Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Movies Recently

King Kong
Worth seeing? Yes. Great movie? No. Too long? Way. Great special effects? Yes. Best character? Kong, definitely. No actor in the movie is as convincing as the cg ape, least of all Jack Black.

The first hour starts out impressively. 1930s NYC looks amazing. Then, it quickly degenerates. I don't know if it's the editor or the director you blame when what ought to take 15 minutes takes 60, but someone needed to recognize that fat needed to be cut.

The Skull Island middle third or so of the movie also runs too long. It's not that it drags -- it's almost nonstop mayhem once Kong appears but maybe Kong could fight two T. Rexes instead of three (too much of a good thing here), maybe the giant insect part was unnecessary -- and for Pete's sake, can we cut the number of shakey zoom-to-skull shots and ease up on the jarringly faux dramatic slo-mo shots?

After returning to NYC, the movie ends well: Kong's escape, the ice pond interlude, and the Empire State Building sequence are awesome.

Syriana
This should have been a great movie, a compelling examination of how business and government work for and against each other, of how macro and micro forces conspire to twist the work of the best intentioned so they serve the will of the greediest and most corrupt, or something like that; the elements are there, but they don't quite add up. Siddig El Fadil, George Clooney, Chris Cooper, and even Matt Damon turn in intriguing performances ... and yet taken all together, the film is less than the sum of its parts. I found myself wishing the focus had been different; I would've rather seen the Prince Nasir character as the central focus - he's the only character aside from Damon's Wall Street analyst with whom we can sympathize. I'm not familiar with the source material, so I may be imagining a movie that couldn't have been made from the book it was based on. I wanted to like Syriana, but can't recommend it.

I've just started reading Lucius Shepard's Weapons of Mass Seduction and can, however, wholeheartedly recommend it. Now them's some movie reviews. Lucius has a keen eye for what makes a movie suck and an entertaining penchant for imagining how appropriate karmic retribution would play out for the likes of a Steven Spielberg, for example. He also bravely practices Bonedaddy's art of reviewing a movie he hasn't seen yet, boldly predicting why and how it will suck. Not that he hates everything, he actually is kinder to Vanilla Sky I would have suspected, though I still don't think I'll be able to bring myself to watch it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Story Time

One of the best parts of the Holiday Season is getting together with the family and hearing some old-timey stories. My Great-Uncle Dick always has a bunch of 'em. He's in his 80s, grew up during the Depression, served in the Coast Guard during WWII, and is the father of twins -- which is of particular revelance to Tif and I these days. One of his twins stories was about how, when his kids were little, one afternoon they were playing ball in the yard while he was at work. They must have had wild arms because they were losing all their baseballs. They went to their mom and she dug a baseball out of dad's dresser drawer. The ball, it turns out, was one he had signed at a ballgame when he was 9 years old -- signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. They played with it a while -- didn't lose it -- but basically destroyed the signatures to the point you could barely make them out any longer.

Another Uncle Dick story deals with the Germans who came ashore on Long Island during WWII and the Coast Guardsmen who spotted them. He knew the guy and got the story of the night from him over a beer not long after it happened. Evidently, the guy who spotted the Germans wasn't exactly 'on patrol' but was drinking a bottle of whiskey in a shack on the beach having shown up late for his duty that night and could more accurately have been said to have been spotted by the Germans than having detected them himself. Apparently, he nearly didn't tell anyone he saw them (they threatened him and gave him some cash -- as the linked story relates) and he waited several hours before even tryng to inform his superior officers, and even then it was more luck than anything that decided to do anything about it.

Good ol' Uncle Dick. He gave our waitress one of those little bags of chocolate gold coins and told her that his leftovers were for his grandmother who lives in cardboard box under the bridge. He then ripped a loud fart that had people several tables away laughing out loud.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone's enjoying themselves. I've already got two books of Su Doku (not opening early, it was my birthday yesterday!) to work on while I load all my ska cds into the new iPod. Yeah, that's right: living large. Next year it all be for the baby C-Dogs, so I'm enjoying getting gifts while it lasts. :P

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That Wacky Liberal Media

So I suffered a day - okay, five minutes or so - of talk radio yesterday, listening to conservatives bleat and whine how the media was screwing W on the secret wire tapping story to deflect attention away from the elections in Iraq. Seems to me if the New York Times wanted to screw the president - or at least do their job - they could have published this story when they first had it - before the frickin' election! At least then we would have known that the dimmer among us were voting for a king.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

TNT is Dropping the Ball

Sat. 8pm ET

NBC - Law & Order, "In God We Trust" Fontana and Falco (Michael Imperioli) make an arrest after a blaze kills a firefighter, and the discovery of a charred pistol leads them to reopen the investigation into an old murder. [I missed a bunch of episodes after Green was shot, I had no idea there was Detective Falco. Rock me, Amadeus.]

USA - Law & Order: SVU, "Fallacy" A female party-goer claims self-defense after killing her attacker.

BRAVO - Law & Order: Criminal Intent, "Cherry Red" An elderly woman who dies in a fire leaves part of her estate to a young woman who is subsequently murdered.

COURTTV - Law & Order: Trial by Jury, "Truth or Consequences" When the murder of a young woman leaves detectives with three suspects, they work to turn them against each other to determine the culprit.

What's with TNT tonight, they couldn't roll out a Briscoe and Curtis episode? They show two or three every other night. Slackers.

Cracking a Thousand

Last.fm tracks the music I listen to on the pc at work and at home (usually while playing poker). While getting bounced from a sit and go this afternoon, I noticed I'd gone over a thousand tracks. Here are the artists I've listened to the most:
cdogzilla's Last.fm Overall Artists Chart
The Replacements, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and The Specials also tied for 10th; evidently, the chart link only grabs the first one listed.

Underrepresented because they've been in the car for most of the last month or so would be The Killers, Jets to Brazil, Modest Mouse, Fugazi, The Mekons, The Blow Monkeys, and Superchunk.

Update: Whattayaknow, looks like the chart updates as I continue listening. Neat.

"You know how I know that you're gay?"

Not quite as funny as billed, I thought The Wedding Crashers was funnier, but still pretty darned good: Steve Carrell in The 40 Year Old Virgin. As Mooj said, "It's not about the Butthole Pleasure ... not about the Rattlesnake Wiggle and the Alligator F#ckhouse," or something to that effect. I was laughing too hard to keep up with his brilliant monologue.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Spies Like Us

Without any legal authority or judicial oversight, they have been spying on us. Us meaning Americans. This should surprise no one. Any government willing to torture foreigners and detain its own citizens without charges or due process doesn't care one bit about your historical rights. They are, in fact, hostile to our constitution and our privacy and will misuse whatever powers they are given and even some they are not.

Now, will the rats leave this sinking GOP ship?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Kong

Piggybacking on the upcoming release of Peter Jackson's King Kong, two of my channels showed the original and the '76 remake. Piggybacking on the fact that I had nothing to do, I managed to catch the endings to both within 45 minutes of each other. The only thing I can say about the first one is that it's not as good as I remember. (Hard to beat the experience of seeing it as a nine year old and not knowing what will happen.)

The second one was just laugh out loud funny, though. The guy in the monkey suit doesn't event pretend to act like an ape. He walks upright. He kind of saunters around, like he's looking for his mark and not aware they're filming. Also, Jeff Bridges wears the same beard Jeff Daniels will use 24 years later in The Squid and the Whale, meaning I will confuse the two for the next decade. Finally, how could they end the movie without, "It was beauty that killed the beast"?

This means that I probably won't be seeing the new version anytime soon. Watching two Kong death dives in rapid succession - in the original he bounces of the ledges of the Empire State Building in a Homer-esque fashion - saps my excitment.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Fortnight and Counting

A relatively engaging interview with David Tennant in today's Observer.
He goes on to enthuse about the way in which Davies, since he took over, has invested the characters with an emotional life that wasn't foregrounded in the earlier series, so that in many ways it is a love story. 'I mean, they're not shagging, but in every other way, they're a couple. Like John Steed and Emma Peel. Mind you,' he adds, 'he is about 900 and she's 19, so it'd be a bit ... Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.'
Just over two weeks to go until the Christmas Special airs.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Top Games

One of the highlights of the occasional trips to Brooklyn, Ithaca, or wherever the Cryptonauts gather is the gaming, whether it's one of the Baseball-Beat-Your-Neighbor-Leg-in-Pot-Bitches-of-Eastwick poker variations or Settlers or Sucking Vacuum or Dark Tower or what have you. Here's what looks like a great list of possible additions to the canon: Top 100 Games.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Hidden Agenda


Thomas Veil still won't find out who erased his life, but at least the sadly unappreciated Nowhere Man will finally see the light of day again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

The Prime of Darren McGavin


ABC's Night Stalker has apparently been axed. I tried watching it, but there was really wasn't much to recommend it. Off work today and, as it would happen, Sci-Fi is running a Kolchak: The Night Stalker marathon. It's very 70s, that's for sure. The first episode I caught featured the least convincing werewolf I've seen this side of Rolf the Dog after a rough night banging out tunes at a roadhouse. Still, they're mildly entertaining, enough so that I've sat through the wererolf, a zombie, a smarmy satanic Senator, an Indian Spirit jewel thief played by none other than Richard "Jaws" Kiel, a vampire cornier than Count Chocula, and now super strong Jack the Ripper. Not sure if my continued viewing is more a comment on how watchable the show is or a condemnation of the rest of daytime TV.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

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