Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2008
Gah! I am addicted to Guitar Hero! Every time I hear a song now, I picture those notes coming at me and start doing air-guitar button mashing. This is particularly embarrassing when the song is something stupid playing on the radio (this morning I was rocking to All Out of Love by Air Supply). I would buy Guitar Hero for my Wii, but I'm afraid that I would never leave the house again.
In other news... OMG! INDIANA JONES LEGO!!!
I can't stand tossing the word "cute" around... but aren't these so totally cute? While I thought the sequels pretty much sucked ass, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the greatest movies ever made, and has been a favorite of mine from the minute I saw it.
Which is why I'm terrified after reading comments by George Lucas in the recent Vanity Fair about the new Indy adventure... Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull...
Basically, Lucas came up with a shitty idea for a fourth film that neither Steven Spielberg or Harrison Ford liked. But he kept ramming it down their throats and refused to come up with something different. Since Ford isn't getting any younger and everybody wanted to make a new Indy film, they eventually relented and let Lucas get his way. Considering the fucked-up mess that Lucas made out of the Star Wars prequels, my hopes for a decent film are pretty much dashed. I can only hope that Spielberg and Ford can transcend the material and at least come up with something entertaining that doesn't suck too badly...
Oh well. I suppose I can always make my own Indiana Jones movie using Lego.
Wow... now that I think about it, that's a totally kick-ass idea.
Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2008
Yesterday I left for the Biloxi airport at 4:00am and was dreading the day to come. With four connecting flights ahead of me... all with very short layovers... the odds of something going wrong along the way was huge. First flight: Biloxi to Memphis - on time. Second flight: Memphis to Minneapolis - on time. Third flight: Minneapolis to Seattle - on time. Fourth flight: Seattle to Wenatchee - uhhhhhhhhhh... not so much.
Wenatchee was fogged-in, and not a single flight had made it into the city all day. Not surprisingly, my flight was also canceled. This meant I got to hang around the airport with a bunch of really cranky people while waiting to see if we were going to be bussed, or if I would have to find a hotel and get re-booked for another flight.
And so the bus it was.
Three hours on a bus with 56 of my closest friends.
Which was lovely, let me tell you.
And yet, that was nothing... nothing... compared to the torture I was forced to endure tonight.
Because tonight was when a group of us from work decided to go see National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Don't misunderstand me here though... the torture wasn't in watching the movie. Sure it was a complete re-tread of the first movie with no real improvements or memorable story elements. Sure it had so many plot holes that I was pulling my hair out at the end. And sure it pained me to see the remarkable Helen Mirren lowering herself to appear in something so mediocre and poorly directed. But all that was to be expected.
What was NOT expected was that Disney would make you sit through a Goofy cartoon before the film actually started. I fucking HATE Goofy. I find absurdly stupid cartoon characters to be just a annoying and un-funny as absurdly stupid people. I mean, seriously, this shit is supposed to be humor?
Well, no thanks.
I prefer to take my crappy movies WITHOUT a shitty cartoon up front.
Sigh. I would gladly trade every Goofy cartoon ever made for a single new episode of Invader Zim.
Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
Well then... thanks to some help from people far smarter than me, Blogography appears to be up-and-running again. Here's hoping it stays that way for a little while.
Yesterday I was handed a movie meme and, since I had nothing better to blog about, I decided to fill it out. But after a few questions I realized it was just a variation on a half-dozen movie memes I had already done before, so I decided to toss it out and write about unclogging my shower drain instead.
But then, just as I was getting ready to take a photo of the bottle of Liquid Plumr that had saved my day, I noticed one of the movie questions was different. It asked: "Name three characters from the movies you can personally relate to and why." Interesting! That's pretty much an entry all by itself, so I'll blog about my shower drain another day.
And now, three people from the movies I personally relate to and why...
"Mark" from Love Actually (played by Andrew Licoln).
Love Actually is one of those films you either fall in love with immediately... or you despise because it is so contrived, manipulative, and filled with one-dimensional characters. On first viewing, I was firmly in the latter camp. I was disappointed that Richard Curtis would slap together a bunch of short bits from stories we've seen a hundred times before (including his own Notting Hill) and call it a film. The result is a patchwork of fantastic actors doing their best to add depth to characters that are so ill-defined that it's almost impossible to care about them.
But then it grows on you. You see it at the rental store and remember it had some funny bits so you watch it again. And again during the holidays because it's a Christmas film. And again because it happens to be on HBO. And soon you're watching it for no reason at all, when suddenly it dawns on you... the characters don't have to be three-dimensional, because the characters are you. Or your family & friends. Or people you know. You don't need the details of their lives to become invested in them, because you already know them.
This revelation dawned on me as I came upon the scene where Juliet has just discovered that her new husband's best friend is secretly in love with her. Mark is all at once overcome with the heartache, longing, shame, and the crushing disappointment of being in love with somebody he can never have...
Yeah. Definitely been there, done that, and can totally relate. Watching Andrew Licoln's brilliant, wordless interpretation of his character's agony is eerie, because it's as if he reached into my own experience and is expressing it on screen for everybody to see. Unfortunately, the director didn't allow his performance to stand on its own, and felt the need to blast music (Dido's lovely Here With Me) over the top... trying once again to manipulate the viewer unnecessarily... but it's still a scene that strikes me at my core every time I see it.
"Bob and Charlotte" from Lost in Translation (played by Bill Murray & Scarlett Johansson).
There are very few moments in Sophia Coppola's masterwork Lost in Translation which don't resonate with me. She managed to capture with almost supernatural accuracy exactly what it's like to be a foreigner in Japan... Being surrounded by millions of people yet feeling completely alone... The bizarre yet captivating world of Tokyo at night... Seeing your fellow foreigners over and over again because you're all stuck in the same loop... Not being able to sleep... Trying your best to fit into a culture which you will never, ever be able to fit into... The language barrier facing you at every turn... Feeling like an alien because you're so tall and freaky-looking compared to everybody else... It's all here. When I first saw Lost in Translation, I related so closely to Bob and Charlotte that I felt as if the film was speaking just to me. Like it was made just for me. Numerous subsequent viewings haven't changed my mind...
Scene after scene I find myself mentally going "that was me!" and the memories of my trips to Japan come flooding back. It's not often that a film so totally enters my psyche and consumes me, but this would definitely be one of them. Many people I know didn't care for this movie at all, and something in the back of my head is always wondering if the only reason I love it so much is because I relate to it so well.
And now, because I feel it's a public service to mention it, the Lost In Translation soundtrack is sublime, and available on iTunes. Each track is an atmospheric piece of magic that haunts you long after the last track has played. Of course, the song that everybody wants from the movie, Fuck the Pain Away by Peaches, is not on the soundtrack, but is also available on iTunes if you're looking for it.
"Joe" from Idiocracy (played by Luke Wilson).
Yeah, like a movie about a guy trapped in a world filled with morons is really that much of a stretch from my life of being trapped in a world filled with morons (present company excepted, of course). While not up to the impossibly high standards set by Mike Judge with his first film, Office Space, the not-so-implausible future depicted in Idiocracy is still brilliantly realized...
Everything run by dumbass politicians... Corporations taking over the country... Starbucks expanding into the sex trade... Tell me that this is anything but an accurate portrayal of the world of tomorrow! So yeah, seriously I can totally relate.
Brawndo. It's Got Electrolytes. It's What Plants Crave!
Posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2008
Free at last.
This morning at 9:47am, after a week of agony and discomfort, my kidney stone finally decided to exit the building. And by "building" I mean "me." I had a feeling things were coming to an end yesterday because things started feeling different in my internals, but it wasn't until the pain subsided and was replaced with burning discomfort that I knew for certain. My guess is that appearing on The Jester Show last night scared the stone out of me, but it was more likely due to the massive quantities of water I drank afterwards.
The hospital scan revealed that the stone was only 4mm, but it might as well have been 4-inches for all the trauma it caused me. Surprisingly, as I stood there gazing at the instrument of my destruction in the toilet, I marveled at how innocent it looked. Like a little pebble that might get stuck in your shoe or something. And by "shoe" I mean "penis."
Though I'm sure if you looked at it under a microscope, it would be a different story. I've taken to calling my kidney stone "Mr. Sharpie" because it's the only explanation for how unbelievably fucking painful it's been...
Please note that Mr. Sharpie is no relation to Sharpie Brand Markers, ©Sanford, A Newell Rubbermaid Company
I really don't want to be sued over this shit.
Oh well. It's all over now. After having gone through this crap twice, I've decided that I'm drinking fifty glasses of water each day to flush this stuff out before it has a chance to accumulate into SPIKEY BALLS OF EXTREME PAIN!!
In other news, the movie trailer for Battle In Seattle has been released over at MovieSet.
It looks like complete and total shit.
I don't know why they'd make a movie over a frickin' protest, but here you have it. While the event was very real, I have no idea if the drama they've added to the film is based on real stories or not. From the over-clocked intensity of the scenes in the trailer, I'm guessing it's mostly speculation and fiction, but who knows?
In any event, I have no plans for seeing it. I was in Seattle working on November 30th, 1999... and blissfully unaware of everything that was going on. I was a dozen blocks away and cut off from news sources when things started up, and had no idea how intense things were getting until I went back downtown to my hotel later in the day. Fortunately, my hotel was on the edge of the riots, but I could still look out my window and catch a glimpse of the crazy stuff happening just a couple blocks away. Part of me wanted to go check it out, but after watching TV news I decided to stay in my room (which was largely tear-gas free!) and eat a bag of potato chips and a Coke for dinner.
But my true memories of the WTO protest riots were formed the next two days while walking through the streets of downtown Seattle. The spray-painted buildings and smashed windows provided a vivid picture of just how fucked-up some people can get. I'm all for protest, but using violence to promote your cause doesn't do anything but make you look like a douchebag. I'd like to believe that the vast majority of the people who showed up were there for peaceful protest (even if most of them probably didn't even understand what they were protesting), but the fact that nothing was done to stop the violence has me blaming the protestors as much as I blame the Seattle Police for being so grossly unprepared.
Now that I'm back to normal, I suppose I should get back to reality.
For once I'm actually happy about that.
Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2008
IRON MAN, BITCHES!!!
There was no real plan today. About the only thing any of us knew was that we were going to see Iron Man at 4:00. Everything else was just a matter of narrowing down the million options for things to do in New York City and picking something. Which is a heck of a lot more difficult than you'd think.
Down the street from our hotel is the beautiful Grand Central Station, so we stopped by for a quick look...
Eventually it was decided that the main goal for the day was to go up the Empire State Building for an aerial view of Manhattan. Unfortunately, New York City has been under a perpetual fog blanket all morning, and visibility at the top was zero, so we decided to take a pass. Instead we headed downtown to see what progress was being made at the World Trade Center site. Along the way, we passed by Macy's, which was hosting an exhibit of Iron Man movie props in their exterior displays. There were little pieces littered from window to window like Tony Stark business cards, prototype armor boots, and the electro-magnet that keeps Tony's heart beating...
But the big prize was the Iron Man Mach-1 armor! Totally sweet!!
As if I didn't want to see the movie bad enough already!
The last time I was at WTC Ground Zero, there was still a lot of debris, but it's all gone now, and things are finally starting to take shape. It's no less emotional, however...
Unfortunately, it's really difficult to see anything. On the contrary, it's almost as if they were trying to obstruct your view of the site in every way possible. I have no idea what the reasoning is for this, but the only remotely viewable area is from a skybridge nearby...
Back to the Empire State Building, where the fog looked like like it might be clearing up, but the operator assured us there was still no visibility at the top. Time for a "B-Plan." We headed up to Central Park to wander through The Metropolitan Museum of Art for a while...
Totally awesome movie! I dare say it's the best super-hero comic book movie made since the original Superman and Superman II. As expected, Robert Downey Jr. was flawlessly brilliant in his portrayal of Tony Stark. It's hard to imagine how anybody else could have played the role, really. Plenty of action. Plenty of story. Totally faithful to the comic book source material. Can you really ask for anything else?
And now it's 11:30 and time to rest-up for tomorrows pilgrimage to Philadelphia.
I can't wait.
Posted on Sunday, May 18th, 2008
w00t! Today it's Bullet Sunday from one of my favorite cities: CHICAGO!!
• Johhny. After struggling to catch up with work all morning, I decided to take the train into the city... even though the CTA has both the Blue-Line and the Red-Line under construction. A Johnny Rockets veggie burger was calling me. And since Chicago has one of my favorite restaurants in the chain, it would be worth the effort. Imagine my surprise when I get there to find that my beloved Johnny Rockets on Rush Street had CLOSED!! I was equally sad and enraged, and I don't think I'm ever going to recover. Goodbye Johnny, you will be missed...
• Beautiful. I looked out the window and was happy to see that the weather had cleared up from the overcast skies and rain we had last night. It was beautiful out! Unfortunately, looks can be a bit deceiving, because it was actually chilly and windy. Fortunately, I had a jacket with me out of habit, because how would you expect to be cold on a day like this?
• Bean. After getting a surprise call from a former co-worker and meeting for coffee (her) and hot cocoa (me)... I met up with friends who were in the city from suburbia to do some shopping and go see Speed Racer (my review of the film along with reviews for two other movies I saw on the plane follows below). From there I decided to meet up with a current co-worker for dinner at the ever-excellent Pizano's Pizza and a walk through Millennium Park. I can't get enough of The Cloud Gate "Coffee Bean" sculpture, which was looking especially cool today...
• Movie #1: Jumper. One sentence review: A great concept diminished to a bucket of shit that not even Samuel L. Jackson can save. Didn't we suffer enough when Hayden Christensen played Anakin Skywalker in the shitty Star Wars sequels? NOTE TO FILMMAKERS: THIS GUY CANNOT ACT! STOP CASTING HIM IN MOVIES! But even putting the horribleness of Mannequin Skywalker aside, this is a mess of a film. Our story begins when young David Rice discovers he has the ability to teleport anywhere in the world he can visualize. This is handy, because his mother abandoned him to live with his abusive father, and "jumping" provides him with the escape he's been longing for. Using his new-found power to rob banks and live a life of excess that spans the globe, things go terribly wrong when jumper-hating "paladins" (led by Samuel L. Jackson) start hunting David... AND THE AUDIENCE DOESN'T FUCKING CARE! The story then turns into sheer idiocy, and I was salivating over the thought that Samuel L. Jackson will actually kill the stupid bastard. By the time the lame-ass "twist ending" was revealed, I was cursing the moment I decided to watch this joke of a film. FAIL!
• Movie #2: The Bucket List. Once sentence review: Brilliant performances rises above a pandering and fluff-laden script. Two of my all-time favorite actors? Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I will watch anything they appear in. To have them both in the same film is absolute magic. The story is about a curmudgeon millionaire (Nicholson) and a genius garage mechanic (Freeman) who discover they have fatal illnesses which compel them to live their final days doing all those things they never got around to doing in life. The resulting ride is a fun one, mostly because the banter between the two leads is so fantastic and the acting note-perfect. If only the script could have been tightened to eliminate some of the more overtly manipulative sentimentality, it could have been elevated to greatness. As it is, it's a good film that tries too hard to find the "fun" side of death. WIN!
• Movie #3: Speed Racer. One sentence review: Complete and total failure of filmmaking on an epic scale that utterly devastates a beloved classic cartoon. What the hell happened? I have been looking forward to this film ever since I first glimpsed the previews that hit the internets. I was expecting a full-throttle, hyperactive film that pushes visual effects to new levels while redefining a childhood cartoon I loved. What I got was crap. A boring snore-fest of a movie that has shit-loads of stupid exposition and unnecessary drama that undermines any excitement you might get from the actual racing scenes (which are, admittedly, cool in a repetitive video-game kind of way). Just as the Wachowski Brothers managed to fuck-up an unfuck-upable franchise with the awful Matrix sequels, they have turned Speed Racer into a meandering, directionless film that sucks so badly that all the acting talent in the world (including Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, and Christina Ricci) can't keep it on track. Between the never-ending cut-wipe transitions that make you want to scream... and way, WAY too much time devoted to a mindless plot about evil businessmen secretly controlling all the world's racing events... it was all I could do to keep myself from walking out of the theater. EPIC FAIL!
And that brings to an end another Bullet Sunday.
I totally should have watched Iron Man again.
• P.S. Every time I stay at a Sheraton hotel, the internet connection screen always has a photo of a guy smelling a melon. Can anybody tell me what the hell this has to do with anything?
Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
Why is it that technology is making life simpler in every area of creation except when it comes to setting an alarm clock??!?
It used to be that to set the alarm, you press and hold the ALARM button and adjust the hours and minutes until you have the time you want to wake up. Then you slide the OFF/RADIO/BUZZER switch to BUZZER and you're done. That's three out of four buttons and a slider switch until F#@%ING DONE!!!
But not any more.
The alarm clock at my hotel has TWENTY-ONE F#@%ING BUTTONS PLUS A SLIDER SWITCH (for Mega Bass)...
To set your alarm you have to go through FIVE STEPS, two of which you have to repeat, which means there's SEVEN F#@%ING STEPS to set an alarm! It's so absurdly complicated that they have to give you an instruction card to figure the shit out...
All the love I used to have for Sony products is gone. Because of this piece of shit alarm clock, I somehow didn't push enough buttons to set the alarm (even though the alarm indicator was lit?). So even though I got up at 4:30am and didn't need to be up until 6:00am, I was counting on the alarm to tell me what time I needed to stop working and get ready. But it didn't. Suddenly the extra time I had given myself to get ready and make it into the city for my meeting had evaporated because it was 6:45 by the time I looked over and noticed something was wrong.
Granted the stupid alarm clock has a CD player in it, but big f#@%ing deal... my iPhone has a MP3 player, clock, map, camera, calendar, calculator, notepad, web browser, and all kinds of other stuff in it... but has TWO BUTTONS!!
Half my kingdom for an Apple-designed alarm clock.
Work was at the delicious All-Candy Expo here in Chicago. I've bored everybody with accounts of all the cool stuff at the show in previous years, so I'll skip all that... but I did see two things that made me squeal like a little girl when I visited the PEZ booth. As long-time readers already know, I love PEZ. LOVE THE PEZ!!!
So imagine my delight when I saw that they are coming out with STAR TREK PEZ!!!
As if that wasn't enough, I turned the corner and saw one of the most amazing things ever... CHOCOLATE PEZ!!!
It's as if PEZ is starting to combine all the things I love best in life into a single product family. Next year I'm fully expecting that there will be an Elizabeth Hurley PEZ dispenser waiting for me.
After working the show for a bit, I was free for the day. Just two goals remained...
TWO... Make up for the shitty experience of watching the horrific movie tragedy known as Speed Racer by going and seeing Iron Man yet again. Which I did, at the magnificent Muvico 18 Theater in Rosemont...
I paid for "VIP Premiere Seating" which puts you in the balcony in a huge comfy seat that's reserved for adults only, so you can take a beer into the theater with you! According to Wikipedia, the Muvico 18 Rosemont is the first theater in the country to have Sony SRX 4K digital cinema projectors in all auditoriums, which means the picture quality and sound were frakin' amazing.
This is my third time watching Iron Man, and I can honestly say that I love it more with each new viewing. I'll probably see it two or three more times before it leaves theaters. I just can't help myself. Robert Downey Jr.'s performance is so sublimely awesome in every way... from his impeccable comedic timing to his note-perfect delivery... that I am positively mesmerized by the character of Tony Stark. The fact that the movie RESPECTS THE F#@%ING SOURCE MATERIAL AT EVERY TURN is just icing on the cake. A big thank you to director Jon Favreau for having the intelligence to understand that there's a f#@%ing REASON that iconic comic book characters have endured for so long, and it is insanely arrogant and stupid to reinvent the wheel when you've already got something that works and people want to see.
And what I really need to see right now is a pillow, because I have to be to the airport in 5 hours.
Posted on Monday, July 28th, 2008
Since yesterday I was threatened with death if I didn't put down my computer, there was no time for bullets. Thus we have Bullet Sunday on Monday today!
Just a few odds and ends from my Comic-Con experience...
• Costumed. Why is it that every time I see news coverage on TV, magazines, or in the paper that they always show most everybody at Comic-Con in crazy costumes? In reality, only a small percentage of attendees actually dress up. I guess that it's more fun to portray Comic-Con as some kind of freak show, but even that's way harsh. Why is it cool to dress up in costumes for Halloween, but not cool any other time?
• Television. The big shows represented at Comic-Con are ones like Lost, Heroes, and Chuck. All of which are shows that I positively loathe. I'd even go so far as to say I hate them. Lost started off incredible, but quickly spun into redundant idiocy. Heroes was always pointless and stupid because you've got all these super-powered people who rarely actually use their super-powers. And Chuck, which started out clever and interesting, dropped to rock-bottom because the lead character is a whiny, bumbling bitch in every frakin' episode and I just got tired of it. I want new geek television shows.
• Batman. Yes, I've seen Dark Knight twice now (and will see it again this coming weekend). I don't know what I can say that's any different from most everybody else... it's a brilliant, brilliant film, and I totally loved it. Not only is it one of the best comic book super-hero films ever made, it's one of the best films ever made period. Each performance was a revelation, particularly Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, and this movie deserves some serious Oscar love in every applicable category.
• Watchmen. I am seriously stoked for this film, even though I know better. It can never measure up to the book... but, when taken on its own merits, it's looking like a terrific piece of genre entertainment. March 6th cannot come soon enough.
And that's going to have to be it. I threw my back out, and the pills I took are starting to kick in. For some nice Dave Diego recaps, here are some by Snackiepoo and Winter and SJ, and Karl, and Motley.
Posted on Monday, August 4th, 2008
I managed to ship out 103 orders before the issuing bank of my credit card decided that something fishy might be going on and decided to refuse authorization of any further charges. This happened once before, but I thought that it had been resolved. Apparently not. One more thing to fix tomorrow.
When you're working your ass off all day long, a lot of stuff outside of work piles up that you don't find out about until you get home. I used to have a news feed going on my desktop, but once I got addicted to Twitter, something had to give. Otherwise I'd never get anything done at all.
First of all, one of my favorite actors ever, Morgan Freeman, has been involved in a serious car accident. While discussing The Dark Night with a co-worker this morning, I had mentioned that I would have watched the film even if I hated Batman (as if!) because I love Morgan Freeman so much. He's been in some not-so-great films... but his performance is always exceptional, and I'll see anything he's involved in. My most heart-felt wishes for a speedy recovery, Mr. Freeman...
Next up? They've released an update to the v2 iPhone OS that fixes "bugs." After installing it, I will admit that my iPhone feels a bit snappier... BUT THEY STILL DON'T ALLOW YOU TO SYNC EXTERNAL SUBSCRIBED CALENDARS!! This is horse shit. All of my travel plans are stored on the most excellent TripIt site, so I need to subscribe to its calendar so I can keep up with my schedule. FAIL! FUCKING FAIL!! ULTIMATE APPLE FAIL!!!
In better news, one of my first super-hero favorites... Green Lantern... has entered production as a movie. Ordinarily I'd be dreading this because B-list super-heroes always get shitty movie treatments by assholes who think that the characters "need fixing." But there are several things going on here in Green Lantern's favor: 1) Recent box office smashes by The Dark Knight and Iron Man prove that these movies are most successful WHEN YOU RESPECT THE FUCKING SOURCE MATERIAL! Hopefully production will take note. 2) They are using the real Green Lantern here... Hal Jordan. 3) The writer on the project is Greg Berlanti, the guy responsible for quality stuff like Everwood, Brothers & Sisters, and Eli Stone! Please, please, please let them get this right... because a good Green Lantern movie could seriously kick ass!
Last up, I am getting ready to leave soon, so if you're in the Chicago area this Saturday (or in the St. Louis area next Saturday) and want to meet up with a great group of bloggers, please send a message to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get you hooked up with all the details!
And now... time to wash underwear.
Why is it that no matter how many pairs of boxers I buy, I'm forever running out?
Posted on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008
After driving back down from Wisconsin, I spent most of the day working in my hotel room... only taking a two-hour break to run into the city and have Chicago Hot Dogs for lunch. Around 8:00, I'd finally had enough, and decided to walk down the street to the awesome Muvico 18 Theater so I could see a late showing of Tropic Thunder.
Despite some dragging in the middle, the movie was pretty great. Mostly in thanks to Robert Downey Jr. who is simply incapable of giving a bad performance. The guy is absolute genius in everything he touches, and this film is no exception...
Before watching the movie, I was ready to dismiss the harsh criticism over how it demeans the mentally handicapped. People are just too sensitive now-a-days, and pretty soon you won't be able to poke fun at anything.
But then I saw the film.
And I have to admit that it is pretty offensive in this respect. Maybe it doesn't go entirely over the line, but it dances right on top of the line... not once, but many times. Tropic Thunder definitely doesn't seem to be laughing with the mentally challenged here... but instead laughing at them. That's a real shame, because the film doesn't need it. The plot elements could have been easily handled a different way.
Still, it would be difficult to dismiss the movie entirely... it was entirely too much fun for that.
Posted on Friday, August 15th, 2008
Since today is Friday, it's a work day... even when I'm in St. Louis. But I did manage to get out a bit in the morning and afternoon to see some of the sights, so it's all good.
I've been to St. Louis exactly two times. Once to visit the Hard Rock Cafe on my "Hard Rock Run" road-trip in 2000 (which included Indianapolis, St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville, Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach, Atlanta). And again for work in 2002. When I went to visit The Gateway Arch on my first trip, it was closed. On my second trip, I became violently ill, and couldn't even think of being trapped in an enclosed space.
So when Ajooja won the "Dave Event in Your City" Grand Prize for Blogiversary 5, I swore to myself that I would go up The Arch this time, even if I had to climb it on the outside. Fortunately, this wasn't necessary. When I got to park at 8:00 this morning, there was hardly a line at all, and I was the first person to the top when they opened the doors.
It was totally worth the wait...
The structure is sublimely beautiful, and photographs simply cannot do it justice. To the naked eye the steel exterior reflects the ambient light in a way that makes parts of The Arch seem to "disappear" into the skyline, giving it an almost ethereal quality.
To get to the top, you have to board one of eight tiny five-seater cylindrical elevator cars that are chained together and pulled upwards. Gina summed them up perfectly when she said they have a "2001: A Space Odyssey" feel to them. As you climb The Arch, a recording describes the system as "part elevator, part train, and part carnival ride." This sounded very interesting, but there is NOTHING detailing the elevator system in any book, brochure, or postcard I could find. When I asked the nice Park Rangers questions about how the cars worked, I got precious little information (and 9-11 thrown in my face as the reason why). Oh well. Still very, very cool...
For some reason I was expecting the top of the arch to be a tiny cramped room (like the Statue of Liberty, perhaps), but it was actually quite roomy...
I was blessed with beautiful weather (despite the crappy forecast I had looked up yesterday), so I had an excellent view of the city...
Here's a pano I stitched together. If you click on it, it will open a bigger view...
Once safely back down to earth, I headed across the street to "The Old Courthouse." This is a famous monument because of the infamous Dred Scott trial where slavery was upheld. The building is quite remarkable because of the beautiful dome interior...
As I was walking back to my hotel, I happened across "St. Louis Bread Company" which uses the exact same logo as my beloved Panera Bread. Closer inspection showed that they have the same exact menu as Panera as well. A quick look on Wikipedia on my iPhone told me that St. Louis Bread Co. was bought out by Panera, but they kept the original name in St. Louis (for obvious reasons). A delicious Mediterranean Sandwich made the perfect brunch-time meal...
After getting some work done, I decided to take the MetroLink to Union Station so I could visit the Hard Rock Cafe to see if anything had changed in the past eight years. The location was originally a massive train station, but they made a kind of shopping mall out of it with a lake in the middle...
Since I've been dying to see Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, I decided to catch a movie, but couldn't find it playing anywhere. So instead I went to see Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I wasn't a fan of the prequels, but love cartoons and thought the poster looked kind of badass cool...
Due to massive amounts of profanity and adult situations, I've decided to put my "review" in an extended entry.
As for me, I'm going to call it a night so I can attack the city fresh in the morning. There's a lot left to do, and only one day to do it all.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Monday, December 15th, 2008
I must be leaving early Wednesday morning on a work trip (weather permitting), and have been working my arse off trying to get caught up before I go. Unfortunately, this leave little time for important stuff like blogging.
But that's okay, because the new Disney-Pixar film has a trailer out, and it's better than anything I could ever come up with anyway. I cannot wait to see this film.
May 29th, everybody get ready to go Up!
Now, I sincerely doubt that Up will take the place of Monsters, Inc. as my favorite Pixar film... but it may very well knock The Incredibles out of the #2 spot on my countdown list...
The trailer for Up can be found at the official website at Disney.
Posted on Sunday, December 21st, 2008
It's Bullet Sunday from the insanity of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport!
• Success. When it comes to travel, things going right is what's SUPPOSED to happen and doesn't really tell you much about a company. It's when things go wrong that you find out what they're made of. How they handle problems and the way they treat their customers is everything you really need to know. For the most part, Alaska/Horizon Air has been pretty good in dealing with an unprecedented weather situation that you can never really be prepared for. They have a genuinely caring, hard-working bunch of employees that are working their asses off against a never-ending tide of very upset people. This cannot be easy, and is truly a testament to the company philosophy that has made Alaska/Horizon Air such a huge part of my travel plans for decades. I consider myself extremely fortunate that they are "my local airline," and happy to keep flying with them.
• Failure. Where Alaska/Horizon fails... and fails badly... is in organization and communication. There have been several incidents that boggle my mind, and has me wondering just how people in charge thought they were Doing The Right Thing. As I said in my previous entry, there's no point screaming and getting upset at the airport... but I have no problem doing that in my blog!
• Redial. Speaking of auto-redial, it is pathetic... PATHETIC that the iPhone doesn't seem to have this most basic of calling functions. Hopefully it will be added soon via an update or third-party application.
• Outsourced. Last year, a movie came out with the very timely topic of outsourcing. In the film, a Seattle call center manager, Todd Anderson, has his entire department outsourced to India, and ends up having to travel there so he can train his replacement. The trailer looked funny, so I put it on a list of movies I wanted to see...
But then I was reading a review of Outsourced in the Seattle P.I. where it was just savaged. The reviewer Bill White hated the film. He made it sound highly offensive to Indian culture for the sake of laughs, which I hate, so I ended up skipping it altogether. Turns out this was a mistake. I ended up renting Outsourced for my iPhone on this trip and liked it quite a lot. All of the criticism from the Seattle P.I. review was entirely unjustified. White called the lead actor Josh Hamilton "aggravatingly nondescript," but that was the entire point of his everyman character! White said the film "vulgarized the sacred sex manual, the Kama Sutra," but it absolutely did not! I thought the film was great in communicating the cultural differences between our countries in an entertaining way and, if anything, made more fun of us here in the USA than India. Sure there's some stereotypical humor in there, but it's on BOTH sides! As Todd becomes more and more adjusted to Indian life and starts to embrace his new surroundings, you get a wonderful taste of the culture, and can appreciate the country through his eyes. It doesn't hurt that his love-interest (played by Ayesha Dharker) is freakin' adorable...
And I love the relationship between Todd and his "replacement" Puro (played by Asif Basra), which was pretty funny...
All-in-all, a wonderful film that I regret having missed on the big screen. The cinematography of India (including the wonderful Holi Festival of Color) begs to be seen big. I guess that will teach me to trust a crappy review over my gut instinct when it comes to picking what movies I see in the theater.
And now, since I've given up getting home until after the 25th, it's time for Wii Bowling!
Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2008
The snow is piling up and depressing me, so I thought I'd write a few reviews to take my mind off things...
w00t! It's Movie Review Time!
All the rumors you've heard are true... Slumdog Millionaire is a wholly remarkable film that is not to be missed. In a day and age when the world seems full of hate and anger and is teetering on the edge of annihilation, having a movie filled with hope, love, and life is a refreshing (and much-needed) change...
A film about a poor street-kid who surprises everyone in India with his success on a popular game show, I loved Slumdog Millionaire, and can't wait to see it again. Danny Boyle is sheer genius, but I expect nothing less from the man who brought us the amazing film Millions, another long-time favorite of mine. Bravo, Mr. Boyle!
w00t! It's iPhone App Review Time!
I'm a world geography junkie, so I was pretty psyched when I saw that there was a new trivia app called "inFact World" available at the iTunes Store. It's pretty sweet, and quizzes you on continents, flags, languages, bodies of water, and other nerdy stuff. The interface is dead-simple and easy to use...
The app sells for $2.99 and provides endless educational fun! Available at the iTunes Store for iPhone and iPod Touch.
w00t! It's DVD Review Time!
Shortly after posting about how much I hated Brokeback Mountain (which I maintain is one of the most boring, unsympathetic, bloated, overrated piece of cinematic FAIL ever made) I got an email from a reader telling me that I should try Yossi & Jagger, which they felt was a much better film along similar storylines.
Always looking for a good movie to watch, and not having a problem with gay-themed films (on the contrary, flicks like Philadelphia, The Birdcage, Longtime Companion, and Jeffrey are classics)... I decided to investigate further, because I had never heard of Yossi & Jagger before. What I found was a bunch of promotional images which led me to believe that it was just a lame excuse to parade man-candy around in army gear for some kind of queer military fetish soft-core porn. I decided to take a pass.
Fast forward to last week while I'm killing time at the airport, and I run across an article called "hidden gems on DVD" (or something like that) and lo-and-behold there's Yossi & Jagger. Since I had seen other films on the list and enjoyed them, I thought I'd give it a try...
It was a brilliant, but odd film.
Odd because it's an Israeli film about the armed services, but doesn't have any kind of political agenda. Odd because it's a film about gays in the military, but isn't trying to make any statement about it. Odd because it's a gay love story, but doesn't come from an exclusively gay point of view. Very odd because it's less than an hour long.
Yossi is a company commander in the IDF who is calm, reserved and very private. Jagger is Yossi's subordinate platoon leader and is much more open and less guarded. Somehow they end up together, and this film is kind of a "day in the life" that's filled with humor, compassion, and tragedy. Apparently Israel doesn't distinguish between gays and straights when it comes to their mandatory military service, which is an interesting part of the film. You get the feeling that some of the other characters know something is going on between Yossi and Jagger... but none of them really care. All they care about is having superior officers that are competent and are looking out for them, which is the entire point, I guess.
Yossi & Jagger is a touching and entertaining love story that made for a great short film. As if that weren't enough, it's supposedly based on a true story. If you're looking for something different, it's worth a rental. (DVD is in Hebrew with English subtitles and available at Netflix).
w00t! It's Early Bedtime!
Because I have to be up very, very early in the morning...