Thursday, June 23, 2011

Movie Bitch: Megamind

I. love. this. movie.

I just wanted to get that out of the way. It is not awesome like Fight Club, or Oh-Fuck-This-Is-My-Head-getoutgetoutgetout like Black Swan. It is the sweet, gooey center of loveyness that I must watch at least one more time for my life to be complete. And it will never be complete because I can always watch it again. :D

And it's weird, because I should hate it. Will Ferrel is not quite movie Kryptonite like Tom Cruise is for me, but I have NEVER (up till now) seen a movie with him in a starring role that I actually like. I don't like him. I don't like his face, his mannerisms or his acting style, mostly because it's based almost entirely on Embarisment Squick and Stupid. And yet here? I want to take Megamind home and snuggle him for a while. Everything in it is perfect. The voice acting, the character design (why is the fish wearing a gorilla suit?) the plot, the character arcs, and the little details that make everything in it come alive. It's like taking the back off a clock and finding all the little gears that fit together. I just want to watch them tick.

(Seriously. Why is the fish in the gorilla suit?)

We open with a CGI sunset, and Megamind is falling to his death. I am not hot on this opening because, personally? I don't think it's that necessary. Basically Metro-Man=Superman, Megamind=Alien!Lex Luthor. Metro-Man got the privledged upbringing of being handsome and rich, Megamind landed in prison from day one and nobody ever really gave him a chance. He became "evil" because he wasn't any good at being good, and he's going to spend the rest of his life in time out in the corner, he might as well get credit for it. He also has a minion named Minion. Who is a fish. And he spends the majority of the movie wearing a robotic gorilla suit.

I cannot figure this out.

So we open with Megamind escaping from jail so he can crash Metro-man's celebratory museam opening by kidnapping his reporter friend Lois Lane Roxanne Richie, voiced by Tina Faye. She gives the most sickeningly sweet intro I have ever heard, and her cameraman Hal makes fun of it until he realizes that Roxanne wrote it herself. Then he starts buttering her up and flirting with her.

Hal is probably the best written character in the entire movie, but I'll get on to him later.

Then Roxanne gets kidnapped by Minion (Fish. In. Gorilla. Suit.) and held captive by Megamind. And the banter between them is that trade-marked, "We're going to be screwing by the end of this movie" stuff. And yet it does not annoy me, because it works perfectly with these characters. Megamind is a kid having fun because he's bored, Roxanne knows she's not in any danger at all, and Metro man kind of acts...bored with the whole thing.

Also, Megamind mispronounces a lot of words. Metro City becomes MeTROSity. Revenge=ReVANGE. Spider=Spiey-der (I cannot spell the mispronounciation phonetically, just take my word for it). It is the most brilliant character touch I've ever seen (or heard) and it was all Will Ferral. Because, guys? I do that. All. The. Time. I read words and never have to say them, so they become their own sweet little critters in my head and when they come out it's all weird. It's one of those subconsious things, like Lonnigan's Limp, that tells you more about the character in two seconds than you'd learn in six hours. It means Megamind reads a lot, and is smart, but he doesn't talk a lot, which implies that he doesn't get out and socialize a lot. There is a scene later on in the movie where Roxanne says "You don't get out much, do you," and because you already know this, you're like "NO DUH!!!"

It's great.

So instead of getting rescued, Roxanne watches Megamind blow up Metro Man. And Megamind just kind of stands there, looking at the skeletal body that flew through the window attached to Metro Man's cape, and you can totally see it going through his eyes: Oh shit. Now what do I do?

After a montage showing him try and fail to occupy himself--'case the whole point of being the bad guy was him getting his butt kicked, for him as well as everybody else--he decides to re-create Metro Man, and in the process disguises himself as a regular guy and falls in love with Roxanne. One result of this? he winds up picking Hal as the new hero, Titan.

And this is why I heart Hal.

This movie has already ditched its hero figure, so the struggle is not the archetypical Good Vs. Evil. In fact, I think the movie is saying that the archetypical Evil is not really evil. It's basically Yang-Interpreted-As-Evil-Because-We've-Got-Nowhere-Else-To-Put-It vs. HEY STUPID THIS IS WHAT EVIL REALLY LOOKS LIKE.

Hal is a nerd and he likes Roxanne. And I don't mean likes as in "Crush" I mean likes as in "Edward Cullen". He's one more news broadcast away from creeping into Roxie's bedroom and watching her sleep. He is creepy. You get the sense something is "off" about him for his first scene. His second scene, you realize that if he were real, you'd never want to see him again. I remember thinking, "what are they doing with this guy?" because I couldn't figure out why he was there.

Then Megamind gave him powers and I got it. Because this dude? Not a hero. The only reason he was not a bad guy pre-power is, it's too much work. And it's hilarious watching the powered-up Hal hit on Roxanne, because it's basically what non-powered up Hal did. Evil is small minded, self-centered and apathetic, and it only acts in its own best interest, which oddly enough (for the purposes of this movie, anyway) means not fighting. There is a hilarious scene where Titan-Hal tells Megamind "Hey, we should team up", and he gets all offended, "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE THE GOOD GUY", and then has to actually provoke Hal into the fight, which totally backfires because now Hal wants to kill Megamind and destroy the city, because hey, now he can and it isn't much work with all these cool powers and all.

Also, when Titan-Hal burns his name into the city, he spells it Tighten.

So Megamind and Roxanne go off to find Metro Man's hidden fortress, which turns out to be their old school house, because they need to find out Titan's weakness, and the copper that defeated Metro Man ain't workin' here, man. Well, they don't find Metro Man's weakness. Instead, they find Metro Man. He faked his death. Sorry. The whole, super-hero thing got boring.

Roxanne gets it. Megamind, you can kinda see the gears in his head go "sproing".

And yes, Megamind becomes the good guy, gets the girl, Hal goes to jail and goes back to being powerless and creepy, and the movie ends in a burst of pretty color that lasts however long it takes for me to find the remote and start the movie all over again.

The writing is so awesome, so very, very, very awesome, that I think anybody who wants to write hero/villian stuff ought to take a look at it. Also: PROACTIVE PROTAGONIST. Even if 99.99999% of the time, it backfires on him, Megamind is the first person to move in the story. He's also reactive (this is one of the defining traits of an archetypical hero protagonist. They are by definition reactive) but he's reacting to his own dumb choices. It's a "I fucked up. I fix it" kind of story. Also-also, villian who is co-dependant on the hero. OMG I just realized this myself, and I am suddenly very very happy and IDK quite why.

I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone with a pulse.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I have decided that my boss's new mission in life is to get me drunk.

She's really an interesting person and I'm glad that I know her. I almost wish I wasn't working for her so I could be out of the "employee" category and in the "friend" category because friends get free food and employees get lectures on why Asking Customers Questions Is Bad. She spent most of last night trying to take care of a very obviously sick dove we found on the doughnut shack's outdoor tables. The poor thing was puffed up to half its size and it showed no interest in the large pile of cracker crumbs she gave it, and it was perfectly willing to get on her hand and let her put it in the live trap she not-incidentally covered with a silk sari. It probably is not alive now, which makes me very sad because it was a cute dove.

Most of the time she is in dictator mode, in which the correct response is nod and get out of her way. Every once in a while, though, she reveals that way down inside she has a core of fluffy marshmallow, and this, in my case, manifests in her ongoing campaign to get me drunk.

Admittedly, she has an ulterior motive. People ask me about "good red wine". IMHO a good red wine has sugar in it, and has been cut by sprite and peach nectar (AKA Sangria). I wish that merlot tasted as good as it smells, but I can't quite get past the fuck this is grape juice that's gone really bad factor.

White wine is worse, because there are a few kinds that I actually like. We have an incredibly good Riesling that our local grocery store carried for about three minutes, long enough for me to decide this is My Brand. Mom smokes Pal Malls, my brother is a Guiness guy, I like R10 Brahmen with a little bit of rose water syrup. And now the only place I can get it locally is at work. Anyway, every time I try a white wine that I don't like, my brain automatically fills in the flavor I really want, and I stare at the lovely blue bottle and yearn tragically for its sweet, sweet flavor. (which really is sweet)

Yesterday we had a wine rep show up, and after the "This is what my boss wants me to sell" conversation (a Zinfindel that no one will drink because it is summer and the heat index is already in the triple digits) they got down to business. It was a really, really slow Monday, which meant that all the make-work stuff we usually do, we couldn't because we were out of food. I had already dusted all the glasses, stamped all the menus, and my standard make-work, organize the beer shelves, I had already done on Thursday. So I am standing there with absolutely. nothing. to do. The boss brings out a bottle of "green" wine, which is identical to white in appearance, but not so much in taste. She thumps two glasses down in front of the wine rep, fills both with a nice swallow of wine, and hands it over to me.

"Try it!" she says.

I try it. I think I inhale wrong trying to explore the flavor and start choking. I get a long drink of water, wait for the burn to die down, and try another sip. I don't choke, but the burn is definitely a feature of this particular vintage and I have no idea how to sell it, except to say "dry" and "not sweet."

A few weeks ago she went to Hawaii for a family emergancy. She came back with a case of champagne, where the grapes "had been pollinated by bees carrying orange flower pollen", and she filled two glasses (filled!) and set one down in front of me. "Try it!"

And hey, it was really decent. A little on the too-sweet side, but very bubbly and something that could easily be improved by a little rose syrup. This is when I realize that I am developing a taste for wine, something that I promised myself I would avoid because I couldn't imagine ever drinking this much rancid grape juice.

Another thing she brought out yesterday was the rose wine. No one tried it (thank god. I probably would have gotten plastered) but the bottle she chose to show off was the same rich, ripe pink color as a Lisa Frank folder, and she handled it as if the fake-gold label were real gold leaf. It is a bottle I have been eyeing for several weeks because it looks really good. Now I know it is not only incredibly good, but probably something that could pay for a lot of dental work if you sold it.
Also, her employees who are drink-legal can have one alcoholic beverage a night, for free, without having to ask. And if you don't take her up on it, she will begin making suggestions.

I have decided that wine, to her, is like a book to me. I read very quickly, so a book suggestion for me is a two or three hour occupation. Other people? That's their free time for the next week, bound up in nice black ink. She knows wine. I know wine is something you keep in a glass as a prop so other people will think you're really an adult, but that you don't have to drink if you don't want to. A woman yesterday ordered a "Santa Margarita". I had no idea what this was. The boss knew not only that it was an expensive Pinot Grigio, but that it was an unwarrentedly expensive Pinot Grigio, and that it had become the Tommy Hilfiger (her words) of the We-Have-Too-Much-Fucking-Money set, and, because the customer ordered "Santa Margarita" and not Pinot Grigio, she didn't know anything at all about wine but wanted to pretend that she did. Go get the customer a glass of our house Pinot, charge her half price for the first glass, and see if she didn't like it better.

She did.

(Also, this particular customer announced she wanted to order her appetizers by saying "We're getting Appies!" Guys and girls, if you go into an upscale-pretending-to-be-casual restaurant and order "Appies", the only reason the waitress didn't puke in your lap was because she really wants your tip.) (Seriously. Who says that?)

At this point my boss and I are at an impasse. After the Great Mother's Day Champagne Tasting, I refuse to have more than one glass of anything while on the premises. She continues to make suggestions about wine I ought to try, which I continue to dodge on the excuse that I am working and she is not paying me to drink. However, there are hints that she may abandon alcohol as a point of attack and move on to food.

This is horrifyingly scary.

Last night she made something involving smoked eggplant and flatbread and let me try, and I spent the rest of the night ducking back for another piece. The backup cook already knows that I will take all the overcooked shrimp they make. I have yet to dream of our incredible curry, but that was only because I only got to have it once.

My job is humiliatingly difficult, and yet I am surrounded by food so good, it's practically pornographic. And if my boss decides to fatten me up, I am totally fucked. And fat.

God help us all.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Movie Bitch: Vanilla Sky

So last week (or it will be last week by the time I get this posted) (I hate my job) (I love my job, but I hate my job) I referenced Vanilla Sky, a god-awful boring crap-fest of a movie that tried really hard to be arty and interesting and instead was insulting to anyone with two brain cells to crack together. And I thought, "Well, why not recap it for the blog?"

Then I thought, "I'd have to watch it again."

Then I realized that I saw it so many times when it was on HBO, back when I had HBO, that I can remember it well enough for my purposes. Which are ranting and funny commentary, and not exactly "being accurate".

Here we go.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day.

So it is now summer, and I have discovered a spectacular thing.

Other than the heat. Of course.

My job? Has just gone from six hours to something more like sixteen. And I don't get to complain, because it's "summer".

I am trying not to turn this into a reason to complain until my ears bleed. Because this is boring.

Memorial day weekend was an ungodly stretch of exhaustion and rude people who expect our Shack to carry Cafe Americano and triple shot expresso lattes. Which we do serve, under a different name (Cafe au lait. You pronounce it "Oh Lay". It means the exact same thing as "latte")

I think my favorite are the people who show up and, without glancing at the menu, order a venti triple shot no-fat latte with a vanilla syrup shot for good measure. And then stare at me in puzzlement as I try to explain that we don't do Expresso shots, we don't do no-fat milk (It. won't. foam. Excess periods indicate extensive attempts to get no-fat milk to foam. It won't) and we don't have vanilla syrup. It is as if they are thinking "What the hell do you serve, then? Just coffee?" only they don't want to say it out loud because then they would be rude assholes.

Too late.

Look, I understand that we need you to buy our food so that we can get paid. But needing to be paid does not mean we need to do every single fucking thing you ask us to.

When you order the fancy french doughnuts, the coffee and the fancy fried sandwich, it takes time to make all three. It would take time to make them if you went to Macdonalds, and unlike fast food we do it cooked-to-order. We cannot just take your money and then hand over food that isn't cooked yet. You can't wait? You can't eat. Yelling will not make food magically appear. Go away.

We will open and pour your wine for you because this looks classy. We will not give you samples of said wine before you commit because it is a fifty dollar bottle of wine.

Also, we cannot serve said wine before 10am on Sundays. This is not a will not. This is a cannot. It's called "Texas Blue Laws", sunshine. Asking will not help you. Threats to go somewhere else won't help you, because no one else can serve it either.

We will make you coffee and fancy french doughnuts at seven am. We will not become Starbucks. We had a Starbucks. You did not go get coffee often enough, so they left. We are not going to replace a coffee shop you could not keep afloat. Not if you ask nicely, and certainly not if you start whinging about how much you want that Venti mocha cafe americano.

PS: Americano means expresso diluted with water. You just ordered something with extra water. Buy a fucking cup of coffee.

And it's large. L-A-R-G-E. You can say it. Starbucks has not permanently damaged your vocabulary.

Don't ask for a frappuchino. Especially not in front of the boss. She will offer you a Viet Coffee (which you should take) and will just shrug and go to the next person when you refuse and start whining.

And no. We're not bringing your food to the table for you. We can't run the shack AND maintain full service AND still keep our prices low enough for you to eat here. You can spend five minutes outside and come up to the window to get your food just like everyone else. Yes. I know we used to have a full service brunch. I know we were the only people in town who ran a full service brunch. We hated the full-service brunch. We will start doing the FSB again when Babe the pig gets his pilot's license. Yes. I know you won't come here anymore if we don't.

This is not a threat to us. It is Memorial Day. Sunday broke all our records and you are one more person standing between us, food and bed. We have made our money. We just want to go home. Stop being an ass, order what we offer, get it when its cooked all the way.

As for the rest of you lovely people who came up to the window and ordered food exactly as presented, who did not go all "Well...just leave off the (thing that is insanely hard to leave off). I don't want to be too much of a bother" but who actively wanted the ham on the Eggs Benedict, and who only returned to get another cup of coffee and to tell us it was wonderful, you are the reason I will be back next weekend. Please stay nice. Please.

Thank you.