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5.30.2007

The Movies

In follow-up to Matt's post, I suggest you watch this. It's a hilarious view of a stereotypical night at the movies.

This summer looks like it will be a pretty good movie summer. First, there was Spiderman 3 (an interesting moral exploration, from what I've heard. I'm a sucker for superhero movies).

Then, there was Pirates 3 (which I liked more than Matt, by the way. Kiera Knightley has said that she won't do a Pirates 4. Thank heavens for small favors. It wrapped itself up nicely, we don't need another one. If you extrapolate, by the time we're at Pirates 5, it will be non-stop action, and Jack won't say more than "Oh, bugger.").

Then, there's Oceans 13 (it amuses me, they just add one more guy each time; maybe this is oversimplifying it a bit, but don't they run out of money pretty quickly?).

Transformers looks to be total eye candy. I don't know much about the acting. Wasn't the lead guy the star of Malcolm in the Middle? I guess they all have to start somewhere, but it is preferable that somewhere not be Disney Channel.

Ratatouille has me feeling apprehensive, although I felt the same way about Cars, and it turned out great. The trailer looks strange, to say the least, though. A rat uses a human as a puppet to turn into a great chef? I'm fine with anthropomorphizing cars, but rats? We'll see.

Anyhow, all of these movies look better than almost everything that came out last summer. See you at the theatre?

5.27.2007

Midnight Showing


I don't know what possessed me. I wouldn't normally do something like what I did on Thursday night/Friday morning. Yeah, I went to a midnight showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End last week.

I felt that just once in my life, I had to go to a movie on opening day. It was only later that I learned that the release date of the film had been changed to the 24th so I technically saw it on day two. Thanks a lot, Disney.

Despite that caveat, it was an experience. I kinda made me nervous standing in line at 11 PM with about 300 other teenagers. That was much more frightening than the film, let me tell you... Fortunately before too long the doors were opened and me and my group got the best seats in Auditorium 9. Rock on.

Then came more waiting. Don't you just love how movie theaters repeat the same 4 trivia slides over and over again? I'm sorry, I don't really care that Jim Carrey tap danced as a kid or that Robert DiNero was the original choice for Wily Wonka. I really do not care.

Then came the ads. No later than 10:40 the trivia ceased and they began to play trailers and television ads. Great. Don't get enough of that elsewhere.

At midnight the regular trailers began. Dumb movie after dumb movie was advertised before my tired eyes. Oh! Except Ratatouille. That may actually be good.

Anyway at 12:20 I was elated to finally see a tree get struck by lighting. The film began.

I must say this right off. If you didn't like Dead Man's Chest there is no way on Earth you are going to like At World's End. If you did like it, however, there is more of a chance.

It's like something that Beckett says: "You can fight in which case you will all die or you can surrender in which case only most of you will die." You can watch this film with high expectations in which case you will be disappointed or you can go in low expectations in which case you will only be slightly disappointed.

The main problem with this film is that is not serious enough to be a drama, nor funny enough to be a comedy. Unlike the previous two installments, World's End ceases to be funny after about 2/3rds of the movie at which point it become too dark and involved in itself to have the fun swashbuckling quality that made the others (especially the original) enjoyable.

Once again, the plot is convoluted and probably unnecessarily confusing and the fast-paced and sometimes jumpy editing doesn't help. Important dialog is inter-cut with other important dialog so that the viewer can easily lose track of what at world's end is happening. The complex plot is not entirely a bad thing, of course. It warrants several viewings to figure it all out. And unlike many films today (especially "fun" films) it makes the audience think about what is happening.

As I said before, the humor doesn't quite last through the entire film. It is nicely sprinkled in between plot in the first half, but it almost entirely absent during action sequences. Sure, the filmmakers were trying to make us laugh during the climatic battle, but shooting the monkey out of a cannon or watching two British redcoats swing into the side of a ship just isn't funny against the backdrop of a fierce maelstrom for some reason.

World's End is also the strangest of the three films. I won't give anything away, but I will say that Pirates has officially morphed into a mythological story with this film. I have nothing against that

So it's dark; not nigh as funny; convoluted; weirder than the first two; and has a genre identity crisis. Other than that I liked it.

In the film's defense: the cinematography is amazing, the effects are just about the best ever done, and the characters' various storylines are nicely resolved.

I did enjoy the humor while it lasted. "Witty Jack" was not as witty as he was in either of the other movies, but that's not to say his character wasn't funny. The lack of wit was the writers' fault, not the actor's. Depp was right where he needed to be. Some won't like what was done with his character, but I thought it was hilarious particularly the odd scene in "Davy Jones' Locker."

The acting was good and don't let anybody tell you it wasn't. If the characters seemed out-of-character, well guess what people? They change based on their circumstances. If they stayed exactly the same throughout the trilogy, it would be boring.

Finally, World's End does a good job of tying up all the loose ends of the story. In that sense it is a satisfying conclusion. If you're a fan of the Pirates movies... well, you've probably already been to see it anyway. If you aren't you won't miss anything you'd regret by skipping this "3" movie.

As an afterword, I must confess I saw the film twice for two reasons. 1. Because I really wanted to like it, so I gave it another chance... and 2. Because Josh asked me to go. I must say that it is better the second time around and that, while not the best I had hoped for, I will still be buying the DVD when it comes out.

Rating:

5.26.2007

An Atypical Music Video

Song: Typical
Artist: MuteMath
Album: MuteMath

I really enjoyed this group's first release. I bought their album based on how much I liked this song, although the rest of it is good as well. If you like music that's inventive and interesting check 'em out. Other good songs by them are: "Chaos," "Plan B," "Noticed," "Picture," and "Control."

Generally music videos are "awesome!" or "blah." This one's pretty cool. Since it's a "backwards" video the band had to learn to play and sing backwards.

5.17.2007

Plasma Pong!!


The classic video game Pong gets a face lift. Pretty sweet, actually. It's called Plasma Pong. Description from the website:
"Players have several new abilities that add fun twists to the classic game. In the game you can inject plasma fluid into the environment, create a vacuum from your paddle, and blast shockwaves into the playing area. All these abilities have fluid-based kinetic effects on the ball, making Plasma Pong a fast-paced and exciting game."

Ten Shekels & a Shirt

This is a sermon that Josh A. and I really found interesting. Recorded in 1980, Ten Shekels & a Shirt is a great sermon that could change the way you view salvation. I personally think it is a thought-provoking and moving sermon and I don't say that about many messages, especially the ones coming from America's pulpits today.

I highly recommend you give it some of your time and consideration. Yeah, it's 50 minutes long, but y'know, plop it on your MP3 player and listen in the car or something. Please pardon the poor audio quality, you get used to it as it goes on.

I found this from SermonAudio.com which has a lot of sermons available for free download. I also browse Oneplace.com where you'll find many notable Christian audio programs available for listening.

Windows Vista

I just got a laptop with Vista on it. So far, it's worked pretty well. I've just noticed a few quirks though, and I'm not sure if they're related to Vista or are part of the laptop's quirks.

First, when I first got it, when you closed the lid it went into hibernate. It won't come out of hibernate, no matter the amount of beseeching and/or hand wringing and/or mousepad wriggling you do. I fixed this so that it goes into 'Sleep' mode now. Apparently, Microsoft decided that the 'Hibernate' mode wasn't worth the extra buck to program, because there is a whole thing about how there is not a 'Hibernate' mode in Vista.

Second, the first time I made a document, albeit on OpenOffice, Vista deleted it randomly. So far, this hasn't happened again, and I hoped that it won't, as that is weird and unacceptable. I like to keep the documents I work on.

All in all, I like Vista a lot so far. It is very pretty, and it is easier for me to use than XP. I'm not recommending everyone go out and buy it, but it has worked for me. I'll keep you posted on glitches and problems I have.

5.10.2007

Beaten to the Punch!

I really like Wikipedia. I could spend hours on there immersing myself in useless, though interesting, information. It's all those blasted links, you know? You're reading one article and then some interesting link pops out at you and it's like, "Ooh! I'd better middle-click on that and read it after I'm done." Then I end up having about 50 tabs open at the end. I tell you, Wikipedia is why tabbed browsing was invented! But I'll wager that some people aren't nearly as fascinated with it as I am. After all, I'm one of those weird people who likes to read the dictionary for fun.

Anyway, while browsing Wikipedia one day I came up with an idea for a Wikipedia-based game. Players would start from a random page trying to navigate to another randomly chosen page in as few links or as little time as possible. Well guess what? There's nothing new under the sun! They already have that, naturally. And naturally it has it's own entry: the Wiki Game. As I always say in situations like this (and I really do say it all the time) is "great minds think for themselves and come up with similar conclusions." Guess who invented it? College students. Go figure.

Update

So I tried the game. My random selections were "May 19th Communist Movement" to "Gaikokujin tarento". How's that for random? I have no idea what either of those are. I won in 14 clicks. Here's how it went.

"May 19th Communist Movement" to "Ho Chi Minh" to "Chinese language" to "People's Republic of China" to "China" to "Timeline of Chinese history" to "Battle of Red Cliffs" to "Chinese literature" to "Japanese literature" to "Yukio Mishima" to "Japan" to "Culture of Japan" to "Culture of Japan: Popular Culture" to "Tarento" to "Gaikokujin tarento".

A "Gaikokujin tarento" is a foreign celebrity active almost exclusively in Japan. That's why I went the oriental route via Ho Chi Minh. Clever, huh? It just goes to show how well linked information on the internet is.

5.09.2007

How to Name Your Kid

I found this interesting post based on an article in the Wall Street Journal. Apparently these parents were choosing a name for their child based on uniqueness so that the child could be easily found on Google later in life. What a way to name your kid, eh? It's kind of sensible and kind of silly at the same time, though I guess I'm not really surprised about it. Still, I'm glad my last name is pretty unique

5.03.2007

Love Alone

Some people really hate it when bloggers post lyrics. I can certainly understand that position. It's kind of like a filler post, admittedly. However, I really enjoy the lyrics to this particular song. It deals with a lot of things I've been thinking about lately.

Title: Love Alone
Artist: Caedmon's Call
Album: Long Line of Leavers

No one would love me
if they knew all the things I hide
My words fall to the floor
As tears drip through the telephone line

And the hands I’ve seen raised to the sky
Not waving but drowning all this time
I'll try to build an ark that they need
To float to you upon the crystal sea

Give me your hand to hold
'Cause I can't stand to love alone
And love alone is not enough to hold us up
We've got to touch your robe
So swing your robe down low
Swing your robe down low

The prince of despair's been beaten
But the loser still fights
Death's on a long leash
Stealing my friends to the night

And everyone cries for the innocent
You say to love the guilty too
And I'm surrounded by suffering and sickness
So I'm working tearing back the roof

Give me your hand to hold
'Cause I can't stand to love alone
And love alone is not enough to hold us up
We've got to touch your robe
So swing your robe down low
Swing your robe down low

And the pain of the world is burden
And it's my cross to bear
And I stumble under all the weight
I know you're Simon standing there
And I know you're standing there

Give me your hand to hold
'Cause I can't stand to love alone
And love alone is not enough to hold us up
We've got to touch your robe
So swing your robe down low
Swing your robe down low
Swing your robe down low...


I've had half a mind to post some of my own lyrical ramblings here, but I nervous about publishing my work on the internet. Perhaps I will some time...

Most Influential People

TIME Magazine just unveiled its list of 100 most influential people. Making the list were such influential people as Rosie O'Donnell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, and Tyra Banks. Oh, boy. Let's take them one at a time, shall we?

Rosie O'Donnell speaks for, at the most, 10% of the United States population. Influential? Yes. One of the 100 most influential people in the world? Probably not.

Leonardo DiCaprio. Does this guy get carte blanche for the rest of his life because he was in a blockbuster movie? Correction, two blockbuster movies. How is that influential? I know women all over the world swoon over the guy, but how does that make him one of the 100 most influential people in the world? Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake are the same. How does being a bigshot actor or a pop singer make you one of the most influential people in the world?

Tyra Banks used to be a supermodel. Wait...does having your own TV show automatically put you on the list? 'Cause, that would mean Maury is on the list too. Anyway, back to Tyra. How does having her own TV show merit her being on of the 100 most influential people in the world?

I can't stress this enough. There are 6.5 Billion people on this planet. 100 people is only infinitesimally small sample. Yet, in this list, there are people like these? And President George W. Bush didn't make the list. Like him or not, you have to admit that he has a lot of power. He could so much as push a button, and every country on planet Earth would be a crater. Not that he would do that, but still....

Guess this goes to show how far we have fallen if we consider Rosie O'Donnell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, and Tyra Banks to be 6 of the world's most influential people.


Edit:

In all fairness to TIME, bad actors and musicians did not populate the entire list. The full list can be viewed here. There were a few interesting articles. It seems like TIME tried to get people with divergent view points to write the features. For example the article about Nancy Pelosi is written by Newt Gingrich and the one about Richard Dawkins is by Micheal Behe.

-Matt

Edit:

Matt's point is well taken. I could understand actors and musicians and former supermodels on the list if it was the 100 most influential people in entertainment. But this is the 100 most influential people in the world. The way I see it, this list should be populated by numerous heads of state, philanthropists, etc. Maybe the people I listed are that influential. I just feel that these people should not merit a position on this list.

-J.D.

5.02.2007

Quote of the Month: May '07

"It's like going into the Senate. You know, the first time you get there you're all excited like... 'how did I ever get here?' Then about six months later you say, 'How the [expletive] did the rest of them get here?' You know... and I've got to tell you after standing up with [the other Democratic Presidential candidates] some of these people frighten me. They frighten me."

-Former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska (D) at the Democratic Presidential Candadates' Debate on April 26.
I wasn't able to catch much of the Democratic Presidential Candidates' Debate when it aired on MSNBC last week, but I happened to see Former Senator Gravel's tirade on another show. I thought the quote was pretty hilarious. Actually, he is one of the more frightening candidates that I've seen so far. The Republicans are up this week. Let's see if they're as funny and/or scary.