Friday, June 27, 2008

"...A Masterpiece of Epic Proportions..."

Here is the review of Wall-E by Massawyrm of Ain't It Cool News...
(I know it's a wall of text, but it's quite worth the read.)

Hola all. Massawyrm here.

You have never, never ever, ever ever ever seen anything like Wall-E. Ever.

Okay, wait. I’m lying. You’ve seen movies LIKE Wall-E. But they never managed to get quite as far as Wall-E does. Contrary to what you might think, this isn’t another of Pixar’s cutesy family stories with oodles and oodles of heart. It’s kind of got that going on, but sans all the goofy sidekicks, the moronic best friend and the Randy Newman song. No, Wall-E was born not in the 90’s at the fateful meeting that is talked about in the initial teaser trailer, but in the hardcore eco sci-fi of the 1970’s.

Wall-E is the direct descendant of Silent Running. Of Soylent Green. Of Logan’s Run and THX 1138. It is a film conceived and executed by someone who, like many of us as children, saw the inside of the Jawa Sandcrawler in Star Wars, watched all the robots futz around back and forth, and dreamed of what a movie just about THAT would be like. And while it plays around with a lot of very blatant references that even the most barely literate of film viewers would catch, its heart and soul is in those films of the early 70’s when we really believed the world was coming to an end and only Charlton Heston could save us. Or Bruce Dern. Or Michael York.

I would say that Pixar had never attempted anything this grandiose before, but really, I can’t think of anyone that has. It is a singularly perfect endeavor, a monument to what can be done both in terms of animation and storytelling. It is genius. Absolute genius. And it is adorable as all hell.

Wall-E is without a doubt a message film, but one that has been carefully honed to deliver razor sharp observations and profound assessments on the nature of our society. Now I’m on record as hating the living hell out of Happy Feet, a film I find to be representative of everything that is wrong with modern animation wrapped into one frightening 90 minute singing, dancing propaganda extravaganza. It takes its message with one hand and holds your child’s mouth wide open with the other as it stuffs its ideology down their eager little throats. And Wall-E is its antithesis. It is satire, wrapped in speculative fiction, told through the wide, curious eyes of a child – portrayed here as a lovable little Robot named Wall-E.

Most importantly, while it satires modern life and attacks a number of issues – from our rampant consumerism, our growing obesity problem, our slow progression towards a big box/one corporation world, and of course our blatant disregard for the beauty of the world around us for the sake of all those other things – it does so lovingly and through humor. It takes the problems to ridiculous levels so we can laugh at them while finding the truth ourselves. But it draws no conclusions. It is a film that says “Hey kids, here’s what your parents are leaving you. When you grow up, you might want to think about that.” It isn’t about solutions. It doesn’t try to get you to act. Like all good speculative fiction it gives you something to think about – and something for your kids to mull over as they grow up with that message buried deep inside of them

Meanwhile, the beautiful, sweeping story grips you to every frame despite its sparse and rarely direct dialog. It takes you to a nightmare world of the future and walks you through it letting you peer at it through the eyes of a character absolutely fascinated by its past. Never does it dwell on the horror – only the beauty buried beneath – and that one fact is what truly allows this formula to work. It is not a vision meant to terrorize you or your child, but rather to gaze through the looking glass at our own twisted reflection and laugh at it instead. And pine for our own world even as we spend time in Wall-E’s.

And dear god did they pull one hell of a brilliant snow-job with the marketing. You think you know what this film is about? Think again. The trailers encapsulate the first act of the film with small fragments of the second. This thing goes places you did not imagine them going and the result is nothing short of pure magic. An eloquent, lyrical poem about a world we could create if we’re not careful, but most importantly one about an unlikely hero who exists entirely upon the notion of unconditional love.

This is nothing at all like anything Pixar has attempted before. I would say that it’s Brad bird good, but really, this is even better than that. Wall-E is in a class by itself, a nearly indescribable masterpiece of epic proportions that will, regardless of commercial success, be regarded in the film community as one of the very best films in the history of animation. This will no doubt be spoken of in the future alongside such works as Fantastic Planet andFantasia. It is arguably the best thing Disney has ever had their name on and clearly the best with the name Pixar. It will take the Academy Award for best animated next year without anything resembling a fight and will no doubt be on almost every Top ten list you read at the end of the year.

If you have in any way written this off or decided to wait until DVD, you desperately need to reconsider your opinion on the matter. I spent my childhood dreaming about a movie like this. And finally it has come. You really have no idea what you’re in for.

Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.

Massawyrm

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nine Years Ago

On this day, in the year 1999, Lynette and I were married on a very hot day in a small town in Illinois.

It's been nine years. And I am still in love with her. In fact, I might even love her more than I did then. (Not that I didn't love her lots then, but... oh, you know what I mean!)

A lot has happened in our lives since that day. But the one thing that has always remained constant is our love for one another. And even now with our futures not looking very transparent, the one thing that we are certain of is each other.

I know I'm a very lucky man. There's no denying it. Some days I wonder why she said yes. I wonder what she sees in me. I wonder what I did right to deserve such a gift. Whatever it is, I'm grateful. And I'm too afraid to speculate what my life would be like without her. I only hope I can sustain this lucky streak!

Happy Anniversary, Lynette! Tonight we eat sushi at our favorite sushi joint. And if we still had a VCR, we'd watch the tape of our wedding. (We really do need to get that transfered to DVD.)

Cheers!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spore: The Buzz Begins

An article written by Chris Higgins of Mental Floss...

I’ve wanted to play Will Wright’s next game, Spore, for years. I first wrote about Spore way back in February 2007, proudly and naively stating that “our wait will soon be over.” Well, I was right if by “soon” I meant “in another year and a half.” Spore has been in development since 2000, and it finally has a reliable release date: September 7, 2008. Let’s hope the wait has been worth it.

Spore is a video game unlike any other. Following in the tradition of Wright’s SimCity and The Sims, it’s a “God Game” in which the player controls the lives of characters in a virtual world. But this time, you’re not a city planner or operating a doll house — you’re literally playing God as an intelligent designer, creating and guiding an organism through stages of evolution and social progress. What’s more, the technology behind the game breaks new ground, using generative mathematical processes to animate user creations and even create music on the fly. Neat stuff, this.

In the run-up to Spore’s release, EA has released the Spore Creature Creator (including a free version). Using the Creature Creator, you can play with Spore’s creator development environment to create your own beings. These creatures will then populate the actual Spore game world when the game ships (Spore downloads user-generated content in the background, populating worlds with creatures created by other users). Check out the free trial edition for a taste of the action; there’s also a $10 full version available for purchase (the full version unlocks lots of additional creature parts, like different eyes, arms, legs, and so on).

Here’s a demo of the Spore Creature Creator, showing exactly how it works:


There are various contests afoot related to the Creature Creator. There’s a dance competition in which you capture video of your creature busting a move (the prize is a trip to the Smithsonian Institute!), and a celebrity Spore contest called SporeVote, in which fans vote on their favorite Spore creatures created by celebrities. (Note: the celebrities are a weird grab bag including MC Hammer, Peaches, Stan Lee, Margaret Cho, David Lynch, Carlos Santana, and _floss friend Mo Rocca.)

So get your preorder in and spend the next few months drooling over YouTube videos (I recommend The Science Behind Spore as a good starting place, then check out the videos linked here for deep catalog nerd stuff).

Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP George Carlin

George Carlin died last night at the age of 71. Here's a clip of the stand-up routine that actually got him arrested in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you're easily offended by swear words, then you need to watch this more than anyone:

Dance

Good morning, Humans. It's the beginning of another week. Whatever happens, remember to appreciate it. Things could be a hell of a lot worse, yes? Take time to enjoy the little things. And if it helps, dance.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dear God,

If you exist, please send me back in time to when I was about 11 or 12 years old so I can beg my parents to buy me THIS.

WALL - E

Seriously, I freakin' love the Pixar movies. Love them. But I can already tell that Wall-E is going to be my absolute favorite. And the movie hasn't even been released yet. There's an excellent article about the ambitious movie in this week's Time magazine. Basically, there is no dialog in the movie. The robots make their robot noises and more or less mime the whole way through. As director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) puts it, "The movie shows, but doesn't tell." To me, that sounds like a movie that WON'T insult our intelligence. And in Hollywood, those offerings are quite rare. Enjoy this trailer:

Pee @ Three

So last night something happened that has never happened before: Leia woke us up at three AM because she needed to go outside. Never in the six months that we've had her has she woken us up in the middle of the night to go out.

She got out of bed. Walked into the living room and started barking. Barking, another thing she rarely does. At first, I thought I had to reach for my Louisville Slugger, but the thought of me running out into the living room of our tiny condo, bat in hand, saying, "What is it, girl?" kept me from doing that.

Instead, I mumbled, "I think she has to go out." And like a good husband, I said to Lynette, "You do it." But then I got out of bed and did it myself. Because I don't want to be that guy who sends his half-asleep wife outside at three o'clock in the morning.

So we went out. Stumbling. Yawning. Depressed because I knew every home in sight had people fast asleep in warm, cozy beds.

There's no climactic end to this story either. Leia didn't pee for five minutes straight or let loose a stream with fire hose strength. It was just a normal, run-of-the-mill urination. If it were fireworks, this would've been one of those lame snakes.

In other news, humans have discovered ice on Mars.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Baman Piderman

For some reason I can't stop watching this. At first, it's kinda funny. I mean, the voice work is funny. But then I couldn't get it out of my head. Is it an audio recording of some strange, quirky conversation set to animation? Obviously, it's absurd. Maybe I should stop trying to figure it out.

Requiem for a Day Off

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back to the Future... sweded



Speaking of Back to the Future, we're officially making our way to Minneapolis for the 4th of July weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fatburger

Good news! We're getting a Fatburger!

Jeez, just saying that aloud makes me want to do ten squat thrusts.

I have no idea what it is, but based on the name of the joint it doesn't sound very healthy at all. Apparently, it's a popular burger chain from the west coast.

Quick, somebody get me an apple.

Question:

Am I the only person who knows how to make popcorn in the microwave?

Seriously. What is the correlation between a typical office setting and burning the f*ck out of popcorn in the microwave?! Obviously, these people are starting the microwave with the popcorn inside, but do they think some heroic figure is going to come along and rescue their burning popcorn??

Oh crap, was that hero supposed to be me? Dammit, I have too many duties here!

(hehe - duties)

I'm Voting Republican

Everybody Loves Raymond

My new favorite thing is Everybody Loves Raymond. Shut up, it's a good show!

Actually, it's hilarious. Call it a guilty pleasure, but I stumbled upon this show a few weeks ago. I think I was waiting for an episode of Family Guy to come on TBS and decided to finish out the last ten minutes of an episode of Raymond rather than change the channel. And to my surprise I laughed. I actually laughed. Who'da thunk it?

All these years, while the show was airing on CBS, I never once tuned in or much cared about it. I wrote it off as another stupid sitcom about some schlub and his "wacky" family. Yawn. But this one is actually good.

Admittedly, the show owes its success to the late Peter Boyle. He is friggin' awesome in this show.

Believe me, I was just as confused as Lynette was when she heard me giggling in front of the TV during a rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond. I only regret not tuning in a long time ago when the show was new.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Wackness

This is going to be one of those sleeper hits of the summer. It's already making huge waves on the film festival circuit. Look into it.


Friday, June 6, 2008

HAPPY FRIDAY

Because I'm in a freakin' supreme mood (or spreme as in Jack's Spreme Turkey Sandwich as it's written in the deli downstairs) I give you

The Cure! YES!!!! TURN IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Nuked the Fridge


Apparently, the phrase Nuked the Fridge has become synonymous with Jumped the Shark.

Meaning, it's the moment in a television series (or theatrical series) when the show is no longer believable. In other words, it's the pivotal moment in a series when that series starts to just plain suck.

There are web sites devoted to revealing the many moments in television history when shows Jump the Shark.

But I have to disagree with the use of Nuked the Fridge. I personally thought that scene was rather funny. Whimsical, even. And quite consistent with the previous installments of Indiana Jones.

In fact, I'm getting pretty pissed off at all the whiny naysayers. Sure, the refrigerator scene was fanciful and probably scientifically impossible, but can't the same be said about magical golden boxes and Holy Grails? When did the fans of Indiana Jones suddenly grow up and become my pissy grandpa?

Maybe it's time you pony up for those orthopedic shoes because you obviously have some sort of pain causing you much discomfort. You're probably the same kind of person who after seeing Chewbacca for the first time said, "That's so fake!"

So to all the people who thought Indiana Jones 4 was "unbelievable" and "outrageous," welcome to the world of cinema. And if this is the first Spielberg/Lucas movie you've seen, I recommend you avoid the rest of their movies because you ain't going to like those either.

Goodnight. And don't worry, the crystal skulls won't bother you anymore, grandpa.

Monday, June 2, 2008

RIP Hill Valley

I suddenly feel a lot older today...

Large fire devours movie sets at Universal Studios

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fire at Universal Studios has destroyed a set from "Back to the Future," the King Kong exhibit and a video vault containing more than 40,000 videos and reels.

Los Angeles County fire Captain Frank Reynoso says the blaze broke out just before dawn Sunday on a backlot stage at the 400-acre property. The fire has been contained.

Officials say the iconic courthouse square from "Back to the Future," has been destroyed, and the famous clocktower that enabled star Michael J. Fox's character to time travel has been damaged.

NBC Universal President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer says 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels were damaged in the video vault, but there are duplicates in a different location.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. (AP) — A large fire raged on a back lot at Universal Studios on Sunday, devouring several movie sets and the theme park's King Kong attraction, officials said.

The King Kong exhibit is a stop on the studio's tram tour where the giant ape bellows at passengers and artificial banana scent fills the area, studio spokesman Eliot Sekuler said.

Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Daryl Jacobs said at least one building had burned and as many as three blocks of movie facades were destroyed.

Two mock New York and New England streets used for movie making and tourist displays were "a total loss," he said.

Though the fire was contained, it was still raging, Jacobs said.

The blaze broke out just before dawn on a sound stage at the 400-acre property, fire Capt. Frank Reynoso said. There was at least one explosion.

A thick column of smoke rose thousands of feet into the air and for a time helicopters swept in to drop water.

More than 100 firefighters were trying to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby brush, Reynoso said. One firefighter was hospitalized for unspecified injuries.

Sekuler said the theme park would open Sunday, though the studio tour would not go to the King Kong part of the attraction. He said a commercial shoot was going on when the fire broke out. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Universal Studios is located nine miles north of downtown Los Angeles that has thrill rides and a back lot where movies and television shows are filmed.

Some of the more familiar attractions on the back lot are the clock tower from the "Back To The Future" movies and the house featured in "Psycho."

Scenes from several blockbuster films and television shows have been filmed at the studios, including "War of the Worlds," "When Harry met Sally" and "Scrubs."

Best Record in Baseball... Right Now

The Chicago Cubs currently have the best record in baseball. How long that will last is anyone's guess, BUT

The last time the Cubs had the best record in baseball was 1908...

The last time the Cubs won the World Series:


1908

Just sayin'.