Monday, January 9, 2012

2011 In Film and TV on DVD

My goal in 2011 was to watch two films per week that I had not seen. I was well short by seeing just 64 films between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31. Obviously, many weeks I saw as few as zero films, but during one week I watched 8 films.

Below are those films and TV on DVD and how I would rank them according to my own personal 5-star scale. Keep in mind these are not all films or TV on DVD that came out in 2011, just ones that I watched in 2011. Also, these are listed alphabetically by star assignment. I’m sure no one will agree with all of these rankings, but that’s okay. We all enjoy different movies for different reasons. Maybe this list will show how strange or weird I am. But that’s cool… I accept weird.

The scale:

* I liked absolutely nothing about this film/TV show
** I really did not like much about this film/TV show
*** I enjoyed the film/TV show
**** I enjoyed the film/TV show a great deal, this film/TV show is purchase-worthy
***** I loved this film/TV show and will probably add it to my DVD collection

* Films
  • The Last Days of Disco (1998): directed by Whit Stillman; starring Chloe Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale and Mackenzie Astin

** Films
  • Bad Teacher (2011): directed by Jake Kasdan; starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake
  • The Dilemma (2011): directed by Ron Howard; starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James and Winona Ryder
  • Holly Rollers (2010): directed by Kevin Asch; starring Jesse Eisenberg, Jusin Bartha and Ari Graynor
  • The Informant (2009): directed by Steven Soderbergh; staring Matt Damon, Scott Bakula and Joel McHale
  • Spinning Into Butter (2008): directed by Mark Brokaw; starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Miranda Richardson and Beau Bridges
  • Still Waiting… (2009): directed by Jeff Balis; starring John Michael Higgins, Rob Benedict and Luis Guzman
  • Your Highness (2011): directed by David Gordon Green; starring Danny McBride, Natalie Portman and James Franco

*** Films
  • 30 Minutes or Less (2011): directed by Ruben Fleischer; starring Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride
  • Arthur (2011): directed by Jason Winer; starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren and Greta Gerwig
  • Blitz (2011): directed by Elliott Lester; starring Jason Statham, Paddy Considine and Aidan Gillen
  • The Bounty Hunter (2010): directed by Andy Tennent; starring Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler and Gio Perez
  • Brooklyn’s Finest (2009): directed by Antoine Fuqua; starring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke
  • Friends With Benefits (2011): directed by Will Gluck; starring Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake and Patricia Clarkson
  • Ghostbusters (1984): directed by Ivan Reitman; starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver
  • Hall Pass (2011): directed by the Farrelly brothers; starring Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis and Christina Applegate
  • The Haunting in Connecticut (2009): directed by Peter Cornwell; starring Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner and Elias Koteas
  • I Really Hate My Job (2007): directed by Oliver Parker; starring Neve Campbell, Shirley Henderson and Alexandra Maria Lara
  • Jack Goes Boating (2010): directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman; starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan and John Ortiz
  • Just Go With It (2011): directed by Dennis Dugan; staring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and Brooklyn Decker
  • Limitless (2011): directed by Neil Burger; starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish and Robert DeNiro
  • A Little Help (2010): directed by Michael J. Weithorn; starring Jenna Fischer, Rob Benedict and Daniel Yelsky
  • Love and Other Drugs (2010): directed by Edward Zwick; starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Oliver Platt
  • The Messengers (2007): directed by Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang; starring Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller and Kristen Stewart
  • Middle Men (2009): directed George Gallo; starring Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht
  • No Strings Attatched (2011): directed by Ivan Reitman; starring Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Kline
  • Piranha (2010): directed by Alexandre Aja; starring Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell and Ving Rhames
  • Source Code (2011): directed by Duncan Jones; starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga
  • Super (2010): directed by James Gunn; starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon
  • Thor (2011): directed by Kenneth Branagh; starring Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman
  • Tootsie (1982): directed by Sydney Pollack; starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessican Lange and Teri Garr
  • Unknown (2011): directed by Jaume Collet-Serra; starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger and January Jones
  • Wild Target (2010): directed by Jonathan Lynn; starring Emily Blunt, Bill Highy and Rupert Grint
  • Women in Trouble (2009): directed by Sebastian Gutierrez; starring Carla Gugino, Adrianne Palicki and Connie Britton 

**** Films
  • The Adjustment Bureau (2011): directed by George Nolfi; starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and John Slattery
  • Black Swan (2010): directed by Darren Aronofsky; starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vicent Cassel
  • The Boondock Saints (1999): directed by Troy Duffy; starring Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus
  • Bridesmaids (2011): Directed by Paul Feig; starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd
  • Buried (2010): directed by Rodrigo Cortes; starring Ryan Reynolds and a coffin
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011): directed by Joe Johnston; staring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving and Hayley Atwell
  • The Change-Up (2011): directed by David Dobkin; starring Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds and Leslie Mann
  • The Conspirator (2011): directed by Robert Redford; starring Robin Wright, James McAvoy and Tom Wilkinson
  • The Fighter (2010): directed by David O. Russell; starring Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams
  • Hanna (2011): directed by Joe Wright; starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011): directed by David Yates; starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint
  • Horrible Bosses (2011): directed by Seth Gordon; starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis
  • Let Me In (2010): directed by Matt Reeves; starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace Moretz and Richard Jenkins
  • The Lincoln Lawyer (2011): directed by Brad Furman; starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Phillippe
  • The Mechanic (2011): directed by Simon West; starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland
  • The Next Three Days (2010): directed by Paul Haggis; starring Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson
  • Paper Man (2009): directed by Kieran and Michelle Mulroney; starring Jeff Daniels, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds
  • Paranormal Activity 3 (2011): directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman; starring Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown and Christopher Nicolas Smith
  • Paul (2011): directed by Greg Mottola; starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jason Bateman
  • Scream 4 (2011): directed by Wes Craven; starring Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette
  • Sucker Punch (2011): directed by Zack Snyder; starring Emily Browing, Abbie Cornish and Carla Gugino
  • The Switch (2010): directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck; starring Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston and Patrick Wilson
  • Take Me Home Tonight (2011): directed by Michael Dowse; starring Topher Grace, Anna Faris and Dan Fogler
  • Thelma and Louise (1991): directed by Ridley Scott; starring Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Harvey Keitel
  • Trainspotting (1996): directed by Danny Boyle; starring Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle and Jonny Lee Miller
  • Wet Hot American Summer (2001): directed by David Wain; starring Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce and Michael Showalter

***** Films
  • 50/50 (2011): directed by Jonathan Levine; starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogan and Anna Kendrick
  • The High Cost of Living (2010): directed by Deborah Chow; starring Zach Braff, Isabelle Blais and Patrick Labbe
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010): directed by Ann Boden and Ryan Fleck; starring Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zach Galifinakis
  • Red State (2011): directed by Kevin Smith; starring Michael Parks, Melissa Leo and John Goodman


*** TV

**** TV

***** TV

Friday, July 16, 2010

Prince is Off His Purple Paisley Rocker

In an article on the website of the Daily Mirror tabloid of London, England, musical artist Prince was quoted by Mirror writer Peter Willis as saying:

"The internet's completely over. I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won't pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can't get it."

What? The Internet, with all that information (good and bad), all that power now put in the palm of the common man's (and woman's) hands, is over because he can't get an advance from iTunes for his music?

That can't exactly be what he meant. What I think is that he was trying to say that it is over as a mechanism for the distribution of music. The above quote continued with him saying that the Internet was once hip but is now outdated and all these 1s and 0s can't be good for anybody.

Is he being too vain? Is he just money hungry? Is he delusional? Or has he just failed at his many ventures to get his own online presence started and flowing? Not sure, but it could be safe to say that maybe it's a combination of all of the above, and possibly many other reasons.

Prince has ventured into the online landscape many times and has disappointed and alienated his fans just as many times. Whether it was significantly late shipments on his album Crystal Ball when it was originally released as an online only order from his then-website, to the recent opening and rather quick closing of his website Lotusflow3r. Whatever the troubles were at any time with any of these ventures, they did not sit well with many of his most dedicated fans. So, instead of building his fan base, he began to alienate it.

For me, the oddest thing of all is that while he states he doesn't want to distribute his music through iTunes because they won't pay him in advance for it, he will distribute CDs for free through the Mirror. Well, maybe not for free, but through some kind of deal with the newspaper.

Instead of claiming the Internet as over, what Prince needs to do is take a look out there and see exactly how not over it truly is. There are many musicians who are carving out quite a place online, a place where they pick up fans daily, where they market themselves to anyone who will listen (or read) and where they provide content to their fans not only as a way of making money (and a living) but as a way of simply doing what they need to do (make music) and trying to get that out in front of as many people as possible. And they have succeeded marvelously. For example:

Kristin Hersh
Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist
Solo Artist, Throwing Muses and 50FOOTWAVE

Kristin Hersh has been in the music business for quite some time. I encountered her for the first time through her song Ghost, which appeared on the soundtrack for the film With Honors. Her voice just captivated me. I can't really explain it anymore than that. I could listen to her sing anything, probably.

Kristin has embraced the Internet. She has a website at She uses Twitter (@kristinhersh). And she distributes her music in the traditional methods of CD and vinyl, but also digitally through (a method of distribution Kristin helped develop). Through her separate CASH Music sites (solo, Throwing Muses, 50FOOTWAVE), she offers fans the opportunity to listen to, download and purchase her music. CASH Music offers musicians a way to communicate directly with their audience and fans, to cut out the middle man.

Kristen also has licensed her work via a Creative Commons license with which she gives her fans the ability to create and remix her songs into new noncommercial works allowing them not only a way to enjoy her music but also participate in it. This music is available for streaming, download and purchase. In addition, she has a group called the Strange Angels. According to her website:

"The Strange Angels make Kristin's music possible by subscribing to her output. In exchange they receive all of her physical releases, exclusive downloadable content, and free spots on the guestlist for Kristin's shows. Most importantly they are responsible for the release of all the music on this page."

Through this subscription service, Kristin is able to fund her work. Besides assisting Kristin in her music-making efforts, subscribers receive tickets to any of her shows, copies of every CD before their release date and many other online items such as videos and live recordings.

However, Kristin's work isn't limited to just sounds. She uses her websites as ways for fans to read her lyrics and read the stories that have made Kristin who she is and have inspired her music. To take this one step further, she also is releasing her next album in book form. Called Crooked and already released in the UK, this book will open new doors in music distribution. The Amazon description states:

In a music and publishing industry first, acclaimed musician Kristin Hersh releases her new studio album, Crooked, as a book.
Kristin Hersh, lead singer of Throwing Muses and successful solo artist, will be releasing her new studio album, Crooked, as a book. This is the first time any major recording artist has taken such a step which makes this a groundbreaking publication and one that we will be supporting with a massive publicity push.
Crooked, the book, will contain full colour artwork, lyrics and an exclusive essay by Kristin on each song.
Each copy will come with a digital code which unlocks a treasure trove of online content including:
  • The full Crooked album.
  • Full recording stems for every track allowing fan remixes.
  • Track by track audio commentary by Kristin.
  • Exclusive video content.
  • Outtakes.
  • A forum enabling fans to interact with Kristin, ask questions, live web chats etc.
  • Sample chapters from her forthcoming memoir, Paradoxical Undressing.
This full content will only be available to fans who purchase Crooked the book.

The book is due out in the United States later this year.

Amanda Palmer
Singer, Songwriter and Ukelele lover
Solo Artist and The Dresden Dolls

Amanda Palmer is a very outspoken artist. Originally signed to Roadrunner Records, who released her debut solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer, she fought them for some time to be free of her contract, citing lack of adequate marketing as one of the reasons. During that time, before and since, Amanda has embraced the Internet like no other, with a significant portion of her online time being spent on Twitter (@amandapalmer). But she also has a website ( and a Facebook page (

Amanda tours a lot to support her music, traveling extensively in Europe, Australia and the U.S.  She promotes herself through Twitter by announcing tours and giving away tickets to her shows, while also gauging interest in and scheduling what she calls "Ninja Gigs" which are free gatherings with her fans in locations near the venues of her shows. They often occur in the afternoons on the days of shows and aren't announced until the last minute. But with the advent of smart phones and their ability to access the web and Twitter, these "gigs" are always well attended.

And now that she is free of her record label, Amanda is truly embracing the Internet as a means of distributing her work. Her first solo record to be released post-Roadrunner is an EP of Radiohead covers played on the ukelele titled simply enough Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele. On her web store, she will be offering the album as a CD, a digital download and on vinyl. She also provides streaming of her songs online. This content all is distributed via Bandcamp. This site is similar to CASH Music in that it provides the artist with control over distribution and price. It easily allows fans to purchase music (often for however much they are willing to pay, but with a minimum charge) and to share the music with friends.

Amanda also embraces the value of video on the Internet. While her previous label issued a DVD containing all the videos for the album WKAP, those videos also are available on her Youtube channel. In addition, Amanda posts video from her concerts, tour documentaries and other interesting items. She also hosts a webcast that she has titled Party on the Internet where she will do just about anything really, from play songs to auction off items she no longer wants to holding a release party for the launch of her new solo record.

Zoë Keating
Professional Avant Cellist
Solo Artist, Collaborator and former member of Rasputina

I came across Zoë's work via Amanda Palmer and her album WKAP. Not really into classical music, it is hard for me to describe what she does, so I will let her website bio do the talking:

Zoë Keating is a one-woman orchestra. She uses a cello and a foot-controlled laptop to record layer upon layer of cello, to create lush, beautiful and otherworldy music.

Born in Canada and classically trained from the age of eight, Zoe spent her 20's dabbling in computer software while moonlighting as a cellist in rock bands. Inevitably, she combined the two and developed her now signature style while improvising for late night crowds at her San Francisco warehouse. 

What I can say is that thanks to the Internet I'm a fan. She, like Amanda and Kristin, has embraced the Internet and all it offers a musician from connecting to fans to distribution. She connects through her Twitter account (@zoecello) and her website ( Like Amanda, Zoë uses Bandcamp as her method of distribution. Through this service in the first two weeks of release of her new album Into the Trees, she sold more than 1,200 copies through digital download with marketing done only through Twitter and her website. What she says surprised her most were the number of fans who bought the music for more than what she was asking.

That's all just a testament to the payoff of hard work, caring about your work and connecting with the fans.

Jenny Owen Youngs
Singer Songwriter
Solo Artist

I discovered Jenny through her song "Fuck Was I" that was used on the Showtime Network show Weeds. Of course, like most other musicians, I was able to find out more about her through her website, and she uses it and her Twitter account (@jennyowenyoungs) to provide news on her work and stay connected with fans. But she is using the Internet in an exciting, new way. She is embracing crowdfunding.

Through Kickstarter, Jenny has set up her next album as a project, and through offering rewards, she is taking pledges from fans that will help her raise the money to record her next album. Pledges can be any amount (though at least $1) and for different levels of giving, Jenny promises to provide a variety of items in return for support.

Basically speaking, a project on Kickstarter is set up, providing information on what it is and how people can donate. Projects can be anything from records to films to books. Each project has a timespan associated with it in which the project owner has to raise the amount of money s/he is looking for to complete the project. If after that amount of time the goal amount is raised, s/he receives the money to be used for that project.

Jenny's project, Jenny Owen Youngs Makes a Shiny New Record, was set up for 40 days with a goal of $20,000. As she said on the project home page, she wants to produce this record on her own and free of a label, and in order to do that she must pay for it herself. Marketing through word-of-mouth and through her Twitter feed, she was able to raise more than $20,000 in just 28 hours. For their pledges, her fans will receive a variety of items, which include digital copies of the album, CD copies of the album, personalized thank-you notes and even an in-house concert.

As of today (July 16, 2010) and with 28 days to go to meet her goal, Jenny has received pledges from 438 fans for a total of more than $31,000.

With the examples these musicians have set, there is no doubt that the Internet is far from over, especially for music distribution. These women just know how it's done. They make the music and find an easy way to get it in their fans' hands. They also are amazingly fan friendly. Each of the four have responded in the past with replies to my comments on Twitter and have shown themselves to be especially thankful for what they get. They are not vain, standoffish or hidden. They put themselves out there because they want their work to be heard.

I will admit that my favorite album to this day is Prince's Sign 'O' the Times. But I'm also going to admit, that because of the ways things are working and how they deal with their music and their fans, I'm more apt to give my money (and I do and will continue to do that) to Kristin, Amanda, Zoë and Jenny than I am to Prince.

The Internet is over? I don't think so.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quote of the Day - 7/12/2010

"When one door closes another door opens; we look so long and regretfully on the closed door, that we don't see the ones which open for us."

- Jimmy Palmiotti, comic book writer/artist, via Twitter

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Damn you, Joss Whedon

(note: this post contains SPOILERS for the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seasons 1-5.)

Damn you, Joss Whedon.

That's right, I said it. Some of you reading this are probably already considering de-friending me on Facebook or unfollowing me on Twitter. Well, that's your right, but please bear with me. This statement will be defended, I promise.

So, I've been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the past couple months. I had never seen the TV show before and so many people talk about it that I thought I'd give it a chance. (I'm actually afraid that peer pressure will get the best of me and I will succumb and end up watching Lost in a few years, too.)

I struggled through the first season. In my opinion, there was little that was good about it. The concept - great. The execution - not so much. But I totally understood that I am not the target demographic for that show and could certainly see why teenagers, especially teen girls, would and did like that show. But a friend of mine told me to stick with it. So I did.

I'm now near the end of season 5 of 7. A lot of things have happened, they are in their second year of college (well, xander isn't, but he's still part of the group so he might as well be), and they are dealing with more adult issues. Yes, they are only 20 years old, but even for me that is more relatable than when they were 16 years old and in high school.

It is obvious that Joss Whedon is no dummy. Seven seasons is a good length of time for a show to run, and to have a spinoff during that run that then goes for 5 seasons (Angel) is another testament to the popularity of the Buffyverse. Why it ended after 7 seasons I don't know, but over the course of the series, it did get progressively better. Well, with the exception of the cinematography. (I have never seen so many boom mics, exterior lights and cameras in the shots than I have seen in this show. But that is a discussion for another time.)

And Whedon is clever. If you haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog, go watch it and you'll see what I'm talking about.

But why would I say "Damn you, Joss Whedon"? Because he took a show that was about a group of high school kids who fought vampires and demons, a show that seemed to mostly focus on the demons, and turned it into a show that focused mostly on the characters. The demons and vampires may provide the background for the stories in each episode, but by season 5, the characters are what are driving this show. And let me tell you now, that is what I prefer. It's why I like all of Stephen King's really long books - he focuses so much on the characters, the story is more about them than anything else. And a number of my favorite shows follow this pattern. Six Feet Under was like that from the beginning. Freaks and Geeks. Bones, like Buffy, has turned into this. So what it comes down to is that I love the character-driven story.

Joss Whedon and his writers have made me care about these characters.

In season 5, they are on the verge of facing off with their toughest obstacle yet, Glory. Taking the form of a woman, the gang believed Glory to be a demon but the Watcher Council swoops in and reveals that Glory is not a demon but is, in fact, a god -- certainly not the news they were looking for. How the hell do you defeat a god? As in all other episodes prior to this, the gang begins to research in an effort to find a way to defeat "her." Then the unthinkable happens -- Buffy's mom, Joyce, dies. Who saw that coming? Some of you probably did, but not me. (Frankly, I never see that kind of thing coming.)

See, now that I care about the characters, I am fully invested in what they do and how their lives turn out (even Spike, for whom, by this point, I really feel sorry), Whedon pulls out the big guns. He kills one of them. Yes, I know, he didn't kill her. That's just what happened. But he might as well have. And now the show resonates with me so much more.

Since my dad died, I get this way anytime I watch a show where a parent or loved one of a character I care about dies. The last time it affected me so strongly was during Scrubs. You see, I know what that's like. I can empathize with this fictional character. And it makes me care for her more. It makes me relive what happened to me in February 2006. It's something that doesn't get better. It does get easier to deal with, but it never hurts any less. You walk around like a zombie for awhile. You don't want to do anything. Your friends try to console you, but most of them can't say anything that helps because they don't know what it feels like. You want to die, too.

Then, somehow, you wake up one day (which day that is depends on the person, but that day does come) when you can swing your legs out of the bed, you can sit up, you can get dressed and walk out the door and take a few more steps than you took the day before. Will Buffy be able to do this? Maybe. Of course, living on the Hellmouth, tends to make you deal with things more quickly than normal.

But here's what it will do more than anything, it will drive the gang to defeat Glory. In the midst of all the sadness, there is still Glory, who had threatened Buffy's friends and family. So it raises the question, was Glory responsible for Joyce's death? The doctors say it was an aneurysm. But isn't that something that Glory could have caused? Certainly.

Now, this part is all speculation by me because I have yet to finish watching season 5. But I suspect that this, like these things often do in the movies and on TV, will push Buffy to be stronger, will give her the added strength to defeat this nemesis.

Or maybe Whedon and his crew will turn it all on top of its head and do the unexpected.

Whatever happens at this point, I say, "Damn you, Joss Whedon." Damn you for making me care so much about these characters. Damn you for making me relive my dad's death a little bit. Damn you for making a show that is mostly fun to watch and keeps me clicking the "Next Episode" button on Netflix.

And I also say, "Thank you, Joss Whedon" for making me care so much about these characters. That's what truly makes TV worth watching.

(By the way, Joss, why didn't Spike ever get his own spinoff? Damn you, Joss Whedon!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Don't You Forget About Me

On this day in 1985, my favorite film of all time was released to the masses. It was, and is, the story of a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.

I was in the eighth grade in 1985. I wasn't apt to go to the movies much (my love of film came much later in life) and probably wouldn't have been allowed to go see an R-rated film, anyhow. But when I did see it, The Breakfast Club had quite the impact on my life. While all but just a few of my high school days were behind me by the time I first saw it, I saw a lot of myself in the film.

I am Brian Johnson.

I was the academic. I was the nerd. I was the one who cared most about trying to please everyone. And in the name of that, ended up letting a lot of people down (at least in my mind I did).

I tried to be friends with everyone, make everyone happy. In doing so, I was so unhappy.

The physics club wasn't my thing, but the National Honor Society was. The speech team was. The science fair was. The Foreign Language Festival was.

I quit athletics after seventh grade to focus on my academics. I went to games, always thinking how much fun it would have been to participate, but too worried to do it. Of course, in my mind, I also thought I wasn't good enough.

But I was an equal opportunity friend. While trying to fit into the "cool" crowd, I hung out at school with other nerds, misfits and basket cases. Did I think of them that way? No. But I have no doubt that others did. Did some of the "cool" guys join me when I would have lunch with Tommy Belt, a long-time friend, who by high school was a bit of a Robert Smith clone. No. Not one of them. But I don't really fault them for that. That's just the way it is.

Looking back, the "cool" crowd was not where I fit in, even though I tried to fit in all the way through college. I got along with them at school, sure, but outside that realm, totally different story. And it didn't help that I was a fat kid. But that's a whole other story. I tried to fit in so much that I forgot who I was and tried to be who I wasn't.

I remember playing these Fighting Fantasy books (I will be blogging about these separately in the near future) that Billy Brooks showed me. He would play at lunch, and often was reprimanded because they required dice and, well, dice weren't allowed at school. If I'm not mistaken, he always had a backup pair. He was resilient that way.

But I digress.

I related to that movie in so many ways. I knew those people. I wasn't familiar with detention, but I didn't have to be. I knew Claire. I knew John. I knew Allison. And I knew Andrew. I saw them in the hallways every day.

Most of all, I knew Brian. I never brought a flare gun to school, but I did, at one point, take shop class because I, too, thought it would be an easy A. I strived to do what I had to in order to make all A's. I was devastated when, as a senior, I made a B in AP English, the only B of my high school career. I felt I had let my parents down, let myself down. To this day, I still do. Without a doubt, I was... am Brian Johnson.

And John Hughes, somehow, knew what it was like to be a teenager. Whether it was the Breakfast Club, or Keith and Watts in Some Kind of Wonderful, or Samantha and Jake and Farmer Ted in Sixteen Candles, or Gary and Wyatt in Weird Science, or Andie and Duckie in Pretty in Pink, or even Ferris and Cameron in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Hughes was dead on accurate.

Have students changed today? I couldn't say. However, I can't help but express my disappointment in a group of what appeared to be high schoolers at a midnight showing of The Breakfast Club at the Kentucky Theatre a few years ago. While that film does have some funny moments, these "kids" laughed in all the wrong places. It made me sad. I worried that they didn't get it. I felt like I was the only one in the world who appreciated what it was saying. I'm sure I'm wrong.

So, The Breakfast Club is a quarter of a century old. I love it for so many reasons, but none more than because it knew who I was at a time when I felt like no one else did, not even myself.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Quote of the Day - 2-6-10

"Breaking film news: In a groundbreaking release strategy, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is to be released in 2D. Calm yourselves."

Edgar Wright, director ("Shaun of the Dead,"Hot Fuzz"), via Twitter

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's February

January sucked. It really did for so many reasons. But you don't want to hear about that. And you may not want to hear about my February either, since I've talked about it every year since I started this thing.

February also will be less than stellar because it is the anniversary of my Dad's death. This will mark 4 years since those life-altering days.

I put together a number of blogs a couple years ago that described in great detail what happened in February 2006. If you are new to the blog and haven't read or heard the stories, you're welcome to on this page. Or you can click on the link in the left hand column "Remembering Dad."

He was an awesome dude. He made me laugh and I loved him a lot.