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Serenity Later! (a.k.a. September)

May 27th, 2005 | Comments | Posted in Movies

Oh, how I love being right.

Last night, Lawrence and I attended a special sneak preview of the upcoming film Serenity. For those who don’t know, Serenity is an upcoming movie based on the short-lived Fox television series Firefly, created by Joss Whedon (of Buffy and Angel fame). It’s my opinion that at its best moments Firefly surpassed both Buffy and Angel, and since the series ran for only 14 episodes, it managed to be that good earlier than any TV show I’ve ever watched. The cast had amazing chemistry, the nine (!) main characters were instantly lovable and unusually well acted, the writing was incredibly witty (classic Joss humor), and the storylines were fun and inventive with plenty of mystery thrown in. The cancellation of the series not only left plots dangling, but also came as a very suprising and depressing blow to Joss and all the fans. Luckily, the story does not end there.

Having sucessfully turned a failed movie into a sucessful TV show (Buffy), Joss decided to try it the other way around. He pitched a Firefly movie to Universal, and amazingly, they opted to not only make the film, but to fast-track it. Written and directed by Joss Whedon and reportedly made with minimal studio interference, Serenity is currently in final post-production and hits theaters this September, but I was able to swing two tickets to one of the sneak previews last night. And Joss has delivered in spades.

Keep in mind that I tend to get overly critical when I go into things expecting greatness, and I’ve been hyping myself up for this movie for over a year now (one of my very first posts on this blog was in reference to the launch of the Serenity homepage). In this case, the hype was well deserved: the film is simply incredible. When Lawrence and I left the theater, our hands were shaking and our jaws were on the floor. The entire cast is back, along with addition of a few new great characters. The sets and designs were fantastic, the action and effects were incredible, and most importantly, the overall tone was great: fast paced, funny, at times dark and terribly heart-wrenching, and there are some intense shockers. But as with the series, what actually happens in the film (in terms of plot or storyline) is somewhat inconsequential; it is simply a joy watching these people interact on screen. Joss has created amazing characters and found amazing actors to bring them to life. Fans of the series will undoubtedly love it, but I think it will also stand alone incredibly well.

Bottom line, I cannot wait to see this movie again. At this point , September 30 is far too far away; hopefully there will be another preview showing. If not, the Y! Movies guys have mentioned that I might be able to finagle my way into a press screening in August. It’s that good.

Hope I’ve piqued your interest; if so, here are some links to check out:

A Beatles Challenge

May 6th, 2005 | Comments | Posted in Music

Over beers the other night, a friend of mine proposed an interesting challenge: to create a Beatles covers mix consisting of all bands and singers that I think are good. I’ve made my first crack at it, but I’m looking for feedback. If you consider yourself knowledgable in the field of music, suggest some stuff to add or change (use the comments field):

  1. Echo and the BunnymenTicket to Ride
  2. The Black KeysShe Said, She Said
  3. Nick CaveLet It Be
  4. Belle and SebastianHere Comes The Sun
  5. The BreedersHappiness is a Warm Gun
  6. Dead KennedysBack in the USSR
  7. Elliott SmithRevolution
  8. Daniel JohnstonI Saw Her Standing There
  9. Shonen KnifeRain
  10. Me First and The Gimme GimmesStrawberry Fields Forever
  11. Johnny CashIn My Life
  12. Bobby DarinBeatles Medley
  13. The JamAnd Your Bird Can Sing
  14. The PixiesWild Honey Pie
  15. William ShatnerLucy in the Sky With Diamonds
  16. Otis ReddingA Hard Day’s Night

I’ve been trying to track down the Runaways’ version of Eight Days a Week but haven’t found it yet… if I do, I’d add that one in too.

Magic Bar Napkins

May 5th, 2005 | Comments | Posted in Personal

I just uploaded a few pics to flickr that require some explanation.

Last night a few members of my team and myself met up with Mark E. Johnson for a few rounds at Palo Alto’s finest watering hole, Antonio’s Nut House (also know as “the ho”). As we were finishing up the night and exchanging some snappy banter with the bartender Kelly, she told us that she thought the creepy old dude at the end of the bar might be writing her a note on bar napkins. Sure enough, when he left, he left behind two napkins, three sides filled with his handwriting, and the fourth side containing his phone number. After these were passed around the bar and everyone got their jollies, I snapped some photos of the napkins for posterity. Here’s the text on each napkin transcribed, spelling mistakes, capitalization, and punctuation maintained:

I believe you’re Irish Catholic. But you’ve questioned why god would love only you and not everyone else. I find the energy that your Soul puts out, inviting and intoxicating. KNowing who you are is half the battle. I find you a breath of fresh air, not to mention, Kelly is one of my favorite names (over)

I would love 2 spend time with you tonite or any other time. just so you know, I’m an alpha male, my favorite desciption of me “He’s a Bad Boy, with impeccable manors.” I believe kissing is more important than actual intercourse. I still Don’t understand why everyone is taken by the way people look, when they they should be taken by the way (over)

they smell. smell has much more memory than sight has to offer. you know i’m digging you. So now that that is out in the open, I’ll do what I’m suppose to do. Put the ball in your court. like I said would love to hang toNite, i.e. late night dinner or breakfast or when you’re ready. Peace, Love, and to meeting my New Best Friend,

James (over)

Obviously this stuff is pure genius. I suggest you print this out and keep it with you for the next time you meet a beautiful member of the opposite sex.

Ugh, You Really Don’t Get It

May 3rd, 2005 | Comments Off | Posted in Uncategorized

Good lord, this is frustrating. When I see the kind of pure divisive malarkey John Tierney is peddling in the NYT today it just makes me want to bash my head against a wall. Ok, one more time, step by step, for the cheap seats.

Mrs. Bush’s performance, and her husband’s reaction, wasn’t a shock to the reporters who cover the White House. For years they have tried to convince their friends outside Washington that Mr. Bush is actually not a close-minded dolt, and Mrs. Bush is no Stepford Wife or Church Lady. Yes, they’re Texans who go to church and preach family values, but they’re not yahoos or religious zealots.

The coverage of Mrs. Bush’s comic debut may change some minds, but for devout Bush-bashers, it’s much easier to stay the course. If you live in a blue-state stronghold, a coastal city where you can go 24 hours without meeting any Republicans, it’s consoling to think of the red staters as an alien bunch of strait-laced Bible thumpers.

Oh, I’m quite aware that Bush is no dolt, Mr. Tierney. You, on the other hand, are a different story.

You won’t find me complaining that Laura likes horse cock jokes. It’s something we can finally agree on; I mean, hey, horse cocks are funny. And I’m only a little bit shocked that conservatives, (who are so concerned with the moral decay in this country [caused by us progressives, of course]) think they’re funny too. Next you’ll tell me they’ve changed their stance on Jackson boobies. Ah, one can only dream.

You’re right, it is easier for myself, a self-proclaimed Bush-basher, to stay the course. But I’m pretty sure it has less to do with his wife’s comedic abilites than with his horrific social, economic, and foreign policies. Then again, she was pretty funny. Maybe I should change my mind about abortion, school prayer, the iraq war, social security, health care, education, gun control, the environment, and pretty much every other issue; Laura did make me chuckle.

And let me say this one more friggin’ time: I don’t think of red-staters as alien, straight laced bible thumpers. I do however, think that a very small and vocal minority on the right fits that description, and unfortunately, they are becoming more and more active in the American government. Perhaps it’s time you acknowledged their presence and disowned them instead of us. I mean, at least we have that horse-cock thing in common.

The favorite Democratic explanation is that the red staters are hicks who have been blinded by righteousness, as Thomas Frank argues in "What’s the Matter With Kansas?" He laments that middle-class Kansans are so bamboozled by moral issues like abortion and school prayer that they vote for Republicans even though the Republican tax-cutting policies are against their self-interest.

But middle-class Americans don’t simply cast ballots for Republicans. They also vote with their feet, which is why blue states and old Democratic cities are losing population to red states and Republican exurbs. People are moving there precisely because of economic reasons – more jobs, affordable houses and the lower taxes offered by Republican politicians.

Umm, have you actually *read* What’s the Matter With Kansas? Because I have, and that’s not what Thomas Frank argues at all. He does at one point argue that conservative pundits consistently try to paint liberals as elitist and out of the mainstream with regard to social issues and then use those social wedge issues to get people to vote against their own economic self-interest. Sound familiar?

Oh, and much of the book is dedicated to his personal account of the complete economic devastation Kansas is currently experiencing due to the “lower taxes” of which you speak. Yeah, you forgot to mention that those lower taxes are for corporations such as Westar, Aquila, and Sprint; remember when all those companies laid thousands of people off and still paid their CEOs millions in severance packages? Ah, those were good times for every working man. If people are moving out to the red states (I don’t know what statistics you are quoting here), it’s because the economy sucks, you cut their welfare, education, and health care, and they can no longer afford to live in the cities.

They’re not moving for the churches, and they don’t vote for Mr. Bush simply because he reads the Bible every day. One of the main reasons they like him is that he gets bashed so often. When Jon Stewart sneers at him, they empathize because they’re used to being sneered at themselves.

Why is it you think John Stewart is sneering at the president? Because he’s a hick? News flash, you fucking moron: there hasn’t been a northerner *Democratic* president for 42 years. We hate Bush because his policies are not in line with our political opinions, not because he’s a hick. Stop telling everyone that we’re elitist just because we disagree with your views. And he’s not even a real hick anyways; he went to Yale, for christ’s sake.

They know what their image is in Manhattan and Hollywood, and they know they’re not all that different from the Democrats in those places. They, too, watch “Desperate Housewives,” and they’re not surprised to hear Laura Bush doing Chippendales jokes. They’ve spent their own dollar bills there. They don’t see anything the matter with that – or with themselves.

Oh, oh, we’re not that different? Really? Hmm, that kinda sounds like what I’VE BEEN SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOPS FOR THE LAST 5 YEARS. Oh, and one more thing. The next time you plan to accuse me of turning up my nose at middle america, could you please remind yourself just who owns Manhattan and Hollywood? Cause last time I checked, Republicans seem to be the ones running things these days.