I guess they were starving or something. Then he goes and makes out with Naomi Watts again. He's a real charismatic leader.
2. Director Gregor Jordan directs the film like a Discovery channel special. Wherever Kelly goes, Jordan seems determined to show the viewer the neat landscape that surrounds Kelly. Each scene is preceded by close-ups on snakes, birds, flowers, fern leaves. Fern leaves? Why? It's as if to remind viewers that the film takes place in Australia, in case they'd gotten confused and mistaken the film for a bad western. Frankly, it would be lucky to be mistaken for a bad western. However, it's interesting that he spends so much effort on creating extremely well-composed shots on all of these nature cutaways, because he shows no such passion on any part of the rest of the film. The camera work is shoddy; he never gives his actors any close-ups in emotional scenes, instead choosing to keep both the camera and the audience distant from any connection to the action. In fact, often he doesn't even remember to put the correct actor in focus in each sequence. It's half-hearted filmmaking at its most obvious.

In case you have any doubt as to the true atrociousness that is Ned Kelly, consider this: at the end of the movie (I'm going to spoil the ending for you here. I don't care.), as the train carrying Kelly departs to take him away to be hung, Ledger's voice-over appears one last time (of course there's a voice-over in this movie) to say, quote: "Well, these things happen."

I think that says it all.

I'd give this film no stars at all, out of pure spite, but it did have one great line buried beneath the madness, for which I believe it should be rewarded. One of the characters tells the others that they can't come in, because he has company, Mary something-or-other. "Mary? But she's only 13!" "It's alright. I'm not superstitious." For that one line, you get one star. Be grateful.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Changing of the Guard

My dad e-mailed me about a week back with a piece by the always clever Jonah Goldberg, who was ridiculing the work of Les Moonves, who has moved CBS Evening News to a new, "hipper" format:

As many of you know, I like to keep my finger on the pulse of those who keep their fingers on the pulse of those who occassionally monitor what young people think. And, based upon my exhaustive research I can tell you one thing I am sure of. Les Moonves is a frick'n genius. The CBS News chief is changing the "antiquated" format of the CBS Evening News with a multi-city, multi-anchor deal (or, "dealio" as the kids today call it). He believes that young viewers don't like the "voice of God" approach of one anchor.
He is so right. Why, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've overheard i-Pod listening hipsters and hep-cats say, "You know, Tré, it's really too bad the broadcast news programs are so obsessed with the mono-anchor paradigm. If only they would shed that antedeluvian format for something more dynamic and multi-tasking I would eschew MTV cribs and the WB fare for some hard news about the deficit and social security reform reported from different locales."

I like Goldberg, but he's dead wrong. Moonves' move may or may not pan out, but even if it fails, it is absolutely a step in the right direction for CBS. Here's why:
1. CBS's snafu this fall about Bush's National Guard record nails home pretty clearly that you aren't allowed to mess up at all when it comes to news. Someone will call you on it, and you will take a major hit, and whoever the main anchor is takes a lot of the blame for it. Why? Rather didn't write the news, he's just the talent. He sits behind the desk and reads what's on the teleprompter and in his notes. He segues in and out of commercials. He connects with his audience. That's what he's always been paid to do, and he's good at it. Why should we be mad at him if the news he reads to us happens to be utterly wrong? But we do get angry, because he was the one who said it, and we believed it, and we were fooled. Look at CNN or FoxNews. This situation could never have happened to them, because we don't connect their news with each individual nearly as much.
2. In fact, CNN and FoxNews are really what have created this situation for CBS. Both have created a new kind of news cast: two rolling text bars combined with graphics, along with the newscaster's head poking out amidst the mess. People can turn in for a few minutes, catch up on what's happening in the world, then switch it off. They can catch ESPN for their sports update. The evening news program, as it is, slowly becomes antiquated. Yet people still tune in to such broadcasts as Jon Stewart's Daily Show, so there's still a call for news shows. But they need to be updated, and CBS Evening News hasn't really been updated since Rather took the position. It's been a distant third for 20 years. Not good for "TV's Most Watched Network."
3. The iPod-wearing teenager is not their market - yet. Eventually, those damn kids with their loud music and stupid clothes will become young adults who were raised on MTV and the WB. They'll be used to flash and glitter in all their TV viewing habits. They won't watch anything else. It's just about an ideal time to be launching such a move: Gen X-ers now range from about ages 25 or 30 to 40 or 45, depending on who you ask. Funny how that sneaks up on you, huh? Gen X is still vaguelly synonymous with the youth market, but the fact is that they've all entered the workforce, 50 million strong, and they don't watch MTV anymore. They actually watch news programs. But not CBS Evening News. Why should they? Research has proved one thing absolutely clear: what worked for the Baby Boom generation will not work for Gen X. Shows aimed at Baby Boomers have no spillover into Gen X. But even if changing the format does not draw them back in, and they're already lost: the Millennial generation, 75 million strong, is just now entering entering the work force. And it's entirely possible that the first news show to embrace the idea of flashier graphics, faster cuts, and less of that "voice of God" factor will be the one that captures that audience.

I mean, it's CBS Evening News. What could they possibly have to lose?

Sunday, January 23, 2005


It's important to realize what happens when you get too wrapped up in your work. You miss things. This past week, I was so busy with everything that was going on with the Asbury film, and putting together my Asbury Initiative application, that I totally felt disconnected from reality. Now, I'm not complaining - it's my fault. When you get too busy with work, you have no one to blame but yourself when you run out of time. Haven't you ever seen Nicolas Cage in Family Man? Or Schwartzenegger's Jingle All The Way? Of course you haven't. And who could blame you? Actually, all Christmas movies have the same storyline, reminding you that you should be spending your time with the people close to you rather than wasting your time with your work (of course, you realize the people who made these movies all spent three months away from their families making the film in order to remind the forgetful public that putting work before family makes you and A-1 Nimrod. But I digress). However, if a friendly wingless angel were to wing me back in time to review my week and remind me what I missed, here's a top-ten list of everywhere I lost priority:

1. I didn't waste any time in the cafeteria. I kept being so busy with classes, meetings, etc., that I didn't really get a chance to hang out in the cafeteria. Instead, I end up grabbing food up in the Grille later. The cafeteria has always been my home, so to lack the chance to just around after dinner and chewing the fat - it used to be my life, but now it's a luxury. And speaking of lives...
2. My life. I swear, I used to have one. And I'm not trying to convince you, you've already made up your mind (and if you're bored enough to be reading this, then just let me just remind you about that whole kettle/pot thing. So just keep your pretty mouth shut) - I'm trying to convince myself. I now lack direction every time I'm not working on something; I'm just not sure what I'm supposed to be doing. In those moments, I just end up watching some movie with the guys on my hall. And film studies majors rarely complain about that sort of thing, there's a limit. I should be out mackin' it with some honies. Or something.
3. It was Mary Dot's birthday on Friday. And I swore up and down that I'd remember it, and I definitely didn't. I'll make up for it somehow, I'll... CPO her a belated birthday card! Make my amends. Show that I didn't mean it.
4. It was Kevin Costner's birthday on Tuesday. And I swore up and down that I'd remember it, and I definitely didn't. I'll make up for it somehow.
5. Sleep. But you knew that.
6. Making any random posts on the blog. On Costner's birthday, I was thinking of maybe making a "Best of Costner" list. Then I thought I'd bash him by maybe making a "Worst Movies of All Time," and to show how often he'd come up. Then I realized that you only had to read the "Best of Costner" list backwards to create the second list, and though I'd be accurate, you'd probably think I wasn't clever. So I went to bed.
7. Being connected. A good friend of mine started dating someone this week, and we've promised that we're going to get together so I can hear about how all this happened. Haven't yet. I'll make up for it somehow. I'll... CPO her a belated birthday card!
8. Finishing things that I start.

By the way, if you complete any of the quizzes on my earlier post, even if they're some of the embarassing ones, I want to hear about your results. What's your pirate name? What's your geek rating? What's your kissability?
I'm too curious to be denied. I want to know.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Results are in...

So, as you might have noticed from my previous post, I took a bunch of quizzes to discover whether or not I really have a type-A personality or not. While my research was quite conclusive, and my methods faultless, I'll leave it up to you to interpret the results:

Your score is 5!

1-5: You're a real team player. People have to earn your trust, as they should. You've got a perfect handle on life.

Your score is 6!

6-10: There are nice people and not-so-nice people. Don't you think it's a little boring to be in the wishy-washy middle ground?

Your Existing Situation

Relatively inactive and in a static condition, while conflict of one sort or another prevents peace of mind. Unable to achieve relationships of the desired degree of mutual affection and understanding.

  • You are a WRCF--Wacky Rational Constructive Follower. This makes you a Paul Begala.
  • You are unflappable and largely unconcerned with others' reactions to you. You were not particularly interested in the results of this test, and probably took it only as a result of someone else asking you to.
  • You have a biting wit and intense powers of observation. No detail is lost on you, and your friends know it--relying on you to have the facts when others express only opinions. You are even-tempered, friendly, and educated. Foolish strangers may mistake your mildness for weakness--they will be surprised.
  • You entire approach to life is enviable. You will raise good kids.

You are 14% geek. OK, so maybe you ain't a geek. You do, at least, show a bit of interest in the world around you. Either that, or you have enough of a sense of humor to pick some of the sillier answers on the test. Regardless, you're probably a pretty nifty, well-rounded person who gets along fine with people and can chat with just about anyone without fear of looking stupid or foolish or overly concerned with minutiae. God, I hate you.

My pirate name is:

Black Tom Rackham

Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Ben, the Year 2003 will have lots of ups and downs for your love life. It's easy for you to meet new people as you are easy going and fun to be with. You shouldn't expect to find your true love in every flirt. Don't be impatient and give your relationships some time to grow. When a flirt doesn't develop into something more, you will sooner or later find another sweet girl. The Year 2003 has lots of opportunities for you to find your true love. Good luck!

Your score is 85. Kissing is definitely your thing and you do it well. Keep up your skills by kissing that special someone often.

You are...
The Cingulate Gyrus!!!


Snugly encircling the superior thalamus, and sitting atop the corpus callosum, you are an integral part of the limbic system. You remain a mystery, but common thought is that your reciprocal connections to the frontal cortex and limbic system link decision-making and emotion! Although you are mushy in consistency, you are a great friend to those around you and your word is as solid as oak. You detest it when people prod you, so you do need to lighten up a bit. All in all, though, you are a solid citizen. (And without you, people often find themselves unable to talk or move!)

I'm terza rima, and I talk and smile.
Where others lock their rhymes and thoughts away
I let mine out, and chatter all the while.

I'm rarely on my own - a wasted day
Is any day that's spent without a friend,
With nothing much to do or hear or say.

I like to be with people, and depend
On company for being entertained;
Which seems a good solution, in the end.

Green Scents

Natural is a word often used to describe style and fragrance. To you, "natural" describes the flair of Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston. Both are elegant style junkies, but never over the top, never overdone, always giving off an air of almost innocent enchantment and earthy good nature. You, dear, have the sensibility of the All-American It Girl.

You Are Emperor Palpatine!

Ben, You scored 55 percent in this test!

Ben, your witty comments and your seductive looks hit the bulls-eye every time. If somebody knows how to flirt then it's you. No matter if your heartthrob is shy or a go-getter, you know exactly how to bring her out of her shell and twist her around your little finger. When you're interested in somebody, you'll really get things moving. Because you are sensitive and know how to put yourself into your heartthrob's position, it's easy for you to give attention to your partner.

How Smart Are You?
Congratulations! You got a score of 10/10!
Your Rating: This is not the first time you made this test!

You Are: Rock/Pop! Get into the groove! You tend to be upbeat, so your music should be too. You love to dance and feel the beat. You've probably been known to sing in the car and bop around in your seat. There's no doubt rock 'n' roll revolutionized music, so be proud to be a part of the pop culture.

Denethor, Son of Ecthelion, Lord and Steward of Minas Tirith
People like you are rare. Unfortunately the closest person is Denethor. His obsession with knowing the future and suspicion of others is characteristic.

Everything that happens is important and you do not want to miss any of it. Others often look to you for courage, leadership, and wisdom. Social interaction energizes you. The more people the merrier. You have a tendency to introspection. While providing compassion and being considerate, you may have the tendency of being soft-hearted or even "too emotional" You like keeping your options open. Closure is probably not one of your strong suits.

The Orcs display the evil side of this personality with their lengthy torture methods.

Traits: Empathic, benevolent, looking to the future. On the dark side you could be sadistic.

You're a reliable and practical friend who can be counted on to come through when needed. You are rarely unprepared and would prefer to play it safe rather than take an unnecessary risk: Your ride is a Toyota Camry or Honda Civic

Case closed.

Type A Personality

We were talking about personalities at lunch today, and I commented that "I used to be a complete type-B personality, but now I think I'm becoming more of a type-A personality." Two people at the table immediately chorused, "you're type-A." They knew me well enough to make such a call, and they didn't sound uncertain. It worried me.

After all, no one wants to be a type-A personality. It's almost become code for "uptight prick," which is a level to which I hope I have not decended yet. We all have the same sort of vision of a type-A person:

Nobody wants to be that guy.

Have I become so stressed that I've completely reverted my personality to a type-A, and lost my type-B roots? I used to make fun of people for being type-A, since I was so type-B. I fell asleep in class all the time without shame (now I at least feel shame), never did homework, never worried about anything, and was always the person who was level when everyone else was freaking out about how busy everything is. I mean, c'mon, everyone wants to be a type-B sorta guy:

Look how relaxed he is. He's letting the world come to him, like all the great type-B heroes do: Zonker Harris, and, uh... I can't think of anyone else. 'Cause most go-getters in the world are type-A. This is not necessarily a good thing. After all, you know that Hitler had to have been type-A. I mean, he got up in the morning, got stuff done while all his slacker friends stayed in bed, and boom - there's the Third Reich. Now his lazy buddies have to do jumping jacks for propaganda videos. That'll teach 'em.

Before this post runs to far into dangerous waters, I came up with a few reasons why I really am type-A, and shouldn't feel insulted about it:

1. I'm really only type-A by comparison. I'm in college. Most of the guys that I know spend virtually all of their time playing video games and watching TV. Which I wholeheatedly approve of, but that's not nearly as much my thing as theirs. I spend a whole lot more of my time out of the dorm, talking to people. No one is more in favor of sloth than me, but if I sit for too many hours in front of the TV, I feel like I should be up and doing something. And that should certainly qualify me to be type-A.
2. I'm only type-A about media communication things. And this I fully admit to be true. When it comes to a film project, or a radio promo, or a sound board, I get really worked up about it, and want to make sure that everything is perfect. This is great for my grades and my work, but not so good for my friends, who have deal with me in these sorts of situations.
3. Everyone's a little type-A about some things, and a little type-B about others. My roommate is very protective of certain items, such as the coffee table, or the Playstation 2, and has certain rules about how close food can be in proximity to these items. He goes over his outfits very carefully. And yet he's fully willing to spend an entire evening playing video games without worrying anything else in his life. To me, this is how it should be - sweat somethings if it means a lot to you, and don't worry about the things that don't. And don't worry about what it is that means a lot to you. My roommate knows it's kind of silly to be protective of a Playstation 2 controller, but he is anyway, and so I respect the greasy-hands-free-zone around such areas. I could care less about how someone treats my stuff - I lose so much of my stuff through general carelessness that it doesn't matter anyway. But all my projects have to be perfect. That's the way it is.

However, while searching to find the answer to my completely unnecessary crisis of the spirit (a true type-B person wouldn't care if anyone thought he was type-A), I came across a bold visionary in the world of type-B personalities. He inspired me to forget my type-A ways and seek out my type-B roots. For that, I am indebted to him.

I've decided to test this "type-A" accusation, though, through the most accurate measuring instrument known to man: online quizzing. Stay tuned for results.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Lego Dancing

You might have caught one of my first posts, which featured the music video for O-zone's (a Romanian boy band) "Dragostea din Tea" - literally, "Love from the Lindens." My alert father sent along a follow-up video: a Lego version of the music video. Check out the original video (in Windows Media Player or Quicktime), then hit up the update. It's not to be missed.

Posting at School

I believe that I'm posting merely for the sake of finally getting something down on my blog. After all, I've been here nearly a week, and my schedule has yet to calm down enough to really allow time for posting. I've realized I'm creating 4 films this semester. It's been pretty hectic, and it's only going to get worse. Here's this semester's schedule:


I've volunteered to storyboard with Greg Weidman for the movie that Asbury's shooting in HD. It's a pretty big deal. But we didn't realize that we'd be storyboarding the entire movie by ourselves. So we're going to spend all of January storyboarding, so that it's ready for shooting in...


The film will shoot Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday nights this month, but there'll be some Saturday shoots. And Friday shoots. Also, we might shoot longer than we thought. I'll be working on the behind-the-scenes documentary on what happens with the film crew. We also have to edit the movie, though I'll be more than happy to leave that up to Greg Breiding, who technically has that job, since he's leading this whole operation. Poor guy. Nobody else has to shoot and edit for this movie. Fortunately, shooting for the movie will be finished in February, or at the least in...


I'll be shooting my Script to Screen movie this month with Jeremy White, which should be incredibly fun. This will probably be my favorite of the films I shoot this semester, 'cause it's the one that I've got the most freedom with. Plus, Jeremy's idea is hot. Which reminds me, I need to meet up with him and start working on the script, because I also need to work on my Media Ministries script, which shoots in...


This one's going to be interesting, because as of right now, the script is mostly about sex. So I'm going to need to tread carefully on this one. But I think this one has the most potential of all my films to be something dramatically different, groundbreaking, eye-opening. But I'll have to edit it fast, because my Media Ministries and Script to Screen are both due in...


And then I leave. Whew.

Let me finish this with my current thoughts on the busy-ness of my life: I'm not going to care. I mean it. I'm going to be busy - but it's all with things that I love. I love filmmaking, and the reason that I'm doing all of these things is because I love filmmaking. So, I'll just put it all out of my mind, and live in the moment. Let tomorrow worry about itself. If you scroll back down to my New Year's Resolutions, you'll note that I said I wouldn't worry about my filmmaking. I'm holding myself to it. You can hold me to it, too.

This post is dedicated to Cassie, who is sitting here watching me type this post, and complaining that I spelled her name "Cassie" instead of "Cassi," and that I never remember anything that she says. But she's made up for it by giving me expensive chocolates to eat while I'm typing, and always letting me cheat off her in class. Therefore Cassi will also get rated today:

Cassi: 4 stars out of 5. Though she's whining about not getting enough stars. Oooh, someone thinks she's perfect.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Review: Faithful

By Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King

King's name you recognize, while O'Nan is a bit of a dark horse, though he's written such best-sellers as Snow Angels, The Speed Queen, and Prayer for the Dying. It's O'Nan who carries most of the book, giving the play-by-play on each game, while King hangs in the wings, providing profanity-strewed commentary every couple of days.

Play-by-play? Couple of days? What is this book? Faithful, as its tagline notes, is "Two diehard Boston Red Sox fans chronicling the historic 2004 season." It's essentially a diary - O'Nan and King decided to collaborate together on a book about the season: they'd sit together at Fenway, exchange e-mails about the team, call each other for updates, and write individually about the season. And write they do, more than 400 pages of journal entries, every day from February 21st to October 28th. It's a weighty volume, and one that no Red Sox fan would pick up if they didn't already know that it had a happy ending.

If you wondering why this season is historic, or what the purpose of reading the book to live through a baseball season that we just lived through, than this book, and indeed this review, is not for you. Click away. This book is for Sox fans only.

Ultimately, that's what makes the book interesting. Faithful has become the Christmas present of the year up here in New England (we gave away a few copies for Christmas and got one in return) because this a year that Red Sox fans actually want to re-live. Normally, we'd cringe at the thought, faced with another September swoon or playoff failure to those hated Yankees. In Faithful, we get to live it all again, good times and bad - but we know that just on the other side of the book, we get to see that beautiful October blossom all over again. That makes it worth once again living through the season: the early season domination, the June Swoon, the sputtering through the summer, the Garciaparra trade, the desperation at the beginning of August, the sudden string of victories, catching back up to the Yankees - we know that once we make it all the way through, we'll get to beat those damn Yankees again.

That's the only reason to read this book. If that thought doesn't excite you, than you won't make it through more than a few dozen pages. This book is written by Red Sox fans, for Red Sox fans, and that sole thought of beating the Yankees is what dominates this book - that desperate, impossible dream that somehow, magically, became a reality.

O'Nan's steady, solid writing carries the work all the way to October, but it is King who thrives when the drama mounts as the playoffs begin. When the Red Sox falter in the ALCS and are on the verge of failing, it his eloquent writing that reminds the reader of that desperate feeling, before we knew that the Red Sox would turn it around:

"Yet we are still faithful; still we believe. Tonight we'll once again fill the old green church of baseball on Lansdowne Street, in some part because it's the only church of baseball we have; in large parte because - even on mornings like this, when the clean-shaven Yankee Corporate Creed seems to rule the hardball universe - it's the only church of baseball we can really love. No baseball team has ever come back from a three-games-to-none deficit to win a posteseason series, but a couple of hockey teams have done it, and we tell ourselves it has to happen sooner or later for a baseball team, it just has to.

We tell ourselves Derek Lowe has one more chance to turn 2004 from tragickal to magickal.

We tell ourselves it's just one game at a time.

We tell ourselves the impossible can start tonight."

Ultimately, the thrill of this book lies in the anticipation of the ending, not the actual payoff. You could probably acquire the same thrill through watching the World Series tape over again. But in mid-season, you just can't put it down, waiting to see what happens when Cabrera finds his rhythm and starts hitting, when Millar gets hot, when the team suddenly gels and starts playing championship baseball. And if you're any sort of Sox fan at all, you can't help but smile to see it all again.

The payoff: Three stars out of five - the book doesn't provide the same joy as a World Series win, but it's at least on par of the visceral thrill of say - watching Varitek give A-Rod another two-handed shot to the mouth. That's good enough for me.

Late-Night Posting

Boy, that post really didn't stand up to well to the harsh light of day, eh? Let this be a lesson to y'all: no matter how much the words are simply flowing from your fingers at three in the morning, and you poeticism knows no bounds, when you look at it in the morning, you'll realize that it's mostly claptrap. Though, to be fair, most of The Lord of The Rings was written late at night by Prof. Tolkein, since he didn't have any other time to do it. But, hey, we can't all be superstars.

Can't Sleep

It's 2 in the morning but I can't sleep. I don't even feel tired anymore. I feel wide awake.

I wish I could come up for some reason for this, but I can't, other than: suddenly, every second spent at home seems important. I leave on Sunday to return to Kentucky, and every second in New Hampshire feels like it should be treasured, that I should be up accomplishing things before I return to the drudgery of schoolwork.

No, not drudgery. I'm wildly excited about the classes I have this semester, three of which involve filmmaking. It's these films that scare me. I just watched one of the special features on the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Extended Edition DVD about a young indie filmmaker named Cameron Duncan. Duncan was so captured by his filmmaking that when cancer took his body over for the second time, this time destroying his lungs, he continued shooting his movies, pouring his own pain into the process. The end result is stunning - all sorts of technical weaknesses can be pointed out, but when you hear Duncan's voice in the steady voiceover of a teenager who has made his peace with death, it's heartbreaking. "The only things you regret in life are the things you never did," he monotones, and I'll be damned if it didn't make me want to go out and conquer the world. There was a real power in his work that amazed me and made me insanely jealous. In his film, they bury him on a hill overlooking the park, where he "can watch over the park in protection as the seasons change." When Duncan passed on, they really bury him on the hill, overlooking the park.

And now I just feel inadequate. That I might pour myself into a project, bare my soul to the world through the power of film, and people will feel - nothing. If, in the next semester, you ever see one of my films, there is nothing that will scar me more than you saying "I didn't feel anything." Hate my work, despise it, insult it with every depreciating word that you have in your vocabulary - but at least, by reviling my work, it did something to you.

I don't know where my whole "emotional artist" thing came from, I suppose it's a product of a sleepless night. But is this the curse of the unnoticed artist? To struggle in vain and wait for the world to notice, to feel your passion and be moved by it? And, when the world passes you by, as the world always seems to, what then? For every one grand success there are ten thousand grand failures. If your life's work is in the creation of something that moves people, what happens when people remain stagnant? Do these artists just fade away? Was there ever a purpose to them trying? Is there still time to switch to be a business major?

And yet, somehow, these people arise out of bed each day and face their failure again. I can't think of anything more poetic. I think there's something so pure in creating something and knowing deep down that it will never make an impact, that the world will pass over it as it's passed over everything that you've done. And to make it anyway, because it had to be made. To create, not for the world, but because that creation was locked inside of you, waiting to get out, needing to get out. My hope is renewed, though this post is going to look terrible in the harsh light of day. Ah, well. Its creation was the important thing. Let the world pass it by.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


I've been putting phony dates on all my reviews, so that they don't show up as posts. It seemed like a smart choice, since they're meant to go into the "Revues" section, and not to be individual posts. But I'm already sick of it. I put a lot of time writing these, which means I don't feel like writing a whole new, huge post, and as a result, all of my posts will end up being a paragraph small, and all of my reviews will languish on the sidebar. That all ends today. All of my reviews will now appear on my blog first and the sidebar secondary.

I went to see Finding Neverland this evening, my little sister took me out on a date (she paid for everything, 'cause I'm poor and she's cool). It was a lot of fun, I really oughta try to make sure I see her more this summer. I never see her, and I see my brothers all the time, possibly because they are my brothers and we live in the same house, and she's not really my sister, and therefore doesn't live in the same house with me.

We also went to Barnes and Noble so I could pick up a book for my "Script to Screen" class. Each member of the class is supposed to chose their own book on making short films, read it, then report back. I picked up Rebel Without A Crew, or How a 23-Year-old Filmmaker with $7,000 became a Hollywood Player by Robert Rodriguez (the guy who made El Mariachi and Once Upon A Time in Mexico). It seemed appropriate - I love filmmaking, and I don't have any money - but it's not directly on making short films, it's a diary of his making El Mariachi, which was picked up by Columbia Pictures, for - you guessed it - $7,000, so my professor might count off.

Speaking of "Script to Screen," I've really got to get cracking on coming up with ideas for the screenplay that I'm doing with Jeremy for this project. Though Jeremy sent me up an idea a coupla days ago that's really started to get my mind moving. There's some things we need to work out, but I really think that the idea, the main idea, is something that could be phenomenal. Watching Finding Neverland and thinking about some Tim Burton films, like Big Fish, and how those sort of films looked, and worked - it made me excited to do it. Though it could be schmaltzy, and bad, too. It involves a little girl who's dying, so that's something that can go either way. But I think that Jeremy and I have the right sort of personalities to pull something like this off. I have utter confidence in our abilities.

Knock on wood.

Review: Finding Neverland (2004)

Starring Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, and Dustin Hoffman

Big names, yes. But it's Freddy Highmore's performance as Peter, the boy who inspired Peter Pan, that makes this film. Highmore stares down everyone with soulful eyes throughout, daring anyone to help him deal with the pain of having lost a father and being on the verge of losing his mother. He and Depp drive the heart of this movie, giving me great hopes for the two of them in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, due this summer.

The movie's a tearjerker - designed to be one, and it succeeds with whimsical grace. Depp, the most open we've seen him at least since What's Eating Gilbert Grape, becomes writer J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. Barrie, trapped in a cold relationship with his wife Mary (a tremendous Radha Mitchell), and lost for inspiration after the flop of his play Little Mary, is sparked out of his doldrums by widow Sylvia Davies (Winslet) and her four children. Barrie begins spending all his time with the family, sparking rumours around town and further alienating himself from his frustrated wife.

Barrie, a bit of an odd duck in real life, is well known for creating incredibly sympathetic woman characters, likely as a result of the distance between him and his real wife. In Neverland, Barrie instead finds solace with Sylvia, until she develops consumption (why is it always consumption in these movies? Is it just because caughing up a fit is easier than showing, say, cancer of the jaw?). Depp, Mitchell, and Winslet all play their roles with great reserve, letting writer David Magee's adept script and director Marc Forster's able hand steer the film.

The highlight is when Barrie brings the production of Peter Pan to Sylvia's parlor in order to show her Neverland. It's a great moment, one which Forster directs with alacrity as Jan A. P. Kaczmarek's lush score lifts the film from a solid biopic to one of the great films of 2004. The next best moment, though, would have to be seeing Hoffman, playing Barrie's producer, sitting back on his armchair reading over the script going "Indians! Pirates! Smee!" I'm making a rule that Hoffman (Captain Hook in Hook) must be in all movies relating to Peter Pan in some way.

The rundown: Well acted, well written, and well directed, Neverland is solid in every aspect. Four stars, and I believe in fairies again.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Let's Review

I've decided that it's too much trouble to review things that only just came out - movies in their first weekend, books that have just been released, etc. I don't have the cash to be throwing on every movie, book, and CD that comes out (see previous post entitled "All You Ever Need to Know About Cars") , and frankly, no one's asked me too. I'll review what I see, and I'll call 'em as I see 'em.

If you're up for it, you can check out my latest review, The Sum of All Fears (2002).

Alright, so I'll read anything in my MSN folder

I came across an article on MSN, whose unfortunate first sentence was: "Psst: I won't tell you my name, but I know a lot more about your teenage daughter than you do." The title of the article was "Ten Things Your Teen Won't Tell You... But She Did Tell Me." The article didn't identify who it was written by, but I do hope that it was written by a matronly woman, or somewhere out there some incompetent male writer is going to be facing a lot of jokes for the next few years of his career. Man, if I'd ever written that, I'd be in handcuffs right now. It didn't help that the first bullet point in the article states, in bold, that: "1. I think about sex -- a lot." Class.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

All You Ever Need To Know About Cars

Now that my third car in six months has bit the dust, and I am once again carless, I thought that I would share with the world everything that I've learned about cars in the past half-year. Most of these lessons told here are common sense, or so you would suppose. But somehow, in the mess of it all, something just got lost, and I found myself stranded in the snow on a mountain in Vermont in the middle of the night, staring at this smoking car, waiting for it to cool down enough so I could push it that little bit further to get it within AAA's 100-mile free-towing limit, while the friendly state trooper runs my expired plates so he can discover that the car is registered in someone else's name 900 miles away. Huh. "How did you get here," you ask? Read on:

1. Do not buy a car at a car auction if you don't know what it is, and you cannot actually see the car because your view is blocked by a huge mass of people, all of whom are not bidding on the car. This was my first mistake. I'd done huge amounts of research on car auctions, attending a couple across the state, including one at the location that I was actually bidding at. But when I went to this one, I panicked. I had written down the mileage and condition of every car on the lot that I was actually interested in. I came in to the bidding room, amped up beyond belief, accompanied for moral support by my older brother and his wife, and his old college roommate and his wife. The five of us stood in surprise as the first few cars went by with no one bidding for the low bid of $75. Seventy-five bucks! How can you not buy a car for seventy-five bucks? So, as my brother's roommate whispered in my ear, "just put up your hand, warm up a little bit on these early cars." On the next car, I stuck up my hand, just as someone else did. "Seventy-five, one-hundred!" called the auctioneer, pointing at me and slamming down the bit of rubber tube he was using as a gavel. And then it was done. The car drove away, we only saw a glance of it - "It was white, I saw some white! I think it was an old Oldsmobile or something!" I went and paid up for the car, an '87 Pontiac Bonneville. $100 plus a $75 fee. $175 for a car that drove. What a bargain!

"Coupla good tires," said my mechanic. That was all he could come up with for positives on the car. It was well beyond repair - alignment outta axis, suspension shot, engine on the verge of death. I sold it to a junkyard for $25 a couple weeks later.

2. If you don't know how to paint a car, and you really want a new coat of paint for the car, don't just get some spraypaint and start going at it.
No one thought this was a good idea. Heck, I didn't think it was a good idea. But the '90 Honda Civic I'd just bought from my parents for $550 was baby blue, and having put up with all the jokes through high school, I wasn't gonna go through it again. I was gonna paint it all sporty. Two-tone. Black and bright blue. With decals. Fake rims spraypainted chrome. Fuzzy dice. Floormats with "NOS" on them. And one of those exhaust tips. I only roll in style.

Three days in, I'd invested hours upon hours upon hours. The first coat I put on bubbles. I scrape some off and start over. Even worse. Now I can't get it off. I try rubbing it down with paper towels. No good. I try sanding it down. Worse. Now, having inhaled too much paint fumes in a small garage ("Did I have a paint mask," you ask? The mere fact of you asking shows you haven't been paying attention), I make a last ditch effort. I try hosing down the car with a garden hose to take off all the paint.

I'll leave the result up to your imagination.

3. Do not buy a '87 Mercury Topaz off a local at the school you go to for $650 and assume that "I can probably drive this baby 1000 miles home before getting it inspected. It's got low miles. It'll be fine."
When a car has less than 75,ooo miles and you get it for $650, you ought to be more suspicious than I am. But I, ever the optimist, figure, heck, it's running fine now - what could go wrong?

Here's a list of what could go wrong:
  1. I notice the car's battery goes dead and needs a jump a couple times the weeks before I leave. Huh.
  2. I let a friend at school borrow the car a week before we ("we" being myself and two overly-trusting friends of mine who come from the same general area) leave to go home. He calls me from the cell phone, noting that smoke is coming out from under the steering wheel. Huh. "Just drive it home, I'll take a look," I say. When he gets back, I take a look. It looks like a car.
  3. A group of friends and I drive out to catch "Ocean's Twelve." Smoke starts coming out from under the steering wheel. Huh. I go into panic mode. I slow the car down. Things clear up. Then the battery light comes on. Huh. There's smoke again. Huh. Well, I guess it's best to know this now, so I can get it fixed, right?
  4. Both my friends' parents, who are obviously very wise, buy them plane tickets home, since I don't know when I'll be able to get my car fixed. I'm on my own.
  5. I get the car fixed two days before I leave. My alternator belt has snapped, it'll cost me $65. Ah, I can afford that. I've got $300 in the bank squirrelled away for the trip home.
  6. Thursday morning. I'm on my way home when I notice smoke coming out from under my steering wheel. A lot of smoke. Huh. I pull off and find a mechanic. So far, I've made it seven miles.
  7. A couple of hours later, the mechanic says I'll need a new heating coil. $200, and he'll have it done for me in four more hours.
  8. 150 miles in, I pull off for some lunch. Well, the sun's gone down, so probably dinner. I don't have a clock in the car. As I park, I notice smoke coming out from under the hood. Huh. It's coming from the radiator. I call my dad, who says it's probably just a slow leak in the radiator. Buy some antifreeze, turn up the heat, open the windows, and drive. 10-4, good buddy. Will do.
  9. Every 50, 60, 70 miles, the car starts doing something funky - hesitating, shaking, or I'll start smelling antifreeze awfully strongly - so I'll pull over and give it a rest. Often there's smoke under the hood after I pull in. Huh.
  10. I make it across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and most of New York without too much difficulty, though the going is slow. As I'm a mile short of the rest stop in Albany that I'd planned at stopping at, though, all the air in my car suddenly goes cold. Huh. I pull the car in, let it cool down, and check out the situation. The car now has two antifreeze leaks, one of them leaking quite quickly. I call home to tell my family that "I'm making a run for it." Filling my antifreeze container the rest of the way full of water, I set out to make the last 200 mile sprint.
  11. 3 miles in, it's stop-and-go traffic on the highway, and my car is already smoking. I keep pulling over and refilling it with anti-freeze. Every 30 miles, it overheats, and I have to let it sit for a while before refilling it with anti-freeze and pressing on.
  12. And so, I end up on that mountain in Vermont with the cop late Friday night, standing next to my dead car in the snow, wondering how I got here, all my money spent.
It took 38 hours to cover the thousand-mile trip. I could actually have arrived home quicker on horseback.

4. Pay the man. My Civic blew it's timing belt, mashing the valves. The engine was done. But the mechanic could put in another engine for about $1000, counting the work he already did. "Too much," I said. "I can't afford it." I paid for the non-refundable part that he put in - $125. Then I bought the Topaz - $650. Then I put in the alternator belt - $65. Then the new heating coil - $200. $125 + $650 + $65 + $200 = $1040 for a '87 Mercury Topaz with no tranny that I have to junk later this week.

5. When all else fails, go out in a blaze of glory. The Civic was dead. It needed a new engine. Since putting in a new engine was too much, I decided that I should smash the car up and make a movie about a car accident, writing the script backwards from that point. So I did. The night we filmed was as cold as Kentucky ever gets, we were outside without heat for 7 hours, and none of the lighting worked, so I had to use car headlight from the Topaz, which began showing it's first inclinations of having the battery die at every available opportunity. When we pushed the Topaz out to jump it from another car, we lost control and accidently rammed it into another car parked there. The blood we used on my leading actress had laundry detergent in it and burned her face for days (though she never complained once), and the battery on the zoom in the camera ran out, and no one had a clue how to replace it. We had to push my car up a hill in order to send it back down to crash and die, and it almost killed us. We only had one take when we rolled the car down the hill, and we blew it.

And it was awesome.

In conclusion, you haven't learned anything from this. You knew better than this to start with. You'd never spraypaint your car, or try to take a flyer on a car for a thousand miles, and you certainly wouldn't buy a car sight-unseen. But look at these experiences! Memories that last a lifetime. Would I trade all this back just to get another chance at that auction?

Lemme think about it.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Reviews Section

I've added a reviews section in the sidebar, where I'll be posting book, movie, and music reviews. You can click on it for my review of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's latest novel, Starcatchers.

How the Grinch stole Christmas

I suppose I'm not the only one who gets a letdown at the end of Christmas and New Year's. But it's just hitting me harder this year the distance between me and the Christmases of yore, when everything was perfect.

It seems to me that between the ages of 4 and 14, we had maybe one green Christmas. Now it seems every year the ground is brown. I'd be willing to buy into any environmental plan of Gore's just to get myself some more white Christmases.

What's more, Christmas was just more fun. I'd get up, we'd all open our stockings, have some breakfast, then go off to one of the grandparent's houses, open presents, then head off to another grandparent's house. I'd watch TV until we all opened presents, then more TV until dinner, then more TV until we left at the end of the night, then I'd fall asleep on the long car ride home.

Now, Christmas is spread over a couple of weeks. Between the death of various grandparents, divorces, and general family strife, there's rarely a lot of family around for each event. We visit when we we can, hang around for awkward conversation for a while, hand over gifts to each other (no one's really excited about this one - since we don't know each other anymore, how would we know what to get each other?) We're not even really welcome to visit my dad's stepfather and his children and grandchildren, because, after all, we aren't really his grandchildren. He still sends cards, though he's stopped signing them "Granky," but instead by his first name. How cordial.

I miss Christmas. I miss the joy and wonder of it all, when I was an annoying little towhead who couldn't sit still long enough to wait for his turn for presents to come around again. When Christmas was just fun, and there weren't any strings attached.

I suppose I'm showing my youth rather than my age. I suppose every Christmas I had was probably more like the one I just had, I just never realized it when I was young. I remember whispered conversations that my parents had in the front seat when they thought that we'd fallen asleep, talking about who was just about to lose his job, or had entered AA, or might be getting a divorce. I suppose every Christmas was just the same. And it makes sense that New Year's Eve was a big deal, since someone who's bedtime is 8:15 is going to be awfully excited to stay up 'til midnight. Nowadays, that's the goal if I'm aiming for an early night. No wonder, it's a let down. Speaking of which, it's midnight now. Happy January 3rd.

I guess I just miss innocence. I wish I could have a pure and simple Christmas. Snow on the ground, fire in the fireplace, all of us opening presents, laughing and joking - and nothing on my mind but the moment. I wish that most of all.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Hello, It's Me, Picasso

Don't know if you've seen this yet: This summer, the #1 song on the European charts was "Dragostea din Tei" (literally, "Love from the Lindens") from a Romanian boy band named "O-zone" - the first Romanian single ever to reach #1. This would be exciting except for the fact that the number #2 song on the charts was "Dragostea din Tei" by Haiducii, an Abba-styled Italian pop starlet who'd covered the track. That's right, the same song was number #1 and #2 on the charts.

Repetitiveness aside, the song's awfully catchy and you can see why it was so sucessful, despite the fact that no one outside of Romania knows what the hell it means. To be fair, it's a pop song, and as Dan Balan of O-zone points out "One doesn't have to understand the words. Our song is fun and has a cool rhythm. That's the whole secret of the song." I couldn't have said it any better myself, Dan.

The boy band version's awfully catchy, plus the band's so dorky in that "my idea of cool comes from what I've seen on Romanian TV, which apparently is mostly old 'Miami Vice' re-runs" sort of way that you become oddly attached in a pitying sort of way, as if they were a three-legged dog, or Strom Thurmond. You can catch the Window's Media Player version here, or the Real Player version here.

Haiduicii's a bit less of a visceral thrill, though she's easier on the eyes in a "Farrah Fawcett lookalike sings your Romanian pop favorites" sort of way. She's only available in Windows Media Player, but you can catch her both live in concert, and in her music video, which features what appears to be Gregg Allman wandering a hotel room in drugged confusion (for all I know, it might actually be Gregg Allman).

And, if you need to know just what "love from the lindens" means, or see the lyric from the title in context, check out the lyrics.