5.15.2005

Star Wars Personality Test

5.12.2005


fear it.

photoshop is fun.

5.11.2005

Sooo... what else....

Friday Dave and I moved all the shelving from Capitol to Coldspring. Oh my God. This was the worst job I have had working for Hollywood, and that includes inventory, which I HATE. We had to haul these ridiculously heavy shelving units out of the basement of Capitol, and fit them into my Explorer, Tetris-style. That took almost 2 hours. Then we drove over to Greenfield, and had to disassemble the current shelving and haul it into their basement. That took another two hours. Then we had to set up the new shelving. Another two hours. We were exhausted by the end. It was really an endurance challenge. And when Jim talked to me about it today, he was impressed we got it done so quickly. We thought we were going slow!

So needless to say, my night was shot. I went back to my store, picked up my work clothes, went home and went to sleep. In that order. And I took off Saturday, to make up for the fact that I worked a 13 hour day on Friday. So like I said, Kelsey and I went to Kingdom of Heaven, and then later went to Brian and Collette's housewarming party. That was fun, as a bunch of funny people were there, and I got to see Holly, who I hadn't seen in quite a while. We busted out the Karaoke Revolution, where, once again, Collette schooled all our sorry asses. She is a karaoke blackbelt. And we fought some digital ninjas, and watched Anchorman. Good times.

Whoops, sorry bout that, Whammy!

I also think Digital Ninja would be a pretty sweet band name. It just rolls off the tongue.

Tomorrow I've gotta meet with the big bosses to go over store goals and my PDP. Boring.

I did get to go home for Mother's Day, which was fun, if short. I also got to hang out with Kelsey on Tuesday, and we went to Charcoal Grill, and then watched Sleepy Hollow. Now that is cinematography. And I bought a digital camera, finally! I'll post some pics up here in a little while. It's a Sony Cybershot DSC-P200, and I love it. It's first real test will be our trip to Episode III, where I'll be sure to document all our geeky glory, and Brian randomly menacing people with his Darth Vader mask.

Mariah Carey is on TV right now, and it sounds like she's ripping her vocal cords to shreds. The crowd still goes wild though.

Anyway, I should go to bed. Digital Ninja, though. I'm a genius.

Thy kingdom come...

So Kelsey and I went to go see Kingdom of Heaven on Saturday on the UltraScreen, as I took a sick day from work to recuperate from the insanity that was Friday. It was very strange to go see a movie on a Saturday afternoon, since I haven't done that in years, but that's when we could go, and still go to Brian and Collette's party later.

Like I've said before, I am a sucker for period epics, such as Spartacus, Gladiator, or even Lord of the Rings (kinda counts). I love to see big battles and action set pieces up on a big screen, where they're larger than life, and you really can escape from the present day. So Kingdom of Heaven fit the bill this particular weekend, and I could sum it up with one phrase:

It was better than Troy.

I know that's not saying much. When I went into the movie, though, I expected it to be better than Troy, mainly because of my faith in director Ridley Scott, and it was. It was better than Troy. Not as good as Gladiator, but better than Troy.

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I thought they were trying to make Lord of the Rings 4: Trouble in Jamaica, and, in a way, they did. The battles, the dialogue, Orlando Bloom: they're all fairly reminiscent of LOTR. Even the siege towers used in Two Towers and Return of the King get recycled here. I wonder if WETA worked on this movie as well, and just used the same model.

But I love Lord of the Rings, so this is not a bad comparison. If anything, Ridley Scott adds more artistic flair to the fairly straightforward work of Peter Jackson, as Kingdom is, at most times, a beautifully shot movie. Just as Gladiator brought a peaceful aesthetic to the violent of world of Maximus, Scott infuses moments of tranquility into what is, at its core, a war film. He succeeds where Wolfgang Peterson and Oliver Stone failed, by striking the right balance of storm and calm, and coaxing a believable performance out of his cast.

Speaking of which, much has been made of the fact that Kingdom is Orlando Bloom's first star vehicle, although I would say Pirates of the Caribbean is pretty close to a starring role. I think he performs admirably as the film's central character, Balian, a young French widower who travels to Jerusalem during The Crusades at the request of his father, played by Liam Neeson. Bloom does play a similar character to his other notable roles: like Legolas and Will Turner, Balian is honor-driven, noble, upright and a skilled young fighter. But to me, his character here had dimension, and I found him more believable than in past movies.

The supporting cast is also impressive. Marton Csokas, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Irons and Eva Green all turn in great performances, although Irons is the standout, as usual. And if you can tell me who played King Baldwin, a leper under a mask for the entire movie, without looking it up, you win a prize. I was blown away when I looked it up on IMDB. (Click this sentence for the answer.)

Where the movie runs into problems, though, is in its message. It strives to show that not all Christians are good, and not all Muslims are bad. Really? I had no idea! I did feel like I was being talked down to for a while, since I already knew that. When Muslim leader Saladin fixes a cross that had been knocked over, I groaned. Yes, some people do need to understand that message, especially the nutty right-wingers who justify the Iraq war by grouping Iraqi citizens in with Al-Qaeda, but is a big-budget action movie the place to do it? Not really. Let Robert Greenwald handle that, and Ridley Scott, you just go back to making cool movies.

I liked Kingdom of Heaven. I just thought it was patronizing at times, and I guess I don't need a positive world-first message with my popcorn and Junior Mints. It is a good movie to see on the big screen, just how I like, and it did sate my LOTR appetite a little bit. So I give it a B. Troy gets a D.

5.06.2005

Once again, up too late...

So when I woke up this morning, after about 4 hours of sleep, I said I would go to bed early tonight, and by early I mean before 3 am. Well, it's now 12:30 am, and I have more to do, so so much for that idea. This posting is probably just gonna be a scattered collection of random brainwaves.. it'll be fun!

I'm listening to Rufus Wainwright right now, since I got yelled at by all the members of the Ben Folds channel on Soulseek. I figured I should give him a chance, since so many Ben fans enjoy the Rufus. I don't know yet. I just can't get into him. He sounds like he's slurring his words, like he's drunk. It's a John Mayer type situation, maybe, where I just don't dig his voice. I saw Rufus in concert last year at Ravinia, and wasn't particularly impressed with his live show either. Oh well. I have Songs for Silverman to fall back on, as well as two Ben Folds shows coming up this summer: July 4th at Summerfest and August 10th at Ravinia.

In other random Ben Folds news, Jessie's new boyfriend lists Ben Folds and Goo Goo Dolls as his two favorite bands on his livejournal. Wow. I really had hoped that anyone intelligent enough to enjoy Ben's music that much would also be able to recognize the inherent crappiness of the frickin Goo Goo Dolls. As much as I love Sarah, I'm sorry, dear, they suck. They represent all that is wrong with mainstream pop-rock, right up there with Matchbox 20 and Creed. Sigh.

I would like to point out, as a comparison, that my two favorite rock bands are Led Zeppelin and Evanescence. And hip hop? Method Man and Kris Kross.

No, not really. I don't even know this guy, so I shouldn't be so harsh.

But come on, the GOO GOO DOLLS? REALLY?

Oh well. On to happier things.. I bought some DVDs from work today: Garden State, Sky Captain and Shaun of the Dead. Probably 3 out of my top 10 of 2004. I'd have to make that list to be sure, though, and it seems a little late into 2005 to be doing that. Just trust me.

And Kelsey says B & N is having a Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale on all it's DVDs starting May 24th. So I'll probably pick up Life Aquatic and couple other things at that point. Maybe they have that Rushmore Criterion I want. I am a bit of a completist with these things, but I don't need Bottle Rocket or Spy Kids just because I'm a fan of the director. I have my limits.

Star Wars is now 12 days away. I have sworn off the video game we got at work today, so as to remain relatively spoiler-free. We all know certain things have to happen, but I don't want to know how they happen, that's what the movie-going experience is all about. I'm going to start researching solid leads for digital cinema in Chicago, so all interested parties can jet down there to see if it's any different, as has been rumored. I'd go see it there anyway, since the one movie I've seen in digital projection, Starsky and Hutch, was so crystal clear and hi-def that Episode III is sure to blow my mind. Even if it is two hours of Jar-Jar making Imperial Senate speeches. It would look awesome.

Tomorrow Dave and I have to perform surgery on the Greenfield store, by taking out a whole row of squeezebox fixtures and replacing it with laminate. I only got roped into this because Jim volunteered my truck, and suggested I let Dave borrow it. Ha ha ha. That's not gonna happen.

So my night might be kinda screwy. Kelsey and I wanted to see Kingdom of Heaven, as I am a sucker for the period epic, a habit I probably picked up from watching Spartacus 50 billion times as a kid. But I don't know how long this whole fixture replacement is gonna take. We'll see.

Sunday I'm going home for Mother's Day, and a bit of a late birthday celebration for Dad. That'll be fun, I just need to load the car with music and caffeine for the 4 hours I'll be in it that day. No complaints, though, I'm always happy to go home, even for just a few hours.

We are living in bizarro world, where the Brewers just swept the Cubs, the White Sox have the best record in baseball, and the Jordan-less Bulls are in the playoffs. Crazy.

I don't know what else is going on... not so much. Brian and Collette are having a party at their new place on Saturday, so I think I'll drop by after work. Just can't get crazy, since I have a long day on Sunday. I might have an informal get-together the night before Star Wars, if anyone's interested, just to watch the prequels or Clone Wars. Or both. I don't care. I'll probably be up late that night anyway, just like tonight, and the night before that.. and that.. and that.. and that.. and that..

5.03.2005

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines "movie" as a frenetic, light-based entertainment diversion enjoyed by the "Human" species of the planet Earth, and also, in a bizarre coincidence, by the Purple-Spotted Neenerbobs of Omicron Persei 8. It seems that a series of photo images, played in rapid succession, with accompanying audio stimulation, is enough to occupy the Humans' limited imaginations for a Friday night. Tickets for one of these programs, if lined up end to end, would stretch from the dreaded industrial planet of Vachon to the outer rim of the Demonoid system.

The Purple-Spotted Neenerbobs of Omicron Persei 8, however, use movies strictly to occupy the empty minds of their mental patients and those in a persistent Hyper-Snooze.


Kelsey and I went to go see Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on Friday night at the Ridge, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Okay, not really, but we did deliberate on where to eat for what seemed like an eternity, and once we decided to try Charcoal Grill, the wait there was almost an hour, so we drove around some more. We eventually ended up at the Atlanta Bread Company, which, interestingly enough is located in New Berlin, WI. I'm assuming it's a chain, or the founders are really confused. Either way.

Onto the movie. I had my doubts about this one, as I do with almost any adaptation, but I was more anxious about this than I would be about Harry Potter or something. First, the Hitchhiker's series is both very intelligent and very British, two things that do not normally fly in Hollywood comedies. Hugh Grant is very, very British, and yet he normally needs a Middle-America friendly costar like Julia Roberts, whose appeal I still cannot understand, despite months of isolationist meditation. And while occasional crossovers like Monty Python and The Office have success in the states, they tend to remain cult or niche titles. So my main concern with the Hitchhiker's movie is that the producers would feel the need to dumb it down for American audiences, perhaps even to the extent to pass it off as a kid's movie. This is Disney, after all.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

For the uninitiated, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is a sci-fi action comedy series, originally a BBC Radio show, later adapted into novels, a miniseries, videogames, and now a movie. It tells the story of Arthur Dent, an average guy whose life is changed when the Earth is blown up, and he is saved by his best friend Ford Prefect, who happens to be an alien researcher for the titular Guide. Their misadventures throughout the galaxy are recorded in the five books in the Hitchhiker's series, which is where I think this movie comes up short. This is not a Lord of the Rings situation, where the sequels are assured and are being filmed right away, so the filmmakers must have felt the need to wrap up all the loose ends in one movie, in case there is no sequel. So there are some liberties taken with the material, but since creator Douglas Adams had a hand in the script before his death in 2001, I can't really complain. It's his baby, after all. I just didn't care for the ending. Swipe the paragraph below for an explanation...

SPOILER SWIPE

I really, really disliked that this movie had a "Hollywood ending" with Arthur and Trillian making out and all that. It's totally out of character of the books, since there is more to the story, and Arthur's happiness is the quest. I understand that I guess they need to wrap up story arcs for general audiences to be happy, but I don't buy it. Have her make out with Zaphod while Arthur looks on longingly. The guy doesn't always have to get the girl, Hollywood. Get with it.


END SPOILER SWIPE

Outside of that small issue, I had a lot of fun watching Hitchhiker's. It's got a great theme song (see posting title), and a lot of hilarity. I was impressed with pretty much everyone in the cast, especially Sam Rockwell as President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox. Rockwell has a talent for making the most out of a quirky role, as evidenced in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Charlie's Angels, and his overall surfer-dude goofiness was pitch-perfect in this movie. (Although Kelsey did get it right when she said it seemed like he was doing an Owen Wilson impression at times.)

There's a bunch of great actors in small roles as well, including Bill Nighy, Helen Mirren, Thomas Lennon and Alan Rickman in voice roles, and of course, the MALKOVICH. Who can defeat MALKOVICH? YOU? HA! Plus, they used some of the original music from the BBC miniseries, and popped in a cameo from the original Marvin robot. Again, this is not stuff that Joe Moviegoer is going to appreciate, but I sure do.

I found myself laughing a lot, which is often good enough for me. Even a mediocre movie like Dodgeball, I laughed a lot, so I liked it. Hitchhiker's was better than that, though, as it's not just a stupid Farrelly Brothers flick. It remains, for the most part, true to the vision of Douglas Adams, and makes you think in between laughs. I know that sounds clich´┐Ż, but it's true. So Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy gets a B.