Sunday, November 23, 2008


Ugh. Not only have I been tagged, which sucks enough, but it's one of those dreaded "open-ended" memes. Nightshift66 tagged me with the hellish "Five Things About Yourself" meme.

Apart from the obvious fact that there are no more than 1.6 interesting things about me there's also the other (semi-) obvious fact that this requires thinking. And I don't wanna have to think.

Anyhow, I did one of these a few months ago, and the response was underwhelming, to say the least. So you've been forewarned: not only will these 5 things be uninteresting, but I'm half-assing the whole process. And no, there will be no further tagging. I'm doing my part to kill the meme where it stands.

1. I was terrible at grammar in high school. By this I mean "grammar,"as a discrete topic for study in high school English classes. You know, "literature" or "essay writing" or "vocabulary." Or "grammar." Whatever your teachers had, I'm sure there was some sort of variation on the theme: Fix a fucked-up paragraph. Or identify the errors in a paragraph and explain what the mistakes were.

Anyhow, although my essay writing was as good (or bad) grammatically as you'd expect from a 14 year-old, I literally couldn't pass these quizzes. I'd get A- or whatever on essays, and 95 or 100 on vocabulary quizzes, but 36 or 54 or 49 on grammar quizzes. After a while I just gave up trying to figure out what was missing in my brain, and failed these quizzes without worrying. My teachers didn't seem too concerned either since it wasn't affecting my actual writing.

2. In the fall and winter of 1991 I worked for an organization called "Dump D'Amato in '92." Our mission was, as you'd expect from the title, to do our part to ensure Al D'Amato's defeat in the 1992 Senate election. At first our leader (who shall go unnamed to protect his rep) actually planned to run against Pothole Al in the GOP primary, to force him to spend money, answer charges of corruption, etc.

But our guy decided against it late in the game and many of us -- including your humble blogger -- decided we didn't wanna work for an over-glorified smear campaign and moved on. And of course D'Amato defeated Abrams in the 1992 general election.

3. In 1996 I worked on an execrable film called Puppet. My name is (unmercifully) not among the shortened list of crew members on IMDB, don't try looking for me. Anyhow, the film gets 2 stars out of 10, and I think that's about 1 1/2 too many.

I worked with the director from pre-production right through the whole thing. I like to say that my greatest contribution was working with him from the start to help bring the screenplay up from "utterly awful" to "really bad." Check out the cast though. Amazing how many decent actors manage to find their way into nonsense like this.

4. In 1995, when I first visited Amsterdam, I saw a live sex show. Which is just what the name suggests: people have sex on stage, right in front of the audience.

Anyhow, it definitely fell more under the "curiousity" categorization rather than "turn-on." One of the oddest things was that the "theater" was actually pretty well-maintained. The show was presented much in the way you'd expect a dinner theater production: glossy, slick, professional. And the crowd was primarily composed of middle-aged European couples and groups of Asian businessmen.

I guess one of those is surprising.

5. I think Gladiator is a terrible movie. Terrible, terrible, terrible. The plot is filled with enormous holes, the characters do stupid things that make no sense based on their ostensible motivations, and the acting isn't good.

I won't say it's the "worst movie I've seen." Not when I've seen Puppet. But in comparison to its reputation, its stature, its reception when it came out, Gladiator must be the most-overrated movie in history. What a suckfest.

So there you have it folks. Five utterly unremarkable facts about me. None of which really tell you anything about me you didn't already know.

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Blogger nightshift66 said...

What did you do in the movie? Had a role or one of the stage hands? I did both in junior college: had a starring role in one play and was a stagehand in another. It was fun.

I've always been excellent at grammar. English and literature were the one area of study in college in which I was 4.0, even though history was my major.

2:05 PM  
Blogger nightshift66 said...

I never got to go to northern Europe; my ship always went to the Mediterranean. I would SO dig a trip to the Netherlands.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

On Puppet I was basically the directors's assistant through pre-production. Little bit of everything: working on the screenplay, business-end stuff, hiring and staffing, location scouting.

Once on set, I was part of the production team. Production assistant-type work for the most part.

It sucked. Miserable job.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Toast said...

Fact #5 is actually pretty fascinating, because Gladiator was a superbly-acted, superbly-crafted, highly-rewatchable movie. The fact that you think it's so horrible as to be repeatedly slagged is amazing to me. I would imagine, based on that opinion, that our tastes in movies do not overlap much.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I know I'm in the minority on that one. I'm also in the minority as to Braveheart.

I despise that one too. But whereas Gladiator is just a bad movie masquerading as a good one, Braveheart is actually well made. But I hate the whole "ethos" behind it. The false patriotism, the glorification of idiot violence, the sanctimoniousness.

And fuck Mel Gibson.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phew! I just read #1 aloud to my son who is struggling with grammar. Everything else is fine, but grammar is killing his grades.

So there's hope yet. That's good to know.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

So there's hope yet.

Uhhhh, or he could turn out to be a wacko like me.

Here's hoping he overcomes that grammar thing for all sorts of reasons.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

I found three of the facts interesting. You're obviously not as boring as you think.

I'm surprised that your inability to spot grammatical errors doesn't have an effect on your ability to write well and correctly.

It's cool that you worked on a movie. Even if the movie sucked, it's an experience many would like to have.

And the sex show thing was relatively interesting only because I've been to one also. Your explanation of it being out of curiosity and not a turn-on at all is also spot-on.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I'm surprised that your inability to spot grammatical errors doesn't have an effect on your ability to write well and correctly.

I can spot them (and fix them too!) now. This was really just a problem in high school, in the rigidly academic context. I was also very good in algebra & algebra II but struggled mightily with word problems.

I was a weird kid.

It's cool that you worked on a movie. Even if the movie sucked, it's an experience many would like to have.

I worked on two movies. Both experiences sucked. But I'm very glad I did it. It allowed me to move past that "hmmm, should I forge a career in film" bug that haunted me for a while after I graduated college.

7:59 PM  
Blogger nightshift66 said...

I enjoyed Gladiator, but it was in spite of its historical inaccuracies and plot holes. I'm no film critic. I like whatever entertains me, and it did.

I liked Braveheart and American Braveheart... er, I mean The Patriot. As for the "ethos," well... I am not of your opinion on such things, I'm pretty sure.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I should probably mention the final element of the "Overrated Trinity": Dances With Wolves.

I expect most people realize what a piece of shit that flick is. But like the other two, it won the Oscar and gained inordinate praise when it came out.

Unfortunately, it sucked.

6:32 AM  
Blogger George said...

Mike, I was thinking you were going to say you worked in a live sex show. Called Puppet. With Rebecca Gayheart.

I'm totally with you on Dances with Wolves--Pauline Kael's demolition of that film is one of my single favorite movie reviews. I could never bring myself to see Gladiator--look I've seen Spartacus even that, at best, is enjoyably bloated hokum--or Braveheart.

And bless your soul for not tagging anyone.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

a live sex show. Called Puppet. With Rebecca Gayheart.

I should only have been so lucky. Man, she was a beauty. Just as fine in person as on the screen. Pretty nice too.

7:05 AM  

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