what are men?

As one would hope, the Holiday season brings good news! Even though I find some bugginess in my Firefox 1.5, hearing about us getting the trashy and always behind the time, IE out of our hair was refreshing news! And for your holiday reading pleasure, here is another nice article about our Macintosh world.

Back to now! Yes, Christmas was yesterday! Dvd’s Galore! I believe we picked up about 60 hours of films, so that should keep us busy! I was quite excited to find The Stanley Kubrick Collection under the tree! Whoa! Five of my all time favorites and three movies that, yes, I haven’t ever seen! This will be a set with serious re-viewing power! I plan to start with 2001, since the wife hasn’t seen that one before. Anyway, yes, it was a grand holiday! Featuring the surprise appearance of my first personal handmade sweater! I have been awaiting this for soo long I started to wonder if I had imagined it! It was a wonderful surprise to find it all bundled up! How she snuck in those last 30,000 or 40,000 knits without me noticing is beyond me, I married a sneaky speed knitter! Anyway, I’m never taking it off… Also for the holiday, we spent the day at Annette and John’s where, after some endless marathoning of Pictionary, we settled down to watch Edward Scissorhands. They hadn’t seen it before and I think both Catie and I will always be up for this Burton Classic. I find these films refreshing. Between Pee-Wee and Sleepy Hollow (though yes, that was a bit dry) I always felt that he could direct no wrong. The last half dozen years? I’m not really sure what he’s up to, but I’m not interested. Strange, it now occurs to me, how the Coen Brothers have followed the same path. Through The Big Lebowski, not a bad film in the bunch (of course, better films then the Burton ones, except maybe Pee-Wee) and not really anything worth watching in the 6 years since then… Hmmm… What happened in those last years… Since 2000. Oh yeah, GWB.

Since we’re on the subject of movies, let’s see… We also gained the 1st season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. We watched a couple of them, they’re quite short but fun. The second one even starred John Forsythe, who I have fond memories of since the Dynasty years.

Also this last week we sat down to watch Poltergeist, finally. Yes, some of the effects have aged over the years (even the Steak scene, which really creeped me out when the movie came out has lost some of its convincingness), I would still venture to say that it’s my favorite haunted house movie. I still think that the story is really strong, the acting is great, especially Craig Nelson, the casting is really good, the plot has strong twists, I find the TV static parts to be engaging (maybe, as with my favorite horror movie, Prince of Darkness, I just have some fond feeling for hearing voices talking under TV static)… Anyway, sometimes it’s almost enough to convince one of an “other side”. Of course, it’s just a movie, but a very good one.

On a less strong path, we watched A Christmas Carol The 1938 version. The wife and I agreed that it was probably the most frustrating version either one of us had seen. It really seemed like they cut a third out of a finished movie and this was it. The movie ran along very quickly: most the the ghosts scenes seem truncated, Scrooge’s conversion to a good guy happened soo fast it was distracting and it removed alot of the “old Scrooge”-iness of him… It was basically a quickie feel good story for short attentions spans. I feel like the point of the movie should be the difficult conversion of Scrooge from an “Old Scrooge” to a nice, caring old man. There is none of that here. He is mean old Scrooge, then he is sweet old Scrooge. I sense little of the conflict in Scrooge that I felt should have been there. It seemed like a Hallmark version of the story and I wouldn’t recommend it at all. What I would recommended though is the included short, “Peace on Earth” I felt strangely shocked by seeing this cartoon. A pre-WWII cartoon in which all humans are dead because they warred themselves to death (shown via WWI). The grandfatherly squirrel (or chipmunk or whatever) who tells the story makes a very convincing case for the stupidity of war and the lameness and stupidity of humans. It was a very strong anti-war and “why are people such stupid jerks” message that I was really shocked to see it from right before WWII. I would say that it’s almost reason enough to own the DVD. If you haven’t seen this short, I would recommend renting this DVD just for that.

the year of living rockingly…

I know that I oft quote that 1983 was the big year for records. I say this due to one particular evening when I checked the release dates of the albums I had just played. Well, I don’t remember which albums those were (it was a number of years ago)… But I remember my conclusion. I am retrospecting on the moment this evening and I am not sure about my conclusion.

So… 1983.

Well, there were some classics released that year that I well-over listened to in the years that followed: Shout At The Devil, Melissa, Suicidal Tendencies, Balls to the Wall, Holy Diver, Fastway, All for One… But then I thought, well, also that year were some bad omens: Lick it Up, Pyromania, Bark at the Moon and Metal Health (though yes, I did like it at the time)…

So I was thinking, was ’83 the album year of my youth? Well, which were the albums of that era I listened to the most then and since…

Ace of Spades (1980), For Those About to Rock (1981), Point of Entry (1981), High n’ Dry (1981), Denim & Leather (1981), Don’t Say No (yeah, I know… But, hey, it was 1981!), Blackout (1982), Restless and Wild (1982), Fistful of Metal (1984), Don’t Break the Oath (1984).

This paints a different picture. Yes, it does show 1983 to be a peak year in musics greatest era (as I heard on KGON today, “We play the greatest music ever recorded” ), the albums that I listened to the most were actually released in 1980, 1981, 1981, 1981,1981 and 1982 (and then Shout at the Devil from 1983). I guess that 1981 is the Album Year for me. It makes sense, thinking about it. Aside from my interest in Devo (though I attended my first solo concert, the New Traditionalists tour in 1981) and Blondie, my interest in music didn’t really gel until I saw the video for Let’s Get it Up on Casey Kasem’s top ten.

But yeah, on to movies…

Another slow week… Or week and a half… But things should be picking up! A wonderful friend and the “Minister” of our wedding has gifted us with a wondrous membership to Facets! I have long enjoyed strolling about their website, peeking at all of the video wonders they hold. Now we will be able to rent them at will! We’ve already submitted our first requests so soon we should be watching some hard-to-find goodies!

For the old news though: another bad date movie. Murder Set Pieces doesn’t have the highest production values and it’s not well acted. It surely has the feel of “get all your friends to participate” to it. The regular scenes are a little boring and, to be honest, just splashing a lot of blood on people isn’t really all that. There are a few scenes that are gruesome but, like the title implies, they come across more as sets than anything else. The gore in his hidden room doesn’t look like it might be there due to his gory activities… Looks more like “Let’s put this here and that there, it’ll look gory” to me. But that what this is. A loose plot surrounding gory scenes. Similar to the oft-loathed Saw but, thankfully, not as dumbly overdone. Still though, there is blood and related activities. All that and then more of that. Blood blood blood… Lots of daylight scenes of Las Vegas, if you’ve ever wondered what it looks like there. I’ve been a couple of times and, like the movie shows, it’s not much of a sight for daylight.

And finally, after much putting off, we watched Quadrophenia. The wife wasn’t too interested, but I was buoyed but some fond memory of liking it way back whenever it was that I saw it. Anyway. I wasn’t quite as hot for it this time. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, you can’t go wrong with the Who, sure none of the character are very sympathetic, but it’s still a good movie. Lots of cute vespas, boys and girls who dress nice. Cait liked the parkas. I guess I actually like it, no questions. It just wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it.

Part 2 of the great trilogy! Cait and I watched Aliens. The second of three films which I consider to be the only film trilogy without a weak point (well, the only trilogy with only one weak point, more on that later). This must be the one I have seen the most, maybe the movie that I have seen the most. This was my first time out with the Directors Cut and, though it was very odd to see the pre-aliens attack Hadley’s Hope, I liked it all just fine. Still though, the always lame scene with Ripley and Mama-bug and the Loader and that terrible, terrible line that Ripley utters… They forgot to get that scene out of this. But I cannot wait until it’s time to take on the Directors cut of Alien3! As I already like the film quite a bit, all the talk about how much better this cut makes it is exciting!

Anyway… baby, it’s cold outside. And I must add that, being involved in a small business, the forecast of freezing rain no longer sounds fun.

sophomore slump… or is it just me…

Dead dead dead. That’s how this week was. Not sure where the time went, but not much for films. I did manage to throw down three in the last 24 hours or so…

Well, I finally watched The Stairway to the Distant Past. Being rather fond of The Most Terrible Time in My Life (it being the film that started me down the Japanese film road), I have been wanting for a good while to watch the rest of the Maiku Hama trilogy. This one though, didn’t really do much for me. It took three views to make it to the end and I can’t really say that it made any impression on me. It did have Shinya Tsukamoto, who I always like to watch. Aside from that, it didn’t strike me as having the same character or freshness of the first one. Though now I need to see what the final chapter has in store, I would recommended The Most Terrible Time in My Life to anyone with a liking for light-hearted japanese detective films.

Though I never made much progress with my Star Wars series a few weeks ago, I do plan on finishing a smaller series by watching the first 3 Alien movies. Tonight I watched Alien. Only my second time through this “Director’s Cut”, I feel like I like it more than the theatrical release, Director’s vision be damned! I like how it flows, though I suppose that I should watch them both sometime to really get a feeling for how the story-line is affected. I am sure that I will continue this for the next two movies. All of the first three are among my favorite films.

Then yesterday, well. We watched Bride & Prejudice. It’s the closest thing I have seen to a Bollywood film. Some of it was very colorful and kind of fun. For a musical, there weren’t too many numbers and they weren’t that bad. I think that my watching of it was a bit colored by having seen the new film just a couple of weeks ago (and my pre-conceptions, of course). I liked the new Pride & Prejudice quite a bit and having just watched the same story made it a bit distracting for this one. Aside from that, it was entertaining and a fun watch.

As an aside, I am finding people lately who are a bit too shy when it comes to Terry Gilliam. As just about the finest filmmaker out there, everyone owes it to themselves to watch his films. In terms of watching those films, I would also venture that the best of them (Brazil, Fear & Loathing, The Adventures of the Baron Munchausen) should be closely watched at least once. A casual viewing will cause one to miss too much of the movie and they will not realize the full experience! Yes, I am even saying that Fear & Loathing should be watched straight… At least once…


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