The Enviable Existence of Ethan Lowry
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Happy 5th Anniversary Steve and Somara
It doesn't seem like it's been five years since they tied the knot in Las Vegas. Time sure does fly. That was a fun trip despite the technical hiccups. Here's to many more anniversaries, you two!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Leo's barbecue secret
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Obama's disappointing decision disagreement
Obama says he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision to ban the use of the death penalty in child rape cases. This is really a disappointment. This decision by the Supreme Court took an important stand atop a slippery slope. For almost half a century, the death penalty has been used in this country only in cases where a person was killed. Although I disagree with the death penalty entirely, the position of the punishment fitting the crime makes some degree of sense. There was a time in this country where stealing a horse was a capital crime, and by taking this stance, the Supreme Court stopped us from sliding backwards into a coarser, crueler, less civilized society.
I see three possibilities for Obama's stated stance on this issue:
1. He truly believes the death penalty is justified in these cases.
2. He is taking the safe road to avoid being portrayed as weak on crime.
3. He believes in state's rights in matters of life and death.
Option one seems awfully un-Christian and damages Obama in my eyes. Option two is upsetting, but somewhat understandable. Option three is just loony.
I'm hoping it's option two, but we probably won't know the truth anytime soon.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Indy 4 Review (with SPOILERS)
SPOILERS AHEAD! PROCEED IF YE DARE!
I really liked the movie. Ten minutes in, I was wondering what the negative reviewers were smoking. But there were definitely some problems:
1. Suspension of disbelief
The truck chase scene through the desert in Raiders was basically possible, and therefor believable. The chase scene through the Jungle in Indy 4 was downright preposterous. First off, the line of vehicles were driving along at a pretty good clip behind the jungle-clearing machine out front. Then to get the action started, Indy destroys that machine with a rocket launcher, at which point the vehicles speed ahead? Huh? With the jungle-clearer gone, how would that work? Then the back and forth fighting between the vehicles was just silly. I longed for that scene to end, and it did with an absurdity that topped the entire absurd scene: Mutt swinging on vines (after hanging still for several seconds) fast enough to catch up with the speeding cars. Make excuses for it all you want, that was just dumb. Maybe it's an even-numbered movie thing. Raiders had no utter physical impossibilities, while Temple of Doom had the mine car jump. Last crusade didn't have anything like that that I remember, and so we get the speed-vines of Peru in Cystal Skull.
2. Talking down to the audience.
When Indy first leaves his classroom to walk down the hall, you can see briefly a portrait of Marcus Brody on the wall. I thought "Nice, subtle, respectful of the attentive fan." Then the movie goes on to bludgeon the audience with Marcus Brody for the next ten minutes: a picture on the desk, a mention by Indy of his death, and lastly a goddamn statue with a clearly visible MARCUS BRODY plaque.
3. Not enough people got shot on screen.
The ratio of bullets fired to onscreen deaths made this movie feel like an episode of the A-Team. I know Lucas and Spielberg have gotten soft in their old age, but that's no excuse. The liberal use of squibs and blood packs gave the earlier movies a gritty feel that this movie lacked completely.
4. Too much action, not enough character interaction.
One of my favorite scenes from all of the Indy films is the Cairo rooftop scene were Sallah and Indy are talking about the dig and Belloq while Marion interacts with the children and the monkey. Not only does Karen Allen absolutely GLOW in that scene, but it also gives all the characters a dignified reality that makes you care very much about the scenes that immediately follow. If there had been just a little bit of that with the new "Mac" character, it would have lent much more weight to his betrayal and death. As it was, he was basically a cartoon character.
5. Too much CGI.
When a director is considering an action scene for inclusion in a non-Sci-Fi movie, he (sorry for the sexist language here) should ask himself "Could I do this sequence without CGI?" If the answer is "no" then the scene should be cut or changed. The jungle chase scene falls SQUARELY in this category. In that type of scene, CGI should be used to remove the strings and matte in the backgrounds, not to replace the stuntmen. I will say that I was awed by the flawless execution of the CGI finale. Good stuff.
What I liked
OK, enough negative, and as I said at the outset, I generally liked this movie a lot. Here are some specific things I liked:
1. Shia LeBeouf.
He did a great job. After sitting through his terrible performance in Transformers, I thought for sure that Indy 4 would be more of the same: jittery, wide-eyed whining, but was delighted to see him come across as pretty tough while still being human. I'm not saying I'd pay $10.75 to see "Mutt Williams and the Hunt for Sasquatch" or anything, but he played his part well here.
2. First 30 minutes.
Were great. They really were. Worth the price of admission.
3. The pre-exposed film look.
The soft glow of the film, especially in the early scenes, was nice. It gave it a real feeling of being in history.
4. Janitor from Scrubs.
Neil Flynn rules, and loyal Scrubs viewers will remember that this is not the first movie he's done with Harrison Ford. I hope they work this appearance into a future episode.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Does Ben Stein have a brain tumor? No, Seriously.
In support of his ridiculous new movie, Ben Stein actually said this:
"...I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you. …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people."
In all seriousness, I am beginning to suspect that Ben Stein may have a brain tumor, or some other mentally debilitating disease. He has always been a staunch conservative, but he seems to have actually lost his mind.
Ben (or his handlers/family), if you can read this, please get checked. You need an MRI. I'm not joking.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
What are they doing?
I've been watching Dana Perino give the White House press briefing in Tony Snow's absence. It seems like they replaced a pit bull with a cheerleader. I don't mean that in a sexist way. Have you seen her? She plays with her hair and makes little "aw shucks" faces and generally bumbles through admitting the mistakes of this White House. Why on Earth would the powers that be in the administration (notice I did not say "The President") pick someone so incompetent to give these briefings? I think I know why. I think they are trying to look bumbling and cute. Did you see Karl Rove as "MC Rove?" And hasn't the President been playfully self-efacing in speeches recently? This is a 180 degree change from the arrogant air of infallibility that this administration has been projecting up to this point. So why would anyone want to appear incompetent? The answer is simple: it's a pathetic attempt to cover up their maliciousness. When you're busted for being evil, and you know it, why not try for bumbling, right? We all cut a little more slack to the slow kid in the class.