There’s a sort of chain letter-esque thing going around the blogosphere in which people give four responses in a variety of categories and then “tag” other bloggers in turn. I was tagged by Dave L. and decided to play along. So, here goes.
Four jobs I’ve had:
- Pothole filler
- Production assistant for a direct-to-video sci-fi film
- Public TV program director
Four movies I can watch over and over:
- Star Wars (the original)
- The Music Man
- Destroy All Monsters
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Four places I’ve lived:
- Hobart, Indiana
- Muncie, Indiana
- West Hollywood, California
- Champaign, Illinois
Four TV shows I love:
- Doctor Who
- The Daily Show
- My Name is Earl
- Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
Four places I’ve vacationed:
- Estes Park, Colorado
- The Big Island of Hawaii
- London, England
- Toronto, Canada
Four of my favorite foods:
- Chick-Fil-A grilled chicken sandwich
- peel ‘n eat shrimp
- my wife’s pasta bake
- Taco Bell bean burrito (though it doesn’t sit well with others around me)
Four sites I visit daily:
Four places I would rather be right now:
- Home, building Warhammer 40K models in the basement.
- Riding “The Haunted Mansion” at Disneyland.
- The Big Island of Hawaii.
- The fourth moon of the planet Yavin. (from Star Wars, natch)
Four bloggers I am tagging:
None, actually. I hate to presume. Feel free to “tag” yourself, and say I did it.
In recent weeks my lunchtime reading material has been Showcase Presents Green Lantern, the second in a series of “phonebook” reprints of “Silver Age” DC Comics superhero stories. So far, I’m enjoying it much more than its companion Superman volume, as it emphasizes straight-up adventure rather than “trick” tales in which the lead character pulls an elaborate hoax on friends, foes and readers.
Green Lantern was originally created in the ’40s as a caped crusader dressed in an especially garish purple, red and green ensemble, and wielding a power ring which could do virtually anything once it was charged by a magical battery in the form of a green lantern. He was one of the more popular heroes of the day, eventually granted his own title, but it wasn’t enough to save him from the superhero purge that ended the so-called Golden Age.
In the late ’50s, DC began reviving its World War II-era characters and updating them as sci-fi-inspired heroes. Green Lantern was reborn as Hal Jordan, daring test pilot selected by a dying alien to replace the latter as a member of an interstellar police force. While Hal initially adopts the Green Lantern name in reference to the shape of his power battery, we eventually learn that the organization he has unwittingly joined is collectively known as the Green Lantern Corps, agents of the blue-skinned, immortal Guardians of the planet Oa.
As is the case with most superheroes, Hal must balance his career–as a pilot for Ferris Industries–with his duties as protector. And of course, there are the prerequisite problems of keeping a secret identity. His chief confidante is his Eskimo buddy Pieface. (So far, the book does not make clear whether he eats a lot of baked goods, or if this is some sort of Eskimo Pie reference.)
Then there’s the beautiful Carol Ferris, who becomes Hal’s boss once her daddy leaves on an extended business trip. Hal has the hots for Carol, who naturally brushes off his advances in favor of Green Lantern. And while Hal is not above using his GL persona to date Carol, he wants her to love him for himself. This, of course, is the old-school superhero concept of “love,” which apparently does not include trust, since Hal has no intention of revealing his secret. Carol seems to be a colossal bitch, which makes one wonder why Hal bothers with her…except that she is drawn as very, very hot.
The fact that GL’s ring is virtually all-powerful, limited only by Hal’s willpower and imagination, gives the writers The Old Superman Dilemma: how can one invent a credible threat to an unstoppable hero? Hence, Green Lantern is given a vulnerability; due to “a necessary impurity,” his ring is useless against the color yellow.
As it turns out, yellow objects and people are much more common in GL’s world than in mine, and a significant number of stories hinge on a tense moment in which Hal realizes that the thing he’s trying to zap is this forbidden color. (I’d think after the first few times, he’d notice something that happened to be all yellow before trying to power ring it, but then I’m not a test pilot leading a dual identity. Nor, come to think of it, do I have a friend named Pieface.)
Now, I could think of all sorts of ways in which an all-powerful ring could stop a yellow villain/weapon. Using a chunk of concrete as a shield, for instance, or removing all of the breathable air from the area surrounding an evildoer. And it’s true that GL eventually comes up with those sorts of tactics, but never without a prior moment in which he declares “My power ring is helpless against the color yellow!”
Apparently, this vulnerability extends to gold, which is not technically yellow except in old comics using the four-color printing process. It also applies to non-yellow objects under certain circumstances; in one tale, the other-dimensional Qwardians fire a missile installed with red lights glowing beneath its translucent yellow skin, allowing it the mind-bending capability to appear red while still being yellow. (Yeah…okay.)
I’ve thought about this, and have decided to compile a list of things against which Green Lantern would be powerless:
- a yield sign
- a legal pad
- Big Bird
- the Yellow Pages
- cowards (think about it)
- McDonald’s golden arches
- SpongeBob Squarepants wielding a banana
Undoubtedly, there are more. Feel free to e-mail me your own lists.
Yesterday, Vicky and I trekked on down to our local art theater–named, coincidentally enough, the Art Theatre–to take in a matinee of The Squid and the Whale. As a rule, neither of us cares much for arty flicks, but we do want to support the Art. The last remaining single-screen movie house in town, it offers a state-of-the-art sound system and even cares enough to keep its movies both in frame and in focus, a habit that the multiplexes have yet to form. Plus, the popcorn is good.
We had seen the Squid trailer, and Vic had expressed some interest in the flick. I was a bit unsure, but I’ve been trying to broaden my tastes, and at least it looked mildly amusing. So we did our part for the Art–and for the popcorn.
The Squid and the Whale stars Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney as married writers who divorce, sharing custody of their two boys. And to my surprise, there actually is both a squid and a whale in it.
Jeff Daniels plays quite possibly the most detestable movie character I have ever watched. While he’s not exactly setting puppies on fire, every time he opens his mouth, something contemptuously arrogant spills out. Even Hannibal Lechter had his good points, but there was not one moment during this film that I did not feel an urge to rise from my seat, physically enter the screen, and beat the ever-loving shit out of Daniels.
After 81 long minutes, the picture abruptly stopped. There was no fade to black, no denouement. One second, we saw the older son staring at the aforementioned sea creatures, and the next, crash to credits. Lights up. Go home. I turned to Vic, and said, “Did they run out of film?”
When I got home I called my friend Dave L., as he likes producer Wes Anderson and was the only other person that I knew had seen it. He said that there was an ending: that the son had finally realized his father, the man after whom he patterned his life, was a cocksucker. (Okay, Dave may not have said “cocksucker.”) “But I knew that in the first five minutes!” I complained, to which Dave said, “Yeah, but he’s not your father.”
As for the rest of the characters in the film, we simply don’t know, nor should we apparently care, what happens to them. Did Laura Linney ultimately wind up with a Baldwin brother? Did Anna Paquin–who suddenly vacated the film off-screen without apparent motivation–get a better gig in the middle of shooting? And just why was the younger son smearing his spooge on every available vertical surface?
One of the end credits read “For Mannie.” Vic retorted, “Somewhere out there, Mannie is sitting at home saying ‘Why do you hate me so?’”
The monster epic of our time is now online for your viewing pleasure! Majestic Pictures proudly presents Dawn of the Lepus, starring Clint Durwood and Cassie Corliss, written and directed by Celeste Teal. Click on the poster for this hare-y horror flick!
Update: By the way, this film is my first major project for The Movies Online. Anyone who owns The Movies PC game and posts their flick to the company’s website can receive “virtual credits” to buy new costumes and props, but (and this is the pisser) ONLY if they get other people to review their film. So, consider this a hint. Thanks!
Saturday I went to one of Champaign’s post offices to mail a package to my friend Dave. My wife and I soon realized that we had inadvertantly selected the Surly Postal Center.
The old man in front of us went up to the counter and requested one-cent stamps, presumably because of the postal rate change that was about to take effect. The clerk replied in an unnecessarily loud voice, “What do you need one-cent stamps for?!? Postage is going up two cents!” He helpfully added, “We sell two-cent stamps!” Suitably chagrined, the old man bought the two-cent stamps, if only to keep the clerk from jumping the counter and punching him in the throat.
I was next. The clerk, a woman this time, started through the usual rigamarole about whether my package was fragile, liquid or perishable. I said, “It’s a CD.” (Technically, it was a DVD+R, but I thought that unimportant.) She eyed my small, rather puffy package suspiciously, as if I’d addressed it to my good friend Alfred Qaeda (I call him Al). “A CD?!?”, she said, shaking her head. “I bubble-wrapped it,” I replied, wanting to add that I wouldn’t have felt it necessary if I trusted the Post Office after they apparently lost the last package that I’d sent Dave. That seemed to satisfy her long enough for me to pay my 60 cents and escape.
As I left, I heard the first clerk chewing out another customer. “There’s too much tape on that package! They’re never going to take it with all that tape!”
I’m not sure if this is post-9/11 overcautiousness or merely a switch from decaf, but something’s up at the Mattis Ave. postal branch, and it wouldn’t surprise me if one day soon we hear that shots were fired.
I may have to switch to UPS.
Another movie year has come to a close, and while I thought that I’d seen more of the 2005 releases than I had those from 2004, I was wrong. I only saw 11, down from 17 in ’04, and watched nothing new on DVD that I hadn’t already seen in theaters.
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- War of the Worlds
- Batman Begins
- King Kong
- The 40-Year-Old Virgin
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- Good Night, and Good Luck.
- Kung Fu Hustle
- Bride and Prejuidice
I enjoyed all of these, with my favorites being Star Wars (not as predictable a choice as it once was), Kong and War of the Worlds. The least of them by a long shot was Kung Fu Hustle, which was cute but very, very stupid.
I am sorry that I never got around to Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit or Land of the Dead. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t see others–Wedding Crashers and even Fantastic Four (which I am told is not the disaster its reputation suggests) come to mind–but those are the only two I actually regret.
I could be talked into Brokeback Mountain, but honestly, it’s not a movie in which I’d be the least interested if it was about a heterosexual relationship. Philosophically, I’ve got no problem with it. Just the same, it’s not something that I think I need to watch.
I’d like to think that I might do better this year, but looking at the upcoming release slate, I see little which interests me, outside of the Superman and X-Men sequels.
I enjoyed the nice, long holiday time off from work. Ten days went by in nothing flat, and although I didn’t accomplish everything that I intended (for instance, I didn’t even touch my Warhammer 40K army, I did do quite a bit: rebuilt my Lego “Monster Manor” model to add more rooms and a graveyard; installed a DVD burner (tricky, thanks both to my fear of opening my PC and to the complete lack of pertinent info on the Sony support site); and take down the Christmas tree for another year.
Vic and I are starting the new year with a new game, or rather, a new twist on something we’ve been doing for a long time. It began innocently enough some ten years back on one of our neighborhood walks, with Vic finding some loose change in our path. It became an informal game to be able to claim that one of us had picked up a penny, a dime, or for heaven’s sake, a quarter in our daily travels. (I actually found a ten dollar bill at Wal-Mart earlier this year, but that’s a lone exception.)
Of course, a penny by itself is no big deal in anything other than bragging rights, and I’ve often commented that all of the change we’ve found over the years (ten dollar bills aside) wouldn’t amount to more than a few bucks. Well, we’ve decided to put that to the test, and so, beginning January 1, we began segregating our found money in its own jar. So far, with the penny I spotted today at lunchtime, we’re up to 27 cents. Not bad for three days’ work.
The other game I’m playing right now is for the PC: Activision’s The Movies. It’s one of those tycoon simulations, and it allows players to run their own movie studio from the silent pictures era to the present day.
While I’m not a huge fan of tycoon games–they pay far too much attention to the micromanagement of such items as trash pickup–the real appeal here is the ability to “shoot” one’s own movies, using a huge library of built-in animations, costumes, props and sets, and to edit them with a simple interface. One can even add music, captions, and lip-synched dialogue. Many of the options must be unlocked through simulation play, but once they’re available, they can be used in “sandbox” mode.
As of last night, my studio (Majestic Pictures) was up to 1940, but we were well ahead of the curve in terms of technological research. However, while we’ve got a few of the top stars, we (and by that, I mean “I”) kinda suck at making movies.
One amusing thing about the game is how well it simulates real-life movie studio experiences. For example, I attempted to use the movie maker software to write a custom “script”: a horror epic called “Queen of the Cursed.” It wound up taking years to shoot, tying up my major stars all the while, and costing a fortune. It was eventually released to little acclaim, and, due to some inattention on my part, included some Ed Wood-esque continuity gaffes when the vampire and the heroine switched roles.
Then last night, I went on a set-buying binge, paying no attention to my expenditures until I suddenly realized that I was almost out of cash. The studio went into debt, which would’ve been fine if the movie currently in production hadn’t been suddenly suspended due to petulant stars walking off the set. Hemmorhaging money, I had to cut salaries, sell bathrooms (!) and generally let the studio lot go to pot while trying to convince my tiny actors (one of whom is, thanks to the “Starmaker” software, a reasonable facsimile of myself) to stop drinking and get the hell back to the set before the whole enterprise collapsed.
Thankfully, since then we’ve had a few hit films and I’m holding steady at about $250,000 in the bank. I hope that before long I’ll be making big-budget, sci-fi romps. At least, so long as the tiny me doesn’t decide to sulk in his trailer.