How’s this for a sign?

The North American release date of 2012, the latest and hopefully last disaster picture from the same aesthetes who brought you the cinematic “Ode to a Nightingale” that is Independence Day, is Friday, November 13.

My birthday.

This is wrong for so many reasons. If 11/13 were going to be defiled, I’d rather Roland Emmerich, the “auteur” whose flick this is, just take a birthday dump on my front porch.

First things first.

With the economy in shambles, Pakistan’s nukes on the verge of Taliban seizure, North Korea getting all up in our shit, new strains of TB and flus swine and avian that drugs don’t cure, Adam Lambert losing American Idol, A-Rod producing in the postseason…with the world, in other words, teetering on the brink of what seems like the End of Days, I’d like to take this opportunity to hip you, TNB Nation, to an essential truth:

The world is not going to fucking end in 2012.

If you’re down with New Age stuff—or if you’ve been to Barnes & Noble lately and beheld the “2012” books in the New Age section—you know that 2012 is, supposedly, when the ancient Mayans predicted that the world would end.

Not so fast.

“The claimed date arises from the fact that in that year (depending on how one calculates) the time unit called Baktun will complete its thirteenth turn,” explains the linguistic scholar Zecharia Sitchin in his recent book, The End of Days. “Since a Baktun lasts 144,000 days, it is some kind of milestone.”

Sitchin debunks the apocalypse prophesy, explaining that the Mayan calender is based on something called the Long Count, and is, like ours, linear, “and not the required cyclical one, so that its counted days could roll on to the fourteenth Baktun and the fifteenth Baktun and on and on.”

In other words, the Mayan calendar ended in 2012 because the ancients didn’t feel the need to keep going, just as computer programmers in the 1950s didn’t feel the need to register dates past 1999. 2012 is a Mayan Y2k. You know how in Attention. Deficit. Disorder., our own Brad Listi says that 2000, being the end of the twentieth and not the beginning of the twenty-first century, is an arbitrary year? Same thing with 2012.

This all makes perfect sense, if you think about it for more than thirty seconds. After all, if the Mayans were so good at predicting the future, they’d still be around.

But there’s more to my disgust than Emmerich’s blatant exploitation of (what he hopes will be) popular hysteria about a myth he probably knows is bullshit. A gander at his IMDB page makes clear that, by any standard other than, alas, the gold one, Emmerich is one of the worst directors of all time. Independence Day, in particular, is an abomination. I was physically ill after that movegoing experience; I felt like my brain had been violated.

2012 promises to be even more repugnant. In the trailer alone, we witness the destruction of the White House, the Washington Monument, the Chrysler Building, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the statue of Jesus above Rio de Janiero, and most of the city of Los Angeles, which snaps off like a tortilla chip and falls into the violent sea.

I do not wish to come across as some latter-day Anthony Comstock, crusading for higher morals in Hollywood or some such thing—my book is called Totally Killer; there’s a gun on the cover; glass houses, stones—but 2012 veers well beyond the bounds of good taste. As an erstwhile New Yorker who was in Manhattan on 9/11, I’m really not interested in watching landmarks blow up. It’s too soon. And the fact that other people might get off on this kind of thing—2.5 million people have viewed the trailer on YouTubepisses me off.

John Cusack looks heavenward, perhaps for atonement

John Cusack looks heavenward, perhaps for atonement

(John Cusack, a word with you. You were Lloyd Dobler, you were Lane Meyer, you were Hoops McCann. You were an essential component of my childhood. Now you are Brett Favre in a Vikings jersey. Why oh why would you attach your esteemed name to this piece of crap? Was Grace Is Gone that poorly received? Did you invest all your money with Bernie Madoff? Please tell me it wasn’t because you read the script and thought, “This sounds great.” If you need a hip project that will make you feel relevant, have your people contact my people.)

Yes, I know, I know. Emmerich’s movies have a Message. The Day After Tomorrow, perhaps his best film (which is like saying “skin” is perhaps the best form of cancer), is intended as a global warming warning. Some sort of moral lurks in 2012 as well, no doubt. The film is supposed to Restore Our Faith in Humanity.

Whatever. That’s like making a snuff film and tacking on a don’t-talk-to-strangers PSA at the end. Emmerich is, for all intents and purposes, a pornographer. The only difference is that pornography is honest about its intention, while Emmerich poses as some sort of parable-spewing do-gooder. What possible good can come from watching images like that? And how is this dreck rated PG-13? Why is sex more subversive than Emmerich’s scenes of wanton apocalypse?

You know what I want for my birthday this year? A story in Variety about The Fantastic Mr. Fox crushing 2012 at the box office. Headlines like these on Yahoo! News:

2012’S 15 MINUTES UP.



Now that would restore my faith in humanity.

185 Original Comments:

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 05:01:59

It seems lately that with the advances in special effects they’re being used just because they can, not because they should be.

It’s like ”hey, we can show the Empire State melting like a candle— and have it photo-realistic!”

”Wow! Let’s make a movie about THAT!”

”Hey, remember that Transformers cartoon from the 80s? The toy spin off? Well look at THIS!”

”That’s unbelievable! Let’s make a movie about THAT! We can have spin off toys to supplement the box office takings!”

Terminator 2 blew minds back in 1991 because of the special effects— which still hold up today (as opposed to the stop motion endo-skeleton from the first film). Cameron didn’t use the special effects as the basis of his movie, but as something that made a world of science fiction seem real.

And I’m totally with you, anyone who wants to go and see landmarks blow up has something wrong with them. I few years ago, even post-9/11, I could have understood the mentality behind ‘hey, I heard they can make it look like ………… gets destroyed.’ But now it’s so ubiquitous in movies there’s nothing amazing about it, and nothing good about watching it happen.

I just watched the first season of Heroes (yes, I’m at least 4 years behind the rest of the world) and that was a perfect example of how to use special effects. Pretty much every aspect of it we’ve seen before— even the T-1000 walking through bars effect. But it’s done in such a way that it does blow your mind. The destruction of NY is shown repeatedly, but never any major landmarks, done for shock value.

In T2 Cameron shows LA blow up. LA has no real landmarks— certainly not in the way NY has. That’s shocking because… shit, did you see that dude?! It’s not ‘AWESOME, the Statue of Liberty just imploded!”

There are numerous examples, but Heroes season one and Terminator 2 are examples of special effects aiding the story. Films like 2012, Transformers, Independence Day… the special efects ARE the story.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 07:39:37

Well said, Jedi. Totally agree. Well-used special effects add to the story, and that’s all. When Nathan flies in the first season of “Heroes”? It’s nothing special, but man is it good.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 08:12:51

Exactly— most of the effects used have been seen in movies before. Although actually there were numerous times I had to rewind to watch something again— when Claire walks out of the exploding house I was thinking ‘they’re is no way they are going to show a charred skeleton walking out…’

And then that’s exactly what we see… all the effects used with that character are mind blowing.

The only dodgy special effect is where ‘Zane’ melts the toaster.

Heroes could exist without special effects— but the special effects would have been pointless without an amazingly detailed, layered and complex story, great writing and some of the best acting I’ve ever seen.

I’ve only just watched season one, so I’m still very excited, to the point of obsession.

It’s also the reason I’m only halfway through Totally Killer— which, like, totally is… I love all the pop culture references. I also kind of wish I lived in 1991 now— Point Break or Terminator 2? What a world to live in!

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 08:39:49

Glad to hear you’re enjoying TK.

The second season of “Heroes” is putrescently bad. Just warning you.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 09:41:44

I’ve heard, which is a shame.

Even without knowing that, I don’t think there should have been a second season. It’s like when great films get needless sequels.

Okay, sometimes you get a T2 or an Aliens…

Season one is such a perfect self contained story that it should have either started again with a totally knew story and the old heroes as cameos, or gone back and done a season featuring the Linderman, the old Petrelli woman, and Shaft and Mohinder’s father.

Although it has to be said it was good to be left with one last surprise, in the shape of that bloodied manhole…

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 11:22:17

What you said about Linderman and the old Petrelli woman? Be careful what you wish for.

Also: Mohinder is that most annoying character on an otherwise good show of all time. Discuss.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 13:18:45

Is there backstory to that? Have I already disappointed myself? That’s a shame. I’ll probably get season 2 though, because I don’t have anything better to do.

And I agree…. The who who plays Mohinder isn’t the world’s greatest actor. I actually found Parkman annoyed me more— his wife further still. But Heroes wouldn’t work without Mohinder… and I’ve always liked him despite the weird way he delivers his lines… and I think he does get better towards the end.

I mean I’ve always thought Mohinder kind of patchy, but I’ve straight up hoped Parkman dies in almost every scene…

I haven’t seen anything other than season one, so maybe he gets more annoying— I can see that as a very real possibility.

I know Parkman survives… he’s always struck me as the least interesting character with the lamest ability too.

Who’s the best character though? I’m torn between Hiro and Peter and… the invisible guy Eccelstone played. That’s much tougher, I think. The Peter Petrelli in ‘Five Years Gone’ is pretty fucking cool.

Did you mean ‘best show of all time’? And if so… I can’t think of anything I’ve ever seen that can match the excitement and quality of season one…

2009-10-25 14:06:26

A friend of mine excels at making fun of Mohinder. I’m told I do a good impression of him.

Oh, Mohinder. Always whining!

(Sendal Ramathurty, who plays Mohinder [I hope I’ve got the spelling right] is the cousin of Jay Chandrasekhar, who is known from Broken Lizard. Just FYI).

Oh, Heroes. After Season 1, I trusted you so much. And you just let me down, time and again.

I agree – the bit where Nathan takes off and then breaks the sound barrier was nothing huge and overwhelming, but just a really well-placed scene.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 14:07:25

Nah, it’s not the best show of all time. Not even close. “The Wire” is the best, with “Mad Men” a close second.

There are two people I like on “Heroes”. They are 1) Noah with his horn-rimmed glasses, and 2) Sylar. I actively hate Peter Petrelli, his mom, and Mohinder. Claire has her moments, as does Nathan, but not enough of them, and Ali Larter is great but underutilized.

After Season Two, you will hate Hiro, strange as it may seem now. And if you don’t like Parkman already, just you wait.

In the show’s defense, S2 was during the writer’s strike. And, I mean, I’m still watching the show, warts and all. I’m just warning you. If your expectations are low you’ll enjoy it more.

2009-10-25 14:15:54

Hiro becomes the show’s Jar Jar Binks!

And I can’t STAND Mohinder – everything about him – especially his irritating voice.
The worse actor ever. And if anyone has read Duke’s Banned For Life book, I totally picture Irina to look like the girl in the first season who secudes and then betrays Mohinder.

2009-10-25 14:21:49

Eden McCain!?!?!

2009-10-25 14:36:45

yeah. while reading it, that’s who popped into my mind.
is that…..bad?

2009-10-25 14:41:58

It could be very unpleasant for Jason if the same voice-mind-control power took place.

Whew. Thank Heaven for Sylar!

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:01:59

Greg— I’ve heard great things about both those shows. I don’t think I’d enjoy them as much though. It’s weird: CCB gradually become more and more sci-fi just before I really got into sci-fi stuff and started reading comics/graphic novels. So I think however great The Wire is, Heroes season one has more that appeals to me.

The guy who playes Noah is excellent. I mean at first it’s no doubt that he’s a bad guy and then eventually it becomes less and less certain. It’s a testament to his acting that you’re never quite sure.
And the worst/best thing about Sylar is that he’s always so likeable. Even when comitting horrible acts of evil you can’t really help but think he’s pretty cool.

Hiro only works with Ando. I can’t see him working past season one, but I am curious. And Parkman hints at being an asshole in ‘five years gone.’ He seems to radiate evil…

Claire is kind of annoying at times, in a bad way. Nathan is annoying but in a ‘ah, you bastard, you!’ kind of way. I thought the whole point of Peter was that he was the ‘likeable one.’

Ali Larter probably has the toughest character(s) to play, and is never anything less than believable.

Its amazing how badly the Writers strike fucked everything up. 30 Rock never really recovered, The Simpson’s really, finally died and Family Guy got even lazier.

I’ve heard awful things about seasons 2, 3 and 4. I’ll probably still watch them though. If I go in with low expectations then the rare good bits will impress even more. I’m easily pleased to be honest, I love Ghostbusters II, even though it’s pretty much a less funny remake of Ghostbusters…

2009-10-25 15:07:18

sorry if this nests weirdly – to Simon – I guess I meant
the actress who plays Eden, who is actually Nora something before she becomes Eden, not necessarily Eden, but her look.
But if you think about it, Irina maybe does have those powers…..mayyybbbbeeeeee…..

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:11:35

Her eyes are freakishly large.

In a good way.

In a very good way…

2009-10-25 15:14:15

I kind of think so too.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:49:02

Jedi – You have to be in the mood to watch those shows. But they are better, categorically, than the ones we’ve discussed. And not so highbrow to turn off people.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 16:12:41

I watched a few trailers for The Wire. I actually… this is so sad… did background research into a few recent hit US shows before deciding which one to invest it.

It was mostly between The Wire, Heroes and Deadwood. The Wire lost out due to the fact that it is intensely popular over here and therefore incredibly overpriced. Deadwood is only 12 episodes a season.

I’m sure I’ll watch them eventually.

On a different subject, yesterday I was researching the JFK assassination for a story I was writing. Later I picked up Totally Killer and right there, is stuff about JFK.

Today I’ve been mentioning Batman a lot.

I’ve just been to the toilet and opened up Totally Killer— right there, Batman reference.

It’s freaking me out.

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-25 16:54:56

Deadwood is so worth it. Each episode feels like a full-length movie. And it stands up to repeat viewings.

Though you should be warned: you will walk away with the overpowering urge to call people “cocksucker” all the time.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 17:09:37

I already have that urge.


Cheers, I’ll pick it up next time I find it. That and Heroes season two.

What can I say? I’m still intrigued…

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 17:10:06

Jedi – For JFK, just read Ellroy’s novel American Tabloid. Because that’s pretty much how it went down.

Matt – I do that anyway, Deadwood or no…

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-25 20:55:17

Steph (way down here), I am going to have to find a picture of this girl you mention. And will.

I personally saw Irina as looking like Isabelle Adjani in La Reine Margot. Here’s the trailer, if you didn’t catch the movie.


The girl on whom Irina was based doesn’t have Adjani’s dark hair, though she’s fair-skinned and delicate-featured like Adjani.

Also, interestingly, if you’d asked me a few years ago who’d have made a good Jason in a movie adaptation, I’d have said John Cusack. I’ve met him, and he’s a huge guy, built like a football player, which doesn’t translate onscreen. He was kind of a barroom hero when I met him — instantly likable — but he now he looks so sour. He is sour, according to intermediaries. Which perhaps explains how he’s ended up in 2012.

2009-10-25 22:56:09

Here you go, Duke – a quick search revealed this:


Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-25 23:13:48

You read my mind. I’d Googled pictures, and I was about to have a look on YouTube, but you’ve kindly saved me the trouble of a search.

It made me laugh, I’ll say that. I love the idea that Irina could have that kind of “devil” voice. And that girl has the same coloring as Irina, but she can just barely act, huh?

Did you check out that clip of Adjani?

Sorry, Greg, for the digression here.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 03:11:18

I pictured Sandra Bullock as Irina.

Ha! Just kidding.

And Cusack is so wrong as Jason. It’s never stated in the book, but Jason is clearly a nice-looking dude. I picture someone who could be a J. Crew model but defected to punk. Cusack is neither of those things. He’s too beta male.

Comment by Don Mitchell |Edit This
2009-10-26 03:21:10

For a JFK-plot novel, DeLillo’s “Libra” is pretty nice. I overlooked it for years but finally read it, and was really impressed.

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-26 03:53:01

I very much liked the Oswald sections of Libra, but for me the book wasn’t half as good when it veered away from him.

I’m sure Jason would be flattered by your picture of him, Greg, but I should say again that Cusack in person was, to me at least, very different than he was onscreen. I’ve met I don’t know how many celebrities, and only a handful were truly charismatic. He would be near the top of the list.

Love Sandra Bullock as Irina. An inspired idea.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 04:50:39

Don — Libra is a terrific book, gorgeously written, but, as far as my research goes, not anywhere near what really happened. I’m of the Oswald-was-a-patsy line of thinking…Ellroy doesn’t mention Oswald at all, and only references him at the very end, when they decide to change a right-wing patsy to a left-wing patsy.

Duke – Bullock as Irina, DiCaprio as Jason, and Elijah Wood as Pee-Wee.

Comment by stephanie stjohn olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 06:34:31

and John C. O’Reilly as Jim.
or Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-26 08:22:43

Both excellent suggestions.

What do you think of Ben Affleck as Jason?

I know, I know.

But Elijah Wood played a hobbit, and no hobbit can play Peewee.

2009-10-26 11:30:39

i don’t know about Ben Affleck.
How about Wes Bentley?
He’s da bomb.

2009-10-26 12:26:38

Actually, I could see Affleck as Jason…

2009-10-26 13:11:43

Really? I feel like he’s too smooth around the edges.
I picture a more interesting guy. I mean, I’d take it – I like him.
I just picture edgier. Like, Wes, sigh, Bentley.

2009-10-26 13:34:07

After seeing Hollywoodland, I could really see Affleck doing the whole jaded star bit; I know what you mean about rough around the edges, though.

If he could be persuaded to get a lot fatter, how about Gabriel Byrne as Jim?

2009-10-26 13:34:28

Ack! Italics!

2009-10-26 13:45:37

oooh – Greg just said – how about Val Kilmer?
And he’s already fat!

2009-10-26 13:48:48

Oh! Oh! Perfect!

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 13:51:26

Yes. We can use old footage of him in “The Doors” for early ROT shows.

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-26 15:38:41

Kilmer it is. Great idea. JC did have a thing about Morrison, you know.

I was partly in jest about Affleck — but Bentley? Is he alive?

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 16:42:03

We’ve been totally in jest the whole time. But not about Kilmer. He’s perfect. And Bentley works, too…love him. Jamie Kennedy could be Pee-Wee, maybe.

Comment by stephanie stjohn olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 17:10:04

Or it could be Ben Affleck as Jason and Matt Damon as Pee-Wee (in a short suit). And then maybe Kevin Smith could play Jim! And he could direct it!

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-27 01:15:32

No way to Kevin Smith. I decided on Kilmer, and Kilmer it is. Meantime, I’m worried about Matt Damon’s short suit. Isn’t that going to hurt? I mean, the guy already looks a little like Frankenstein.

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-25 05:25:34

Emmerich is a hack of the first order, and his films all have plot holes in them so big a pod of blue whales could pass through them undetected. I was the only member of a group leaving Independence Day saying, “Wow, that was a festering piece of shit.” Emmerich is pretty high up on the list of People Who Will Suffer Horribly Once I Rule the World. I’d rather spend 2 hours repeatedly hitting myself in the genitals with a claw hammer than sit through another one of his flicks again.

If Emmerich is one of the Four Horsemen, than he’s Pestilence for sure.

And I don’t know what pisses me off more: the people who are making money fueling 2012 mania, or the saps who are so willingly buying into it. Because, as you point out, even a cursory examination of Mayan culture reveals the entire doomsday notion as total New Age bunk.

Now a movie version of Totally Killer,/i>? That I’d go see, even though I know the Hollywood version would likely be directed by Brett Ratner and star Megan Fox as Taylor Schmidt.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 08:43:37

LLOL, where the first L is for literally.

Apocalypse, remember, is the foundation of almost all religions, major or minor. There’s something in our psychology that makes us want to believe that The End Is Near. Not sure why, although I have some theories.

I have no problem with Brett Ratner. Would be happy to have him do TK. (Brett, please see the “contact” link in the post).

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 09:45:17

With literally any excuse to talk about the novel I’m still writing when I can…

CCB has the apocalypse— or apocalypse theories, as one of it’s many strands. Although it’s not exactly serious…

Actually, it’s really just one long apocalypse theory…

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Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-25 16:56:42

Rattner’s a bit of a douche, but I have to give the man credit: I thought he did a much better job with Red Dragon than Ridley Scott did with Hannibal.

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 16:42:36

Ratner’s cameo on Entourage is pretty good, too.

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-26 17:05:49


I hit a point with Entourage where I realized I was just watching it for the celebrity cameos, and didn’t give a shit about any of the characters. I quit watching after that, and canceled the cable altogether not much longer. I hear I missed a great Matt Damon appearance, but honestly, after “I”m Fucking Matt Damon” we all knew the guy had a sense of humor about himself.

2009-10-25 07:14:45

First, terrific post. Anything that appeals to common sense and rational thought over mass/mostly ignorant hysteria is rad in my book. And my book is short. So good stuff.

I must, however, be the contrarian; I’m the guy who typically loves such movies for what they are, which I equate roughly to a roller coaster–fun for a little bit, with lots of twists and turns and a Wheeeeee! factor, but mostly something I’m going to forget five minutes after I rode it. I saw ID4, which has how it was abbreved back then on hats and such, in the theater with my family. I was a freshman in college, and I remember enjoying sitting in the dark and watching stuff blow up and laughing a lot at Will Smith (it was his first giant movie). Sure, parts were silly, but it wasn’t like it was actually pretending to be Cinema; just moving pictures, and boyhow did they move. I just watched Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen last night, in fact, in Blu-Ray on a giant screen, and it was perfect for what it was meant to be.

I’m the guy who loves that Michael Bay says “ACTION ACTION ACTION!” because just the one is never enough.

There’s a strong correlation between movies like those and books like The Lost Symbol and Twilight; they’ll probably never be acclaimed by critics, but they can be fun as hell for what they do, and most importantly, they sell in droves enough that they let publishers afford to release their smaller, midlist books with comparatively littler audiences. If I’m not mistaken, ID4 was pretty much the first summer blockbuster of the modern age, the first tentpole flick, with a high budget ($70 million) grossing an exorbitant amount ($350 million domestic, an addition half a billion foreign); it’s sort of the reason Fox could make a movie like Two Girls and a Guy.

I can’t see Ratner on Totally Killer; it’s strikes me Liman would do a better job with it. With Mandy Moore as Taylor.

Heh. Totally joking.

Or am I?

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 08:52:33

Thanks, Will.

And I’m with you, generally speaking. My film-snob days are long behind me. For example, I feel exactly the same way about Lars von Trier that I do about Emmerich. I just don’t think “Antichrist” is in any danger of breaking box office records.

I enjoy a good blockbuster, and there have been some great ones in recent years, especially Batman Begins, the Jason Bourne movies, and the entire Danny Ocean franchise. Even the ones I don’t personally dig as much as other people do — the Harry Potters and Hobbits — I don’t take issue with. They are what they are, and there’s something to be said for millions of people getting excited for a pop cultural event.

But Independence Day really made me ill, I think because Emmerich cultivates this intellectual air. Michael Bay knows he’s Michael Bay; he makes no bones about the fact that he likes movies with explosions. Emmerich isn’t like that. He fancies himself an auteur. I think that’s my problem.

You only like Will Smith because his name is Will. Admit it.


Liman & Mandy Moore? Done and done. I liked Mr. & Mrs. Smith. See? What film snob would admit that?

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 13:30:03

The thing is Batman Begins and the Bourne films are just straight up good films.

I didn’t rate the Dark Knight as much as Batman Begins— Begins doesn’t have that ledger performance, but it has a much more interesting story.

And the Bourne films? Well, it’s one of the greatest trilogies of all time. And the reason for that, for both of those actually, is a question of actor.

The actors who have played Batman is hardly a Who’s Who of acting talent. Christian Bale is probably the only really good dramatic actor to take on the role. Batman Begins had the only really good Batman plot. And hence, a great new take on Batman.

The Bourne films could have easily been adapted into one of those straight to DVD action movies. But they took the basic story and gave audience a well rounded character and a well written, well paced story arc.

The Ocean’s remakes aren’t quite the same, although it has to be said that they are good fun, entertaining and not reliant on special effects.

Wasn’t Jaws the first blockbuster? I’m sure it was a Spielberg film… anyway, a blockbuster film doesn’t have to be bad, it’s just a sad fact that most blockbusters are popular for a reason…

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 13:59:33

The first blockbuster was Gone With the Wind. I don’t have the exact figures on hand, but if you convert the box office into 2009 dollars, nothing comes close. It’s the John D. Rockefeller of movies. New movies say they broke this and that record, but it’s only because of inflation. Nothing will EVER beat GWTW.

Second Batman is crappy, except for Heath. Bale in the Batman suit affects this odd whisper that makes him sound like he’s making a crank phone call and getting off on it. He’s like Batman by way of P.S. Hoffman in “Happiness.” Weird.

I love the Ocean movies most, especially the second one. The scene where Julia Roberts is at the hotel and Bruce Willis shows up? Matt Damon is brilliant in that. And I like that they don’t go too crazy. I don’t need plot twists galore, in that kind of flick. Just show me how they break into the vault, is all I want.

2009-10-25 14:08:13

I used to have this debate with my old boss Sash when we worked for a video company. She made the point that yes, absolutely, there are popcorn movies that are perfectly valid as popcorn movies… but there’s no excuse for making a bad popcorn movie.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:09:04

Okay, but Jaws was the first to actually be referred to as a ‘blaockbuster.’

I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t like the Dark Knight. Ledger actually kind of ruined it by dominating it. The same thing happened to Batman and Batman Returns. The film becomes more about the villain and it’s like Batman has a cameo. Batman Begins was pretty much the only Bat-film that was actually about Batman.

The Dark Knight had a pretty weak plot too— it was like it had a ‘more the merrier’ mentality, that killed Spider-Man 3 too.

Matt Damon is great in anything and everything. The Ocean’s movies work because they’re fun, it’s as simple as that. I mean think about all the stars they had— they could have made the laziest film in the world and people would have come to see it.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:32:44

Simon: Amen, Sash.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:50:03

Did you see Matt Damon in the season finale of Entourage? So fucking funny.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 16:14:10

Can’t say I have, have you seen him in the Jay and Silent Bob movie?

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon filming Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season is fucking brilliant.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 17:10:48

No! Will have to check that out.

2009-10-26 11:56:35

I’m going to ignore the fact that every single one of you is forgetting someone Very Busy and Important.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 13:05:39

Yes, yes, click on K-Dub’s link.

2009-10-26 13:49:09

Yes, have some.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 13:52:08

Simon’s on his Ghostbusters kick…

2009-10-26 13:52:54

Back off, man. I’m a scientist.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 16:43:17

If someone asks if you’re a god, you say, “Yes!”

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-26 17:06:31

Nobody steps on a church in my town!

Comment by Don Mitchell |Edit This
2009-10-25 07:54:25

Sheesh, Greg. You mean you weren’t willing to believe that what’s-his-name, the smart Earthling in Independence Day, could whip up a virus that would bring down alien computers? You’re a hard man to please.

I think I remember that the computer mags were yukking it up over that one.

I totally agree with you, though, about the larger issue. In my years in the classroom I discovered that far too many students weren’t always aware of the boundaries between TV, film, and what passes for archaeological/ethnographic reality.

One time I had a great discussion going about the ethics of putting an Egyptian mummy up for sale on eBay (it turned out to be a fake, but at the time that wasn’t known). The students were into it, it was going well, and then my whacked-out 50 year old student raised her hand and said, “Yeah, and there’s another reason not to do that.”

“What is it?”

“Well, you know, the curse.”

The discussion didn’t recover.

If I could have a birthday wish, it would be that the Mayans could return to being nothing more than an extremely interesting archaeological culture. So much of what people think they know about them (example: crystal skulls) is just fucking bullshit, nothing more.

2009-10-25 08:08:36

I totally agree about crystal skulls and what people think they know about Mayans.

Everyone knows those were made by the Aztecs.

(I’m totally joking.)

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 09:26:12


The joke at the time, if I remember rightly, is that the Mac that Will Smith used to upload said virus to the alien computer was not even compatible with the IBMs on Earth.

In your academic career, did you by chance encounter a Dr. Jones, the archeology professor at U. of Chicago? Apparently he found the Ark of the Covenant, but it was seized by the government.


Comment by Don Mitchell |Edit This
2009-10-25 09:48:09

That Jones dude has some impressive credentials. Not only did he “excavate” burial sites without training, he managed to get into a university named after him. Well, maybe not the Vendyl part.

from something I turned up with Google:

“Another of Jones� early interests was archeology, and he spent much of his childhood hunting Indian relics and excavating the many burial sites in that part of the Texas Panhandle. By the age of 16, Jones knew that his life was to be dedicated to doing G-d�s work. After completing high school, Jones attended Southwestern Theological Seminary for a short time. He received a Baccalaureate of Divinity and a Masters Degree of Theology from the Bible Baptist Seminary. After finishing his Masters Degree, he continued his studies at Bob Jones University while working at the Bowen Biblical Museum under the curators, Dr. William and Mrs. Bowen, who were students and associates of the late W. M. Petrie, a noted Egyptologist, and Biblical Archeologist, W. F. Albright.”

Bob Jones is the only university I can find him associated with.

I’d forgotten that part about the Mac.

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 12:04:24

The Dr. Jones I refer to most definitely did not attend Bob Jones University. But he was before your time, what with his battles with the Nazi archeologists and all…

Comment by Don Mitchell |Edit This
2009-10-25 12:23:54

I believe I’ve just demonstrated a poor grasp of popular culture. What can I say?

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 12:29:35

You should take a bow and be proud, it says here. Plus, that Google blurb was really entertaining, in a scary kinda way…

2009-10-25 08:24:17

Ah, my fellow Scorpio, this was a wonderful post. Personally, I think we should beat Emmerich to the punch and go take dumps on his doorstep. It’ll be a grand and glorious birthday present to ourselves.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 09:27:09

An inspired idea, Rich!

I’m in LA the weekend of Nov 20th, and will hopefully see you then, not far after our birthdays. Buy one of those Star Maps, and we’ll get crappin’.

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-26 03:40:44

I hope Rich can be persuaded to hit the town where you’re among us, Greg.

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2009-10-25 09:09:34

I’m quite fond of Independence Day, solely – solely – because it has the biggest spaceships. District 9, though – I enjoyed that (at the IMAX!) more than any film I’ve seen in years. A big part of that enjoyment was the way the effects served the story, and blended in beautifully with the dirty, dusty hand-held aesthetic.

I won’t go on; I get the impression that a lot of TNB contributors could happily geek on in the same vein.

Greg, extra props for naming and shaming Cusack. Disgraceful.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 09:29:53

Thanks, Steve. I can forgive Amanda Peet — “Studio 60″ got canceled, she had a baby, she needs the work, and also, she’s Amanda Peet. But Cusack? Et tu, Martin Q. Blank.

Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2009-10-25 09:56:28

um, i love Independence Day.

it has everything i want:

black/white buddy comedy
and old stereotyped jew
a young neurotic jew genius who went to MIT
a stripper with a heart of gold
a dog defying the odds
giant spaceships
humans banding together in a common goal
fighter pilots
a self-important presidential speech
a drunk redeeming himself
area 51
space travel

i could go on, but i feel i’ve made my point. it’s the most comprehensively appealing movie ever made. IT. HAS. EVERYTHING.

i’ve seen it at least 50 times. it’s my sick movie. i must watch it when i’m sick.

anyway, even though you totally don’t understand Independence Day, i think you’re awesome.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 11:23:26

And I think you’re awesome, even though you’ve seen this awful thing so many times.

You forgot “midgets” on your list, though… ; )

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-25 23:15:36

Your mom has already alerted TNB as to your Independence Day sweet tooth, Lenore.

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-26 03:51:24

I hate to come to Lenore’s defense, but “Independence Day” came out when Lenore was only 15. She was barely into her teens and impressionable. It’s sort of why she likes to bake cookies with me. It’s a taste of her childhood.
Of course, there is the fact that as far as movies are concerned, she has the worst taste and prefers any trash over any acclaimed “art” movie. She also refuses to read subtitles, even though she has no trouble reading.
Stubborn and bad movie taste. That about sums it up.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 04:52:49

Hmm, I forgot about that, that she’s so much younger. That does explain things somewhat.

And Irene, way to throw the stubborn/bad taste aside way in here, where she won’t find it. Well played.

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-26 08:23:52

Oh, yeah, she’ll never see it here. Nope. Never in a million years.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-27 14:53:10

HA! Duke!

You think she will see this, but, unless you tell her, she never will cause it’s in the middle of the comments and she’s ultra-super-busy now.

I’m totally getting away with this!

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-25 17:34:01

You get a pass because it’s your Sick Day movie. Everyone is allowed unassailable comfort items when they get sick.

2009-10-25 10:23:39

Ummmm…wasn’t the world supposed to end when the calendar flipped to the year 2000 as well? Wasn’t that what all the ATM withdrawals, bottled water and batteries were supposed to be a guard against?
You know…if the world is going to end…there pretty much isn’t a damn thing we’re going to be able to do about it …. But John Cusack? Really? Is this what he decided to do to get his old buddy Jeremy Piven and his mercury poisoning out of the news? Oh Lloyd Dobler…Say and do anything but this!
Great piece, Greg.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 11:26:44

Thanks, Robin.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the world will end in 1914. The entire religion is based upon that belief. I’m not even joking. Ask DuShane–he’ll confirm.


“It is my understanding that Jeremy Piven has quit acting in order to be a thermometer.” – David Mamet

Comment by Zara Potts |Edit This
2009-10-25 11:02:02

Oh man, I have lost count of the times the world has supposed to have ended. When I was at high school, Nostradamus was all the rage.
I still remember there being lots of antsy people when 1983 clicked over to 1984. And the hysteria of Y2K.
My mother will probably kill me for saying this, but she is touched with a little bit of the conspiracy theory bug and in the late nineties, she was convinced that something terrible was coming our way – something called ‘The Photon Belt.’ I seem to remember her filling up the bathtub with water just in case. How I laughed!!
I’m over disaster movies though. How any times must we see LA fall apart? Or New York, Paris and London get wasted? And how come aliens, and floods and ice ages never come to Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland?? Oh that’s right – we’ve got hobbits and Orcs and Australia has Mad Max.
This was such a good post, Greg! Brilliant!

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 11:30:30

Thanks, Zara.

The world is going to end in 2020, by the way. Weird once-in-a-thousand-lifetimes conjunction of outer planets. Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

My freshmen year of college, there was some odd rumor that Nostradamus predicted a slaughter on the Georgetown campus. The “perfect children” would have their throats slit. My friend Gates and I wrote a parody of “Sounds of Silence” about it (instead of “sounds of silence” it was “Nos-tra-da-mus”). We called our “band” The Perfect Children. And for a split second, that Halloween, I was afraid that we had fucked ourselves, that Nostradamus was right, and that only Gates and I would get killed. Then I drank about eight beers and forgot all about it…

2009-10-25 14:09:55

And you, Lennie… you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters…

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:33:40

Well, you are the corner penthouse of spook central. Astrologically speaking, that is.

Comment by Tawni |Edit This
2009-10-25 12:20:32

“After all, if the Mayans were so good at predicting the future, they’d still be around.”

I choked on my green tea whilst reading this.

Thank you for so perfectly voicing my disdain for this upcoming movie and all of the annoying Facebook updates and links on the subject of our impending doom it will likely bring to the pop culture table. (And John Cusack. Oh John. How could you be a part of this? I have loved you for so long, and this is how you repay me?)

Really great writing, as usual. And happy upcoming birthday, fellow Scorpio!

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 13:50:38

Thanks, Tawni. I hope the tea did not screw up your keyboard. And happy birthday yourself!

Tried to find how much JC got paid for this piece of turd, but it wasn’t readily apparent. Here’s something he said two years ago, per IMDB:

“I’ve made 10 good films. The ones that suck I tend to blank out. It’s like I never even made them. Well, there aren’t 40 that are great, put it that way. But that’s fine. Ten is a good batting average.”

He’s still on ten…

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:10:17

Is Con Air in that ten?

It should be.

Con Air was fucking awesome.

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:37:41

In no particular order:

Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, Say Anything, Being John Malkovich, Bullets Over Broadway, Gross Pointe Blank, High Fidelity, Eight Men Out

And he had small parts in other great films, like The Player, Bob Roberts, Stand By Me

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 16:04:16

Being John Malkovich, Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity are all pretty good.

Not Con Air good, but still…

2009-10-25 13:49:41

“In other words, the Mayan calendar ended in 2012 because the ancients didn’t feel the need to keep going, just as computer programmers in the 1950s didn’t feel the need to register dates past 1999″

I love this. I picture them all at their weekly meeting over kudzu root lattes and husk biscuits saying,”Shit man, 2012 is enough, right? I’m done. I’m tired. Gotta get home to the wife n kids.”

Glad you posted this Greggie!

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 14:00:27

Thanks, Stephie. And also, thanks for not giving me crap about saying I’m no longer a film snob. We own Employee of the Month on DVD, after all…

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:26:29

Well, there’s a Sign of the Apocalypse if I’ve ever seen one….

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:39:15

It’s an odd thing…although Dane Cook’s stand-up is — how shall I put it diplomatically? — profoundly unfunny, he’s a pretty good comic actor, and Dax Shepard is amazing. I’m not saying it’s good or anything, but it’s better than you’d think at first blush.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 16:05:43

I remember watching Employee of the Month at my last university and being annoyed that I kind of enjoyed it.

It’s not terrible.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 02:14:59

“It’s not terrible.” They should use that in the promos…

2009-10-26 12:00:07

**spits seltzer on the computer screen**

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2009-10-25 14:08:31

And c’mon – we’ve been dissecting Point Break for the past three days.

If anyone knows your guilty pleasures, it’s me.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:35:05

Point Break is my favourite film.

It’s no great work of art, but it’s flat out entertainment.

I only noticed this the last time I watched it (about a week before Patrick Swayze died)

But from the moment Bodhi throws that dog at Keanu Reeves up until the end is about an hour.

Watching it it feels like 20 minutes. It goes so fast, it just doesn’t stop.

Generally I’ll pick low culture over high any day of the week…

Looking at my DVD collection that is painfully obvious…

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:41:00

The disparity of acting between Keanu (miscast in his worst performance, which is saying something), and P-Sway, as Steph calls him (a 10 out of 10) could well be the largest in the history of film between two leading actors. Can anyone think of a wider gap?

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Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-25 17:30:33

Well, I just watched the Down Under lovefest that is Baz Luhrman’s Australia, and I thought the gulf between Hugh Jackman (who I thought was spot-on) and Nicole Kidman (who could not seem to decide what movie she was actually in) was a wide as the damn outback itself.

Comment by Zara Potts |Edit This
2009-10-25 18:12:55

Lovefest? Snorefest more like it. That is a horrendous movie.

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-25 19:09:46

Oh, agreed. I just thought Hugh Jackman was good in it. But then, I think he’s good in pretty much anything he does, even that Meg Ryan movie.

Huh. I may be a bit gay for Hugh Jackman. Maybe I should look into it.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 13:54:31

Hugh Jackman has that effect. Who doesn’t have a mancrush on him? He’s like Tom Brady.

2009-10-25 14:11:38

Loved it, Greg, as always. Although I believe I may have you trumped on the birthday front. Ahem.

So, last night, as I am very, very wont to do, I flicked on to an episode of Supernatural just as Dean and Sam are looking through a file on their suspect of the week. I suddenly noticed – Hey! That guy in the file has the exact same birthday as me!

The title of the ep? Simon Says.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 04:54:02

I concede the point, Smithson. But if the world ends on my birthday, let’s agree that that does take the natal cake.

Comment by Marni Grossman |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:29:01

I’m not afraid that the world will end in 2012. I’m with you, Greg. The whole theory is woolly.

That said, I do have the sense that our lives as we know them are ending. The end of an empire. I think the stock market crash did it for me. I feel certain that, some years from now, children will be asked to identify the short term and long term causes for the collapse of American civilization in essay form.

But then again, maybe the feeling of imminent doom comes from working for $7.25/hour at a suburban mall.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 15:46:59

I agree, Marni. America peaked (or is it peeked? I always get them mixed up) as a superpower the day the bomb hit Hiroshima. It’s been a long, slow, ineluctable decline ever since.

And as long as the next power (China? EU? Mars?) doesn’t screw shit up too badly, we’ll be in the catbird seat. Once we’re no longer the top banana, we can be like Holland and focus our incredible ingenuity on domestic stuff, like health care and energy, instead of wasting time, money, and brainpower building bigger weapons.

Your mall days are numbered, my dear. You’re too talented. Even the Mayans could predict that.

Comment by jmblaine |Edit This
2009-10-25 16:48:08

This comment thread is quite the happening
such to the point I can think of nothing to add
except sir, that you always
seem to get the peoples talking.

I’ve only seen 2 films in the last five years so I really can’t comment.

I am a lover of all things apocalyptical though.

I’m that rider quite a bit behind the Four Horsemen
The one on the donkey.

Hee Haw.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-25 17:14:57


That would make you the Assman of the Apocalypse. Which is a great title, I think, although for what I cannot say.

Which two films, Mr. Blaine? Inquiring minds, dot dot dot.

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2009-10-25 18:15:03

You know…donkeys actually can run pretty fast. Just saying.

(Point of interest: Charles Schultz’s daughter RACES them. As in seriously.)

Comment by Ducky |Edit This
2009-10-25 18:54:12

And donkeys are fucking crazy. Even coyotes and bobcats won’t tangle with a donkey.

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Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2009-10-25 18:18:45

I’m with JMB. I, too, love all things apocalyptical. 1988 was when the world was supposed to end that I remember most. In the church, we were all passing around a little pamphlet called, “88 Reasons the Rapture Could Occur in 1988.” It was by a guy named Edgar Whisenant. When it didn’t happen, he published successive books naming 89, 90, 91…you get the picture.

Great post. The line “which is like saying ’skin’ is the best form of cancer” had me chuckling.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 02:19:23

Thanks, Erika. I like the cancer line, too.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; apocalyptic stuff is fascinating. I’ve read a LOT of that kind of stuff. And of course churches are going to play it up; it’s their bread and butter.

It’s the way Emmerich uses it that nauseates me. He was quoted in some magazine saying something like, “I hope this movie causes people to focus on what’s important, like spending time with family.” I mean, come on. He really does thing this movie is some benefit to society.


Comment by jmblaine |Edit This
2009-10-26 06:03:00

If Whisthart’d been right we’d all
be singing on a cloud now.

Assman of the Apocalypse.

Sounds like a good post-Python sort of flick.


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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 17:14:11

JMB – Good choices, at least, long as it was “Batman Begins.”

Comment by Ducky |Edit This
2009-10-25 19:01:43

Greg – great post. As a filmmaker, I could wax on for eons about the crap that comes out. The fundamental problem with tentpole pictures is that the producers forget that story comes first. They sink all their money into effects, but not into writing. When I rule Hollywood, writers will be the highest paid employees. Fuck the stars.

(Also, I was madly in love with Lloyd Dobler. What’s become of him!)

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-25 21:08:02

His girlfriend ran off with Ad-Rock. But she dumped him too.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 02:30:46

Thanks, Ducky.

“No stars; just talent.” As they say in The Player. I don’t even care that much about the blockbusters being bad…I just don’t want them to make me physically ill.

Ione Skye was last seen as Mrs. Veal in Arrested Development, looking as good as she’s ever looked, which is saying something. Funny, funny stuff.

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-26 03:38:13

She also had a small role in Zodiac.

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2009-10-26 04:31:38

I like angry writing…

Also, your birthday is November 13th? Mine is November 4th. Most people I know have there birthdays around then. Must be something about Spring that got our parents frisky.

And don’t tell me the world’s not going to end, man. Every few months – without warning – the doomsday siren in Daegu rings out. It’s a deafening sound and sometimes it lasts for an hour. That’s right, with jets racing overhead and there’s always an angry N. Korean on TV… I shit my pants on a regular basis. One of my friends lives 45mins from the border – by bicycle.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 04:57:22

The world will end someday, of course. All things go, all things go, as Sufjan says. But the planet is quite safe for the foreseeable future. And if we may try our hands at prophesy, I don’t see North Korea lasting in its current form for more than ten years. One way or another, that’s going down. But in the meantime, I’m steering clear of your neck of the DMZ woods…

Happy birthday, man. Nobody who writes a story about a penis on his shoulder can be anything but a Scorpio.


Comment by Dana |Edit This
2009-10-26 08:41:46

heh. Not to be contrary here, but WHAT? People are actually taking 2012 seriously? What people? These must be the same people that think the government is drugging us with chem trails, right? (And that one fella I saw on the news yesterday shouting that if you didn’t receive the H1N1 vaccine you were choosing “DEATH”.) I bet this movie will be a hoot and a half, just as Independence Day was.

As for end of world scenarios – I generally love ‘em, in fiction form. “The Stand”
Battlestar Galactica? Firefly? Lost? All badass imo. I don’t know anything about the director or his inflated ego, but I know I’ll see this movie, although most likely on dvd.

Also, overall you people have TERRIBLE taste in movies. ;)

Other miscellany:

Hiro and Mohinder RULE – although Noah, Sylar and Peter Petrelli are the best. Deadwood is a cocksucking RIOT of amazing and amusing dialogue (and well worth watching James)!

John Cusack has played some great characters, but I hear he’s a total ass.

“Totally Killer”, totally killed me. Kudos!

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-26 09:25:54

I want to see season 2 Hiro to see if he really does get as annoying as people say. As for Mohinder, he’s not a very good actor but I actually like him. I love the his voice overs too.

Noah is great because for almost all of season one he seems like a bad guy, and then all of a sudden he isn’t. Sylar and Peter are the best because they are the coolest— they have the most powers. Powers are cool.

Peter knew Shaft. Shaft is cool. The ‘Five Years Gone’ Peter is probably the coolest Hero, as I think I’ve said before.

I’m now going to watch the unedited pilot episode and other bonus materials.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 09:46:37

It’s really the director and his inflated sense of self-importance that I don’t like. That and I really don’t want to watch NYC blow up again, having been there when it happened in realtime. Something about him nauseates me. I wish I could put my finger on what it is, but I think that insincerity has something to do with it.

Thanks, Dana, for the props on TK. So glad you liked!

Milo V. = awful actor, plus he was dating Hayden P when she was, what, sixteen? It’s bad when he’s doing battle with Sylar, and you’re rooting for Sylar.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-26 12:53:59

I thought Milo was pretty good— far better and much less annoying than Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man.

I disagree about rooting for Sylar; I think it’s so much better when part of you is with the ‘bad guy.’ I mean that’s better than some cartoon villain that you know will lose and you hope does.

The thing with Sylar is that he’s pretty fucking likeable, and so fucking cool. Take the last shot of season one where you realise Sylar is still alive— apart from the surprise you’re left scared AND excited.

I’d say that that is good writing on the writers part, rather than a defeciency in the actor.

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Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-26 10:49:14

Both John Cusack and Jeremy Piven came by the nightclub in New Orleans I worked at when they were in town shooting The Runaway Jury. Cusack was an ass, but not overtly so–more along the lines of “Order a shitload of food and drinks for his friends (after the kitchen was closed, of course) and then stiff the waitress on the bill” kind of way. He was also, as Duke mentions, much taller than he appears on screen.

Piven, on the other hand? Asshole, through and through.

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-26 15:33:02

He was nice when I met him, oh so many years ago, but I guess success has a way of fucking you up.

On the other hand, the same can be said of failure.

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-27 15:45:57

“Success and failure are equally hard to endure. With success comes drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, medication, depression, neurosis, and suicide. With failure comes failure.” – Joseph Heller

Comment by Dana |Edit This
2009-10-26 08:45:24

crap. I knew there was something else. While most of the Mayan calendars are touting 12-21-12 some indicate it is more likely 12-23-12. Which is significant because it’ll be a big milestone birthday for me… and it’s possible I’ll have a huge blowout and the WORLD WILL END! Wouldn’t that be cool?

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 09:46:59

Serve cake first, in that case. ; )

2009-10-26 09:33:09

Greg, I think there could be a market for snuff films with PSAs at the end. You could call one “Skin: The Best Kind of Cancer.”
I love when people are informed about stuff like this. Me, I did not even know anyone thought the world was going to end in 2012, much less any reasons why their reasons were bogus. Jesus. Do I live under a rock?

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 09:49:51

I’m into conspiracy stuff, and New Age stuff, which often gets lumped under the heading of “crackpot,” even when some of it is quite valid. But the 2012 stuff is not valid. Sitchin, whose book I reference, is very much not in the business of debunking things, so if he says it’s crap, it’s crap.

Anyway, I feel it’s my duty as a closet New Age guy to hip everyone to this stuff. Especially Chicagoans who live beneath rocks. : )

2009-10-26 11:51:43

Laughing uncontrollably…

Two of my favorite cinematic heroes: Lloyd Dobler and Lane Meyer.

Can’t we just preempt 2012 and shout out the universal chorale in unison:

“I want my twelve dollars [back]!!”

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 12:06:56

Ha! You are ON today, sister.

[still laughing]

2009-10-26 12:21:30

Also noticing retarded typos:

May I revise?

Lloyd Dobler. Unison.

(Just LOOK what happens when you let a girl get two good nights’ sleep in a row!)

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 13:03:39

Typos? What typos?

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-26 13:21:20

Wasn’t that the name of a Supertramp album?

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-26 15:35:19

Also, I think it was two dollars.

Or maybe I’m missing a joke. Or just wrong altogether.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 16:45:21

Becky — It was two in the movie. It’s twelve because, incredibly, that’s what it costs to watch a movie in NYC now.

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-27 15:36:43

Same here. Or $12.50, contingent upon the size of the cup holders and the rise & run of the rows.

What a spectacular rip off.

That’s why I almost never go to the theater. That, and because I’m lazy.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-27 16:01:35

In New Paltz we have an old school cinema, and the tickets are $6.50 — $4 on Tuesdays. Were it not for the kids, and the paltry selection of films, we’d go every week.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-27 23:30:53

The only cinema in the town I live is a converted church. There are only two screens. Its £6 (with student discount!) The only recognizable snack is popcorn, which is the old fashioned, hand made kind (not some huge pre-made vat) and comes in these huge old fashioned tubs.

Totally worth it. The last film I went to see was The Spy Who Loved Me; always wanted to see an old film at the cinema.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-28 02:26:54

I saw Goldfinger on the big screen once in New York. Was awesome. And the first time I saw Casablanca was also on the big screen, at the Key Theater in DC. Again, awesome.

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-29 14:31:13

I’m going again on Sunday to watch Withnail and I. Classy.

Comment by Autumn |Edit This
2009-10-26 12:01:29

If 2012 doesn’t begin or end with World War Z–complete with me in camo outfit and wielding a deadly lobotomizing shovel–then it ain’t the end of the world.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 12:10:02

You hear that, Mayan Death God? You have been warned. With apologies to OK GO:

When they finally come to destroy the Earth
They have to deal with Autumn first

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-26 12:26:51

At least now I know what comes between a summer of discontent and a nuclear winter…

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 12:34:53

Buh-dump-BUMP. Jim Irwin, ladies and gentlemen!

[seriously, that was funny]

Comment by James D. Irwin |Edit This
2009-10-26 12:55:18

I wasn’t sure if you guys would get it— I thought I might have set myself up for a Fall…

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 13:04:32

You should have quit while you were ahead…curse these in-vernal puns!

Comment by John Cusack |Edit This
2009-10-26 12:29:09

You people need to give me a break. Man’s gotta make a living, you know? Someone waves ten bills in front of your nose — and by “bills” I mean millions, dig it? — see if you’d stand down on principle. Who do you think I am, Rollie Fingers? It’s great y’all like those films I did way back when, but that was a loooong time ago. We’re in a recession, OK? LA ain’t cheap.

Also, I’m too old to play Jason in Haney’s book. Jason is, what, in his twenties for most of it? I can’t pull that off anymore. I look boyish, but not that boyish. Get Jake Gyllenhaal. He’d be good. Or the kid from “Brick.”

OK, gotta go cash my residual check. See you losers at the movies on 11/13.


Roland is really nice.

2009-10-26 13:50:39

They drove a dump truck full of money up to my house! I’m not made of stone!

John Cusack, have you ever wanted an Australian little brother?

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-26 15:29:07

Wait, you didn’t supply a ’site’ that makes it ‘official’ that you’re ‘John Cusack.’ When ‘Adam Sandler’ and ‘Judd Apatow’ left ‘comments’ at ‘TNB’, they supplied ’sites.’

Also, ‘John Cusack,’ that’s ‘my’ ‘Australian little brother,’ I’ll have you and him know.

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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 16:38:26

I think you’re mistaken, Duke…there is a link up there.

I like how you used the quotes British style. That’s “funny.”

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-27 01:08:33

Oh. I didn’t ’see’ your ‘link’ before. And check ‘the’ post and ‘you’ll’ see the ‘British style’ employed.

funny yeah, laughed some

(Hope you don’t mind that that I didn’t add a period above, but I was in such a hurry that I didn’t have time to add a period. Also, I just don’t give a fuck. Punctuation and syntax — that’s so old.)

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-27 01:22:47

I am in “love” with the “edit” feature on the “comments.” I can fix K-Dub’s typos, and add a link where there wasn’t one before…pretty sure I can give “John Cusack” your Gravatar, too…

I didn’t realize there were British quotation marks — which isn’t him being British, but him being too lazy to hit the “shift” button…

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-27 01:41:41

By George, you’re right: that’s precisely the reason. In that way he’s unlike He Whose Style Shall Be Imitated. One really must prove that one’s foibles amount to a literary movement, mustn’t one?

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-27 02:31:14

“All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy.” – George Orwell

I presume that’s the George you’re referring to? ; )

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-26 15:27:38

Thanks for saying this. Openly. Seriously. Part of the reason it is so difficult to find skeptical information on this particular doomsday prophecy is that there really aren’t very many people who know all that much about the ancient Maya. They are mysterious, to an extent, but that’s mostly because so few people have bothered to try to figure them out–as opposed to, say, the Ancient Egyptians or Greeks or Sumerians.

I don’t know a TON about them, but I know enough to say that thinking the world is going to end because the Mayan calendar runs out in 2012 is like assuming that when your car’s odometer reaches 100,000, your car will simply stop running. That it will expire, end of story, because the odometer has “run out.”

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-26 16:35:19

Thanks, Becky. That’s a perfect analogy.

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-27 09:58:56

This just in: Dutch scientists reporting that 2012 is a miscalculation and, with corrections, the Mayan calendar actually “ends” in 2220.

If nothing else, Google translate makes it entertaining:


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Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-27 10:04:48

See? Told ya!

Wow, that Google thing is funny…it reads like something Rumsfeld would say.

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-27 14:34:00

There has to be a poem in it. I’m using it for a paper I have to write on found poetry. No joke.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-27 15:43:30

Oh, there’s certainly poetry there. Did you ever see that Poems of Donald Rumsfeld thing awhile back? Somebody wrote out some of the crazy shit he said, in poetical form. It was brilliant — one of the funniest things of all time.

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-27 16:26:31

I did not see that. I’d wager just about any poli-speak could be turned into something quite ridiculous and hackneyed and lol-worthy.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-27 17:02:03

Again, brilliant in every way:


Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-27 17:17:24

Sadly, many of those look like poems I might find in any number of contemporary lit magazines.

I must say, though, “The Unknown,” is sort of disturbingly, actually poetic. And unfortunately true.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-28 02:30:25

I think it’s better than much of the poetry in the lit mags, actually…which is what makes this so brilliant. (As one of the small segment of the population who likes reading poetry, I’m forever disappointed/nonplused at the stuff in said mags.)

Becky, you should read The Financial Lives of the Poets. As a poet, you’ll really enjoy it, I think…and it’s funny as all hell.

Comment by Henry Baum |Edit This
2009-10-27 09:15:46

Sort of hilarious to use Zecharia Sitchin as proof that something’s bunk, given the number of people who think his ideas are bunk.

I agree with you about 2012, the movie. It seems like a death-fetishist movie. I thought the same thing about The Road. But it seems to have nothing to do with the New Age root of 2012 theory – the global change in consciousness, etc. There’s nothing in that about the Vatican exploding, it’s more about evolution. And as an idea about how human consciousness could evolve, the Mayan theory is interesting. It might not happen in three years, but at some point our individual and collective consciousness could change. It just seems silly to put a date on the arrival.

And I loved “Independence Day.” A masterpiece of crap. But 2012 just looks like I.D. on steroids.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-27 09:57:46

I attended a sort of convention/party a few years back, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of “The 12th Planet.” Sitchin was there, he spoke, etc. I’m not at all the sort of person who attends conventions, but I walked away with this: I’ve never been in a room with smarter people than I was that day. Any theory that can square Creationism and Evolution is worth further study.

And I agree that the shift in consciousness is coming. I’m a New Age guy. But the Age of Aquarius won’t start till 2060 or so, per Robert Hand and Dane Rudhyar, so we have a ways to go. Although there is some wacky astrological stuff on tap for 2020.

Thanks for commenting.


Your book sounds interesting.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-27 14:57:56

Jesus, Greg, are you Bono or something?
What’s with the hundreds of comments, here?

I know this is NOT on topic, but I just want you to know that I just finished “Totally Killer” and it was a great plot and well-written and I loved every minute of it.

Now you can all go back to your doomsday theories….

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-27 15:42:30

Always happy to diverge from the topic to accept TK praise, Irene. Thanks so much! Really glad you liked it.

And I’m not Bono. I’m not even halfway to Duke…

Comment by Tony Esposito |Edit This
2009-10-28 07:55:14

Wow, would you be this pissed off at a movie if it didn’t fall on your b-day? Anyway, good to know the world won’t end in 2012. Was getting a little nervous there.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-28 13:47:46

It does feel a bit like an eff-you from the universe that my birthday is contaminated by this crap, yes indeed.

2009-10-29 06:14:42

I’ve been watching disaster epics since I was a kid. I loved the Towering Inferno. And the Poseidon Adventure? Heck, even Toy Story is sort of a disaster movie. OK, maybe not. I’m often a fan of bad disaster films. Like the scene in Twister when the cow is in the tornado? That’s hilarious stuff!

I’ll probably go watch 2012 if it gets even a half decent review.

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-29 09:57:26

Nick – The chances of this movie getting good reviews are about the same as the birthers getting Obama removed from office on a technicality.

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GREG OLEAR is the Los Angeles Times bestselling author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker and founding editor of The Weeklings.

2 responses to “It’s Not the End of the World As We Know It (Although It Could Be Argued That Roland Emmerich Is One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse)”

  1. […] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptNEW PALTZ, N.Y.- How’s this for a sign? The North American release date of 2012, the latest and hopefully last disaster picture from the same aesthetes who brought you the cinematic “Ode to a Nightingale” that is Independence Day, is Friday, November 13. My birthday. This is wrong for so many reasons. If 11/13 were going to be defiled, I’d rather Roland Emmerich, the “auteur” whose flick this is, just take a birthday dump on my front porch. First things first. With the economy in shambles, Pak […]

  2. […] controversial position that Dan Brown is a lousy novelist (Way to make a stand, Greg!). In another post, I advance the notion that Roland Emmerich’s films suck (Balls of steel, Greg!). And in […]

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