This Great Evil

Category: Bullshit

brb

Brb. A tiny, simple expression used by most people to indicate that one will temporarily be unavailable during a text conversation. It’s a fine, sturdy acronym for most people. but not for me.

I fucking hate using brb. Not for any highfalutin, degradation of the English language reasons. No, I never use brb because thinking about using it triggers an intense neurotic response within me.

See, when you use brb, you imply a whole lot more than be right back. What you’re really saying is something like this: Hey bro, I know we were having this great conversation about Transformers or whatever, but I gotta duck out and go penetrate a mountain goat. I’ll be fast, so just hang tight and we’ll talk more about big robots, k?

By saying brb, you’re implicitly saying that you want to continue the conversation, leading to a potentially awkward situation for the recipient. What if the recipient’s done talking about Megan Fox fighting giant robots, but he or she doesn’t want to be rude? There aren’t many polite ways of saying fuck off. And you just know that when the brber gets back, he (or she) is going to say, “back,” and expect some kind of response.

Of course, if it’s obvious that both parties are in the middle of a fulfilling conversation about livestock fondling, then one person using brb is perfectly fine. It’s the other conversations, when it might have been a minute or more since anyone has said anything, that pose a serious ethical dilemma.

If you say brb, you, again, impose an unspoken social contract on the other person.

If you say nothing and the other person says something in your absence, then you’re an asshole.

If you take the nuclear option and say g2g, well…what if the other person’s a massive stalker who diligently keeps track of your status to make sure that you have, in fact, logged off? You could go invisible, but then later you might forget to switch back and wind up missing out on one of your other bros telling you about this awesome goat festival down the street.

I’ve spent a long time pondering this problem, and I think I’ve come up with the perfect solution. It’s simple, all you have to do is…hang on, brb.

 

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When does a blog die?

Does it require a conscious act on the part of its writer? Does it result from the accumulated neglect of its writers? Or is a blog dead simply if its writer stops writing?

Long story short, I don’t consider this blog to be dead. I’ve just not had a lot to write about these past couple of months. Most of my output has been directed either towards The Diamondback or personal creative endeavors. This Great Evil has always been more of an unfiltered outlet than a curated project, at least in my mind. So, in the past couple of months where I felt I’ve said what I want to say elsewhere, this space has been barren.

Now? Now, when I’m no longer responsible for two stories a week and in the middle of a summer lull…now I’m back on board.

But enough of this contemplative crap. So, movies.

I haven’t watched as many movies this year as I have in previous years. I could blame it on a number of factors – a hesitancy to go through my annual re-calibration, a desire to see more Diamondback writers contribute movie reviews, a generally lackluster year, a new found appreciation for video games – but really it’s all because of one reason. As I find myself in a transitional period of my life, I’ve lost the urge to seek out everything new. While I’m still the cinema-going equivalent of an omnivore, I am far less inclined to pick out a new, probably awful movie while my film and video game backlog is so large.

Thus, I can’t claim to have a particularly accurate barometer for this year thus in cinema. But I have watched a good number of new movies this year, enough to compile some form of a list at the very least.

The following don’t necessarily represent the best or the worst of this year half-gone. They’re the standouts, for better or for worse, the movies that have still lingered long after the credits rolled.

The Lego Movie: Like a shotgun filled with childish joy shot point blank at the audience, The Lego Movie is a film whose surface-level charms are nigh-impossible to resist. And, at the same time, it’s one of the most unsettlingly effective pieces of propaganda ever released as a mass market film. Even more so than Toy Story, The Lego Movie’s form and themes all point back to the eponymous toy brick. At what point does a movie become an advertisement?

Under the Skin: Sometimes a movie doesn’t necessarily have to say anything or be about anything to be great. Sometimes a movie just has to completely and utterly unnerve you, provide some kind of a terrifying, out-of-body experience to be great. I don’t know with any certainty what Jonathan Glazer was trying to do with Under the Skin, I just know I can’t fucking scrub it out of my brain.

X-Men: Days of Future Past: Fuck comic books, fuck CG, fuck Bryan Singer and fuck this movie. Not sure why this mostly rote exercise pissed me off to such an extent, but I loathed the shit out of X-Men: Days of Future Past. I wasn’t a big fan of X-Men: First Class, but this anonymous, contrived, bloated and obnoxiously impressed with itself dross makes even First Class look like the work of an auteur. I will admit to liking the Quick Silver sequence.

Noah: I’m not so sure Darren Aronofsky is well suited to these big spectacle projects. Aronofsky is a bombastic as fuck filmmaker, which suits all of his hallucinogenic mind-fucks well, but his stylistic excess robs Noah of credibility. As a result, it’s hard to suspend disbelief for much of the Biblical shit happening on screen. While I liked his reinterpretation of this Biblical tale and several imaginative sequences, the film as a whole wasn’t good.

Boyhood: What else is there to say about Boyhood? Serious question. I have a review due Tuesday, and I’m out of fucking ideas. You should probably see it if you haven’t already.

Locke: Something about Locke just works. I expected some kind of dry exercise used to show off Steven Knight’s technique, but Locke proved to be much, much more compelling than that. Yes, it sometimes becomes too theatrical for its own good, and yes it often does feel like a film school thesis project, but the sum of Locke’s part is so incredibly rich. This is a movie and a main character that will stick with me for years to come.

Confessional

Forgive me Father for I have sinned. I has been…never since my last confession. I know how proper quote unquote movie critics should behave at screenings among other quote unquote critics, but I’ve strayed from the proper path far too many times. I wish to no longer have these sins bearing down on my soul, so here they are, for your edification, Father:

  • I confess that I did enter the screening for Puss in Boots approximately 40 minutes late and still wrote up a review for the film. And yea, it was good.
  • I confess that I did enter the screening for Blue Valentine approximately five minutes late with a companion. Both of us also brought the world’s loudest bags of chips into the theater and munched vicariously throughout the film.
  • I confess that I was the guy who farted explosively during last Monday’s Robocop screening.

What? I can’t confess because I’m not Catholic? Fuck you, Father.

Returning to the quasi-motherland

I wasn’t born in Canada, but I did spend the vast majority of my pre-pubescent childhood in the land of maple and free health care. Ever since I moved to the United States, however, I have not had the opportunity to go back into Uncle Stephen Harper’s warm embrace until now. As of writing, I’m midway through an epic vacation through the parts of Canada I didn’t live in (i.e. everything outside of Vancouver). I’ll be covering my trip in riveting detail through a series of smarmy blog posts in the guise of shitty how-to guides.

I was going to pitch to Lonely Planet, but then NC2 media happened.

Part 1: Shopping

Part 2: Smartphones

Part 3: Nostalgia

Part 4: Chinese Food

World War Z Broad Trip

I can’t talk about world war z yet (thanks for the embargo!) but I can talk about the epic odyssey back from the theater.

Prologue: The movie

For those not in the know, World War Z is a zombie movie about very fast zombies. I brought this guy with me.

Chapter 1: Mazza Gallerie.

As soon as the film cut to credits, I whip out my smartphone and looked up Metro schedule. Five minutes till the next Glenmont train. Roger thinks we can make it. The line coming out of the theater disagrees.

A minute passes and we finally make it to the escalators. Unfortunately, everyone on the moving staircase decides to take it fucking easy, make a pina colada or whatever and not budge an inch (relative to me). They even block the god damend walking column (the left side of the escalator, for any tourists out there)! Fuck.

Maybe a minute passes and we finally get out of the geriatric escalator. I choose to Sprint to the left, realizing too late that it was the worst possible direction as going right would have been much quicker, and running straight/back would’ve been funnier. Why did Mazza Gallerie place its escalators off-center? Probably engineering. Probably fuck you.

We reach the next escalator after another minute. I think we were screwed, so I take out my phone to verify. Huzzah, the fucking Red Line was delayed. I have literally never been more happy to see Metro fuck up. Thank you, Transit God. (I imagine the Transit God to look like a cross between Apocalypse Now Brando and Paul Blart) We have four (FOUR!) minutes to get from the second floor escalator to the basement and then down two more escalators.

If you know anything about D.C. Metro escalators, you’ll know that this isn’t as done a deal as it sounds. If you don’t know anything about D.C. Metro escalators, think a shittier, constantly broken version of the Great Wall.

Anyways, I shout to Roger, who was a bit ahead of me by now, that we had 4 minutes. A lovely chap in a blue dress shirt hears this and realizes that we’re heading for the same train. He asks me to repeat. I say 3 minutes as time is linear.  We get out on the first floor and Roger sprints for the doors instead of the basement escalator. I verbally disabuse Roger of his navigational sense, and we (along with the blue chap) sprint for the basement escalator.

Thankfully, the folks on this escalator get it. They know what’s up. We move to the basement with 3 minutes still remaining. This is when the full out sprinting goes down. Having watched world war z, a movie in which SO many people get mowed down by sprinting zombies,  our desperate quest elicits some laughs and zombie jokes from the moviegoers walking at a casual stroll. I’m glad our misery amused someone.

Down the janky Mazza Gallerie Metro entrance escalator and down the Shit Wall. We get to the station proper with a bit over a minute to go. Roger and I (and presumably the blue chap) slow our roll. The SmarTrip reader asks me to swipe again, and again. And again. Fucking hell.

But lo, we were on the bloody Metro platform! Having ridden this route numerous times, I direct Mr. Roger to head as far ahead as he can. We manage to get in the first door of the second car, putting us at a decent place to make the next connection.

Intermission: Gallery Place

When we hit Farragut North, I fire up Safari and find out that there would be a roughly one minute gap between our train arriving at Gallery Place and the Greenbelt train arriving on the lower level. I tell Roger this and we end up exerting some unnecessary effort getting down to Chinatown (dated reference). We get on the Green Line train a little sweaty, but no harm done.

During the ride, someone commented on how “Dying of the Light” should have a “we told you so” sticker at the end.

Chapter 2: Shuttle UM

As is my wont, I look up shuttle arrivals a few stops before College Park. There’s a 104 leaving in five minutes. Hey, that’s just enough time for our train to get into the stat…oh wait, that’s the wrong stop. Well, fuck, we just missed a bus.

I didn’t want to wait another 20 minutes for the next shuttle, so I looked up Purple shuttle arrivals on Route 1. Oh hey, we’ll have 8 minutes to walk there. This might work. Better yet, it was a Purple which would take us directly home, as opposed to the 104 where we’d have to connect to a Purple. Cool.

I ask Roger if he’s down with a little more hustling. He says: aw yeah, bro that’d be mad Down and gangsta and stuff brah. Not in those exact words.

We pull Up into the station with 7 minutes remaining. Well, fuck. This wasn’t going to plan. Down the escalators, through the gates (swipe again times three) and up some more escalators to the wondrous back entrance of the College Park Metro Station. I, myself, prefer to be here on weekends, when the smell of illegal boozing and crappy dubstep permeates the air. It’s a Pavlovian thing.

We get onto College Avenue with 5 Minutes to spare. I start a countdown timer. I think it was set to the Django theme. We go at a fast walk towards Route 1, about a half mile away. We’re making good progress. I think this might work. Roger agrees. Dark foggy night is a little disconcerting after world war z, but we might make it! We might make it! We might-DJANGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, DJANGO.

FUCK! THERE’S THE BUS! OH MY GOD. RUNNING RUNNING RUNNING FUCK MY SHOE LACE! Oh thank god, the bus needs to make a left turn at a red sto-OH FUCK IT’S GREEN

JESUS BED SHITTING FUCK!

Roger pulls ahead of me. The bus rounds the turn. Roger gesticulates wildly as he rounds the turn too. The stupid fucking maryland Book exchange wall blocks me view past the turn.

shoelace be damned, I’m going to go fast, mom.

I round the corner and there is the bus, Stopped! But, holy fucking shit is that bus stop farther away than I remember. Roger’s maybe halfway between me and the stop. The bus waits. The bus waits. The bus waits. The bus-WHY ARE YOU DRIVING AWAY THIS IS NOT OPTIMAL…CRAP!

I reach the bus stop a bit later, defeated, but lo, there was another bus! It was a Blue! I tell Roger that we might be able to take the Blue train into College Town and choo-choo Our way onto the Purple thanks to the Purple’s terribly circuitous route. Roger and I get on the Blue.

The Purple gets to campus Drive. I look up shuttle arrivals – 6 minutes. We can totally do this. Wait, why is the bus going straight? God damn it! Roger audibly wonders aloud when the bus will get back onto the campus.

The bus driver responds in about 10 minutes. Roger says something about trying connect to a Purple. Something that I totally didn’t hear because, at that moment, I was blanking out from an Unyielding, infinite existential depression stemming from missing the Purple connection and possibly a (or several) cerebral hemorrhages (or she-morrhages).

I come back to when I realize that this Magical bus driver was a total bro and had stopped near the paint Branch trail. Roger figures that we could cut through it and CSIC and get onto the Stadium Drive stop. After disabusing Roger further of his navigational intuition and driving up TomTom stocks in the process, we decide to take the Paint Branch Trail and get onto the bus a bit later into its route, near Comcast Stadium.

We start off this last leg of the trip sprinting. But then the years of pointedly not engaging in marathon training hits us and we both slow down to a half limp/half fast walk. We hit a fork in the road. I get really confused for a moment. Do we go left or do we go straight? Well, we should go straight. Wait, no, there’s bridge if we go straight. Uh, left?

It is here in which Roger redeems himself by pointing us in the right direction: straight (counterintuitively enough). We emerge into a parking lot with a fantastic view of the Purple bus stop. Less awesome was the vast stretch of cars between us and the stop.

Roger suggested that the bus will probably leave the stop just as we get within spitting distance. I counter-suggested a suicide pact if that should occur. Okay, I didn’t suggest a suicide pact. Also, suicide isn’t a laughing matter. I’m sorry.

I wish I could say that we made a suitably cinematic last minute, dash onto an almost departing bus. But, instead, we just straight up missed that fucker. In plain, fucking, view.

Whoops, nope, that was the Claritin-D talking. We did make the bus with time to spare. Once on the bus, Roger and I exchanged a bro-fist (consensual but not sexual).

Chapter The End

After re-reading this blog post, I realized that I just spent a considerable amount of time that I could’ve spent sleeping recounting and talking up a fairly unremarkable story.

But I’m okay with this, because Roger is the hero we deserve and the hero we need. I mean, shit, have you looked at all his swag? Jesus.