Monday, July 31, 2006

Not On Our Side

Yep, more Israel. It's like Da Vinci Code with a real life body count.

Before you skip the rant, there's a bet at the end. You can make MONEY.

Yes, there are casualties on both sides. Or so I have been told. If I read the New York Times or Yahoo I have seen no evidence of this. Seriously - points for anyone who sends me a headline about Israeli casualties. Bonus points if it's a headline somewhere. Everyone know that a Hezbollah rocket hit a HOSPITAL this weekend? Did that make the news anywhere? (Other than Jerusalem, of course.)

Here's some more "quiet" news (and yes, this is my impression - if I don't see it as a headline at Yahoo or Google, I say it's being ignored) - A guy walked in to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and shot six people? KILLED one? Everyone knows that, right? But he's just a nut. Oh, he announced he was a Muslim American (he's from Pakistan) and said he was angry about Israel, but this isn't anti-semitism.

MEL GIBSON on the other hand, THAT'S news! 'Cause we KNEW he hated Jews after that Jews Killed Jesus movie. (Best review I read of The Passion came from the Jerusalem Post. It said "You know what? Most Christians don't CARE *WHO* killed him. Only that he died and rose." Bingo.) Ok, so who DIED because of Mel Gibson? What happened to "If it bleeds, it leads?" Of course if you write bad things about Mel he PROBABLY won't come after YOU, unlike someone who would actually walk into a place with a gun. Whew! Not gonna say a bad thing about HIM. Unless he had a Bible. That would be different.

She Who Is My Wife and I were talking in the car on the way to work. Why is Israel so much the bad guy? I don't care about International Opinion. I'm talking about the United States of America. In our papers. On our television. Please, prove me wrong. Show me a story (again, bonus if it's a headline) that at the very very very least talks about (and gives EXAMPLES of) pain and suffering on the Israeli side. I want to see a CNN reporter riding along with the IDF like the did with Hezbollah last week. I want to see crying Israeli children in the dirt and the rubble. I'll bet you a dollar you don't find one.

I told SWIMW that I was going to name my first heart attack CNN.

Friday, July 28, 2006

October! I need it to be October!

SMALL Spoilers. (Unless you haven't seen BSG S2.5, then the spoilers are huge.) It' be nice if they'd post a better version of THIS somewhere! But it's nice to see that after last season things will be a little more relaxed and laid back. Not nearly so dark. Heh.

Silly Place

Hee. Monty Python and Star Trek. Ahhhhh.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Evil Begins (or: The Dawn of a Glorious Age)

On this date in 1981, an event that changed the world, for good or ill, occurred.

On July 27, 1981, Bill Gates purchsed the rights to Q-DOS from Seattle Computer for $50,000.

HT: The Rhino.

Does it matter?

WARNING: Poorly written unedited rant.

Reading the news the last week or so has been very sad. I'm not sad, I'm pissed. The NEWS is sad. Yes, I'm talking about Israel. The biggest thing that makes me mad is that it seems so many otherwise smart people are being played like a well tuned violin.

I may have said this before, but when the fur (and bombs) started flying I tried to find out WHY Israel was lobbing missiles. I mean, I knew that people had been shooting, bombing, and otherwise blowing up Israelis but in today's international environment I couldn't imagine that this would cause a country to FIGHT. I mean, WE sucked it up when someone tried to blow up the World Trade Center (1990's remember? It was a law enforcement issue.). We didn't mind so much when someone tried to kill off a former president. A Navy ship here, a few potshots at our aircraft there. In modern times these are no longer incidents that are bad enough to go to war over. Unless, of course you are Israel and your lives depend on it.

Now we get into the angry. I've read much about the death and loss of life in Lebanon. These stories are always told with the greatest sympathy. It's tragic. The innocents. And it's all true. But there are two things missing from this. 1) You never hear about these same kind of stories in Israel. 2) They never mention that the reason the orphanage got hit was because Hezbollah put a MISSILE INSTALATION next to or INSIDE it!

The great crime is that we are being told that they are "ALL messed up". Everybody's bad. War is tragic for all sides. If only we could get along. And I think this is grossly dishonest. If I blow up you house, your mom's house, your brother's house, and make announcements on the news that I will not rest until your whole family is dead and then you KILL me, that is not revenge. It's preventing me from doing more of the harm that I have promised to do and have demonstrated that I will do. And if I say "Ok, stop shooting, let's get along" and then blow up another house after you quit, maybe you might not take my word so much the next time.

I'm not always very coherent on this subject. Star Wars DVDs, I've got the moral high ground there. This, maybe not so much. Which leads me to my main question:

Does this matter? Does my consciousness and righteous rage mean anything here? Even if I'm 100% right (and I'm sure I'm not, but I'll bet I'm in the 80s) does it DO anything? Is anything going to change? No-one else seems to care, why should I? We'll negotiate with Iran, the leadership of Palestine will get everything they want and still say that Israel must not exist. Man, our president refers to an Axis of Evil and it is the WORST thing, well, since our president called the U.S.S.R. (murdering millions of it's own) an Evil Empire. But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that a neighboring country must be DESTROYED and it's rhetoric. Don't take it seriously. (Why is it ok for us to have nukes, but not for North Korea or Iran to have them? Because they're going to USE them on someone!)

So MY blood pressure is up, but should it be? Why do I worry? I have a wife and a mortgage to worry about. There's nothing I can do about it now. And it's all such a long way from here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe AND the Sofa

Hey, look! Disney's going to get more of my money!

Well played, Dis.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ninjas! Um... yeah, THOSE ninjas...

Well darned if this doesn't look pretty neat. And if the movie bites we at least got a neat trailer.

Sorry for the sparse posts. I'm sick as a dog (I don't know whose dog, ours are pretty chipper) and busy as all get out at work.

I'll post about The Vacation at some point, I have 3D to do, and do you really need my opinions on the war in Lebanon? (If you can't guess, you haven't been paying attention.)

Oh, and this looks like a must see. It's Batman AND Wolverine!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

World Trade Center

Ok, a few more reviews like this and I may have to go.

"I have a long list of favorite patriotic movies, including "Victory at Sea," "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Sands of Iwo Jima," but Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" is right up there with the best of them. It is one of the greatest pro-American, pro-family, pro-faith, pro-male, flag-waving, God Bless America films you will ever see.

What? Oliver Stone, who hangs out with and praises Fidel Castro? Oliver Stone, who indulges in conspiracy theories and is a dues-paying member of the Hollywood left? Yes, THAT Oliver Stone."

The trailer looks fantastic. But so did Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Buncha Guys About to Turn Blue

"We're breathing again. Thanks a lot."

It's July 20th, ladies and menfolk. The day that a man first set foot on another world. Not a very friendly world, not a very far world (as far as far goes with these sort of things) but another world none the less.

And the first food ever eaten on that other world? (Ok, Buzz is/was a Presbyterian, but it's close.)

Happy Apollo 11 everybody!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"I just want my cut."

This is pretty cool. (And when have I ever said that that it wasn't?) It's an article about Lex Luthor's yacht from Superman Returns. Complete with virtual walkthroughs. Sweet!

Fight 'em till you can't

The second half of Battlestar Galactica, Season Two is released on DVD September 19th, 2006. (I think I may have posted this before.) So scramble out and get the DVDs (you can't borrow ours RIGHT away), THEN-- The show's third season is set to kick off on Friday, October 6 at 10:00/9:00c according to advertising sales materials recently released by the network. The series will run for 10 consecutive weeks (through December 8), after which it will return for an additional 10 installments in 2007. (Hopefully the ep. 10 cliffhanger won't be TOO horific this year.)

So, BSG party at the Thomasdrome on October 6!

Going on vacation tomorrow. Our house will be guarded by nuclear powered gerbils and laser guided slushies.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Precious mk. 3

So I broke down (folded like a cheap suit, I did) and got a new iPod. The old one was acting finicky and I'm going on a cross country trip. Had to be done.

I often listen to the audio of movies and TV (I'm just that kind of nerd). It's kind of funny to be listening to The Wrath of Khan, and then looking down and seeing a PICTURE! That's cool.

The dumbest thing is that you can't edit the TV Show tags in iTunes. And if you set a file to be a "TV Show" but don't edit the tags (you need to get a third party piece of software) it doens't show up on your iPod! Arrrgh!

The almost dumbest thing is that I've found out the iPod uses "proprietary" cables to hook up to your TV. Actually, it uses standard RCA cables, they just send the video through the right audio channel and the right audio through the video cable. Those nutty Apple folks. They're just as evil as Microsoft, only better dressed.

It is pretty sweet so far. But if this one gives me grief I'm switching to Creative and never looking back. This is Apple's last chance.

Kraken Me Up

Yo ho!

Here's the problem with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. It's not perfect. The Curse of the Black Pearl was perfect.

The good: The references to the first movie are very natural (except maybe one) and feel like good fun rather than "We know this movie is not very good so let's talk about the first one a lot".

It's a good story. But it's a lot more front loaded than the first one was. 75% of the plot you get in the first few minutes. The Exposition Man shows up and tells Jack All About It. The first one didn't play all of its cards until well into the movie, and it was always an intersting scene when it did. Maybe this one hasn't played all of it's cards yet. There's always World's End next summer.

PotC1 had two sets of "Laurel and Hardy" characters, a good guy set and a bad guy set. I liked the good guy set rather a lot. They're the two haples soldiers who first confront Jack (Captain!) Sparrow at the dock of the Interceptor. The bad guy set are the two wacky pirates, the bald guy and the guy with the missing eye, who kidnap Miss Swann. Well, they good guys are pretty much the only members of the original cast who do NOT return (and I'd imagine that stings a bit) but the bad guys are pretty good in this second one. They do interesting things and I'm suprisingly happy to see them on screen.

The GREAT: They didn't dumb down Will and Elizabeth at all. I was afraid that they would suffer under the weight of the Mighty Captain Jack. Both are more interesting for thier flaws and thier virtues (heh, and that's a bit of an understatement). Governor Swann does a nice job as well. And Mr. Gibbs is as cool as ever.

DAVY JONES! There are maybe three fx shots in PotC1 that I don't like (I can think of two right off the bat). That was when perfect looking movies had really become expected rather than anticipated. And the Ghost Pirate effects were pretty stunning. Davy Jones and his Amazing Digital Head blow them all away. Bill Nighy plays Capt. Jones (last seen as Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - and he's the best thing in that movie too) and he plays him to the hilt. And even though he has his ADH you can tell it's HIS performance. There are bits where the camera gets three inches from him and it all still holds up. Every twich every blink every glare. It's awesome. This will set a new bar.

The swordfights! Unlike a few other action sequnces, the swordfights pretty much find the magic line that the first movie did. The action is amazing, over the top, but something makes you believe it. In the first one there were a few Amazing Deeds that were accompanied by Capt. J looking around with a look of "WOW! that was hard! I can't believe I managed THAT!" There is the water wheel fight (it's in the trailers) that goes RIGHT up to the edge and then winks at you. (I realize that this Edge is very subjective.)

The monkey! I'm not usually a monkey fan. But this was really well done. And it leads to the best line in the movie. (Ok, second best.)

The music! A little undermixed (what score isn't these days?) but some COOL stuff. I can't get the Kraken theme out of my head.

The Bad: The day after we saw the movie, She Who Is My Wife and I commented that we both liked the movie a lot, but we couldn't stop thinking about the bad stuff. The biggest problem is that the Framework of the first movie is gone. The first movie had Amazing things happening in an otherwise grounded real world. In this movie the world gets a little bit more Amazing. And without the grounded Framework, the Amazing seems Ordinary. It's REALLY annoying.

Remember the edge I talked about before? (Go back and read it again, I'll wait.) There are a few place that just jump right over it. There is the need to be BIGGER than before. FIGHT that need, darn it! It's James Bond syndrome. After you make Thunderball, you feel the need to make You Only Live Twice. The Spy Who Loved Me is followed by Moonraker. If we blew up a building, the next time we have to blow up a city.

Capt. Jack is WACKY. Well, sure. But he's also a great pirate, and kind of a mean old bird as well. (Oh, back to The Great - He is SUCH a mean old bird, he's almost dislikable. I loved it.) It's a credit to the first one that they knew how far to play Jack's Antics. And while Jack was funny, the gang around him wasn't in on the joke. There's a little too much Wacky Fun in this movie. And most of it was in the first third, which could have easily been removed, or at least trimmed, or at least made better.

The dialouge isn't QUITE as punchy this time around. There's not nearly as much quotable material. We haven't stooped to Star Wars Prequel level, but it's not classic either.

It's interesting when Nobody Characters manage to make an impression - when we show up on the Black Pearl in this movie, the crew feels different. Missing something. (Maybe it's just Anamaria is missing. Two plucky black chicks is too much for a movie?) I figure Jack just got more hands on board, but it's jarring. It was kind of like in The Matrix: Reloaded (ergh) when all of the grizzled extras from the first movie were replaced by shiny hollywood people.

It was a really good movie. Maybe even great. But it was the sequel to the best Big Summer Movie of the 21st Century and I saw it the week after Superman Returns. They need to get thier act together by next summer.

Spoilers! (Inviso Text!)

NORRINGTON! Whooooooooo! I'm not sure that I cared for HOW he gets to where he is in this movie (the whole East India Company plot is a big problem for this film. And why the heck did he leave his sword? It was HIS sword!) but once he's there - oh MAN! He even gets to make an Entrance! I will be very much looking forward to what happens to him in the next film.

The fruit fight was horrible. It was the kind of cartoon action that the first movie avoided.

Bootstap Bill was not quite wasted, but not as well used as he should have been. And NOBODY seems really suprised to see him! That should have been one of the great "GASP!" entrances!

No more cliff-hanger endings! You want to know how to do a cliff-hanger? Go watch The Empire Strikes Back. BIG unresolved plot points, but it had an ending. It felt like a whole movie. This one feels like it was holding stuff back, treading water, because that was for the NEXT movie.

And yeah, even though I guessed it was coming, seeing

(no really, this is the spoiler section - here be monsters!)

Capt. Barbosa make his big entrance, apple in hand, was a bit of a thrill. That's the problem with trilogies - if you want to do a reprise, it feels like it's way too soon to be looking back to the "good old days". Movie three is too soon to bring back the bad guys or the stunts from movie one. (Return of the Jedi, anyone?) Movie FOUR, or certainly movie FIVE - THEN it's exciting. As it is, there's a bit of a "didn't you just leave"? But Barbosa could certainly be an interesting foil for Jack and the gang. Kind of like Norrington - put him somewhere different than the first one.

Ah well, drink up me hearties, yo ho! (You know, for all the stuff from the ride that was missed in the first movie but put into this one, WHERE DID THE SONG GO?)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Look! It's a Simile! It's a Metaphor!

"I will ascribe no...intentional symbolism to the fact that Superman left in June of 2001..."

But BOY this guy sure did.

Yo HO! Yo HO! A Pirate's Life for Me!

It's FRIDAY! Again. This "Hey, take Tuesday off" thing really messes with your clock. My aunt remarked last week that now that she's retired it drives her crazy becuase she can never tell what day it is. Did you care about this at 15? 20? 25? It would bug me NOW. I can only imagine 20 years from now. (I've come to the conclusion that I'll be mumbling the diaglogue to The Wrath of Khan in the rest home though.)

So it's National Talk Like a Pirate Day come two months early. Arrrrgh. Only you have to wobble and weave and look like you've had all the rum in the -- CARIBBEAN!

That's right, today is the return of CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.

"I think you are the worst pirate I've ever heard of."
"But you HAVE heard of me!"
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a very special movie to She Who Is My Wife (that's a Star Trek reference, thank you) and I. It was our very first date. Back when she was "She Who Doesn't Even Know I Exist". (Don't argue, love. Just go with it.) Yes, we've been together long enough for our movies to have sequels. Pretty soon we won't know what day it is. Time flies. (Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a bannana.)

"Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they're going to do something incredibly... stupid."
What a great movie. (PotC: TCotBP, not PotC: DMC - we see that tonight.) But who knew then? I mean, really - a Pirate Movie (I love pirate movies, they just don't make good ones anymore. I payed full price to see Cutthroat Island - ergh!) based on a Disneyland ride from the maker of Armegeddon? Oh, dear.

"Where's Elizabeth?"
"She's safe, just like I promised. She's all set to marry Norrington, just like she promised. And you get to die for her, just like you promised. So we're all men of our word really... except for, of course, Elizabeth, who is in fact, a woman."
And yet, the previews started to look cool. And it wasn't Michael Bay. And Johnny Depp can be good. It had that elf fellow. Oh, and the princess who wasn't Natalie Portman (which was ALL to the good. You can never have enough NOT Natalie Portman). Well, we'll see. (Geoffery Rush means nothing - he's like the new Michael Caine - won't say no to a movie no matter how good or bad it is. Caine was in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Jaws IV within a year.)

"You've seen a ship with black sails that's crewed by the damned, and captained by a man so evil that Hell itself spat him back out?"
Well, we all know how it went. We started dating, we got engaged-- Oh! The MOVIE! Right, we know how that went too. It was glorious. It was a big 'ol pirate GHOST story. And The Haunted Mansion sucked. TANJ. (Look it up - it's an acronym.) It was brash, it was bold, the bad guys were worth fighting, the good guys who weren't as heroic as the heroes were smart enough to not be dumb (what's the point of outsmarting dumb people?) (yeah, I'm a Norrington fan) and you never QUITE knew what was going to happen next. Heck, you weren't even sure of all of the plot twists and turns AFTER you'd seen them.

"Whose side is Jack on?"
"At the moment?"
And they introduced this incredible insanity of a character called Jack Sparrow. (CAPTAIN. CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.)

My biggest fear for this movie (aside from Men in Black II disease) is that they will not realize that Jack only works when the rest of the movie is as cool as he is. Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann were every bit as cool as he was (just not as crazy). They can't just be background, or who cares about Jack?

"You cheated!"
Ahhh well, we'll see tonight, won't we?

Heh -- I of course have purchased the Dead Man's Chest score from iTunes. And one of the Big Themes just came on. In P1 it was introduced with Jack, standing proudly atop his sinking ship. Those Media Ventures guys are a wacky bunch. The story has it that there are great swaths of "Hans Zimmer" music that were written by his juniors. But with Pirates, apparently Hans did much of the writing even though the score was credited to Klaus Badelt (I think Zimmer got a "consultant" credit or some such, and the commentary on the DVD makes it pretty clear he wrote most of it). Well, now that Pirates is, well, PIRATES, Hanz is taking over the scoring chores full time. (Or at least putting his name up front - like I said, wacky bunch.)

It's a new sounding score (I mean, it still sounds like the Zimmer gang writing for Jerry Bruckheimer) but he brings enough of the old back (as mentioned above) while writing some really cool new stuff. The second track is this wild sounding organ piece. Neat.

It's one of the burdens of sequels. People want to hear the old made new. You can do a whole shiny new score with your fancy Imperial March, but I still want to hear Luke's theme once in a while. I remember when Goldsmith did Gremlins II, he only ever played about half of the Gremlins Rag. It was like waiting for the other shoe to drop for the whole movie. I know, you all felt the same way.

"Bring me that horizon. Drink up me hearty's, YO HO!"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Clown Prince of Crime

Mr. Lileks (who wrote much more than me today) had this to say:

"There are rumors Robin Williams might play the Joker in the next Batman movie. My initial instinct is to scream NO; that is also instincts 2 through 74, but if the same director handled the project, and made the Joker very rotten and very evil, it could work. But the minute the Joker puts on the Patch Adams nose and talks about the “healing power of laughter,” I’m out of there."

First: Only 74? He ran out of instincts waaaaaay too early.

Second: Remember when Batman (Burton) came out in 1989? BIIIG name villain. Like, name in the credits before the hero big name. So then everyone immediately runs through the rogue's gallery and fills it in with huge names. I can't remember any of them off the top of my head now. I don't know if anyone pegged DeVito for Penguin. Heh. And we already KNEW that Billy Dee Williams was Harvey Dent. )Gee, that didn't work out so well.)

Look, do we have to do the Joker next? This last movie was Rahs al Ghul (sort of)! Who'd heard of him? (Aside from the nerds. Of COURSE I knew who Rahs was. And it's a real shame that David Warner was too old.) And that was GREAT! Do another good lesser known bad guy? Maybe do a GOOD Two Face movie? For Batman part TWO? Y'know, one that's actually ABOUT HIM? I have a curious itch it see a Dr. Prometheus move. He's radioactive, he glows in the dark, and you can see his skeletion! What's not to love? (Ok, he might be a bit "Ghost Rider" these days.) I say save the Joker for the big finale in part three.

And make him look like THIS:

(Why do they insist on casting short, fat men as the Joker?)

I suppose, if you insist, they can do this:

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Google etc.

BTW, Google did have a July 4th "doodle" up yesterday. Good for them.

Also in the "news" not only is Cindy "Mow 'Em Down" Sheehan going on a hunger strike, she has several well-meaning celebs joining her -- one day at a time.

"Actors Sean Penn, Danny Glover and Susan Sarandon will join a "rolling fast" in which nearly 3,000 activists pledge not to eat for 24 hours, and then enlist a friend to do the same. Sheehan says she will continue her fast throughout the summer, which she plans to spend outside the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas."

Wow - a Hollywood Star not eating for a WHOLE DAY? That'll bring the troops home. Beats Binge and Purge, I guess.

Cheap at twice the price

Hey! It's Monday! Only it's Wednesday!

Ken Lay is dead. Discovery has not rained down on our heads.

The headlines about North Korea's missile launch have followed an interesting progression: U.S. Chides Reclusive Regime. (You're silly and your missile didn't really work, did it? Oh, that's a bit pro-U.S. isn't it?) N. Korea DEFIANT On Missile Launch. (Plucky little nation stands up to Big Bad. Nyahh Nyahh Nyahh. Ahhh, better.) N. Korea Draws World's (THE WORLD!) Scorn. (Ahhhh, it's INTERNATIONAL. So I guess it's ok to say bad stuff now.) Sure, NK seems to trying to aim nukes at us. But if I was one of the countries in between here and there, I might be a tad tetchy. (And probably blame the U.S. anyway.) Y'know, if N. Korea was a country the U.S. hadn't been militarily involved with, the World (or at least the NYT) would be SCREAMING for SOMEONE (US) to DO something to RESCUE it's population. Or they'd order another latte. I don't know. (Mmmmm, latte.)

Saw Superman Returns at the Cine Capri. Ahhhh. Even better the second go round. Oh, and the scrabble board said Zoo, not Zod. Ah well.

And we watched National Treasure. This is almost my new Rocketeer. If you haven't seen it, do so. But you won't. Until you do years from now and then you'll say to me "Hey, that movie was really good!" Like you did when I made you see The Dish. And you'll say "Well I didn't know!" 'Cause all the movies I recomend are like Ishtar. (Has anyone really seen Ishtar? Or do they just talk about it? Ok, Bob's seen Istar, but Bod watched Driven. We've tried getting him help, really.) Uh huh. Just remember.

!!! And it looks like they are in pre-production for NT2! Whoooooo! (See? I'll fall for it every bloody time.)

Hey, I wrote more than Lileks today. And I'm not bald.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

And the rocket's red glare...

Godspeed, Discovery.

When in the Course of human events...

Happy Independence Day everyone!

No, not this one:

This one:

We're going to watch fireworks and National Treasure. And maybe Independence Day. (We watched 1776 a few weeks ago.) Or we may nap a lot. Any way is good.