Sunday, July 27, 2008
So today was/is Sunday, a day of rest. Unfortunately, the wife is on a business trip this week, so she left this morning. We had breakfast at the diner and then she left at around 11:30. Utilizing great restraint, I went to the grocery store and did the week's shopping. - I watched an episode of South Park, Season 1. Completed a pretty cool Spaghetti Western, A Bullet For The General. Fun flick. Watched the Met's kick some ass and worried about my boy Manny being Manny; now having a contentious sitch with the BoSox, and the Sox are at a critical juncture; the Yanks are on fire, the Rays are winning, and now it's up to Jon Lester to stop the bleeding in a must win type of game again against the evil empire, especially with the Angels coming to town tomorrow.
So how's that for a craptastic post?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
BEST MOVIE EVER!!!---- Not hyperbole, this is the gut feeling from a guy who's read comics for over 30 years, and took the day off of work to see The Dark Knight today. I considered going to the midnight showing last night, but my good friend couldn't make it until this afternoon. So I waited, and he suffered, as I probably punched him 15 times , saying BEST MOVIE EVER.
There is so much perfect in this movie that I don't even know where to begin. Which is kind of the point, because the film (yes, film) is greater than the sum of it's parts, and the sum itself is phenomenal. Earlier this year I reviewed Iron Man and considered it the perfect comic book movie - this is far, far more than a comic book movie. This film deserves to go on top 100 of all time lists for as long as those lists are made. I will attempt to speak to some of the highlights, but this film hs to be seen, in a theater. I intend to see it many more times, including at least once in an IMAX theater.
The film runs over 2 and 1/2 hrs, yet not once did I feel a lag in pacing. That is almost unheard of. 152 minutes of perfectly edited film. From this point forward, the review may contain spoilers, so read carefully. I will leave out a few of the biggest surprises, but I was shocked by some of the bold and truly shocking twists and turns in the script. So now, in absolutely no particularly order, (and inspired by the Joker's anarchistic viewpoint, ).... I have gotten so excited typing this that I had to stop and call my friend and verbalized my excitement, because I can't contain it!
O.K. Back to the post - The movie opens with a flourish. No big music, just silence, and a super cool bank robbery scene that another reviewer likens to the one in Heat. We quickly meet some of the important characters, including the Joker, Jim Gordon, Batman, and District Attorney Harvey Dent. (Arguably the tragic hero of the film, played pitch perfect by Aaron Eckhart. ) The film asks very big questions throughout, questions relevant to us, the audience. At what point do the ends fail to justify the means? And when we cross that line societally, have the ends become irrelevant?
the Joker in this movie is no hammy clown. It's fashionable currently to knock Jack Nicholsons portrayal of the Joker in Batman by Tim Burton (1989) but that's not fair. American society of 2008 is far darker than in 1989. (yeah, I will only write it once, because it's been overused far too much, but the post 9/11 world is different for Americans.) Heath Ledgers Joker is an apostle of.. nothing. As Michael Caine's Alfred says to Batman at one point "Some men just want to watch the world burn" - I've read references to the Joker's character as a terrorist, but that is inaccurate. He is an anarchist using terrorist methods to achieve his goal, the erosion of civil society and the destruction of the societal hierarchy. His point, and one that does not lack relevance, is that people accept much as long as it's part of the plan. As he says, a humvee of soldiers is blown up in the middle east and we nod but one mayor gets killed and the humans begin to scurry. As he tells Batman, people like him (the Joker) aren't insane, they are merely ahead of the curve, because as soon as the expectations of society become challenged, and fear and chaos increases, the people will turn on and cannibalize each other.
Another huge theme is the idea of escalation. Once Bruce Wayne put on a suit and began pounding on the criminals, in order to inspire hope amongst the citizenry, he upped the ante, and thus a void was created. It's a basic law of physics that each action has an equal and opposite reaction, and that model applies to human behavior as well, so it was merely a matter of time before a yin to Batman's yang emerged - The Joker.
I don't want to write too much yet on Harvey dent, since comic readers know who he is and what's coming, but others won't, so let's save him for part II of this review. kudos to the marketing mavens for holding back on some critical pieces of the film and allowing the audience to enjoy the ride.
And what a fucking ride it is. There is a second act climax that had me squirming in my seat, legs bouncing, hand banging the broken seat next to me, as sweat ran down by bald head. (Seriously, once again not hyperbole) - This scene, launching the film towards its third act, leads to the scene that will probably (and deservedly win Ledger an oscar), the arrest of the Joker and the way he conducts himself in the jail. The scene between him and Batman, and the dialog between them, is the mental core of the film.
Oh, btw, not only was I bouncing out of my seat, I also had tears form multiple times, and had trouble breathing steadily for a long section.
Man, I gotta see this thing again this weekend, maybe Sunday with my wife. I drove her nuts when I came home, because even after 2 beers and despite the brutal temps outside, I was rambling on and on.
Beast, out for now.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Hello, boys and girls, allow me to introduce you to today's evil bastard...none other than the master of disaster, Phil Gramm. Grammster recently turned 66 (on July 8) but he is recently known for this comment ...
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."
"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," he said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline" despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.
Between 1995 and 2000 Gramm, who was the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, received $1,000,914 in campaign contributions from the Securities & Investment industry. (wikidpedia)
That probably helped quite a bit. Wonder what contributions Mr. Gramm has made to American society... well, He was a champion of energy deregulation, which gave us Enron and blackouts and price gouging. He was a champion of deregulating the savings-and-loan industry, the bailout of which cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. And his leadership on banking deregulation helped create the current sub-prime mortgage crisis. - (Huff Post)
Well, at least he has a long, stable, loving marriage with a lovely woman, Wendy Lee Gramm... she is a true patriot, with a record.. oh, who the fuck am I kidding... Wendy Lee Gramm held several positions in the Reagan Administration, including heading the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1988 to 1993. After a lobbying campaign from Enron, the CFTC exempted it from regulation in trading of energy derivatives. Subsequently, Gramm resigned from the CFTC and took a seat on the Enron Board of Directors. While on the board of directors she received donations from Enron to support the Mercatus Center.
So the rest of us just need to quit whining and let these filthy rich predators continue to lead us to the promised land, a land in which free market capitalism continues to fill the coffers of the rich while we decide between filling our gas tanks, feeding our children, or paying our mortgage. Ah, my country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty indeed.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
As I type this the Sox are 1 out away from reclaiming their rightful position at the top of the A.L. East. Yankees have lost, scoring only 1 pitiful run today, and Tampa has lost it's 7th straight. Bal. has 2 on, 2 out , 2 strikes......
So let's check in on how things have changed in the last 5 days. On July 8 the Sox trailed Tampa by ... shit, Aubrey Huff gets a hit and now the Sox lead is 2-1.
The Sox trailed by 3 games on the 8th. The Yankees trailed the RedSox by 4 1/2 for the Wild card spot. Now, as I type this, the Sox are tied with the Rays (and will go up with a win) and the Evil Empire is .. game over, REd Sox win... Theeeeeeeee Red Sox Win - (screw u, Sterling) Yanks 6 back in the division. Oh, and Big PAPI is due back, July 25, against the Yanks... nice. The Drive to make it 3 for 5 is on.
As far as the hot chick, that is none other than Amy Lynn Hartzler - a.k.a. Amy Lee, the lead singer and co-founder of the band Evanescence. She is 27, gorgeous, has a great voice, and is a classically trained pianist who took that skill and helped to form an alt metal band. What the hell more do you want?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
I watched a really entertaining movie on Sunday afternoon. It was a nice film to enjoy with the wife while we wound down from the 3 day weekend. the movie was the 1966 film The Professionals. Now listen to this cast. Burt Lancaster. Lee Marvin. Robert Ryan. - That threesome alone is enough to watch a flick. Cool as can be bad ass Lee Marvin, great in everything from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance to The Big Heat, Point Blank to the Dirty Dozen. Burt Lancaster, one of my absolute faves, whether it's as Elmer Gantry in the film adaptation of Herman Melvilles novel, the steely armed services officer in the Train, the Right Wing hatchet man in Executive Action, and a ton of other great roles. Robert Ryan, a classic tough guy in tons of movies, from westerns to Noirs, including The Wild Bunch and On Dangerous Ground. However, in addition to these three you have Ralph Bellamy, Jack Palance, Woody Strode, and the so gorgeous it should be outlawed Claudia Cardinale. Now that is a hell of a cast.
The set up is simple: Ralph Bellamy is a rich american living near the Mexican border. He has his handlers recruit Strode (playing a master scout and tracker), Ryan (playing a horse expert and a man good in a tight spot) and Lee to lead them on a mission: rescue Claudia Cardinale, the young, beautiful kidnapped wife of Bellamy, and bring her home. Ah, but there be twists and turns along the way, and lest I forget, Lee tells Bellamy he needs one more man, a man good with dynamite; Burt Lancaster.
My wife grew a bit tired of the film towards the end, feeling that a few minutes could have been cut off. I disagreed. I enjoyed the quest, and the interactions and slow respect that develops between the men made me think about the great Tarantino heist (without showing the heist) film Reservoir Dogs. There is even a line from Ralph Bellamy when the men are walking out where he says "Let's go to work", exactly like Joe in RD.
My favorite line of dialog is this exchange b/w Lee and Burt.
Burt " that Chiquita is 100 percent woman"
Lee - " Yeah, ok. anything else on your mom besides 100 percent women, 90 proof whiskey and 14 karat gold bullion?"
Great flick, well worth a watch, and likely a future addition to the DVD library.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
I saw Wanted with the wife and we both enjoyed it a great deal. I will write up a Review soon but the short take is this: lots of fun, visually interesting throughout, Angelie looks hot, sexy, and bad-ass! The film deviates dramatically from the Mark Millar written mini-series (which is also great, just an entirely different experience).
The mlb standings of June 23 had the Boston Red Sox at 47-32, sitting alone atop the A.L. East , 1 game up on the Tampa Bay Rays and 4.5 games up onthe N.Y. Yankees (a.k.a. The Evil Empire) - things have changed quite a bit, as a glance at todays standings shows the following;
Tampa Bay has the best record in baseball, and they sit atop the A.L. East 3 games ahead of the Red sox. Meanwhile, the evil empire sits in 4th place(!), 9 games back of the Rays, 6 behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card.
I finished a couple of trade paperbacks, including the terrific Cerebus Vol. 1. Cerebus was one of the premier success stories of the independent comics movement, a 30 yr. run by one man, Dave Sim. A small piece of a niche industry, but incredibly impressive for those of us who've enjoyed comics for decades.
I completed the box set of Season 1 30 Rock with Kate. I also finished watching a great noir parody, The Long Goodbye, by the always interesting director Robert altman.
What I haven't done with any consistency at all is exercise, and my gut is a constant reminder of that. Stupid gut.
That's the super fast, sloppy check in. HOpe to be back in with a much better written piece later. Todays agenda includes some exercise, dinner with friends tonight (the only annoyance is this is at 6, and the Sox and the evil empire play at 4, game 3 of a 4 game series in which the BoSox have already taken the first 2)