Sunday, March 28

Röss


[Listening to:  Yoko Kanno - "Living Inside the Shell" ]


Friday, March 26

The Friday Hot Sheet

There was once this pretty crappy movie where Sylvester Stallone wasted a lot of energy trying to save Rob Schneider from being killed by wearing what appeared to be Ladanian Tomlinson's football helmet. There was also a giant robot, Diane Lane, and Armand Assante doing a bad Sly imppression right to Stallone's face -- but that's not really important right now (RIP, Peter Graves).

The important thing to remember from this film was that iconic all-around awesome character actor Max Von Sydow was also involved -- playing mentor and commander to Stallone's Judge Dredd. At one point in order to save Stallone's character, Max takes what is called "The Long Walk" -- in which his character is forced to journey through the untamed badlands bringing law to the lawless, only to show up later to save Dredd from some space hillbillies or something like that and reveal the essential missing plot point right before his poignant death scene.

Long walks don't really require Stallone movies to initiate them -- but it's sorta funny to me that whenever I kinda realize I've sort of gone on one (away from this blog) that it always sort reminds me of that flick. Largely because that movie sucked so badly. Seriously, it's like -- why can't I think of Demolition Man whenever I forget to post for a few weeks? Do my hair up like Wesley Snipes' character and be all like, "Simon Says I was friggin busy at work -- give a brother a break, yo." Regardless, life sort of got in the way there (as it sometimes does), and the Dirt took a hit. Thanks to all of you who kept checking in now and then to see how things were. I'm working on getting it back to the regular.
So while I have a little free time here at the office -- here are this weeks risers and fallers, and the buzz as it looks from here..
March Madness Whenever you ask sports fans what they love about the annual NCAA men's basketball championship tournament -- one of the first things they'll tell you is that every team in the field theoretically has an equal chance to win the entire thing regardless of how high-profile their school is, how blue-chip their players might be, or what their overall record was coming into March. Cinderella stories happen every year where the little guy takes down the highly publicized favorite in a stunning upset. Year in and year out March Madness brings the drama -- and sports fans get sucked in to obsessive levels wondering just how far a bunch of no-names can get against the best players in the country on just their will alone. And yet -- ask anyone what sucks about the tournament this year and they'll all tell you the same thing: ALL OF THE GOOD TEAMS GOT BEAT BY NOBODIES! Seriously, there have been so many upsets this year that suddenly everyone has been forced to wake up and realize that the overall quality of college basketball over the past few years has gone to hell. It's one thing for a scrappy Ivy League team to sneak up on an unsuspecting mid-major, but if you watched that Syracuse/Butler debacle the other night -- what you saw was not so much David beating Goliath as it was Goliath making 12 boneheaded turnovers in the first quarter and essentially giving the game away before it got started. I'm all for competitive games and high drama, but come March Madness time what I'm not all that interested in is shitty basketball, and that's what we've been sorta treated to this time around. Clearly the best college basketball team in the nation is UCONN's women's team, who have won like 90 in a row over the past two seasons. Am I still watching the games? Yes, although now that my brackets done got blowed up (thanks for nothing, Syracuse) I don't really know why. Hopefully the final rounds will pick up the pace -- but right now it's some pretty sloppy ball out there.
 
STFU TebowSpeaking of sports, did you see that story that surfaced earlier this week about Tim Tebow at the recent NFL scouting combine? Apparently right before the administration of the Wonderlic exam (essentially an IQ test), Tebow spoke up and requested that the other players in the room bow their heads in prayer before taking the exam -- at which point one of the other players in the room shouted, "Man, shut the fuck up!"

Honestly, even if this story isn't true -- it will never stop being funny to me. Because just like everyone else, there's a point where you just don't want to hear it anymore. I believe in Tebow's right to worship whatever he wants -- but seriously, where's this crap going to end? Is he going to bless the center's ass before taking each offensive snap in a game? Look Timmy -- if there is a God and he did bestow you with all that talent, the last thing he wants you to do in return is make him look like a needy jerk. STFU and play football already.
 
Game BallMy son is starting out on his third season of Little League Baseball this month, and so far the team is unbeaten. But even better than that, Curren has been showing a real improvement not only in his skills, but in his awareness of the game. Such was the case last Thursday, where in a close game he was able to get on base three times, steal two more bases, and score the tying run in what would eventually be a victory for the team. The coach doesn't usually give out game balls, but Curren got one that night. The thing about him is that he's not really driven to win or be Mr. Baseball. He just likes being on the team and having fun -- which is cool with me, but it was thrilling to see him making the smart play all night long. Maybe it's a dad thing, but he's really growing up in a lot of ways lately -- and it's just awesome to be a part of it while it's happening.
 
Kick AssHot Tub Time Machine opens this weekend and will likely pull in huge audiences looking for some mindless laughs. It's been advertised to death, and yet I'm still jazzed to see it -- because even though I'm sure there are other comedies available, this really does seem like the first good time movie to come along in a while. I had high hopes for Repo Men to turn into some sort of cult favorite -- but by all accounts the film wasn't as interesting as it looked. Which is why I fully expect Hot Tub Time Machine to be this year's Superbad, because you pretty much know exactly what you're getting with it.

At the same time -- the movie I'm really waiting for is the next big one around the corner -- Kick-Ass. By now you've probably seen the trailer for this latest 'anyone can be a superhero' action/comedy -- but if you haven't I have two words for you to consider just in case you might be thinking it's just another teen comedy dressed up as an action film: Nicholas. Cage. That's right -- an anti-hero hyper-violent comic book come to life with Crazy Nick as a supporting cast member (read: he probably dies mid-story in some ridiculous way). Seriously, I can't friggin wait for that one to open up.
 
Stoner Bass PlayerI'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before somewhere -- but Stoner Bass Player, the guy who's sort of organizing the musicians that we've been trying to shape into a band lately works part-time as a barback at Endo Exo. This is good because that connection led directly to bar manager Ralph letting us use the club's back room as a practice space. The acoustics are great, it's a central location, we can turn up as loud as we want. If you've ever tried to get a band going you know practice space is usually hard to come by, so having a built-in cherry spot like this to jam in (free of charge) has definitely been a plus. Or at least it was before dude apparently slept through a shift last week and didn't answer his phone when the boss tried to call to wake him up. Ralph apologized to me personally over the deal -- but there really wasn't anything that he could do about it. Practice space -- gonzo.
 
Reggie WattsWhere my Gerunds at?
          
             -- Lyrics NSFW (obviously)

[Listening to:  The Exploited - "Hitler's In The Charts Again" ]


Wednesday, March 10

I Got a Name and I Got a Number

And if everything falls out the right way, I might end up getting my hands on one of these:
..Oh yeah, you want one. Be jealous.

[Listening to:  Soilwork - "Rejection Role" ]


Tuesday, March 9

That's My Jam: Lessons Unlearned

Always loved this track. Ebony used to jam this on repeat with this beat-up little blue GPX boombox she kept in her room. I was still teaching then -- so my summers were free, which offered plenty of time to just hang out and chill as the music drifted in from the doorway of her room while we talked and laughed about nothing for hours on end. Those weren't necessarily peaceful times in my life -- but whenever I look back on those summer days in that old brick house when the Florida sun would shine hot to where we'd open all the windows and let the breeze flow through the screen door it's hard not to smile a little bit.

Whatever else she might have been. Whatever she might have become. Whatever part it all might have played. No matter what she thinks of me now --
She was my sister.
For obvious reasons, I mostly hear news these days in pieces. Broken transmissions from around the world -- like a radio with a bent antenna that you have to move around the room every now and then to keep a clear signal.
I'll be honest, most of the news I hear these days about her isn't as good as I would have hoped for it to be.
..Lessons unlearned.
As you go through your days, you're going to encounter people that will touch your life in memorable ways. But what I think we often lose sight of amongst the warming winds of nostalgia and memory is the importance of keeping the moment in perspective. Because as fondly as I remember those summer days in Jacksonville, or even the times in Tallahassee that proceeded them -- I would be a fool to try and separate all of that from the other moments. The ones that didn't shine as brightly in comparison.

That I choose to remember those good times before the bad is a part of who I am as a person. A possible weakness in my character. Or perhaps better to say that it's a strength that occasionally gets used against me. What I do know, however -- is that while I do enjoy remembering those times, there's never going to be a return to them. Those moments were a different lifetime ago.
They're gone, and they're not coming back.
Lesson learned.
For a lot of people, this day will offer a chance to talk about the Notorious BIG, as the date marks the 13th anniversary of his death. Whether you were a fan or not, it's hard to deny that he was an iconic figure. A focal point for what at the time was a major turning point in the development of the genre.

And yet, I think it's also important to recognize the fact that Biggie and his music represented essentially a moment in the history of music. A moment that comparatively could be placed next to the moments shared by artists like Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, or Jimi Hendrix. Their music left lasting impressions, but that in an of itself is not enough to make them perfect people. To acknowledge the popularity of someone's music, or the power it had to inspire others to follow in their footsteps and (hopefully) evolve music further than those who came before is a vital part in the history of music. And to do so without also recognizing the cultural impact that an artist had on the fans that grew up listening to them would be nothing short of blindness. But to pretend that iconic status as an artist, musician, athlete, or politician somehow is enough to make a person great -- especially if they died or were taken from us far before their time is not only absurd, but irresponsible as well.
Just because someone died on a particular day does not make that day important. It's
what those people do to enrich your lives that makes their legacy worth remembering.
And so -- as it should, this particular anniversary will likely spark remembrances. Conversations. Conjecture. Arguments. And hopefully, some thoughts worth considering as we move forward in time. But for me, it will be about the music. About a song that I really liked, a background groove that I once tried to learn on guitar. About an album that provided a soundtrack for a summer before the storm, and the girl I once knew who would play it on repeat before heading off to work in the afternoons.
Listen to the track.
Smile at the memory.
Remember the lesson.
..Move on with your life.

[Listening to:  Vetiver - "Sister" ]


Monday, March 8

Best Thing I Saw This Weekend

I'm a night owl. Always have been. My dad continually tells stories about how as an infant my parents would put me to bed for the evening, expecting to be woken up several times by crying or the kind of fitful sleep that most babies go through -- only to hear nothing. Worried, they'd come in to check on me -- only to find me happily yet quietly awake at all hours of the night. The only problem with being a night owl really is that once sleep does eventually come -- it's eventually interrupted by the worst boogeyman of them all -- MORNING.
Can I get up early in the morning if I absolutely have to? -- Sure.
Have I gone to great lengths to make sure I don't have to be anywhere at the crack of dawn? -- You better believe it.
My job is open-ended enough that I can roll in anywhere before nine if I want to. Plus, everyone that I work with loads themselves up with 8am meetings for some unknown masochistic reason -- so even if I did show up that early I'd still have to wait for them to finish those commitments before we could get going on anything. So it only makes sense to catch a few extra z's before coming in. Sure I end up staying a little later than other people so I can get my hours in and my work done -- but it's a system that works for me, and I'm lucky enough to have managers who recognize my ability and value my output enough to accept that routine in exchange for the results.
So when my son's little league coach called to let me know that we needed to be at
the field at 7:45 for team pictures, my first response was basically,
"say what!?"
I don't know what it is with these church-going baseball people, but almost everything they plan seems to need to happen far before anyone has a right to be awake on a weekend. Seriously, anything before like 8:30 am in my world still usually belongs to Three Olives or Jägermeister.
Do you really want a team picture featuring Coach Vodka standing behind your children?
Still, this was for my son (although he's not exactly what I'd call a morning person either) -- so I set various alarms and tried to get to sleep a little earlier. Then when the klaxons went off the next morning -- shaking me from a particularly memorable dream about steaming up the windows of Air Force One with Esther Baxter (don't ask) -- it goes without saying that I wasn't happy about it.
A feeling that only got worse when I found a text message on my phone saying team pictures been rescheduled.
A text message that incidentally included a little smiley punctuated note about how we could all get a little more sleep now -- a sentiment that was essentially wasted on me and the boy, who were already up and reluctantly stumbling into our uniforms at the time.

The team still won their first game pretty handily -- so I guess it wasn't a total washout, but that victory would have still been just as sweet had I gotten one more hour in the presidential suite with Esther, knammsayin?
Anyways, onto The Best Thing I Saw This Weekend:
Winner: Other Musicians
If you were paying attention to all the band drama from last week, you know that I was all worked up over the chance to join a backing band for a group of rapper/singers who had a series of steady gigs lined up all over town. You also know that it all fell through because of some sort of drama between the rappers/singers and the stoner bass player. But what might not have been entirely clear is that somewhere underneath the rubble of that mess were all the other guys who had agreed to come in and try for a chance to be a part of this thing -- several of whom finally got together Sunday night to mess around and jam.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't jammed with other players in quite a while, so I was a little anxious about how things would go. Not to mention the fact that the organizer of all this was the very same stoner bass player who had so utterly messed up three similar opportunities for me in the past.

And things did seem to be heading in that same direction for a while when the drummer he had scheduled showed up an hour and a half late. But once everything got set up instincts took over and we were able to make some glorious metal-ish noise together. None of us had played together before -- so results were a little sloppy around the edges, but it was a lot better than I think any of us were expecting.

I wasn't able to stay the whole time (it's my weekend with my son and I couldn't keep him up too late on a school night), but the time I was able to spend apparently turned a couple of heads.

Here's the thing -- stoner bass player is the barback at Endo. So he was able to pull a few strings to where we jammed in the back room of the place. But being Sunday night, their regular Poker tournament was still going on. The poker tourney that the club's owner likes to show up at. I've known Kevin for ages -- but what I didn't realize was that Kevin (and all the other guys at the club) had never really heard me play before.

So when the jam was over and I was walking out into the front room to move my gear into the car I was utterly unprepared for the applause that rang out from the poker crowd, bartender Matty, and the club owner -- who then helped me carry my gear out while complimenting my playing and suggesting that I should come back as soon as possible and perhaps turn this whole experiment into a paying gig.

All I did was go in and shred a little. I didn't think people would notice. Or perhaps it's just been too long and I've forgotten just how good that really feels.

The next practice/jam session is already set up for next week -- this time with a singer attached. It's still to early to see where this is all headed, but it's exciting to finally be getting some forward momentum on all of this. And few things in this world match the rush that comes from shredding out at full volume with an audience listening..
Runners up (in no particular order):
  • Freaknik The Musical -- Simply put: Auto-tune is annoying. Especially the way it's overused these days. That Cher song where it first showed up was one of the worst things I'd ever heard in my life. So you'd probably think that I'd have little patience for T-Pain in any form. Trouble is -- it's kinda hard not to like the guy.

    He seems to have a healthy sense of humor about himself, and despite the autotune -- he's got a lot of catchy songs. Add to that his hilarious collaborations with the Gregory Brothers on their Auto-Tune the News series and his appearance in the live action episode of ATHF, and I'm generally inclined to give the guy a pass.

    The way I see it -- as long as you don't take his shtick too seriously, he's an enjoyable distraction. All that being said, I wasn't really sure what to expect when I first heard he was teaming up with Boondocks producer Carl Jones to create a cartoon special about Atlanta's infamous HBCU spring break festival. Would this prove to be too much of a platform for him to make a fool of himself, or would it just fall flat into lame jokes and copycatting, the way that Andre 3000's cartoon network show did?
    Still, I went into Freaknik The Musical with open eyes -- and found myself laughing a ton at it.
    But more than just the humor -- I kinda loved the way the art design reminded me of a cross between Ralph Bakshi's cityscapes from the 70's and the artwork on the back covers of all my Funkadelic albums (a nod that became infinitely cooler once the voices of George Clinton and Bootsy Collins showed up for a cameo appearance) -- and call me what you want, but I liked a lot of the songs too.
    Sure, the part about Little Wayne being Jesus was a little weird -- but considering that
    this was a cartoon that also featured a group of skydiving Malcolm X's (which in itself
    was an interesting metaphor), it's not like weirdness wasn't part of the equation already.
    I don't know -- sometimes it's better to let yourself to get swept up into the mood of something, and enjoy it for what it is. Certainly there was an undercurrent to the story -- a message about a community being pulled in so many directions by it's inherent strengths and all too human weaknesses and how that confusion is so often a target for manipulation and exploitation from all sorts of sources that offered a lot of food for thought.
    And yet to suggest that anything in Freaknik The Musical should be taken too seriously is basically missing the point.
    Like Spring Break itself, it's something to be enjoyed for what it is -- and then left behind as you get back to your lives.

  • My son's magic touch -- Every kid has their arcade game. Some people rock at Skee Ball. Some folks have a natural touch with the game where you have to make so many baskets in a minute. I personally lord over anyone who dares challenge me at Air Hockey -- and I do mean anyone. Old ladies, little kids, incredibly sexy women -- no one gets a free pass on that battlefield (protest all you want, j -- the scoreboard doesn't lie).

    My little boy's personal Jedi skill is the crane game. Give him a couple of quarters and set him loose on that thing and he'll come back with a prize almost every time. It's a rare skill -- especially since those games seem rigged in the first place. Most of the prizes in the bin are too heavy for the claw to pick up, and worst of all even if you're able to snag something -- the claw is set up to where it comes up really fast and hits the roof of the bin at least once, which is usually enough to shake loose anything in it's flimsy grasp. And yet, Curren continually finds ways to win things out of there. Or at least he did before the last week or so -- where he seemed to have "lost the touch" a little bit and couldn't seem to get the results he was normally used to.

    A trend that continued into the weekend while we were at an arcade place called Monkey Jungle, which is sort of a nicer and cleaner local version of Chuck-e-Cheese. Token after token disappeared into the machine with nothing to show for it until his very last chance on his very last token, where he dropped the claw into the bin and pulled back not one -- but three prizes all at once. I know it's just a game and all -- but seeing him walk away from his buzzer beater shot with a literal armload of stuff and a Cheshire Cat grin on his face was nothing short of badass.

  • The Daily Show taking on Chatroulette -- Or perhaps more accurately said, John Stewart's point-perfect take on the mainstream media's shocked response to the kind of insanity that is taking place on the internet.
So all in all, a pretty good weekend. Capped off late Sunday night after coming home from an unexpectedly awesome jam session to find my favorite voice on the other end of the phone. Add that to a little league win, some new music, good times with the boy, and what you end up with is a few days off to be proud of.
So, what were some of the cooler things you saw this weekend?

[Listening to:  Evergreen Terrace - "Failure to Operate" ]


Friday, March 5

The Friday Hot Sheet

Sometimes weeks can be quiet. Work is busy -- but not in any sort of way that requires ranting or exasperation. You're just making the moves, going through the motions, making it happen. This hasn't been one of those. The latest project I'm working on is one of those "There is a deadline. We have a deadline. Everyone must freak out about the deadline." type of deals -- and yet, as that fateful day approaches it's clear that our overseas compatriots didn't get the memo about said freaking out and as a result, everyone here is (wait for it) -- freaking out.

So there's been a lot of meetings where we discuss the best way to deal with this problem, followed by communications sessions where we get Puerto Rico on the line and say things like, "You see, my wife, she has been most vocal on the subject of the pretzel monies. 'Where's the money?' 'When are you going to get the money?' 'Why aren't you getting the money now?' And so on."

Everything will get done of course. Maybe not exactly when everyone wanted it to -- but things around here have a way of even-ing out if you give them the chance. It's almost funny to me that the ones who usually don't seem to get that are the same people who have been working here many more years than I have. I suppose it's all about the personality you bring to your work -- but in my experience when it comes to getting corporate people across the globe on the same page, freaking out rarely accomplishes much of anything.
And yet, that's what's been happening here. So we have meetings and discuss, and then we communicate. And then we wait.
So while I wait to see if that last email I sent will get any response at all -- here are this weeks risers and fallers, and the buzz as it looks from here..
Disney's Alice In Wonderland One of my more prized literary possessions is an exceptionally tattered compilation of Lewis Carroll stories, including both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Its not a particularly fancy or valuable (it looks more like the kind of thing you'd get at a college bookstore to use in a literature class) -- but I've had it for ages, and re-read it on a pretty regular basis. I love the storytelling, the characters, and the imagery -- but it's also one of those books that (depending on how deep you want to try and go with it) suggests all kinds of layers and subtexts beneath the words.

With all that going on -- it's really no surprise that there have been so many attempts to recreate this world on film (including the inevitable porn version). And yet, all the different attempts over the ages to bring this story to life on the screen have always fallen short in one form or another to truly bring all the depth, wonder, and madness of this world effectively to life. I think that's one of the reasons I actually love the book so much -- because even though it was written over a hundred years ago, it still exists best in the imagination of the reader.
It's almost as if Hollywood can't make a decent Alice in Wonderland movie.
Of course in the modern age of CGI wizardry and 3D film-making, more than ever is possible for audiences to see -- especially if handled by the kind of visionary who not only has the savvy to understand the depth of the source material, but the imagination and skill to bring it to life on the screen. So on first glance it might seem that someone like Tim Burton would be the perfect choice.
Unfortunately, Tim Burton hasn't really made an engaging film in years.
Worse yet, this period of turning out projects that fall way short of expectations has coincided with the rise to super stardom of one Johnny Depp, who lets face it, has also been sorta riding on his name lately. It's almost as if having weathered the storms of becoming famous together, Burton has rewarded Depp in his last few movies by never asking too much of him, and Depp honors that request by not doing much more than looking good and affecting his voice with various accents.

As a result, I'm not holding out much hope for their take on one of my favorite stories. I mean, I'm sure it will look great and bring in the top box office numbers for the weekend (just like Corpse Bride, Willy Wonka, and Sweeney Todd before it) but really, is anyone expecting all that much here? Johnny Depp's makeup job makes him look like Madonna, Alice apparently doesn't say anything at all, and despite the fact that all the ads feature footage from the Hatter's tea party -- the plot itself seems to be focused on some battle between Alice and Helena Bohnham-Carter's Red Queen. It's essentially the equivalent of advertising Star Wars by only showing clips from the Cantina scene.

It's always been my theory that Tim Burton works best when he finds iconic actors (like Depp) who are willing to accept the challenge of bringing life to his visions. Think about Jack Nicholson in Batman. Rod Steiger in Mars Attacks. Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice. Martin Landau in Ed Wood. But ever since he's sort of settled on having the same five actors in all of his films, that challenge isn't there. And as a result, the resulting films have fallen way short of what you'd imagine they could be. Which is why I have almost no reason to believe (although I'd love to be proven wrong) that Burton's Alice in Wonderland will be any different.
 
The OscarsSpeaking of movies, the Oscars happen Sunday Night -- and although there's lots of interesting categories to think about this year, all of the pre-press has been focused on the best picture race. Despite the category itself being extended to include 10 nominees (not so much because there were 10 films that good, but now there will be 10 DVD covers that can include the words "Oscar Nominated" on them) -- all indications are that it's a two horse race between James Cameron's box office record-breaking science fiction epic Avatar, and Kathryn Bigelow's super-intense modern war story The Hurt Locker. A classic battle between the movie everyone's (supposedly) seen multiple times versus the movie that people "heard was really good," but then passed over so they could see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince instead. It's blockbuster versus indie. Real life versus fantasy. Big money versus small. And if that weren't enough -- the directors involved used to be married. In a year where we might actually see Sandra Bullock win Best Actress(!?), it's hard to think that something as popular as Avatar won't walk away a winner -- but all of the popular indicators (read: other awards shows) have gone the way of Hurt Locker. For me it sorta breaks down like this: Avatar was an enormous step forward in film technology, and was a ton of fun to watch. Hurt Locker was an amazing story, had me completely on the edge of my seat, and made me never want to enlist in the military ever for fear that I might somehow end up on that particular unit. For my money, The Hurt Locker is the far better movie. Alas, Hollywood rarely ignores cultural sensations -- despite usually being the first to lament how big budget films always stomp out the little guy. If you don't believe me, just ask L.A. Confidential, As Good as it Gets, or Good Will Hunting -- all of which are considered great films -- who lost Best Picture honors to James Cameron's Titanic in 1997. I fully expect Sunday's Oscar telecast to essentially be a repeat of that with Avatar ruling the night. Get mad if you want, but Oscar isn't really about art. It's about recognizing how much the world loves going the movies. And love it or hate it -- Avatar was the movie the world went to see this year.
 
Slide WhistlesSometimes being a parent is all about patience. About encouraging your child's creative and inventive spirit even if it's inconvenient, occasionally frustrating, or testing to your patience. Ask anyone who's kid has grown up to be a drummer, any parent who's had to set aside the time for multiple little league or pop warner seasons. There are other things you could be doing (like you know, ..sleeping). There are times when you don't want to listen to piano practice or guitar scales over and over. But without those moments, you'll never see them grow. Never have the chance to see how far they can fly once they spread their wings on their own. These are the things I keep telling myself now that I've made my son's dream of having a slide whistle come true. Because as much as he truly loves playing with it and as much fun as he's having sliding the whistle up and down (and up and down and up and down and up and down) the sound of it has gone from charmingly whimsical to utterly nightmare-inducing faster than you can possibly imagine.
 
The Robot MafiaI hate vacuuming. However, living with a menagerie of pets and a 9 year-old, it's something that I need to do. So when I moved into this place I forked out the cash for a Roomba -- which was some of the best money I've ever spent. Every day it scours the floor to give my place a semblance of clean that it would have never gotten otherwise. Unfortunately, machines don't last forever -- so when the Roomba eventually died, it was a no-brainer to replace it. Sadly, the new one locked up and died a week after I bought it. A few phone calls later, the folks at iRobot surprised me by offering to replace it for free, considering the kind of error message it was giving and the length of time I'd had it. I figure it's pretty rare for someone to be discussing a customer service call that went well -- so big ups to the guys who kept me once again from actually having to clean my own place.
 
Hot Tub Time MachineOne of the things that makes me a fun guy to be around is the way that I can bag on a movie like Alice in Wonderland before I've even seen it for appearing not to be inventive or madcap enough to live up to the legacy of the classic novel that it's adapting -- only to turn back around and say that I for one cannot wait to see what is surely a one-joke premise of a film like this one (Red Band Trailer, NSFW) -- that appears to be based off of an idea that someone came up with when they were really, really high. And yet, I personally can't wait for this movie to come out. I don't know -- I tend not to hold my stupid comedies up to the same standards that I do my literary adaptations -- and despite the fact that I can easily see this falling into lazy fart joke and 80's reference hell, it still looks crazy enough that it should still be fun.
 
RacismNo one's gonna tell you that racism has any place in civilized society. But the question still remains --
Could it sell you a mattress?
          

[Listening to:  The Bees - "End of the Street" ]


Tuesday, March 2

I Want the Knife, Give Me The Knife

 
..Do you even have to guess which one of these I identify with most?

[Listening to:  Lamb of God - "Fake Messiah" ]


Monday, March 1

Best Thing I Saw This Weekend

To put it mildly -- I had a pretty crappy weekend. It wasn't supposed to go that way, it just sorta went south on me in waves, and once it got rolling downhill it didn't seem to stop. It started Friday night out at the club when I felt a little more tired than normal, and decided to head home early -- which shifted quickly into the happy fun stages of some sort of stomach virus that's been making the rounds at my job and my kids school lately, which all but put me out of commission Saturday.

I don't really enjoy being sick, so I tried to power through it on more than one occasion -- taking my kid to little league practice, going to the guitar store to pick up extra strings for my pending band audition/jam session Sunday night -- but in the end I just had to give in and try to sleep it off.

My whole goal was to make sure I was well enough to rock socks at the audition/jam session -- only to find out in a phone call I should have honestly been a lot less surprised to receive that some personal beef between the stoner bass player and one of the singers had flared up, and now the whole thing was basically dead before it even got started.
No audition. No jam. No band.
Third time around with this guy. Third time it's gone to shit. I probably should have seen it coming (well, actually I sorta did -- but I got my hopes up anyways), but hearing it for real on the phone after all the other mess this weekend was an utter bummer.

That's not to say I didn't see anything good this weekend. Between the puking and the musical misfires I spent most of the last two days on my couch -- sleeping, surfing the web, and watching a boatload of movies, bad TV, and Olympic hockey -- which yielded some pretty cool results.
So let's talk about The Best Thing I Saw This Weekend:
Winner: The Olympic Men's Hockey Final
What a game. Honestly it was probably some of the most exciting hockey I've seen in the past few years. The intensity, the drama -- that last second heartstopper of a game-tying goal by Zach Parise for the Americans? I was on the phone with a buddy during the overtime and almost yelled his ear off when the puck unexpectedly bounced in front of the net just out of goalie Ryan Miller's reach. Luckily the call ended before Iginlia fed Crosby for the winner -- which happened so fast the cameraman didn't even have time to catch up to it until Crosby was already in the other corner celebrating.

And yeah, Team USA played their hearts out and were clearly devastated by the loss, but could there have been a better possible way to close the games for Canada itself, or for the NHL in turn? Twitter was alive with people talking about how they'd never been so excited for a hockey game, and how much they hadn't realized how great this game was. Whether or not that will translate into larger hockey crowds or television audiences is hard to say (read: unlikely) -- but what you really hope for is that one of the more visible sports networks (ESPN, FOX) takes those ratings numbers as a call to pull the league out of deep cable exile so that it can find it's way back into the radar of casual sports fans looking for something new to watch and fall in love with.

Either way though, an amazing game. A perfect illustration of nearly everything there is to love about hockey.
Runners up (in no particular order):
  • A Perfect Getaway -- The thing about genre movies these days is that we know that they're genre films. We know that horror movies will have shocks and gore. We know that action films will have explosions, that kids movies will have fart jokes, and rom-coms have happy endings. As such, we go into them with certain expectations -- which leads a vast majority of these movies to seem like failures because they either didn't deliver enough of what we were looking for (lame scares, too much talking), or they overplay their hand to the point where it just becomes the cinematic equivalent of porn (no story, but lots of torture/chase scenes/explosions/etc.)

    So when I tell you that A Perfect Getaway is a smart, Hitchcock-styled thriller -- it's probably already not going to be good enough for some of you out there. Because by putting things that way what I'm really saying is that there's a twist in the story -- so now anyone who checks it out on my recommendation will spend most of their time looking for that twist, or at the very least waiting for it to happen -- which is only natural, I suppose -- but which would also rob you of the best part of any twist story -- which is the setup.
    Or to put it another way -- it's never really the rabbit coming out of the magicians hat that is the cool part. It's the fact that he made you think he had nothing up his sleeve. That you felt sure that there was nowhere a rabbit could be hidden for him to pull it out of right up until the point where it appears in his hand.
    All that being said, A Perfect Getaway is far from a perfect movie. There are one or two over-telegraphed plot points that are a little hard to swallow when they eventually come to pass, and there's a surprising amount of winking at the audience going on in the dialogue (most of which you don't realize until everything's over) -- but if you allow yourself to fall into it a little, it's a lot of fun. Director David Twohy has had plenty of hits and misses in his career -- but he does an amazing job here of bringing out the beauty of his Hawaiian locales, which helps to ease you into a certain sense of security that he then proceeds to mess with.

    I was honestly surprised at how much I liked this movie. Not that it was a game changer or anything, but it's a really good popcorn flick -- especially for a date night or something like that. Check it out and let me know what you think.

  • Other Movie Roundup -- I saw a bunch of other films over the weekend, but to be honest I was fading in and out of a lot of them. Nothing like a sick weekend to catch up on all your unwatched Torrent files, eh? Anyways -- as a quick rundown, I didn't expect to want to watch all of The Last Castle -- but I kinda got sucked into it. Robert Redford isn't really putting in hard work in this one, but he's a compelling actor. I used to give the same kind of pass to Paul Newman movies. As such, it's hard to give a solid thumbs up to this film. I enjoyed it on the same sort of level that I like certain westerns or cop movies -- but to say that it was really, really great? Probably not. Another actor I've discussed liking in the past is Dennis Quaid, which is why I was interested in checking out Pandorum. Unfortunately that movie sucked rocks. I'm talking aggressively bad. I also (finally) watched the recent JJ Abrahms re-make of Star Trek, which I liked quite a bit. The plot got a little lame after [Spoiler Alert] Leonard Nimoy showed up (Seriously?, You had to take it there?), but the action sequences were fantastic. Plus, copious doses of Zoe Saldana -- which always makes me smile. I still have a few more movies in my queue to dig through -- but I'm always open to suggestions for other good stuff to watch, so feel free to let me know anything you've seen lately that's worth a peek in the comments.

  • This Picture -- Chances are this isn't the first or last place you're going to see this pic --
    But it's just such a pure moment of awesome that I really have no problem re-posting it here.

    Click for a larger view
Honestly, the worst part about sick weekends is that feeling of time lost. Sure I got some extra sleep, and I'm not nearly as sick as I was feeling before -- but I had all sorts of things lined up for the past few days that I simply couldn't get done, that I now have to find some way to squeeze in to this week. Not impossible by any stretch, and yet another hoop to jump through, you know? Kinda hate when that happens -- especially when the big wins you were hoping to achieve (read: my audition) never even had a chance to take place. But hey, there's always tomorrow, right?
So, what were some of the cooler things you saw this weekend?

[Listening to:  Vetiver - "More of This" ]


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