Category Archives: Comedy

WML2020: Clerks

Confession: I am a recovered Kevin Smith stan. Not just his movies. The man himself.

For most of my adult life, I lit up whenever the conversation turned to him or his work. I’ve attended several of his live speaking engagements, including a rapturous experience in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con. I own the action figure depicted in this photo. Tellingly, it is not a Silent Bob action figure. It is a Kevin Smith as Himself action figure. *

Color photo. Foreground: in color a Kevin Smith Action Figure (wearing a Pillow Pants 4 Life shirt). Background is blurry, black-and-white cover of the Clerks DVD case.

It all started to go downhill around the time he published his autobiography, which I definitely purchased even though I’m a librarian and never have to buy books ever. I… didn’t like it? This coincided with Smith growing increasingly dissatisfied with movie-making and redefining himself as primarily a podcaster (or a professional raconteur). And then he started only making deliberately trashy horror films as offshoots of his podcast (like Tusk and Yoga Hosers). I guess I was happy for him, but I couldn’t participate. I didn’t listen to podcasts back then, ** and I had zero interest in the terrible movies he was making on purpose. ***

And then without warning, one day I just realized I was over him. I have not seen Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. If I should seek it out, then let me know in the comments.

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Juxtaposition

A quick pause to note that I viewed the next two Watch My Library flicks back-to-back, and the strictly alphabetical pairing led me into an accidental indie flick marathon.

Clerks and Coffee & Cigarettes.

I will write individual entries for both, but I want to briefly discuss them as a unit. The pairing fascinated me because I believe that as Kevin Smith made his first feature he clearly wanted to emulate art house writer/director auteurs like Jim Jarmusch. See the Clerks alternate ending. Although Smith is probably more heavily influenced by Richard Linklater, I noticed that he does in fact thank Jarmusch on the Clerks credits.

There’s so much stylistically similar between the two films, and yet they feel immensely different to me. Perhaps it’s the contrast between someone who makes a creative decision to film in black and white as opposed to someone forced by practical constraints to do so.

Or maybe it’s just that I love one and loathe the other.

More on that later.

WML2020: Bridget Jones’s Diary

Watch My Library is a project conceived during and for an entirely different sort of crisis.

When I only had to worry about keeping myself from going stir crazy during pandemic-induced isolation, watching some old DVDs and writing about them seemed like as good an idea as any. But as I watch my country contend with strife once again laying bare our culture’s deep racial animus while also scooching us ever closer to fascism…

Well, it did occur to me that perhaps there are better ways to spend my time than reflecting on the romantic tribulations of well-off, British white people. Another break seemed in order. Or maybe just scrap the whole deal? I don’t know.

Right now it feels like this is a pivotal moment when there’s at least a chance to make some measurable progress, and I’ve struggled with the idea that if I (and, by extension, any other well-meaning white Americans) get distracted from anti-racism learning/work for even a second, then I’ll just slide back into bullshit passive progressivism. After being asleep at the wheel for my entire life on social injustice, I should now devote my whole attention to it. Like, I should get up in the morning and eat my breakfast in a way fights oppression, right?

So I’ve been quiet because I absolutely do not have anything cogent to add to the current national conversation. And I’ve been doing my “homework,” and when I’m not doing that, I’m either working my paid job or feeling upset with my whole body.

Realistically, I can’t focus on only upsetting things until racism is solved. That isn’t some ridiculous epiphany I just had. I already knew that, just as I know no one is asking me to do that. It’s just an acknowledgement (without letting me off the hook for actually making myself as useful as possible) that if I really mean it, then I have to figure out how to walk and chew gum at the same time. Marathon and not a sprint, and all that. It’s just giving myself permission to watch Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Photo of Bridget Jones' Diary DVD case in front of an array of colorful journals.
Bridget poses with all my old diaries.

The red one on the far right is a Japanese day planner I purchased online back when my state first issued a stay-at-home order because I thought I would use the time to do some creative journaling. You know it’s fancy because it has superlative, extra-thin paper that can stand up to watercolor and because it’s printed in a language I can’t read. To date, all I’ve used it for is tracking where I go on days I leave the house just in case someone needs to contact trace me.

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B is for Breathe

I had been quickly knocking out movies for Watch My Library, but then I guess I needed to stop and take a breath. Apparently I also needed to play a bunch of Super Mario Odyssey. I’ll start making progress again this week.

You know what else B stands for? Bitch. Reviewing my recent Back to the Future entry, I feel like it’s unnecessarily negative. Part of that is struggling to come up with something at least quasi-original to write, but I also think I’m just a bit too jaded.

YouTube recently recommended the following videos to me, in which someone who claims* to have never seen the BTTF trilogy reacts to watching them for the first time. And it’s just delightful to see the films with new eyes.

Part I
Part II
Part III

So, for the record, my ultimate opinion is that BTTF (all BTTF) is awesome, and any complaints I have are nitpicks borne of endless re-watching. But I will never forget that the only reason why I’ve seen all of them a million times is because they are just simply the best.

 

 

 

 

* I choose to believe him. He strikes me as young enough that it’s plausible.

WML2020: Back to the Future Trilogy

We come to the first boxed set of Watch My Library, which is a part of the excuse for this last big lag in activity. I may not have been posting much, but I assure you I’ve been slamming through B titles as quickly as possible.

I’m very nervous about this one because what can I possibly write that hasn’t already been covered by a zillion other bloggers? If you’ve heard the one about a white dude stealing Chuck Berry’s legacy once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. So many think-pieces written just a few years ago when we hit October 21. 2015, and now the whole of the franchise exists in the past, but it seems ever-present in the pop culture conversation nonetheless.

Oh, well. Just gotta bang it out.

Back to the Future The Complete Trilogy DVD case in front of book cover for Back to Our Future by David Sirota

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WML2020: 50 First Dates

So I fully intended to start Watch My Library the very next night after I posted the idea. But then I got a little distracted with what amounts to a three-day, paralyzing anxiety attack. The less said about that, the better. I’d like to say it won’t happen again, but I’d rather not lie. You know. Pandemic. Anyway, here we go. Finally.

Photo of the 50 First Dates dvd cover

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Halloween Postscript

Because I apparently bring this blog out of mothballs exclusively for Halloween fare these days*, I figured I might as well follow up on last year’s epic Simpsons Treehouse of Horror odyssey. If a bit late.

Treehouse of Horror XXVIII (2017)

Opener: There are no credits or couch gag in order to make room for “The Sweets Hereafter,” a marginally clever CGI short that’s practically a separate act of its own. The Simpsons family is depicted as sentient Halloween candy (except for Lisa as a nutritious apple) hoping to survive the night in the trick or treaters’ bowl. Bart as a Butterfinger is a neat in-joke (and also leads into a sick burn on the divisive chocolatey treat), but my favorite is Maggie as a ring pop.

Episode image with the Simpsons as candy

Stories: 1) The Exor-Sis (Maggie gets possessed); 2) Coralisa (Coraline parody using CGI that attempts to kinda-sorta look like stop-motion animation); and 3) MMM… Homer (in which the Simpsons patriarch accidentally discovers his own flesh is the most delicious meat of all).

Favorite quote:
Ned: “I’m afraid that little devil needs an exorcism!”
Rev. Lovejoy: “I’m afraid they didn’t teach me those at Pepperdine.”

Notes: Overall this is a ho-hum episode (the middle segment seems like a particularly wasted opportunity), but it does score some points for extra-cool stunt casting with the guest voices. I like that they invited Neil Gaiman himself to voice Snowball while skewering his work. But, in my opinion, the best call-out is when Ben Daniels (aka Father Marcus on Fox’s The Exorcist show) shows up to yell “Demon get out!” precisely three times at Possessed Maggie.

I think the gag mostly worked for me because I only just recently started watching season one of the re-envisioned horror franchise, and I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. After suffering through a handful of episodes of both Minority Report (2015) and Lucifer, I felt tolerably convinced that Fox would just convert Exorcist into yet another generic police procedural. But happily it’s a little more interesting than that.

 

* Seriously, it’s been almost two years since my last non-Halloween post. I probably give the impression that Halloween is my favorite holiday, but it isn’t. I do like it a whole lot, but as a rather boring adult, I can never think of any cool ways to celebrate anymore. This year I didn’t even dress up to get a $3 boo-rito from Chipotle, which is how I phoned it in for 2016.

Treehouse of Horror Roundup 26-27

Like most other Americans, I spent the last couple of days consumed with a different sort of nightmarish joke. But life and the days of November march on, and now that it’s ten days past Halloween, we need to wrap this up.

It felt good to laugh and get one last sweet taste of Halloween for the year. I even ate some candy — gummy bears — to mark the occasion. And The Simpsons managed to let me end on happy note by providing two mostly solid episodes. I’m glad I took this ride with you all.

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