Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Here There Be Guesses

My official guess at who the Cartographer of Lost Places in James Owen's Here, There Be Dragons is Constantine the Great. Apparently he reveals it in the third book coming out this fall, so we'll see if I came close.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Secret Agent Puppy

Here's my second-hand telling of a story from our friend, Jen:

At work the other day, Jen picks up a message taken by the receptionist from the owner of a dog who is coming in for an appointment in an hour or so. The message says "I think my dog is dea." Jen thinks, "What? He thinks his dog is in the Drug Enforcement Agency? What does that have to do with me?" Of course, after the kind of crazy thought, then the more serious thought was "If he thinks his dog is dead, why did he just call in yesterday and make an appointment and wait more than a day to see us?"

Turns out the dog is deaf.

Hellboy II Review

Liked it. Was exactly as expected--incredible visuals and great fight scenes. Just what the doctor ordered. B

NPR Inspired Rants

First, I am getting very tired of hearing all about the evil banks and mortgage companies who have stolen homes from all the poor pitiful jerks with terrible credit (and I know what that's like) who signed up for loans they couldn't afford.

Second, maybe it's just me but it seems almost immoral for people to spend thousands of dollars on surgeries and chemotherapy for their pet goose (or cat or dog) when so many people can't afford even basic health care. I know this may sound odd coming from me, but it just feels sort of sick and wrong.

Finally: "Is there anything St. Louis can do about InBev's purchase of Anheuser-Busch?"
Um, no. So what? Of course, to the question asked on tonight's news "Should we all stop drinking Anheuser-Busch products?" my husband shouted a resounding "YES! I've been saying that for years!" But I don't think he meant we should stop drinking them in protest. I think he's just a beer snob.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In Memory of Zero


We will miss Adam "Dean" Quayle (it's okay to giggle at this point) Lutz, a.k.a. Patient Zero.

1973 - 2008

R.I.P.

For the Music Fans

The new music of the month (not that new, but on my I'm-finally-paying-attention-to-it list) is The Fratellis' Costello Music. It's a whole album of "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" style of Beatles homage. Fun, lively, musical, and still with a little something to say here and there.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the Fratellis are The Beatles. Costello Music doesn't show anything like the range of Beatles we know (and how could it--it's only their first album, after all). It's entirely the jangle pop variety, but it's really really good for what it is.

I'll definitely be checking out their second album which comes out tomorrow. (I told you I was just getting around to paying attention to this album.)

This is a shame

The Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas is shutting down Star Trek: The Experience this September first. It's part museum, part gift shop/restaurant, part environment and part simulator/Disney-like ride. And for Trek fans it's a really FUN "Experience." At least I've been there and done that.

But I'm bummed I'll never get to drag any next-generation Murphy's to it.

Scary Bugs

Woah! I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.

That Jerk James Frey

I have no idea why, but quite a while after the fact, and without being an actual victim of the fraud, that James Frey really chaps my ass. In fact, the more I think about him, and each time I think about him, I find myself getting angrier and angrier. Actually angry. My efforts over the last 5 minutes of very deep and thoughtful introspection (hey, at least it was an attempt!) to figure out why have been fruitless. So I'll just go with it--what the hell. It's my blog.

I was recently reading a review of James Frey's new novel which came out a month or so ago which gave the novel a positive review, calling Frey a "wildly talented storyteller" and commenting that the novel is "so powerful it makes one wonder why he ever detoured into nonfiction." Um. WHAT?????

I can't believe any respectable reviewer (although admittedly this reviewer works for People magazine, so maybe respectability is relative) can give this prick any positive support at all. Much less to call his prior work nonfiction after all we have learned.

What really makes me angry about this jerk, is that he could never admit it. He always said and still states that the differences between his published story and actual events were "minor changes" that any memoirist has ever right to make, and in fact, can't help making as they must rely on their own memories. AAARRRGGH!!!! I just want to slap him.

And now this idiot woman calls A Million Little Pieces nonfiction. Still. Didn't she get the memo? He was always just a powerful storyteller. Why can't the rest of us at least be clear and honest about that? Even if James Frey can't.

Get Smart Review

I liked it. I didn't love it. I wasn't blown away. But I did laugh. And I did not feel that I wasted either my time or my money. So I guess that means I give it about a 3-star rating.

All the actors did a fine job. I was particularly charmed by The Rock, actually. And I usually find Steve Carrell (how do you spell that?) entertaining. Jason strangely liked Anne Hathaway's performance--and he usually can't stand her. I usually find her cute and disliked her in this. Maybe it's a man-woman thing.

Anyway, they used the appropriate key lines and goofy gadgets from the original series and updated many of them effectively. I'm calling it a successful summer relaxation film.

Duh!

Just how long did they think the ability to keep making more and more money from expensive coffee and a canned "vibe" would last? I know that as a non-coffee-drinker I am hardly the audience for Starbuck's, but I can't help agreeing with the Buck Naked Politics blogger quoted in the article in thinking that food (especially of the healthy variety appealing to the otherwise yuppie clientele) and music that is occasionally actually interesting and different might have helped.

Thank You for the Music

ABBA proves that they really are the coolest. I'm so glad there's at least one older group who we can just remember playing as young, enthusiastic, creative kids. And that memory won't be tainted with visions of their gray-haired wrinkled 50-something selves trying to relive their youth re-hashing the same old tunes with no new flavor or style. Way to go, guys.

Marketing the Royal Family

I don't know. Maybe it's just me. But the British Royal Family's website just strikes me as funny. I mean, it could be a marketing website for any sightseeing spot, point of interest, chamber of commerce, small town or other organization. It just seems so... ...ordinary.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Wall-E Review

Adorable! 4.5 maybe 5 stars. Just adorable and the animation in the first half just blew me away. I don't know what else to say. See it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Speaking of Tom Waits

This Tom Waits quote about his wife (who he's been married to for 28 years) makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside:

"...a remarkable collaborator, and she's a shiksa goddess and a trapeze artist, all of that. She can fix the truck. Expert on the African violet and all that. She's outta this world. I don't know what to say. I'm a lucky man. She has a remarkable imagination. And that's the nation where I live. She's bold, inventive and fearless. That's who you wanna go in the woods with, right? Somebody who finishes your sentences for you."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Creepy Thin

I am watching the Machinist and I have never in my life seen anyone so horrifyingly thin as Christian Bale in this film. Thank God he gained some weight.

Glitter and Doom

I'm so glad I decided to spend the money to see Tom Waits' Glitter and Doom Tour show last night. I'm lucky St. Louis was one of the few towns to be a stop on the tour. We're the "S" in "PEHDTSCHJMBA"--the acronym of all the cities Tom is stopping at on this rare tour.

I have been sort of a mediocre fan of Waits in the past. I think I like him, I've gone to the trouble to acquire the majority of his albums, but I can't name the songs I like best and I don't know much about his history as an artist since my interest is all pretty recent. So I didn't expect such a theatrical experience. I suppose I thought he'd sit at an upright piano and just growl his songs away one after another just as I imagined he'd spent the early years of his career.

Instead he stood front and center on a round podium for most of the show and gave his band tricky stage cues that they followed perfectly. He was like a circus ringleader, surrounded by crazy props. The wooden riser he was on would puff dust whenever he stomped on it creating a smoke machine effect that flowed around his band. The show was an Experience with a capital "E." I'm a full-fledged fan now.

And so I can focus on my listening in the future and explore my expanded fan-dom, here is the set list:

Lucinda
Hoist That Rag
Come On Up to the House
Jesus Gonna Be Here
November
Black Market Baby
Rain Dogs
Trampled Rose
Goin’ Out West
Murder in the Red Barn
Anywhere I Lay My Head
Cemetery Polka
Get Behind the Mule
Eyeball Kid
Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis [TW on piano]
Picture in a Frame [TW on piano]
Invitation to the Blues [TW on piano]
Innocent When You Dream [TW on piano]
Lie To Me
Chocolate Jesus
Make It Rain

and the encore:
Way Down in the Hole
God’s Away On Business
Time

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Famous Photo Lego Re-Creations

I just have to link to this so I will have access to it again someday.

Miscellany

Tom Waits concert tomorrow night--can't wait.

My sister has really done a good job lately on adding to her Goodreads shelves. I admire that and hope I get to that place, too.

Now I think I'll get in bed and cuddle with my Kindle. And maybe Ramona. If she'll let me.

Chico

How charming is that guy???? What a doll.

And how cool must my husband be to have such terrific people love and enjoy him so much.

That my husband is cool of course is no surprise to me. But it's great to get to see it and soak in it. Those are the moments that count.

Babel Review

I'm giving this one 4.5 stars, I think. My husband certainly would not agree. I am certain of that even though I can't tell you why. We just don't think alike when it comes to movies.

Anyway, with our DirecTV out tonight, I checked out what movies we've acquired lately that I haven't watched yet and picked out Babel. I really couldn't remember much about previews or what it was about though I knew much of it was set in Africa somewhere and it would be heavy. It is indeed a heavy movie. I cried during several scenes and give credit to Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt for making me believe them as an emotionally troubled couple with much history together. I also picked particularly favorable conditions (though not on purpose). My husband had left the stereo up rather loud, and because the movie started out quietly, I left it at that volume and I think the quality soundtrack and sound effects at a substantial volume really helped with that immersive "experience" effect.

The film involves what seems to be a current favorite plot device in films--several different story lines with some small connection tying them together. In this case our intertwined groups are a teenage girl whose mother died recently and her father who had given a gift of a rifle to a Moroccan man many months previously, a Moroccan (a neighbor of the man who received the rifle gift) and his family whose sons accidentally shoot an American tourist while playing with the rifle, Cate Blanchett who is the injured tourist and her husband on vacation in Morocco trying to get assistance after she is shot, and the Mexican illegal immigrant nanny of Cate and Brad's children who gets into trouble with the border patrol while transporting the children across the boundary.

I found all of the acting completely convincing and effective and something about the director's style just gave the whole film a sense of utter authenticity. There were some draggy moments and times when I found my mind wandering and attempting to solve the riddle in advance of how the lives were all going to fit together or what the ultimate theme was going to be. And when the film first ended I was frustrated by a couple of things. One is that in a significant scene with the teenage girl at the end of the film, she gives a note to a police officer to read after he leaves her that is clearly of great significance to her emotionally. While we do get to see the cop read the note, we don't get a translation or any inkling of what it said. I hate when they do that! The other thing I found frustrating was a vague feeling that the writer and director clearly felt these stories tied together in a more fundamentally themic way than just the relationship with the gun I described above. But I just didn't get it.

Luckily I checked out the DVD extras, was briefly disappointed by the lack of deleted scenes or a translation of the girl's note, clicked on the theatrical trailer to watch it and THERE WAS THE EXPLANATION! Really the explanation was in the title of the film all along, but my not-biblically-focused mind was just unable to focus apparently. I'm frankly not sure why the theme was literally spelled out in the trailer and left much more amorphous in the film itself, and the reason I take half a star away from this film's rating is that I do feel it was a bit too amorphous. I am not afraid to admit that I like movies that help me along and don't make me think too hard. So only 4.5 for this one, not 5.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Shelfari Widget

Okay, so I've installed the Shelfari widget. Over there -------> What do you think? Of course, as with so many web-nicketeys, it all will depend on whether I keep it up to date. We'll see how it goes...