Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the Name of the Killjoy

Egad. Sakes alive. *&$%@# all ta' ...---well, you know. Why? Why Hollywood!?! Why would you reduce something as mirthfully goofball and miraculously playable as Dungeon Siege by making a shoddy Uwe Boll (a la Blood Rayne!---gah! I know! I know!) flick out of it! I speak of In the Name of the King, a film which prematurely attempts to associate itself with a much grander picture. Now, I won't berate the cast. I think Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, John Rhys-Davies and Leelee Sobieski, to name a few, aren't the worst players in the world. If anything it might be mildly amusing compared to Eragon, which, as you know, oh faithful cyberspace, was cinematic feces. But then Eragon also touted Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich in its cast.

I know that to most of the planet, video games are cultural detritus, technology's answer to several millenia's culmination of male aggression and sexual objectification of women. Still, in a few ephemeral moments, one is truly transported to beautiful landscapes, vividly visceral battles, and profound moments of masculine introspection. Immersion of the kind that only video games can produce asks more of a director than a peripheral preproduction and a fly-by-night screenwriter.

I dare not rant more. It just sickens me that my periodic delight has become so much fodder for feeble storytelling.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tomorrow is an important day. It will mark one month since the uprisings in Burma were at their peak, and yet little has changed for its people. Here's the info from Campaign for Burma (U.S.):

Saffron Revolution in Numbers (From Asia Pacific People's Partnership on Burma (APPPB)

In total there have been 227 protests openly defying the military regime. On September 24 alone, over 1,000,000 people took to the streets in 26 cities and towns across Burma, marching for freedom and a better life.1
In total, demonstrations have taken place in 66 cities across the country in all 7 states and all 7 divisions.2
So far an estimated 3000 protesters have been detained. This includes at least 1,400 monks and nuns3
On August 21, 13 leaders of the 88 Generation Students Group were arrested. On average, they have already spent 30% of their life behind bars.
In the bloody crackdown that began on September 26, more than 200 people have been killed.4 The ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) only claims that 9 have been killed.
In the crackdown, 1 Japanese journalist was killed, at least 5 other journalists were arrested and 10 were injured or harassed.5
Before August 21, there were 1158 political prisoners in Burmese prisons.6
At least 1,000 people have been disappeared during the Saffron Revolution.7
At 11am on September 28, the SPDC shut down the country's only public web server. This prevented Burmese people from getting urgent messages to the world
The protests started after the SPDC increased the price of fuel by as much as 500% 90% of families in Burma live near or at the poverty line ($1 US a day).8

1 Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB) estimate
2 FDB estimates.
3 Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) estimate
4 DVB estimate

5 Reporters Sains Frontiers (RSF) (30 September 07), 'At least five journalists arrested in Rangoon,
including Japanese daily’s correspondent',


8 United Nations Survey

It may seem that a place like Burma (now called Myanmar) seems so far away. But the calamities, the casualties, the human rights abuses are very real. Go to www.uscampaignforburma.org to see how you can help.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sunsets and snacking on salami

We're settling in: couches have all been aligned, the litter box properly located, and various accoutrements recently sheared of a year's worth of dust have sprung up on the walls. Some shattered ceramics from a trip to Mexico have been gingerly daubed with Gorilla glue; other items have been spruced or discarded. We've discovered nooks and crannies, attic space and crawl space, not to mention a backyard that's just large enough for the odors of neighboring animalia (and their ordure) to dissipate long enough to allow basking in sunsets and snacking on salami.

What's more is that even whilst typing in a library crying impending academia I am hopeful, even believing in a future that smacks of stability, serenity and joy.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

TRANSFORMERS---more than meets the eye!

Much to my chagrin I was wooed alongside nine year old boys and thirtysomething video gamers (ahem! er, uh *cough cough*) by some really bracing pacing in the latest Transformers trailer---I think it was when I saw Fantastic Four 2 (ahem! mrrrm *cough cough*)---and I came to see yet another Jerry Bruckheimer/ Michaeal Bay effort, a CGI-glutted, rock 'em sock 'em, adrenaline packed, testerone-laden excuse for two plus hours of my day. Surprisingly, I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I would be! (How's that for the cup is half-full?)

I won't bother with summary, etc. but will say that fans of the cartoon will feel a renewed sense of manly security when they hear Optimus Prime's booming, pseudo-synthesizer radiating in voice over and reminding we measly humans that all will be well. The voice (done by Peter Cullen, who, incidentally, is also the voice of Eeyore) silences the noise of terrorism (a la rumors of war), government and corporate corruption, or even the daily mundanities of trying to muck out a living. It's downright therapeutic. I may just get the movie only to replay those moments when I'm stressed.

It was the above, however, that caught me off guard. While the Transformers are in fact souped up courtesy of legions of computer artists, they're still very much the ones we remember in the 80's, (well, except in one scene where Bumblebee "lubricates" on a covert agent). Furthermore, Shia LaBeouf is the saving grace of the movie. He's unavoidably likeable, of course, but he also plays the awkward teen wanting a car to impress the girl like a pro. That journey, which lasts maybe one third of the film (or so it seems) is the one that ingratiates, even inures me into thinking I might just give a ---well, you know.

However, this is, after all, a Michael Bay film, and what would any summer blockbuster be without a whole lotta destruction? Trust me, if you're looking for CGI wonder, you'll find it, but you may get more than you wished for... Maybe I'm getting old, but action for the sake of action annoys my inner being. I'm much more interested in how any story element (action included) affects the characters. In other words, the stakes for the characters are what make the action important. Mere survival or even victory (even against giant robots) isn't enough for me to shout "wahoo!" In Transformers, I stopped caring so early that by the thousandth explosion or rolling robot, I could no longer take anything on screen seriously.

But then, what did I expect from Bay and Bruckheimer?

A few random items:

  • There's some random wacky robot doing an acid-tripped Johnny 5 impression throughout the film--- I can't be scared by that, but am I supposed to be?
  • Why did the female lead have to be like something out of FHM? (Fact is, I wonder if she hasn't been in FHM.) The largely male demographic of this particular movie will unlikely not need any help augmenting their drool capacity, nor their penchant for dreaming foolishly that they're perfectaly capable of dating such a person by any means save an extraterrestrial car. I feel to say to my fellow geeks, abandon such an enterprise! Find a real woman, these pin-ups aren't for you.
  • More than a few human beings get annihilated in terrifically gory and or excruciating ways in this movie, including a scene where MegaTron actually flicks a human being away like a bug. Such reminds me of a film instructor who despised Paul Verhoeven for a scene in Total Recall, wherein Ahnold uses a human body for a shield. Is this the nature of blockbuster according to Bruckheimer? The film employs the line "Without sacrifice there can be no victory" throughout, but I wonder if it shouldn't be "Without attrition there can be no box office success"?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Pieces of radioactive evil...

Brace yourselves.
I have the answer to one of life's greatest mysteries. You ready? I can't tell but I think some of you are standing up. That's right, you're STANDING UP while reading my blog!!! Siddown, dangit! I know the fundamental reason why we grow old: bills. Yep. That's right. You heard it here first, folks.

Granted, the bills themselves are innocuous pieces of paper to the physical senses, just ink and shredded, pulpified, dehydrated tree--(the butchers!)--- but to the emotional mind, they're caustic pieces of radioactive evil, the parchment equivalent of hordes of zombies hungry for human brains!! I'm suggesting in my not-so-subtle yet inimitable style that it is the fear of bills that is the root of all suffering, gray hairs, tomato-eye, and the generally stuffy malaise of adulthood.

I don't say that work isn't good for the soul, but doing custodial work just to keep the health insurance industry er... healthy, is not my cup of tea.

Oh, and forthcoming, but not right soon, is my rant of all rants on the plight of the humble custodial worker! CUSTODIANS UNITE!!! Now is the winter of our discontent...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Why oh why???

A few gripes---

  • Why oh why didn't they let Genndy Tartakovsky take care of the live action versions of Star Wars Eps 1-3? The Clone Wars vols 1 & 2 are so expertly paced, so deliciously attentive to character development, in short, so incredibly competent that it begs the question: who let George Lucas do Star Wars anyway? When an animator can outshine the live-action version by intergalactic leaps and bounds, why would we accept anything less? I say this realizing that it's a dead horse, but beating the thing just never gets old, and the conundrum proves no less mystifying. I also realize that's a run-on. Sue me.

  • This may be old news, too, so brace yourself. Batman Begins is one d*** good movie. I had to say d***... ---okay, I had to say "d" because I haven't the vocabulary required to render my exuberance adequately any other way. I suppose I'm a latecomer to the Christopher Nolan fan club, but I'm ready to graduate to full-on disciple. Of course, if he wrecks The Dark Knight, as have other recent directors and their sequels... ahem!---I'll pour acid on his effigy. My opinion of Nolan is that he's honest. Barring any arguments about the inherent dishonesty of cinema as a whole, he manages to please without pandering, treat and tease at the same time. He respects his audience by not bludgeoning them over the head. (Contrastingly, watch Spiderman 3 for conspicuous plot disclosure given by cartoony newscasters, no less.)

So I've got more... boy do I, but those are just a couple of items I needed to get off my chest.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Up at 5 a.m.

Recently I finished "On Writing" by Stephen King. I learned that 1) Stephen King is just as good a writer as I remember and 2) I need to pull my proverbial head out of my butt. Mr. King writes four to six hours a day, as I recall; did even when he was teaching English and raising kids. So it's up at 5 a.m. I guess... Oh, and I'll be reading instead of checking out Smallville from the library and trying to recall my glory days of online video gaming. By the way, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a healthy primer and a kick in the pants on "the craft."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A perplexing murk...

I'm weary. Deeply. I can't imagine what it is to be drunk or doing drugs; as it is I'm staggering without standing up. Part of it is no doubt a mild depression, the sulken scurvy of the custodial worker; the other part(s) remain a perplexing murk. Trust me, it's not that I'm scouring toilets for a living, but that I'm doing so over and over and yes, over again.

Some high-falutin' CEO might stoop down from a lofty pile of money and tell me that it's my fault. I made poor choices, lived recklessly in opposition to my own internal wisdom: I've made my toilet, and now I have to bury my face in it.

Yes, yes, I know I'm going to SUU soon. Yes, I understand I'll likely have a shot at a much better job, but the plodding will go on, as it does in most jobs given the notorious label of "stable."

Ah well, here's to the liquor that is stale air.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spaces between my teeth

There's no better blog fodder than a visit to the dentist, or in this case, the dental hygienist. Alas, I have no cavities, but suffer from gum disease, or so they say---conspiracies galore!---and needed some brutal oral cleansing. Perchance this debilitating tooth barnacle stems from my love of pastas? No! No... I dare not blaspheme against such celestial starches.

Whatever the cause, the hygienist took great delight in impaling, scuffing, stabbing, scraping, and out-and-out gouging away my gum decay, er... or something less rhyme-ey. I vaguely recall having a remote control in my hand and CNN International reviewing over and over myriad terrorist actions abroad, and yet, were a bomb to explode on the floor above us I would only know it if the ceiling collapsed on my face. Such is the fearsome intimidative powers of dentistry. I say (facetiously, of course) in order to combat "terror"ism, we must employ a greater dread. Send armies of orthodontists to the Middle East, and a bomb would be a smidgen less excruciating. Well, not really.

Why I chose to leave news of renewed hostilities in Algiers and continued troubles in Pakistan on the television while the lady hygienist did her professional best on my gums I don't know. Naturally I couldn't even enjoy Stargate: SG-1 while someone was spraying my own salivary goo into my eye, and then shoveling out spaces between my teeth I didn't know I had (but probably should).

What was strangely more excruciating is that this particular hygienist was an art major at BYU years ago, had dated one of my painting professors, and knew the faculty. She seemed eager to discuss my experiences, goals, etc. (and her frustrated hopes of marriage) and I, drowning in my own spit and trying not to lacerate my swollen tongue on the hook dangling ominously next to it couldn't say my own name intelligibly, let alone have an engaging conversation. Picture someone at the dinner table trying to communicate with numerous random dental utensils protruding from their yap and the bottom half of their face the relative consistency of soggy pizza. Humorous, no? Suffice it to say I emitted something like, "Vischewow Arrrh... Kasshsandwa Baweee... Gwawik De-ahn... etc." At times, I border on Kelsey Grammer-like (Frasier) erudition and vocabularied sophistication, evincing at least the facade of intelligence, perhaps here and there sprinkled with lofty wit---(I've never been brief, so wit ever eludes me). At the dentist's I am reduced to Cro-Magnon buffoonery, and herein the chuckle Bill Cosby refers to rears its ugly head. I have no doubts that this hygienist couldn't help herself. She HAD to continue asking questions because she delighted in seeing me struggle to press sound past my water-logged vocal chords without showering the room in a foul elixir of blood, phlegm and at least one-year-old victuals.

Well, I've survived, dearest readers, and it's on to the next challenge: how to ingest anything before work when my mouth is as good as cotton?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cobwebbed corners and thinning crowds...

I wonder how the "real" bloggers do it. How is it they can invest so much time into their corner of webverse and sound witty or wise on a regular basis? I, for one, am now just coming to the stupid realization that I'm not witty---well, specifically, that I'm not witty every day; furthermore, that my dalliance with Internet dominance (having still to flourish and provide me with a mutant zombie army or any similarly gruesome symbol of might) was fostered mostly by vainglorious notions of my capacity to entertain or enthrall. Yet, my corner shows more than a few cobwebs and an even thinner crowd of enthusiastic onlookers. (Cue tumbleweed.) Does anyone read this, er, besides my mother-in-law? (Props, etc. to you, "L," and your brood).

After having asked that question two too many times, I should know the answer.

Nonetheless, I feel reluctant to shed this little appendage, be it quaint and shabby or resplendent. I'll still probably check-in, if only to fumigate. Ciao! (Cue dreary echo.)