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April 24, 2007

Now that's one useless cat!

Via the Volokh Conspiracy, this sure is one useless cat.

April 23, 2007

In lieu of saying something myself....

... I'll give you some good links.

This time it's a picture of newly hatched chickens, and a hint of why I love Colorado (both from Five Acres With a View).

April 20, 2007

Rodriguez, Tarantino, Lynch. Nothing could be better

I want to tell you about two (three?) of the best movies I've seen in years. Grindhouse is the most fun I've had in the theater since... since... well, I can't remember that I've ever had as much fun watching a movie. Inland Empire wasn't exactly fun -- it was entrancing, mesmorizing, and scary, enough so that the hair on the back of my neck stands up just thinking about it.

Grindhouse is a double feature made up of Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. And don't forget the juicy "previews" that separate the two, for movies like "machete" and "thanksgiving" that I wish would get made, because the previews were so good. So where do I start my praise? For one thing, both movies are strong enough to stand up to the other. I've read some critics who can't wait to tell us which one was better (they seem even split between the two), but these critics are full of shit. Rodriguez's zombie movie demonstrates why so many people love zombie movies, and Tarantino makes the audience break into applause at the end of his chase movie that's at least the equal of the best chase movie ever made, Spielberg's Duel.

Death Proof is so great because even if you disagree with me about Duel, Tarantino's film will remind you of your own favorite chase movie. And Planet Terror will remind you of your own favorite zombie movie. Or in my case, my favorite vampire movie -- Rodriguez's own From Dusk Till Dawn.

Finally, Grindhouse is great because of the actors. Some people say that Rose McGowan can't act -- I say bullshit. She acts plenty well enough in this picture, even if all she's asked to do is point her machine gun leg and kill zombies. She does that just fine. Besides, if what you really want is big stars, you've got Kurt Russell in Death Proof and Nicholas Cage as Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu? Yeah, yeah, just go see Grindhouse and you'll figure it out.

When I was in high school, I made a film with a bear in it: a guy with a blue beadspread thrown over him and a sign labeled "bear" taped to his side. It worked, sort of, but not like David Lynch could have made it work. His latest movie, Inland Empire, has scenes with people wearing big rabbit-head costumes and watching a sitcom on TV, and by the end of the film they will make you shiver in your seat. You thought Blair Witch Project was spooky? Well, no one does spooky better than David Lynch, and this film is his spookiest yet.

I won't say that this movie is scary because you never see the monster. For the most part that's right, but Lynch isn't above resorting to a few classic tricks at just the right time, when you least suspect them, in order to make you shit your pants. So don't think you're safe because this film relies mainly on ambiance to freak you out -- a dark, snowy street in Poland, a film-set house with narrow hallways painted dark green and lit by a single bare bulb. It has all that shit, but that's not all.

What's it about? The subtitle is "a woman in trouble," and that's about as much as you know when the film ends. Laura Dern's character is in trouble, but you just don't know exactly how. Is it all psychological, as if she's suffering from schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder? Or is it supernatural, because she's haunted by ghosts? See, my hair's standing on end again. Gotta love David Lynch.

So what do Grindhouse and Inland Empire have in common? Here's one thing: go to the official Grindhouse website. The spooky ambience there doesn't fit that film well, but it almost perfectly captures the mood of Inland Empire. Go figure.

April 17, 2007

Great agrarian blog

While I've been working and sleeping and procrastinating and watching Grindhouse at the theater (yay, me!), Rick Saenz has been putting together a string of great posts (which is another way of saying that he's been writing a great blog). Here's something that I wish I had said (blame Rose McGowan and her machine-gun leg for that):

It’s odd how when we come to understand the shortcomings of modern industrial culture we are quick to embrace someone’s speculative, totally untested antidote, whether it be engaging the culture or retreating into intentional community, while at the same time we are quick to reject any proposal that we would do well to return to an earlier way of living. We hope that doing things differently might make the symptoms go away, but aren’t much interested in tracking down our mistakes and undoing them.
Exactly! Just what I've been trying to say for years, but haven't really said as well.

April 10, 2007

What medical problems do you have?

When I ask this question of patients in the ER, it's amazing how often they forget to tell me about serious diseases that completely change the way I want to treat them. It happens so often, in fact, that I'm tempted to say this to all my patients when I first walk in the room:

"Tell me what medical problems you have. And tell me everything. I'd better not go out there and look you up on the computer and find all sorts of shit that you haven't told me about. I want you to come clean with me now. If you have diabetes, you'd better just tell me now and get it over with. Because I'm going to find out, one way or the other. And if I find out that you're a diabetic or that you have lupus or some shit like that and you haven't told me, I'm also going to assume that you also have dementia, or that you've been sniffing glue."

Of course, all of this is (somewhat) in jest. I'm lucky enough to be a healthy person; I can tell you all the medical problems I've ever had since I was born, mostly because there's been so few of them. I had ear infections. I had an effusion in my knee once. I've had intractable vomiting from eating bad refried beans at a disreputable mexican restaurant in Sedona. I remember all of these things because they're so unusual.

But I suppose that if I had diabetes, or lupus, and I'd been living with it for years and years, I might forget to mention it when I went to the ER. Maybe. Assuming, of course, that I was also hypoxic or hypoglycemic or high from breathing the fumes from a tube of Krylon spray paint.


April 09, 2007

What else are we missing?

From the Washington Post, one of the best articles I've read in a long time.

"If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that -- then what else are we missing?"