Posted on March 30th, 2012
I was pretty indifferent when I heard that they were making a movie from The Hunger Games books. Sure I liked the novel quite a lot, but I was in no hurry to see it in the theater. Maybe because I thought the second book wasn't as good... and the third book was disappointing... and I felt done with The Hunger Games.
But here it is, and I felt compelled to see it. I'll be vague and fairly spoiler-free, but if you really want to avoid any discussion of the film until you've seen it (or read the books), I'd skip down to my final "30 Days Drawing Challenge."
In summary... an enjoyable enough film, but a big step down from the book upon which it's based...
In the future the US has collapsed, sea level has risen, the world has been reshaped, and civilization has been replaced with "Panem" a new nation divided into twelve districts. As punishment for having risen up against the government, each district holds an annual lottery where a boy and a girl are offered up as "tributes" in a battle to the death where only one shall survive.
Which sounds kind of familiar if you've read/seen Battle Royale, but whatever. The long and short of it is that the plot of both works is pretty fucked up, seeing as how young kids are going around killing each other.
Anyway... the tribute from District 12 is Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take the place of her young sister who "won" the Hunger Games lottery. She is offered up along with a guy who's a vague acquaintance from her past, and the game for survival is on. Death and destruction ensue.
The thing that made the book such a good read is that it regularly punches you in the gut as you made your way through the story. It's edgy, personal, disturbing, relentless, and violent. It has mad pacing and a plot that drives ahead like a sledgehammer. By comparison, the movie falls flat. Most of the events are there, but they've been smoothed out until they lack any sort of edge. The sense of danger never feels very high. The second half of the film where the action should be coming to a head was actually kind of boring. And, worst of all, it never felt very personal.
As expected with a film adaptation, stuff was changed and left out... some of it inexplicably so. But what really pissed me off was how they altered the ending. The filmmakers were clearly more interested in setting up a sequel rather than following the disheartening end-beat of the source novel. This sucks ass, because it completely sabotages the story and robs a major character of their emotional journey. It was a cheap trick and a lame way of trying to make a more "likable" finish.
As for the casting, I didn't think it was as bad as many Hunger Games fans felt it was. I thought Katniss and Peeta were well represented. I thought Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz were great casting choices. Stanley Tucci gave a great performance for a character that didn't really have a great performance in it. Elizabeth Banks frickin' WAS Effie Trinket, even though the character had a chunk missing from her back-story. Cinematography didn't seem as epic as I would have thought, but the film didn't really suffer from it. Direction and editing were capable, if nothing exceptional... probably stemming from the watered-down PG-13 script.
Ultimately, I recommend the book, and half-heartedly recommend the film if you've read the book. I don't recommend the movie if you haven't read the book, as it's missing too much to really hold up on its own (so read the book first!).
And... it's all downhill from here. The second book has some interesting stuff to draw from, but I don't think the third (and final) novel will adapt well at all. But, given the amount of money this flick has been making, that's not going to stop anybody from trying.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Congrats Banner for Finishing...
Well that wasn't quite the big bucket of fun that I thought it would be... I guess I probably shouldn't start stuff like this when I have a vacation in the middle. Oh well. It gave me something to blog about a few times when I didn't have anything to blog about, so there you have it.
Posted on March 29th, 2012
After my dentist check-up this morning, I went to meet friends for lunch. When we arrived at the restaurant, I noticed my iPhone was missing. I knew that I had it when I left the dentist, but had no idea how I could have lost it. Using the "Find my iPhone" app on my friend's iPhone, I saw that my iPhone was back at our initial meet-up point. I don't know how, but I dropped/left it there.
I was relieved, but also... a little freaked.
How would I explain losing my iPhone if I actually lost it?
OFFICER: What do you mean you lost your iPhone?
DAVE2: I dunno! I had it, then suddenly it was gone!
OFFICER: Gone? You don't lose something so precious as an iPhone.
DAVE2: I did! I swear it!
OFFICER: What are you hiding? Did you kill your iPhone?
DAVE2: No! I would never! I love my iPhone!
OFFICER: Why don't I believe you, Mr. Simmer?
DAVE2: =sob!= A DINGO ATE MY iPHONE!!
And speaking of iPhone, there's some kind of bullshit going on concerning a new SIM card standard that Apple is wanting. From what I can tell, it's a much, much smaller card than usual, which will give Apple more room to add cool stuff to their phones or make them smaller.
But competing phone companies like Motorola, Nokia, and RIM are crying foul. They want THEIR new idea for a SIM card to be the standard, and are saying Apple's idea isn't as good. So they're all appealing to some kind of ruling body for SIM cards to try and get Apple's card blocked.
I can tell you right now... if I were on that ruling body, I would totally have one thing to say to Motorola, Nokia, and RIM... SHUT THE FUCK UP! IF IT WEREN'T FOR APPLE, WE'D STILL BE USING YOUR OLD SHITTY MOBILE PHONES, INSTEAD OF THE APPLE-INSPIRED PHONES YOU'RE MAKING NOW...
Mobile phones BEFORE and AFTER the iPhone... Image taken from Digeratii
In all honesty, any "ruling bodies" should give Apple whatever the hell they want. Apple is the company that's driving the mobile phone market now, and everybody else can just get out of the way. Then Motorola, Nokia, and RIM can go back to copying what Apple does next instead of fucking up where Apple is wanting to take us.
Ooh! I'm more of an Apple Whore than usual today!
I guess that's what the trauma of almost losing your iPhone can do to you.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Place You'd Like to Go...
THE MOON, BABY! But I'd settle for Antarctica. Or India. Or even Cambodia.
Posted on March 28th, 2012
So... I'm guessing we're a step closer to Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum getting caught in a gay sex scandal. I mean, if you can't even be photographed next to a guy holding a pink bowling ball, you've gotta be dangerously close to having some kind of repressed gay meltdown (which is probably the most fabulous, glitter-induced meltdown you can have). The only questions remaining are A) Where will Santorum get caught putting his pink balls, and B) Will it happen before or after the Republican presidential nominee has been decided?
For maximum comedic effect, I'm hoping it's A) In Rush Limbaugh's mouth, and B) After he wins the presidential election.
Because I'm pretty sure that's what would make Jesus laugh.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Anything You'd Like...
This drawing actually goes seven levels deep... even though you can only really see four of them. At one point I was going to try and animate this in a zooming endless loop, but decided my sanity couldn't handle it.
Posted on March 27th, 2012
What a dreary, life-sucking day.
A week ago I was in sunny Key West with warm breezes and sunny skies. Today I'm back home where it's cold and overcast.
But, then again, six months ago I was hiking around Uluru in Australia...
...so I guess it's all relative.
Except it just started raining. Again. Which means my life is relatively shitty right now.
Guess there's nothing left to do but go to bed.
Ooh! And make my drawing!
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Someone You Love...
I LOVE YOU, KERMIT THE FROG!!
Posted on March 26th, 2012
Yesterday on the way home from The Coast, I stopped at the grocery store because my cupboards were bare. On the way in, I noticed a table stacked with Girl Scout cookies being attended by sweet, smiling Girl Scouts. "Hello!" they said cheerfully as I walked by. After shopping, I went to pay for my groceries and realized I forgot my wallet in the car. "Hello!" said the Girl Scouts once again as I rushed out to my car. I grabbed my wallet and dashed back into the store. "Hello!" said the Girl Scouts as I ran past.
After finally paying for my groceries, I was pushing my cart out to the parking lot when the smiling Girl Scouts once again gave me a cheery "Hello!" as I rolled past. "OKAY! I'LL BUY A BOX OF COOKIES!" I bellowed.
It was then that I noticed the Girl Scouts were wearing jeans and T-shirts. "Hey! Where are your Girl Scout uniforms?" I asked. I was then shown that the girls were wearing an official "Girl Scouts Pin" and told that uniforms are now optional. "Optional?!? Then how can I tell you're real Girl Scouts? Maybe you mugged some Girl Scouts and stole those cookies! This got me some nervous laughter, but apparently they didn't care about my being a smart-ass so long as I was buying their cookies. That's just good business sense, I suppose...
It's probably only a matter of time before other uniforms go the way of the dodo bird. But so long as that police officer is wearing his official "Police Force Pin," he still has a license to shoot people and drive really fast with his lights flashing... even if they're wearing a pair of Hawaiian board shorts and a lime green tank top.
Oh well. I guess we'll still get to see uniforms on Halloween...
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Something You Don't Like...
And I'm liking Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum less and less every day. That being said, he would be hysterical opponent for President Obama in a debate. The entertainment value would be so amazing that I'm almost tempted to donate to his campaign.
Posted on March 25th, 2012
And now that I've driven home (again) my vacation from my vacation is officially over. Sadly, I am in more of a need of a vacation now than when I got back from my first vacation. So validate your passport, my permanent vacation (and Bullet Sunday) starts... now.
• Thrice Four. When RW and I started THRICE Fiction magazine, I honestly thought that we'd be lucky if we got our friends and family to read it. Which is why once our first issue passed 100 downloads, I was walking on air. Eventually that number climbed to over 300, which exceeded my every expectation. Subsequent issues dropped a bit as the buzz died down, but we were still getting hundreds of downloads. I remain shocked to this day.
The newest issue just passed 2500 downloads only two days after release. It's kind of difficult to know how to react to that...
The cover for THRICE No. 4 is something I worked up while I was on vacation, though I had the idea months earlier. For some reason I always think of forks as being "evil" because they violently stab food, while spoons are "good" because they gently scoop food. After watching the amazing video for Rendezvous' The Murf where one culture rises to worship a squid and another a whale, I had an image of one culture rising to worship a fork and another a spoon. And now I finally had an outlet for it... composing them to be mirror-images of each other. For being a last-minute creation, I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. Though I still prefer the original idea. Let's face it... that video is nothing short of genius...
As always, you can download the latest issue of THRICE Fiction for free at our official website. Apparently we'll be sticking around a while. From the bottom of my heart, thanks to my partner in crime and everybody who has supported us these four issues.
• Trayvon Martin. As I've been on vacation, I haven't been keeping up with the news. Or blogs. Or much of anything. I tend to ignore everything and everyone when vacationing because that's what makes it a vacation. But it was impossible not to hear about the horrific death of Trayvon Martin...
Welcome to "Post-Racist America" where you can kill a black child just because you consider him "suspicious," and not even notorious "crusader for justice" and ratings whore Nancy Grace seems to give a shit. Now if somebody can just explain to me how a person can claim "self-defense" when they fucking profiled and stalked the victim... I'd appreciate it. That would go a long way towards explaining why no arrest was made and how a thorough investigation apparently wasn't worth the effort.
The word "disgusted" is so severely inadequate to describe my feelings here that I am disgusted with myself for even alluding that it could. Will there ever be justice for Trayvon Martin? I suppose that depends on whether people ultimately decide that gunning down a child because he was wearing a hoodie while being black is something worth getting upset about.
• Worship. While I do not consider myself to be a Buddhist, it is Buddhist teachings that form the basis of my belief structure. After decades of wandering when it came to matters of faith, it was Buddhism that "spoke true" to me, and integrating it into my life has done amazing things to contribute to my happiness and understanding of the world. I fully accept that it's not a "religion" for everybody, but that's perfectly fine. It doesn't mean we can't all get along. I respect the religions of others in the hopes that they will respect mine.
Unfortunately, this is increasingly not the case...
And he has ties to presidential hopeful Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum. Shocking.
And, just like Santorum, this vile piece of crap has -zero- interest in respecting the beliefs of other persons. If you're not Christian like him, you can just get the fuck out of America, and that's all there is to it.
But it's not his intolerance that bothers me.
It's at the one-minute mark where he says "We don't worship Buddha! I say we don't worship Buddha! We don't worship Muhammad! We don't worship Allah! We worship God!" Well, whatever, asshole. Nobody is telling you that you have to worship anything. America was, in fact, founded on the idea of freedom of religion so you can worship whatever the hell you want. But you don't get to speak out of ignorance about an entire faith you stupid fuck.
BUDDHISTS DON'T WORSHIP BUDDHA! THEY DON'T "WORSHIP" ANYTHING.
Buddha was not a saint or a prophet or a god or somebody to be worshipped. He was a teacher. He discovered a way to find enlightenment and happiness, and chose to share it with people. And that's all. So when you see statues of Buddha and people bowing before them, it's not out of worship. It's merely a way of showing respect to a great teacher.
And now you know why I can never be a true Buddhist. Buddhists don't believe in "wrong-speaking." But I can't help but call an ignorant asshole an ignorant fucking asshole, so that's the way it's going to have to be. In any event, morons like this glory-seeking piece of shit are the ones that can get the hell out of America. You are betraying everything we are.
• Blueberry. One of my artistic inspirations, Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius), passed away on March 10th. His stories and artwork remain a triumph of the imagination, and I cherished everything he wrote and drew...
Goodbye Mr. Giraud. You've left us a beautiful legacy.
• Prometheus. Holy. Shit.
Looks like Ridley Scott hasn't lost his touch. To say I'm hyped to see this film come June 8th is a gross understatement.
• LEGO BATMAN!!! And as if Prometheus wasn't enough to get excited about. The sequel to one of my favorite video games of all time is coming later this year...
This looks incredible. If it's even half the game that the original LEGO Batman game was, I'll be very happy.
And now I suppose I should try and get some sleep since I didn't bother this weekend. Such is the peril of going on vacation.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Scenery...
Already done, man. Already done.
Posted on March 24th, 2012
It's my birthday!
It's my birthday!
It's my birthday!
I don't really celebrate my birthday, but here it is. My non-celebration is taking place at the Tulalip Resort Casino. It's a very nice casino run by the Tulalip Indian Reservation that's 45 minutes north of Seattle. And, unlike tribal casinos I've visited in some states, it's a real casino with real casino games and (more importantly) real slot machines... not just a bunch of slot-looking-machines that are just a fancy facade for a BINGO game (or however they circumnavigate gaming restrictions).
Anyway... at one point I was up $220... but eventually walked out just $40 ahead. That's not as great as winning a couple thousand dollars on my birthday, but it beats ending up with a loss.
As usual, I drank too much, but what's a non-celebration without too much alcohol?
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Couple...
Don't ask my why. It's my birthday and I've had too much to drink.