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This blog was supposed to be a scrapbook for both my family’s travels, and my explorations into history.

So, I think this blog needs to return to that exclusively. I’ve thought about it quite a bit, so thoughts on writing, reviews, and all of that stuff will go where it belongs. A blog unto itself: richristow.wordpress.com

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Instead of starting a bunch of blogs again, it’s just best if I widened the scope of this one.  I still will scrap book here, but I figured I might as well also including the writing stuff here too, beyond research.

Also, the new tag above corresponds to the book of poetry I’m currently editting.

This site has a good list of symptoms, lobe by lobe in the brain.

When it comes to Andy Dick, most of my recent memory of him has been dominated by his work on MTV, not his glory days as a cast member of News Radio. Lets just say, given his TV Reality show antics, as well is some of the more scandalous gossip page column behavior with drugs and alcohol, I always thought it would be best to avoid the guy completely. Sure, I don’t know him personally, but if his on-screen presence has been unbearably obnoxious for many years, it’s certainly not to my taste.

That perception has changed, slightly. Recently, I caught Danny Roane, First Time Director on Comedy Central. My impulse was to change the channel, but before I could find the remote, I found myself wanting to give the movie a couple of minutes of leeway. I saw something I never expected: Andy Dick was actually “acting” — and not in a hyperactive comedic (read, wannabe Robin Williams or Jim Carrey) way. He was subdued, conveying emotion with his face. In short, he’d toned himself down for a role. That had me intrigued.

The concept of the movie looks simple at first. It’s a “mockumentary” in the vein of Reiner and Guest, but sadly, it doesn’t reach the masterwork level that “This is Spinal Tap” or “Best in Show” achieve. Basically, it tells the story of a director trying to make his first feature length film. Cameras are following him around so that there can be a “The Making Of…” documentary. The really intriguing part of the film comes in the character Dick is playing. Danny Roane is a recovering alcoholic, one that has had many public meltdowns on television. As an actor, he’s blackballed, and to save his career, he thought he’d try his hand at a different part of the entertainment industry — directing and producing.

The parallel here is obvious. Dick himself has rather struggled with alcohol and drugs. The parallel is further reinforced by one more: Danny Roane was once a bumbling character on a very popular sitcom. So was Dick (News Radio, starring the late, tragic Phil Hartman). Even more, Andy Dick directs, produces, and acts in this film. The levels of irony are astounding. As such, this movie comes off as an personal act of self perody, even as the Danny Roane character becomes unhinged and relapses into a crazed, insane alcoholic stupor. This is admirable for one reason: Andy Dick has learned to laugh at himself. That really takes a learned sense of humility and self awareness.

In that regard, it’s made me look at him with a less toxic vehemence. Still, as mentioned earlier, for a mockumentary as a genre or type of cinema, the question is always “Does it live up to Spinal Tap.” No, it doesn’t. There’s a lot that doesn’t work in this movie, and the humor can be hit or miss at times. Sometimes, it has that Reno 911! vibe of being over-improvised. And honestly, there’s still a strong sense of Dick’s outrageous behavior at work. It just seems a bit more channeled. Hopefully, Danny Roane, First Time Director speaks of new direction in Dick’s career: one of a thoughtful, sincere filmmaker who knows how to channel his demons, and not the reality-show-driven, drug-addicted asshole many have seen on TV.

Imagine this: Californians wake up one day and find that all the Mexicans have vanished. Not all Latinos, mind you — the Guatemalans, Costa Ricans, Salvadorians, and so on are still there. It’s just the Mexicans that vanish. Farms are forced to go without migrant workers, houses go uncleaned, children go un-nannied (is that even a word?), and much more. The economy goes into a free fall.

So, one wonders than, how did the Mexicans disappear? Where they rounded up by police-state type immigration officials and shipped south of the border? Genocide? No, nothing that extreme. They just simply vanished in an unexplained manner, and the whole state is surrounded by a mysterious pink/purple fog that has cut off communications.

On the whole, the concept is interesting. There’s an apolalyptic overtone there, as well as one that’s speculative. For instance, George Romero and his zombie filled social commentaries come to mind. The comparisions have to stop there. Romero made compelling films, and A Day Without A Mexican is — how shall I put this nicely? — a peice of political propaganda.

I don’t say that lightly. For the record, I agree whole hearted with the sentiment behind the film. I totally understand it’s political point of view and respect it. However, sometimes politics can trash and artistic medium and devalue it. Romero makes compelling films because he’s focused on the drama at hand. Not once, in Dawn of the Dead, does he stop or freeze the frame while a zombie is gnawing on an arm and insert, “You know, the average American consumer…” But that’s practically what a Day Without a Mexican does. It’s so intent on arguing and injecting demographic facts it’s case that it becomes a boring movie that’s tiresome to sit through. That even kills all possibility of humor and satire. If one wants to make an overtly political, banner waving movie, at least take a page from Micheal Moore’s oeuvre and film a cinematic personal essay.

–Rich Ristow

This ad looks like it has come long after my time around the DOD. Still, it’s pretty lame, even if the ad makers are trying A LOT harder than previous people who’ve served in the Armed Forces Network. Somebody needs to tell AFN something: it doesn’t matter how much you try to dramatize something, when you’re trying to convey a shitload of complex information, most any creative attempt will end in failure. Still, perhaps they’re going for the Ed Wood level of quality, where it’s so bad, it remains in your memory.

It’s probably due to user error, but it seems like it’s only the pictures hosted by picasa are dropping off, out of posts.  It’s annoying to constantly go back and try to fix them, only to see them vanish within a day….

If you want to be a cheapskate, and pack a one dollar tin of sardines (in mustard sauce) for lunch, don’t leave that metal tin in your car, with the windows rolled up, on a hot summer day.  Kind-of smelly and kind of gross and kind of warm.

As I always say, digging through my parent’s attic is always an adventure. Here is an Fugazi flier for a show that I never went to. Back then, when I defined my life by Punk Rock, I used to have my friends mail me show flyers. Unfortunately, most of them, throughout the years ended up in the trash. This is one of the few I have left.

The Rusty Nail has expressed a clear soda preference for Cheerwine.  I would like to note that, when I am not addicted to Diet Coke, I love an ice filled mug of Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer: I say this, because I feel it.  Good soda could very well be the next “micro brew.”  Think about it, because before Sam Adams and similar brands, the Beer marketspace was dominated by the likes of Budweiser and Miller.