Sunday, December 31, 2006

my regular barber moved his shop, so...

I broke out the clippers and opted for a haircut that Hank Hill might say you could set your watch by...
Hey, whaddyaknow? It's the last flippin' day of 2006! Gosh!
Keep on keepin on~

Friday, December 29, 2006

sponsor my Brattle movie madness!

Hey, Brother---

I'm participating in the Brattle Theater Movie Watch-A-Thon this January 12 thru February 18.  This 'thon is like other 'thons you're probably familiar with in that it's a fundraising event, but instead of covering miles of asphalt, I'll be screening miles of film.  I'll be watching as many movies on the big screen as possible in that time, and with your sponsorship or donation, helping to raise funds for the Brattle Film Foundation.  Will you sponsor me by making a pledge per movie watched (beware, that might cost more than you first think—I'm happy to "cap" your pledge, tho =) or make a one-time donation of support, easily done online with a credit card here...?

From THE GOONIES to THREE NEEDLES to EVIL DEAD 2 to SERENITY to BICYCLE THIEF to DARKON—these deserving films will go homeless in Boston without the Brattle.  Thanks for any support you can offer to help keep the Brattle's screen lit up with the best in classic, contemporary, documentary, foreign, and cult film, and me off the streets. =)

Keep on keepin on~
and now, the rambling 1am cut...

Greetings, you [handsome devil / lovely minx]!

I'm writing to appeal to your celebrated generosity and ask that you sponsor me in the Brattle Movie Watch-A-Thon this year.  The challenge is to watch as many films on the big screen as I can from January 12 thru February 18, all to raise money for the Brattle Film Foundation. If you're game for supporting me, you can pledge a certain amount per film watched (I should warn you that I soaked in 23 movies in as many days in last year's 'thon =), or make a one-time donation to support my movie madness thru my firstgiving fundraising page!

I highly recommend you contribute some of your hard-earned quatloos to help preserve this kickass moviehouse.  And when word travels that you choose to support this local artistic venue—also one of the last independently owned businesses in Harvard Square—it might raise your already stratospheric esteem just the slightest, but what it can really do, what with you being the trendsetter that you are (oh, I know you'll deny it, but that doesn't make it any less true!), you're likely to ignite a veritable wildfire fashion of charitable Brattle giving!  You just try to prove me wrong on that!

Really, try!  Try a lot! =)

And more importantly, if you act now, you can count your donation as a deductible on your 2006 taxes!


So, what's up with the Brattle, you ask?  Well, I'll throw the official jibbajabba at you first, from the Brattle website (

Since The Brattle Film Foundation first announced the Preserve the Brattle Legacy Campaign in late 2005 we have raised more than $312,000. In our initial announcement we said that significant community support was going to be vital to the continuation of the Brattle as a repertory cinema, and due to the success of the campaign so far it is clear that the community values the Brattle and what it stands for. What we have seen over the past year is extremely encouraging, but the fight isn't over yet! Our final goal - one that will stabilize the Brattle for years to come - is to raise $500,000 by the end of 2006. (Nov 21, 2006)

More about the Foundation and fundraising campaign can be found here...

The Brattle Theater, with its excellent, discriminating (in the good way =), and eccentric programming, really is Boston's unofficial film school.  It's one of the only venues in town where you can experience many classic, foreign, cult, and just plain magnificent films on the big screen.

*with* freshly popped popcorn, topped with real melted butter!

It also happens to be the place where I first really got to know Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, Rita Hayworth, Jimmy Stewart, Marilyn Monroe, Orson Welles, Buster Keaton, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, and Chow Yun Fat, in the films of John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, David Lynch, John Woo, Wong Kar Wai, and Chan Wook Park.  It's where I also got reacquainted with friends like Kermit and Fozzie, Monty Python, Bruce Campbell, and Bugs Bunny, in the works of Jim Henson, Terry Gilliam, Sam Raimi, and Chuck Jones.  And it's where I always go to be consistently awed and entertained by the best of film's past (CASABLANCA and RULES OF THE GAME *now playing!*), present (INFERNAL AFFAIRS and DARKON), and future (SEVERANCE and INLAND EMPIRE *now playing!*).

Contact me if you'd like to make a pledge-per-movie for the 'thon.  To make a one-time donation, check out my firstgiving page.  If you allow me to see your email address via firstgiving, I can contact you with updates on my movie madness once the Watch-A-Thon period begins. Whenever possible, I'll put together reviews of the films I'm consuming.  Perhaps some of them won't be necessary, tho, as you'll be at the Brattle with me... Whaddyasay? =)

Please pass along this email or the firstgiving link to anyone who might be interested in helping out the Brattle, and thank you for any bit of support you can give!

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I'd like to exchange this wish... Got any wiis?

Hrmm... do you suppose one could re-gift best wishes?

Thanks to Andrew for passing along the lovely sentiment. =)

Keep on keepin on~

they're, like, little people or something...

Joe shared a fun little story-like moment with his kids with me this evening at the office...

Last night, Joe was turning off the lights around his home, and he shut off the light in the dining room. He's got two little ones, a boy, 5 years old, and a girl, age 3. Or is it... 6 and 4? Frack. Anyway, they're little, and two years apart, and frickin sweet and hilarious, even when they're beating me up.

Anyhow, Alicia's not happy with the dining room light being turned off. She definitely wants it on. So, she comes out of the kids' room and turns it back on. Joe comes back thru the dining room and turns it off again. A moment later, Alicia switches it back on. Joe flips it off once more, and then goes to Alicia and explains that it should be turned off if no one needs it. He further explains that the electricity for the light is energy, and this energy is made by burning stuff for heat and power, and that burning stuff ends up making the world hotter, and when the world gets hotter the coldest places on earth, made of a lot of ice, get warm, and when ice gets warm, it starts to melt, and if those places melt, the polar bears who live there will lose their homes.

A pretty good big (crayon) picture case for keeping the light off, don't you think? I was pretty impressed.

Alicia, however, was not convinced. She still wanted the light on. "I don't like polar bears, anyway!"

Joe was at a bit of a loss at this point, but Joshua didn't miss a beat, putting the following question to his little sister. "But what about baby polar bears?" They'd lose their homes, too, see?

Alicia's determination visibly waned then. Joe said she seemed to struggle with the notion of conceding, but after a minute she ultimately gave in. She let Joe keep the light off.

There's so much remarkable kids stuff in there that makes me smile. Alicia's willfulness and stubborn attitude, the parental logic and strategery involved in explaining the why behind something as adult-simple as turning off a light, and maybe most of all, Joshua stepping in and taking the ball the last yard by coming up with the perfect thing to say, y'know?

"Re-MARK-able!" Like that one no-name toddler from "Our Gang" usedta exaggeratedly declare. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Frickin' Holidays!

Season's Greetings!

Ho, ho, frackin ho!

It's that time of year again—the vertiginous end-of-year holiday spin down the drain! This Saturnalia, I'm shunning those dirty, cumbersome "molecules" that seem to be the fashion in gift giving (a fad, I'm sure), and instead, bestowing upon my friends and family (and any other hapless fool who might have included me on a mailing list this year) a bundle of electrons that I've wrangled and posted for your entertainment pleasure.

To claim your slice of digital fruitcake, please point your browser to...

Happy Holidaze

May Santa and Krampus judge you kindly this year, and bestow upon you the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle that you dream of! Happy frickin holidaze! Enjoy the Wam-Wam-Wozzle!

Keep on keepin on~

SNL suggests a *ahem* stocking stuffer...


And pretty damn funny.

Lookythere, NBC's posting their own stuff. I guess this is GooTube going legit, eh? At least, for now.

Ack. I try to be selective and targetted about what I view at YouGle, but here I just HAD to check out YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT preview. Gods of Kobol, please please please kill that crappy Victoria's Secret commercial meets GREASE sitcom—Please! It is Wrong.*

I'm tired.

Thanks to designfemme for the headzup on the SNL goodness, and joshua for an NBC-endorsed link.

Keep on keepin on~

* UPDATE/CORRECTION - Jan 4, 2007 * Saw a longer ad about what YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT is about—from the creators of DANCING WITH THE STARS, it's an AMERICAN IDOL-type casting call for a new broadway production of GREASE. If the re-tread of the music and costumes and dance are fer real... Yikes. I still want it killed. I mean, if you're going to update it, REALLY update it. Get Joss Whedon or Kevin Williamson or Paul Haggis or Kevin Smith to write you a contemporary smart/smartass DEGRASSI'd up storyline, team them up with some Tony-winning team of composers and lyricists, and *BAM* Gold! Or, heck, get the rights to BREAKFAST CLUB and do the 80s! Don't pervert GREASE's cotton candy take on the 50s cuz CHICAGO did so well. Boo.

I've only seen GREASE in movie and high school production forms.

* UPDATE/HA! - Jan 5, 2007 * Looks like NBC yanked the GREASE:YTOTIW ad that I describe in my original post. As much as it sucked, I would've liked for it to remain available for your disapproval. They've only got the more recent ad that explains the madness. Nuts. The sickening one would cut from Sandra's bedroom to this bright primary colored backdrop with a bevy of Victoria's Secret wardrobed chicks shot with some kind of porny filter syncing and dancing to a medley of Misfits (of JEM, that is Jem and the Holograms, fame, not high school stoner tees and jackets) versions of GREASE standards. Painful.

* UPDATE/HA! - later that day * It's more of a music video than a commercial. Not sure if/how/when it played on the telly. Found it again online at iFilm, for your viewing dismay. Unjoy!

* January 25, 2007. And the winners are...!

Thanks to Kathy of RED DOORS for pointing me to the Best (In Show) Danny and Sandy =)

Io, Saturnalia!

It's a fine night for the longest night of the year. I've been having trouble sleeping. Paranoid alien abduction scenario dreams. Are these "night terrors?" I suspect my brain is being snared by some electromagnetic cage created by a conjunction of fields from power lines and assorted appliances and machinery in my environment. i believe that EM fields can muck up one's brain while sleeping, pushing one's dream experience into a seriously f'd up paranoid state, typically characterized by a good chunk of Mulder's "have you been abducted by aliens?" checklist. The big two... One, the certainty of a presence in the room, and a menacing one, at that. Perhaps a clown. And two, paralysis. Gotta love that. Who doesn't love paralysis?

Anyhow, TV tells me that that's a winning combination for the start of an abductee story. Perhaps the aliens use an EM weapon to turn our stupid brains against us, making us easy targets. Or it could be other, human, sinister agents at work. Who soften us up in the same way for whatever dark designs. Or, it's just bad frickin luck and three neighbors with satellite dishes angled Just So, relative to the location of your skull while you slumber...

Speaking of oneiric fun, I hit the Brattle to partake of David Lynch's latest and greatest bit of dreamlike cinema. I really must get myself back to Santamating soon (another happy solstice coincidence =), so I'm not even going to try to describe the experience, except to say that its oddness-vs-mainstreamness index falls in the middle of the spectrum that has ERASERHEAD on the far odd side and BLUE VELVET on the near mainstream. Also, Laura Dern is remarkable in a half dozen different roles, if you can call them that. Identity is pretty damn fluid in the experience of this film.

Right, I wasn't going to do that. Sorry. =)

Off screen, in the real world Brattle, I was struck by the conspicuous addition of the MEN and WOMEN signs on the restroom doors, when for years, for as long as I can remember Brattling, the photo of beach bunny Marilyn Monroe (perhaps from SEVEN YEAR ITCH?) marking the women's room and the still of Sean Connery's James Bond (towel-clad stepping out of a posh hotel bath) for the men's more than sufficed as signifiers. Why the new additions? I like to think that people were stumbling out of INLAND EMPIRE, into that hallway, and confronted with the choice of doors and images, could not suss out their meanings. =)

Good extra long dreams to all. I'm gonna sit most of this out and make a push on my Santasm. =)

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. Went and saw UNKNOWN tonight. Great premise. Great cast—Barry Pepper, James Caviezel, Joey Pants, Peter Stormare, Greg Kinnear. Not-so-great execution. Would've been a great one-hour of something. The 90 or so minutes on screen just needed something more, some fixxin. Should be a good rental, something to watch w friends and half-wiseass-half-seriously blurt out theories, y'know?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Secret Santa app...

Running or planning to run a covert holiday icon gift exchange for friends, family, or the office? Check out P'unk Avenue's Package online. It'll set you up for an anonymous rotisserie gift exchange, good for any occasion!

Thanks to P'unk Ave's Geoff for the headzup and the digital forging!

(The making kind, not the faking kind, duh. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Monday, December 18, 2006

How did I miss Santacon?!

Lucky for me, Chris took a few pictures of the Ho-Ho-Hoccasion in NYC! Thanks!

For more pics and info on this, other, and upcoming Santacons, check out

Frack, apparently we had one in Boston on the ninth... which would explain this snapshot I took from a Saturday stroll through the Common...I remember thinking how curious it was to spot a short range Santa, all on his own, weeks before his holiday and all. I figured he must have gotten lost, been part of a convoy or something, and whaddyaknow? I guess I was right.

I would like to see a Santacon conjured at the Rose Bowl Parade this year, to take on the Imperial 501st, the Star Wars fan Brigade of Stormtroopers that are supposed to be marching for Grand Marshall George Lucas.

Welcome to my brain. Such as it is.

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fat Man's Comin'...!

Hip deep in work at the office, and anticipating a real crunch in the next week and on through January, I've actually managed to motivate (in my slackerly way, so "motivate" is relative) to get myself a little more ahead of my usual holidaze production schedule. Other things *have* fallen by the snow-covered wayside... Most conspicuous is present shopping. Basically, I got nothin. Frickin frackin shopping season. Good grief.

Maybe I'll just get everyone a copy of Merry Mixmas (awesome) and a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, from Urban Outfitters (feckin Wrong). I have to believe that they could only get away with that since Charles Schultz, sadly, is no longer with us. I mean, what could be more completely against the spirit of the freakin Charlie Brown Christmas special than selling artificial replicas of the real tree that Chuck chooses to save?!

Unless profits from their sales go to a charity of some sort, that's not even ironically funny. It's just Wrong.

Coal and Krampus for Urban Outfitters!


Frack. I could've counted on this nonsomnia. I should've rallied some people to go camp out for Wiis tonight. Foo.

I am tired. But not sleepy. Holidazed. Annoying. I should go have a lie-down now. Try to get to sleep without slipping into yet another crazy electromagnetic field induced creepy crawling paranoid nightmare. I'm looking forward to getting some sweet bacony buttery diner eats w Paris Jen in the morning. Yumm. =)

I'll leave you with a couple of snaps related to my digital Santa Clausiness, past and present... First, from one year ago...
And today...
Keep on keepin on~

Friday, December 15, 2006

Worst. Toys. Ever. =)

Check them out! Not so much "worst" as, well, "un-safest." =)Awesome description of the trajectory of the Sky Dancer, and hey! Thingmaker fans! We made a top 10 list after the dot-com bust! Oops, sorry. It's the original Thingmaker, not ours...

"You know what I saw in their eyes? Fear."

And—Wow!—the actual spring-launched missile firing toy that fired its load into some sad fool kid's mouth and a lawsuit later, ruined it for the rest of us! I've referred to the incident many a time when bemoaning the end of spring-launched toy rocket power, usually in relation to the Boba Fett action figure, but beyond some kid in Atlanta (I thought) choking on a projectile he fired into his mouth, I didn't know the details. And I always thought it was from an earliest release of the send-in-your-proofs-of-purchase Boba, but I think that Zorky(?) told me a while back that the Boba Fetts *never* had launchable rockets. His backpack missile would just "pop" in place, and not actually fire. Maybe the clones were designed to be impotent? Anyhow, turns out the culprit was an old-school BSG toy!

To be fair, I can't claim complete and total ballistic deprivation/indignation. I *did* get to participate in some dangerous projectile playtime thanks to the Micronauts—Take THAT, Baron Karza! Go, Biotron! Commander Rann can sit in your chest and pilot you as a tank, a robot, or a something-that-I-don't-know-what-to-call-it!

Stupid kid's esophagus. Intelligent design, my butt!

Keep on keepin on~

Merry Mixmas!

Check out Merry Mixmas: Christmas Classics Remixed! It's the first new collection of holiday music that I'm totally digging since the 90s sometime, when Rhino, I think it was, released a collection of songs from animated Christmas specials that included Heatmizer and Snowmizer!

Mixmas is getting almost as much play with me as the Charlie Brown Christmas tunes. That might not mean much to a lot of you, but ask my college roommates about it. I think I listened to that music nearly 24-7 thru the month of December, a lot of times in the dark while working on my computer. Ross was ready to put me on suicide watch.

That, or kill me himself if he had to hear the "Woo-woo" version of "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing" again. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

films at the ICA...

Don't know for certain what the screening venue is like (above is the architect's rendering of a theater space in the museum, can't tell from the site content if it's also their movie theater), but the listings have got a few things to keep an eye on. Coming up in January, they've got a "preview" screening of PAN'S LABYRINTH, and I hafta admit, I haven't seen THE MATRIX on the big screen in a While now... Maybe I'll try and rally some people for that. =)

My sister and her posse got to the ICA in the early afternoon yesterday to find a long line of people waiting to get in, with an announced estimated three-and-a-half hour wait to actually set foot inside. There were some tents set up around the edifice featuring ICA activities and whatnot, but not enough to keep them around for that long. So, they carommed off the museum over to the Aquarium instead.

I did a bit of clicking about online to find out more about the museum and the film venue there, but couldn't find any photos from the opening and no explicit naming of the auditorium shown above (the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater) serving as the movie theater. Seems like a pretty basic piece of info to (not) include at the site. Looking at the images of that theater, I imagine a screen could be dropped easily enough from above, or suspended on the far wall. I think I read that curtains over the windows (aMAZing views depicted in all the photos and renderings I *did* find—check out the media room, reportedly full of Apples =) that could be drawn to provide various levels of natural light and transparency. I was hoping to find that the windows were all actually LCDs. Hrmm... maybe they don't work so well for outside walls? New England temps and all.

Ever since I first read about liquid crystal "smart" windows way back when—probably in some WIRED or architectural tome featuring dot-com spaces—I've wanted to have some of my very own. Instead of plain old glass, replace the floor-to-ceiling windows around your office or conference room with panels that are actually giant single or multiple pixel LCDs, y'know, like the hexagons that together display numbers on your calculator. When no current is running thru them, they are transparent glass. When they are switched on, the windows become opaque. Or is it the other way around? Either way, pretty nifty.

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, December 10, 2006

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Merry Christmas, movie house!~

google | bunnies | lost ending @Hulu | lost ending transcript =)Some rambling on a little old film that I've really come to love...

I got a late start getting to my 1pm matinee of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE this afternoon. Was a pleasant surprise to find at the box office that the movie hadn't started yet AND that Starbuck's was paying for the show! I talked to Ned at the concession stand for a little while and he explained that they sponsored one of the holiday screenings last year and wanted to do it again. I guess they didn't decide which showtime they'd foot in time for the Brattle to promote it as such. Kind of more holiday and gifty that way, I think. At least, I didn't catch any notice about it being advertised as a free show, not thru my usual, admittedly narrowband, feeds. At any rate, Huzzah for Starbuck's!

This morning I was on the fence about going. A lunch appointment yesterday put the kibosh on the Saturday matinee options, so I went to bed last night planning on catching it today. My sister's got friends visiting from out of town, and told me this morning that they were gonna hit the new ICA. Today was Opening Day for the museum in its shiny new location on the Boston waterfront, and the museum would be free to the public (I think I read that admission is to be $12). The building looks gorgeous and all, and it did look like it would be a decent New England day for a hike to and thru the waterfront downtown, but, well, as far as I knew, this would be the last chance to see LIFE on the big screen this holiday season.

I say "as far as I knew" cuz last year the Boston Common theater did a series of holiday films and LIFE was one of them, but I haven't seen any emails or ads pushing a similar series this year. Nuts.

Even though I went it alone, the experience of watching it in a nearly packed Brattle screening with a decent mix of ages, as well as apparent veterans and virgins, totally made it worth the hike.

That, and a medium bucket of freshly popped popcorn. =)

I was just a little bit sad because I missed perhaps my favorite line of the film. I waited in line for popcorn downstairs while the movie started up. With the crowd, and the number of kids, they had to push their popcorn machine into overdrive to keep everyone supplied.

It's when Mary drops in on George at Mr. Gower's pharmacy and gets some chocolate ice cream. After he gets away with calling the sweet little girl "brainless" for not wanting coconut (I'm with Mary on that one), he has to reach into the cooler to scoop out her ice cream, and Mary seizes the moment to lean in and whisper to him...
Mary: Is this the ear you can't hear on? George Bailey, I'll love you till the day I die.
That. Is. Magic.

And he puts coconut on her ice cream, anyway—Eat it, Mary! =)

Another favorite line, not so magic, but perfect, delivered by Stewart's George Bailey...
George: [to Potter] In the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider!
In this scene, Potter lures George into a trap with an apparently very generous offer, but a handshake with the spider snaps him out of it. George is physically repelled by the contact. He looks at his hand, then wipes it on his jacket! Would be a fun way to take the story if the devil or a demon was introduced as actively at work in Bedford Falls. Perhaps turning George and his story into more of a book of Job, eh?

And another favorite few words, definitely magickal, but descriptive, not prescriptive. A great little exchange between George and his uncle...
George: You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?
Uncle Billy: Sure! Breakfast is served, lunch is served, dinner is served!
George: No, no, no! Anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles.
How perfectly romantic.

I think they can both be correct, don't you? =)

*sigh* So much Goodness in that film. A real tear jerker. Seriously! Once the house lights went up, it was sweet to see that so many people had gotten caught up in the film. "Zuzu's petals!" The humorless bank assessor guy drops some money into the basket! The sheriff tears up the warrant for his arrest! "To my brother, George, the richest man in town!" Not even a Michael Bluth robot could resist the waves of smarm and joy! I could see it on the faces of the audience as they milled about and filed down the aisles... smiles, blushes, tears. Me, I managed to dry mine with some spare napkins before the final church bell ringing. Gotta maintain that tough guy image.

George Bailey is such a good-hearted guy, but make no mistake, he's still a guy. I always marvel at George and Mary's walk home from the graduation dance. Having taken an unplanned dip in the high school pool, they're strolling home in clothes that George has managed to pilfer from a locker room. They sing together, out of tune, they make their wishes and break some glass at the old Granville house, that guy hears George talking all romantickal but gets impatient waiting for them to finally close the deal and kiss—Youth is wasted on the wrong people!—and Mary evaporates out of her robe, like Obi-Wan Kenobi. And just like Obi-Wan, she reappears to our hero, heh. She's in the hydrangeas. He's got her robe, and he's *just* about to toss it to her, when he catches himself—What am I doing? This is a verrry interesting situation...

He thinks out loud about all the possibilities. "I've read about situations like this but never..." "Maybe I could sell tickets!" And when Mary threatens to tell his mother, "She's way down there on the corner..." And when she threatens to scream for the police, "They're way downtown... and they'd be on *my* side!" Heh. Brilliant. George gets to play at being a cad, but manages to pull it off as a charming. Perhaps that's just Jimmy Stewart. =)

It's so odd the things I miss and catch, or remember and forget. On seeing it last year, I realized for the first time that George isn't just playing dumb about where Mary went when he sees her robe on the sidewalk, he's actually playing as if she shrank out of sight, or disappeared into thin air, like one of Gob's illusions. He makes like Mary might actually still be under the fallen robe, y'know? A small thing, but ingeniously funny.

And speaking of catching... Was kind of a surprise to hear so many people (in the form of knowing chuckles) finally sort of "get it" when George says Ernie and Bert's names late in the movie. If you're not a fan or are unfamiliar with the film, two of George's friends in Bedford Falls are Ernie the cab driver and Bert the police officer. I've never gotten confirmation in any form that they are the reason for the names of the bachelor muppet roommates on Sesame Street, but once I heard their names and made the connection, I believed it.

I was surprised by the mob acknowledgement, first, cuz it seemed like it was from a lot of adults in the audience, and I figured anyone who's seen it a dozen times would remember that (or at least remember remembering), and second, cuz we first meet them both way earlier in the film and George calls them by name then, too.

Me, I don't think I made the Sesame Street connection until I really paid attention to a television broadcast while at home sometime in college. If there is a link between the characters of the same name, do the behavior of the cop and the cab driver inform the personalities of the muppet roommates'? Hrmmm... Ernie does kiss Bert in one scene in the movie, after serenading the newlywed Baileys with "I Love You Truly"... Ernie plants one on Bert's forehead... and gets his hat mashed in for his trouble.

Of course, it could be coincidence, right? Serendipity. But you know me, I want to believe. =)

I hope I get a chance to watch BACK TO THE FUTURE again soon, to see how much Zemeckis borrowed from Capra. I remember feeling the same way while watching LIFE last year. It's uncanny film deja vu... Views of the main streets of town, the welcome signs, maybe even George driving his car into the tree (the inspiration for Lone Pine vs Twin Pine Mall?), and that Michael J. Fox WTF? extreme close-up! Jimmy Stewart does it first! Although it's got a lot more angst in it than Fox's, heh.

I wonder what a TV series of the Baileys would've been like. Or how Paul Haggis (the writer who makes you so uncomfortable with CRASH and MILLION DOLLAR BABY) would write them, given all the premises of the story and the seeds of the characters. I mean, how long can George stand it, smothering his own goals and dreams to uphold his father's business, send his superstar brother to college, and then enable him to pursue his talents, and live in that drafty old house with a family that he loves, but keeps him from the new horizons he always dreamed of...?

Maybe it was of the era, but under stress, George does have a tendency to get physical with those near and dear to him. Granted we see him under the worst kind of stress in the highlight reel that Joseph and Clarence show us, but you can see how easily a writer could quickly take these characters into some awfully grey and dark areas, eh?

Geez. Why do I gotta think like that?

Something I noticed and remember from this screening that tickled me. Tommy, George and Mary's younger son... When George comes home with the dark stormcloud over his head of bankruptcy and jail, at one point he falls into a chair and little Tommy jumps him. The first thing he does is put his Santa Claus mask over his face and growl at his pop like a monster—Grrrrr...Rarrrrrr!—Mutant Enemy style, y'know? Monster Santa Claus! That, I love!

I wish I had a million dollars!

Hot dog!


Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, December 09, 2006

VOLVER: like CHOCOLAT, but with more death and cleavage...

site | trailerThe premise: A mother of two refuses to let death keep her from meddling in her daughters' lives.

The director: Pedro Almovodar.

The result: A charming film about mothers and daughters that at times reminds me of CHOCOLAT in mood and atmosphere. It is more low-key than I expected, given the combination of premise and director. Not a negative, just unexpected.

Almovodar is consistently great at telling stories that revolve around women and their relationships, and this film is no exception. I love the matter-of-fact manner in which the girls' mother takes to her surreal return to their lives. The story covers three generations of women—the ressurrected matriarch, her two daughters (one played by Penelope Cruz), and a granddaughter—and the cast is a wonderful fit together. Attention to the little things makes the Mother-ness pitch perfect, even subtitled. And the sisters are so very.

In different parts of the film, different members of the family know about the Matriarch's return, creating some very awkward situations for the characters trying to keep the secret, and some light suspenseful moments for the audience that become opportunities for laughs. Of course, one has to die before returning to life, so a lot of the plot is driven by death and dying, and dark stories surrounding them, but mostly with the aim of returning to and highlighting the joys and opportunities of life and living.

The film features some excellent Brockovichian cantilvering of Penelope's assets. No complaints, but admittedly, more than a little distraction, I must say. My sister says that there was a bit of a media hubbub about her physique in the last year and a half or so, and it seems like this may have been a conscious response to that.

I'm gonna hafta get sis to put some older Almovodar flicks on her Netflix queue. I remember enjoying many of his early films—MATADOR, TIE ME UP, TIE ME DOWN, WOMEN ON THE VERGE...—but am weak on the details now. I could use a refresher.

If you like Pedro's work, you'll dig this. And if you're not familiar with it, check it out and realize you do like it, you just didn't know. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

wet Mars!*

NASA Images Suggest Water Still Flows in Brief Spurts on Mars...

Water flows on Mars!

Keep on seepin on~

* (Certainly, possibly maybe.)

THREE NEEDLES: not the sewing kind...

site | trailer | Brattle blurb
Saw THREE NEEDLES at the Brattle tonight. Excellent, tragic, angering film. The movie tells three stories set in different parts of the world—China, South Africa, and Canada—all propelled forward by the use of a needle, and not the knitting kind, either. They are parables, cautionary folk tales, about how, in spite of the means, knowledge, and education to combat it, a sickness can exploit human beings' greed, selfishness, and superstition to its advantage, ensuring its continued spread of devastation.

In China, Lucy Liu plays an illegal blood collector, visiting remote towns and offering their residents a modest fee for the donation of their blood, which she resells for a black market profit.

In Canada, the X-MEN's Iceman plays an adult film star whose continued financial well-being depends on consistently testing clean before going to work. On his way into the clinic one day, he sees a former costar leaving in tears... If you were in his situation, how far would you go to keep your income flowing to support your ailing father and hardworking waitress mother (played by Stockard Channing)?

In South Africa, Chloe Sevigny, Sandra Oh, and Olympia Dukakis are novices and nun, assigned to a mission attached to a small hospital/hospice, dedicated to saving as many souls as possible from an afterlife in Purgatory. Many of the locals are employed by a corporate plantation, and when a virus spreads among them, and from them to other villagers, the missionaries do what they can to ease the suffering of the afflicted, keep the children of broken families together, and convince the plantation manager to contribute to the health care of his employees and families. Faced with an apparently futile and hopeless situation, Chloe's young novice decides that the Church's mission of saving souls, and not necessarily loving them, does not go far enough, and takes some radical steps of her own.

All in all, the three stories paint bleak pictures of humanity's ability to combat a virus in the 21st century. The virus itself is never explicitly named, but you might take as a clue that the film opened on December 1 this year, World AIDS Day.

I'm just sayin~

I'm also just sayin, as heartpunching as the stories are, the weaknesses of humanity in the face of this biological assault is countered, to varying degrees, by compassion, humor, and love. You are allowed to laugh at some genuinely funny and sweet moments in the midst of the tragedy. It plays for two more nights at the Brattle—SEE it!

For more eloquent and insightful words on THREE NEEDLES, please read writer-director Thom Fitzgerald's notes on the film.

If you look up the Brattle schedule, check out the current HAIR HIGH (new animation from Bill Plympton), and upcoming INLAND EMPIRE (David Lynch's latest, which premiered at the Brattle this weekend), and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ("Zuzu's petals!")!

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Consumer Reports on extended warranties...

I admit I suckered myself into buying protection for my new non-tube. I'd always avoided paying for an extended warranty on anything except my Apple computers. But this time, dropping some not-insignificant bucks on a new hearth, well, all I had to do was think of the gigantic lifeless Philips televisional buttsteak sitting on the floor of the living room...

Well, I had to think of it a dozen times in 10 minutes or so while pacing the TVs aisle at Best Buy. =)

Consumer Reports tells me that my purchase was a fool's play. They cite only two instances/products where paying for additional coverage is worthwhile—Apple products, and rear-projection microdisplay TVs... whatever those are.

Caveat Santa!

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, December 03, 2006

in like Flynn...?

I was in the car this afternoon driving to a comcast service center in Cambridge. I went to pick up a DVR and remote to put my TVs plan in motion. I also took the opportunity to FINALLY return my cable modem from my previous address. Heh. It had gotten packed up in the final week's moving push in August and I lost track of it when setting up at the new place. It materialized when my sister set up her old desktop machine and came across the comcast hardware. Anyhow, two months after my final bill from the old address got to me, I returned the modem and closed my account. I probably just got in under the "we've turned over your account to a collection agency" deadline, y'know? No incurred penalties and I wasn't charged the $99 for the hardware as lost/bought/stolen or whatev. Whew!~

So, my comcast service experience started out on a high note. Heh. I have to praise the patience and helpfulness of the woman who was working the window at the comcast center this afternoon. Once I took care of the old cable modem, I asked if I could add a DVR to our service if I wasn't the account holder, and she explained that it could be done if I could provide some personal info/reference for my sister. There were a couple people in line behind me, so I stepped aside to make a call and check in w my sis. I got the info and got back in line. The agent processed the request, handed over the console and paperwork, and sent me on my way. Before heading out the door, I stopped to properly suit up for the actually fall-like weather we were finallly getting and adjust the equipment in my hands for easier carrying to the car, giving her just enough time to call me back to the window. She explained to me that she couldn't process this order because apparently there was a pending request on our account. I told her—That's right, we're supposed to have a technician come to check out our comcast phone connection on Monday. She said that she couldn't make any changes to our account until the pending request had been completed, so I should come back on Tuesday and she could set us up w the hardware then. She apologized for not catching the notation on our account before okaying the DVR. I asked if I could just take the hardware with me, and not expect any added service activation until after the phone whatnot, but she said that she wasn't supposed to do that. The only way I could get the DVR today would be to cancel the Monday appointment. Well, we needed the phone visit to set up a working line upstairs, principally for a fax machine in the office. This falls under In's domain, so I really couldn't make the decision on my own right then. The queue behind me had gotten another couple people longer, so I gave back the equipment, told the agent—Thanks for your help, guess I'll check back on Tuesday—and then stepped aside.

I got my sister on the phone again to explain the sitch and asked if she'd be okay with a delay in fax-enabling our place. She told me it would be fine, just so long as I could get a rescheduled appointment at a convenient date and time. So, I stepped back in line. When I got to the window again, I apologized for the back-and-forth and explained that, yes, I'd be okay with cancelling the comcast phone appointment on Monday, getting the DVR equipment today, and rescheduling the tech visit. She looked over our account on her monitor again, seemed to take stock, did some tapping on the keyboard, and then picked up the phone. From what I heard her say, it sounded like she was calling to talk to a technician, the guy who was scheduled to visit us on Monday. Apparently, he wasn't available. When she put the phone down, a light bulb seemed to click on over her head. She returned to the keyboard, hit it with a flurry of typing, scanned in the codes on the DVR hardware again, and then handed it over along with the paperwork again. She explained that we were all set and could expect the technician to visit on Monday as scheduled. I thanked her for her help and stepped aside again to pack up and leave w the equipment. Mission accomplished!

Fer realz, not ironic-like. Thank you, prezident, for ruining a perfectly good cheeseball exclamation with your deception, greed, tragically shortsighted mismanagement, banner, and flightsuit codpiece. Bleah.

So, DVR tucked under my arm, remote in my hand, the visit ended on a high note, too. It took a roundabout path, true, but it was all good in the end. On my way back to the car, I realized what the agent had figured out and done for us. To get us our DVR, she had to cancel our Monday appointment, add the DVR to our account, then schedule a new appointment for us to have the phone/fax line set up. When she couldn't reach our technician, she realized that all she would be doing is telling him that he had a Monday cancellation, and a couple minutes later, she'd be giving me the option of choosing between a several possible new appointments a week or so off, and our technician would have an empty spot in his schedule come Monday. So, why not just skip the appointment-cancelling and -making and just delete the phone/fax line order in the system, add the DVR order, and then add a new phone/fax line order with the same old time slot? Why not, indeed. Brilliant in its simplicity, no?

I spoke these thoughts out loud to my sister later on and asked if she thought that the agent had gone a bit above and beyond—which I thought she had on my way out of the service center—or just done her job, and maybe not as quickly/directly as she should have—which I considered a little later on, but didn't really feel, y'know? My sister and Rowan both asked about how I felt at the end of the interaction, pointing out that that's typically what matters most when dealing with customer service. Also, the woman's job is likely pretty well defined by protocols that she's instructed to follow, and that are reinforced by the repetitive nature of the typical requests from legions of customers that she deals with. So she was probably doing some of that "thinking outside of the box" that all the kids are talking about. It's just that her employers forced a very small box on her to begin with.

What matters: I left satisfied.

Wack. What I wanted to do several paragraphs ago was explain that I was in my car this afternoon, and so got to listen to NPR for a while. The not-crappy comcast customer service experience had to be shared I guess. Anyhow... NPR.

I only ever listen to the radio these days when I'm in the car, which means not very often. It being Saturday afternoon, I got to catch a few minutes of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" today, a rerun with Tom Hanks on the phone. There was some banter about Tom Hanks's reputation of being one of the most competitive but well-mannered/easy to work with actors in Hollywood today, so the theme of the questions was something like, "Notorious Hollywood Greats." There was a question about Marlon Brando's appetite pushing MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY way over budget (52 pairs of torn pants!). There was one about... frack, I can't remember who. And there was one about Errol Flynn, notorious ladies' man and philanderer.

It went something like...

How did so-and-so, Errol Flynn's third wife, first meet her future husband?

The possible answers...

1. She was selling refreshments at the courthouse the day that he appeared to stand trial for statutory rape.

2. He fell into her backyard, drunk, out of a neighboring second story window.

3. She was working in the ER the night he came in for treatment of inflammation due to disease of the venereal sort.

Hanks filled a little time with patter...

"Gosh, this is difficult... These are all so reminiscent of my courting or Rita..." And, "Do they even actually SELL refreshments at the courthouse?!"

This got some laughs from the panel and audience, but through the laughter, you hear Paula Poundstone definitively reply, "Yes."

That turned me into a crazy person driving alone and laughing out loud for a minute. =)

Hanks got the question correct, choosing the courthouse scenario. Peter Sagal added that Errol was acquitted of the charges, inspiring the well-known saying, "In... like Flynn..."

Dirty, no? I always thought it was a reference to him swinging in swashbuckler style in a film, or perhaps scaling a wall and climbing in thru a window for a wooing or rescue or a little bit of both. For escaping a conviction for sex with a minor? Well, personally, I don't know that I'd have a lot of opportunities to use that phrase in a fitting way.

Isn't learning fun?

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, December 02, 2006

NIGHTWATCH: dark meat or light?

site | trailer
I finally screened NIGHTWATCH tonight for the first time. It's like a supernatural successor to THE MATRIX. Heck, in my head, it pretty much happens inside the Matrix anyways.

In case you can't tell, that means I LIKE IT. =)

A very stylish and entertaining Russian slice of the ages-old battle between good and evil, hidden from most of humanity's eyes. Some people are born different. They're gifted/cursed with abilities that human beings do not possess. They might be able to heal others, transform into animals, or see visions of the future. These talents often remain latent until revealed under stress, like having to save one's child from a cave-in, or instinctively fighting off a vampire attack, y'know, the usual. These gifted individuals are known as the Others. They include sorcerers, vampires, shapeshifters, and seers. They are divided into two camps, the Light and the Dark, which roughly correspond to good and evil. Governed by an ancient truce, each side follows certain rules of coexistence in the modern world. Each side also polices the other, to enforce those rules. The Dark Others check the Light with the Daywatch, and the Light Others check the Dark with their Nightwatch.

Now, throw into this precarious balance the prophecied coming of an Other of supreme power. Once someone discovers s/he is an Other, s/he must ultimately choose whether to follow the Light or the Dark. In early 21st century Russia, the signs seem right for the coming of this supreme Other, and the Nightwatch is desperate to find him before the Daywatch, and at the same time check the ever-more-reckless behavior of the Dark.

Pretty nifty set-up, no?

I don't want to spoil anything with too much detail. Maybe I'll do a spoilery ramble in a next post for anyone who's seen it already or read the book—an EXcellent read, by the way, and the movie is a pretty clever adaptation, I must say.

The small-scale action sequences are well done and shot. There are a couple of scenes on the scale of army-vs-army that are about quick cuts and flashes of violence that with a "little" tweaking could've been made more readable, but that may be my action snobbery at odds with editing for pace and tension that the film calls for. I just feel that screentime given over to foggy melees could be better spent delivering some directed, choreographed, or even narrative combat and action.

Call me crazy.

Once an Other is "triggered," s/he becomes aware of, and with training, can access, another layer of reality, a sort of parallel dimension that exists in the same space, but follows laws different from those of physics, has its own native ecosystem, and allows adept Others to travel and operate through it to avoid obstacles of the "normal" world. The book describes the experience for a reader's imagination, but the movie uses some great visuals and some clever rule-adaptation to show you its version of how it works.

Thanks, Jess, for setting me up with this movie Goodness. =)

I've had the dvd in my hands for a few weeks now, but only tonight made room for it. When I got home this evening, my sister was around, but after an episode of THE OFFICE, was on her way out to meet up with Rowan and some friends of his. So, with another big Friday night of nada planned, I figured it would be a perfect opp to screen my NIGHTWATCH. I could make myself some dinner (and kill off the last of the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers in a bachelor's fried rice special), turn out all the lights, fire up the dvd player and pump the movie out in 16-by-9 on the phatscreen. Wheee! =)

Well, when I hit the kitchen, I found not enough rice left in the cooker for a proper dindins, so, I scooped out the remainder and set up the cooker for a new batch. This meant waiting a while before making my dinner and then moviewatching, so I took advantage of the time to finally crack open the old Philips TV...
Fun! It was just as I'd found in many a comment and complaint online about the TV—the fuse was blown.

I popped it out and replaced it with one from the 4-pack I bought at Radio Shack a couple weeks back, closed the set back up, plugged it in, and hey, Joe, whaddyaknow? It works! Man! Found something helpful in the tubes of the interweb! Who'da thunk it? And help from the words of sympathetic strangers who all encountered the same problem. This is just the kind of situation where networking and accumulated experience works as a real and true effective tool and resource. Eat it, Philips! Nyeah! : P

Of course, from what I've read, that fuse will burn out at some point, too. It'll be a vicious cycle. Still, not a terrible scenario for a decent second TV. And, also based on the comments online, I was one of the very fortunate ones whose set actually operated without fail for almost 2 years. Most people who posted told tales of televisional mortality occuring within weeks of their purchase. Someone had scanned many of the postings and found a high correlation between this kind of failure and sets that were bought or shipped in November 2004. Add me and my tube to that column.

Just what to do with the revived set... Well, I've formulated a plan this week. Unfortunately, it involves forsaking my replayTV in the living room, bleah. Basically, I'm gonna suck it up and get a comcast DVR for the living room TV, then move the comcast non-DVR tuner to a second TV in the black-n-white room. This will provide the signal for one of my replayTV boxes. Then I'll set up my other replayTV box on the small TV in my bedroom, and through that, networked to the other (I'll hafta look into buying a wireless bridge to get it on the network), I'll be able to watch replayTV recorded shows in my room.

I'm sure Joe, Jeff, or even Dan could explain to me how this set up is at least a decade behind what I could do with some combination of Macs and an Xbox, but what can I say? I'm old-fashioned. =)

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. I do believe the proper title is NIGHT WATCH, but I couldn't help jamming the words together while 2am typing. It's the first in a trilogy and I've seen that DAY WATCH is supposed to be on its way to the states. I will NOT miss that one on the big screen—this one would've been gorgeous in a theater. Foo.