Friday, August 13, 2010

Buffalo Gallop

From Muybridge, natch.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Current Mood

Just watching the world go by.

Mexico Recognizes Gay Marriage

The Mexico Supreme Court ruled 9-2 yesterday to recognize gay marriage. Every Mexican state must recognize gay marriages performed in Mexico City, where gay marriage is legal. They recognized marriage as a contract, and that contracts are valid.

Meanwhile, in a country that likes to brag it's the freest on the planet, the debate continues as to whether or not everyone is created equal, and whether or not everyone should have the same rights under the law.

Once again, the US has to be provided an example in democratic freedom by another country.

Feel good?

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Surprisingly enjoyable and engrossing movie. I had no idea what to expect from this movie. It involves a suburban teenager (Jamie Bell, very good) whose best friend unexpectedly kills himself. The cul-de-sac is about to experience a funeral and a wedding on the same day, and Bell is caught up in a kidnapping scheme and a case of mistaken identity. And where the film goes is often surprising, sometimes funny, and always interesting. Interesting cast. I especially liked Camilla Belle; I always want to like her, but other than her ability to scream well in When a Stranger Calls, I never have. But here she is, fresh and lovely and compelling, and I'm sorry she's not in better movies. ***1/2 stars.

ORPHAN (2009)
Truly dopey movie about a couple (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) who adopt a Ukrainian immigrant. Of course, there's something off about her, and the mother begins to suspect that there's something evil going on. It's that kind of movie. Not a bad movie, and one with some effective scares, but truly dumb. **1/2 stars. Becca kept rooting the whole time for Vera Farmiga to get killed. That's how she rolls.

When Sienna Miller said Pittsburgh was boring and called it "Shitsburgh," she really should have been referring to this movie. A guy graduates, tries to find himself, falls in love with Sienna Miller and her lunatic boyfriend, Peter Sarsgaard, blah blah blah, predictable and makes no impression. Filler. ** stars.

Jean Harlow is a Broadway star, reckless in love, who marries a millionaire playboy (Franchot Tone) while her manager (William Powell) buries his feelings for her. Good cast--also including Rosalind Russell, Herbert Stephenson and Mickey Rooney--but even at an hour-forty it feels overlong. I liked parts of it, and the three leads are all very good, but Jean Harlow was not a singer. So many of these movies from the 1930s want to shoehorn in musical numbers, and here they're long, badly-sung, badly-synced, and dull. **1/2 stars.

John Cusack plays an army husband with two young daughters. When his wife is killed in action in Iraq, he puts the girls in the car and tries to figure out how to break the news to them. It's a sad movie, but it also curiously holds its emotions at a distance from the audience. Possibly it's in an attempt to be observant, or to hold it all for a big payoff at the end, but for me it muted the struggle of this man to come to terms with his grief in order to be brave for his children. **1/2 stars.

NO MAN'S LAND (2001)
Excellent film about a Serbian soldier and a Bosnian soldier who are trapped in a trench in the no man's land between both fronts. The whole thing becomes symbolic of the war, as they're both trapped with a man who is laying on an explosive that will go off if he moves. What really surprised and pleased me was how the film becomes an indictment of the world's lack of interest in the conflict and especially the UN for being so ineffectual. But it never loses sight of the fact that it's about people, and people who are being ignored. ***1/2 stars.

OSAMA (2003)
Moving, sometimes brutal film about women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. With so many men killed in wars and women legally barred from working, a woman cuts her daughter's hair short and pretends she's a boy named Osama. Osama is sent to work for a friend, a shopkeeper, who is in on what's going on. But Afghanistan is a dangerous place for women, and disappearances are common. Osama is forced to attend school for Taliban training, and worries about being discovered. What happens then I will not tell you, but there can be no happy ending to this story. Sad, but riveting. **** stars.

Happy Ramadan

Turns out some of the people I follow on Tumblr are Muslim and are very excited that today's Ramadan. I hope you guys are having the fun day you were looking forward to. Enjoy the family time!

Hell's Kitchen, Episode 15, and MasterChef

I don't have much to say about the season finale of Hell's Kitchen. I was very glad Holli won (and grateful for the gratuitous cleavage shots). It got really old and tired listening to Jay talk about Holli, and how he was alternately going to mop the floor with her and sleep with her at some point. Ugh.

I think this was the worst group of contestants in some time, so I wasn't thrilled when the last six cast-offs had to come back and work the kitchen for the final dinner service. I wouldn't have wanted to get stuck with any of those people on my staff. Benjamin, surprise, was still bitching about how much better he was than everyone else. He took control a bit in Jay's kitchen, which Jay didn't mind, but Becca wondered if Gordon didn't notice that and factor it into his decision to give it to Holli. Nonetheless, I think Jay did a great job running his kitchen, I just wanted Holli to win it more.

And what was with Autumn thinking she had to do everything? You see why she and Benjamin don't get along... they're a lot alike.

Also, I noticed Richard, the previous winner, was at the finale. That brings me to what I'm always really interested in, which is a follow-up with these people. I wish they'd follow up on the previous contestants and winners in the future, maybe as a prelude to a new season. I'm always so curious as to what happens with them and their careers and restaurants.

Oh, but the best moment for me: Ben's face when Holli walked out as the winner. He just turned and walked off, presumably to go and cry about how great he is and how, if it weren't for his psychosomatic back injury, he would've won Hell's Kitchen.

As for MasterChef... I'm starting to have favorites, but I recognize that a lot of it is because of the way they've edited the show to make us care about a certain few and their stories. I was sorry to see Tamar go already, after the hoops Gordon made her jump through during the audition phase. I'm also being rubbed the wrong way by Dave. What insecurities is he hiding? He's a big, over the top, attention-seeking joker, and he's nevertheless ready to cry at the drop of a hat, like he's nervous someone will discover he's a giant fraud or something. Those kinds of guys always rub me the wrong way, because they're so pronoid in order to combat the paranoid.

Either way, most of the egg dishes looked really, really good. I've never even tried to poach an egg before, but now I really want to...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


DAD: [on the phone] What are you up to today?

ME: I'm just working on my column.

DAD: What are you writing about?

ME: About how Pixar movies are about sexual inadequacy.

DAD: What? Are you okay? Did you fall and hit your head or something?

ME: Oh, grow up, Dad.

Turtle Comfort

Splotchy and I did another turtle comic. He's got it up on his blog. I like this one; it's sweet, but it's also kind of odd. Just a little off; that's what I love about Splotch's writing. I think the fact that these turtle comics have been any good is completely due to the stories he comes up with; I just follow his instructions to the letter, usually after months of procrastinating fly past. I don't care much for my own artwork, but I do have fun making these (when I finally sit down to do them; I am the most off-task person you will ever meet).

Anyway, click on over and check out the comic. I think this one is my favorite.

Brief Scott Pilgrim Comment

I am beyond excited for Scott Pilgrim. This might actually get my butt into a theater for the first time in 2010.

That said, I just need to self-servingly whine for a moment. I also loved 300. I loved Watchmen. I loved Sin City. I loved Speed Racer. I loved The Spirit.

These were all movies--especially The Spirit--the sparked off a long series of debates about artifice in motion pictures. I was flat out called an idiot by people for being really excited about The Spirit, because it looked too much like a cartoon or a comic book and not enough like, I don't know, The Dark Knight. How dare these movies try to look like cartoons or something that doesn't approach grounded reality?

So, after all that time of being told what a fucking moron I was for liking The Spirit, it does burn me, just a little bit, to see how in love everyone is with artifice and a cartoon-like effect now that it's suddenly in a hipster movie.

Just saying. Nothing against anyone, it's just fascinating to see someone's arguments completely collapse in on themselves when the thing they supposedly despise becomes something specifically aimed at them as a target audience.

Monday, August 09, 2010

I Think I Finally Gave Up Soda...

I knew--as did you--that eventually I'd try soda again. It's in my nature. And for as long as I had given it up and not wanted it, I was sorely tempted by the return of Pepsi Throwback, so I decided to take the plunge and have one.

And you know what? I hated it.

After months of not drinking any soda whatsoever--and not even drinking any coffee--I just really hated the taste of what was once my most beloved drink.

I know a big part of it is because I've been drinking Kool-Aid sometimes. It's cheap, and if you put in less sugar and more water you not only save a bit on sugar, you also don't consume as much of it. So keeping in mind that my Kool-Aid is a bit dulled, Pepsi still tasted bland in comparison. It didn't taste sweet, the way it used to. It just had a sort of chemical taste to it and made me burp.


I'm really back to a point with soda that I haven't been at since I was a very little kid. It reminds me of the first time I was ever allowed to have champagne. I hated it; I thought it was disgusting. I asked my Mom why anyone drank it, and she said "It's an acquired taste." I asked why anyone would force themselves to drink it just so it would one day taste good, which just made her laugh. I was 11 or something.

That's how I feel about soda now. Why even bother drinking it?

Feels nice to give up something that's a bad habit.

Blackstar Warrior

Now this is a Star Wars prequel that needs to be made. File this in the ever-growing "Things I Would Watch the Shit Out of If Only They Were Real" File.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Brain and brain! What is brain?!

Becca and I started watching season three of Star Trek yesterday, which begins with my personal vote for the single worst episode of the series, "Spock's Brain." And now my own brain hurts after being exposed to that much stupid. It was actually worse than I remembered it being.

I'll have more to say when I do my post on the entire season, but this episode manages to destroy a lot of the goodwill I have towards Trek. Not that it makes me hate the show, or anything. But it does make me dread watching the rest of the season. I haven't seen a lot of the episodes we've got coming up, and the ones I have seen before aren't really very good (with a few exceptions, I think; I remember, for example, liking "Day of the Dove," but I don't think I've seen it since I was 12.).

It feels like a totally different show. I know there are new producers and writers, but it's just embarrassing how far the quality level has fallen, both in terms of writing and just in the suddenly crappy make-up and the way Shatner is completely off his leash and has Kirk pitched at an embarrassing level.

All I know is, in 1968, I would have turned to Becca after seeing this episode and asked: "This is what the letter-writing campaign to NBC saved? Maybe we just should've let it die..."

Not That You Need More Reasons to Think Spammers Are Assholes

I think what makes me laugh at these spammer assholes the most is that they're so intent that they will actually go to comment on a post, see that there are already one or two spam link comments on there, and still leave their own. Is anybody really clicking on their links? Or do they just get paid by how many fake comments they leave? Either way, it's really, really pathetic.

All it really does for me is extend the amount of time it takes to report their fake blogs for spamming by a few seconds. I just think it's an interesting insight into the inane, pointless minds of spammer assholes.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Song of the Week: "Meet on the Ledge"

Fairport Convention, from their excellent 1969 album What We Did on Our Holidays. This is the classic Fairport lineup, with Sandy Denny, Iain Matthews, Richard Thompson (who wrote the song), and Ashley Hutchings in the band. I love Fairport, and I've actually never had them up for Song of the Week before, so enjoy.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

My Dad got me this game for my birthday. Becca and I have been playing it all day, and looking at the Super Mario Wiki, I see we've barely even scratched the surface when it comes to what we can play in this game. So far, we've just been playing each other, but I see a lot of other things we can do. And we've only unlocked three of the game's 14 unlockable characters.

We used to love playing Super Smash Bros. back in the N64 days. We opted for PS2 over GameCube, so I never played Super Smash Bros. Melee, but a lot of people I know loved it. Since the Wii plays GameCube games, when I've got some money to spare, I'll have to pick up a used copy and try that one, too.

But for now, we're having a lot of fun with this one.

Wii continues to be my perfect video game system.