Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Saturday, August 15, 2009

An Afternoon of Mild Disappointments

After a haircut this morning (not disappointing), I went to see District 9. I liked it (especially the parts where the bad guys go *splash*) but I was mildly disappointed by it, mostly because it had been hyped so much and I went in with really high expectations.

Parts of it were uneven, and parts of it felt like a standard buddy movie (even with aliens, it's fairly well-trodden ground). Everyone was interested in collecting and using the alien weapons (robot fighting suits!) except the aliens themselves, which was odd, though I guess an alien uprising would have been a different allegorical movie. And the The Nigerian gangsters felt like they were spliced into the plot to provide a convenient device.

Overall, the plot left a lot unexplained, in a very unsatisfying way. At least with Alien Nation (to which this movie owes a lot), we knew the Tenctonese aliens were slaves, which is why they couldn't go home. In District 9, the aliens have the means to go home -- one really smart prawn has been hiding the key to their return for 20 years, and they even have the fuel -- albeit in a form they need to furtively scavenge and refine -- like meth cookers -- from recovered bits of their own technology.

Anyway, it seems fairly well set up for a sequel. District 10, anyone?

Afterwards, I stopped by Reston Town Center to visit the new Apple Store. Though I missed the grand opening festivities, it was still loud and crowded. This one, I didn't have big expectations for -- after all, it's just an Apple store -- but it's also disconvertingly small. Narrow. Especially when compared to the nearby stores in Arlington and Tysons Corner. It doesn't take up the entire former Eddie Bauer store space (there's another store next door).

Then I stopped by The Counter for a burger. The space is shiny and nice, the staff is friendly, they have beer, and the burger is... average. Maybe "solid" is a better word. I would say overpriced.

The fries are shoestring style and good, though I guess I'm a french fry philistine -- my favorite is still the heavily-seasoned kind that come frozen in an institutional-sized bag.

Anyway, here's a cameraphone picture:


I still haven't been to Ray's Hell Burger yet, so the best I've had around here is still Joe's Burgers in McLean.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 03, 2009

When TV and Movies Enhance Music Appreciation

I find it interesting how hearing a song used as part of a TV or movie soundtrack can strengthen my connection to it, or makes me appreciate it in a whole new way.

The most recent example of this was hearing The Chemical Brothers song, "Alive Alone" (vocals by Beth Orton) during a key moment in the Virtuality pilot (which I actually liked a lot). I was familiar with the song (Exit Planet Dust is an awesome album, to state the obvious), but I can't say that it had any special grip on me. But after seeing it used in the Orion drive detonation sequence (at the 50 minute mark if you watch it online), it made me like it a whole lot more.

This isn't the first time this has happened. Other times include:

* Seeing Soul Coughing's Super Bon Bon during the cold open sequence of an episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets

* When the Propellerheads' Spybreak! plays during the lobby shootout in The Matrix.

* The epic use of Inna Gadda Da Vida during the climax of Manhunter. If you know the scene, nothing more needs to be said. If you don't, well, I pity you.

If the director knows what he or she's doing with the soundtrack, the song will match the tone and content of the scene -- they're using the song to reinforce the impact of the visual and action. (And I guess it also happens with music videos, so nothing new there.) But I still find it interesting how the opposite effect occurs, whereafter you associate the song with the scene.

I guess I'm easily impressed.

If you've got an example of a song that you ended up liking a whole lot more after seeing it used somewhere, feel free to share.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Prescience of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Went to go to see the Washington Psychotronic Film Society's showing of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! at its original time (Tuesday nights) and new location, the Meeting Place.

The bar is kind of a weird -- it's literally a dive (underground), pretty no-frills. The regulars at the bar were mostly black, contrasted with the mostly-white hipster archetype movie-goers. (Apparently, there's also a goth-y dance party on Saturdays to throw in the mix, too.)

Movie turnout was pretty good, between 30-40 people. The movie was shown on a flat screen in the corner; at times, it was kind of hard to hear, especially with noise from the bar (there's no separation between dining room and bar), though outside a few laugh lines, this isn't really a dialogue kind of movie.

The movie itself is... well, I've seen it before (years ago, at a theater in New York, also with a crowd of urban hipsters). The plot is laughable and serves only as a vehicle for Russ Meyer's visual titillation -- the eye candy started out as pure exploitation, but time has pretty much tempered it down to schlocky camp (with go-go boots, as well as hepcat talk and bad Italian accents). And Tura Satana's karate *CHOPS* to the ribs are more Austin Powers than Austin Powers.

Anyway, here's the laugh line of the night:
"Women! They let 'em vote, smoke and drive - even put 'em in pants! And what happens? A Democrat for president!" - The Old Man

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Washington Psychotronic Film Society Moves Back to Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

Just saw in the City Paper that the weekly Washington Psychotronic Film Society showings are moving back to DC in November (to The Meeting Place, near Farragut North Metro).

This, from its current home in a side room at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse, which is probably a good thing. The space was okay, though a bit on the small side (especially in comparison to the entire back room of the now-demolished Dr. Dremo's), but it was not particularly convenient to Metro.

Plus, it'll snag all the DC citizens who hate crossing the river.

As for me, I used to be a fairly irregular attendee when it was at Dremo's (Tuesday nights), though I'd dropped off once it switched to Wednesdays, which are my usual Galaxy Hut nights. And it was really lineup-dependent, since as I keep whining, there's that whole "aging Gen-Xer turns against schlock" thing.

But I figure that I'll try to attend a few and see what's going on.

Oh, and as to what's going on -- the article links to the WPFS Psychotronic Zone Blog, which I had no idea existed, as it's not linked from the main WPFS site.

Labels: ,

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Hammer Is My Penis

Captain Hammer says: "The Hammer is my penis."

I'm not a Joss Whedon fanboy, but I'm liking Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog so far, even though it's causing the TMBG song "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair" to keep looping in my head ("Mr. Horrible, Mr. Horrible: Telephone call for Mr. Horrible").

It's cute and well-cast (even though Felicia Day runs the risk of getting typecast in laundromat roles).

This is a short review, but then, it's a short movie.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Michael Mann Calls You "Sport" Before You Get Shot

I did that thing the other night again, landing in the place halfway between not being able to get to sleep and waking up way too early.

Either way, I was too useless to try to do anything productive, so I decided to dip into my stack of unwatched DVDs. I chose Michael Mann's Miami Vice of 2006.

It did not put me to sleep. Although I'm a little surprised that it didn't -- it takes a while to get rolling. And even when it does, it drags in places -- most notably, during the courtship of Colin Farrell and Gong Li. Of the rendered judgments of the movie, this is the one I agree with the most -- it's flat, and if there was any chemistry there, it didn't show up on film.

The narrative is a little disjointed -- it feels like it's missing something: as if it belongs in a four-episode arc of a series. Especially the ending, which is kind of weak on its own.

I wouldn't rank it among Michael Mann's best works. However, it does have a few bits of great dialogue, including this doozy delivered by Detective Gina Calabrese (played by Elizabeth Rodriguez) to a hostage-taker who says he's going to push a button and blow up everyone in the room:
"That's not what happens. What will happen is... what will happen is, I will put a round at 2,700 feet per second into the medulla at the base of your brain. And you will be dead from the neck down before your body knows it. Your finger won't even twitch. Only you get dead. So tell me, sport, do you believe that?"
The visual works better when you see she's behind a Heckler & Koch G-36C when she's saying it:

I just can't see "dude" working as well in this context.

Now, besides the word "medulla," the other word that you don't hear very much is "sport" (at least, not as a term of address, and certainly not one outside of crazy uncles and 1950s sitcoms).

One other place you'll hear sport used like this is Michael Mann's 1986 movie Manhunter -- the line comes from Will Graham, as he's about to get serious about catching the bad guy:

"It's just you and me now, sport."

You know he's serious, as he's looking out at the rain. Also, that he's smart, since he's not getting wet.

In conclusion... well, I didn't really have a conclusion. I had a digression -- looking up Manhunter surfaced an interesting YouTube video, which led to the start of a much more involved discussion about the merits of Michael Mann's Manhunter version Brett Ratner's Red Dragon (hint: Manhunter is better) but that will have to wait.

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Dad Mooned Me on Skype for Mothers Day

For Mothers Day, I had a nice, long Skype video chat with my family.

I was even able to show my mom the card I forgot to mail to her. (She said to save it for next year. )

Also, apparently Dad has been having some intermittent pain in his sacroiliac joints (on the pelvis, to the left and right of the spine, just above the buttocks). Being a doctor, he felt the need to show the location, so he basically mooned me via webcam. Well, half-mooned.

Other than that, today was very damp. I went to a matinee showing of Iron Man, which besides living up to high expectations (save for the post-credits cameo bonus scene, which was kind of a letdown after the big buildup), was also the first movie I'd seen in a theater since I saw Children of Men last January.

I'm at a point in my life where, if a movie is good enough for me to see in a movie theater, it's a movie I'll most likely want to own. In which case, why not just wait a couple of months instead of paying for it twice?

And I don't even have a killer home theater setup. I guess I'm getting pragmatic. Or cheap. Or I need to go out on more dinner-and-a-movie dates.

(And while we're on the topic: Why dinner first, and then the movie? Shouldn't it be movie first, and then dinner? That way, you can at least talk about the movie at dinner. And you don't have to worry about having to duck out to the restroom halfway through because you drank too much water during dinner.)

I also stopped by the neighborhood Giant on the way home. Besides getting thoroughly moistened by the rain, I was also somewhat disconcerted; they're renovating the place and using a new floor plan, so everything is all moved around.

That was pretty much my weekend right there.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Waking Up to the Sound of George Clooney Screaming

Yakov Smirnoff was in the middle of calling the play-by-play for a Slamball match when I woke up this morning.

The night before, I awoke to the sound of George Clooney screaming; I'd fallen asleep on the couch, shortly after putting Syriana on -- evidently there's a torture scene. I don't remember a bit of it.

Just prior to that, I'd finally made it all the way through Glengarry Glen Ross. I'd started it ages ago, but I never could get through it -- I kept falling asleep, probably because of all the rain scenes. Though all the endless variations of "Fuck you!" "No, fuck you!" Mamet dialog also gets pretty tedious.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Because All You of Earth Are Idiots!

Plan 9 From Outer Space is pretty rich with quotes. Here are some others:

"You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!"

"In my land, women are for advancing the race, not for fighting man's battles."

And that's just from the second half of the movie, since I got to Dr. Dremo's way late for the last screening there of the Washington Psychotronic Film Society.

Incidentally, it was jam-packed, with people sitting on the floor.

Also, Jenny won yet another door prize: A numbered print of former porn star/actress Traci Lords. You can clearly see how thrilled she is:

Jenny poses with her prize. Score.

WPFS was a good fit for Dr. Dremo's, so it'll be interesting to see where movie nights will end up moving to.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, January 11, 2008

All Red Dawn: All the Time

After careful analysis, and with CourtTV's rebranding to TruTV fresh in mind (to better reflect its updated programming mission blah blah blah), I've come to the conclusion that the AMC network, formerly American Movie Classics, should update its name to the RED network, for "Red Dawn Every Day."

This is only a slight exaggeration -- if they could get "RDFFHH" into a meaningful acronym, it would be even better, since the Big 3 AMC offerings seem to be Red Dawn, Firefox and Hamburger Hill. (Okay, throw Heartbreak Ridge into the mix, too.)


Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

See the color of my skin? That means I'M the boss!

I went to Dr. Dremo's last night to catch one of the Washington Psychotronic Film Society's last three screenings there.

This week's feature was The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck, an Indiana Jones knockoff directed by, and starring, David Keith (who should not be confused with Keith David).

David Keith has had notable roles in films like The Lords of Discipline, An Officer and a Gentleman, and U-571.

This was not one of those roles.

Perhaps directing himself was a mistake.

Starring in the female lead was Kathy Shower, who at the time held the distinction of being the oldest Playboy Playmate at the ripe old age of... 32.

Which is significantly younger than I am right now.

Man, I'm getting old.

Anyway, she doesn't get naked until an hour into the movie.

Other than that, there's a notable moment when the doofus white safari tourist, on the run from headhunters, says to his native guide (paraphrasing):

"See the color of my skin? That means I'm the boss!"

He is, of course, caught and decapitated shortly thereafter.

That's about it.

On an attendance note, the movie crowd was about the same, but the bar crowd was heavier than I'd seen on a Tuesday. Maybe people getting their last licks in -- I don't think the two-dollar pint special, which was some sort of ginger beer, was that big of a draw by itself.

The last two movies that'll be shown are Beer and Plan 9 From Outer Space, so don't miss 'em.

As for tonight, The Positions are playing at the Rock and Roll Hotel. I may try to go see them, but I'll probably also try to meet up with some folks at Clyde's in Ashburn beforehand, which would make it kind of a haul. So we'll see.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post-Christmas Roundup, Part 1

It took a grueling six hours to drive from New Jersey to Virginia this afternoon.

That includes an hour crawling on the New Jersey and Delaware Turnpikes; two pit stops (including time to brush off a "out of gas, can you help me out" hustle), and about an hour at the Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

So it actually wasn't all that bad.

Of course, I apparently brought back some sort of cold (although it's possible it's been incubating since Friday) -- I've got a sore throat and the crawly chills all over.

I've got a whole lot of pictures from Christmas Day and the surrounding events that I need to get up, though I really just want to stay horizontal right now. I just watched 300, which I picked up at the Virgin Megastore on Broadway on Christmas Day (hey, it was just about the only thing open) -- after all the buildup, all the hype, I just have to say:

What a visually interesting, overwrought piece of melodramatic crap.

The 300-inspired memes were more interesting than the movie.

Also, yet again, I bought a CD I already own -- Belle & Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister (anyone want a free CD)?

At this point, I have to add them to the "make sure you don't already own the CD" list of bands, which includes Throwing Muses, Cocteau Twins, Stereolab, and Mazzy Star (and I've only got two of their albums).

Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Feel... Myself... Getting... Dumber

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is on. I keep flipping past it, and I can actually feel myself getting stupider.

It's a similar feeling I get when I flip past MANswers on Spike TV. I watched most of an episode once. It's like Mythbusters, only with all the smart, interesting, original, and funny bits taken out.

I got remarkably little done today. Sitting around and watching OpenOffice download doesn't count for much.

I was planning on doing up a quick and dirty design for business... excuse me, calling cards, but I figured I might as well wait until I look into setting up a consultancy.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wonkette Editors Are Shameless and Lazy. But We Knew That

I guess I'm the last person to notice, but there's a been high correlation lately between the blog picks that show up in DC Blogs Noted and Wonkette's Metro Section.

In fact, they've been just about identical. (Ah, but pity the poor souls who are featured on DC Blogs, but don't make the Wonk-cut. I just made that up. I'm so clever.)

I'd first noticed this on the 15th -- Wonkette and DC Blogs are just a few tabs apart in my Local folder, and 4 of the 5 featured blogs were the same. I had a moment of deja vu before I figured it out.

On the off chance that it was some sort of baroque, creditless content swapping deal, I'd asked the DC Blogs folks about this -- Pat wrote back that they'd noticed Wonkette was using the same picks, but that they didn't care and that it just drove more eyeballs to the featured blogs. Win-win-win.

It's pretty obvious that Wonkette and others watch the live feed (which is what it's there for), but cribbing from the editorially-chosen selections of DC Blogs Noted, without giving credit, is a cheeseball move.

I know I shouldn't look gift pageviews in the mouth (DC Blogs listed my 9/11 Raisin Bran entry, which was then mentioned in Wonkette, tripling my usual pageviews and validating my heretofore worthless existence), but I hate to see Pat and the rest of the DC Blogs crew not get the credit they deserve for the work that they've done.

Of course, I would hate it more if the Wonkette folks bagged the live feed and picks out of spite.

So, I'll just take my Junior G-Man badge:

Vincent Hanna says: "Well, I am over-fuckin'-whelmed. What do you want for that, a Junior G-Man badge?"

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dumbness Comes in Threes

Here are three bits of current dumbness:

1. I went to a milblog conference last week. I wrote about it in my work blog. I referred to one of the panelists, Sean Dustman of Doc in the Box, as Sean Preston (the Britney-Spawn) not once, but four times (1 full name reference, 3 last name references).

At least I was consistent.

2. Thanks to Sprint, my still-new cell phone, the superslim Samsung 610 does not let you play mp3s as ringtones (the better to force you to pay for downloads). However, someone on the SprintUsers Web forum found a way to do use MP3s as ringtones, simply by renaming the MP3 file with the .3g2 extension, and playing it as a video ringtone.

However, when I tried it, and during my testing, I found that it worked, but played at an unusably low volume. (So, useless as a ringtone.)

It was only by accident that I discovered that the speaker volume is automatically lowered when the phone is open. It's plenty loud when the phone is open closed.

So, now I've got the 24 CTU ringtone, with the option to use the "Ho! Ho! Ho!" bits of the Sugarhill Gang's Apache or the yodel-y bit of Baltimora's Tarzan Boy (thanks to free audio editing program Audacity)

3. I was looking at some clips from a blog entry about the best long takes in film -- it includes the hospital shootout of John Woo's Hong Kong gangster shoot-em-up flick Hard Boiled, which I own on VHS -- it took me a few minutes to realize that the video clip was from the French-dubbed version.

(With the widespread use of CGI, it's hard to keep a clean list of the best long takes and tracking shots -- there is room for debate, once you start digitally assembling bits of film to look like continuous takes. It's kind of like cheating.)

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 08, 2007

Go See Children of Men

Saturday was unseasonably warm, so I took the opportunity to do something I haven't done for a long while.

I went to a movie.

Yes, I took advantage of the rare January shorts and t-shirts weather by sitting inside a climate-controlled multiplex to see 'Children of Men.'

It was worth it. You should go see it. It was intense.

There are plenty of reviews out there, so I won't give away any of the details.

Technically speaking, there are a couple of ridiculously long uninterrupted tracking shots, including a spectacularly complicated 8-minute battle scene towards the end. (I didn't realize how long it was until reading about it afterwards.)

It's also one of those movies that gives movie theaters a reason to continue existing, at least if you don't have a surround sound setup at home.

Anyway, like I said, it's intense, especially the extended urban combat scene that ends in the apartment building. And the thing that halts it (briefly) is even more intense. I teared up.

It's definitely going on the DVD-to-get list, which is pretty ridiculous, considering my existing backlog of unwatched movies (which I just added to today, getting 5 more: The Matador, Brick, Inside Man, United 93, and Land of the Dead.)

Yes, not only am I procrastinating when it comes to dealing with my life by buying movies, I'm procrastinating in my procrastination by not watching the movies that I buy.

Labels: , ,