Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Millennial are you?

I took the short, 14-question Pew Research online quiz. My results:
Your Millennial score is 52!

The higher your score, the more you have in common with members of the Millennial generation.

Compare your score with that of the typical member of the following generations:

•4 Silent (b. 1928-1945)
•11 Baby Boomer (b. 1946-1964)
•33 Gen Xer (b. 1965-1980)
•73 Millennial (b. 1981+)

I'm a believer in dividing the boomers into earlier and later groups, so that those too young to serve in Vietnam (born in about 1954/1955 or after) are Generation Jones.

HT: Beliefnet

Alice in Wonderland (1915)

Alice in Wonderland is a 1915 film, based on the Lewis Carroll novel and directed by W. W. Young. Viola Savoy is Alice. This is one of the 2 films she was in that year. I don't find any record of other roles. I love the costumes!

It's available online from Internet Archive:


MSN has an overview, faulting the direction but little else. TCM has some information.

16 Best Dystopian Books

PopCrunch has an annotated list of the 16 Best Dystopian Books of All Time. The bare-bones list is below, with ones I've read in bold print:
1. The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
3. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
5. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
6. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
8. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
9. The Book of The New Sun by Gene Wolfe
10. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
11. Neuromancer by William Gibson
12. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
13. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
14. The Sword of Spirits trilogy by John Christopher
15. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
16. That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis
HT: SFSignal

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Up

We watched Up last night. I wasn't expecting it to be one of the saddest movies I'd ever seen in my entire life, but that's exactly what it was. Sad. Very sad. Tragic, even. More of a tearjerker than many a film that's trying for that designation. I know it gets universally glowing reviews and everybody loves it and nobody else seems to see it as anything but a feel-good family film. I can't help that. It makes me want to cry just sitting here thinking back over it. So I'm not going to look up reviews or post a trailer. I'm just going to note that we've seen it and won't be seeing it again.

2/28/2010: Well, I am coming back to comment on the sexist nature of this film, which has nothing to do with how sad I thought it was. This is a whole different kind of sad. The only female character dies. That can't possibly be a spoiler; I knew that much, and I had only seen the trailer. After that, the characters are male: the old man, the people he deals with in the street, the boy, the explorer, the dogs... It turns out the bird, which the boy had named Kevin, is a mother bird. But the default position is male. Sheesh. It's just so ingrained people don't even notice.

Eastern Standard Tribe


Eastern Standard Tribe is a novel by Cory Doctorow. It's a near-future story of industrial sabotage, conspiracy and choosing smarts over happiness -or choosing happiness over smarts. "Stories are propaganda, virii that slide past your critical immune system and insert themselves directly into your emotions." The book can be read online for free (at Doctorow's site where the image above came from), having been released by the author under a Creative Commons license.

from the back of the book:
Art is an up-and-coming interface designer, working on the management of data flow along the Massachusetts Turnpike. He's doing the best work of his career and can guarantee that the system will be, without question, the most counterintuitive, user-hostile piece of software ever pushed forth into the world.

Why? Because Art is an industrial saboteur. He may live in London and work for an EU telecommunications megacorp, but Art's real home is the Eastern Standard Tribe.

Instant wireless communication puts everyone in touch with everyone else, twenty-four hours a day. But one thing hasn't changed: the need for sleep. The world is slowly splintering into Tribes held together by common time zones, less than families and more than nations. Art is working to humiliate the Greenwich Mean Tribe to the benefit of his own people. But in a world without boundaries, nothing can be taken for granted - not happiness, not money, and, most certainly, not love.

Which might explain why Art finds himself stranded on the roof of an insane asylum outside Boston, debating whether to push a pencil into his brain....

SFSite calls it "a refreshingly new science fiction look at the near future."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Should You Kill the Fat Man?


The Philosophers' Magazine has a quiz that presumes to judge the consistency of my morality. I wouldn't mind that much -really- if only their own responses didn't seem a bit inconsistent. At one point it notes my answer as being interesting but not contradictory while later noting that same answer as inconsistent. Apparently, to be consistent, I'm supposed to agree to let 5 people die on the track rather than 1 if I have control of where the train goes. That one alteration gets me a 100% score on consistency. I just see a difference between steering the train towards 1 rather than 5 and pushing the 1 in front of the train to save the 5. Even though the resulting number of deaths is the same either way. What I want to do is argue with the quiz and with the way the questions are phrased and with the assumptions they make, but I can't argue with a quiz. Well, I can argue with the quiz, but in taking both sides of that argument I'm not sure the quiz is getting a fair shake.

And what does "sum total of human happiness" mean, anyway?

They have other quizzes here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Savage Detectives


I picked up The Savage Detectives off the shelf at Davis-Kidd Booksellers because I found myself drawn to the life story of author Roberto Bolano. Born in 1953 and dead at age 50 waiting for a liver transplant, he moved from poetry to short stories and novels in his last decade of life to better provide support for his family. He spent most of his adult life as a drifter -one source describes him as a vagabond.

I had trouble getting into the book at first and almost laid it aside completely several times, but by the end I couldn't put it down. It grew on me. The novel is divided into 3 sections, with the first and third narrated by the same person and the middle -and by far the largest- consisting of a series of narrations by other characters.

from the back of he book:
In this dazzling novel, the book that established his international reputation, Roberto Bolano tells the story of two modern-day Quixotes -the last survivors of an underground literary movement, perhaps of literature tself- on a tragicomic quest through a darkening, entropic universe: our own. The Savage Detectives is a exuberant, raunchy, wildly inventive, and ambitious novel from one of the greatest Latin American authors of our age.

Slate says
The pathos of The Savage Detectives lies in that single contrast—the pathos of the ardent young poets who cavort like satyrs and nymphs in the sacred wood of high poetry and, then again, have to drag their way around the hardscrabble streets of Mexico City, and sometimes die all too soon,... The Savage Detectives sings a love song to the grandeur of Latin American literature and to the passions it inspires

The New Yorker calls this book Bolano's "masterwork". The Guardian says, "The most important test that Bolano triumphantly sails through as a writer is that he makes you feel changed for having read him; he adjusts your angle of view on the world." The New York Times has a lengthy and positive review, saying, "The novel is wildly enjoyable (as well as, finally, full of lament), in part because BolaƱo, despite all the game-playing, has a worldly, literal sensibility."

The photo at the top of the post is from Amazon.com.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ibn Battuta

Today is the anniversary of the birth in 1304 of Ibn Battuta. I don't usually mark the birthdays of dead people, but we don't even know the year, much less the day, he died. I have been interested in travel narratives for years, and Ibn Battuta wrote a doozie! His travels covered a span of over 30 years and most of the known world of his day. Marco Polo was a rank amateur in comparison, and Ibn Battuta's writings are much more readable. There's a map here that compares the travels of the 2 men. You can read some of Ibn Battuta's work online. I have an old 1929 edition of selections from his writings that's part of the Argonaut Series edited by Sir E. Denison Ross and Eileen Power. Its introduction begins:
To the world of today the men of medieval Christendom already seem remote and unfamiliar. Their names and deeds are recorded in our history-books, their monuments still adorn our cities, but our kinship with them is a thing unreal, which costs an effort of imagination. How much more must this apply to the great Islamic civilization, that stood over against medieval Europe, menacing its existence and yet linked to it by a hundred ties that even war and fear could not sever. Its monuments too abide, for those who may have the fortunate to visit them, but its men and manners are to most of us utterly unknown, or dimly conceived in the romantic image of the Arabian Nights. Even for the specialist it is difficult to reconstruct their lives and see them as they were. Histories and biographies there are in quantity, but the historians for all their picturesque details, seldom show the ability to select the essential and to give their figures that touch of the intimate which makes them live again for the reader. It is in this faculty that Ibn Battuta excels.

This article (originally from Muslim Technologist, March 1990) says
Ibn Battuta was the only medieval traveller who is known to have visited the lands of every Muslim ruler of his time. He also travelled in Ceylon (present Sri Lanka), China and Byzantium and South Russia. The mere extent of his travels is estimated at no less than 75,000 miles, a figure which is not likely to have been surpassed before the age of steam.

A public domain edition of Encyclopedia Brittanica has a narrative outline of the journey. There's a virtual tour here and a documentary travelogue
in which Tim Mackintosh-Smith follows in the footsteps of 14th Century Moroccan scholar Ibn Battutah, who covered 75,000 miles, 40 countries and three continents in a 30-year odyssey



part 2:


part 3:

One-Eyed Jacks

One-Eyed Jacks is a 1961 Western directed by and starring Marlon Brando. This is the only film Brando directed. The film also stars Karl Malden, Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens. This is long, but I like it except for the ending. It feels to me like it just quits without any satisfying resolution.

Watch it online:


The New York Times describes it as "an extraordinary sort of Western film". Reviews are hard to come by, which surprises me considering the people involved.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Demon Exorcism


This handy tool promises to exorcise the demons from your computer. The problem is this:
Caution: Fleeing demons sometimes lodge in snails, spiders, cockroaches, or other small house pets.
and our cat shows enough evidence of possible demon possession already. I just can't take the risk.

And beware the smiley face. You have been warned.

HT: Religion and Science Fiction

The Crawling Hand

The Crawling Hand is a 1963 horror movie directed by Herbert L. Strock and starring Peter Breck, Kent Taylor, Allison Hayes (who starred in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman) and -most notably- Alan Hale, Jr.

This is readily available online, including on youtube and at Hulu:



Rotten Tomatoes has no rating and no reviews.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Today's Star Date

According to this web site (via Kinda Unique), today is Star Date -312856.5310121764. Of course, Star Dates were iffy at best as far as continuity goes, so I'm not sure about assigning them to periods in the past.

There are other calculators. TrekGuide gives a Star Date of 63610.3 for today. Memory Alpha has an explanation of Star Dates, and they link to the Trek Guide calculator.

I've just resigned myself to living with the Georgian calendar. And not having a flying car. And never taking the shuttle to the Moon Base or living in the Mars Colony. This is getting depressing...

Autobahn (Kraftwerk)

Autobahn is a 1974 track from the Kraftwerk album by the same name. The album's version of this piece is 22 minutes long. This one is much shorter:



This song is on the list of 500 Songs that shaped Rock and Roll from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Journey to the Center of the Earth is a 1959 film based on the Jules Verne novel with the same name. It stars James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Thayer David (a Dark Shadows regular), Alan Napier and Pat Boone (I don't usually care about an actor's personal life, but, well, this man's got nutty ideas).

Not much more than 10 minutes into the video we are treated to Pat Boone singing a love song to the niece of his newly knighted professor. Gag. Much of this kind of thing and I'll never make it to the end of the movie! At under 24 minutes in he's singing again. I want that part re-cast with an actor who doesn't sing. He doesn't sing again except for taking part in a short choral piece at the finale. Except for the singing, this was a fun enough movie.

online, thanks to The Cinemated Man:


1000 Misspent Hours finds much to find fault with and says, "If you pay close attention to the dialogue, you’ll note that the plot of Journey to the Center of the Earth unfolds over the course of most of a year. And yeah, the way this movie flows, that feels about right." Moria says:
Any connection between this film version of Journey to the Center of the Earth and Jules Verne’s 1864 novel... must be considered purely coincidental. Verne wrote a dark, claustrophobic Age of Exploration fantasy; the film is a ridiculously opulent Cinemascope colour spectacle.

The New York Times says,
But it's really not very striking make-believe, when all is said and done. The earth's interior is somewhat on the order of an elaborate amusement-park tunnel of love. And the attitudes of the people, toward each other and toward another curious man who happens to be exploring down there at the same time, are conventional and just a bit dull.

Weird Wild Realm has this evaluation: "It's a first-rate children's film, & given the competition remains the best film adaptation of the Verne novel. But a sophisticated adaptation of the story has never yet been filmed." Time Out says that, except for Pat Boone's singing, "it's one of the very best Hollywood adventure movies". TCM and MSN have overviews.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I am not a crook!

Those FBI warnings you can't skip on the DVDs I've spent good money on irritate me no end, so I got a big kick out of this image:



I especially identify with the caption that reads:

OK, enough already.
I'm a legit customer,
I paid for the damn DVD with my hard-earned cash.

When all I want to do is watch the frakkin' movie, why can't I just skip to that point without all the accusations that I'm a thief?

HT: LifeHacker

2/21/2010: /film reports on a "pirater" and says:
It’s a stern reminder that those FBI warnings you see before EVERYTHING can actually have some real-world consequences
but by the time I see the warnings I've Bought The DVD Already! They are harassing the wrong people, I'm tellin' ya. The paying customer is not the one to hassle. If I had to read warnings about how it was illegal to steal clothing every time I got dressed, or wait for the finger to quit shaking in my face every time I wanted to open a food package, or listen to warnings about the evils of vehicle theft before I start my car each time it would make just as much sense. I'm sick of it! Send the criminals to jail. Fine. Just quit making life hard for the law-abiding DVD purchaser.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Appaloosa

This DVD was a present to The Younger Son, who picked it for us to watch tonight. Appaloosa is a 2008 western film directed by Ed Harris and starring Ed Harris, Viggo Mortenson, Jeremy Irons, Renee Zellweger and Timothy Spall.

trailer:


There is a "making of" video in 3 parts at youtube. part 1:


part 2:


part 3:


Roger Ebert gives it 3 stars. Variety says, ""Appaloosa" is a decent Western made in an era when a Western has to be pretty darn good to rope people into a theater to see it." The Guardian says, "It's a film based around the gentle pleasure of watching Harris and Mortensen". Time Out says, "like so many Westerns, it’s really a love story between two men". The New York Times says it's a "movie worth watching." Rolling Stone calls it "gripping entertainment that keeps springing surprises" and says, "Every frame of the movie indicates his bone-deep respect for classic film Westerns" and "Harris and Mortensen... do some of the tangiest acting of their respective careers, and they make a knockout team."

Tojo Yamamoto


I wasn't a huge wrestling fan when I was little, but I did watch some of it on tv on Saturdays and was familiar with the major names of the day. Tojo Yamamoto was a major name back in the 1960's. Today is the anniversary of his suicide in 1992.

There's a sweet news story/tribute video here:


Obsessed With Wrestling has his title history. Memphis Wrestling History has a page that includes newspaper clippings from his career. The picture at the top of the post is scattered all over the web with no attribution that I could find.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Criterion is on Hulu

Criterion currently has 6 offerings on Hulu: Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, The Tale of Zatoichi Continues, New Tale of Zatoichi, The Fugitive, On the Road and Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold. Have I ever heard of any of these? No, but Criterion's selections have always been worth trying. I'm looking forward to seeing what I've been missing and am wondering what delights they might offer on Hulu in the future.

Just doing a bit of googling for introductory information tells me that this is a series of films that are part of a larger universe of films and tv shows. The 17th film was loosely remade as Blind Fury in the U.S. in 1990. The first -Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman- came out in 1962 and the last one available from Hulu was released in 1964.

The first one is embedded below:


The Criterion announcement is here.

HT: /film, who says:
Now, thanks to a deal between Criterion and Hulu, you can watch six of the films, the first chapters in the long series, for free. This looks to be the first of a series of Hulu offerings from Criterion, and it’s a great start.

I'm not depressed


at least not according to the tool here.

HT: Beliefnet, who has more information

The Blue Dahlia

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake star in The Blue Dahlia, a 1946 film noir. William Bendix, Hugh Beaumont and Howard da Silva are in this, too. Raymond Chandler is the writer and George Marshall directs.

Youtube has it online in pieces. Part 1:

part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10

Variety seems to like it, saying that the "Story gets off to a slow start, but settles to an even pace that never lets down in interest." Time Out says it's "A fine hardboiled thriller". The New York Times calls it "a honey of a rough-'em-up romance" and "a brisk, exciting show."

HT: BrainPlucker

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jesus Movies for Lent

This is an ongoing project for me during Lent every year: to gather together films that, in some way, re-tell the story of Jesus. I organized a film series at church years ago that covered several of these, but there are many more. I stay on the look-out for the ones I haven't seen, and I'll try to find new ones.

The Passion Play of Oberammergau (1898)

The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ (1903)
La Vie du Christ (1906)
Ben Hur (1907)
From the Manger to the Cross (1912)
Christus (1914)
Christus (1916, director Antamoro)
Intolerance (1916)
Ben Hur (1925)
The King of Kings (1927)
Jesus of Nazareth (1928)

Golgotha (1935)
The Last Days of Pompeii (1935)

The Robe (1953)
He Who Must Die (1957)
Ben Hur (1959)

Barabbas (1961)
King of Kings (1961)
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
Black Jesus (1968)
Son of Man (1969)

Godspell (1973)
Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus (1973)
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
The Thorn (1974)
Il Messia (1975)
Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
The Nativity (1978)
The Jesus Film (1979)
Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

The Day Christ Died (1980)
Hail Mary (1985)
Cotton Patch Gospel (1988)
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Jesus of Montreal (1989)

Lamb of God (1993)
Book of Life (1998)
The Green Mile (1999)
Jesus (1999)
Mary, Mother of Jesus (1999)

Jesus Christ Superstar (2000)
The Miracle Maker (2000)
The Cross (2001)
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)
The Gospel of John (2003)
Man Dancin' (2003)
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Mary (2005)
Son of Man (2005)
Color of the Cross (2006)
Manchester Passion (2006)
The Nativity Story (2006)
St. Mary (2007)
Hamlet 2 (2008)
The Messiah (2008)
The Passion (2008)

Christianity Today lists their top 10 Jesus movies.
BibleFilms has a top 10 list.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Changeling (1980)

The Changeling is a 1980 horror film starring George C. Scott, Melvyn Douglas and Jean Marsh. The score was composed by Ken Wannberg, Rick Wilkins and Howard Blake. The soundtrack does not seem to be readily available. This is a sad -a tragic- story, rather than a scary one.

In pieces at youtube, here's part 1:

part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11

Roger Ebert says it's good technically but not at drawing you into caring about the characters. Moria says,
in the end perhaps the film is just a little too sedate and old-fashioned for its own good – Medak never quite lets his scares go often enough and mostly the film ends up being carried by the story which is structured with a sense of deepening mystery.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vintage Murder



Vintage Murder is the 5th of 32 Inspector Roderick Alleyn mystery novels by Ngaio Marsh. I pick these up whenever I see them used, which isn't often. I may have to start looking at the new book stores.

from the back of the book:
The leading lady of a theater company touring New Zealand was stunningly beautiful. No one -including her lover- understood why she married the company's pudgy producer. But did she rig a huge jeroboam of champagne to kill her husband during a cast party? Did her sweetheart? Or was another villain waiting in the wings? On a holiday down under, Inspector Roderick Alleyn must uncork this mystery and uncover a devious killer...

I've also read

#1 A Man Lay Dead
#10: Death of a Peer

The photo at the top of the post is from Macmillan.com, where you can pick up a paperback edition for $5.99.

Go to the Mirror

Go to the Mirror is a song from the 1969 rock opera Tommy by The Who:



The list of 500 Songs that shaped Rock and Roll comes from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Film Preservation Blogathon

master list of blogathon posts archived here


Today is the first day of For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon. There's a Facebook page. There are lots of participants, and the master list of posts is here and more info here.

I'm a bit wrapped up in the Olympics, but I look forward to reading the film posts after the games are over.

Solarbabies

The first time I saw this movie, it provided many a laugh for The Husband and me when we happened across it on tv. I ran across it again yesterday and couldn't remember anything about it except for the title and the skates. It remains forgettable. Solarbabies is a 1986 post-apocalyptic science fiction about teens on skates. And a glowing ball. And something about water. Charles Durning appears in this.

trailer:


Moria gives it one star and opens with this: "It’s hard to believe one could come up with much more of a miscalculated idea for an sf film than this." Roger Ebert closes with this:
As image follows image, "Solarbabies" begins to look like an anthology of recent box office hits, derivative, unimaginative and desperate. All I was left with, at the end, was sympathy for the actors and technicians who worked so hard and endured such physical hardship on behalf of producers who couldn't be bothered to supply them with something worth doing.

Million Monkey Theater has an extensive plot summary with screen shots. The New York Times calls it "an embarrassment." AMC has an overview.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Your Star Trek Personality

Wolf Gnards offers the question, "Who is the best Star Trek captain?" and then evaluates your personality based on your choice. I choose Kirk:
Captain James T. Kirk – The Go-Getter

Kirk fans are a bit of a contradiction, they like to live life and they like to live it hard, but in the most out-of-date, predictable ways possible. Chauvinist? Yeah. Drunks? Probably. Pudgy? Almost always. The one thing about Kirk fans that you have to admire is they are not quitters, they are not afraid to fall and they are not afraid to get back up again. And don't get into an argument about who the best Star Trek captain is with them because they will not give an inch. They would rather cheat, lie, and go down in flames than give up.

Why give an inch when Kirk so obviously is the best! People just need help getting past their misconceptions and misunderstandings, but, through persistence, they will see The Truth.

HT: The Zeray Gazette

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mouse Tracking


I haven't tried this yet, but it looks so cool. Anatoly Zenkov has a program that you can use to track your mouse movements over time. It yields beautiful pictures, such as the one above, which came from miss yasmina's Flickr page.

HT: Theology & Geometry

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Takashi Shimura


Today is the anniversary of the death in 1982 of Japanese actor Takashi Shimura, who appeared in numerous Akira Kurosawa films across the decades. We have grown into an appreciation of him as we've seen him in some of his varied roles. There's more information on this actor at FilmReference.com. He has a Facebook fan page. The Auteurs has a section devoted to him.

These are the films I've seen:

Drunken Angel (1948)
Nora Inu (1949)
Ikiru (1952)
Gojira (1954)
Seven Samurai (1954)
Throne of Blood (1957)
The Hidden Fortress (1948)
Yojimbo (1961)
Kagemusha (1980)

The photo at the top of the post is of him in his role in Ikiru and is in the public domain.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Beast from Haunted Cave

Beast from Haunted Cave is a 1959 horror/crime film directed by Monte Hellman. The music is by Alexander Laszlo.

from the Internet Archive:


DVDTalk closes with this: "Final thought: Not a great crime picture and pretty weak as a creature feature. Best reserved for true devotees. Rent it." Ferdy on Films has an article. TCM has an overview, as does MSN.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Player of Games

Several years ago I read Consider Phlebas, the first of the Culture series by Iain M. Banks, and began picking up others in the series. I was determined to read them in order, though, and am just now finding the second book The Player of Games on a local store's shelf. I had difficulty putting it down. What an enjoyable read!

from the back of the book:
The Culture - a human-machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy.

Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game...a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death.

Snow!

We woke up to find that, as always, the snow that wasn't predicted came! We never get snow when it's predicted.



Snow is still falling.


Photos from downtown here
and here

Baba O’Riley

Baba O’Riley (also known as Teenage Wasteland) is a 1971 song by The Who:



The list of 500 Songs that shaped Rock and Roll comes from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

2/24/2010: or try this cool version.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Super Bowl 44

I had family members on both sides of this game, so I'll just say The Who were boring (Chicago Sun Times: "the saddest, most tired musical spectacle yet: the band that pretends to be the Who"), and this is my favorite commercial of the night:



Sumo! Yes!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Asashoryu Retires

The Daily Times opens with this statement: "TOKYO: Controversial sumo grand champion Asashoryu announced his retirement on Thursday following a drunken attack on a man outside a Tokyo nightclub." The Examiner reports:
Yokozuna Asashoryu, one of the greatest Sumo grand champions in the history of the sport, announced his retirement in the afternoon of February 4th (JST) to the shock of many, including his peers.

The Japan Times says, "It is regrettable that despite his glittering record, he did not learn that a yokozuna should not only be powerful in the ring but also behave in a respectable way." The Mainichi Daily News notes that
The grappler's move was triggered by an incident during the January Grand Sumo Tournament, in which he allegedly assaulted a waiter -- an unforgivable act for a yokozuna.
Asia One points out that "Asashoryu does not have Japanese citizenship, which is a prerequisite to stay in sumo postretirement." The Independent headline reads: "Star of Sumo quits in tears after brawl in Tokyo club, Drunken rampage forces champion wrestler from Mongolia to bow out" Business Week has an article.

hpeterswald has posted a video:


Wikipedia has an overview of his life and career.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Spirit

When I saw the first trailer for this movie, I was excited and looking forward to seeing it in the theater. The next trailer had me much less interested and planning on waiting for the DVD release. I never did see it, but The Younger Son picked it up today so we watched it tonight. The Spirit is a 2008 Frank Miller adaptation of a comic series. I am totally unfamiliar with the comic. Samuel Jackson (whom I just saw in Sphere) is in this one. His name keeps turning up in political circles, as in, "Obama needs to quit channeling Morgan Freeman and become Samuel Jackson!" The film was a bit of a let down, and I wasn't expecting to be wowed. There just didn't seem to be much to it.

trailer:


Moria says,
The more one watches of The Spirit the more it starts to seem like Frank Miller has taken the visually arresting look he employed on Sin City ... only to conduct a remake of something like tv’s Batman (1966-8), which took all the heroic epithets and rendered the dialogue in an over-the-top parody of purple prose.... There’s an appealingly offbeat goofiness to it all... most audiences failed to understand The Spirit and it ended up being a big box-office flop.... One predicts though that in a few years time from now The Spirit is going to be rediscovered as a cult classic.
Stop Tokyo opens with this: "The Spirit moved me. To tears. Of boredom." /film calls it "worse than expected." Roger Ebert gave it one puny star and calls it "mannered to the point of madness," saying "There is not a trace of human emotion in it. To call the characters cardboard is to insult a useful packing material." The New York Times says, "What is most striking about “The Spirit” is how little pleasure it affords, in spite of its efforts to be sly, sexy, heartfelt and clever all at once." Variety says, "Frank Miller's solo writing-directing debut plunges into a watery grave early on and spends roughly the next 100 minutes gasping for air. Pushing well past the point of self-parody..."

William Shatner Sings Again

Why do I love this so much? I think the first bit is especially priceless:



HT: SFSignal

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Karen Carpenter

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1983 of singer/drummer Karen Carpenter.

Rainy Days and Mondays (1971):


"Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story" is a 43-minute documentary:

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Darth Vader Joins a Cult



HT: Exploring Our Matrix

Kenneth Anger

Happy Birthday, Kenneth Anger! -of interest to me primarily because of his films and his long-time association with Anton LaVey. I remember LaVey being quite the controversial figure back in the late '60s. Anger's official web site is here. FilmReference.com has information on Anger, beginning their article with this:
One of the key figures of the postwar American avant-garde, Kenneth Anger represents a fiercely original talent, relatively free of the independent circles and movements which his own work managed to anticipate in almost every case.
The Bright Lights film blog has a report of a film screening hosted by Anger in 2008. Senses of Cinema describes him as
a high level practitioner of occult magic who regards the projection of his films as ceremonies capable of invoking spiritual forces. Cinema, he claims, is an evil force. Its point is to exert control over people and events and his filmmaking is carried out with precisely that intention.

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954):


Lucifer Rising (1973):


He has a Facebook fan page and a page at MySpace.

And, yes, I realize it's also Norman Rockwell's birthday, but I don't find him nearly as interesting. And besides, he's dead. I don't celebrate the birthdays of the dead.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Sphere

Sphere is a 1998 science fiction film, an adaptation of a Michael Crichton novel, starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel Jackson and Queen Latifah. Barry Levinson directs. I haven't read the book, and this is the first time I've seen the movie. Critics don't tend to like this. I think it's an ok movie, even if the ending does just lay there. Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.

trailer:


It's on youtube in 13 parts, which should autoplay from here:


Moria says,
It is puzzling as to why Sphere died a box-office death, as it is a fine film. One suspects the reason for such is that it eschews big-budget special effects, which are synonymous with science-fiction these days, in favour of cerebral, psychological drama.
Roger Ebert gives it 1 1/2 stars and says, "The more the plot reveals, the more we realize how little there is to reveal, until finally the movie disintegrates into flaccid scenes where the surviving characters sit around talking about their puzzlements." The New York Times calls it "a solid thriller with showy scientific overtones". Variety describes it as "derivative" and "an empty shell." Entertainment Weekly pans it, saying it "sinks from the weight of its own heavyhandedness." The poor film only gets a 13% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Living Mobile


Click here and play. I find it strangely soothing.

The photo is by Andrew Dunn and comes from Wikipedia.