The Lexi-Sean: Improving the English Language One Word at a Time

These are words I like to use, and that I think more people should say as often as possible.

Eyeball– Verb; 1. To inspect or look at something, usually with a higher degree of scrutiny than is desired or necessary, especially when accusing someone of staring at you too intently for their own good. “Are you Eyeballing me, boy?” (The “boy” is optional, but really adds flavor.) Or “Stop Eyeballing everyone that passes by and pay attention to playing your viola.” 2. To estimate a measurement based solely on ocular information. “Are you going to use a measuring cup to add the proper amount of milk to your oatmeal? No, I’m just going to Eyeball it.”

If you can, you should use this word today. It will make you happier.

Skip Day Double Feature: Because I Said So & Smokin’ Aces Movie Reviews

Another Friday away from the office and in the cineplex where I belong. I’m bringing a little contrast to the table this week. I saw two movies that I am certain were never meant to be even put on the same DVD shelf, much less watched back to back. I’m talking about Because I Said So and Smokin’ Aces.

Because I Said So Movie Mandy Moore Dianne Keaton

Because I Said So is exactly the type of movie you think it is. It has “chick flick” written all over it, and does nothing to step outside that genre. I’ve gone on the record before as not minding romantic comedies, which many people categorize as chick flicks. I disagree. Romantic comedies at their best are clever and insightful, and can charm either gender since we can both relate to the story. A chick flick is different. It focuses on melodrama and mother-daughter relationships, and someone always cries. Chick flicks put up an aura of weepy emotion that drive anyone with a Y-chromosome as far from the theatre as their feet will take them. But I am a trooper, and I owe it to you the thronging legion of Semantic Drift fans to give my take on all kinds of films. Because I Said So is about mother daughter relationships. Enough said. That pretty much covers the plot. The mother and daughters are all played by watchable actresses, with most of the story following Mandy Moore and Diane Keaton as the mom. The film casts Lauren Graham as another daughter but she is criminally under-utilized, and the those expecting some of the witty snark of early Gilmore Girls will be sorely disappointed. The women fight. They cry. They make up. They bond. Repeat. It’s not horrible, and it has a tighter narrative arc than Catch and Release, but it won’t appeal to any red blooded heterosexual man who isn’t dragged to the theatre by his girlfriend. THERE IS AN INTERIOR DECORATING MONTAGE! Also, if the editors has removed the footage of the actresses rooting around in their oh so comically disorganized purses the movie would have been roughly a half hour shorter.

smokin aces alicia keyes

Smokin’ Aces on the other hand, had nary a heartfelt emotional scene in sight. In fact, unless “shot by a .5o cal sniper rifle” counts as an emotion you might wonder whether this movie has any at all. It’s pretty, and some of the action scenes are well-executed in their intensity but the story isn’t quite compelling enough to tie everything together. Jeremy Piven, that Magnificent Bastard Ari from Entourage plays a Vegas stage magician with mob ties who is about to turn to the FBI. The mob hires a colorful and motley crew of assassins to silence him. Van Wilder and Ray Liotta are FBI agents assigned to protect him. Throw in a few bail-bondsmen, some ridiculous plot twists, and a hyper-active young kid whos pre-pubescent boner bulges beneath his karate outfit as he practices with his nunchuks, and there you have Smokin’ Aces. Several critics have compared this movie to Pulp Fiction, but I don’t really see the similarities. aside from the violence and the fact that it is a crime movie. Smokin’ Aces is not as good as Pulp Fiction, but I don’t think its trying to be. It would have been better, if I may Monday Morning Quarterback for a moment, to see more infighting among the various forces that come down on the hotel penthouse that house Ari McGuffin. I would have liked to watch the assassins trying to outmaneuver each other and the FBI, but that never really happens. The movie climaxes with a pretty cool firefight, but then limps along to a less-than-satisfying conclusion.

After watching these two movies back to back, I was filled with an inexplicable urge to rearrange my couches and then dive behind them while shooting two silenced pistols. I guess that’s what I get.

Encouraging Ennui

I’m as glad as the next guy that people are getting excited about politics. Presidential elections are always a sight to behold, and the next one promises to be a real horse race as opposed to the 2004 debacle. The fieldf is wide open on both sides of the aisle and everybody seems to be getting pumped for their favorite frontrunners. And that is great. But the thing to remember is that the election is almost two years away. The first primary is (probably) a full year away.

I know the American people have to poked and prodded into elctoral action and the infusion of relatively new and exciting figures like Obama as well as popular old school possibilities like McCain and Clinton has got the hoi polloi actually getting psyched about politics. This is generally a good thing, but I am wary of electoral burnout. Americans are not known for their long attention spans and the glut of media coverage of these candidates is likely to stretch beyond it. I don’t know if I have the stomach for the intensive coverage of every step on the electoral trail. From the exploratory committees to the the fundraising trips, in the struggle to fill 24 hours, the news networks have given us story after story about the minutiae of everything. Even the most wired of CNN-junkies will start tuning out and stop checking the blogs if they have to keep this intensity for another 20 months. The people will get bored and then excitement they feel now will wilt slowly away and we’ll end up with another apathetic turnout in November 2008. Mark my words. Throttle down, CNN. Throw the brakes on, Fox News. Surely there is other stuff you could be reporting on.

She’s Better at Kicking People in the Face, He’s Better at Policing Mining Towns

This Friday Night at the Movies, I saw Catch and Relase. Unfortunately. I will tell you from the outset that I do not mind romantic comedies. I enjoy explosions and kung-fu as much as the next guy, but I think a dude can enjoy a romantic comedy while still possessing a manly sensibility. I like examining the structure of the films, to see how the writers move around genre formulas without falling into cliché. Its no easy task to write a believable “Meet-Cute” precisely because the audience knows it is coming and is nearly impossible to surprise. When done right (Love Actually, You’ve Got Mail, Jerry Maguire), the genre can deliver witty films that everyone can enjoy. Catch and Release does it wrong.

The movie wanders aimlessly with almost no sense of narrative conflict or resolution. Okay, fine. Comedies don’t have to be taut thrillers, but Catch and Release has nothing compelling about it to make the viewer care what happens to any of the characters. Plotwise, Jennifer Garner plays a bride whose groom has recently climbed onto that great ski-lift in the sky. His death is so sudden that the wedding is quickly converted to a funeral and the wedding florist has to be turned away. Garner finds herself living with her Poor Dead Fiance’s best friends, and she soon discovers that he was hiding things from her. She also finds herself falling in love with one of his friends.

Sure that sounds compelling enough, and it might have been. But there is no sense of urgency to anything that happens, and the complete lack of dramatic conflict makes tge film seem to just drift along to its ending. The secret the Poor Dead Fiance was keeping involves an affair he was having, and the Other Woman (Juliette Lewis) comes to town to help sort things out. You would think this would lead to some confrontation between her and Garner, and it does. But it only lasts for about two scenes, and then the two are best of friends. Kevin Smith plays one of the roommates, and his “Wacky Fat Guy” act is good for a few laughs, but is not enough to make this movie anywhere near funny enough to qualify as a comedy. At one point he tries to commit suicide in a wildly out of place scene that typifies the movies lack of understanding of the genre. It is too melodramatic to be funny and too stiff and formulaic to be romantic.

The friend that draws Garners romantic attention is played by Timothy Olyphant, who is all kinds of awesome on Deadwood as Sherriff Bullock. He’s a poor choice for the romantic lead here, as his character lacks any of the depth and clenching intensity he is so good at delivering. Garner is passable as the weepy almost-widow and she remains watchable even as the movie begins to drag interminably. But that is not enough. I would much rather watch an old episode of Alias. At least on that show she kicked ass.

Plus, the movie has a kid. But his role is small enough to allow me to see the film without violating any of my rules. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Avoid this movie like the plague. Don’t bother seeing this when you could go see the re-release of The Departed.

MySpace Handshake

Thanks to everyone who’s checking this page out at the recommendation of Robert Wayne Shuping: Welcome. The man is a titan, and a credit to our armed forces. Any fake internet friend of his is a fake internet friend of mine. I don’t know if I can live up to the somewhat dubious honor of being the smartest man to come out of the Brevard school system. To my mind, that distinction is a bit like being the most sophisticated man in the trailer park, but I accept it in the spirit in which it was given. I can’t promise any sort of entertainment value, but welcome nonetheless. I hope you like aimless rambling. Enjoy!

The Cranky Old Man’s TV Nitpicking Corner

I’ll tell you something. Back in my day, commercials made sense. Unlike the moronic horseshit that passes for television advertisements these days. Case in point:

This commercial is not only irritating and contrived, but fails to make any kind of logical sense and every time it comes on I am filled with vile, venomous rage that I must release. Okay. The commercial starts with the two idiots downloading the song “Rock the Casbah” by the Clash and transferring it to their Cingular phone. Then they proceed to hilariously mispronounce the lyrics. Now I will grant you that the song is difficult to understand. The combination of Joe Strummer’s British accent and occasional punk screaming make certain lyrical passages nearly incomprehensible. But the chorus of “Rock the Casbah,” which these knuckleheads mangle into “Stop the Catbox” is also the title of the song. Which means that they must have seen it during the process of ripping/downloading the song or transferring it to their phones. If nothing else, I contend that unless their parents were brother and sister, they should have gotten the chorus right.

Now if only advertisers would check with me before putting something on the air, I think the level of sophomoric crap that choke our airwaves would greatly reduce.

Frickin’ Laser Beams

I saw this on the news this morning: Ray Gun Makes Targets Feel as if They are On Fire.

I’d seen this before a month or so back in WIRED. And read some of the commentary.

You can get the technical skinny and read about some other bright ideas for “less than lethal” weapons here. (Including weapons that create bad odors, and chemical weapons that get the enemy to stand at attention, as it were.)

Basically its a microwave gun that causes a feeling of extreme heat and burning without actually giving the target a permanent tan. It makes you want to run away as fast as you can. There has been some debate about the use of this new heat ray gun. Pro: This laser beam will give military personnel (all branches are interested in it, apparently) the ability to secure a specific area without casualties. The crowd control advantages are readily apparent, especially in an urban area where it can become difficult to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. This civilian thinks that this can only be a good thing. Con: If the situation is that bad, it might be safer for our troops to be able to protect themselves with lethal force. Also, the critics point out that something that can cause intense pain, but leave no actual scarring or permanent damage will be ideal for torture. I can’t really argue with that, but it seems that the tactical advantages of applying it in urban warfare outweigh the danger that the weapon will be misused.

Plus, it’s a LASER BEAM! How cool is it to say that you got to zap somebody in the face with a laser? Until the proposed Kabar light saber comes out its the most awesomely sci-fi thing our troops will ever get to have.

The Time Has Come

The reason why I posted the greatest Survivor song of all time in prose form earlier this week is this. I have recently signed up for a boxing bootcamp, and am rising way earlier than a normal person should to train for an hour-and-a-half before work. My body is adjusting to the shock of exercise. I haven’t really exerted myself since relocating to the West Coast, and a serious workout is long over due. The time has come for me to cast off the oh-so-comfortable lethargy of the last few months and once again become a pugilist. Sedentary no more! Despite my fighting career, I am a horrible striker and know very little about the sweet science. As a grappler, my strategy was usually to get punched in the face repeatedly until I could take down my opponent and ground and pound. It worked, but tended to mar my movie-star good looks for a few days.

This bootcamp is ideal for me, because it assumes a very basic level of boxing knowledge and focuses more on fundamentals and fitness. The workouts are good, but not too intense. I’m no Jack Dempsey, but I’m getting better. If only I could find a way to lengthen my arms and improve my reach, I would be unstoppable. As it is, I’ve been compared to everything from a Tyranasaurus Rex to a bulldog. Fierce and mighty creatures, to be sure, but hampered by a lack of arm length. Imagine the sheer lethal carnage that a T-Rex with long arms could cause. But I digress.

I admit the running is the hardest part for me. Even in the best of shape, I was a horrible runner. Slow and labored. And now when I do I can’t get “Eye of the Tiger” out of my head.

Dun. Dun Dun Dun. Dun Dun Dun. Dun Dun DUN…