SHOULD YOU ENTER THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR PRESIDENT?
AQUARIUS: Without a doubt. PISCES: Ask again later. ARIES: Better not tell you now. TAURUS: Most likely. GEMINI: Don't count on it. CANCER: Without a doubt. LEO: As I see it, yes. VIRGO: Reply hazy, try again. LIBRA: Outlook good. SCORPIO: Most likely. SAGITTARIUS: Very doubtful. CAPRICORN: My reply is no.
I admit it, as much as I loathe the corporation, I'm still addicted to the one-star reviews on Amazon's site.
I'm fascinated by how many people don't understand what reviews are but yet feel compelled to give them. And I'm even more fascinated by how my stupid things people who read books on Amazon's Kindle say (as an overwhelming majority of the one stars compiled here come from Kindle readers).
"Fortunately Kindle books are instantly refundable. ...the Kindle format was messed up--the first letter of each chapter was supposed to be a large capital and instead was a tiny one."
Yes. Kindles ruin books. Fortunately, there are always paper books, AKA books.
"I made it to 65% complete on my e reader then had had enough. After reading Gone Girl and enjoying it so much I was looking forward to another book by Gillian Flynn but found this book to be dark and uninteresting. There were no characters I found interesting. I do have to admit that I found a synopsis so that I could figure out who the murder was."
I find it interesting that you found the book so uninteresting that you couldn't finish it but you still had to look up a plot synopsis to see how it ended.
Also, many of the Kindle "reviewers" talk about their books in terms of percentages - 20%, 15%, etc. in terms of page counts. I understand why (lacking actual pages, Kindles have a percentage meter), but it just always strikes me as odd to see people using precise-seeming percentages when referencing where they are in the book and not the page number.
"Better yet, just go to Wikipedia and read the summary. That's just about good enough."
What's with people hating the book but still needing to know the story?
"SHARP OBJECTS is essentially a literary novel that the publisher has labeled a "mystery" to push more copies on unsuspecting consumers."
Busted! It's that ol' Literary Novel conspiracy. Like moms trying to sneak vegetables into their kids' diets, Literary Novel enthusiasts are always trying to trick genre fans into reading stuff that's "good for them."
"The pacing is extremely slow, this is should have NEVER been marketed as a thriller, or a mystery novel. This is a plain old drama for a mind that is bored to death."
"This is NOT really a murder mystery."
Maybe not, but there IS something wrong with these types of genre fans.
"The things that bothered me the most about this book was Camille's behavior. What 30 something accepts drugs and alcohol from a 13 year old? and a sibling at that? why would she sleep with two men within hours of one another, and one that was barely a child at that?"
Do you know people? I mean, like real people?
"The only thing I can say about this book is only read it if you get it out of a garbage can- and even then I would pass it by!!"
So then don't read it if you find it in a garbage can? I'm confused by what you are advising here.
"In the end, although I finished it I relegated it to the trash can where it properly belongs!"
Now I see where the person above got the book.
"I was so fed up with the overblown and unrealistic characters that I put it down and will donate it to the next "Friends of the Library" book sale."
What a great friend.
"Let me compare it to bathing in vomit."
Why would someone bathe in vomit?
"If the book was an animal, I would euthanize it."
So you want to kill animals?
"This book so full of ugliness, anger, and general foulness that I found myself questioning the author's mental health. Ugh."
Let's go Ad Hominem!
"Gertrude Stein observed of Hemingway that anyone who wrote so much about sex and death must have serious issues. What does Objects tell us about Ms. Flynn?"
Also, let's leave Hemingway out of this.
"According to this novel, small-town America is a disgusting, mentally toxic environment filled with the most awful people who are only there because they lack whatever it is that drove the better people to leave. I'm not from a rural town, but I really want to believe this isn't true. The book is interesting and well-written but it left me feeling horrible."
Almost everything that is wrong with amateur "reviews" can be found in this snippet.
"I think it is totally unsuitable for a 'grown up'."
I think YOU'RE totally unsuitable for a grown up.
"The buyer should be forewarned that inappropriate language is prevalent in the book. "
Another reader who commented on this person's "review" said it best, "Grow up."
"It is appalling that a female would portray a female lead in such a negative light."
Fourth Wave Feminism?
"The shocking twist at the end was not very believable. And I'm not a puritan, but it was just too gratuitous with graphic and repugnant details, with no point except shock value."
No, I think you're a Puritan.
"Disturbing, disjointed and sick. I hated each and every character. I want my money back."
"Disturbing, disjointed and sick" seems like it should warrant at least 3.5 stars.
"If you want to read a novel populated with depraved degenerates then this is the book for you."
Sterling recommendation. Seems like, according to this review, the book should warrant at least 4 stars.
"Loved this book, hard to put it down!"
So of course you gave it one star?
"twisted and dark But I couldn't stop reading it"
"I can't decide if I loved the book for its page turning draw or hated it because I couldn't believe the destructive words kept me riveted. I give the author 5 stars, but the images I've imagined, just one star for how sick I now feel."
"Good writing, awful topic"
And these folks just seem very confused by what they experienced and that even though they enjoyed some aspect of the book, just decided to one-star it.
"I can't imagine anyone cutting words into their skin all over their body."
"The cutting issue is very real for many girls....why expand on it?"
You two should get together and talk.
"i read gone girl,,and got this one w/great anticipation,,,but it terrible,,,incest, blood, violence, childhood death, terrible sex,,,worst book ever,,,really off putting"'
"What a trashy novel. I thought Miss Flynn was better than this."
"Childish, vulgar and no redeemable value. She should be working in a pigsty. I couldn't even finish the miserable thing."
"...way too much describing pubescent children for no real reason."
"SHARP OBJECTS was just too sexually disturbing."
"What a horrible book, about sick people! "
"This is the second book I've read by this seemingly talented author that made me feel 'dirty by association' after reading."
"I actually regret reading it. ... the book contains graphic images that I really wish were not in my head..."
"It left me feeling dirty and depressed."
"This novel was sickening to the bone. It was unnecessary, with gratuitous sexuality."
"Hated it - too much graphic depravity and unrelenting pathology."
"Did not finish---sick,sick,sick."
"Poor taste - painfully and unnecessarily graphic/sexual when writing about children"
"this book is TRASH."
"The razor blade on the front cover of the book is what one yearns for right after embarking on this read, sharp blade with which to cut every single page, one by one, until they are so neatly shredded that even the memory of what was written on them becomes non existent. And then, one can use the same razor to end one's own life."
"She is sick."
"Too gruesome for me. Dark dark."
"Not only is this book dangerous, but it is sick."
"Too violent and not a good idea to put into people's heads."
"This book robs one of smiles, of the beauty of life, and even of the reason for love."
"This book glorifies so many things that need to be fixed in the world."
People are so fragile. And the one stars go on for over 100 more "reviews." But they started all getting repetitive, and I figure you'll probably stop reading this before too long so I'll just pack it in here after just one more.
This was the saddest thing I found in all the one stars.
Meet 2nd term Vermont Republican State Senator Norm McAllister.
This week he was arrested and plead not guilty to "three felony counts of sexual assault and three misdemeanors of prohibited acts, the charges arising from what police describe as a sex-for-rent scheme involving several unwilling tenants."
In graphic allegations that shocked McAllister's colleagues, the governor, and the courthouse, prosecutors outlined a tale of several years where McAllister sexually assaulted two tenants/employees and attempted to assault a third for rent on a trailer on his diary farm.
by Scott Braid, Maryland Film Festival Festival Programming Administrator
It's that time of year again where I give readers of the Shank my hot tips for what to see at the Maryland Film Festival. Due to a glitch of Google drive I lost the original version of my list (which I had spent 4 hours writing) and so have to put it back together with not much time. So please forgive any typos and punctuation errors made in my sleep-deprived haze.
It should go without saying that I love all of the films at MDFF and that these are just a few things that, if I were an attendee, I would prioritize in my viewing schedule.
As we all know the lead up to this year's MDFF has been very different than any other year. Given the events of the last few weeks here, it seems only proper to begin my list by highlighting some of the more politically progressive and thought-provoking works that will screen within MDFF 2015.
DO THE RIGHT THING directed by Spike Lee A film that urgently needs revisiting in the current moment in Baltimore. Spike Lee's seminal account of exploding racial tensions during a steamy Brooklyn summer in the 1980s should not be missed.
BEATS OF THE ANTONOV directed by Hajooj Kuka An incredible and awe-inspiring tale of the resilience of the human spirit under the most extreme, war-ravaged conditions imaginable. The Sudanese of the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains regions of Sudan, continue the struggle to maintain their culture and livelihood during the oppressive and perilous ongoing civil war. BEATS won the People's Choice Documentary Award at TIFF 2014.
WELCOME TO LEITH directed by Michael B. Nichols and Christopher K. Walker A thrilling and blood-boiling account of white-supremacist Craig Cobb's attempts to take over a small town in North Dakota, to begin his dark dream of a whites-only homestead. Riveting from its first frame to its last, a reminder of the dangers of fundamentalist belief and extreme right-wing politics.
VENICE directed by Kiki Alvarez One of the first crowd-funded films to come out of Cuba, VENICE is a heartfelt look at female friendship over the course of one long night in the streets and clubs of Havana. Marked by strong female characters and written by the actors themselves in collaboration with the director, VENICE shows three female friends searching for freedom from their problems and the strictures of a male dominated world. One of my favorite films from TIFF 2014.
BEST OF ENEMIES directed by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon An expertly crafted document of the extremely contentious prime-time debates between liberal author, playwright and political commentator Gore Vidal and his arch-conservative nemesis William F. Buckley, Jr., during the 1968 conventions. Both fun to watch and educational, a must see for anyone who saw it happen or has no idea who these people are!
GOD BLESS THE CHILD directed by Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck A stirring portrait of a group of siblings faced with an irresponsible and often absent parent. The film's documentary-like approach to observing children as they interact with each other and the outside world without the benefit of adult supervision, pays off in a richly layered and emotionally complex film. A true work of art.
UNEXPECTED directed by Kris Swanberg A smart and insightful look at the racial and economic disparity between two expectant young mothers. A young, white teacher and one of her African-American students bond over the fact that they have both become pregnant around the same time, but they face very different realities. Deftly directed by MDFF alum Kris Swanberg.
THE REAPER directed by Zvonimir Juric An unflinching and masterful narrative centered around an ex-con who is unable to escape his past in a small Croatian village. Recommended to fans of Haneke, Bruno Dumont and the like.
CROCODILE GENNADIY directed by Steve Hoover A charismatic Ukrainian pastor wages a one man war against rampant childhood drug addiction on the streets of Mariupol. Executive Produced by Terence Malick this is a tough, uncompromising and breathtaking piece of documentary cinema.
If you have more adventurous tastes and you're looking for something a little more cinematically afield, I would highly recommend the following:
FUNNY BUNNY directed by Alison Bagnall A wonderfully quirky buddy comedy about an eccentric young millionaire shut-in named Titty; an internet celebrity named Ginger that Titty desires; and Gene, a door-to-door crusader against childhood obesity who is unexpectedly pulled into their orbit.
A WONDERFUL CLOUD directed by Eugene Kotlyarenko If you can imagine Woody Allen and John Waters collaborating on a romantic comedy together then you start to be in the ballpark of this hilariously bonkers film. From the unique mind that brought you MDFF 2010's 0s & 1s, A WONDERFUL CLOUD is an MDFF must see!
WHY DO THE WTF SHORTS RUN AMOK? directed by various It's all here! A pee shy cop, unwelcome attempts at a roommate threesome, Ronald Reagan, a misbehaved turkey, a murderous crow, botched home invasion, internet voyeurism, horny conquistadors, lovers spurned, and your morning announcements!
Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing you at the festival!
by Eric Allen Hatch, Maryland Film Festival Director of Programming
Each year as Maryland Film Festival approaches, Benn is kind enough to offer me some space to take off my hat as MFF director of programming and share some “insider picks” that I think friends and Shank readers will particularly dig. Thanks, Benn! I’m really proud of this year’s lineup, and proud to be welcoming over 100 awesome films and filmmakers to our beautiful city May 6-10.
In no order other than that ordained by our alphabet:
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution—Stanley Nelson directed my favorite documentary of the 2000s (which, of course, is Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple). With that film and titles like Freedom Riders, he’s shown an unparalleled ability to bring history to gripping life—not to mention deliver definitive takes on his chosen subjects. What else to say, except the obvious: this seems like a particularly crucial film to see right now.
Breaking a Monster—Last year, this short film went viral, offering an affectionate portrait of Unlocking the Truth, a jaw-droppingly precocious pre-teen African-American heavy metal band. Partially as a result of the short, the band was signed to Sony and picked up by a 70-year-old manager known for co-creating Welcome Back, Kotter and grooming the Jonas Brothers. The band has now re-teamed with the director of the short film, Luke Meyer (who co-directed LARP-ing doc Darkon, a big hit at MFF 2006), for this endlessly entertaining feature-length look at what happened next.
Christmas, Again-- Noel (Kentucker Audley) sells Christmas trees off a lot in New York, living a quiet and solitary life in the camper that anchors the site. As Christmas nears, a mysterious woman lands in Noel’s life, and tries to find a way into the closed-off, emotionally blocked world he’s constructed. If you think independent filmmakers do drama and romance better than Hollywood, a)you’re right; b)see this film.
Entertainment—It’s the Neil Hamburger movie—sort of! Gregg Turkington, best-known for the aforementioned persona, a caricature of a sad, old-school comedian armed with a comb-over and offensive punchlines, stars here as “The Comedian”—a sad, old-school comedian armed with a comb-over and offensive punchlines. Endlessly roaming a desolate American landscape, performing two-bit gigs in Z-grade venues, The Comedian offers provocateur Rick Alverson (who recently unleashed the pitch-black The Comedy with Tim Heidecker) another opportunity to probe the extreme dark corners and breaking points of humor.
For the Plasma—Here we have just another shot-on-Super 16mm feature about two young women in Maine who observe trees and a field with digital cameras and supply that “data” for use in making global stock-market predictions. This is one of the strangest, scrappiest, and most challenging films in the lineup, and a lot of people won’t know what the hell to make of it—but viewers on its wavelength may just have their minds blown. I’m recommending this one to people who love the novels of Kobo Abe and Jacques Rivette’s Celine and Julie Go Boating, so if this is (or isn’t!) you, know thyself!
Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party—We’re world-premiering this expertly observed drama, which takes us deep into the complex social sphere of the son of a mega-church preacher; he and many of his friends are harboring sexual secrets dad might not approve of. I love the way this film paints a picture of a contemporary American Christian community, and the little glances and disapproving words that regulate conformity within it—or at least try to.
In the Basement—Ulrich Seidl is a dark fellow. And if you follow John Waters’ annual picks for Maryland Film Festival, he’s also the only director JW has selected twice (with Dog Days in 2004 and Paradise: Faith in 2013). This isn’t Waters’ pick this year (that would be William Friedkin’s Killer Joe), but it’s of the same masterful quality of Sedil’s earlier work. Here’s what he has for us this time around: an insane documentary about secret lives in the basements of seemingly mild-mannered Austrians: amateur taxidermists, shooting ranges, BDSM chambers, collections of Nazi memorabilia, and more.
Jauja—A very beautiful, stark, and strange Argentine period piece set in Patagonia, built around Viggo Mortensen searching for his disappeared daughter. If you like films about existential crises, here ya go! Mortensen not only delivers a performance that’s Klaus Kinski-esque in its angst and physical arduousness, he also composed and performed evocative original music for the film with experimental musician Buckethead (!). In other words: Viggo’s all in! Director Lisandro Alonso’s earlier film Liverpool was a standout in MFF 2010, and this new work is a next-level development in his work.
Sailing a Sinking Sea—Director Olivia Wyatt has crafted a gorgeous immersive ethnographic doc about the Moken people of Burma/Thailand, who maintain their traditional sea-worshipping lifestyle and spend most of the year largely disengaged from contemporary technology. Wyatt conveys a staggering amount of sensory detail, filling our eyes and ears with amazing sights and music. If you’re down with Sublime Frequencies, this is a home run for you. Executive-produced by Will Oldham, BTW.
Stinking Heaven—This one blew me away, an intentionally abrasive dark comedy about the tumultuous dissolution of a 1990s New Jersey commune of ex-addicts who make their living selling "health tea." Shot on period video cameras, it feels sort of like a Mike Leigh movie w/ a few drops of proudly analog grunge added to the stew. If you wished Computer Chess had been about addiction, death, and imploding relationships: boom!
Tab Hunter Confidential—A sweet, fascinating, and well-told documentary portrait of the Hollywood heartthrob, who lived a secret life as a gay man in the unforgiving, tabloid-crazed era of the 1950s—and then reinvented himself as a cult-film star alongside Divine in Polyester. Another classy, top-notch work from the director of Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story and I Am Divine.
Tired Moonlight--Gorgeously shot vignettes built around a mix of local non-professionals and ringers (including Girls’ Alex Karpovsky) coalesce into a rich and poetic portrait of a pit-stop town in Montana situated amidst stunning natural beauty. Britni West’s film is made with first-hand intimacy and love, and it’s the very best kind of experimental film: the kind that truly results in something new.
Uncle Kent 2—For people who loved, hated, or are utterly unaware of Uncle Kent "1," this is a really deranged mind-fucker, a raucous, micro-budgeted This Is the End or Being John Malkovich. Director Todd Rohal is the reigning king of psychotronic filmmaking, known to MFF fans for previous warped features like The Guatemalan Handshake and The Catechism Cataclysm (whose star, Steve Little of Eastbound and Down, also appears here). If you miss MicroCineFest, run don’t walk!
Welcome to Leith—Like edge-of-your seat documentaries? This is one of the most gripping I’ve seen in years. It concerns a notorious white supremacist who targets a North Dakota town of roughly 25 residents, buying up land for himself and his buddies to try to stage a takeover of the city council. The kind, decent people who live there are not down. A tense, troubling, and exciting viewing experience all at once.
Western—In the neighboring towns of Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico, a rugged cattleman and a populist mayor navigate changing times as the specters of cartel violence and xenophobia threaten harmonious cultural and economic exchanges between the U.S. and Mexico. With an uncanny, visceral ability to conjure muggy days and thunderous nights, and boasting exciting narrative, characters, and visuals all at once, this documentary from the directors of 45365 and Tchoupitoulas feels like a masterpiece to me.
What else? This is just the tip of the iceburg. We’ve got dozens more features for you to explore (including new work from Andrew Bujalski, Hannah Fidell, Bobcat Goldthwait, Alex Winter, and both Joe and Kris Swanberg) and a baker’s dozen shorts programs (including the latest film by Baltimore’s own Matt Porterfield), as well as some special events: Abdu Ali presenting Do the Right Thing; Dina Kelberman and Alan Resnick presenting Showgirls; John Waters presenting Killer Joe; and Alloy Orchestra presenting their original live score to The Son of The Sheik.
Have questions? Want recommendations geared even more specifically to your taste? I’d be happy to field them on Twitter at @ericallenhatch. And for more general info, find us at @mdfilmfestival. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at the festival.
In other Baltimore news, today, the Department of Public Works announced the termination of an employee for watching 39 hours of pornography on his work computer during the 82 hours he was investigated.
It is estimated that this DPW supervisor cost the city taxpayers $28,400 in hour he was supposed to be working but was instead watching a porno DVD on his computer.
In freecycling, there’s no greater faux pas than being a no show. Rip a fart in church? Drop a deuce in a punchbowl? Tweet an off-color joke? Mere party fouls when compared to leaving a freecycler with a box of clock making parts or a camera battery on their porch after promising to pick it up and not showing. What’s the freecycler to do but raise the specter of just throwing the bowling balls in the trash or threaten to just keep the magic hostess meat and cheese slicer for themselves?
Re-Offer: arts & crafts supplies (21212) due to multiple no shows! mostly new, unused items: paint by numbers kit (horses), clock making parts, floral/wreath supplies, hair barrettes and combs, scrapbooking, tons of unfinished wood shapes, jewelry making, etc. please email me a specific date & time frame you can do RELIABLE porch pick up in anneslie. don't bother emailing if you're the type that doesn't follow through. thanks for freecycling!
Re-Offer: 1940s books 21228 Noey-Showey, so these are available Five books from the 1940s : Mystery Rides the Rails The Secret Pact Heidi Humphrey Clinker God is my Co-Pilot Good for crafts? I see alot of old books in crafts these days Sandi Catonsville 21228 Beltway exit 13
Re-Offer: NEW 56K INTERNAL FAX MODEM Still in box, sterling communications, only thing missing is the upc that I used for a rebate. Person that I promised it to played a no show (thanks for not calling and telling me that you weren't coming).
Re-OFFER: Canon NB-2L digital camera battery, Catonsville The person didn't show up for this. I prefer someone who can pick this uptoday. Please tell me when you will pick up in your reply, and please don't reply if you aren't sure to get it when you say you will.
Re-OFFER: 2 Bowling Balls HI, Due to 2 no-shows we are posting the bowling balls AGAIN. I do not know how much they weigh but I do know they are the regular 10 pin balls. If these are not picked up before Wednesday, they are going into the trash.
OFFER: (re-offer) adult crutches--wooden 21209 These are the sturdy, good old-fashioned wooden crutches with the foam padding for the hand grips and underarm-y things. They don't make that annoying click like the new aluminum ones do. Pick-up is near TV Hill, not far from Hampden, Cross Keys, Sinai Hosp. Sorry, cast not included (unless you're a no-show).
Re-Offer: Freezer in Cockeysville This is not working at present. Most likely a very simple issue. If you are handy with this type of stuff, you may be able to fix it up and re-sell it. :o) It is about 13-14 yrs old, color is white, and it is very clean. If you say you want it, PLEASE have the decency to show up, or call to say you changed your mind. LOL My father stayed home ALL day yesterday for a very rude no-show.
Re-Offer: Boys Stride Rite Shoes 13W (Hamilton) These shoes are like new. Can't imagine why so many no-shows!
Re-Offer: Headboard in 21201 It is very light to lift and it was attached to a full bed. Serious inquiries only please I am trying to help a friend moveout (supposed to be done this weekend) by the end of the month now- moving into a smaller place. Evening pickups after 7 p.m. are cool with me, but please do not write me if you are NOT going to show up! It is not courteous and it wastes my TIME. (I have had three no shows in the past 2 weeks so I needed to vent! Not the ppl who emailed or called and couldn't make it.)
Re-Offer Big box of men's and women's coats, hats, gloves, backpacks etc 21218 Due to a no show, I still have this box on my porch. If you have responded before and said you were coming, don't bother. Really want this gone ASAP. It's frustrating when folks don't show. I live in Waverly 21218
Re-Offer: metal rake 21227 Used metal rake, works fine. near UMBC DO NOT REPLY UNLESS YOU INTEND TO GET IT WHEN YOU STATE--NO SHOWS ARE GETTING RIDICULOUS! Thanks :)
Re-Offer: Catholic Religious Books I have to offer the following 3 books., 1. Daily Roman Missal 2. Year of the Bible (New Testament) 3 Catechism of the Catholic Church I would appresicate pick up on Sunday., I only ask if you say you are coming , please show up. I hate no-shows......Had too many of them today for other items...
Re-Offer: Two NEW underwater digital cameras (Hamilton 21214) Two, NEW underwater digital cameras with the software included. There is nothing wrong with them, but we bought them not knowing that our recently purchased underwater video camera is ALSO a camera. Please confirm a pick up date & will then email the address to pick them up ****We have had two no shows for these, so PLEASE don't ask for them if you have no interest in getting them as it is QUITE time consuming to go through many, many emails to try and give something away instead of just throwing it in the trash.
RE-OFFER: Saunder Cherry Computer Armoire 21236 We are now at 2 people who have not shown or changed their mind without even coming here. Please only serious requests. I have moved this twice from my condo to the hallway and back. This is the last time I will offer it here. Ladies, please check with your husbands about getting this before replying that you want it so bad and then the "husband says no". You will need at least 2 strong people with you. This is a Saunder Cherry Computer Armoire. Approximately 6' tall, 3' wide and 2' deep. Obviously it is empty now.
Re-Offer: vintage magic hostess meat and cheese slicer (21222) This slicer is hand operated and has a very sharp six inch blade that is attached to a hand crank. This slicer will handle a whole stick of cheese, a chicken or turkey breast, you name it. If someone does not show up to pick it up this time I'm keeping it for myself!