Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

A movie even more exciting than the roller coaster that shares it's name. All of the campy, goofy Batman embarrassments in previous movies are banished from memory. Leger is sheer terror, anarchy made flesh. The movie jolts you like lightning, and keeps you juiced until the very end. A few slow points barely register on the viewer. There is a twisted grin out there, and it's on the face of whoever is making bank off this movie.

Scrabulous is down - Panic!

The Hasbro lawsuit must be in full effect. Considered looking into it for a blog.... maybe for the citizen?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Review: Yojimbo (1961)

One of Kurasawa’s greatest achievements, Yojimbo tells the story of humanity's foibles in a thoroughly convincing story of an impoverished samurai. Superb acting and sparse, powerful camerawork show you exactly how impacting a movie with minimal editing and no special effects can be.

Review: Be Kind, Rewind (2008)

There is something magical in this film, something simple, true and profound. It’s fitting that Michel Gondry, a world-class filmmaker, directs this delightfully low-tech vision of the future, where the audience is the crew, cast and patrons of their own celebrated films. It’s not perfect; it starts off almost painfully slow and veers into murky territory at the end, where it brings up questions that both confuse and stimulate: Is history really so subjective that EVERYBODY owns it? It’s also fun to watch a movie that ends in a film being created, but where this product itself is secondary – the community that it creates, the conversation that art has always created, leads the show.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

random jots

Yes, articles like this are usually the sign of lazy writing, although RI institution Mark Patinkin does it all the time... when he gets lazy.

1. Wonder how bad the economy is going to get. Wonder how much more of journalism is going to be outsourced. Heard that now they are even outsourcing FINANCIAL ANALYSIS of the stock market to India. Sounds like a bad idea - let's have other nations copyedit our counter-insurgency manuals next (Thank you D for that line).

2. How have I not watched the Larry Sanders show until now? Man, what a great show... A lot of people borrowed his "so real it hurts" type of humor. I think he's the link between Seinfeld and Curb, perhaps.

3. Quaker granola bars are pathetically small. Literally the size of my ipod nano. That's supposed to fill me up?

4. What's the relationship between art and economics? Do poor financial periods result in better or worse art?

5. I keep wanting to do a piece on getting "extra" security checks at the airport, but everyone else is doing them - Slate and CNN to name a few. Need to find a new angle there...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

People think this guy looks like me: Part II

Sorry for the contrast issues - this photo was taken at night and color corrected by a Photoshop novice. It was the 3rd of July here in Chicago, and some of the main streets were closed to allow firework gawking. This charming fellow was sitting in the mob and my friend pointed him out. If he looks surly, it's because he is; he could tell that I was taking this picture of him, despite the fact that I tried to be nonchalant around him.

People think this guy looks like me: Part I

My friends always say they see people who eerily look like me - all over the world, actually. I don't know how to take this, so I thought I would post pictures of people that are believed to look like me. You be the judge. Bonus: The first one is Indian!

Review: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

One sentence summary:

1. The music, acting and grisliness make it a remarkably effective movie adaptation (insert barber pun here).
2. Goes right for the jugular, and leaves you both gleaming and scarred when it's through with you.
3. A cut above the rest.
4. If we are very lucky, Depp and Burton will continue to make movies like this for decades to come.
5. Rarely do gore and high-class musicals go together; this is one of those times.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Review: Planet of the Apes (1968)

1. A once great story has lost its luster over time, like a monkey's fur fading in the sun.
2. A once great story has faded over time, Heston's outbursts now seem awkward as he overacts in the Shatnerian tradition.
3. This once great ape has devolved over time into a strange, stilted creature; the film's brave concept frequently gets lost amidst the flying fur.
4. Charlton Heston, the film's iconic protagonist, hasn't aged well into the next generation; his iconic lines seem more hackneyed or silly than dramatic.

(hmm.. tough to condense this one)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

Possible one-sentence reviews:
1. Red, mean and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
2. Intriguing yet insubstantial, like a cardboard cut-out of something that once possessed cache.
3. Intriguing yet insubstantial, HellBoy II is as disappointing as the first movie; even hard-core fans may wish for Wall-E.
4. Despite occasional treasures, Hellboy II belly-flops onto the screen, with clumsy dialogue, uninspiring characters and a plot that can't seem to decide if it's a comedy, action or drama.

Pinata Candy Diagnosis

You may find yourself at an 11-year-old's birthday party.
And you may find yourself staring at a multicolored cardboard star hanging from a black pole.
And you may ask yourself: What kind of candy is in that beat-up thing?

Not all pinatas are created equal. A quick review of the goodies inside, so if you have to scramble against a horde of kids for some goodies, you know what's worth your time.

From worst to best:

Tootsie Rolls -

There's a reason you haven't seen a Tootie Roll ad since 1984 - they suck. Brown and sticky and tasting like stale sugar, a famous crowd-disperser.
Tootsie-Pops - Slightly better, because you can lick away the candy shell and toss it before you get to the center.
Colored Tootsie-Rolls - They are edible. They come in interesting flavors, but cherry, of course, is the best.
Blow-Pops - Now we're getting somewhere! These babies have two phases, each delightful and distinct.
Dots - These yellow boxes will stick out from the rest of the candy, inviting you to grab them. Accept the invitation. Soft, sugary and with bold colors that say "There is no WAY this is in any way natural," Dots Deliver. Somehow, they are also made by Tootsie, though I bet a funky grandson came up with these to spite his bland ancestors.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Challenges to investigative reporting

Reporters are always asking for more time on their stories. We love deadlines and how they keep us focused, but they chafe like thongs filled with sandpaper. So when given an investigative assignment with a 6 week deadline, a reporter may cheer with delight at first. Soon, though, with the immediacy of the news pushed far into the background, a reporter may become fascinated with other important projects, like: The Colbert Report, Gchatting, Scrabulous games with family members, or washing curry stains off your clothes from a Thai accident last night. Yes, the work almost seems superfluous and unnecessary. I think: I don't see a deadline, so why am I working so hard again? But although from a distance that deadline looks small, I know as it gets closer it's going to get bigger and fatter, like an Exxon oil tanker hosting an obesity convention racing towards my unprepared (and rocky) coastline. Better get to it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Movie Review: Wall-E (2008)

I'm going to try and summarize movies I see with one sentence. Here we go:

You will believe a robot can love (ugh).
Wall-E has everything - robots, love....
Emotionally heart-wrenching robots can make you cry and laugh.
A beat-up garbage robot with a three word vocabulary really gets your engine pumping.
Believe it: a beat-up garbage robot with a three word vocabulary might win Best Picture.
Believe it: a beat-up garbage robot with a three-word vocabulary is the most charming character since Curious George (hmmm... getting somewhere).

some more animation

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Movie review: Videodrome (1983)

"Videodrome is dead. Long live the new flesh."
Cronenberg all over, with the blurring between fantasy and reality, the biomorphic weaponry and odd communications devices. There was also a whiff of 21st century social networking and interactivity. And, of course, James Woods! Occasionally a bit predictable, but still pretty shocking - in a good way. B+ / A-

Peer-to-peer.... lending?

I found this amazing factoid from my multimedia prof:

Sites like Zopa,
Virgin Money
and Prosper
extend the success of social networking to the financial world. People can pool resources, bid for loans, offer loans and even act as intermediaries for stock and other financial transactions. Currently they are too small to compete with banks, but imagine if the collectivism of Web 2.0 extends fully to the financial sector. Where no one controlls the assets but the individuals, and the hosting sites just takes small percentages of the transactions. It's almost like Credit Unions on a national scale, owned and operated by people for the people. This means that services will be offered, but no one profits from them expect the individuals involved, and not a huge financial institution (although I guess they could try and horn in on the action via proxies). Still, Iit seems like a weird sort of Socialist utopia....