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inception, haters, and why i can't take it any more.

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Contrarians of earth: Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop writing about Inception.

This happens every time people start going apeshit about something. Suddenly, haters sprout up like weeds bashing it, griping about how overrated it is, writing long diatribes about how much they hate it. People, like myself, rave about how much they love Inception and then other people actually spend time writing about how no one anywhere should ever love it, under any circumstances.

Stop wasting everyone’s time, especially your own. Instead, use all that energy and passion raving about something that’s better, something you feel is more worthwhile.

First, to the general problems I have with hating on movies to begin with.

Movies are an art form, a creative medium, and watching a movie is a subjective experience. We can pretend all we want that our claims about the movies we love and the movies we hate are objective facts, but it just isn’t true. The mood we are in, the people we are with, the audience at the theater for that particular showing, some random chemicals firing in our head, all sorts of crazy subconscious shit bubbling up unbeknownst to us… there are an endless number of factors influencing how we feel about a film (or about anything for that matter).

So, why does it make you so angry that you want to prove to the people who love something that they are deluded and weak-minded? It’s insane. What bothers you so much about people who love Slumdog Millionaire, or Juno, or Crash?

The most common argument I’ve seen is that the contrarians are film advocates, that they are just steamed that subpar films are getting attention over great films. Bullshit. If that was the case, why are you wasting more ink on the film you hate, thus giving it more attention?!? Sure, make snarky comments with your friends, make fun of it in passing while you are writing about something else, but how much energy do you really want to expend trying to rain on someone else’s parade? Why would you want to rain on someone else’s parade to begin with? They are having a fucking parade, be happy for them!

Instead of whining and complaining, make a commitment that every time you see a [insert movie you hate here] article, you are going to write about Kurosawa and Wenders, or rave about Korean cinema, or try to get everyone to watch your favorite unrecognized movie. That, my friends, is advocacy. Negativity and criticism advocates nothing but negativity and criticism.

Also, why does it seem that everything written whining about a movie being generic and derivative is written so… well, generically and derivatively. You are going to complain about a movie being uninspired drivel by writing your own uninspired drivel? Come, again. (That’s what she said.)

Now, on to my problems with people complaining about Inception specifically. The complaints about Inception are particularly baffling. Sure, there are some people who hate it, but most of the people debating it are debating whether or not is a masterpiece, or just really good.


To quote Eli Cash, “Why would a reviewer make the point of saying someone’s not a genius? Do you especially think I’m not a genius?”

I’m pretty smart, and unquestionably passionate about the things I love. I could come up with a bunch of pretty solid arguments and big words to prove Inception was brilliant, then you could use similarly solid arguments and big words to prove it wasn’t. The question is, why? We both like it, why are we going to argue about just how much one should really like it? Talk about minutia. It’s the epitome of insipid. Let’s just get it out of the way now, if you want to spend time trying to convince me Inception wasn’t great, I’m not interested.

However, to briefly rave about the film a bit more, it is brilliant storytelling. Without spoiling it with specifics, there is a particular moment in the film where a large number of people at our screening made audible noises. Not out of fear, or disgust, but because they were so engaged in the story. Nolan told a heady, complicated story, and still had a cinema full of Americans involuntarily making noises because they were not only following along, but were on the edge of their proverbial seat (actually, my friend Austin sat in front of me, and there were times he was on the edge of his literal seat). I thought that maybe this phenomenon was unique to my viewing, or to my city, but as it would turn out, Warner Bros. has been pulling down video from the internet where viewers were using cell phones to document theaters full of people making noise at the exact same moment all across the country. To quote our vice president, that’s a big fucking deal.

Okay, back to my diatribe. I guess the thing that bothers me so much about this is how much energy people put into being negative. It’s really easy to hate on stuff, it’s lazy. Our culture actually says you are smart because you can critically tear something apart. That’s just not true. Tearing something apart is simple. Building something up is hard. You actually put yourself on the line when you praise something, that’s scary. Throwing temper tantrums because all the other kids like stuff that you don’t like is, well, you know.

I have tons more to say about this, but I’m going to stop for now. Suffice it to say that I implore you to put something positive into the world instead of being so negative.

Learn to advocate the things you love with more passion than you bitch about the things you hate.



Wait, when did Brandon Flowers go solo?

Maybe if he kept his band around he wouldn’t keep getting into so much trouble, and Charlize Theron could spend some time doing more important things… like, saving me from ninjas, instead.


how i got over. [the bandwagon.]

Oh, The Roots. Why doesn’t the world seem to understand what they have in you?

You can’t nail The Roots down in any way. Stylistically, artistically, content-wise. Led by the remarkable ?uestlove, they are always changing, always growing, always experimenting. Their newest album, How I Got Over, is no exception.

Whether they are sampling/collaborating with Monsters of Folk (Dear God 2.0), or at once making fun of auto-tune while also using it to its fullest potential by using the much maligned (and rightly so) effect to create the melody for a beat out of a baby crying (Hustla), The Roots are up to their old tricks again.

Lyrically, spearheaded by the amazing skill of their emcee Black Thought, their work always cuts to the heart of the cultural milieu, or, to use Black Thought’s own words, they / talk sharp like a razor blade under the tongue /

Black Thought always seems to see the world as it actually is, and pulls no punches in commenting on it, whether the subject is something huge like racism, something commonplace like romantic relationships, or something potentially touchy, like calling out their counterparts in world of Hip Hop.

It is more of the same on How I Got Over. However, there does seem to be a major difference this time around. The album is enormously hopeful. Not that their music was hopeless before, far from it, but this time it’s the primary theme I come away with after listening to the CD.

The album lives up to its name, it really feels like a document of how to get over whatever is in your way. The title track, featuring Dice Raw, chronicles how desire can survive inner-city life, where everything truly is against you. Everything seems to / teach us not to give a fuck / Yet, somehow these guys survived, and it seems like holding fast to hope is what did it.

Like U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which were both creative ways of saying ‘Love,’ for me this CD uses the same titular device to say ‘Hope.’

How they got over, was ‘Hope.’

Not just the evangelical, pop-mart, bullshit sort of hope. Real hope. Hope in the face of hopelessness is how we get over. Hope against reason. Foolish, irrational hope. And in the context of this CD, hope rooted in honest and uncertain faith. It’s hope by a group of men who continue to see the world as it is, who are still struggling to understand why we suffer so much, and why the world can be so ugly if it was created in God’s image.

Talent wasn’t enough to get The Roots over (although they have it in spades). It was enough to get them out of the setting described in the title track, but as the antics of 50Cent and Lil Wayne make clear, you can get out of the economic hardship and smothering systemic injustice created by poverty and racism and still not truly ‘get over.’

The Roots really did get over, never leaving behind the context they grew up in, but offering something beautiful out of it.

Personally, I tend toward cynicism and pessimism. I have trouble believing the world can get better. It’s painful to hope, to desire a better world, and pessimism is easier, safer. With this CD, The Roots have offered me a reminder that, / that type of thinking can’t get you nowhere / someone has to care /


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, penned by Carson McCullers in 1940, is a book I just happened to cherry pick off of The Modern Library’s 100 Best novel list. I had no previous knowledge of the book aside from the title. I had no clue who Carson McCullers was. If you had mentioned the name, I would think she were a man. I found her to be a brilliant writer.


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is equal parts bright and dim, uplifting and wrenching, healing and wounding. The story follows five characters living in a small city in Georgia in the 1930s. It explores human relationships. Friendships, marriages, parent/child relationships, racial and social tensions of the time. How people interact with each other. It is a jarring narrative full of very real people and real conversations. Richard Wright, black author whose works include Black Boy and Native Son, reviewed Ms. McCullers book, and had this to say in the August 1940 issue of the New Republic,

To me the most impressive aspect of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is the astonishing humanity that enables a white writer, for the first time in Southern fiction, to handle Negro characters with as much ease and justice as those of her own race.  This cannot be accounted for stylistically or politcally; it seems to stem from an attitude toward life which enables Miss McCullers to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness.”

At first, most of the attention is given to the first character we are introduced to, a deaf-mute named John Singer. Soon thereafter, we are introduced to Mr. Singer’s best friend, another deaf-mute by the name of Spiros Antonapoulos. Slowly, we are introduced to a small cast of main characters, all from different walks of life, that all feel drawn to Mr. Singer for one reason or another.

The plot takes a few turns that I did not necessarily see coming, and that if mentioned here, would ruin the story, so I will keep this short and sweet. The themes in the story resonated intensely with me. The lonely heart will always be hungry for understanding … for companionship. We all long to be understood. We all yearn for people to listen to our heart’s concerns and love us. But not everyone can understand us. This is sad, but the truth. We can just try our best to live with one another, and love one another. Because when it really comes down to it, we are all on the same boat.

Alan Arkin starred in the big screen adaptation in 1968, which garnered a handful of nominations, including one for Arkin (Best Actor in a Leading Role). I would certainly give the movie a try after reading the book … and I certainly recommend the book.



Hmm, how do I share my thoughts on this movie without giving anything away?

How’s this:

Masterpiece. Magnum Opus. Piece de resistance. Masterstroke. Tour de force. A brilliant, near-perfect event in cinematic storytelling.

It was the movie I was most excited for this year, and it exceeded every single one of my expectations. I’ll need a few more viewings to know for sure, but it’s possible I just watched my new favorite movie.


Red Sangria

Question: “Hey, wasn’t there at least one other contributor to this blog?”

Answer: Well, yes. The answer is yes. And my defense is this: I have just found myself up to my eyeballs in sangria. That’s not exactly true. But I have found myself, as the weather improves, experimenting with a couple different sangria recipes.

Sangria is a drink that I (and all of Spain) believe is the quintessential summer cocktail. Icy cold, fruity, and refreshing, Sangria should be in everyone’s summer cocktail arsenal. As a wine lover, and lover of most things Spanish, I thought it was high time to make some of my own. I had some ideas in mind, but wanted to cross check my ideas against a “traditional” Spanish sangria recipe. Whether or not my search on the internets, this vast series of tubes we find ourselves tangled in, led to an actual traditional recipe, I do not know. But it did yield a few guiding points. My initial instincts were not way off. Here is what I was thinking …

Take a bottle or two of a youngish Spanish wine … why youngish? Well, I wanted a wine that was more fruit forward and possessed less oak. My two favorite Spanish varietals are Tempranillo (grown in the north of Spain) and Garnacha (the “workhorse” grown all over Spain, pretty much). I selected one of my favorite, inexpensive garnachas, Monte Oton from Aragón. Once my wine was selected, I consulted a good friend of mine in the wine department about an ingredient, besides brandy, that would make my sangria really pop. I told her I was anti bubbles, so that ruled club soda out. She suggested gin. Gin is probably my favorite spirit, so, I was all over this suggestion. She also suggested that I leave any citrus juice out, as that can cloud the finished product. She instead, suggested I use the zest of any citrus I was thinking of using.

So, I had my wine picked out, I was armed with a few new pointers, and I was on my way to making a (hopefully) delicious and refreshing sangria. I picked up two bags of frozen mixed berries, a couple of gala apples, an orange, lime, and lemon. Once I was home, I began preparing the fruit. I chopped the apple into pieces that were of similar size to the average sized strawberry from the bags of mixed berries. I zested some of the orange and lemon. I added 3oz. each of gin (had Tanqueray on hand), brandy (Cognac to be exact), a splash of Cointreau, Chambord, and Navan (a vanilla infused cognac). I had wanted to let the fruit set with the alcohol for several hours, but I was so anxious to try this concoction, that I doubt it set for more than 20 minutes. I added the wine and into the fridge it went … for minutes, not hours.

The June sun was out, the deck, drenched in warm light. I anxiously pulled the pitcher from the fridge. I grabbed a pint glass and a spoon. I poured the deeply colored libation into my glass and spooned in some of the delicious fruit. Since the berries were frozen, they acted as ice (who needs ice in wine, anyway???).

It was love at first sip. Maybe not sweet enough for some, but I found that the addition of Cointreau and Navan added enough sweetness, along with the fruit, for me. The gin added some lovely herb notes. The wine paired with the fruit very well. It acted as the perfect red canvas for this liquid artistry. I’m not gonna lie (and this is not saying that I think I make the best sangria ever), but, I could have consumed the whole pitcher in one sitting. It’s like the most dangerous fruit punch you’ll ever drink.


It is summer. Ice cold beers should not be the only beverage you reach for. Take some initiative and make yourself up a pitcher of sangria. The fruit you use is completely up to you. The wine is, like I said, a red canvas for liquid artistry, but in case you are not feeling as gung ho, here is my recipe …


2 bottles of red wine (again, I used a garnacha … the only wine I would warn against using is Cabernet Sauvignon. Too oaky)

3oz. brandy

3oz. gin

1oz. Cointreau or triple sec

1/2oz. Navan

splash of Chambord (just to help the berries)

2 bags of frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

2-4 apples, chopped (I used gala)

1 t. orange zest

1 t. lemon zest

Combine fruit and all alcohol, except wine in pitcher. Feel free to let this mix infuse, but beware its charm! Add wine and stir. Again, feel free to let it set for hours … but, it will be hard not to want to tear into this drink right away! Once it has set for as long as you deemed appropriate, spoon fruit into glasses, and pour. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon, or both, and enjoy!