“Bouncing Off the Walls”
Welcome to my WebLog. (I won’t call it a “b--g”;
I don’t like the word.) Way too much information about my
life, my thoughts, my fears, and my ever-evolving politics. For
those of you who care (or for those who just accidentally found this
page due to a web search).
1:10 am / Monday, December 28, 2005
I enjoyed this movie (on DVD) more than I feared I would. Because my memory of the trailer screamed “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but not quite as good!”
The werewolf effects were still as cheesy as I expected, a digital version of the change scene in An American Werewolf in London, but sped up and not quite as good. (And that film was what, 20 years ago?) The gadgets largely made me roll my eyes, but putting them in the context of a Holy Roman James Bond situation alleviated that some.
In all, there were some fun moments, interesting character designs, and enough backstory to intrigue without painting a huge sign saying “Sequel Fodder!”. The file was reasonably internally consistent, but didn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Biggest complaint: no top hat and cane song-and-dance scene with Frankenstein’s Monster.
1:52 pm / Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Rusty and I saw Rent on December 8, and we both thought it was fantastic.
Rusty has a lot less exposure to musicals (and movie musicals), so he found the first third or so to be very slow, as the characters were being introduced, each with his or her own song, but by the middle, he was completely into it, and he was in tears for most of the last third. (Of course, it was good for him that Rent was converted into a “songs and dialogue” version from the original rock opera, or he might have walked out, confused and dissatisfied. We saw Evita on DVD a few days later and we had to do it in two sittings; the opera style can be hard to deal with, as I recall from when I saw Evita in the theater.)
Myself, I never saw the stage version, but I had a general idea of the plot (thanks mostly yo Forbidden Broadway, I confess). I clearly saw why the show was such an important touchstone for many just below my age bracket – now late 30s, then late 20s – especially the early Gen-X urban crown, and doubly so for the gay audience.
Of course, I’m never able to fully immerse myself in a film. While watching, I think about story cycles and character arcs, I watch for foreshadowing (and listen for it in the score; I despised A.I. because I was too aware of the string pulling being done with the music), I pick out poorly done special effects, and I look for the remnants of deleted scenes. Rent was no different.
I’m surprised, after the fact, to find that there were no new songs added to the movie version. They seem to do that fairly often, for no apparent reason other than to ensure a Best Song Oscar nomination. Of course, with the original composer deceased, it’s probably a good thing that they did not.
The only special effect that annoyed me was because I noticed it, and that was the breath fog in the alley during “I Should Tell You”. My first thought was “Cool, they added in the breath fog,” but then I noticed it throughout the rest of the scene, which pulled me out of the film. Of course, they did a much better job with the effect than in The Sixth Sense (which was years earlier, of course), and then there’s King Kong, where the last quarter of the film is in New York in winter, and there’s not a puff of breath to be seen.
I was pleased that the various locations didn’t look like set pieces, which happens all to often in plays transformed into movies. (Jeffrey comes to mind as really lousy in that arena.) According to Wikipedia, even the squat itself was real (or at least “real”, as opposed to being a sound stage construction).
I was pleased with how the various characters were all tied into one another’s lives. Everyone was connected to at least two other characters, which made them feel like a real extended family. I can’t compare to the original storyline, though, but two of the bits seemed either wedged in from nowhere or else are indicative of cut scenes (or cut lines when converting from opera to “songs and dialogue”: Mimi and Benny’s past relationship just suddenly appeared (most everything with Benny felt sidelined, in fact), and Mark’s departure to and nearly immediate return from Santa Fe didn’t feel fully formed, as though there should have been another few minutes of motivation. in there.
In the end, minor flaws and annoyances, and some of them may be my own fault. Definitely one of the best films of the year, for me.
12:23 am / Monday, December 26, 2005
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My stepson, Josh, showed up at our house on Christmas Eve with this in his pocket. It’s a lollipop (finished, in this image); pushing the snowman up raises the candy up.
It’s also fashioned after a cigarette lighter. In fact, I noticed it specifically because Josh was flipping the top back and forth. (Perhaps like Pyro from X-Men 2, or maybe just like his dad when Rusty used to smoke, or like his mother’s boyfriend Mike.)
Needless to say, I was appalled by this. Here and Washington state has just passed a Smoking Ban, and we ran Joe Camel right out of town, but we’re selling candy to kids which teaches them how to using smoking paraphernalia? There oughta be a law. (Maybe there really ought to be. What’s the contact info for my legislators again?)
The manufacturer (or distributor, anyway; it was Made in China) is My Favorite Company (P.O. Box 69977, Los Angeles, CA 90069). I can’t help but wonder if they are owned somewhere up the line by RJReynolds Tobacco or some such. I’ve sent them a pointed e-mail on the matter, but we’ll see if they even bother to respond.
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11:53 am / Sunday, December 25, 2005
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This box recently showed up in my mailbox. I’m thinking “Cool. They’ve included the VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) hardware for free, to sell the service. ‘Give away the razors to sell the razor blades’ sort of thing. Probably a cheap, low quality version of the hardware, but good enough.”
Alas, no, when I flip up the top, this is all that was inside…
Ha ha ha. Scissors, to literally cut your phone bill in half.
Of course, what that implies is that scissors are the only way to cut the phone bill. Vonage’s service apparently won’t do it. Mmm, that’s good marketing!
So then I decide to play with the scissors. But they are sized for kids’ hands. When an adult male uses them and opens them to a comfortable width, they get stuck. And then as you wiggle them back and forth…
They come apart! (Not broken, just separated at the little hinge. Some assembly required, it seems.)
Of course, what that implies is that Vonage falls to pieces when you try to do anything with it, that Vonage’s service (and maybe VOIP in general) is just a toy. Mmm, that’s good marketing!
But we’ll give it one more try. Don’t open the scissors too wide. Just use them to cut a piece of paper – like the phone bill – in half.
And guess what? There’s no edge on these plastic scissors. The blades don’t even come together like children’s safety scissors do. They won’t cut paper! Not even a little bit.
Of course, what that implies…
Mmm, that’s good marketing! Not.
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2:13 pm / Saturday, November 5, 2005
I’ve started adding book reviews, trip reports, and other pieces of leather-oriented writings to my website, as I dig them up from my archives. This is an ongoing project, done as it occurs to me to pull something out of the archives.
Many of the reviews were written in the mid-1990s, when I worked for the newspaper OutNOW!, and reflect both the audience they were written for and my own state in the leather community at the time. Others were written for the Seattle Men in Leather newsletter in the early 2000s, and were aimed at (and written from) a more leather-savvy perspective.
Find the Reviews here.
Find the Trip Reports here.