My lovely wife and I did something we don't often do this Saturday afternoon: We hired a babysitter and went to see a matinee. We took in Hellboy (official site). As a fan of the comic, I'm happy to say that director and screenwriter Guillermo del Toro got it just right. It was the best kind of comic book movie -- pleasing to fanboys liek me and to newcomers like my lovely wife, who purposefully declined to read up on my comics. Musashi's review at Destroy-All-Monsters covers it very well.
Best of all, since it was a matinee at a second-run theater, tickets were only a buck -- and we had gift certificates! It was an extraordinary entertainment value.
A Canadian man, driving a car packed with weapons and ammunition, was intent on killing as many people as possible in a Toronto neighbourhood but gave up the plan at the last minute when he encountered a friendly dog, police say.
The middle-aged man, who police say is mentally disturbed, had planned to carry out the shooting spree on Wednesday to ensure he would be put in jail permanently.
...He told police that a dog then approached and started playing with him.
Police say the encounter melted the man's heart, and he then went in search of police to give himself up.
"He happens to be a pet lover, and decided that since there was such a nice dog in the area, that people were too nice and he wasn't going to carry out his plan," Detective Nick Ashley said.
Police have found 6,000 rounds of ammunition, two rifles, a shotgun, a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver and an air rifle in the man's car, along with a machete and a hunting knife.
The Poseidon Adventure. When I was about 5, my parents took me along when they went to see it at the drive-in (a strategy my lovely wife and I ought to try this summer...), and they let me stay up to see the wave hit the ship. Perhaps this experience is responsible for my fascination with shipwrecks.
Last movie you saw that you loved?
That depends. The last movie I saw that I loved was watching my DVD of Wild Zero with Musashi over the weekend. The last new movie I saw that I loved was probably X-Men 2, which we rented a couple of months ago. Of course, I'm severely behind in my movie watching.
First movie you saw on a date?
Again, depends. The first ever was Reds, of all things, although it was a double date. The first movie I remember seeing on a one-on-one date was E.T., although I can't say for sure if it was the first.
The first movie I saw on an official date with Crystal was Jerry Maguire -- on our very first date, in fact -- although we'd seen movies together before as friends.
First movie you can remember that you disagreed strongly with the critics/reviews about?
If memory serves me right, the critics weren't too crazy about Star Wars when it first came out. Of course, I was 10, so that impression could be wrong. I do recall, though, that the first movie wasn't an instant blockbuster, but rather the audience grew by word of mouth, so I may be right, after all.
What movie have you dreamed about?
Night of the Living Dead. I have zombie-movie dreams a couple of times a year.
A secret thing you did in a darkened theater:
At the risk of incurring Jaquandor's wrath, I'll admit to having made out while at the movies. But my official answer would be sneaking booze into many of my many, many visits to Louisville's fabled Vogue Theater. (For example, when going to see The Doors, I snuck in a half pint of Southern Comfort. Yuck! No wonder Jim Morrison is dead. Never, ever again will I drink that stuff.) Then again, I doubt that fact is much of a secret to the friends who attended with me.
Ever lied about something so you could see a movie?
When Purple Rain came out, it sparked a furor that led the local cineplex to actually enforce its R rating -- a nearly unheard-of occurrence. I was actually 17 at the time, but many of the Catholic high school girls I hung out with -- who really wanted to see the film -- weren't. No problem: We simply bought tickets to another feature, and then walked into the theater where Purple Rain was showing instead. If buying the ticket to the other film was an implied promise to actually attend it, then we lied, as we had no intention of doing so.
By the by, even though at age 17 I hadn't been exposed to nearly the amount of cinematic wierdness that I have since, I failed to see what all the fuss was about. Well, that isn't true -- I figured that people were more freaked out about the idea of the semi-explicit scenes between a black man (but Prince, for pity's sake!) and a white woman. No wonder Blockbuster is said to have edited Shaft -- it'd blow those peoples' minds, can you dig it.
The worst movie you ever saw and the best thing about it:
The worst movie I ever sat all the way through was probably Showgirls (I enjoy Bad Movies, which are usually entertaining on a campy level -- for example, the insanity of subtext that is Johnny Guitar -- but Showgirls is not merely bad but also too morally reprehensible to be entertaining.) The best thing about it was the performances of Gina Gershon and Alan Rachins, who seemed to realize that they were in a bad movie and decided to have some fun. I do not count the frequent nudity; the movie was so uncomfortably bad, it made enjoyment even on the purient level impossible.
The worst movie I've ever seen at all was 9 1/2 Weeks, and the best thing about it was that I walked out of it. Twice.
One person you’ve never seen a movie with but would like to sometime:
Again, it depends. I've watched DVDs at home with Musashi, but it'd be cool to see something in the theater (especially if Disney releases more Miyazaki to the screen). I'd also like to take in a flick with Jaquandor. It'd also be a hoot to see a film with Roger Ebert.
What kind of movie you’d like to see with that person:
I think a Miyazaki film would be cool with any of the above. ^_^
A movie you’re embarrassed to admit you enjoyed:
Dozens -- how about Johnny Guitar and The Wild Side, for example.
Your favorite movie and the worst thing about it:
I don't have one single favorite movie. Since I just saw one of my favorites -- Wild Zero -- I'll challenge myself by trying to think of something I don't like about it. Hmmm...that's a challenge indeed, because there's a plot twist that I really shouldn't reveal. Nonetheless, it causes a negative reaction in some of the friends I've shown the film to. I can't really cite it as a flaw, since it's definitely a deliberate choice and indeed essential to the film's theme (yes, it's a rock'n'roll zombie film with a theme).
List by title: Saddest/ funniest/ scariest/ overrated/ underrated:
Funniest: Airplane! (Honorable mention: The "A Fistful of Yen" segment of Kentucky Fried Movie, which is an absolutely dead-on parody of Enter the Dragon.)
Scariest: I'll have to go with The Exorcist, too, with honorable mention to The Haunting (the original, if you please).
Overrated: Looking over the AFI Top 100, there's nothing in the first 25 or so that I'd really disagree with. Moving on to the top 100 box office list, I'd say Titanic -- which still occupies the top slot -- is the obvious choice. Titanic is a magnificent technical achievement, but it succeeds despite some real flaws. The central romance between Jack and Rose is fundamentally a device to place the audience at key locations on the ship at key times, so of course it's enormously contrived -- so much so that many viewers have trouble swallowing it.
A movie you haven’t seen yet but you really want to?
I'll go along with Jaquandor and pick Kill Bill -- there are dozens, if not hundreds, of films I want to see, but I'm actually embarrassed I haven't seen Kill Bill yet, given that I'm its target audience.
A movie character you could really relate to, or even wish you could be like?
Easy -- I wanna be Ewan McGregor when I grow up, as a composite of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars Episodes I & II), Christian (Moulin Rouge) and Catcher Block (Down With Love).
Movie that the person you got this from reminds you of:
A Clockwork Orange, because of the title "Your humble narrator" over his portrait on his blog (and no other reason, thank goodness).
When I say the word, you say the first movie that comes to mind:
Dune, because of the utterly silly device it employed of the "wierding modules" that converted "thought into voice into energy" and resulted in the characters shouting gibberish while superimposed laser beams blasted their foes. Ah, what a glorios mess.
(I love Jaquandor's response, and hope that I would have thought of it on my own.)
If you were a movie what genre would you be filed under at the video store?
Oh, this is rich! In a vain attempt to portray himself again as a "compassionate conservative" -- sorry, George, but you've got a record now -- Bush the Lesser does a photo-op at a halfway house, citing one Tami Johnson as a positive example of turning one's life around after paying one's debt to society.
During his visit to Cincinnati's Talbert House Monday, President Bush described Tami Jordan as a "good soul," an "inspirational person" who was making the best of a second chance in rebounding from a mistake that had landed her in prison. Susan Morin, however, sees absolutely nothing good or inspirational about Jordan, whose "mistake" -- a euphemism for what court documents describe as a $300,000-plus felony theft -- nearly destroyed Morin's family business in Springdale and, years later, leaves her still trying to claw out of the deep financial hole dug by a once-trusted employee and friend.
"Before putting Tami Jordan on a stage next to the most powerful person in the world and holding her up as an example to be admired, Bush should have done his homework, Talbert House should have done its homework," Morin said Wednesday. "Tami Jordan isn't an example of anything worth holding up -- not of anything good."
A large photo of Bush animatedly conversing with Jordan appeared on the front page of Tuesday's Cincinnati Post. Seeing the photo, Morin said, was "sickening, disgusting" -- and infuriating, not least of which because Jordan has not made any court-ordered restitution payments.
...In addition to being sentenced to prison, Jordan and her husband were ordered, in a July 2000 Hamilton County Commons Pleas Court judgment, to repay $308,765 to Gorman's Supply.
Morin said Wednesday she has "not seen a penny" of that court-ordered restitution -- and does not expect to ever see it.
"Her parole officer told me she's made it very clear she doesn't intend to repay it," Morin said. "There's a real cockiness to her attitude. She says, 'I served my time -- I don't have to pay anybody anything.'
"It's public record that she owes me this money. But courts don't pursue that angle."
The Bush team perhaps ought to divert a few resources from doing oppo research on Kerry and instead try to ensure that the individuals Bush chooses for photo ops don't wind up embarrassing him.
By the way, what the heck is up with sentencing this thief to only three years? If she'd snagged $300 grand in a bank robbery, she'd face decades behind bars. While the violent nature of robbery certainly merits a harsher penalty, Jordan's theft is no less egregious simply because she used a ledger instead of a hold-up note.
I'd intended not to comment on the kerfluffle surrounding the release of court documents from the cusody battle between former Star Trek: Voyager actress Jeri Ryan and Illinois Republican Senate candidate Jack Ryan. But I do have an opinion on a tangential issue. The conservative publication Human Events Online has revealed an off-the-record conversation with candidate Ryan on the grounds that, in that conversation, he assured them there was nothing damaging in the files.
But the fact is, Ryan lied to us about the files' content, which is why we are now reporting what he told us, falsely, off the record. It is difficult to explain how he thought he would get away with it. The candidate knew the truth was going to bite him soon, and yet he lied to everyone, including members of his party, without whose support he would not have gotten the nomination.
HRO seems to be upset that the revelations may further damage the GOP's hopes of retaining the Senate seat of retiring Republican Senator Pete Fitzgerald. But regardless of their motivation, they are quite correct to reveal that a source lied to them in an off-the-record conversation. The unspoken compact of anonymous sources is that the reporter shields the source's identity in return for access to accurate information. If the source lies, the deal's off. Of course, since Ryan's political career appears to be finished, the reporters run little risk in exposing their source. It's a much weightier consideration to burn a source that lied to you, but is still in power and still has access favors to grant. But frankly, I'd like to see articles like this one much more frequently.
Speaking of Jeri Ryan, I'll also seize this opportunity to make a Star Trek-related comment. Voyager had lost me long before the addition of Ms. Ryan's "hottie ex-Borg" character. It was, I thought, a great concept -- two opposing groups forced by circumstances to work together despite their differences. Unfortunately, I thought the show dropped that intriguing fundamental concept far too early -- the crew was one big happy family early in the first season. The addition of a sexy babe was such an obvious desperation play to attract male viewers that I refused to tune in even out of curiosity. It's the same reason I never buy any of the impulse items in the check-out lane of the grocery: It's such a calculated temptation that it'd be embarrassing to succumb.
Now that I think about it, the plight of the Voyager is a reasonable analogy to the American political system, but that's a topic for another post.
One of the things I won't miss about the Bush Administration is having news about more pathetic clownishness popping up between the time I leave work and the time I get home. This time, Vice President Dick Cheney unleashed the "F-bomb" on a Democrat in the Senate chambers.
Typically a break from partisan warfare, this year's Senate class photo turned smiles into snarls as Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly used profanity toward one senior Democrat, sources said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who was on the receiving end of Cheney's ire, confirmed that the vice president used profanity during Tuesday's class photo.
A spokesman for Cheney confirmed there was a "frank exchange of views."
Using profanity on the Senate floor while the Senate is session is against the rules. But the Senate was technically not in session at the time and the normal rules did not apply, a Senate official said.
...In response to Cheney, Leahy reminded Cheney that the vice president had once accused him of being a bad Catholic, to which Cheney replied either "f--- off" or "go f--- yourself."
Leahy was referring to charges leveled by some conservatives during the confirmation battle of Bush judicial nominee William Pryor last August. Some supporters of Pryor, who is Catholic, claimed Senate Democrats were "anti-Catholic" for opposing the Alabama attorney general's nomination to the federal bench.
Leahy would not comment on the specifics of the story Thursday, but did confirm that Cheney used profanity.
"I think he was just having a bad day," said Leahy, "and I was kind of shocked to hear that kind of language on the floor."
Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for the vice president, said, "That doesn't sound like the kind of language that the vice president would use, but I can confirm that there was a frank exchange of views."
John Kerry recently raised hackles of some on the Right when he used the "F-word" during an interview with Rolling Stone (to which my basic reaction was, c'mon, guys, it's Rolling Stone!). But using such language in the Senate chambers is indeed a breach of precedent, decorum, and all good sense on Cheney's part.
I might also add that his salty response was a clear indication that Cheney had no better retort. For all the speculation about Kerry's Vice Presidential pick, let's not forget that apparently Bush intends to keep Cheney (or is it the other way around?). The Democrats would be fools not to make an issue of that choice -- Cheney's the kind of guy only a hardcore Republican could love. Sadly, that fact speaks volumes about both of them.
Update:David Sirota points out that Cheney promised to "restore a tone of civility and decency to the debate in Washington." Does his recent outburst represent a flip-flop, or does it just reveal his promises as lies?
I'm pretty pleased with this one. As faithful readers (all four of you) know, I've been extraordinarily busy lately, and it's taken a toll on the quality of my Destroy All Monsters reviews, I think. With this review, though, I slowed down a bit, and managed to write 1500 mostly coherent words about a minor but pleasing film that features one of my favorite Hong Kong actors (Jordan Chan, whose presence alone induced me to pick it up from HKFlix's clearance sale). I hope my next review rises to the same standard.
In memory of Bob Bemer, who helped create the ASCII coding system, here's a nifty toy I discovered researching the previous post. It generates ASCII graphics -- suitable for an email sig or whatnot -- for a text string you enter, using a variety of font styles.
eeeee e eeeee eeeee eeee eeeee eeeee e e e eeeee eeeee e e 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 " 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8eee8 8e 8eee8 8e 8 8eee 8e 8eeee 8e 8 8 8eee8 8e 8 8eee8e 88 88 88 8 88 8 88 88 88 88 8 8 88 8 88 8 88 8 88 88eee 88 8 88 8 88ee 88 8ee88 88ee8ee8 88 8 88 8 88 8
Planet Swank joins geeks worldwide in mourning the passing of computer pioneer Bob Bemer at the age of 78. Bemer helped invent ASCII, which nearly all computers use to read and display text, including, of course, HTML. He also invented the backslash and escape key. We pause to give a three-fingered salute to Mr. Bemer's memory.
The military honors its fallen with honor and dignity upon its return. After the recent grandiose public ceremonies honoring former President Reagan, it's hypocritical to deny the American people the opportunity to honor -- or even acknowledge -- those who paid in blood to defend this nation.
This issue is not one of privacy. Rather, it's about honoring those who sacrifice their lives in defense of this nation. Although the policy of hiding returning war dead does not originate with the current President, its strict enforcement is new. Moreover, as you well know, the policy exists at the President's pleasure, and he has quite obviously chosen not to change it, but rather to ensure its strictest implementation.
The current Administration's continuation of this policy is a cowardly and craven attempt to hide the cost of war and stem the steady erosion of support for Bush's disastrous military policy. The recent measure to change this policy was an effort to restore honor and accontability to the system. No Administration has the right to conceal the costs in blood or treasure of its policies, although this President seems to be desperate to do so. Your carrying water for the Administration in this matter is baffling and disappointing. As a loyal Democratic voter, I expect my Senator to return that loyalty, especially in matters of government accountability. For shame, sir.
Mark Kleiman challenges Bush supporters -- who have been desperate to tage Kerry with the "waffler" lable -- to characterize Bush's position on the Patient's Bill of Rights as anything other than a lie.
So having helped kill all state laws that do the thing he says he's for, and having refused to support a federal law that would do the thing he says he's for, or even a lesser law that would allow the states to do the thing he says he's for, the President's spokesman says the President is still for a patient's bill of rights. I think it's hard to call that either a flip-flop, since the President's actual position remains what it has always been, or a new straddle, since the President's rhetorial position also remais what it has always been. It's just that the actual and rhetorical positions are opposite to one another.
Yesterday's Morning Edition on NPR contained a segment by Susan Stamberg on beauty. She interviewed Jean Kilbourne, author of Can't Buy My Love -- How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, who contends that "the media have created an ideal of beauty for young girls that is dangerously unachievable." (A premise I happen to agree with, by the way, and that's a source of concern form e in raising two daughters.)
STAMBERG: What is your idea of a beautiful child, Jean Kilbourne?
KILBOURNE: A beautiful child...a child who's radiant, who's happy, who's civilized but not repressed, who's curious and full of a sense of wonder and adventure, and who is confident and loves to engage in conversation and activities and who basically feels that her body is powerful and wonderful and can do great things for her, and that her mind opens her up to endless possibilities.
STAMBERG: That does sound beautiful.
Indeed it does. And I realized that she was describing my daughters, especially our almost-five-year-old, Cecilia. (Naomi just turned three, but many of these qualities are starting to emerge in her as well.)
Better yet, Cecilia knows it: I was telling her about the program, and as I was describing the things Kilbourne called beautiful -- radiant, happy, curious, intelligent -- Cecilia started grinning wider and wider, and soon was hopping up and down. I asked her if she knew anyone like that, and she said, "Me! Me!"
It was a wonderful, if belated, Father's Day gift.
I just got a bit of good news on the Job Situation. I just learned from the representative at the consulting company for which I work that the project manager has requested that I be extended on the project for another month. Needless to say, this is extremely good news, although of course I have no choice by to continue to keep my options open for the end of July. w00t!
At 10:51 ET, Mike Melvill ignited the rocket engines and piloted SpaceShipOne into the blackness of space. His trajectory took him more than 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, above Earth's surface, according to Scaled Composites flight officials.
"It was a mind-blowing experience, it really was -- absolutely an awesome thing," Melvill said after landing.
Marvel comics and its Indian publishing arm have announced the creation of a new chapter of the legendary exploits of Spider-Man: A new version tailored to Indian readers. The tale of teen superhero Peter Parker -- rechristened Pavitr Prabhakar -- has been reinvented to incorporate Indian traditions, customs and mythology.
Marvel Comics & Gotham Entertainment Group - Indian publishing licensee of Marvel Comics and the leading publisher of international comic magazines in South Asia - announces the launch of Spider-Man India.
Spider-Man India interweaves the local customs, culture and mystery of modern India, with an eye to making Spider-Man's mythology more relevant to this particular audience. Readers of this series will not see the familiar Peter Parker of Queens under the classic Spider-Man mask, but rather a new hero - a young, Indian boy named Pavitr Prabhakar. As Spider-Man, Pavitr leaps around rickshaws and scooters in Indian streets, while swinging from monuments such as the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal.
Mumbai's (Bombay's) first web-swinging superhero will be joined by a reinterpretation of the classic Spider-Man villain, the Green Goblin -- reinvented as a Rakshasa, an Indian mythological demon.
"We feel this is one of the most exciting and unique projects in comic history," said Gotham Entertainment Group CEO Sharad Devarajan. "Unlike traditional translations of American comics, Spider-Man India will become the first-ever 'transcreation,' where we reinvent the origin of a Western property like Spider-Man so that he is an Indian boy in Mumbai and dealing with local problems and challenges."
The new comic series' debut is scheduled to coincide with the theatrical release of Spider-Man 2 in India. A US version of the comic may follow.
Check out the accompanying pics by artist Jeevan J. Kang that show the cool Indian adaptation of Spidey's classic red-and-blues.
We had a very busy but pleasant weekend. The highlight was a visit by my friend Alex (Musashi of Destroy All Monsters) and his lovely wife and baby boy.
Friday night my lovely wife and I watched my DVD of the 1994 Hong Kong flick Twenty Something (Wan 9 Zhao 5, or 5pm to 9am). It was a pleasing, well-acted soap opera of a flick. Crystal aptly described it as Hong Kong's answer to Cameron Crowe's singles; it also bears a resemblance to the Brat Pack flick St. Elmo's Fire, in that it chronicles the emotional and relationship crises among a group of young men and women whose night lives revolve around a particular bar.
Musashi and family arrived Saturday afternoon. After the greetings were concluded, Musashi dropped off a hige batch of DVDs to review -- enough to keep me busy for some time, for sure. We had lunch at our favorite local Chinese restaurant. We then took Alex, Natasha and little Manny -- and The Girls, of course -- to the wonderful Indianapolis Children's Museum. We were even lucky enough to get tickets to the museum's impressive new Dinosphere exhibit.
After that I cooked out over the grill. Musashi brought some wonderful Filipino barbecued chicken on skewers that were absolutely delicious. After dinner, we took in an Asian zombie movie double feature: the insanely superb Wild Zero and the pleasing low-budget Hong Kong flick Bio-Zombie, which starred the excellent Jordan Chan, who made his film debut in Twenty Something.
Sunday was a little more sedate. Crystal and The Girls prepared a wonderful Father's Day breakfast. Musashi and I checked out a meeting of the Indiana Animation Club, which I've been meaningto visit for years. Although we only stayed for an hour or two, we saw fanubbed editions of two new anime on Japanese TV: Samurai Champloo and Samurai 7 (a giant-robot anime version of The Seven Samurai). Upon our return home, I immediately downloaded fansubs of both, and manage to finish in time to burn them onto a CD-ROM for Alex.
We also enjoyed the beautiful -- and unseasonably, but pleasantly, cool -- summer weather with a walk in the neighborhood, then had dinner. After Musashi and his wife and son hit the road for home, I more or less crashed -- a pity, because I'd intended to watch one of the DVDs he brought by. It was a delightful weekend, and I look forward to Musashi's visit later this summer for GenCon. I may also try to visit him in Cincy for their local con.