Monday, July 25, 2005

come to fibber island and strum rubber guitars

on the whim of my roommate we took in the later afternoon showing of "the island" on sunday. normally i wouldn't go near a michael bay film, mostly because he was responsible for shutting down the macarthur causeway to miami beach for an entire week, causing all manner of headaches for those of us who lived on the beach and worked on the mainland. well, that and his films are about as intelligent as a pile of steaming dog shit.

anyway, i went because it was a nice respite from unpacking the shitload of stuff that i finally had moved out of storage on saturday.

from what i'd heard about the movie, it was first offered to steven speilberg, but he was a bit busy. so it went to michael bay. now, word is the original story was a bit more brainy, more asimov than smash-em-up. and you can see thoe elements in the story -- there's some phillip dick, asmiov and other influences. and it is a good idea -- though to say much more about it would be spoiling things.

the film starts off promising enough, very character driven, ewan mcgregor is very good and scarlett johansson is not only hot, but for once her acting measures up to her attractiveness. odd that it would happen in a film like this. if nothing else, she may have learned that she doesn't have to do the laura prepon deadpan delivery with eveyr line, and should actually emote. but i digress...

after a while, though, bay's desire to blow things up and stage incredulous stunt scenes overpowers the film. how he gets his characters to the reveal is clumsy and too obvious...happens in a split second and is very forced. from there things go downhill. it's almost redeemed by a few other things, but i left feeling as if i saw something that could have been much better had the disbelief quotient not been ramped as high as it was.

there was what seemed to be a reference to terri schiavo that i won't write more about; suffice to say that it didn't seem an purposeless reference.

Friday, July 22, 2005

do it to me one more time, once is never enough..

rght then, how to put it....hollywood product sucks. yeah, obvious insight, i know. but really, with so many talented people capable of so much original work, what the movie-going public has had shoved down our collective throats for some years now has been a spate of remakes and movie-ized tv shows and comic books.

ok, so what't the difference between a movie-version of a novel versus a tv show or comic book? nothing i guess, though a novel typically warrants movie-making if it tells a good story to begin with. shitty novels are rarely made into movies.

but here we have product with no redeemable quality, and made it seems not to tell a story but to further a brand, sell toys, sell mcdonald's food, etc.

my roommate and i have been feasting on a bunch of movies from the 1970s recently -- chinatown, the godfather movies, the conversation, dog day afternoon, midnight cowboy, (yeah, from 1969, I know, but...) and more -- and it begs the question as to why the major studios have all but abandonded good stories for commercialized crap.

yeah, indie filmmakers are the best place to look for "good" films, but why should the market be bifurcated like this? why can't the majors make more of an effort to be original and audiences will go to see good films if those films are given the chance to find an audience. i am encouraged that box office revenues are down -- it tells me that maybe people are tired of $10 tickets to see shit movies in noisy, dirty mega-plexes. souped-up home theater set-ups are nice, but there's something powerful about seeing a good movie on a big screen with a couple of hundred or so other people. that sense of community that comes from having been witness en masse to something that moved the entire audince in collective and individual ways.

inmate bites the hand that feeds him

A vegetarian? In prison? ok...


Inmate sues after biting into fingertip in jail meal

Suzanne Herel, Chronicle Staff Writer

A Florida food packager that lists “convenience at your fingertips” as one of its top qualities has been sued by a California prison inmate who says that he bit into a real human fingertip when he consumed one of the company’s vegetarian meals.

The company, G.A. Food Services, said in a letter to Pelican Bay State Prison that the ¾-inch fingertip accidentally had been sliced off the right middle finger of one of its workers when the employee was cleaning a filling machine on the frozen entree assembly line on July 14, 2004.

The department manager mistakenly thought all flesh had been flushed from the machine, the letter said. When workers couldn’t find the fingertip, they assumed it had been washed down the drain.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

i got a date with my tailor now...thanks for putting me so straight

for years i prided myself on not having jobs where i was required to dress up (save for a year or so at red cross, but that was just shirt and tie, no jacket required {ooof, accidental phil collins reference}). working in the music business, in generally don't need to do more than hipster or business casual (if that).

but now, this job...i always need to wear a tie, and generally need a jacket if not a suit.

and you know what? i like it. i like looking sharp. it feels good to look good and i'm starting to get a handle on my sartorial aesthetic.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

you spin me right round baby, right round...

As seen in Howard Kurtz's Media Notes today...

Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush writes fini to the story:

"It's over, folks - there is no scandal involving Rove; and there never was. This thing was made up out of whole cloth by Joe Wilson, who also made up a story about not finding any evidence of attempted uranium purchases by Saddam. . . . I don't know if Wilson is just insane or a con artist, but in either case he's not a man anyone should be listening to. And yet, our Democrats bought his scam hook, line and sinker - and they bought it because they stupidly believe that if they just keep up the drumbeat of scandal talk that President Bush will be destroyed."


Ok, seriously, does he write this crap with a straight face? Wilson's credentials as a diplomat and foreign service worker are impeccable. He's served Democrat and Republican administrations. But because he's called into question the credibility of the White House he's now not worth listening to. noonan didn't just drink the kool-aid, he's got it running through his veins.

The more important question of course is why Kurtz would choose to repost the comment and only add a slightly snarky one-liner. How about, Howard, you do some actual media critique?

Monday, July 18, 2005

so who brought you to the dance?

quick question...first, the situation...strangers next to each other on a plane. get to talking, hit it off. one party never mentions a significant other, leading the other party to assume that when they both get back to the city in which they live (but had not previously met) that there might be something happening, this due to a lack of any evidence (rings, the word "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" used in conversation).

is the attached person obligated to somehow weave into the conversation the word "boyfriend" or "girlfriend"?

i say yes, if only to clarify things in case there's a possibility of misunderstanding. there's nothing wrong with flirting, and there's nothing ostensibly wrong with flirting when both parties know the deal and neither plans on taking it beyong the flirting. but if there is, to borrow an economics term, an asymetry of information at work, then it's not really fair.

and yes, something like this happened on the plane to the wedding. not that it was a big deal, as the person in question is pretty cool, would make a fun friend and probably knows some cool single women. getting to know people when you're new to an area is fine regardless of the outcome. still...

goin' to the chapel

ok, maybe not a chapel, more like an historic house owned by the city. that's where my brother and his wife had their wedding. much fun, and to them, the best of luck for a life of mirth, merryment and connubial bliss.

Monday, July 11, 2005

the data grunt talks movies

a quick break from learning the data and relearning sas stuff like proc tabulate (nested tables...wooohooo).

thanks to my roommate's netflix subscription it's been an orgy of films lately at the casa. the quick rundown...

* godfather, pts I & II -- i've seen both before, many times. but never in the presence of a person who'd never seen them (as well as a person who'd only seen them once). so it was, a bringing to life of the roger ebert quote about the joy of being able to be in the room with someone seeing those films for the first time. they don't lose power for the fan, and you get to think about the films in lots of different ways while tryng to explain the various inter-connections, references, allegories, etc.

* dog day afternoon -- you forget how good this film is, even if a bit dated. al pacino in the first of his manic al pacino roles. it's clearly here where he learned how to totally chew up a scene. the late, great john cazale is his usual understated brilliance. how lucky was this guy, making only 5 films in his career (well, not lucky as he died at a young age of cancer) but every one of them amazing.

* straw dogs -- peckinpah's classic doesn't hold up. sorry, but that's the way it is. dated 1960s camera techniques, inexplicable plot turns, hoffman's character is not believable in how he moves from nice guy to asshole. most noteworthy for the trademark peckinpah-ian violence, exit wounds and all. the rape scene is the one thing worth talking about, as it easily makes for good conversation about what they meant to convey.

* motorcycle diaries -- awesome in its awesomeness. a moving picture about friendship, the awakening of a social conscience in a well-heeled young man, the real meaning of a road trip. gael garcia bernal is quite a gifted actor, as well as (and i say this with full confidence in my sexuality) pretty damn hot. if i were gay or a chick, i'd want to do him. i'm jealous of never having been able to make a trip like this. not that it would have made me into a che-type revolutionary, though.

* napoleon dynamite -- the last 5 minutes were hysterical. the 5 minutes before that mildy funny. the rest of the movie? tedious. overrated. ghost world did it better.

* anchorman -- complete and utter unwatchable shite. will ferrell wastes a good idea that goes nowhere fast. turned it off after 35 minutes. the deleted scenes made me laugh more than the movie.

* beyond the sea -- if you get past the fact that it's a total vanity project for kevin spacey (so that he could sing and dance the songs and moves of his idol bobby darin) and that it's kinda told like a tv movie of the week, it's not half bad. the musical sequences are fun, the production numbers reminiscent of 1940s hollywood. spacey can actually do a damned good darin impersonation. kate bosworth does well as sandra dee. the movie-within-a-movie opening thing takes a minute to sort out, but if you just accept it and move on, it's not a bad way to spend 90 minutes. plus, if you don't come away with at least half the songs stuck in your head for days after, well, you just don't like melody. the big-band/crooner/nightclub era was pretty cool. us indie hipsters are the logical progeny of the crooner hipsters who begat the beat hispters who begat the beatle-esque hipsters who begat the mods and so forth.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

london's burning

so is this it? the one (or the one that starts the tide) which puts us into 1984-style police states ruled by leaders who play on fear? or is this an opportunity for the muslim world to finally get serious about confronting the culture of death that is a distinct minority in islam but holds inordinate sway over the direction and perception of the faith and its people?

is reza aslan correct in his thesis that the muslim world is in the final days of a century-and-a-half long struggle between the forces of modernity and the forces of fundamentalism, much like christianity was 500 years ago (and seems to be going thru again, at least in the us).

so is it fear or progress? modernity or regression?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

no va

so the dead battery thing? yeah..well, what happened was friday morning, 5:30am no less, i find the car not starting. this is a problem as i have a 7:30am flight to seattle and it's a 20 minute ride to the airport.

the first problem is that the remote doesn't unlock the car. no lights flash, nothing. i think it's a dead battery in the remote. key into the car, put key into ignition....nothing. no click, no hum, nothing. shit. it's early, public transport is a pain for this specific airport, plus the station is at least a half mile from my apartment.

so, go back inside, call one of the cab companies listed that does credit cards and is open 24 hours..."friendly cab company". 20 minutes later a cab arrives, and the driver is pretty friendly. get to the airpot, check in, walk down to the next terminal to avoid that ridiculously long security check-in line (stretched in a long loop thru the terminal and out the door and down a ways. terminal 2 was much shorter.

anyway, get a jump from my roommate on monday, drive around a bit to recharge the battery.

apparently no long enough. had an appointment at the dmv today for new plates. have taken the afternoon off from work for the appt. come home, remote unlocks the car, i think "good sign". no so fast...key in ignition and nothing but some clicking.

have to walk to aaa office (see so much for technology) to make sure membership is transferred, come home and wait 20 minutes on hold to secure a road service call. guy comes, charges me up...i go to the firestone station around the corner and an hour+ later, i have (the) power.

and i still need the new plates that i was supposed to have done within 30 days of moving here. but at least i have a new battery (the old one was original to the car and was due to go soon anyway).

so much for technology

three weeks after signing up i'm wondering why my health insurance cards and new member info hadn't arrived by mail yet. well, turns out that despite my following the the on-line benefits sign-up process (confirmed by the fact that the benefits portal indicated i was siged up) and despite that the money was taken from my paycheck and that my employer's share was paid, i'm not in the system. some lady in the benefits office had to send an e-mail to the company to get me in their system (a call to the company had revealed that i wasn't in the system). she also had to indicate who my primary care doc was. yes, i had made that choice when signing up.

also? aaa auto club hadn't gotten around to sending me the info that repeated e-mails confirming my on-line actions indicated was coming, this 4 weeks after i used the aaa website to switch the membership from aaa south to aaa here. necessitated a visit to the office, which mercifully is a few blocks from my apartment. no record of the switch being requested.

so why did i bother? i only ended up having to make the very same calls and visits that the on-line processes were ostensibly designed to eliminate.

what i've learned to learn after a month here

* when clouds gather on the hills to the east of town, it's just fog, not rain. someday it may be rain and i'll be caught thinking it's fog. but right now it's fog.

* when you want to cross the street, cars will stop for you, especially if you're at a painted crosswalk, and even if that painted crosswalk is not at a corner with a traffic light. for someone who grew up in the northeast and lived in miami, this is quite the courtesy. i'm used to drivers barely deigning to stop at red lights, and *never* looking to the right when making a right turn on red, meaing a pedestrian coming from the right is liable to bet run into. but not here.

* this town has the highest per capita numbers of cyclists and pedestrians (so says the guy at the bike shop). also has an inordinate number of cycle accidents, mainly with pedestrians. i haven't checked out either number, as they each seem reasonable.

* there's a different quality to the sunlight here that's hard to explain. it seems sharper. maybe that's due to the relatively less humidity than where i spent my previous four years (of course, the average sauna has less humiity than miami). maybe it's the latitiude (or longitude, whichever one measures how far north or south you are). whatever, it's just different.

* it's in the mid-50s most mornings when i walk to work. in july. warms up later, but damn, that's cold for july. though i don't mind it so much.

* speaking of walking to work, that means I don't drive every day. when that's the case and when i inadvertantly leave my car dome light on and it stays on then it stays on for days on end. which kills the battery. so my gas savings for june were pretty much wiped out by the new battery i had to buy today.

* people here call san fran "the city". you don't go across the bay "to san francisco", you go "to the city".

* trader joes rocks. didn't have one in sofla, have two within 5 miles of me here. la boca malbec wine for $3/bottle? awesome.

* trying to bike up the hill to the lawrence labs is a tough climb. didn't make it on try #1, may not make it on the next couple of tries. but soon...soon.

Monday, July 04, 2005

no, really, i'm alive

so much to say, so little giddayup to say it