The Friday Hot Sheet

Weird week. Full of stops and starts. Heatwave mornings followed by what seemed like torrential rainstorms -- bringing mosquitoes in full force, like bosses nitpicking about dress codes or font sizes on memorandums. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a full-on disaster week or anything, but there were times when the whole exercise felt more like a road full of potholes and speedbumps.
Slowing you to a crawl when you were feeling like you didn't want to mess up your suspension,
Shaking you to death if you tried to go faster in an effort to just find some way out of it all.
There were good things that did happen. I got to spend extended time with my little boy, and when I was at the office I was able to clear away some long festering projects that were on hold pending someone else getting off their ass and finally doing their part of things -- but I decided a long time ago that no job would ever be my life, so when I come to the end of a seven-day stretch and all I can look back on is paperwork off of my desk, it tends to leave a less than sweet taste in my mouth.

Of course it could just be the time of year. The coincidences of the dates. The things
seemingly too far away for me to be able to change without help. You never can tell.
What I do know is that July somehow snuck up on me before I realized it was actually here. Like the days felt the same -- but when the names switched over from June suddenly it felt almost like a huge chunk of the summer was just ..gone.
Next thing you know you start worrying how much of it you have left.
Makes me miss Summer Break from school (both as a student and when I was working as a teacher) -- which always had a way of feeling kinda endless -- even when in reality it was only just a couple of months.
So before I start buying trapper keepers and new school clothes -- here are this week’s risers and fallers, and the buzz as it looks from here:
The iPhone  Word is starting to circulate that Verizon (my network) will start selling and supporting the iPhone sometime next January. Of course that's a long way off, and as those of us who waited for the Verizon Android phones to come out (or sat at home patiently waiting for Apple to let them have their upgrade) know all too well -- in cel phone land, a promise with a date on it is worth about as much as the promise of a flash-enabled operating system.

But this development adds an odd little wrinkle to things. Despite recent bad press about problems with the iPhone 4 (first releases are always a little buggy, I suppose), it's still the most fully realized experience of all the smartphones out there. I adore my Droid -- but one of the reasons I went for it was that I wanted the same kind of access and functionality my iPhone friends had without having to kneel over and take it from AT&T again like I did back when they were my carrier (long story). And while I think the Android system is an adequate rival and could maybe one day even overtake Apples design -- right now it's a clear second place runner. That's to say nothing of the fact that every fix or advance to the Android system seems to be released as part of a different phone, and not just an update that everyone has to wait for with baited breath the way all my iPhone friends had been the past few weeks.

Come January the full picture will probably be a lot clearer, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only Android user who's ears pricked up when that announcement started circulating. Who knows, I might have to make a tough decision about all this in the upcoming winter?

The Last Airbender Wow -- read any bad reviews lately? I know a couple of people who have seen The Last Airbender (all of whom so far have hated it, btw -- one guy even said "I don't want to talk about it, that's how mad I am"). Granted, there's a lot of reasons to dislike this film. If the complaints of the national critics are to be believed -- the 3D is terrible (apparently you can watch most of the film with your 3D glasses off), the story is incomprehensible, the child actors are wooden and unappealing, all of the Asian characters from the original animated series have all been recast using American and European actors (read: white people), the fight scenes don't actually involve any physical contact (the combatants all do these jazz hand moves that propel different elements like fire, water, wind, and dirt at each other) and that guy from The Daily Show isn't even funny in it.

Which begs the question -- How much more is it going to take before people finally admit that despite The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan is a talentless hack? Seriously, how many more bombs does this guy have to drop?

It's one thing to put out adolescent-minded garbage in the name of selling toys. But it's quite another to just ride on name recognition (not only his, but of the goodwill that people feel for what is a really good and frequently overlooked animated show) as an excuse to put out crappy work. And that's what his last few movies have really felt like. Lady in the Water was a mess. And don't even get me started on The Happening.

My son has been asking to see it based off the commercials and the marketing, and I've been doing almost everything I can to talk him out of it. And I'm the guy who sat through both Chipmunk movies in the theater for him.

Chocolate  Maybe one of the reasons these crappy huge budget studio pictures annoy me is that they make it easy to miss out on other stuff. Like this fantastic little Thai martial arts/action film directed by Prachya Pinkaew. I'm still relatively new to the particular style and pacing movies from Thailand bring with them, and like I've said in the past -- I can't even be sure that the action films I've seen are a good representation of what that country's cinema has to offer as a whole, but man did I get engrossed in this film.

The odd thing about it is that if it were an American studio movie (or worse if Hollywood ever tried to remake it) Chocolate would be the sort of thing I would avoid like the plague, mainly because of the way Hollywood tends to overblow what on the surface seems like cliche elements in the plot.

Basically, it's the story of an autistic girl who discovers that she can mimic actions and mannerisms (including varied martial arts fighting styles) simply by watching them -- and her struggle to help pay for her ailing mother's hospital and medicine bills by trying to collect money she is owed by local businessmen -- Which when you read it over probably puts all sorts of bad Julia Roberts/Jessica Alba type images into your head, but do all you can to erase those preconceptions -- because there's a lot more at work here.

All of this is wrapped up in an organized crime story steeped with racial tensions and deep-seated cultural attitudes about the disabled. Eventually it boils down into an action-heavy ending, but not until it's emotionally wrapped you up in the main characters stories first.

It's also got a very dry, very subtle sense of humor -- and a Kill Bill-type action sequence that builds into one of the coolest side fights since The Bride went one-on-one with Gogo -- where literally one autistic character takes on another one, which could have ended up being some sort of tasteless South Park gag, but instead has you on the edge of your seat wanting to see what's going to happen next.

The only thing that still sits weird with me (and I'm still not really sure why) is the appearance of transvestites and cross-dressers as villains. As I've discussed on this page before, it's apparently a pretty normal thing in Thai cinema -- but it's still sort of jarring for my admittedly Western sensibilities to have a bunch of drag queens with guns show up in the middle of things when you're not expecting them.

Btw -- for an added bonus, hand around for the credits, where they do the Jackie Chan trick of showing the accident reel where fight scenes go wrong. To see some of these stunts and battles in the movie is jaw-dropping enough, but to realize just how risky they actually were adds a completely different dimension to it all.

$750 MillionNo one's gonna stand here and tell you that Tiger Woods wasn't a jackass and didn't get what he deserved for the actions he decided to take. He disrespected his own legacy, betrayed his marriage, and embarrassed his wife and family. But man -- $750 Million is a lot of fucking money. I know I couldn't have been the only one who winced when I first saw that figure (I know reports are now saying that the actual payout is closer to $100 million, but even so -- that initial number had to come from somewhere, right?).

The press on the matter says the main part of the deal that came with this huge payout is that Tiger's former wife can't go to the press, or write a book, or talk about the scandal in any way. That in addition to being a nest egg to support the children with and a financial penalty for betraying the vows of his marriage -- it's also essentially some sort of hush-money payoff for her agreed silence as he tries to rebuild his shattered public image.

I suppose we could sit here all day and argue the monetary amount, the settlement, the audacity of his actions, or the trials and tribulations of the spouses of the rich and famous -- but really all of that has been beaten to death in the tabloids and on the news.
What I'm more curious about now is Elin Nordegren.
Tiger will go back to playing golf. He'll be the butt of a bunch of jokes for a while until he eventually starts winning tournaments again and then -- like it or not, eventually it will wash off of him the way it did for Kobe Bryant.
But what about her?
What exactly does one do when you're still pissed off, still sort of the victim in all this, and now in possession of several hundred million dollars of F-U money? I think it's a pretty safe bet to assume that she's not gonna run off to New York and start dating A-Rod. Can't really see her getting on Facebook and looking up Roger Clemens, Al Gore, Jesse James, or Ben Rothlisberger either, you know?
So what is she gonna do -- Go all Anna Nicole Smith on us? Balloon up ten sizes,
crack out, and start showing up in diet pill commercials and Kanye West videos?
What little we know of her private nature from the news suggests that probably won't be the case, but it is a possible outcome (in that purely mathematical sense kinda like the possibility that she'll start calling my phone tomorrow -- not that I would really mind that, Elin). But lets face it, no matter who you are or where you're from -- suddenly getting a hold of $750 million has got to change your perspective on the world a little bit.

I mean yeah, there was a real-life drama here at one point, but am I the only one who is seeing the beginning seeds of an epic science-fiction/comic book plot here? A bitter mother with young children -- secured in some remote Swedish mountaintop hideaway concealed from the world press, insulated by more money than some governments will ever see -- seething, training, growing stronger, developing a deep seated animosity for guys in red polo shirts and black baseball hats.. Some sort of academy for golf-hating supervillains who's only Kryptonite is Gatorade Fierce?

I'm telling you, there's one heck of a movie hiding in all of this (as long as they don't let M. Night Shyamalan direct it).

MilkshakeYou know what? Keep all your super-hot shirtless Eurotrash World Cup guys. Your hunky firemen and creole-accented co-stars from True Blood. You can have Twilight. Keep all those moping sparkly vampires and shape-shifting werewolf llama boys to yourself. These things come and these things go. They're all just another fad like boy bands and pro wrestling. Sure it might bring all the girls to the yard now -- but when those girls grow up to be real women, what is it that they really want?
That's right baby, a dude with a guitar.

[Listening to: Janelle Monae - "Faster" ]


whatigotsofar said…
When you're too drunk to rock out to a backyard cover of a Metallica track, shit, I dunno. Do I really need to complete that statement?
unMuse said…
The Verizon thing is a total rumor.
unMuse said…
Also, $750 mil is a total rumor as well. Tiger is only worth about $600 so she can't take it all, then some.

Satorical said…
A) Re: Elin; Did SHE fly the Millennium Falcon?
B) Everyone in that video needs to rethink their lives.
versinox said…
Checking out this post (late) because of your post on my blog.

Re: Airbender - I went to see it with my nephew. I actually liked it, but then again I knew nothing of it before this movie, so I had nothing with which to compare it. People are spot on about the 3D being a total waste. I saw maybe one or two 3D things and I came out of that movie saying, "Wait...didn't I just pay $5 extra for 3D? Where the hell was the 3D in this movie?" Not worth it. That's what spurred me to watch Despicable Me in regular D (is that right? haha) when I took my nephew to the movies today.

Re: Chocolate - You are spot on in your review/description. The main reason I loved that movie was that I really cared about the characters. Usually that doesn't happen for me in martial arts movies.