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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why I loved Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (MAJOR SPOILERS).

I've been reading a lot of reviews of the latest Indiana Jones movie since I went to see it this afternoon. When I left the theater, I felt very happy... I felt I got just what I was looking for, i.e. a natural continuation of the series I'd grown up with. I didn't truly love or incessantly hate the film, I just enjoyed it for what it was, and was happy I got the chance to see one of my childhood heroes have one last adventure.

But hours later, after reading all the reviews and opinions, I know truly love the film. And here's why:


  • The Soundtrack. - John Williams's music is the voice of almost every movie that made a direct impression on me as a child; Star Wars, Raiders, Close Encounters, Jaws, E.T. Looking at a list of his film scores is to look at a list of the greatest films of all time. But in the past twenty years, his music has gotten kind of boring, a little bland... the magic, that extra spark which added so much to the above titles has disappeared. Occasionally the old Williams has resurfaced here and there; select tracks from the latest Star Wars trilogy show flecks of his earlier greatness. And maybe a couple themes from Harry Potter have shown promise. But for the most part, I'd written him off.

    And then I hear the music from KOTCS, and I'm enthralled by it. It's fast, it's exciting, there's melodic themes and dissonant textures, it's everything I remember Indiana Jones music to be.

    Althugh Mutt's theme pales in comparison to that of Short Round, but that's a topic for another time.

  • The CGI. - One of the big issues I've read that people have with this movie is it's use of CGI in the special effects work. Well, all I have to say is boo-fucking-hoo. The fact is, it's 2008, and that's just the way special effects are done now.

    Of course there were no digital effects in the first three movies, that's because at the time, CGI simply didn't really exist, except for in a small handful of films, such as... oh wait, that's right. Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade!

    The scene when Donovan ages to death? Digitally manipulated. Three dummy heads combined into one seamlessly through computer morphing, same effect that a couple years later made the T-1000 in Terminator 2 possible.

    Anyway, the point is, I don't understand the complaints. Is the problem that there's special effects? In that case, all I have to say is, did none of you see the first three movies? What do you think, that there were actually ghosts coming out of the Ark? That a dude's face was actually melted? Or that a group of three actors were thrown into a mine car and pushed down a long, windy broken track?

    Indiana Jones films feature insane, outlandish set pieces, that's a staple of the series. And any time something like that needs to be done, it's usually done via smoke and mirrors. Nowadays, the smoke and mirrors are digital. That's just the way it is. And frankly, I'm fine with that.

    Which leads me into the other possible reason for this complaint, which is that CGI can look fake sometimes. Will, show me what a real UFO lifting off looks like, and then we'll see who's right.

    And the first three movies had a large volume of fake-looking shit in them, I'm sorry. I still cringe thinking of the ridiculously ugly black matte lines surrounding the German bomber plane in Last Crusade. And regardless of the digital clean-up they did on the last DVD of Raiders, the poles which held the Ark spirits in place as the motion-control camera went by them are still CLEARLY visible.

    But now, think of the great things done in this movie that could have never been done, or done well, in the past. The warehouse. The nuke. The jungle chase (which had a large number of digital matte paintings in it, especially the part with the cliffside... heart-pounding sequence, that couldn't have feasibly been done back in the 80's).

    Sure, Shia LeBeouf swinging through the trees looked like a FMV from a Final Fantasy game... but there's only so real a stunt like that can look. Which brings me to my next thing...

  • The insanity. - Another thing I've read in different reviews and forums, is that some people think the action was too much, that the movie got ridiculous at times. To which I will again ask the following question...

    SERIOUSLY, HAVE YOU SEEN THE FIRST THREE MOVIES?!

    One opinion I read took humbrage at Indy riding out an atomic blast in a lead-lined fridge, being thrown clear and surviving.

    Let me just point that person to the scene in Temple of Doom, where Indy, Willie and Short Round jump out of a crashing plane, IN A LIFERAFT, land on a mountainslope, slide down it until they FLY OFF A CLIFF, and land safely in a river 500 feet below.

    How is that possibly more plausible? This answer, by the way, also goes to the people skeptical about the waterfall scene.

    I've also read reviews stating that the sci-fi element, having aliens involved, was just too hokey.

    So it's totally cool to have a box containing the Wrath of God, a dude who can pull people's still-beating hearts from their chest while they watch (and survive), and a room full of cups, most of which will age you to dust... but Chariots of the Gods is just a bit too much?

    Right.

    One of the greatest things about these movies is the sheer amount of ridiculous situations Jones gets himself into. They're fantastical, and the series wouldn't be the same without them.

    And c'mon, you're gonna tell me that you'd be satisfied with a Nevada desert circa 1957 scene if there wasn't atomic testing?

  • The Sound Effects.

    Ben Burtt, sound designer for the first three movies, worked on this one again, as was completely obvious to anyone who knows his work. And his effects this time around were like little easter eggs for the fans everywhere, from the sound of the Area 51 door lock being blown (the same sound that the Nazi's generator made when God fried it in Raiders), to the Wilhelm scream that he uses in every movie, this time uttered by a college kid in the library. Brilliant. And speaking of easter eggs...
  • The Easter Eggs.

    As I'm running short on time, I'll just mention the main one that stuck out to me, and that was when Indy mentioned running with Pancho Villa as a kid. Suddenly, watching the always bland and usually boring Young Indiana Jones Chronicles when it aired almost twenty years ago had a purpose, as that gem was lifted directly from an early episode.

So I liked it. Maybe you didn't. Doesn't matter, it's all opinion ultimately. And if you haven't seen it yet, well, you really shouldn't have read this, as by now you no doubt know the ending and more. So, well... sucks to be you...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's A World Of Tears...

I'm sure some of you by now are aware of the current refurbishment of It's A Small World at Disneyland... you know, how they have to deepen the canals in order to accomodate the obesity of today's American?

In case you didn't hear... the boats were getting stuck because people are too fat, and they kept sinking too low and hitting the bottom.

Anyway, there's a new story out there about the refurb, which all Disney fans should be considerably shocked and appalled about; that is, the addition of Disney characters to the ride, and the taking out of the rainforest scene in order to put in a new "Hooray for USA" piece.

The original meaning of the ride, that of world peace and unity, will be taken over by blatant commercialism and a need to sell plushies. And don't even get me started on the irony of tearing down the rainforest in order to accomodate America.

And here I'd had faith in the new post-Eisner regime, what with their plans to overhaul DCA, and their ending of the sacrilege of sequelizing the classics (although I did enjoy "Cinderella III," in which Cinderella traveled to Afghanistan to rescue her Fairy Godmother from the evil clutches of Communist Russia)... not anymore, I can tell you.

Fucking bastards. Nothing is sacred.

The original story can be found here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm wanted by Homeland Security (and so is my money).

This is a letter I sent to my congressional representatives earlier this evening:

Dear (congressional representative),

I am writing this in response to a wrong that was done to me earlier this week by the Employment Development Department, and through them, the Department of Homeland Security. As an Assistant Editor working in the television industry, it can happen that I will find myself unemployed for a few weeks every now and then between jobs. During these times, I depend on my unemployment check to offset my costs of living.

A few weeks ago, after a job had ended, I went to the EDD's website to register for my insurance, as I've done previously in the last three years. In the past, this action has been followed up quickly by a reply letter from EDD in the mail, confirming my information and containing the paperwork I need to fill out bi-weekly in order to get my check. This time, I received the paperwork, but also another letter, asking me for photocopies of proof of identity verification. I sent this proof out, and a couple days later, received another letter, this time requiring me to attend an interview at my local job center.

As much of a waste of time as this was, it didn't bother me as much as what happened next: My first pay stub arrived in the mail, sans check. On the pay stub was a big fat "$0." My unemployment check had been withheld, AFTER I had provided the proof they asked for!

At my job center interview (which ironically occurred on the same day I had started a new job), I was once again asked to prove who I was, and that I had been actively seeking work. No mention was made of my check being withheld until I brought it up.

The reason I was given, and the entire reason I'm writing this letter, was as follows: "It'll take 10-15 days to get your check to you once Homeland Security has screened your information."

WHY IS HOMELAND SECURITY INTERFERING WITH MY UNEMPLOYMENT CHECK?

I was born in this country, I'm a registered voter, I'm a taxpayer. The only blemish on my record is a DUI misdemeanor, an offense that both our President and Vice-President have been convicted of, as well as quite a few other government representatives. I have no political party or religious affiliations. I have no connections to any group or person that could even slightly be considered a security risk; a Google of my name brings up a few resume credits, and the website of my aunt, a school teacher in Japan. I was a Boy Scout, for Christ's sakes!

But because Homeland Security decided I was worth screening, I'm suddenly behind on my rent payment, and just barely paying my other bills. My entire budget has broken down, and I'm forced to watch every penny until the first paycheck from my new job arrives, as I can't count on my unemployment check, something I am supposedly guaranteed from meeting specific eligibility requirements, to be there.

Why is Homeland Security interfering with the EDD? I can't imagine I'm the only everyday citizen this has happened to. Exactly what kind of terrorist network do they think can be sustained on a maximum of $450 a week?

And how much money is being wasted on fruitless ventures like this that could be used towards important things, such as checking imported cargo containers at our ports, or funding the troops that are in Afghanistan, trying to root out and destroy actual terrorist threats?

As an American citizen and taxpayer, and as a human being, I am appalled that this kind of thing is happening. I can only be thankful that I earn enough money in my line of work, to have just enough savings to keep my head above water. I can only pray for the poor soul who doesn't; that unlucky American who, as a result of Homeland Security withholding their check, misses that one car payment which brings in the repo men. Or even worse, misses that final notice mortgage payment, and ends up on the street.

Considering the amount of people who are currently unemployed in LA County as a result of the WGA strike, I truly hope this isn't a common occurrence.

Please note that I will be sending this letter to all my representatives in Congress.

Thank you for your time.

The above actually happened. What a country, huh?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I had an epiphany or two (Whatever happened to SPECTRE?).

I was watching the movie "Goldfinger" with a friend of mine the other day, and the scene where Goldfinger explains his evil plan to destroy Fort Knox comes on (if you haven't seen this movie before and I'm spoiling the big plot point for you, well, shame on you, get out more). So Goldfinger flips a couple switches in his parlor room (or approximation of such), and suddenly the room basically TRANSFORMS into a war room with a giant model of Fort Knox springing out from under the floor.

Now what I'm thinking is, WHO THE FUCK BUILT ALL THAT?

I mean, this is some seriously detailed model work! And the mechanics to make it rise up like that, with the floor above it sliding over... that takes some serious engineering.

So at first I was thinking, maybe Goldfinger hired a bunch of engineers and model makers to put the thing together... but then you run into the problem of all these contractors running around later knowing of Goldfinger's plans, which would be pretty stupid on his part. Of course, he could've had them all killed... but then, someone would ask questions. Questions like "Where the fuck did all those guys that Goldfinger hired disappear to?"

As I thought more and more, I realized this was a problem in all the Bond movies. After all, SOMEONE had to carve out Blofeld's volcano lair. SOMEONE had to have put together the space station Drax flies off to. And god only knows, Stromberg's underwater fortress took some SERIOUS engineering skills to put together.

So who are these guys?

Answer: HENCHMEN!

All these villains had an army of henchmen behind them. So it only makes sense that these henchmen would be the ones who built all this crap.

This answer also explains why the henchmen have such terrible aim, and never seem to be able to hit Bond, even when he's running across a 70 foot length of space that's less than ten feet in front of them with nothing to hide behind and they've got machine guns and there's twenty of them. It's because they're not soldiers, they're engineers and building contractors.

If you gave them nail guns, they'd probably shoot the shit out of him.

The other thing I realized while watching "Goldfinger" was how much I need an evil henchman, like Oddjob or whoever (just not Jaws, I can't stand that character... Grace Jones in "A View To A Kill" would rule).

Case in point: While driving through traffic on the 405 last week, I started to change lanes, only to see one of those asshole motorcyclists who drive between lanes in heavy traffic speeding up to hit me. I quickly finished my lane change, and what does Dick Suckcocker do? He slows down in front of me, and gestures to me that I should look where I'm going.

Now, considering that I DID look to see where I was going, and Douche Bitchhole came out of nowhere (as he was probably going at least 65 while the rest of us were doing 30 tops), and I also COMPLETELY had the right-of-way, I was a bit angry. But what could I do about it? I was stuck in traffic, and he skirted off between lanes on his way home to lick his uncle's vagina.

However, if I had an evil henchman with me, the situation would have played out completely different. One glance at his license plate, another glance to my henchman, and my anger would disappear, as I'd know that very soon in the near future, Cunt Balltaint was going to have a sudden and unfortunate meeting with a bowler hat. Or a deadly tarantula. Or a shoe with a knife in the tip. Something totally awesome and completely ridiculous at the same time like that.

Goddamn, that's a lovely thought.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

One last thought for the night...

The phrase "Don't take any wooden nickels."

Now obviously, this phrase originally meant "don't take counterfeit currency." But, seriously, who the fuck has EVER taken a wooden nickel that wasn't a complete and total retard? I mean, c'mon, I don't care what time in history, and what kinda metal a nickel was made out of at the time... you CAN NOT fucking tell me that a wooden nickel could EVER feel the same as a legit one! That's like taking a polyester dollar. Print what you want on it, it's still not gonna feel the same.

Fucktards. Seriously.

WARNING: Semi-serious blog ahead...

Whoulda thunk one of these would come around? But no, I have a gripe that has to do with my actual personal real life. And since it's in my head, I figured I'd share it.

See, I'm one of those billions of people nowadays who strives to become a "professional writer." And god bless the internet for making it seem an achievable goal for everyone nowadays, no, that doesn't make the competition even worse...

Anyway, the point is, I'm at one of those place that I hate as a writer. First of all, let me say how much I love Movie Magic Screenwriter 6, which I bought at Comic-Con last month, came in the mail a couple weeks ago, and my God... it allows you to write an outline, and then build your script based off of that, on the same document. Which for someone like me, who can NEVER bring themselves to write an outline (mainly because I just can't deal with clicking between MMS and MS Word every goddamned time I need to be reminded of where I'm going with a script, which is ALL THE TIME), is the biggest godsend I could ever ask for. I've got a script I've been tooling with for a few years now, that I never got past page 20 on, simply because I couldn't figure out the point "B" between "A" and "C"... and thanks to this program, I can finally finish, simply because I can just jot notes down until I get to the place that I know, and continue from there, going back later.

So, back to my diatribe... first of all, let me say that I love my iTunes, as it picked just the right songs for me to here... as usual, I'm working on something having to do with religious overtones (it's a comedy, and again, as usual, the idea of Hell has a lot to do with it), and just when I get to a part in my notes where I'm jotting down the MASTER PLAN of the main demon... "On Our Own" by Bobby Brown starts playing. I couldn't ask for more.

Now, here's what irks me. I'm sure I'll get past it later, but right now, it's a pain in my ass. The fact is, as I just mentioned above, I've got a character that's suddenly revealed to have a MASTER PLAN. And that MASTER PLAN is what's gonna drive the final act of the script. Problem is, for any of it to make sense, that character has to EXPLAIN the MASTER PLAN. And not only that, but once it's explained, then QUESTIONS have to be asked which hold the logic of it all together, or explain why certain things don't quite make sense. ALL PLOT HOLES MUST BE FILLED. And for all this to happen, it takes quite a few pages. Pages of nothing but exposition. Which frankly, IS NOT EXCITING ON THE SCREEN. I mean, this stuff will probably only last maybe five pages... but that's still FIVE MINUTES of nothing but TWO HEADS TALKING! Sure, they're saying funny stuff... but still, NOTHING ELSE IS HAPPENING.

And this is the hurdle I have to leap right now... figuring out how to make all this exposition entertaining for that long of a time. Again, I'm sure I can do it... I mean, dammit, this blog aside, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say I'm a pretty good writer. But still... it's a pain in my ass right now, and given that I can't think beyond it in my script right now, I'm just gonna waste the rest of my creativity bitching about it. So there. Have a good night.

And hey... any writers reading this blog, anyone with comments or other forms of communication... feel free to reply with your own stories of pain, or random thoughts. As the great Tangina said, all are welcome.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Today's thoughts.

These are the things went through my head today. They are also reasons why I should seek psychiatric help.

- Whoever came up with the phrase "never say never" was a fucking idiot. I can think of plenty of times when "never" is a great thing to say. For instance, I NEVER want to be anally raped. I feel quite pleased with myself for that statement. I NEVER want to have a child die from SIDS. I think that's a good, healthy thing to say. Fuck the guy who said "never say never."

- When you wash towels in the laundry, do you feel just a little strange when you put them in the dryer? Like somehow, you're defeating their purpose? Maybe it's just me.

- Most automatic cars have a first and second gear available for use on hills and such. Now name me one automatic car driver that has any clue which of those two gears should be used in which situation. Personally, I think they're just there to make certain automatic car drivers wear down their gears at the same rate as manual car drivers do.

- The Dodgers seem to have gotten back on their feet this past couple weeks, but during that horrid losing streak that put them in fourth place in the N.L. West... how should I put this... for a team with that much potential to do that poorly for that extended of a period of time? Frankly, the last time I can think of a team screwing up so badly was in 1919. I won't name the team, but let's just say they came from Chicago and lost the World Series.

- Let's say two claustrophobic people get along really well. Now if someone describes their companionship as "like two peas in a pod..." do they get uncomfortable?

- Fuck World of Warcraft.

- Why does scented toilet paper exist? Exactly who is purposely sniffing the stuff? Before or after?

- Will someone please explain to me the appeal of Robin Thicke? Besides him being the son of Alan, of course. He's on every single goddamned MTV channel all the time, and I don't know why.

- "Brand new from Noxema, new Ethnic Cleanser! Wipe that race... right off your face!" (yeah, I know that's in pretty poor taste, but c'mon, the rhyme's kinda catchy)

- I just watched Robocop today for the billionth time, after purchasing the new DVD of it which came out this past Tuesday (making this the third time I've bought the movie... but this time, the set has the unrated version of the film with DTS sound! How could I refuse?!). Now, I absolutely adore this movie, as it is not only a key piece of late-80's pop culture, it's also a deliciously delightful satire of corporate America and the culture of corruption, which gets more and more poignant with each passing year (I swear I didn't crib that description, that's what actually came to mind... seriously, I'm not gay). "Pakistan's invading my borders!" Genius.

Anyway, as much as I love this movie and everything in it, there's one issue I have with it, which has bugged me since the first time I saw it. Namely, the scene when Robocop takes off his helmet, exposing the face of Murphy for the first time. See, here's the thing... through the entire movie up until that point, his chin and neck are covered by a rubberized black neckpiece. But once he takes off the helmet, AND ONLY THE HELMET, that neckpiece suddenly disappears! Not only is his chin exposed, but also his entire neck! WHERE THE HELL DID THE NECKPIECE GO?!

I suppose I should be happy my life is in good enough shape that I can actually consider that an important question. Of course, I might be using trivial bullshit like that to mask the real issues that I'm unwilling to face.

Guess the psychiatrist will know for sure...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Yay! A MySpace survey! Pt. 1

Sorry to those of you waiting for Comic-Con content (all three of you), I haven't gotten the chance to get all my pics in order yet, what with all the working I've been doing, and the drinking I've been doing... oh, and yeah, to you people that got me addicted to Puzzle Quest, which has taken up the rest of my free time... I hate you all, and will soon prove it to you when my Knight has the rest of you sucking from his teet!

In the meantime, a friend of mine posted a new alphabetical MySpace survey this evening, I couldn't help but want to answer it...

A

Are you available?: Only at Macys and participating Spencer's Gifts.

What is your age?: A lot of people go with "Aquarius," some with "Innocence." Me personally, I'll go with the age of "Wonder." A thousand years ago, this land was green and good... until the Crystal cracked.

What annoys you?: People who use smartassed pop culture commentary as answers for ridiculously simple questions.


B

Do you know anyone named Billy?: I did, but then he lost my number, after all the times I told him not to. What a prick.

When is your birthday?: The day my mother plopped me out of her vagina. Although, truth be told, I came out like a Chestburster from Alien, from what I understand.

Who is your best friend?: My left hand. It gives me benefits.

What's your favorite candy?: Aren't we still on "B" questions? What the fuck?

Crush?: Okay, seriously, this is still the "B" category. And even besides that, you're not even asking a question. I can't believe I'm calling whoever came up with this survey a pigfucker this early into it.

When was the last time you cried?: Okay. Seriously? You fuck pigs, dude.


C

Whats your favorite color?: Mulatto. Or Mestizo. I like to blend.

What kind of car do you want when your older?: When my older? Okay, I'll pretend to not notice the major grammatical error... I mean, how old are we talking about? If I'm 40, I want something sensible. 50, I want something that masks what horrible shape my cock is in. 60, Oldsmobile is a given... 70 and up, I either want to give up my license on account of age, or have a hovercar. After all, that will be the future, and we've been promised those things since the 1950s.


D

Do you daydream?: I'd quote another song here, but since I can't remember the words exactly... fuck you.

What's your favorite kind of dog?: The kind that'll let me fuck her with a bag over her head.

What day of the week is it?: Wouldn't you like to know, Mister "I don't leave the house because I'm on my computer all the time creating MySpace surveys, and I eat marshmellows while I do it because I'm a sickeningly rotund lardass, and I can't remember what day it is because the fat under my eyes has swelled to a point where I can't make out what the little clock on my monitor says when I click on it."


E

How do you like your eggs?: To the left.

Have you ever been in the emergency room?: True story... when I was a very young boy, I decided my sled was perfect for sliding my arms through the blades and putting on my back, and then I could pretend to be Han Solo frozen in carbonite. It was a great little playtime, until I slipped and fell and one of the blades sliced my forehead open. I required eight stitches. Wee.

What color are your eyes?: The color of money. That is, if money was colored the color of shit.


F

Do you use fly swatters?: Pat Morita taught me the art of chopsticks, and I've never gone back.

Have you ever used a foghorn?: Now exactly when the fuck would I have ever used a foghorn in my life, pray tell? When I was a captain at sea, and needed to warn other vessels of the icebergs nearby? Cause that happened? Dick?

Is there a fan in your room?: Yes, and he's borderline obsessive, and I'm starting to fear for my life when he's around. I hear DeNiro's playing him in the remake.


G

Do you chew gum?: Only when I'm drunk and trying to cover my breath up. Do you suck dick?

Do you like gummy candies?: Only when I'm sucking dick and trying to cover my breath up. Are you drunk?

Do you like gory movies?: Only when I'm... christ, there's no other way to reverse that. Go to hell. And yes, sometimes.


H

How are you?: In what context? In bed? At shuffleboard? On 15th century Bulgarian architecture knowledge? Tell you what, let's go back to a response I had earlier... how are you at sucking dick?

What's your height?: Probably my win on Rock N' Roll Jeopardy. Definitely my fifteen minutes so far.

What color is your hair?: The rug matches the curtain. Drapes are a little off though.


I

Whats your favorite ice cream?: Rainbow sherbet (I gotta answer at least one of these properly. And by properly, I mean like a retard).

Have you ever ice skated? Little known fact... The Cutting Edge was a biopic. About me. Just because I was a preteen when it came out doesn't mean it's not true.

Ever been in an igloo?: There's as much chance of me being in one of those as there is of you being in the warm embrace of a female companion. Even one you paid for.


J

• What's your favorite Jelly Bean?: Jellybean Johnson. Played drums for Morris Day & the Time. Teh dood roolz.

Have you ever heard a really hilarious joke?: You've been laid! AH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAHAH... eh, it's not really that funny.

Do you wear jewelry?: Occasionally I'll wear a cock ring, but that's only when I've been bad and Mistress needs to punish me with torture and subservitude.



K

Have you ever flown a kite?: Why does this question sound like the start of a sixty year-old insult? Have you ever made like a tree and... well... left? Hmm... that one doesn't really work in print. Or in past tense. Crap.

Do you think kangaroos are cute?: Only when chased by poachers.


And that is enough of that... I just can't stomach filling out this whole thing tonight. Maybe I'll finish it later... you know, around the time I get around to posting my Comic-Con pictures! Look for the conclusion of this survey in mid-2009 or thereabouts! Thank you.