Sunday, June 29, 2008

What Is Miyazaki's New Movie About?

This clip from some morning show in Japan shows a trailer for Miyazaki-san's new movie, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.

It's the heart warming story of - sweet Jesus, what is that thing?!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'm Mr. Manager!

After a twelve hour shift today I'm teetering on the precipice of 40 hours in just four days. The next three days are all overtime. Yeesh!

Things have been really hectic with last minute construction and register training. The store has brand new Micros registers, much like you'd use at any restaurant. Barnie's has officially entered the modern age at West Town. In addition to this we now have a dish washer which is going to cut down on close times, as well as other miscellaneous amenities that give the store an air of newness.

We open tomorrow, which marks my first day of real responsibility at work.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm Back!

Christ, what a weekend!

Thursday I moved into my new apartment. It was a long, exhausting day, even with help. I finished moving on Friday, and began settling in as much as possible.

Saturday I went to Graham and Lin's wedding in Gatlinburg. It was a very nice and moving ceremony, performed by Lin's father, followed by a reception. It was all held outside in a park, and the weather was fortunately pretty mild. It was great to see the whole Case family again.

The next morning I returned to Barnie's to help prepare the store for re-opening on Thursday. Most of you know this by now, but I've gotten a new job as assistant manager at Barnie's. Several people are returning that worked there before, which is great.

The amount of work going into opening both the West Town and East Town stores in such little time is overwhelming, but it's going smoothly. I've put in many hours this week (27 in three days), with many more to come. It's crazy right now, but I'm enjoying it. Still, I look forward to everything calming down after the initial opening.

That's pretty much my life right now. I'm trying to catch up on all of my interneting, now that I'm connected once more.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I'm going to be offline for a few days while I'm moving. They're not transferring my internet account to the new address until Tuesday.

In the meantime, please enjoy the smooth stylings of Sad Kermit:

Speaking Of Pandas...

I just found this blog through Boing Boing.

It is an incredibly powerful series of comics about the earthquakes in China, detailing the numerous stories of victims and survivors. Some of them are funny, but the majority are heartbreaking. The love and courage shown in these personal accounts is inspiring.

The latest set is a three part series about saving pandas at the zoo.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kung Fu Panda

This A.V. Club review was the only reason Kung Fu Panda entered my radar. My basic reaction to any CGI movie about talking animals (unless Pixar is involved) is simply to sigh and wait for the next trailer to start, or for the conversation to change. So while I was vaguely aware of a movie called Kung Fu Panda, the fact that it was a DreamWorks Animation picture as well as yet another American kung faux parody, basically meant I wasn't biting. Such is the sorry state of American animation.

But the A.V. Club surprised me with that glowing review, so tonight Brian and I checked it out on the Imax. The review is pretty spot on (though I may have graded it one step lower). Kung Fu Panda is a delightful animated film, shockingly devoid of snappy (painfully outdated) pop culture references and fart jokes. Could this really be from the studio that gave us multiple Shreks, A Shark's Tale, Madagascar (the eagerly anticipated Madagascar II!), and Bee Movie?

There are no cheesy hip hop sequences thrown in for no reason, no schmaltzy montages set to original John Mayer songs...did I mention not a single joke involving bodily gas of any sort? In a movie with an overweight main character that is an incredible amount of restraint for DreamWorks.

The action is genuinely exciting, the animation is much prettier than recent non-Pixar movies. Everything points to a promising future from DreamWorks animation. It's just a shame they had that Madagascar II trailer at the beginning.

The only real problem I have with the film is that a lot of the voice talent is wasted. Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, and David Cross are each given very little to do. Each of their characters, despite being featured heavily in the marketing of the film, maybe have one good moment each. Ultimately this is Jack Black's film and he is great. He does his usual kid-friendly version of Jack Black throughout, and it's genuinely funny. The other really standout performance is from Randall Duk Kim, as the elderly kung fu master turtle, Oogway.

The only other problem is a directorial issue. The movie relies heavily on the standard DreamWorks Animation joke of going into slow motion in the middle of the action to show the funny faces all the characters are making. I think this joke has been used in every single one of their CGI movies, and Kung Fu Panda uses it more than all of those combined. It works stylistically for a martial arts movie, but it starts to stand out after the third or fourth time.

Overall I really enjoyed this movie. It's the best animated film they've done since their first, The Prince of Egypt, and that was a long time ago. More like this, please!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hulk Smash!

I just got back from The Incredible Hulk. It was what I expected it to be, a stupid fun explosion movie, so I wasn't disappointed and I wasn't blown away. It's definitely an improvement over the previous Hulk film. Mostly because it doesn't take itself too seriously. There are some campy jokes directed towards the fans who follow Hulk lore closely, especially the old television series.

The acting is good for the most part, though once again Liv Tyler really doesn't do anything for me. Edward Norton was perfect casting as Bruce Banner, and Tim Roth was a good adversary (if not a tad too slimy, in general). The character development is bare bones, leaving me not entirely interested in any of the characters on a personal level. From what I understand there is about 70 minutes of material that got cut. I guess this is where a lot of the conflict between Norton and the producers came from. But I can't really blame the producers for wanting to keep the action moving, so as not to have another bore-fest on their hands. I'll be interested to see how that footage gets included on the DVD, and if it is indeed a better movie without it or not.

The action scenes are pretty good, though the final showdown is a little lacking in my opinion. The major problem is that it just isn't that interesting to see two giant animated characters duking it out (I'm looking at you, Van Helsing). The Hulk as a character never really looks real. There are some scenes between Hulk and Betty that are supposed to be some key emotional moments, but you never really feel like they actually exist in the same space.

Ultimately the Hulk just isn't the greatest character in my opinion. He really only exists as a sort of time bomb, and doesn't have any real heroic tendencies in this incarnation. Yeah, he manages to be gentle and protective of Betty while in Hulk form, but everything else is smash, smash, smash. It's fairly one dimensional.

But like I said, I went into it expecting just that. And I enjoyed the experience.

Now bring on the Batman!

Friday, June 13, 2008

No Surprise Twist For 'The Happening'

The A.V. Club's review for ol' Shamy's new movie, The Happening, further confirms what I previously suspected to be true all along. The Happening blows. This AICN review from Capone concurs (despite the misleading title).

In related news, here is a great Top 10 list of the worst twist endings ever. Shamalam makes the list twice!

Ratatat - "Mirando"

Ratatat is my new favorite electronic group. Their new album, LP3 is outstanding. Believe it or not this is the official video for this song.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Playing The Building

David Byrne is one of my favorite artists. He recently transformed an entire building into a musical instrument. Boing Boing did a video segment about it:

Apparently you can visit the installation for free through August 10th, in New York.

Here is Byrne's journal entry about "Playing the Building".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer Check List

To-Do in June:

1. Attend Valerie's wedding
2. Move into new apartment
3. Attend Graham's wedding
4. Start NEW JOB in two weeks!
5. Slump to floor in corner of new apartment, ingest copious amounts of comfort ham

Here's a visual aid for how my life feels right now:

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Stole His Hands From The Robot Devil

If the following video doesn't amaze/terrify you, then you are made of sterner stuff than I.

That was Dragonforce's "Through the Fire and Flames" in Guitar Hero 3, on the hardest difficulty.

Shortly after the video was made, the young man's hands entered a state of hyper-vibration that soon allowed him to reach between worlds.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins - "Tonight, Tonight"

This is my favorite Smashing Pumpkins song. Maybe a bit obvious, but what can ya do? It's a damn good song, with one of the coolest videos ever.

Here's the wonderful classic silent film that inspired the video, Voyage dans la lune:

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Platinum Grit

I most heartily recommend reading the comic Platinum Grit. I've just recently discovered it, and I am hooked.

The story revolves around a young Scottish man named Jeremy, his gorgeous best friend/tormentor Nilson, and the lovely, bewildered Kate.

Jeremy comes from a bizarre lineage of scientists, immortals, and otherworldly sorts of an as-of-yet undisclosed nature. He's also incredibly naive/innocent when it comes to the female types, which Nils exploits to full effect. She strings him (and the reader) along to an excruciating degree, which causes Kate to first pity him, then grow quite fond of him.

If you've seen any "harem" type animes then you might have a vague idea of the relationships at play here.

But the stories go beyond the three-way sexual tension, into the realm of supernatural fantasy and science fiction. Aliens, Highlander types, water ghouls, and enchanted Jamaican cabinets are just some of the elements that give this unique indie comic so much character and charm.

The scripts are dense, often hilariously absurd, and emotionally affecting. And the babes are super hot, lets not forget:


So, check it out. It's a print comic, but you can read it in flash mode online. Enjoy.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Once You Go Black...The World Ends

Danny Glover has just been cast as the president of the United States in an upcoming Roland Emmerich disaster movie, 2012. This continues a proud tradition of casting black actors as the American president in movies and television.

He joins the ranks of Morgan Freeman (Deep Impact), Tommy 'Tiny' Lister (The Fifth Element), Dennis Haysbert and D.B. Woodside (24), and Duane Elizondo Camacho (Idiocracy).

The interesting trend is that all of these movies deal with the end of the world, or at least some major disaster. Deep Impact and Fifth Element both deal with threats from outer space hurling toward Earth, likely to snuff out all life. Dennis Haysbert never had to worry about anything but threats to national security on 24, but he was assassinated post-presidency, and D.B. Woodside had the misfortune of being president during the first successful nuclear strike on American soil. Duane Elizondo Camacho is president of an America that exists essentially after the world (at least as we know it) has already ended.

These aren't the only filmic black presidents. Both James Earl Jones and Chris Rock have had a go, with less epic results. But they're in the minority.

The real question is how this all fits into the upcoming real world presidential elections. If Obama becomes the Democratic candidate (which seems increasingly likely) should we be worried about the impending apocalypse? Perhaps. I fully intend the Republican propaganda machine to take full advantage of this.

Garfield Minus Garfield

The New York Times ran an article today about Garfield Minus Garfield.

The interesting part is that they seem to have gotten Jim Davis to admit that it's better than his own comic. I'm inclined to agree.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

First And Ten

Current iTunes stats:
Tracks: 24,836
Total playtime: 67.5 days
Tracks containing the word 'dragon': 28

Commence randomizing...

1. Kronos Quartet - "Ghosts Falling" from Requiem for a Dream Original Soundtrack

2. Bad Livers - "Uncle Lucius" from Delusions of Banjer

3. Gnarls Barkley - "The Last Time" from St. Elsewhere

4. Cortney Tidwell - "Society" from Don't Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up

5. Holy Fuck - "Casio Bossa Nova" from Holy Fuck

6. Prince - "Batdance" from Batman

7. Hans Zimmer - "Thank You Boob Lady" from The Simpsons Movie: The Music

8. Yoko Kanno - "More than 3cm" from Macross Plus Vol. I

9. The New Pornographers - "Execution Day" from Mass Romantic

(video is from an official New Pornographers YouTube video challenge)

10. Eddie (a.k.a. Meat Loaf) - "What Ever Happened To Saturday Night?" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show