Our Germans are better than their Germans.

I know this continues what might seem like a preponderance of surveys, quizzes and memes, or as I like to call them, Blogburger Helper®. But this one is a bit different. Instead of getting tagged by another blogger and answering the same inane questions as the great, heaving masses of the blogosphere, you ask to be interviewed and they come up with five questions tailored especially to you. In other words, you bring it on yourself.

Tammara did it on her blog a few days, weeks, months ago recently and I was intrigued. I've been an increasingly avid reader of Something Mighty and Sublime for well over a year now, and I'm a devoted fan. And she’s been a reciprocal reader, commenter and linker—one of the original ADS Drinking Buddies—for almost as long. So it was a challenge, however tacit, I simply couldn't let go unanswered. Here, though, I have to offer an apology for taking so long to get this posted. I don’t know what the exact etiquette regarding these things is, but I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be answered during the same geological era in which they were asked.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who keeps up with SMAS, but be advised: when you tell Tammara to bring it, she brings it.

1. When you imagine the man-cub at 18, what do you see? What are his likes and dislikes?

There are lots of things I’m eager to share and do with him—riding roller coasters, watching and playing baseball, wrenching on old BMWs, as just a few examples. But I really look forward to watching and quoting movies with him. He already has a burgeoning aesthetic (“I don’ like dat song!”), a terrific sense of humor, and scary-amazing recall. Whenever we’re getting dressed to go out, I’ll say “Ready, Heddy?” in a not-so-subtle prompt for him to respond with “That’s Hedley…” This draws disapproving eye-rolls and admonitions from his mother, who really should just be thankful I’m not introducing him to the campfire scene. All in good time.

Without being one of those dads who needs to live vicariously through his son, I must cop to a not-so-secret hope that he appreciates mechanical things, words/language, music, history, and food. Though not necessarily at the same time. (The first time we get to screen The Right Stuff together, we'll be able to check off half the list in one three-hour fell swoop.)

His current expression du jour is “How dis work?” He always asks for stories about trains and cars. When I’m pushing him on the swings at the park, he’s constantly demanding to “go fast!” So I think he’s inherited the car-guy/flyboy gene. Honestly, whatever he’s into is fine, so long as his interest is genuine and passionate. I’m not saying he can’t be capricious; I just don’t want him to be a little trendoid. He’s got a really independent spirit now and I hope he never loses that.

His dislikes will be processed food, cheap laughs at the expense of others, and everybody who had anything to do with putting W in the White House. (Ideally, that last point will be expressed by quoting Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High: “What are you people, on dope?!”)

2. What popular movie of the last 5 years do you loathe so entirely that it makes you grind your teeth when you are reminded of it? (And sorry, btw, that I'm reminding you now.)

Actually, there are three.

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. There was so much praising with faint damnation about what an improvement it was over the preceding two. Which was really just a not-so-subtle way of lowering expectations to the point where all anybody cared about was going through the motions and seeing how the two trilogies connect. Just get on with it, already. I suppose it’s possible that Lucas could have been more perfunctory about it, (Bail Organa? Check. Blockade Runner? Check. Luke and Leia? Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru? Check, check and double-check.) but I can’t begin to imagine how. The upside is that it inspired one of my all-time favorite Anthony Lane quotes from one of his best reviews:

“The general opinion of Revenge of the Sith seems to be that it marks a distinct improvement on the last two episodes, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. True, but only in the same way that dying from natural causes is preferable to crucifixion.”

Frankly, I shouldn't have been that surprised. People have been using computers to facilitate onanisitic pursuits for years. But leave it to George Lucas to define a new state of the art. A while back I read a comment on the IMDb about SW III:ROTS. Some breathless gushing about how “this really makes you want to immediately go and watch Episode IV…” Yeah, I thought. Kinda like when you take a swig of sour milk expecting fresh. Anything to purge this dreck from your mind and try to remember a time when Star Wars didn’t suck ginormous, asteroid-dwelling phallus-monsters.

Roger Dodger
This doesn’t properly count as popular, because it was limited to the art-house circuit where it promptly (and quite deservingly) tanked. Even so, it pissed me off. I’m a fan of Campbell Scott. And based on the fact that I share a name and an occupation with the title character, I was really looking forward to this movie. Maybe that was my problem—mismanaged expectations. But, man, what a fetid pile this movie was. About two minutes in, it went from cynical and misogynistic to outright, guns-blazing misanthropic and just never looked back. You know that bitter, burning sensation you get in the back of your throat when you almost throw up? It was like that—non-stop for 90-odd minutes.

Ocean’s 12
This felt like a betrayal by a good friend. Not just because Steven and George and the rest of the Hee-Haw gang basically phoned it in, but because they based the entire teeth-gnashing third act on the Achilles heel of the otherwise outstanding first film—Julia Roberts.

Fortunately, those guys have built up a deep well of good will over the years. I was reminded just how deep when I watched Out of Sight the other night. So, we’re cool. In fact, I’m counting on Ocean’s 13 for a bit of redemption. I know—fool me once, can’t get fooled again. But having read some interviews with Clooney where he as much as cops to them not bringing their A game—and acknowledging the need to get back into everyone’s favor—I’m willing to spot them the benefit of the doubt.

3. Do you imagine a rich and full early retirement like they show in investment company commercials, or do you imagine a career you will continue doing as long as they'll let you do it?

I’m going to go with the latter, with the proviso that if some windfall were to enable the former, I wouldn’t turn it down. I could make a very long and happy career out of my leisurely pursuits, which I'm sure would include still not blogging often enough.

I think I’m a like a lot of people of our generation. Unlike our parents, we expect some minimal level of personal satisfaction/fulfillment from a job beyond punching the clock and paying the bills. That said, it’s still pretty rare that someone lucks out and makes a really good living doing something they’d do for free. I like the work I do, but if I pick six lucky numbers this weekend, I’m not going to spend my days writing ad copy.

4. What in your secret heart of hearts do you most wish people to envy you for?

My first thought when I read that question was, “Nothing. Envy doesn’t interest me. Sure, there are things I’d like people to appreciate or admire...” But if I’ve learned nothing else reading SMAS, it’s not to confuse Tammara’s comfort with language for a casual approach to its usage.

So after much hand-wringing and soul searching, I’ve narrowed it down to either:

A) My impeccable table manners


B) My ability to belch the alphabet

5. When you see yourself on film (video), do you think, "Hey, yeah, not so bad," or do you think, "Crap, I've gotta do something about (fill in the blank)" ?

Depends. If the photo is from ten or even three years ago, it’s the former. More recently though, I start wondering how Brian Dennehy or William Shatner got in the shot.

All right, that’s our show. Thanks for tuning in. If you think you can handle five rounds of Middlebrow interrogation, leave a note in the comments.


Jamie T said...

Response to No.2: "George Lucas is a no-talent-ass-clown!"

Response to No.4: I envy your vocabulary. I wish mine was as "staboculated" as yours.

Response to No.5: So how do you see youself when you watch your role as "the homless guy?"

Mr. Middlebrow said...

Amen: Lucas is the Micahel Bolton of movies.

What can I tell you? Some people have a way with words. Others, uh, not have way, I guess.

How tragic is it that I looked better as a derelict a few years ago than as gainfully employed (and obviously well-fed) dude now? If I'm not careful, I could wind up like this guy.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you did it! Thank you for the vigorous (and recently undeserved) nod in my blog's direction. I brought it, and you sliced it up and served it on a platter. Nicely done.

(Personally, I would like people to envy my rock hard abs. If I had them still.)

The Agony Antagonist said...

Ooh, ooh! I would do this!

As for the Brian Dennehy similarities, I keep meaning to do a blog post on the pop song my college band (my friend and I) wrote about the best killer/cop in the biz. Yeah, the Iceman cometh all over this bitch.

And I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who disliked "Roger Dodger." I kept thinking that it was my duty to get through it, but in the end, no. I could not.

Aunty Christ said...

...And when I said "I would do this," I meant, be interviewed by you. And I meant in this incarnation--Aunty Christ--and not as the Agony Antagonist, who has far better things to do than be interviewed.

Mr. Middlebrow said...

Aunty C:
Keep an eye on your inbox. The Middlebrow research team is hard at work on a questionnaire.

I don't want to give away too much, but I can tell you that when James Lipton heard about it he had a tiny orgasm in his pants.