Blog Archive

Corporate Etiquette 115 . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, April 29, 2009 15 comments

{The workplace is a jungle filled with jackals, wineheads and bosses with mouths like a crocodile. There are also decent people, but I'm starting to question the percentages. This is the 15th in a series of corporate encounters which offer no easy resolutions.}

It was 4:02 p.m. yesterday and I had just escaped the confines of my office, driving south towards my loft in a desperate attempt to beat the rush hour traffic.

The decision was bold. This wasn’t some typical Friday or even a random Thursday when leaking out early could be chalked up to mitigating circumstances and easily forgiven. This was a Tuesday, a day when business was conducted – or at least one that should be.

But I was gone. Just after entering the freeway, however, my Blackberry vibrated accusingly in the middle console. I grabbed it and took a quick glance at the sender while focusing on the road. It was my boss. There was no message – only a subject line – which read “Where are you?”

Son a bitch.

I never text and drive, but I managed to shoot off a one-word response: “Bathroom.”

The answer came back in an instant: “Get upstairs for an important meeting.”

Shit. Piss. Fuck. I cursed and slammed on the gas to reach the next exit where I leapt off the road and hooked a u-turn to get back to the office. Of course, I missed every light on the access road and then eventually roared into the parking lot and threw my car into a one-hour parking slot on the first level before dashing upstairs.

I entered the meeting room a little bit sweaty and as I sat down with my colleagues, I could only imagine what my boss must have been thinking about exactly what I had been doing in the bathroom to cause so much time to elapse and for so much perspiration to occur.

The answer was too horrible to ponder.


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Thoughts on 'State of Play' . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, April 27, 2009 11 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee or rental. 'State of Play' is a twisty, intelligent film that is solidly constructed and ideal for a matinee or a rental, and only misses full price because it is mostly very good and only fleetingly great.

Will I Own It On DVD: No. I enjoyed 'Play,' and was glad to see it, but I doubt I will re-visit this more than one more time, which doesn't justify the cost of a DVD or Blu Ray purchase.

1) 'State of Play' was apparently based on a British TV mini-series, and I bet that the television format actually suited the material a little bit better. This is because the story is somewhat convuluted, and there are a lot of moving parts which could play out more lesuirely on television over a six-hour running time versus the just over two hours that the movie takes. This would also benefit the character depth of the film as several interesting subplots are hinted at in the movie, but never fully realized likely due to running time (and I very rarely ask for a longer running time).

2) The film's plot concerns a newspaper reporter (Russell Crowe), his old college roommate now turned U.S. Congressman (Ben Affleck), a sex scandal, private defense contractors, new media outlets, theft and murder and the connections which might be hiding among these various factors.

3) Russell Crowe anchors this film extremely well even though he's given a lot of fine support from an excellent ensemble cast. Crowe looks bloated and slovenly and hairy, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt that his jowls were formed for his old-school journalist character versus his own laziness about getting in shape. Regardless, he is far better here than in last year's 'Body of Lies' as he uses his dogged skills to unravel the mystery and get the story printed.

4) As I mentioned, the rest of the cast is uniformly stellar with a group that includes Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Robyn Wright Penn, Jeff Daniels and Ben Affleck. The most surprisingly good job was turned in by McAdams who more than held her own opposite Crowe. If there was a weak link, it was Affleck who wasn't terrible, however, I expected more as I really thought he would nail his role as a politician. Hell, he looks like a politician, and while Affleck does settle into the role as the running time wears on, he is initially too light for the action around him.

5) As much as anything, 'State of Play' is about the death knell sounding for many newspapers around the country as new formats like blogs and Twitter and other outlets take away slices of the pie. I found it somewhat depressing to watch onscreen, although the filmmakers capture it well and drive home the point and the financial pressures to stay afloat in this brave new media world.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by 'State of Play' as it was an engaging, solid thriller with reasonable depth and I hope it does well enough at the box office so these kinds of films will continue to share space with comic book adaptations and Hannah Montanna.


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Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, April 24, 2009 16 comments

“Hey boy, hey boy! You look mighty cute in them jeans . . .”, Eddie Murphy, “Delirious”

It’s been forever and a day since Eddie Murphy was funny, which is a real shame because he was one of the best for a long, long time. Oh well, I’d laugh at virtually anything since it’s Friday, but before I can find a chuckle on some shaded patio serving cold beer in the 85 degree weather, let’s look at hard stories of the week such as:

Bill Murray gave a fan an autographed copy of ‘Caddyshack’ to a fan this week one day after accidentally striking the woman – Gayle DiMaggio - on the head with his golf ball following an errant tee shot.

DiMaggio was thrilled with the gesture, but also requested Murray give her a detailed account about caddying for the Dali Lama, the 12th son of the Lama.

Madonna was injured while riding a horse this past week during a visit to the Hamptons.

She was transported to Southampton Hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries and bruises and released, her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said in a statement.

Rosenberg's statement said Madonna's horse "was startled by paparazzi who jumped out of the bushes to photograph the singer."

Meanwhile, the Horse said in a statement that he “was startled when Madonna attempted to reach under and touch his private area” and that’s what caused the accident.

Jackie Chan told an Asian audience at a Business Forum this week that freedom in China might not be a positive thing.

"I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not," Chan said Saturday, adding freedoms in his native Hong Kong and Taiwan made those societies "chaotic." "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want," he said.

Chan soured on freedom when he chose to do what he wanted and those choices resulted in ‘Shanghai Knights.’

Salma Hayek is planning to get married again this weekend in Venice, Italy when she will exchange vows again with French billionaire François-Henri Pinault.

The wedding features a traditional rehearsal dinner Friday, followed by a ceremony Saturday at the Palazzo Grassi, a historic white-marble palace owned by the Pinault family. The duo married for the first time on Valentine’s Day 2009 in Paris.

Once was horribly painful, but now Hayek is just rubbing this in my face and I’ve had enough. Who am I kidding, I could never stay mad at her . . .

Authorities in Mumbai were investigating a British report claiming that the father of a young girl who appeared in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ tried to sell her for adoption for $290,000.

The father, Rafiq Qureshi, has flatly denied the allegations that he attempted to broke the deal for his daughter, Rubina Ali.

I hope this story is false, but if true, someone should explain to Qureshi that $290,000.00 does not make him a ‘Millionaire.’

In this weeks worthless Lindsay Lohan news bulletin, Fox News is reporting that the tabloid-prone actress is in talks to appear in "Peepshow," an allegedly racy-yet-respectable burlesque/musical starring currently playing in Las Vegas with Kelly Monaco and Mel B.

This job would be just another stepping stone in Lohan’s descent into making pornography.

Hugh Jackman, star of the upcoming "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," made Hollywood history on Tuesday by sinking his hand and foot prints into cement outside the famous Mann's Chinese Theater.

"It's a very humbling moment as an actor to be here. You look down at the names, from Fred Astaire to Cary Grant, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, and to think that those people have been immortalized and pretty soon I'll be putting my hands in wet cement," Jackman said, before planting his palms in the concrete.

He should have worn his Wolverine claws to make the indentions because without them Jackman might be working inside Mann’s theater.

Let’s follow Jackman’s fine achievement with a gold image or two:

I suddenly feel a little muy caliente, an expression I never use because I sound like a buffoon while saying it. But it’s true nonetheless as my temperature is rising just looking at these images. So, don’t be afraid to work up a sweat today, shed clothing if necessary so you don’t trap the moisture and . . . Happy Friday!


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Password Crazy . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, April 22, 2009 16 comments

I’m currently on hold with my credit card company because I need them to give me a password which I gave to them a long time ago.

I need the antiquated password to set up an online account to access my credit activity where I will be forced to enter a different password to actually activate the session. Lately, I feel like I am drowning in passwords. At least half` my brain function seems dedicated to remembering passwords to various accounts.

Off the top of my head, I have passwords for accounts like:

• Hotmail
• Blogger
• American Express
• Mastercard
• ADP Payroll
• Fidelity Investments
• Best Buy Reward Zone
• Netflix
• Gamelink mature films
• Inktip writers shop
• Blue Cross Blue Shield
• Credit Union
• AA Miles
• Work computer
• Work Email
• Linkedin
• Nordstrom
• Infiniti cars
• Austin American Statesman

I’m sure there are a host of others, but my brain is tired and I’m sick of remembering passwords. Obviously, many of these overlap, but even more of them differ in minute ways which causes me to tear my hair out because I know I’m close, but the damn account just won’t unlock. This is because each site has its own rules which sometimes require a certain number of characters, upper and lower case letters, numbers and words mapping to particular kinds of fruit found only in South America. Maybe not that last part, but it’s probably coming soon.

I know there are password software programs out there to help with this, but I have yet to look into them. They probably want a password too.

Oh well, an automated voice just told me my wait time is less than two minutes, so I better run and hope that I can obtain my password which will lead me to the next one and ultimately the information that I seek.


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Thoughts on "Observe and Report" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, April 20, 2009 14 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Rental. Maybe. 'Observe and Report' is a black comedy that is only occassionally funny, more often aggresively mean and yet neither particularly good or horribly bad. In addition, it won't lose anything on the translation to the small screen, and I think it might be somewhat more enjoyable waiting for that medium.

Will I Own It On DVD: Nope. Once was enough for me on this film.

1) 'Observe and Report' had been dividing critics into two camps - those who loved it and those who loathed it. There wasn't much in-between, and these polar opposite views were somewhat intriguing to me even though I felt from the previews and from reading about the tone of the movie that I would fall into the latter category. Strangely enough, I came down squarely in the middle with this project as I felt ambivalent about it walking out of the theater which disappointed me more than if I had flat-out hated the damn thing.

2) The movie concerns a mall security guard (Seth Rogen) who longs to be a police officer and when his mall is menaced by a flasher, he seizes the opportunity to garner respect and also romance the make-up counter girl of his dreams (Anna Faris).

On the surface, this sounds like a traditional comedy along the lines of 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop,' a project I never saw and will never see unless my eyeballs are taped open and I'm strapped to chair guarded by alligators. Anyway, 'Observe and Report' mixes genres as it throws a violent streak right out of 'Taxi Driver' into Rogen's character who becomes increasingly out of touch with reality and this forces occasionally brutal violence into the mix. The results are jarring and uneven, a combination that doesn't always misfire, but one that misses more often than it hits the target.

3) Rogen sheds his teddy bear with a filthy mouth persona of his previous films with a fairly unlikable turn as the titular head of mall security. You have to give him credit for giving himself over to the role, however, the dedication also means it's extremely hard to root for him to suceed which is a problem considering he's in virtually every single scene in the movie.

4) The supporting cast has some highlights with Michael Pena giving a fine performance as a fellow guard who idolizes Rogen. Faris displays her usually fine comic timing as the hard-partying mall beauty queen, but the movie fails to take full advantage of her skills by short-changing her on screen time. Finally, Ray Liotta as a real police officer investigating the mall flasher appears to be wearing a toupee (unconfirmed) and seems vaguely miscast.

5) As a public service announcement, I will say this is a hard 'R' movie mainly due to language and mostly due to the flasher's pale white penis which garners a surprisingly long amount of screen time. It's not a pretty sight as anyone who saw 'Sideways' can attest when a flabby white man is running amok with his johnson flapping in the wind, and the same is true in 'Observe and Report.'

Overrall, 'Observer and Report' is an odd film, part comedy mixed with ugly violence, and while you have to give credit to the project for mixing things up, the choices still don't lead to a particularly good film.

At one point in the film, a minor supporting character announces something to the effect of "I thought this would funny, but it's really kind of sad . . ." That statement sums up nicely how I felt about this movie.


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Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, April 17, 2009 20 comments

“Here's 50 bucks, take this in case I get drunk and call you a bitch later,” – Vince Vaughn, “Made”

This was a re-teaming of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, together again after ‘Swingers,’ but whereas as I loved ‘Swingers,’ I found ‘Made’ to be irritating and painful to watch. That being said, the above was a funny line and one that Vaughn can deliver in his sleep.

Anyway, it’s raining and gray in Austin, but at least it’s the end of the week. So, before I can duck out by 2:30 p.m. at the absolute latest, let’s look at the hard stories of the week such as:

Mel Gibson’s wife, Robyn, filed for divorce from the actor this week citing the popular “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the split, according to TMZ.

“Throughout our marriage and separation we have always strived to maintain the privacy and integrity of our family and will continue to do so,” the Gibsons said in a joint statement released to Access Hollywood on Monday.

Mel and Robyn were married in 1980 after meeting in Australia in 1977 and have seven children together.

In private, Robyn also cited ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and Gibson’s arrest and subsequent sugar tits/anti-Semitic tirade as contributing factors.

Jamie Foxx insulted Miley Cyrus this week on his Sirius radio show The Foxxhole and then later apologized to her on “The Jay Leno Show.”

On the radio show, Foxx, 41, asked: "Who is Miley Cyrus?" As someone explained Cyrus is the star of the popular Hannah Montana franchise, Foxx quipped, "The one with all the gums? She's got to get a gum transplant!" He went on to suggest that Cyrus "make a sex tape and grow up. Get like Britney Spears and do some heroin. Do like Lindsay Lohan and get some crack in your pipe … That's what I want."

He then issued a mea culpa on Jay Leno saying: "I so apologize to [Miley], and this is sincere. I am a comedian, and you guys know that whatever I say, I don't mean any of it. And sometimes, as comedians, as we do, we go a little bit too far."

And sometimes adult comedians pick on 16-year-old girls for reasons that make no sense at all.

In the new issue of ‘GQ’ magazine, Zac Efron told the interviewer about career advice he received from fellow actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

"He said, 'There's one way that you can really f--- this all up. Just do heroin,' " Efron, 21, tells GQ in the May issue. 'If you steer clear of that – the other obstacles you'll be able to navigate.'

It’s ironic that DiCaprio would give that “navigating obstacles” advice when his career was launched because the ‘Titanic’ couldn’t maneuver around a giant iceberg.

Pro wrestling legend Hulk Hogan, embroiled in a bitter divorce with his wife, Linda, told Rolling Stone magazine he can "totally understand" O.J. Simpson, the former football great found liable for the deaths of his wife and another man.

"I could have turned everything into a crime scene like O.J., cutting everybody's throat," Hogan said in the interview for a feature that will run in Friday's edition of the magazine.

"You live half a mile from the 20,000-square-foot home you can't go to anymore, you're driving through downtown Clearwater [Florida] and see a 19-year-old boy driving your Escalade, and you know that a 19-year-old boy is sleeping in your bed, with your wife ...

Hogan continued, “and you know the Iron Shiek is somewhere in Tehran laughing at you . . . it’s just too damn much to bear.”

Lindsay Lohan surfaced this week in a mock dating service video posted on comedy Web site

Lohan, 22, recently said that she and DJ Samantha Ronson are taking a "brief break" and the video posted Tuesday is set-up as an eHarmony ad where the actress Lohan says she's "recently single ... I think." She says she's looking for someone to spend the rest of her life with, "or at least the rest of my probation with."

Lohan continues to poke fun at herself, saying she's looking for the perfect mate who likes long walks on the beach, car chases on the Pacific Coast Highway, "antiquing and passing out in Cadillac Escalades."

This is the first reasonable thing Lohan has starred in since “Mean Girls.”

An Austrian court convicted a woman of threatening “CSI: Miami” star David Caruso and sentenced her to seven months in jail in a secure psychiatric unit, officials said Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the woman, identified only as Heidemarie S., allegedly sent more than 100 letters to the American actor in pursuit of an autograph and then sent a death threat in 2007 when he refused to give her one. A court-appointed psychiatrist testified earlier that the woman has a "profound personality disorder."

I’m no psychiatrist, but I could diagnose anyone who enjoys Caruso’s work on “CSI: Miami” as having a “profound personality disorder.”

In other court news, a jury found Phil Spector guilty on Monday of second-degree murder in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.

This seems reasonable since the entire world found him guilty of committing follical murder many years ago.

Billy Bob Thornton and his band canceled the rest of its Canadian tour this week after the actor compared the country's fans to mashed potatoes with no gravy in a testy interview that caused a sensation online.

The Boxmasters opened for Willie Nelson last Thursday in Toronto where they reportedly were booed and met with catcalls of "Here comes the gravy."

A note posted on Nelson's Web site Friday said the Boxmasters were canceling the rest of their Canadian dates "due to one band member and several of the crew having the flu."

If Thornton was more clever, he would have claimed the band was sick from “food poisoning due to rancid mashed potatoes” and started a border war.

{Editor’s note: To all Canadian readers, I bear no animosity & the Border War was merely a joke and not a practical solution. Sometimes, we as comedians, go to far . . . }

But let’s not end with hostility and instead focus on a gold image or two:

I hate when I can't find perfect ending shots or when I have to grope too many mannequins before finding exactly what is real. So, don't be disappointed if you have to settle today, strive for something better tomorrow and in the meantime, Happy Friday!


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Bathing With The Drunken Viking . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, April 15, 2009 24 comments

{This is the 26th entry in a recurring series that will only happen when I have consumed far too many spirits with my brother. Last night, we celebrated because the weather was too damn nice to avoid it and so several pitchers of Stella were consumed which triggered strange thoughts, candid insights and pure horseshit. Selah.}

• Never eat the Fish Special the day before it’s about to go off the menu

• Nobody wearing Axe body products has ever gotten laid

• No other human being on Earth enjoys your pet or your baby as much as you do

• A decent novel has never been written inside a Starbucks, ever

• People interviewed on the news stations who claim they always knew their neighbor was a murderer are all liars

• The difference between kinky and perverted in the bedroom is about 3.5 drinks prior to arriving there

• Never spot another guy on the bench press at the gym if you’re not wearing underwear

• Since the Internet took off, entering an actual porn store shows only hardcore desperation and horrible planning

• When you find yourself bragging about your friend count on Facebook, it’s time to get off the computer

• Uranus jokes are always funny – even when they’re not

• If you laugh while insulting someone at a party, you can say virtually anything and not start a fight

"Drinking is a way of ending the day." – Ernest Hemingway


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Blowing Money On Music . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, April 13, 2009 14 comments

So I collected my money for winning the NCAA tournament bracket from the group of downtown lawyers last week.

Then, the question was how to spend the proceeds. I’ve always dealt with found money in a wholly different way from that which is earned. Where I am usually reliable and thoughtful with budgeting, the opposite occurs when I get an unexpected windfall and this sort of situation is typically treated with the singular pursuit of hedonistic pleasure in mind.

Visions of DVDs and books or Johnny Walker Blue bottles or consecutive lap dances set to Poison’s greatest hits flashed through my head. I couldn’t decide until I got an email announcing 3-day passes for this fall’s Austin City Limits music festival. This seemed reasonable.

The exact band line-up had yet to be announced, but rumors had the headlining acts consisting of Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews and Beastie Boys this year. Usually, I haven’t cared too much about the major acts in years past, but I hadn’t seen them & it felt like time to knock them off the list.

But spending the money on live music just felt right. I love concerts. Ever since high school, I’ve been to numerous shows and regardless of the chemical state which was involved, I still remember the experiences fondly even when things went awry, which was often.

I remember:

• Seeing Stone Temple Pilots and smoking an entire carton of Marlboro’s during the show with several friends, a scheme which could only be cooked up by a bunch of high school idiots who couldn’t easily get access to booze
• Watching Jimmy Buffett after guzzling a 2-liter bottle of Purple Passion (Everclear plus sweet grape soda – nasty) and ending up riding home with a girl who was definitely not my girlfriend and then lying to everyone about how I blacked out and don’t remember how I got home

• Urinating at the feet of a loud idiot who had cut in the bathroom line at a David Allan Coe show
• Liberating an entire bowl of marichino cherries from behind the bar to impress a girl during Tom Wait’s set, which didn’t work and only made my hands sticky

I’m sure there are many others which I forgot, but the point is that live music tends to bring with it a feeling that anything might happen if you give yourself over to the possibilities. This is an increasingly rare sentiment as you get older, so even if large crowds tend to irritate me and 3 days straight quickly turns into an endurance test, I still feel good about blowing the money on the ticket.

And I still had enough left over for a six-pack of Dos Equis.


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Quick Hit Good Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, April 10, 2009 15 comments

“Look, if it's about that time I puked green slime and masturbated with a crucifix, it was my first keg party, Bobby!” – Anna Faris, “Scary Movie”

This was before Faris got blonde and very skinny, but she has always had some of the best comic timing for any actress in Hollywood. Anyway, I’m off to the wilds of Oklahoma where Internet does not roam to visit grandparents and eat Cadbury Crème Eggs, but before I leave, let’s look at the hard stories of the short week such as:

Levi Johnston - the 18-year-old father of Bristol Palin's baby – went on “The Tyra Banks Show” Monday and discussed his sex life inside Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s house, an appearance which prompted an angry response from the Governor.

"Bristol did not even know Levi was going on the show. We're disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention, and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship," says the statement from the Palin family rep.

On the show, Johnston told Tyra Banks that he believes Sarah Palin knew he and Bristol, 18, were having sex when they lived under her roof. "I'm pretty sure she probably knew. Moms are pretty smart," Johnston says.

Obviously Levi didn’t watch Palin’s interview with Katie Couric.

Lindsay Lohan confirmed on Monday that she and DJ Samantha Ronson have broken up.

The couple had started dating about a year ago and had constantly been plagued with rumors of splits and fights. A source told People magazine that Lohan's family is sticking by her side while she deals with the breakup.

"Is she upset? Yes. Has it been a rough week? Yes," the source told People. "But her family's around her, and she's just focusing on business right now."

"We are taking a brief break so I can focus on myself," Lohan told E! News.

Fortunately for the rest of the world, we've already learned that focusing any attention on Lohan is a losing proposition.

Costa Rican police are investigating claims by two photographers that they were shot at by bodyguards at the wedding of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Agence France-Presse photographer Yuri Cortes and Rolando Aviles of Costa Rican newspaper Al Dia claim Bundchen's bodyguards tried to seize their cameras' memory cards and shot at their car when they drove away. Judicial police spokesman Margarita Morales said Tuesday that her agency was investigating their complaints.

Meanwhile, I’m still investigating how my wedding invitation got lost in the mail.

Britney Spears walked off stage shortly after the start of a concert Wednesday night at Vancouver's GM Place, leaving the crowd to sit in the dark for 30 minutes, and then informing them that the delay was due to cigaratte smoke.

"It's become uncomfortable and unsafe for the performers, including Ms. Spears," the voice announced to the crowd. "The show will resume as soon as the air around the stage is clear."

Chanting and booing ensued until Spears finally came back onstage.

Strangely enough, the booing continued when the show was officially over as well.

As always, let’s end with a gold image or two:

I felt like getting my hands on something and now I have another idea, maybe the best idea . . . So, grab a handful today, make sure everyone has a good time and Happy Good Friday to everyone!


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Lawyers, Guns and Money . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, April 08, 2009 13 comments

After North Carolina won the NCAA tournament on Monday night, their victory was also mine because it meant that I had conquered my bracket and won the whole damn thing, which amounts to a few hundred dollars from a $10 initial investment.

Those kinds of returns are staggering in today’s economic times and make me want to run to Vegas to parlay my luck into greater sums. But of course I won’t despite the fact that Sin City is having a fire sale on rooms and other amenities because of the downturn. The best part of the win was the knowledge that I had beaten a pack of high-powered lawyers, an occurrence which happened through a random set of circumstances that pushed me into their midst as an interloper bent on nothing less than utter victory.

Now, it’s just a matter of collecting the money, and avoiding any fine print they might have conjured up to hide their losses. I scoff at fine print, much like I do at O’Douls, tight-whitey underwear and sports mascots who wear shirts but no pants.

I will collect the money before I leave town for Easter tonight even if it means sacrificing my lunch hour to drive downtown and harangue them before they can dine at the Four Seasons or suck down glazed snapper at McCormick and Schmidts. There will be no power lunches until I am paid what I am owed.

Like Robert De Niro in ‘Heat,’ I don’t really have time to settle this score, but I will make time before driving north with my brother to see family. Between collecting debts and actual work and trying to find something for Quick Hit Friday, time is of the essence and with any luck at all, I can get everything done before 4 p.m. We’ll see.


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Thoughts on "Adventureland" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, April 06, 2009 19 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee or rental. 'Adventureland' is an enjoyable, low-key comedy or more accurately, a "dramedy," that fits well into a matinee showing, however, it would be an even better rental.

Will I Own It On DVD: Doubtful. That being said, if I could find it for $9.99 or under sometime, I would be strongly tempted to bring it home.

1) Set in the summer of 1987, 'Adventureland' takes a look at one summer spent inside the confines of a 3rd-rate amusement park where a recent college graduate finds himself working to save money for graduate school once his plans for a European back-packing trip falls through. This simple premise serves as a fine backdrop for the exploration of traditional issues like friendships and relationships, drinking and drugs and finding whatever path works for you, all set to a never-ending repeat of the insidiously addictive yet vaguely annoying 80s song "Rock Me Amadeus."

2) The ads for 'Adventureland' have played up the connection with the popular hit movie 'Superbad' as both films share the same director. I understand why the marketing team would try to sell it this way, but where 'Superbad' was loud and broad, this film is small and intimate and relaxed without ever being forceful in its depiction of teenage/early 20s life. Due to this fact, it feels more "real" than 'Superbad,' which doesn't necesesarily mean better, just that the tone is markedly different and anyone expecting holdover from that film will be sorely disappointed and somewhat bored with 'Adventureland.'

3) One thing the film absolutely nails is the time period of the late 80s. You can tell that the filmmakers paid strict attention to detail, and the project is much better for it. From the fashion to the music to the hair-styles and everything in between, 'Adventureland' serves as a good time capsule for that era. Where it excels, however, is that is treats these stylistic items very matter-of-factly, a choice which takes it beyond some movies where it feels like an ironic affectation or simply kitsch.

4) The cast is led by Jesse Eisenberg ('The Squid and the Whale') & Kristen Stewart ('Twilight'), who provide steady performances to anchor the film, but it is the ensemble help from the relatively unknown oddballs who work at the park as well as Bill Hader and Ryan Reynolds who also elevate the material. Reynolds in particular is very good as he plays an older theme park handyman and lothario, whose claim to fame is that he once jammed with Lou Reed - maybe.

5) As you might expect from the time period, the soundtrack is excellent as it includes tracks like the aforementioned "Rock Me Amadeus," but also picks up a variety of lesser-known (and annoying) songs that fit the tone of the movie very well.

All in all, 'Adventureland' is a wistful, solid little movie that provides some laughs and pulls good performances from an ensemble cast trying to find their footing while taking baby steps in the transition moving from high school or college towards adulthood.

It's no 'Superbad,' but there's easily enough room for both kinds of films for me.


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