One of the errands hanging about was a state inspection for our van, so I went to take care of that today after taking off work early. Seems a lot of people are off for Good Friday, but not me. In any case, I found that our service station has wireless up, but they have it locked to visitors. This came as a real culture shock after spending last week in and around Boston where you practically couldn’t get away from free and open wireless.
It’s a kind of cultural norm, and with the D.C. area being the conservative (read: stuffy and ill-informed) place it is, locking your customers out of wireless appears to be the norm here. IIRC there are a few places that buck this trend, like Starbucks and Borders. Yes, they may be “evil” Ã¼berchains, but with that territory comes some perks — like being able to afford IT offices that deploy turnkey solutions that benefit their customers.
In band news, we are now total sellout whores. But in a good way. Well, if you consider “a good way” to be “raking in big dollars to do a one-off show for one of the biggest lobbying associations in the country.” And since I consider taking money away from those kind of concerns to be not only laudable but practically a civic duty, it’s like a bonus that I get to do it by playing music. I’ll tell you who it is after we do the gig. The only downside is that we’ve had to learn half a dozen “50’s cover tunes” to placate one of the people on the client’s side of the fence. Not our usual bag, but for this kind of money, it seemed worth it. It’s not like no other respectable band has ever done a cover tune.
Gold in them thar hills.
I had a root canal on Tuesday which made up for a very long period where I should have gone to the dentist but didn’t. Thankfully, every other tooth I have was found to be in a great condition; I just had one that (to quote the dentist) “kinda went crazy.” The procedure was relatively painless, and the next-day soreness was mild and easily manageable with a couple Advil. I’m getting a gold permanent crown next month — gold because it’s one of my back molars, so I won’t be doing CB4 Part Deux or anything.
Eleya and I finally watched — after a long wait for our Netflix queue to settle — the 2005 Best Picture winner Crash. I have to say I was not thoroughly impressed. Most of the acting was fine, some inspired (Terrence Howard, Matt Dillon, and a great cameo by Tony Danza), and some so-so at best. If you ask me, Ludacris was pretty darn solid. The directing was similarly hit or miss, but the photography had some standout moments, especially the lighting schemes, which were very bold.
However, the movie kicked off with an overly precious bit of monologue by Don Cheadle, who deserved better; seemed painted in broad strokes; was peppered with blunt manipulations and contrivances; and rushed through a series of vignettes that really deserved a more nuanced script and the time to play it out. (That said script was lacking a bit was not a huge surprise, given the very formulaic work the writer-director, Paul Haggis, turned in for last year’s Million Dollar Baby, which had the distinct advantage of Clint Eastwood’s stately direction.) A movie that depicts an intersection between that many characters needs to have room to breathe, and that generally means a more epic length. Cf. Nashville, Short Cuts, and Magnolia. This is not to say the movie was bad — it had a few charms to offer, especially the piece of the story that revolved around the Hispanic locksmith and his little girl.
In general, though, the film came off as sophomoric and unworthy of the Best Picture Oscar — especially when compared to the subtle but devastating emotional wallop of Brokeback Mountain — and suffered from the growing epidemic of self-obsessed L.A.-centric navel-gazing. Out here in the real world, most of us are aware that, yes, RACISM IS VERY BAD. I couldn’t help thinking, after watching Crash, about Jon Stewart’s Oscar night joke about “issue” movies, to the effect that “none of those things were ever a problem again.” If only. Then we could look forward to years of movie-watching unhampered by well-meaning, preachy films like this one. Marginally recommended.