This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Chaz and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Some Thoughts:

1) The 70’s version (starring Gene Wilder) seemed a lot darker, for some reason. Maybe it was because I was so young when I saw it, but that movie gave me nightmares. There’s also a lot more of this “Dark Whimsy” type of stuff in movies these days (Cat in the Hat, everything else Tim Burton’s ever done, even Hitchhiker’s Guide, for pete’s sake), so kids are probably desensitized to it.*

2) Deep Roy as the Oompah-loompahs, including their back-story? Greatness. Preserves the oddness and menace of the original midgets, and adds the fact that they seem to have composed the songs ahead of time to correspond with the demise of each dreadful child. And I’d never expect myself to write this, but they were also funnier than a bunch of midgets. Wait, what’s the proper term these days – little people? Smallish humans? Dwarves? Hugables™?

3) Johnny Depp developed the character way more than Wilder did, but I don’t know if that’s good. Depp as Wonka is like a more confident and snarky version of Michael Jackson. He has said he was going for Howard Hughes crossed with a rock star. You know, the more I think about it, the more this movie reminds me of “Hitchhiker’s.” There’s the fast-moving CGI elevator that goes different directions, the over-the-top crazy character (Wonka and Zaphod) that dominates the action and steers the plot, the imagination-on-top-of- imagination nature of the graphics, and the simple heartwarming story with a black-humor backdrop.

4) People who are tired of dealing with other people’s bratty children should immediately go see this movie. In fact, the 4 dreadful children are eerily reminiscent of people that appear on the multitude of reality TV programs, and I’m thinking specifically of “My Super Sweet Sixteen.” Can’t you just imagine Veruca Salt growing up, having an exorbitant sweet sixteen party thrown for her, and thinking she’s better than everybody else? The more I think about this, the more disturbing the implications. The kids in the film are cartoonish archetypes (the spoiled brat, the driven child, the blank video game techno-boy, and the fat kid), but are hardly worse than the average contestant/participant on The Apprentice or Survivor or The Real World or whatever. If TV really does provide a mirror to us, the original Roald Dahl book (and therefore this movie) is as relevant as ever. How great would it be to see Ava (ahh-vah) from “My Super Sweet Sixteen” turn into a giant Range Rover?

5) Tim Burton was born to make this movie. Yes, some of his movies kinda stink (or REALLY stink, in the case of “Batman Returns”), but he’s one of the few directors working today that has an original vision and the talent to bring that to the screen. Now, some other directors have borrowed that vision, but it still belongs to him. He is Willy Wonka, and all those other posers are just the lesser candymakers that were stealing from him.

It was fun. I think I’ll get the extra disk, just to see how stuff was made. Pure imagination. I give it 4 out of 5 overpriced popcorns.

*I totally underestimated the difficulty level of selecting text in order to italicize it using the touchpad. It’s annoying, and I’m not going to do it anymore unless I have my mouse on.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I've Just Got a Lot of Movies to See

Starting with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I have a ton of movies I wanted to see in the theater but never got the chance. Netflix is giving me that chance now, and I will be loving it. I'm also going to re-watch The Two Towers again, just to confirm that it is indeed the best of the three LOTR movies.

The thing is, I'm adding all sorts of movies, some of which I know are going to be terrible. But this should be good for me, this movie-watching. I saw that Narnia movie with the lion last week, and liked it. My secret shame: I never really was into the Narnia books as a child. I read the first one, and maybe a couple of others, but never really got into them. That indifference carried over into the movie for me. It was an exciting, interesting, technically masterful movie that I enjoyed, but I probably won't see it again.

Man, I've still got to post about the first 34 episodes of LOST. That's next.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

This is What I Post When I'm not Feeling Well

Mandy was a girl who loved Marilyn Manson the way some people love the Grateful Dead. She would travel with her boyfriend, whom I never met but about whom I was always curious, to cities all across the country just to see Marilyn play. She would come to work the next day, raving about how great it was. We didn't believe her.

When Mandy was in high school, they paid her 5 bucks a day to show up. It was some sort of city program for "at-risk" youth. Was this a good use of our tax dollars? Nobody knows.

Mandy was about 5'3", 300 lbs. Five bucks a day buys a lot of cheesburgers. She had straight jet black hair that stretched to the middle of her bulbous back. The black hair blended nicely with her clothes, which were also black. I never saw her in any other color. She was also queen of the 10- minute smokebreak -- sometimes taking as many as 7 in a single day. Needless to say, she smelled like a giant ashtray. That smoke would get up in that dyed hair and just hang out for a while -- yick.

Mandy was loud, too, in the special way only combative girls with floor-level self-esteem can be loud. She got on everyone's nerves, and never seemed to realize it. There was this guy named Chad at work who spoke his mind constantly. Chad and Mandy didn't get along, and would argue loudly over the stupidest things. It got so bad that the head of our department had an hour-long face-to-face with them in his office, and when they came out they were even whiter than usual and were being very quiet. They were nice to each other for about a week after that.

Mandy liked to make the office coffee, because she liked it strong. She put two packets in there for every one pot of water, and didn't seem to notice that everyone but her didn't like it. If someone else made coffee before she could (as people often would do just to prevent her from ruining it), Mandy would complain loudly about the fact that it tasted like water.

At some point the business took a turn for the worse and people were being laid off. One Friday afternoon, Mandy was called into a conference room by one of my 3 bosses and when she came out, she was crying. She kept saying, "No, don't you dare do this to me!" "You can't!" But they could, and they did. The bosses joked with one another as she left the building with her box of stuff. They were practically singing, "Ding, dong, the witch is dead..." Everyone else just kept working, pretending not to hear what was going on and quite frankly happy it wasn't them. I told her to take care, feeling really lame.

I took over almost all the work she did and still had time to spare. That should tell you how little of an asset she was to the company. If anyone ever deserved to be fired, it was Mandy. She came into work exactly once after that sobbing incident, to let us know that she had landed on her feet and was now managing a gas station. I often wonder if she's still alive, and if so, what hospital she's staying in and why.

Monday, January 02, 2006

All Was Quiet on New Years Day

Four Big Winners from New Years:

1) Wine. I've been getting into wine for the first time lately, and I enjoyed a bit of it on New Years Eve. i didn't get buzzed or anything, but like I said it was enjoyable. I haven't decided if I like red, white, or blush best (nor have I become a wine tool, with the sniffing and the room temperature and the words like "bouquet" and "sideways").

2) Sports congratulations are in order for the Packers (won their last game, fired their uneasy head coach Mike Sherman), Badgers (beat the crap out of Auburn, retired their great head coach Barry Alvarez), Bucks (started the year 16-11, albeit a little schizophrenically), and Brewers (went .500 last year, which was voted the top Wisconsin sports story of 2005 by readers of the Milw. Journal/Sentinel, which is so sad in so many different ways).

3) Santa Claus, who got toys out again (on time) this year, plus avoided the wrath of the Christian Right by coming up with that whole "Happy Holidays" thing for them to attack. Don't laugh -- it was Papa John's corporate policy not to say "Merry Christmas." Of course, all of us Papa employees mocked that policy, but The Man was still trying to excise Christ from Christmas, which is something Santa tried but failed to do. The Man will fail as well, because nobody cares.

4) January 2nd, which feels very much like January 1st with all the college football going on. It's like an extra holiday! Remember, this is the only one* until Memorial Day, so party hardy.

* I am aware of Valentine's Day, and reject it as a holiday. Might as well be Groundhog Day, these days.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Epth New Years Resolutions

Failing at New Years Resolutions must be fun, since we Americans do it so darn much. In that spirit, let's take a look at some of mine for 2006:

1) Walk my dog 5 days a week (every day seems impossible to achieve, so I'm aiming low), even if it's just to the mailbox.
2) Make 50,000, which combined with what my wife makes would make our American dreams finally achievable. I'm a smart dude -- I can make 50 grand, can't I?
3) Remember to send a card for the birthday and anniversary of every member of my family and my wife's family.
4) Be out of my current job.
5) Eat healthier (a relative thing, I know -- but shut up).
6) Write a novel.
7) Make some chicken soup and whip it at some people's souls, or, encourage at least one person a day.
8) Have daily devotions.
9) Post something pithy here once a day.

Ok, so those are more goals than resolutions. And now you know more about me than either you or I are comfortable with. Oh, and I resolve to stop ending my sentences in prepositions.
But at the end of the year we should look back and see that I've done all that stuff, 1-9. That will make 364 days from now a very happy new year indeed.