Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – a perfect review > and epitath for Hunter S Thompson

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I love this movie, the Johnny Depp one.  The film is perfect.  I think it captures Hunter and that era of his life perfectly.  Johnny Depp goes so deep into Hunter’s persona it’s a wonder he ever made it out.  I can tell you how I think he did it, too.  Not just the craft of acting, he lived with Hunter.  That is no small feat.  Even Bill Murray didn’t actually move in with Hunter.  Hunter and Depp became close friends during this process, and remained life long friends.  The connection was deeper than love of drugs and nonsense and art and great writing and blowing shit up.  They are both from Kentucky.  I own the 2 disc ‘Criterion Collection’ set, which I highly recommend.  It is FULL of hours of featurettes and old Hunter movies.  It’s where we learned about Hunter’s absurd funerary request, which Johnny Depp handsomely and famously paid 5 million dollars to make happen.

You know… the one about shooting his ashes out of a Gonzo fist cannon into space after he commits suicide.  The footage is from when Hunter is in his 30’s, but 30 years later… he up and went and killed himself… almost as promised.

Let’s talk about the movie for a second.  Being a lit grad, and a HUGE fan of Hunter’s writing.  I should tell you the movie does the book no justice.  Wrong.  I mean, you absolutely must read the book… but the movie is fantastic.  I think it’s perfect, and could not have done better.  Heck, even Hunter himself does a cameo.  Probably not as an artistic endorsement so much as to score the per diem, and to keep an eye on the process.  Legend goes, he was kicked off his own set for being a wasted pain in the ass.  Pretty easy to believe, so I shall.

But this isn’t about that.  This is about the movie, and the synopsis I read about it on Rotten Tomatoes.  Of course, the movie was slammed by critics.  Who cares what the critics think of a movie?  Honestly, I NEVER look at that.  I want to know what people thought about it.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has an epic discrepancy between the two, perhaps one of the biggest on all of Rotten Tomatoes.  Critics gave it at 49%, where fans gave it an 89%.  I would argue few people know Hunter’s writing and social impact like me.  Hunter is a BIG part of why I moved to Denver, CO… to be closer to him.  But this isn’t about that.  No sir, this is a quick hit on the review the ‘critics’ left of the movie.

Critics Consensus: Visually creative, but also aimless, repetitive, and devoid of character development.

This is almost too perfect. Those words above are meant to be a slam. There is no character development.  It’s a long movie… and our protagonist never grows?  He never learns?  He never changes his way?  No sir, he does not.  Hunter Thompson defined… nay… deified… that critique.  He never grew up.  He never sold out.  He never played ball.  He continued to live his life like a rich petulant 22 year old who got kicked out of the Air Force in a pretty damn funny story.  Kicked out for what, you ask?  Well… for behaving like a petulant 12 year old who got kicked out of school for savaging a mailbox in a pretty damn funny story.  Like… for behaving like a petulant 27 year old who got fired by Time magazine  for savagely attacking a candy machine (… in a pretty damn funny story).

No.  Hunter never grew up, and certainly never learned from his lessons.  He was, by all accounts, a terrible person.  As an artist and a writer and hipster deity… the man was a genius.  Take that review, and put it no on his movie.  No sir, take that review and put it on his headstone.

RIP Hunter, you twisted bastard!

HST good grave

Friday Fives – about your phone

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What’s the most important thing about your phone

Entertainment for down time.  Games and such. It’s what I use my phone for 90% of the time

What do you wish your phone could do

I miss the actual keyboard.  It’s been about 5 years, but I still hate the virtual keyboard.  When I had a blackberry, I could type on that (while driving, course) without looking down.  it was boss!

I wish my music was better integrated with my media collection.  Its’ probably doable, but too much work.  Think of having your DVD collection on your phone as easy as it is to have your CD collection

What do you think your phone will be able to do in 5 years

The things it does now, but more fully integrated into entertainment and lifestyle.  At Sprint, years ago, we had a campaign calling your phone your ‘third’ screen.  Actually, we had a better vision that we did accomplish.   You used to have go to a phone store for everything.  Our CEO (the wildly likable guy from our commercials, Dan Hesse.  Met him and have chatted with him.  He was the real deal in person, and CRAZY tall.

Anyhow, he made the analogy of banks.  He said ‘remember banks?  You had to go to them for everything.  Now, the buildings are nearly obsolete.  I do everything online.  Can’t remember the last time I walked into a bank. Let’s make the cell phone buying and repairing experience the same’.  We did that.

Also, I can control my home thermostat from my phone.  What would I use that for?  Well, if its particularly cold out when I am headed home, I turn up the heat now.  When I get home, the house is toasty.  It also tells me what the temp is inside the house right now.  This is useful because years ago I was out of town for Xmas.  The heat went out, and had been out for days… in the middle of Winter.  When we got back, almost all my fish were dead.  Another couple days and we would have had frozen pipes and all kinds of badness.  I didn’t have a fancy online thermostat then, but I went out the next day and bought (and installed myself, thank you) a fancy online one now.  Now, if the heat goes out, I literally get an email from my thermostat.

Are you loyal to a phone or brand?  Why?

I am quite pleased with my last few Samsung Galaxies.  Had, and have, some charging issues with my last 3 phones… but they were all replaced quickly and freely.  And, it’s the 5… and they are on the 8 now.  Phone works great, just doesn’t charge for shit.  Its not worth $600 to replace it, though.

But here is something super cool my phone does.  My tv is also Samsung.  I can beam whatever is on my phone right to my TV (and so to my really nice hifi).  Here is a specific way that was really useful.  I wanted HBO, but don’t have cable.  You can get stand alone HBO… but it’s complex.  There are 2 kinds.  Go, and Now.  One of them is for people who have cable, but not HBO.  That one is bundled into my TV’s apps.  The other one, though (I forgot which was which) is for people with NO cable affiliation (us).  That one is not bundled into my TV.  This means I can watch HBO on my phone, but not my tv.  First world problem for sure!

HBO has really great documentaries.  Not so great, though, that I get home from work and want to watch on my stupid tiny phone third screen.  With this simulcast thingy, I play the HBO show on my phone, and then beam it to my TV.  It comes on the TV in full hi-def, and surround sound through my bose hifi.  That was pretty cool.  It was.  Until HBO jacked the price up from $9 a month to $15.95 a month.  Didn’t need it that bad.  We don’t watch Game of Thrones.

Point being… whatever my next phone is… I can’t see it being anything other than a Samsung Galaxy.  Great product.  Plus, since everyone on earth has one, there is excellent access to accessories for it.

Lemme tell you another reason why I LOVE this phone, and haven’t upgraded since.  The ‘sport’ model has a teeny tiny imperceptible ‘bumper’ that goes around the screen.  This means you don’t need a phone case.  I have dropped my hundreds of times… nary once a single crack.  I don’t like the cases because it not only makes it bulky… it makes it tough to keep in pocket.  They make the cases, for good reason, ‘grippy’… so it doesn’t fall out of your hand.  However, it also grips to your pockets when you try and fish it out to answer it.  Of course, I have a little plastic laminate screen protector, too.  Samsung doesn’t make this phone anymore.  In fact, they have gone the other direction and made the edges smooth with the actual screen wrapping around it.  For my lifestyle (a rather droppy, bitey one, if you must know)… that would be the worst possible product.

You have left the house, you are ten minutes away on your way to work.  Just realized phone is home.  Turn around and get it?  What is your cut off point to return for the phone.

Ten minutes?  No.  5 minutes… prolly.  Odds are, I wouldn’t get that far.  When driving, I always listen to either podcasts or books on tape.  Always.  So, I am plugging in my phone the second I get in the car.  Yes, plugging it in.  Why not blu-tooth?  Well, when I do that, it interferes with my blu tooth watch, and headphone ear thingy.

I just love my watch,  Check this out.  Is this my watch?  Or… is this my watch?  Wait… how about this?  I can, and do, change the face every day to match my outfit or mood.  Totally unnecessary… on every level.

Yes, these are douchey first world problems.  After nearly 20 years in the cell phone business, I am pretty hopped up on technology.

If you haven’t had the chance to hop over to this page, let me proselytize real quick.  You need to be doing audiobooks and podcasts on your drive.  You learn, you are entertained… and it’s cheap or free.  FREE?  Yes.  You can borrow books from your library right to your phone.  No need to even step foot into a library.  It’s all borrowed, listened to, and returned… from your phone.  You need this app (which is free) and your library card.  Listening to your music is fine and all, but ever wished you spent MORE time driving?  That is the difference a good podcast or audiobook can make in your life.

I was saying something about my watch, wasn’t I?  Oh yeah, it interferes with the car’s blutooth.

 

 

friday fives – do the jitterbug

On Jeopardy,  they call this category “Pot Pourri:”

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  1. What mistake have you made that the rest of us can learn from?

Getting caught.  Wait… what were we talking about again?  Scratch that answer.  Who is this?  Prank Caller, Prank Caller!!!

  1. What was your high school’s biggest scandal?

Well this is a funny story probably not know to more than about 50 people.  It’s a great, story, though.  I will change the names to protect the guilty.  In high scool, I was in Tech Theater.  We build the theater sets for the play kids.  It was easy, and fun.  Our teacher was this wonderful guy who was super fruity.  Let’s call him ‘Phil’, since that was his name.  Phil accidentally busted his VCR.  Because he wasn’t handy, he asked us tech theater kids to fix it.  Sure, one offered.  Phil said ‘don’t worry about the video tape in there.’

So, my buddy fixed it.  Of course he looked at the tape.  Let’s just say what he found rhymed with ‘gay porn’.  I know what you are thinking… why didn’t he just throw the VCR out?  In 1988, a VCR was a BIG deal.  Not just something you pick up at Best Buy for $50.  Anyhow… story gets back to the school and dude disappears. THAT is not the scandal.  Not to me, anyway.

A couple weeks later, his replacement showed up.  A very cool guy, very Richard Dreyfuss-y guy.  I liked him because he wasn’t so… supergay… like Phil was.  Listen, I have no beef with gay.  In fact, it’s about the only I liked about Phil.  Being gay made him a societal outcast.  Being a longhaired liberal freak… that is a mark of excellence to me.  But… he was SO distractingly gay it was just…creepy.

Fast forward to the day he shows up, the new theater teacher.  Genuinely don’t remember his name, so we’ll call him Richard… for the reason mentioned above… and below.  He is introducing himself to us.  We are all sitting in a close circle in band chairs… like a therapy thing.  Like… ‘we are all equals here, let’s just chat’.   As he is chatting, he is fumbling with his pencil eraser in his mouth.  Funny thing, his pencil eraser is a small rubber dick.  something someone gave to him as a funny prank.  We explained to him the nature of his predecessor’s hasty departure.  He appreciated that, and ditched the eraser.

  1. What’s the worst part about being your gender that the opposite sex might not even think about?

I shall not betray my tribe

  1. What movies NEED to be watched twice to understand fully?

I think Spinal Tap gets better each time.  The first time, you follow the story and are amused by the music.  After a few, you appreciate the ENTIRE movie is made up.  Improvised.  It wasn’t directionless, mind you.  Like Larry David and ‘Curb’, there is a rough outline, but not a single sentence for a character is written.  THEN… you find out they wrote those songs themselves.  THEN you find out they are actually performing those songs themselves.  It is then you know this ‘fake band’ is more legit then just about everyone else on the charts.

  1. What is absolutely never coming back in style again?

That neon shit from the early 80s

.  Was it Miami Vice?  Was it Wham?  Was it Frankie Goes to Hollywood?  I think it was George Michael, whom I forgive.

 

music on tv – that wasn’t live

That wasn’t live.

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** above, Flea from the Chili Peppers took a ton of shit online after it was discovered his bass wasn’t even plugged in to anything during their halftime show.  Flea, as always, was awesome and honest.  He explained they refused to let them play live, so he wasn’t going to fake it by plugging eqp in.

I just want you to know that pretty much no music performance you see on television is live.  Not even Saturday Night Live is often live.  Awards shows?  Not live.  Superbowls and such?  Most definitely not live.  Let’s talk about why.

I should first say, those singing talent shows are live, and those nice people are singing live.  They have to, by law.  This goes back to an old quiz show scandal in the 50s, where they were caught giving the answers to the contestants behind the scenes to make better tv.  BUT… when someone like Jennifer Lopez or Gwen Stefani go up to do their new single… back to pre-recorded every time.  Can’t they sing?  Aren’t they talented, which got them this far?  Yes.  that is why they do it.

Talent is not why music isn’t live on TV.  It is usually for production purposes… so that it sounds perfect.  There are too many variables in a truly live performance that a network doesn’t want to risk.  If you are watching a starlette who dances a LOT as she sings… she most definitely isn’t singing live… and probably never has.  Pink hanging upside down on the those ribbons 3 stories in the air?  Not singing.  For them, it isn’t practical.  Singing takes breath, and complete control of breathe.  And concentration, you can’t do that and ‘jump around onstage like a wounded duck’***

***Kid Rock line

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What about Saturday Night Live?  Yup, that is mostly lip syncing.  Here are some obvious cheats to tell, and some subte signs.  If the person singing is really really pretty, she probably isn’t singing.  If they are dancing, they aren’t singing.  If the music sounds well mixed, it isn’t live.  Remember the big Ashlee Simpson scandal, where she was busted cheating live?  The very next week, Eminem did the same… y’all just didn’t notice.

So what is a way to tell?  Watch the throat.  You might think when you see a performance on TV, they really are singing… but perhaps we are hearing the pre-recorded version from rehearsal.  Not true.  You ARE hearing the pre-recorded version from rehearsal, that is true.  The artist you are watching, though, is just moving their lips… not singing.  The reason is so they can better concentrate on the miming, and dance or whatever.  It’s odd, right?  Why am I listening to something they recorded 3 hours ago?  If they could sing it like that 3 hours ago, why don’t they just do that now?  They could, but the producers want to remove any variables.  Plus, it gives them a couple hours to basically Photoshop the performance and punch it up a bit.

Keep in mind an empty venue sounds wildly different than a full one does.  Plus, with adrenaline and nerves, it likely won’t go as well when the cameras roll on live production.

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Superbowls – aren’t they live?  Well, this is more complex, but the answer is still mostly no.  I want to believe with all my heart that the Prince one was live.  (editors note:  according to this piece, it absolutely was live.  It’s a good read.)  It was breathtaking.  But… how do you get a performance that good, and that musically perfect, in a deadly rain storm?  Still… I want to think that was live.  In that last Super Bowl, Gaga got props for doing a lot of it live.  That is because Gaga is amazing, and the real deal.  Most of her set was not live, though.  In fact, the opening sequence where she was on top of the stadium… that was done the day before.

The parts where she did actually sing, though?  She did it by practicing her entire set while climbing a stairmaster.  That is so bad ass, and shows she has the work ethic to back up the talent.  It takes both to be a superstar!

Another reason why they aren’t even trying to sing when they are on TV is the mic is ‘hot’.  It is on the whole time.  This is so they can extemporize and say ‘Dallas, this is the greatest night of our lives’.

Even the last two times I saw Zac Brown Band on tv (doing morning shows, out in the street)… it was a sync job.  Makes me sad, as they are all incredible musicians.  It isn’t up to the musicians, for the most part.  It is up to the producer of the show.  The musicians are hired help.  They are also employees of the record company, which is the real reason they are there.

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 re Pink: there is no amount of talent or discipline that can allow you to writhe upside down and sing at the same time.  It defies physics and breath

What about the late night tv shows?  I would guesstimate about 70% are not live, real time performances.

Did you know in China it is illegal to lip sync?  They call it ‘miming’ over there, and you can go to jail.  Artists have gotten MUCH better at pretending to sing.  Youtube some old American Bandstand clips.

In closing… ask yourself this.  What about the concert, in person… that I paid $125 for a ticket for.  Is/was/will that be a live performance?  If it is a rock or country band, yes.  If it is pop (or anything with choreography… including rap) probably not.  The tip I give to people is the uglier the performer is, the more likely it is a live performance.

Maynard, from Tool, explained it best.  He has been known to not move for a 2 hour concert… not move from that spot.  He is also an incredible and seriously intense singer.  Someone asked him why he doesn’t move around and engage the crowd… like a front man it supposed to do.  He said “I can either do that, or sing.  I can’t do both, so I choose to sing!”

Friday Fives – movies & music

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Best soundtrack

Blues Brothers.  Not sure if this is even an discussion.  Not only is it song for song a masterpiece… but the songs are all well woven into the film and rarely (if ever) forced.

What film was more soundtrack than film?

Singles.  It was a good movie, no question.  The soundtrack, though, defined a generation.  Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, Jimi Hendrix, Soundgarden?  Come on!  Note… this soundtrack was just re-issued as an expanded set.  I got it in the mail the day they found Chris Cornell dead.  Heavy.

I would imagine same could be said for Travolta and the Bee Gees and the disco era.  That stuff was mostly before my time, though.

Best contribution to a soundtrack

Purple Rain to the movie Purple Rain.  The movie was fine, and the album as well.  That song, though, is the everything.  It is Prince, it is his story, his passion… his movie.  Don’t have 90 minutes for the movie?  Just listen to Purple Rain over and over, while googling ‘apollonia lake Minnetonka scene’ (NSFW… if you do it right!)

What movie soundtrack is the ‘soundtrack of your life’

Singles, hence my drooling appreciation.  It came at peak times – mid college.  Great age, great friends, too much fun, and music coming out of that era was incredible.  In a 3 year period, we got PEAK: beastie boys, smashing pumpkins, pearl jam, chili peppers, REM, and Nirvana.  Early 90s were fucking incredible, musically.  Even the Grateful Dead was in their most fertile live era EVER.  They have since released 3 box sets of stadium shows from that era.  Bonus?  I was at a LOT of them.  Well… maybe not a lot… 10 or so.. but more than you were!

If you could build a soundtrack to a film that isn’t known for one… what would it be (the movie) and what are those tracks?

I thought immediately of ‘Big Fish’.  I haven’t talked about it enough here.  Yes, I rave about Fish Called Wanda, Spinal Tap, and Princess Bride.   I think Big Fish may be better than all of them, and I fear it is too far under the radar.  Turns out it does have a soundtrack released, and it’s terrific.  You get Danny Elfman and Pearl Jam.  Only surprise is Tim Burton didn’t give his wife a song or 12.  Talk about nepotism… I have to admit I was a little happy when they got separated.  It meant she would not be the lead in every single roll in every single movie… if not multiple characters.

Listen, she is a fine actress and wonderful to look at… but it’s just too much to have her star in every movie.  Shit; even when he did the ape movie he cast her as lead ape!  Get a room, you two!

before we go – I just remembered Eddie and the Cruisers.  Man, what a GREAT movie that was.  If you haven’t seen the movie… or maybe even heard of it… go watch it now.  It’s prolly free on Amazon Prime, or like $3.  I’ll leave you with the trailer

 

I did that whole thing without going on an extended rant about Spinal Tap, and how brilliant it is.  Or how those actors wrote and recorded and performed those songs themselves.  Or that the whole movie was improvised, as well.

Friday Fives – Batman did it!

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What’s a casual saying that got so popular because it was said in a movie?

You know we need, Wondermutt?  Besides bread… a woman who appreciates us!

Now… that may not yet be an iconic line, but it just means you haven’t seen the best bad movie ever – Summer School.

What movie should never have been made?

Many would say Summer School.  I am going to go with the third Matrix.  However, I have never seen it.  Saw the first one, and I think it is one of the greatest and most important sci fi action films ever made.  THEN… I saw the second one.  I don’t even think I finished it.  It was so convoluted.  When these force these trilogies, it doesn’t seem to work.  Look at the Star Wars prequels!  I mean, aside from that cool ass scene where dude turns into Vader in the lava… did you really need the last 2 movies?  Phantom Menace was awesome… but the other two sucked.  Same with Bill & Ted sequel.  Many say the same about the Godfather films, but I thought all three were great.

So… lets’ answer that question by saying the third movie in just about every trilogy.

Perhaps my favorite movie of all time is ‘a Fish Called Wanda’.  This film is a landmark and a masterpiece… and I can prove it.  Kevin Kline won a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of Otto.  Comedy films don’t get Oscars.   EVER.  In fact,l I think in the history of Oscars, only 2 men have won best supporting actor for a comedy role.  Kevin Kline, and Alan Arkin from ‘Little Miss Sunshine’.  My point being… they kinda made a sequel to that movie.  Not in story or character, sadly… just the cast.  The ‘sequel’ was called ‘fierce creatures’, or something like that.

What book/play should be made into a movie?

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto.  I am reading this right now.  Well, listening to it.  So, of course I am casting the film in my mind.  For the adult version of Frankie, I had Chris Cornell in mind.  True story, and then Cornell died like a week after I started the book.  So, that is gone to shit.  Thanks a lot, Cornell!  This book just came out in the fall, though, so it’s very possible it will get optioned.  It’s a hell of a story, and this writer is a big deal.  He wrote Tuesday’s with Maury.. the most boring title ever!

What movie utilized a song to its fullest potential?

Ooh, that is fun.  We talk a lot about movies, and even more about music.  We need to do that.  I think I have to go with Aretha Franklin breaking in to ‘r-e-s-p-e-c-t’ as a waitress in the Blues Brother’s movie.  I don’t much like musicals… I think it’s a guy thing.  I hate with they force a transition in to song.  However, in the Blues Brothers… all the music was organic

If you were a Gotham villain, how would you piss off Batman?

do genuine good for poor people.  And, of course, employ a publicist.  Look at Hugo Chavez.  That guy was likely an evil genius, and truly was in a comic book cast… against GW Bush.  Bush was busy bungling 2 world wars… all while telling everyone how evil Chavez was (he was the president of Venezuela).  So, Chavez rolls into Manhattan with a tanker truck full of heating oil that his henchmen just gave away to poor people.  True story.  Meanwhile, at that moment, Chavez had to follow BUSH as a speaker at the UN.  He said he could still smell the sulfur from the Diablo standing there before him.  It was pretty great.

Does that not sound like the first 10 minutes of every batman film?  Then… we find out the heating oil was mind control juice… a la Elsinore beer in Strange Brew.  So… that is how I would piss off Batman. I would undermine him with years and years of good deeds.  In the meantime, I am destroying the system from within by virtue of corruption… but externally, I am mister nice guy building parks and stuff.

Scratch that- better idea.   WAY WAY WAY better idea.  Strongly imply it was he who killed his parents.  Turn this whole victim/vigilante story on its head.

This is straight out of the books of Karl Rove, and is a variation on the classic GOP fraud of ‘push polling’.  I go out and I have a press conference.  Unlike every other press conference/event, this one will NOT end in my henchmen destroying the town.  This will be good old fashioned boring politics.  This speech below assumes people do not know he is batman, or that I am Moleculo.  Here is the speech I give:

For too long, there have been whispers and rumors in this town we need to put to rest once and for all.  Like all of you, I have heard too often that it was Bruce Wayne who killed his family.  Like many of you, I have seen evidence that looks incredibly damning.  It is true Bruce and I don’t get along professionally.  That doesn’t mean he killed his family.  Whatever happened long ago in that alley isn’t our business.  The past is the past.  We can not move forward by dwelling on the past.  Even if he did murder his family that night in cold blood as a child, the good work he has done for our community far outweighs it all.  I am also not going to bring up the stories of his father being a bagman for the mafia.  It is absurd.  Until someone can come forward with absolute proof, it is time we embrace Bruce Wayne and stop our silly gossiping.