Posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
I just paid $4.00 for a bottle of Italian Spring Water at my hotel.
I wish I could say that when I close my eyes and drink it, the taste is evocative of Italy... but all I taste is wet. That's a darn shame.
So here I am in San Diego. It's a wonderful place that everybody should visit at least once in their life. If, for no other reason, to make a pilgrimage to the city of my birth. There isn't a temple here in honor of the occasion, but there really should be. Or maybe instead of a temple there could be a statue of me standing in Balboa Park. I dunno. There just needs to be someplace my worshippers can go to go pay their respects and place flowers to celebrate my greatness. And make a donation to the Dave Monument I'm planning to build in the land formerly occupied by Mt. Ranier National Park.
Hmmm... I don't know why it didn't occur to me before, but San Diego would be the perfect place to put my Daveland amusement park! I will convince the city to plow under the San Diego Zoo and put Daveland there instead! What a great location!
Boy, being back to the city of my birth really has me firing on all cylinders tonight.
And speaking of San Diego... there's a few people in town wanting to meet up for dinner on Friday night, if you're in the area and would like to come along, please send me an email ASAP so we can make plans. My email address is at the top of the sidebar on every page.
Unfortunately, I landed to learn of the terrible news that Ricardo Montalban had died.
I, of course, loved him as Mr. Roarke on the show Fantasy Island. Every kid growing up in the late 70's did, because he was the epitome of coolness. He'd walk around in those flawless white suits being all friendly and good-natured and "Welcome to Fantasy Island" and stuff. But then he'd occasionally show his darker side... proving that he could be a total badass as well. It's unthinkable to envision anybody else playing the character except Mr. Montalban (indeed, even the brilliant Malcolm McDowell couldn't manage it when there was a failed revival series twenty years later).
But, to me and so many others, Ricardo Montalban will forever be Khan...
The role of the maniacal villain in the second Star Trek film was not an easy one to play. Indeed, I'd say it was a thankless and impossible role to play. As written, the part was so badly over-the-top... almost to the point of being comical.
Until it was performed by Ricardo Montalban.
He played the character deadly-serious, and turned in a performance so riveting that it cemented Khan as one of the greatest movie villains of all time (indeed, even the brilliant Malcolm McDowell couldn't top it in a follow-up film, Star Trek: Generations). After watching Star Trek II, I fell in love with all things Trek again, and I really have Ricardo Montalban to thank for it. He will definitely be missed.
Even if you don't like Star Trek, you should absolutely check out Wrath of Khan. Montalban's performance is totally worth it. Oh, and don't forget his masterful performance in the first The Naked Gun movie as well!
Lastly, I urge you to read a fantastic blog entry about what it was like working with Mr. Montalban over at Mark Evanier's News From Me site. He was truly an amazing guy and a class-act.
P.S. All my best wishes to my personal hero, Steve Jobs, for a speedy and full recovery.
Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2009
In the epic masterwork, Watchmen, the god-like being known as Dr. Manhattan is a being who experiences his past, present, and future all at the same time. Despite his incredible power over matter, time, and space, he's nothing but a slave to an existence that has already been written. His every moment is "going through the motions" of a life that is fully predestined and known to him.
At one point in the book, Dr. Manhattan is exposed to a stream of tachyons which interrupt his all-knowing vision. Suddenly his boring walk through life is exciting again because he can't see the future. He had forgotten what it's like to not know what's going to happen.
Which pretty much explains how I felt about the film adaptation.
I had read the original graphic novel so many times that I knew every detail. I already knew the future of the story because I knew how it would all end. But the movie version of a dense story like Watchmen had to change to be film-able, so suddenly I was experiencing the excitement of not knowing. So many things were the same, but a lot of the details were different. Including the ending.
For those who haven't seen the film, I can sum it up spoiler-free like this: Watchmen is a surprisingly good film and faithful adaptation that lives up to the hype. It was a remarkable tribute to the source material on almost every level. I really enjoyed the film overall, despite two curious missteps I felt could have been easily avoided.
My spoiler-riddled review (which assumes knowledge of the original Watchmen graphic novel) follows in an extended entry.
→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, April 19th, 2009
It's a beautiful day this Bullet Sunday... which I spent indoors working my ass off and re-watching Veronica Mars on DVD. Man how I miss that show.
• Follow Me. What am I missing with the whole "FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER" deal? It seems everyone and their dog is whoring themselves out to get more followers in the social media game and I don't understand why. Ashton Kutcher has been all over the place with his march to a million followers, but but seeing an ad for him on a local billboard while I was driving into Wenatchee the other day shocked the hell out of me...
For a Hollywood star with movies to promote and stuff to sell, I get it. You want to be relevant in a whole new realm of influence with the populace. But everyday average people? What do they get out of it? Who cares how many followers you have? Will my life suddenly become more fabulous if I get a thousand followers? Oh well, 95% of the stuff on Twitter is crap or spam anyway. The more the merrier.
&bull Dumbass Quotient. Speaking of Twitter spam... are people so fucking stupid that they are still clicking on links for generic viagra and penis enlargers and other moronic crap? I'd imagine they are, because why else would spammers waste their time of something that doesn't work? It's getting to the point where I can't even blame spammers anymore... they're just trying to make a buck. It's the total dumb-fucks that actually buy stuff from spammers that are the real problem. If people weren't so astronomically brain-dead as to make spamming profitable, we wouldn't have a problem. I just loathe these stupid-ass people who fuck up the internet for the rest of us... they shouldn't even BE on the internet in the first place.
&bull Undead Poultry. LeSombre nominated me for a Zombie Chicken award, which comes with all kinds of rules you have to follow. Since I'm not much of an award guy and didn't follow any of them, I am expecting to be attacked by zombified poultry any minute now...
• On Film. With all the flying I've been doing lately, I've been watching quite a few movies. I even made it to the theater on Friday, which was the second time this year! Monsters vs. Aliens - So good it's good. Crank 2: High Voltage - So bad it's good. The Spirit - So bad it's bad. Twilight - So very bad it's horrendous. The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) - So far beyond bad that we need to come up with new words to describe just how fucking awful this piece of shit "remake" is. There are some great-looking flicks coming up but, given my luck lately, I'm a little bit afraid to go see them.
• Flame War. In general, I find "humor" sites to be pretty much hit-or-miss. But every once in a while I come across something so incredibly genius that I can't help but link to it. College Humor has a brilliant parody of the Billy Joel song We Didn't Start The Fire called We Didn't Start The Flame War (language makes this one not quite safe for work). Once I got past the hilariousness of the video, I kept watching again and again because of how frickin' beautiful the animation is. All the words come alive as they hit the screen, and somebody put in a lot of time to make that happen. Not bad for a humor video...
But it's the inclusion of the ROFL COPTER that seals the deal...
And now it's back to work. I should be able to go for another hour before dropping into a coma.
Posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
It's a full-blown epidemic edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Mapping. Ooh! I almost forgot that I've got another state checked off my Travel Map! Now there's only North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma left to go. One of these years I'm going to have to just bite the bullet, fly into Fargo, get a one-way car rental, drive down to Tulsa, then fly home. Allowing for a one-day detour to Mount Rushmore, I could do it in three or four days. One more thing to add to my list.
• Jacked. The annual Apple Blossom Festival came to town this weekend. And, while I gave up on celebrating the event a long time ago, there's still one Apple Blossom tradition I feel compelled to embrace... CRACKER JACKS!!!
But something has gone terribly wrong. Right on the front of the bag, it asks you to guess what the surprise might be inside. When I was younger and Cracker Jack had awesome prizes, I might have had a shot at this. Maybe it would be a little plastic truck. Or a magnifying glass. Or even a book of sweet ink tattoos. But TODAY? All the prizes they give out are shit...
Now, please tell me how the fuck could I have ever guessed a "pencil topper" that's nothing but a piece of slotted paper with a crappy drawing of cartoon bees on it? NOTE TO CRACKER JACK COMPANY: A PENCIL TOPPER WOULD GO ON TOP OF THE PENCIL. THIS IS A FUCKING PENCIL SLIDER. Or whatever...
• Chuks. My post from Thursday was half-way understood by half the people commenting on it. While it's probably a mistake to try and explain what goes on in my head, I'll give it a shot...
In the cinematic masterpiece, Dune (directed by über-genius David Lynch), there's a big battle at the end where the oppressed Fremen warriors rise up against the Galactic Emperor by riding giant worms into a sneak attack...
In addition to mowing down soldiers with their giant worms, the Fremen also have a sound-activated guns called a "weirding modules." When they scream certain sounds, the guns shoot out a pretty blast of light that blows shit up...
When I saw the film in the theater waaaayyy back in 1984, it was at our shitty local cinema which has horrible sound. Every time the Fremen screamed into their weirding module, I could have sworn that they were saying "INYUK CHUK!" Starting with Rachel, the replicant from Bladerunner...
And Captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation...
And, of course, the Cosmic Messiah of the Dune Universe Himself, Muad Dib...
Now, as everybody knows, "INYUK CHUK" is the phrase that Apache Chief on the Super Friends uses to grown into a big man and battle crime. Since Muad Dib has super powers, I kept expecting him to grow into a giant and start kicking some ass...
Super-sweet Apache Chief custom action figure by Iron Cow.
How frackin' awesome would THAT have been?
• Yikes. Speaking of Dune, isn't Alia the freakiest character ever to appear in in a movie?
• Humor. There's a lot of reason to love Star Wars (well, the originals, not the shitty prequels). And one of my favorites is how LucasFilm has no problem poking fun at the franchise. Not only by allowing others to take a shot at Star Wars parody (like the recent brilliance by Family Guy and Robot Chicken)... but the wonderful way they make fun of themselves. If you're a fan, StarWars.com has some beautiful posters for Disney's "Star Wars Weekends" on display. Here's two, but there are many more that are well worth checking out...
And now it's time for dinner. I'll be having rice tacos tonight. RICE TACOS WITH CHEESE!
Posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2009
All in all... a fairly uneventful trip. Except I ate a sandwich during my layover in Atlanta and think I got food poisoning. Fortunately, I managed to hold myself together until I got to my hotel.
The highlight of the trip had to be the movie I watched on the plane... Taken starring Liam Neeson.
I had seen the movie trailer and thought it looked pretty sweet, but I had no idea this film would be so kick-ass! I'd put it right up there with the original Transporter flick for awesomeness in the action movie genre. Throughout the entire film I kept waiting for some kind of hokey plot twist... but it never came. It's just really cool action that gets you from point A to point B in a predictable, yet entertaining way. Despite some fairly big plot holes, I really liked it...
Now let's see if I can get a few hours work in before I pass out...
Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009
It may appear that I'm writing two entries today. The truth is that I'm writing three entries, because I am also guest-blogging over at Wayne's place.
Savannah is arguably one of the most beautiful cities on earth. I've only been here once before, and barely had time to drive around for a bit before I had to be on my way. This time around probably won't be much different, because I'm working right up until the day I leave. But I still manage to sneak in glances when I can. Today on my lunch I wandered downtown and meandered through some of the beautiful squares that dot the city. These swathes of green are beautiful refuges that, along with the remarkable buildings, give Savannah it's unique character...
After finishing up work I was going to explore the city at night, but decided to relax at a movie theater instead. I'm still recovering from my bought with food poisoning, and watching a good film would take my mind off things. But which movie to choose? The Hannah Montana Movie or Star Trek?
I went with Star Trek...
The movie was shockingly brilliant. It somehow managed to respect the material that came before it (literally!) but strike out in a bold new direction that is positively thrilling. Not only is this film dangerously close to dethroning Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as my favorite Star Trek movies... but it may very well be one of the best science fiction flicks ever made. It's that good.
And now... let's see if some sleep will make me all better.
Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009
The big news blowing through the blogosphere today is former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken blasting away at how much he thinks current American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert sucks ass. Personally, I don't give a crap, and think Clay Aiken is entitled to his opinion. But what's so odd is that the words Clay uses to talk smack about Adam ("contrived, awful, and slightly frightening") is exactly... exactly... how I would describe Clay. I've never heard him sing a damn thing that didn't make me wish my head would explode... or wish Clay Aiken would explode... or both. This is like the suck-infested pot telling the suck-infested kettle that he sucks. Or something like that.
And speaking of horrific infestation...
Yeah... Vista sucks ass and should have never been released in the first place, but instead of fixing it,* Microsoft is going to make you pay for an upgrade to Windows 7? What a crock of shit.
* And no, those Service Pack updates didn't solve nearly enough of my problems with Vista to make me consider it "fixed."
To see all of the Lil' Dave Mac vs. Lil' Wayne PC ads, click here!
On a happier note, I got an email from somebody who was very happy with my movie suggestion of Doc Hollywood this past Bullet Sunday, and wanted to know if I had any other "old movies" that I'd recommend. The film was released in 1991, which had me doing some serious reevaluation of what I consider to be an "old movie," but I did come up with two worth watching...
Creator (1985) Starring Peter O'Toole, Mariel Hemmingway, Vincent Spano, and Virginia Madsen. This movie was overlooked by most everybody and it's a real shame. Creator is a comedy with truly touching dramatic elements which has a lot to say about life, love, loss, and the science of it all. Peter O'Toole gives a fantastic performance as a brilliant but eccentric professor who's trying to clone his dead wife. It's definitely a level above your typical popcorn comedy, but oh so rewarding. Unfortunately, the DVD and iTunes versions are absolute shit... they butcher the film to crappy full-screen "pan-and-scan" which chops up the flow and framing of the film... but Flix is airing it in widescreen on the 26th at 12:05am Pacific (3:05am Eastern). If you get the Showtime/Flix channel package, you might want to set your TiVo, because this is probably the only way you're ever going to see this wonderful film unmolested.
Undercover Blues (1993) Starring Kathleen Turner, Dennis Quaid, Fiona Shaw, and Stanley Tucci. Another overlooked gem that's one of my favorite movies of all time. Spies Jeff and Jane Blue are on maternity leave to spend time with their new baby, starting with a vacation in New Orleans. But when a situation comes up having world-shattering consequences, they are back in action for one more case. Hilarity ensues. I think what I like best about this movie (other than the fantastic way they integrate New Orleans into the story) is that there are no wasted moments. The plot moves ahead at full-speed from frame one, and takes you for a ride that's never boring and always funny. Definitely worth your valuable time to track down and watch.
I've seen each of these films at least a dozen times, but just writing this makes me want to see them all over again.
Unfortunately, I have to go back to work instead.
Posted on Sunday, May 31st, 2009
It's heatwave edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Hot. It's eighty-eight degrees Fahrenheit outside.
• Hotter. I am guessing it's ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit inside... because the air conditioner is broked. I try to compensate by eating ice cream and drinking ice water, but it's just not happening. All that does is make me realize how bloody miserable I am when I stop.
• Up. I saw Pixar's latest animated miracle, Up, and found it to be scrumtrelescent.
• Upper. Seriously, Up is one of the most beautifully animated spectacles ever made. That wouldn't be saying much if the story sucked, but this is Pixar, so the story is genius as usual. Crotchety old widower Carl Fredricksen decides to have the adventure of a lifetime by tying thousands of balloons to his house and floating to South America. Unfortunately, an overly-helpful and annoying Wilderness Scout named Russell accidentally gets taken along for the ride. Hilariousness ensues. I don't know if Up displaces Monsters, Inc. and The Incredibles as my favorite Pixar movie... but it comes darn close. I'd call the film "flawless" except I did have two small problems and one bigger problem with it. To avoid spoiling things, I've dropped that in an extended entry.
• Twitter. I already feel as though Twitter is a massive waste of time... especially when things like "blip.fm" get involved and people are tweeting every frickin' song they listen to (Why should I care about your bad taste in music? Do people actually click on blip.fm links?). Or, even worse, those who live-tweet television shows and sporting events. Why would I want to read tweets about something I don't even want to watch? Or, if I am watching, I ALREADY KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING AND DON'T NEED TO READ ABOUT IT! Factor in other annoyances like re-tweets, private conversations, and Follow Friday (SERIOUSLY, IF I WANT TO KNOW WHO YOU FOLLOW, I'LL VISIT YOUR FOLLOWERS PAGE!)... and Twitter is mostly noise anymore (don't even get me started on blog post announcements which announce posts that I've ALREADY READ from a webfeed subscription). Bleh. I wish I wasn't so addicted to Twitter. My life would be a lot simpler.
• Twitterer. But now the ultimate Twitter annoyance has struck... TWITTER GAMES! I keep getting "SpyMaster" invitations, and it's only a matter of time before "Mob Wars" invades. This may very well be the last straw for me. If I can't find a Twitter client that gives me the ability to filter out all the distracting shit that is clogging up my feed, I may just give up. Or unfollow a couple hundred people.
And now I really need to catch up on some sleep. If you've already seen Up, and want to read me nit-picking over this excellent movie, that's in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009
I don't know what it is about me, but I sure do attract the crazies.
Probably because I am a crazy, which I haven't ruled out.
It doesn't matter where I go on this planet, I always seem to end up in some kind of messed up situation with my fellow humans. I've been attacked by a drunken knife-weidling moron in Seattle. I've been chased five blocks by a crack-head in Cleveland who wanted my phone. I've been felt up by gypsies trying to find my wallet in Rome. I've been mugged at gun-point by a psychopath in San Francisco who talked to himself. The list goes on and on. Ask Vahid about the time we were walking down the street in Albuquerque and was accosted by a spaced-out "purebred Italian Mexican" who wanted to have his fellow alcoholics kick our asses... everywhere I end up, the crazies come running.
Tonight, after going to the movies and watching The Hangover I was walking to Johnny Rockets for dinner when another one came out of the woodwork...
Homeless Guy: Hey have you got any change... a nickel... anything?
Dave2: (looking up at him from his iPhone) No, sorry, I don't have any cash at all (looks back down at his iPhone).
Homeless Guy: Hey! What were you thinking just now?
Dave2: (looking back up) Err... I was thinking I don't have any change on me...
Homeless Guy: (getting angry for no reason) No. NO! What were you THINKING when YOU first saw ME?!?
Dave2: I was thinking "Why is this asshole being so RUDE to me when I'm trying to be NICE?"
Homeless Guy: I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU WERE THINKING!!
Dave2: WELL, RIGHT NOW I'M THINKING "FUCK OFF!" SO WHY DON'T YOU LEAVE ME ALONE?
He was still calling "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?" after me as I was crossing the street. And I still don't know what I did to set him off. I treated him with courtesy and respect. I looked him in the eye when I spoke to him. I was as nice as I could be when I explained I didn't have any cash, but it didn't make any difference. I dunno... maybe there's something about me that makes people crazy. That would explain a lot.
And it didn't end there... after dinner I was crossing the street and some guy with a tourist map wants my help. I thought he was going to ask for directions, so I stopped. Instead he told me that he picked his mother up from Swedish Hospital after surgery, and now he doesn't have enough money for gas to get her home. This made no sense at all, because he was downtown when Swedish is up on First Hill, but I guess I have to give him the benefit of doubt since he seemed to be lost. In any event, I'm guessing his mother is stuffed in a car somewhere on the side of the road after surgery, and this makes me sad. If I actually had any money, I probably would have given him a couple bucks, even though this goes against my beliefs of causing no harm.
In any event, it was nice to just be alone for a while after such an exhausting day. It doesn't hurt that The Hangover was such an awesome movie. Most comedies today take some stupid joke and then repeat it to death until the entire movie is run into the ground. The Hangover was refreshingly different. They never let the funny get repetitive or stale, so I was laughing all the whole way through. That almost never happens anymore. Kudos to writers Jon Lucas & Scott Moore, director Todd Phillips, and a fantastic cast and crew for a job well done. A particularly well-deserved shout-out to Bradley Cooper, who took an annoying character that would have driven me insane in most any other movie, and made him totally watchable and brilliant. I liked Cooper in Alias, loved him in Kitchen Confidential, and have been pleasantly surprised at his appearances in movies like Wedding Crashers... I hope he gets more leading roles out of his home-run performance in The Hangover.
And now I should probably call it a night. Tomorrow is a very long day.
Posted on Friday, July 10th, 2009
The first two comic books I ever bought were Green Lantern #121 and The Flash #277. I ended up liking Green Lantern best because his stories were cosmic in scope and seemed more imaginative. Whatever Hal Jordan could dream up, his magical ring could make a reality... what could be cooler than that?
How about a Green Lantern movie?
Last August there was an announcement that a GL movie was going to enter production. I was excited. Now there's news floating around that my hetero-man-crush Ryan Reynolds has beat out Justin Timberlake and Bradley Cooper for the role. Now I'm estatic. I can only hope that they REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL and come up with a decent story. A Green Lantern film should be EPIC. He should battle bad-ass villains like Sinestro and Star Sapphire... not lame-ass regular-people villains that shouldn't even be a challenge. There should be aliens and space battles. There definitely should be Abin Sur and the Guardians... DON'T FUCK WITH GREEN LANTERN'S ORIGIN, OTHERWISE IT ISN'T GREEN LANTERN!!
The massive box office from the Batman and Iron Man movies should prove that you can remain faithful to the source material and still have a successful film. Hopefully the people behind Green Lantern understand that...
In other news... final dates have been set for Davelanta 3 (August 1st) and Daveorado (August 22nd)...
The Daveil went down to Georgia...
A run to the Rocky Mountains...
If you haven't already contacted me and would like to meet up with some cool bloggers in Atlanta or Denver, just send me an email at email@example.com and I'll let you know when we have details!
Posted on Thursday, July 16th, 2009
My air conditioner came with a remote control. That's pretty sweet, because you don't have to get up to turn it off and on. You can stay safely on the couch and not have to risk getting eaten by a Carpet Shark or accidentally getting any exercise.
The problem is that the air conditioner makes an ear-splitting BEEP (shriek?!?) every time you turn it off or on. It has to be about the stupidest thing ever. I mean, it would be different if the air conditioner was totally silent and you couldn't hear when it was on... BUT IT'S AN AIR-CONDITIONER!!! Short of a smoke alarm, it's about the loudest damn appliance you can buy. Until now. It's as if the manufacturer said "I'm tired of smoke alarms stealing our thunder as loudest appliance ever... we can do better!" And they have! I swear that asinine shriek is louder than the test button on any smoke alarm.
And I just don't get it. Having a loud BEEP go off every time you mess with an air conditioner is about as senseless as trying to find intelligence in an Ann Coulter book. Yet here we are, with me living in fear that turning on the air conditioner will result in the neighbors calling the fire department.
A fire department which would probably be happy to allow my home go up in flames once they found out I'm not a Harry Potter fan.
Every time a new Harry Potter movie comes out, it's always the same. A never-ending stream of "Have you seen Harry Potter yet?!?"
I've already written about my social inadequacies from not being a Harry Potter fan, but now the fervor has reached all new heights. There are no more Harry Potter books in the pipeline, so new films are all that's left for people to obsess over. This has resulted in an unprecedented level of disdain from Potter-Heads every time I have to explain that I don't like Harry Potter and have no desire to see any of the movies. The shock, disbelief, disgust, and sheer terror that's unloaded on me has never been more blatant.
I'm still waiting for a Harry Potter edition of CliffsNotes so I can at least pretend to fit into society again.
Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Imagine that there's somebody whose work you so admire that they inspire you every day. Imagine that what this artist creates fills you with such joy that your life is better because of it. Imagine that this visionary is one of your greatest personal heroes and you obsess over everything they've released.
Now imagine that this person has decided to make a rare public appearance to discuss these works which have been an inspiration to you for your entire adult life... and you have an opportunity to see them do so live and in person.
That's exactly what happened to me when I found out that animation legend Hayao Miyazaki would be speaking in Los Angeles today.
Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. You just don't pass up an opportunity to attend a lecture with the man responsible for My Neighbor Totoro...
Blogging buddy Howard (from the Web Pen Blog) and I attended the event, and it was an amazing, incredible, wonderful night.
Too many times the best days of our lives go by unnoticed and are only realized upon reflection.
I know this was one of the best days of my life.
To read more about Hayao Miyazaki, here's a Wikipedia entry.
But to really understand him, just go watch his films.
Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009
Today started at 3:30am when I awoke to get ready for my early-morning trip to Portland for a quick meeting. Much to my delight, I got finished three hours early, which meant I had three hours to kill in the city before having to return to the airport. This meant a trip to one of my favorite places: Powell's City of Books.
After an all-too-brief (but wholly unexpected and serendipitous) visit to the City of Roses, I headed back to the airport where I ran into Vahid and Sir, for another all-too-brief (but wholly unexpected and serendipitous) visit before flying out to Denver.
So here I am in The Mile High City, which I haven't been to in six long years. That's a darn shame, because I love it here and wish I had an excuse to visit more often. After wandering down to the 16th Street Mall for dinner I saw District 9, a movie that came out of nowhere to become my favorite film of 2009 so far...
South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has recreated the horrors of his country's apartheid days in a surprising way. Instead of white colonists subjecting black natives to racial segregation... human natives are subjecting alien refugees to species segregation. And what wonderful-looking aliens they are...
What's astounding here is how fully-realized the world of District 9 is. By the time the film takes place, the aliens have been around for decades and their presence is treated as commonplace. That the actors were able to inhabit this reality so believably is what makes the story so compelling. You simply believe it's happening as you watch it, even though there are these fantastical creatures wandering around.
The film is best experienced clean... with no spoilers or story points to ruin it... so run, don't walk, to a good theater and see it before all the talk about it diminishes the impact for you.
Posted on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
My day wasn't spent wandering around Denver as planned... but working.
I did get out for a quick walk down the 16th Street Mall in the afternoon, but the heat eventually drove me back to my air-conditioned hotel for still more work. And though I didn't finish nearly enough of what I needed to get done, I finally threw in the towel around 4:30.
As usual, good conversation and good times ensued. That I get to continuously meet amazing people like this in my travels is a gift for which I'm wholly inadequate at expressing my gratitude. All I can say is thanks to the three of you for taking valuable time out of your Saturday to let me hang out with you. Hopefully it won't be another six years before I am able to come back!
After dinner, Howard and I decided to get our Tarantino on and see Inglourious Basterds. The film was total genius, and I loved every minute of it. Particularly shocking to me was how amazing Brad Pitt is in the flick... this is easily his best performance since 12 Monkeys. But the hands-down standout, scene-stealing role in the film belonged to Christoph Waltz's brilliant portrayal of Col. Hans Landa. The guy had to walk a very fine line to get just the right balance of humor and terror, and did it so admirably that the film was elevated to an entirely new level of greatness...
I have no idea how Quentin Tarantino does it. He always manages to write exactly the right dialogue, then cast exactly the right actors to speak it, then direct the entire film flawlessly, then pick precisely the right music to drive it all home. I don't think "visionary" manages to adequately express how astounding a talent he is when it comes to crafting a film, but it's the best word I can think of to describe what it is he does.
Which, in this case, is to create a film that has many levels, yet blends them all so subtly that they disappear into a singular brute-force narrative. By the time we get to the film-within-a-film theater scenes (which seem to be a thinly-veiled commentary on all the killing that the audience has been manipulated into rooting for thus far), all I can do is shake my head in disbelief that any one man can possess such talent...
I can hardly way to see what Quentin comes up with next.
Posted on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009
It's another edition of Bullet Sunday... this time coming to you from beautiful Denver, Colorado!
• I love Ponyo. Yet another Miyazaki masterpiece. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is such joyous, imaginative, feel-good fun that you don't even need kids as an excuse to go see it. Pretty much a retelling of The Little Mermaid, the oft-told tale of the little girl who wants to be human has never been seen in quite this way. Featuring some of the most mesmerizing traditional animated sequences I've ever seen, this is a stunning film which trounces the animated garbage we've been inundated with lately (hey, they're making a sequel to Happy Feet!)...
The main character, Sosuke, is so lovingly crafted that you'd swear he was a real little boy... everything from the way he walks to the way he acts is just captivating to watch. While I prefer to see Miyazaki films in their original Japanese, I have to admit that the vocal talent Disney lined up for the American release is pretty stellar (ZOMG! BETTY WHITE & TINA FEY!) and all the actors seem to ring true to the characters they're dubbing. Well worth seeing in a theater for the sheer spectacle of it all... the pastel-rendered backgrounds are beautiful, and demand to be seen on the big screen.
• Failure to Launch. I got to the Cherry Creek Center Theater for Ponyo a little early so I could eat dinner at the Johnny Rockets there, only to find out that they didn't have any vegetarian Boca Burgers. AGAIN! Why am I not surprised? After all, I've been denied Boca Burgers in San Francisco (twice), Santa Monica, Seattle University Village (twice), Seattle Pike Place Market, Seattle Pacific Place, Miami Aventura Mall, Seattle South Center, and Kent Station... why should Denver be any different? Still finding it positively absurd that a FROZEN item can't be stocked in such depth that it won't run out 50% of the time a customer would like to order it. If you're not going to bother to watch your inventory, don't bother putting it on the menu so that people like me don't waste their valuable time going to a restaurant expecting to get the food we want.
• Denver and Killer Squirrels. After the movie, Howard and Cameron dropped me off downtown so I could take a few photos around the Capitol Building. After goofing around for a bit, I decided to walk back to The 16th Street Mall for dinner and have a look around Union Station. As I was walking through Civic Center Park, I heard something in the tree above me and turned around to look. Much to my surprise it was a very angry squirrel, who glared at me just long enough to let me take a blurry photo of him...
That's when I noticed that squirrels were everywhere, and they had no fear of humans. One little guy was eating a pile of sunflower seeds somebody had left and I was able to sit right next to him. He barely noticed...
Just for fun, I was going to reach over and grab a few seeds, but didn't want to risk getting bitten and end up with rabies or something. That would be just my luck.
• Film by Tarantino. My most consistently favorite director outside of Hayao Miyazaki is Quentin Tarantino. In my capsule review of his latest masterpiece Inglourious Basterds, I said that the word "visionary" was inadequate to describe his cinematic genius. This prompted one reader to ask me how I would rank his films, which would be thusly...
&bull Housekeeping Aggressive. One of the most thankless jobs on the planet has to be that of a housekeeper at a hotel. Forgotten entirely when they do their job well, yet persecuted ruthlessly when they make a mistake, the housekeeper is in the ultimate no-win scenario. Historically, I've always endeavored to be excessively kind and generous with housekeeping staff in order to balance out this wrong, but my attitude has been changing as of late. Because, in addition to being the most thankless job, it can also be the most passive-aggressive career in history. And more and more this is getting to be the case. Housekeepers maintain this front of kindness in service, but all too many of them really don't give a shit and, indeed, are actively hostile in their work.
As an example... in the hotel I'm currently staying (which shall remain nameless, because it really doesn't matter) the housekeeping staff is so horrendously noisy each morning that I have no choice but to view it as intentional. And it begins the minute they exit the elevator... laughing and whistling and yelling and screaming and banging and slamming. Never mind that it's still fairly early and people are trying to sleep, they just don't give a fuck. Across the hall from my room is a laundry chute. What they could do is prop the door open so that the soiled linens will pass silently down to the laundry. But what they actually do is let the door slam shut again and again and again, which is an endless source of banging that is so forceful that my walls shake every time. And heaven forbid that you should want to sleep in, because if you stay later than they like, they will purposely create a huge racket outside your door until you ultimately give up and flee the premises. Every drawer is banged. Every word is yelled. Every cleaning tool is rattled. Every door is slammed. Because the housekeepers just don't seem to give a flying fuck anymore. They're up at the crack of dawn doing a thankless job, and they want you to suffer for it. Over and over and over again. One of these days I'm going to have had enough and scream into the hallway as loud as I can "SHUT THE HELL UP!" knowing full-well that it will only encourage them to be louder. Because that's what happens when you mess with people having the most passive aggressive job on earth.
• Farewell to The City. And that's all she wrote. Tomorrow I'll take a trip to some stores I want to check out which were closed today... and then it's off to the airport and other adventures.
Posted on Sunday, August 30th, 2009
Ooh! I'm actually home for this edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Garbage. Having a blog with nearly six years of material makes me an easy target for haters, since I'm bound to have written about something they disagree with. Most of the time I don't care. Either the person trashing me is so incredibly stupid that their garbage is impossible to take seriously, or they are criticizing me for something I never even said in the first place. I have no problem with healthy debate and welcome other people's respectful opinions... but that almost never happens. They're called "haters" for a reason, and are best just forgotten. Except sometimes they just won't go away. The anonymity of the internet makes them impervious to civilized behavior. I wonder if they realize that nobody is ever truly anonymous online? Something to think about, anyway.
• Hurt Locker. I have little to no interest in the whole "war movie" genre. That's because they usually fall into one of three categories: 1) Political statement against war. 2) Political statement for war. 3) Glorification of war and/or war propaganda. The last category is the worst. All those old movies where war is depicted as an entirely one-sided affair, with the horrors nicely sanitized (e.g. the ridiculous "Oh you got me, you dirty Nazi! while the guy grabs his chest and slumps over). But every once in a while there's a film with no obvious political agenda which tries to tell a very human story that just happens to take place during a war (Clint Eastwood's amazing Letters from Iwo Jima comes immediately to mind).
And now we get The Hurt Locker by the always amazing director Kathryn Bigelow...
Any attempt for me to explain the film would be a grave disservice to it. In simplest terms, it's about a three-man team of bomb disposal experts called "Bravo Company" in Iraq circa 2004, and their efforts to dispose of a never-ending supply of explosive weaponry that shows up in a variety of scenarios. After the death of their team leader, a new guy, Staff Sergeant William James, assumes command of the team and things get very interesting. You never really know if James is a reckless maverick who risks lives unnecessarily... or an absolute genius who is so great at his job that it only appears that way. All you do know is that Bravo company has just 38 days left in their tour, and the odds of them surviving long enough to return home grows dimmer with each new encounter. This is a film about guys in a very dangerous job, and there's no political bullshit or anti-war bias to get in the way of telling their story. Miracles do happen.
One of the very best movies of 2009 (I'd place it at #4, after Inglourious Basterds, District 9, and Star Trek), The Hurt Locker is where I'd put all my Oscar votes. Jeremy Renner as Sgt. James is one of the strongest performances I've seen in a film all year, and is backed up by an army of talent and some spectacular cameo role appearances (which it would be a shame to spoil here). Suspenseful, gritty, and very human, The Hurt Locker is actually worth your valuable time to see.
• Iconic. Every since installing Mac OS X Snow Leopard, I've been transfixed with the ability to view application icons at 512-pixel resolution. It's an entirely new ballgame at such a large size, and reveals surprising details that you would never even know existed at their original size... sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Let's take these three icons as an example...
Transmit, which has always been a nifty little icon, is revealed to be a stunning piece of artwork when you get to see it at full size. The attention to detail is nothing short of amazing, and now people can actually see it...
Twitterific, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite. It looks cute and friendly when seen small, but blow it up to full size and it transforms into something vaguely scary. I don't know if the bird is molting... sweating... or has some kind of disease... or what. His beak doesn't even appear to be part of him, but instead bursting through his head, like there's a bird trapped in a bird suit and he's just now breaking out. Granted, this isn't really the designer's fault. This is what happens when you are forced to exaggerate details so they will show up when reduced to a tiny size. Otherwise, it would just look like a little blue blob...
But those issues pale in comparison to the scariness of Apple's own "Mail" icon. It makes absolutely no sense now. The drop shadow makes it appear that the stamp is floating above the surface... but the cancellation mark looks flat, like it's a projection of some kind. Furthermore, the cancellation mark doesn't even look like it's been printed. The gray ink looks like it's actual ink on the white parts of the icon... but mystically transforms into blue ink when it is on the blue parts of the icon. At giant-size, it all looks like some kind of bad Photoshop overlay trick, because it doesn't act like any cancellation mark I've ever seen...
Icons, which have historically had to communicate information at very small sizes, are now having to stand on their own as artwork when presented at larger sizes. This is an incredible challenge for icon designers, because it's not easy trying to create one piece of art which works perfectly for two entirely different uses. I suppose the big worry is that designers won't even try, and we'll get icons that suck at any size.
And now I get to go back to work so I can (hopefully) get caught up before I leave again. Life, she is a bitch.
Posted on Sunday, November 1st, 2009
I'M SICK! Well, sick as usual. I've been feeling poorly since I got back from Amsterdam. I'm sure it's just fatigue from non-stop-travel and working all hours of the night and day... but it's getting old. I'm tired of feeling crappy. I have a feeling that this will be a shorter than usual Bullet Sunday.
• Vote! Just a reminder to my fellow Washingtonians, there's precious little time left to get your votes in to APPROVE Referendum 71. All ballots are due by November 3rd, so if you haven't mailed your ballot and believe that everybody should have equal rights under the law, be sure to take care of it ASAP! I know I've posted this video before, and I realize it was made for the state of Maine, but it really applies everywhere, and is worth your valuable time to watch...
• Buttah! The latest commercial for "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" is pretty cool...
Except it looks strangely familiar...
Who do I talk to about getting paid for them using my idea?
• Saints! Guess what's opening this week?
That's right! After nearly a decade of waiting, the sequel to Boondock Saints is nigh!
The original Boondock Saints is one of those odd "guilty pleasure" movies that there's no reason on earth I should like... but I do. I've seen it a dozen times, and scare myself with how much of the dialogue I can quote from the film. I can only hope that the long wait for more Boondocks won't be met with disappointment. The crappy Star Wars prequels are still fresh in my mind.
Annnnd... I'm spent.
Posted on Thursday, November 26th, 2009
I know I should be talking about either how thankful I am for my friends and family or posting my annual DaveToon showing how this is not a good day for turkeys... but what I'm really thankful for on this day of Thanksgiving is Star Trek.
I finally got around to watching my new Blu-Ray of the J.J. Abrams Trek movie today and fell in love with it all over again. After having seen it three times in the theater, I can safely say it's my favorite movie of 2009, which is strange considering I was set to hate it when it was released...
The problem is that I'm such a massive fan of The Original Series that I never anticipated I could possibly like a "reimagining" of the show. Heck, I didn't even like all the franchises that followed... didn't care for The Next Generation... was not a fan of Deep Space Nine... totally hated Voyager... and was mostly indifferent towards Enterprise. They weren't Kirk, Spock and the gang, so they weren't Star Trek. The new movie, however, is Kirk, Spock and the gang, and I loved it. Even though we had different actors in the roles...
If I had to pick a second thing to be thankful for, it would be that I don't have a gun. Because if I did have a gun, I might be tempted to hunt down the asshole who decided to make a bunch of movie trailer previews AUTO-PLAY before the actual movie on the Star Trek Blu-Ray disc. I just BOUGHT the frackin' movie... you don't get to hold me hostage for stupid-ass previews I don't want to see. That's about as douchey as it gets.
Well, not as douchey as, say, Glenn Beck, but still pretty douchey.
Posted on Sunday, December 6th, 2009
Home for Bullet Sunday! Home for an entire month! Of course, now that I've said that, I'm sure I'll end up flying out somewhere tomorrow.
• Holidays. I got an email from Laurel reminding me that the deadline for sending holiday cards to the troops via the Red Cross's "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program is MONDAY. That's TOMORROW if you're reading this on Sunday... TODAY if you're reading on Monday. If you'd like to make a serviceman or servicewoman's day when they're far from home, here's your opportunity...
Also... just a quick reminder that one of my favorite organizations, AnySoldier.com is a great way to show your appreciation for the troops any time of year. If you'd like to know what kind of stuff to send, I've written about that here.
• Woodie. Many congratulations to one of my favorite bands, Matt & Kim, on winning a Best Video Woodie for their awesome Lessons Learned video. I've written about my love for all things Matt & Kim here, and you can watch their video below...
• Killer. The question "what's your favorite app for the iPhone" is something I get quite often. Right now the honest truth would be Undercroft. But apps come and go and, once I've finished playing Undercroft, I'm sure some other toy will take its place. But once you remove the distractions, a few apps remain which I find indispensable. For travel, I wouldn't want to live without Flight Update Pro. For photos, I can't imagine not having ShakeItPhoto. And, of course, there's always the most important app ever created, Ask Dave!
But if I were forced to choose just one killer app I can't live without, it would be Jaadu VNC that gets my vote. For those unfamiliar, Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a remote access system that allows you to control a computer over the internet. It's always somewhat problematic because of the screen update lag, but it works. And, thanks to Jaadu VNC, it works beautifully on my iPhone...
This is full-screen view, but you can also zoom in with auto-panning.
In fact, it works better than the VNC clients for my MacBook, and I often-times end up using Jaadu to do things that go sideways with other clients. Being able to access my work computer from practically anywhere is a game-changer. There's nothing quite like being able to handle a work emergency while standing in line at Splash Mountain. Jaadu makes this kind of thing easy. But the app has some other tricks up its sleeve as well... such as being able to switch to a numeric keypad or even a media remote...
It costs something like $25, but the value it provides is priceless if you're away from your computer but need access to it.
• Copter. I am reeeeeally looking forward to seeing James Cameron's new film, Avatar. The preview images and video footage look amazing. And since it's James Cameron (Terminator, Aliens, Titanic) you just know it's going to be something special. What I find curious is the dual-fan helicopters featured in the material...
They instantly reminded me of the dual-fan helicopters from Disney/Pixar's brilliant animated film The Incredibles...
Very cool! And further proof that The Incredibles was operating at a level far above your typical cartoon feature. The design on it was...well... incredible. And it only makes me want to watch the movie all over again.
And that's a wrap. I really should get back to work now...
Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2009
And so... James Cameron's Avatar is dropping in theaters this Friday, and I am near the point of desperation to go see it. The problem is that I positively loathe to go to the movies anymore. People have reached new heights of rudeness, and it's just not as fun as it used to be. I spend most of my time filled with rage because people are getting calls on their mobile phones, lighting up the entire theater by texting, talking in loud voices and making noise, kicking the seats in front of them, and being all-around assholes. Why should I pay $7.50 for a ticket and $6.00 for a Coke to be subjected to that?
Maybe I should publish a new addition to my growing family of "Dumbasses" books so I can pass them out whenever I go to the movies?
Though the odds of anybody too rude to already know theater etiquette actually taking time to read it are slim.
So maybe I do what I usually do, and wait for the Blu-Ray to be released.
But then I look at this poster popping up everywhere...
...and I really, really want to go.
Here's hoping that if I do go I won't end up killing anybody.
Posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2009
As I type this, Twitter is down. I don't have a lot of time to spend on Twitter, but I feel incredibly disconnected when I go to see what's happening there and can't get through. Amazingly, you don't even get a Fail-Whale anymore... just a blank white screen.
If I could Twitter right now, I'd undoubtedly tweet my surprise that the stunningly beautiful Audrey Tautou just showed up on my television in an advertisement for Chanel No. 5. A little internet research reveals that the spot was directed by the incomparable Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who had previously worked with Tautou on two of my favorite films: Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (known as Amélie in English-speaking countries) and Un long dimanche de fiançailles (known as A Very Long Engagement here).
I don't usually post random videos, but this commercial is too beautiful to not be seen...
Or heard. We're also treated to Billie Holiday for a soundtrack.
Everything Jeunet touches is surreal and magical. Even a commercial for perfume. And now all I want to do is watch Amélie and A Very Long Engagement back-to-back. Even though it's 10:30 at night and I have a ton of work to do and I'd be up until 2:00am.
Another time, I guess.
Interestingly enough, Jeunet has a new film that debuted in France back in October called Micmacs à tire-larigot...
I can't wait to see it, even though it sounds like it is very different from his previous two films.
But sometimes different is good.
Posted on Saturday, December 26th, 2009
I worked most of the day, trying to solve a very perplexing assignment in every way I could think of. By the time dinner rolled around, I was mentally exhausted and looking for a diversion. While cleaning off a bookshelf, I happened across my DVD copy of Death on the Nile... the movie version of the brilliant Agatha Christie novel of the same name (albeit with a number of characters having been changed or eliminated). It's one of those movies I can watch a hundred times and still enjoy it, so my diversion had been found...
Equal in brilliance to the story is the cast.
Peter Ustinov! David Niven! Mia Farrow! George Kennedy! Angela Lansbury! Maggie Smith! Jack Warden! And a crazy-ass BETTE DAVIS! But that's not all, it also had MANIMAL in it!
Manimal is one of those shows that I vaguely remember enjoying the heck out of during my youth. It featured a guy who could turn into animals to solve mysteries and fight crime and stuff. He had his pick of any animal under the sun, but always ended up changing into a black panther for some reason. Probably to save money on special effects.
Those were heady days for cheesy TV, because Manimal ran at the same time as another sweet program from my youth... Automan! Though what I remember most about that show was that the character drove a Lamborghini that could make 90-degree turns at high speeds, and had a sidekick named "Cursor" that could build stuff out of thin air. Sure it was pretty much a rip-off of TRON, but it gave me something to watch after my homework was done.
Speaking of TRON, am I the only one who's excited about the long-awaited sequel, TRON Legacy, finally hitting theaters in 2010?
Of course, it's DECEMBER 17th, 2010... which kind of sucks. Especially when all we have to hold us over until then is this.
Oh well, something to look forward to, I guess.