changes afoot…

Well, I’ve gone and done it. And I think it’s worth a mention. After 4 1/2 of “retail middle management” (or whatever you call it), I have accepted a position in Computer User Support. It’s going to be quite a change: no more supervising staff, no more customer service (well, depending on how you mean), no more tempting goods… I won’t even be at the store anymore, over at the corporate office now.

Of course, there are things that I will miss. The customers, the products, the store itself. But this will be exciting and challenging and it’s just a line of work that I’ve really been wanting to get involved in. I’ve done some in the past, but I never get sick of trying to troubleshoot computer systems of Users issues. Even on Windows!

Now I just need to plow through and sort all of the years of files and books and detritus that I have accumulated at my desk… And in my shelves. Time to make some tough decisions!



well, not to be a bother…

I have sworn to myself that I am finally going to change this tired old blog layout tonight… Just a forewarning in case anyone notices rapid alterations in the appearance here. My goal is to complete a new layout tonight, but also I need to finish this wonderful big bottle of Meantime London Porter and I’d like to finish watching Blade Runner…

Well, we’ll see.

On second thought… It’ll be a work in progress.



sometimes i wonder

Do I actually select movies because of ad’s in Rue Morgue? Well, maybe occasionally. This week I watched, as much of it as I could stand, Bloodlines. One of those that is so derivative it is hard to single out which movie it’s ripping off. Yes, another in the long line of Chainsaw wanna-be’s. Featuring an old man at a gas station in the countryside and a creepy family in the woods who kidnap women to use as breeding stock, supposedly. Though we get the idea that they harvest the little babies with rather unclean c-sections, following the movie it actually seems like they take these women so that they can fight each other to the death in pit fights. Yes, it sounds good, but how can a movie with a plot like that have no action, no nudity and no gore (a scene of fake blood splashed on the wall doesn’t do it)?

 

Bloodlines

you’re going to what?

 

It does start off quickly, with an captive pregnant woman being dragged off to the bloody “operating table”, but after that badly acted and cheap sequence, it screeches to a dull stop and spends most of the next hour showing the women panicking in their cell, those terrible fights and always exciting scenes of searchers searching. You get the picture, nothing redeeming, even the Leatherfacian mutant-boy looks to just be wearing a mask.

 

Latexface

latexface doesn’t have quite the same ring

 

I very much appreciate the makers of low budget and independent horror movies, but if you don’t have the resources to get good actors, sets or effects, please at least have an entertaining or interesting script. A lamely put together scene that folks may find distasteful is not enough to build a film around.

 

Bloodlines fight

not anther fight? ugh.

 

 

The Masked Men

well, maybe they are supposed to be wearing masks

 

So we stepped up a bit and watched The Man Who Knew Too Much. Now, while I am a fan of Hitchcock, he was still 4 years away from making a film that really spoke to me. This one is fine though. It isn’t too Hitchcockian, being pretty much a straight ahead espionage thriller. From just a few minutes in, you know who is good, who is bad and who will be naively victimized in the whole ordeal. Peter Lorre and Frank Vosper are up to no good from the first scenes, and the Lawrence family is nothing but the good, blindingly polite folk of British society. This happy-go-lucky British family is in Switzerland where they befriend a skier who then winds up dying, only after whispering a last request in the wife’s ear. The bad folks kidnap the couples annoying daughter and the chase is on!

It is a pleasing example of 1930’s thriller filmwork, or it would be if Laserlght (yes…) would have put a bit more effort into the audio/visual aspect here. But it contains some of those always fun 1930’s movie sets, cinematography that shows great potential, a rooftop chase, trenchcoats, a religious cult and an evil dentist.

 

Lorre and Vosper

folks behaving badly

 

p.s. if IMDB continues sending me to an advertisement every time I click on something, I may revert to movie books for reference. Yes, you heard me. Maybe that will be the end of the Internet? People getting so sick of advertisements being everywhere and “you will be redirected to content once you look at the ad” that they will start just talking to each other and finding things out from books again? It does remind that I read somewhere that MS got a patent on a device to measure how long computer users spend looking ads, that being a way to ensure that if they use software or hardware that is free due to ad content that they actually spend sufficient time staring at the ad. Nice. It brings back memories of Brainstorm… But then, yet again, I digress.



infinity & beyond…

Having grown past past our “pushing 40 is exercise enough” coffee mug, it seems somehow logical that I spent part of my birthday watching the World Series. What doesn’t seem logical is that I had to leave the apartment at the bottom of the second inning with Boston up 6-0! I mean, yea, I did end up watching more of the game where I ended up going, and Boston did end up winning the game to go 3-0 in the series (!), but it was so comfortable at home that it did seem wrong to leave. And to go somewhere that there was no beer, what? But I feel that I am making up for that Jetblue guy giving me guff at the Burlington Airport over my Boston cap, punk. And, though I don’t have much use for the TV’s on Jetblue, it was great timing to fly on the 16th and to be able to watch the Sox on the plane, even if those silly Cleveland Indians did end up getting another token win over them. this series is more like it!

Anyway, we’re back now. I took today off (whcih was very nice, as we never get a day off together) and we got some good practical stuff done today. Caitling got me a grand selection of writing goodies today: notebooks of all sorts and sizes, pens, pencils… It was quite exciting and hopefully I’ll get around to writing something down this year. You see, about 18 years ago I decided that I wanted to pursue writing as an occupation at some point (that was the excuse I used for leaving college undone). Of course, I have yet to commit much of any quality and naught of any consistency to paper in those years? Why? Well, who knows… Easily distracted? Fear of failure? One thing that always sticks in my mind is that when I first decided to let my mother know of my goal she ended up offering two resources. One was a quote (I think she attributed it to Sartre, but I’m not sure), something along the lines of “No one should write before they are 40 years old, as they haven’t lived until then”, very reassuring to hear when you are in your early twenties. But even more exciting, she brought me a copy of Hunger. Now I don’t know how many of you have encountered this book, Knut Hamsun’s 1890 novel about a destitute writer would would write articles only to sell them to an editor for maybe enough money to purchase a loaf of bread so that he could eat something that day, but it is not very inspirational.

Thank gosh for Caitlin… Though in some way I’m sure my mother means well, the wife is much more supportive.



speedily along

As you all remember, a month ago I mentioned that I had been listening to Anthrax’s first album again, which I consider to be classic speed metal. Now while I’m not the most knowledgeable speed metal person, I certainly do like that album and Accept’s Fast as a Shark (they certainly aren’t speed metal, but I think that song certainly is) but aside from that, it’s been a long time since I listened to much of this ilk. Lately my metal listening has had the urge to stretch beyond black metal (which happens occasionally) so I thought I would revisit some of the old 80’s stuff.

First impression, while this stuff certainly is metal, it doesn’t seem too speedy, not like those other bands. Maybe it’s just that Black Metal has turned up the knobs so much these last 15-20 years (none of these bands speed through like Impaled Nazarene, that’s for sure), that this stuff really shows its “big hair” roots and has a Sunset Strip sound. There certainly is some potential out there, though. I first tried out Cacophony’s Speed Metal Symphony. It was alright, the songs are alright, the vocals aren’t too bad, but probably not something I would tend to play much. I do appreciate the sleeve though.

 

Speed Metal Symphony

oh yeah?

 

I then listened to some Racer X. This was a hit and miss bag. They have some good stand out songs, including a mad cover of BOC’s Godzilla (admittedly from their 2001 release Superheroes)! What really stood out from them were their instrumentals, especially Scarified (from Second Heat) and Viking Kong (also from Superheroes), these are complete guitar wanking, air guitarist dreams: clear, technical, fast guitars, like speed scales with a rhythm section, all the song long. The trouble with the rest of their stuff is the vocals. Really lame. In fact, I couldn’t really sit through most of those songs. Some are alright though, at their best (especially on Street Lethal) the vocal songs sound like Krokus, which isn’t bad. But some of the instrumentals are certainly worth keeping around.

 

racer x “scarified”

 

The high point of this so far has been Overkill. I listened to Feel the Fire and I thought the whole album was good (especially Hammerhead), fast, still rough with a sort of punk edge to it. I may need to look into more stuff of theirs. Also maybe find some other 80’s bands that are speedier.



not quite 31 for 21…

Well, I didn’t manage a post yesterday. I know that isn’t the first day this month, but I surely cannot miss two in a row! As for the standard excuses: work, baby, not enough sleep, working on redesigning the blog… That’s all true. Also, as people may have guessed, I just don’t have enough to say or watch enough movies these days to make a post everyday.

But as this is my “not quite 31 for 21” post, I thought I would address the whole project. Yes, the origin of the post everyday was about Down Syndrome awareness and I imagined that I would occasionally post things I had learned this month about DS. Well, that didn’t happen. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about it. My mother has spent most of the last 25 years working in residential care facilities, and I know that she has worked with people with Down’s but me? All I know I have learned from Unringing the Bell, where this all came from!

So one thing that I can say is that this month I did finally get to meet cute little Georgia. I do certainly have some impressions of her that would be my only first hand experiences with DS. Admittedly, she is a baby, and I don’t know anything about the effects of Down’s as one ages, but I got to say that Georgia is great. I realize that she has had serious and quite overwhelmingly substantial health issues, but by the time that I met her, she really just seems like a regular baby. She’s older than ours, is bigger (just a bit) and seems well along developmentally (holding her own bottle and everything!) and she makes all sorts of cute faces!

I don’t want this post to seem too naive or pointless, but I wanted to say that, in recognition of DS Awareness, the person I know who has DS is just plain great! She is an awesome baby and I look forward to knowing her as she grows up. And, in the process, learning all the more about living with Down Syndrome.



the freaks come out at night

Since it is October and I haven’t quite been taking in the horrors like I should, and since I won’t be able to make out it to any movies, it seemed that the time was right to watch Halloween again…

 

Halloween

well, it gets scarier than this…

 

While it may not be the brilliant masterpiece that is The Thing, Halloween must be given kudos for some things: the simply brilliant and brilliantly simple soundtrack, being the inspiration for Friday the 13th (and therefore, instigating the entire genre of 80’s slasher movies) and its fresh purity of vision. Though Michael Myers does have the unstoppable aspect common to future slashers, and the seeming desire to kill those who have loose morals (always saving the good girl for last), Halloween is pleasingly free of the hokey “clever kill” scenes that became the stock in trade of the slashers that followed… And in the case of these current ones (you know which I mean), some movies are nothing but dull, witless and banal “clever kills”.

If you don’t recall the story, Michael Myers is a six year old who knifes his sister to death (former Playboy Playmate, Sandy Johnson!) and then is institutionalized under the care of his doctor (Donald Pleasence). Cut to 1978, 15 years later, and he escapes and returns to his abandoned family home where he fixates on a neighbor (Jamie Lee Curtis) and begins pursuing her and her friends. It’s a Halloween night of trick-or-treating, watching the The Thing from Another World (oddly enough), baby sitting, and stalking and killing… The three girls who are the focus of Myers always seem to be in the wrong moment to realize what is unfolding, while his doctor and the skeptical sheriff are fruitlessly trying to track him down. Of course, some of them don’t make it back home. One gimmick that would soon become a bit weird is that the young Michael killed his sister while wearing a clown suit and just two months after the release of this film, John Wayne Gacy would be arrested for being a clown (in real life) who murdered 33 people… Way more than Michael Myers does in this film!

 

Halloween

two months later, it gets much scarier than this…

 

 

John Wayne Gacy

the real john wayne

 

As a horror movie though, it really no longer comes across as scary or suspenseful. I don’t know if it’s just due to how many of these I’ve watched or if we are just used to this kind of stuff so we have a higher tolerance, but it is still a very fun and entertaining movie. The adult Myers character is still my favorite (as in, the most stylistically pleasing) “horror film slasher guy” and though he carts that famed knife around, he seems to be more the strangling-type which makes for a more visceral movie going experience.

Halloween brought us Jamie Lee Curtis in her first film role, which would lead to a short but notable horror film career, including a number more with John Carpenter, and it also stars one of my favorites, Donald Pleasence, who would also sally forth with Carpenter a few more times (including a starring role in my all-time favorite horror film Prince of Darkness!).



a soldier

Scrolling around looking for something to watch, the missus and I settled on The Apostle. This little film was written, produced, and directed by the always brilliant Robert Duvall, who also starred in it. And it really was quite good. I always like it when actors make these “personal project” things, I think those movies tend to turn out pretty good. This is the story of a preacher in the south who, due to some problems with his wife, ends up running from the law. But this isn’t any regular running from the law! This preacher just takes it as if Jesus is sending him somewhere else to do his bidding so he wanders until he gets directed to a minister and he decides to open up a new church. Not using is real name, of course. Now he is just The Apostle E.F.

I love the character of Apostle E.F., Robert Duvall plays him wonderfully and you feel like (not that I know from experience) you know what the poor South is like and what it feels like to be filled with the holy spirit. His single-minded drive to serve Jesus and his overwhelmingly good natured love for everyone and acceptance of everything that comes his way shows a spirit of life that I am both fascinated by and respect. No matter what ills befall him, or what “sins” he committed, he strives onward, completely dedicated to what he thinks is right. It is kind of simple-minded (I don’t mean that in a bad way) seeming as he goes about his mission and I couldn’t help but think it would be nice if everyone had the respect for themselves and for other that he showed, but I imagine that most of us are too overwhelmed with ego needs and personal agenda to be that open, helpful and compassionate all of the time.

So it is a invigorating movie, about resilience and dedication and a love of humanity. I read somewhere someone said that it was about redemption, but I didn’t see it that way.



quality over quantity

I have been slowing down the dvd library for the last year or so, but it so happens that there are some new dvds out there that I “need”. Now normally I would have just bought them new online for the cheapest price and added them to my collection. But there are some new angles that I am trying to incorporate into these sorts of things:

1) buy locally
2) don’t aquire things unless I really want them (avoid clutter and excess)
3) there’s no money to spend.

The best strategy to achieve these would be to buy these dvd’s at a local store (non-chain) with money garnered from selling dvd’s that I do not really want. So if I am going to buy From Beyond and the new edition of Deliverance, I should make a trip to Music Millennium tomorrow to buy them at full price (probably for a total of $12.00 more than if I got them from Amazon) and I should bring along about 10 cheapo dvds to sell to raise the money for them (I am also trying to sell some “not quite as cheapo” dvds, but those are going to ebay, click if you are curious). So that is my new plan.

And it brings to mind things like the great enemy of America, Wal-Mart. Especially small town Wal-Marts. I feel like a lot of small town Americans are selling out their communities, towns and local businesses by abandoning those stores and buying things at Wal-Mart instead, under the banner of “saving money”. While I understand that most people feel the need to save money, I would venture that most things that people are “saving money on” at Wal-Mart are things that they don’t really need and their communities (and themselves in the long run) would be better served by buying less unneeded material clutter (or unneeded excess food) and spending the higher amount that the local business needs to sell the item for.

I am now trying to not go around supporting the wrong folks and “saving money” by buying every dvd that catches my eye at whichever website sells it for less it and instead trying to lessen my clutter and do the local businesses some good by just buying the ones that I really want and doing it locally. I figure that if I buy two-thirds fewer dvd’s than I used to, I can easily afford to pay a local guy full retail rather then having to shop discount and wait for him to shutter his doors.

(Don’t you like my Amazon Associate links?)



collecting online collections

Not that it serves any purpose, but I like looking at lists online. I have always been one of those sorts who likes to catalog things (dvd’s, records, whatever…) and so one of my favorite online things is the websites where you can catalog what you have. I have all sorts of other online doppelgängers at all the requisite social sites, but what interests me the most are places where I can list things.

DVD Aficionado is probably the most worthwhile, because not only can you maintain a list off all of the DVD’s you own (compete with cover image and the ability to organize them into whatever folders you want), but you can keep wish lists and shopping carts that list the prices of the DVD’s from 6 different online shops! Very handy when you feel like making an order somewhere. Its flexibility is a bit limited, as you can only list DVD’s that are in their database (pretty thorough, though bootlegs and some foreign things don’t appear), but it is still a very worthwhile site.

Also, Encyclopaedia Metallum is a great site! Is is an incredibly deep Metal information site (um, 52,144 bands?). It includes scarily thorough discographies (Iron Maiden’s has 98 entries, a collector’s dream!), line-up history, album covers, user reviews and ratings… All editable by the sites users. And it also has, more to the point, the ability for you to put together a list of your collection! Sadly, the list doesn’t look too exciting, as it doesn’t show album covers or anyway to sub-divide your collection, but it is still fun and convenient for when I need to see what I have or what format (CD, LP) that I have it in.

And Goodreads, where you can list all the books you have read, the books you are reading and the books you plan on reading. It includes cover art, ratings, reviews and Friends, so you can keep track of what people you know are/have read.

But the point to this is that the resource that I would like most seems to be missing. I would like an LP collectors site, where you can make an organizable list of all your LP’s, complete with Sleeve art and such. Or maybe just a good site on the subject. I’ve trolled about looking for something like that, but all that I find is either webpages like “didn’t lps go away when CD’s arrived?” (which seems an odd statement, since cd’s have been outselling LP’s since well before webpages existed) or, mainly, sites for people who collect 78’s and classic Dylan albums or some such boring things.

What about for people who accumulate more modern records? I go to these sites and look at their lists of hundreds of labels that they have listed and the labels that I am the most interested in (Amrep, Touch N Go, Trance…) don’t even show up!



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