Thursday, June 26, 2014

Monday, March 15, 2010


Yeah, screw this. Sorry for those of you who were following this (Hey, mom. Hey, Carl...) but it ain't workin'.

Using Tumbler, I was posting near daily. I forced myself back here for continuity and forwarded my musings to Tumbler, but just logging in and writing and all the little clicks that go into this has brought blogging to a halt. With Tumbler, I can instant blog with a click of my browser and get stuff up in a hurry.

I'm gonna be over at from nows on. If I'm able to, I'll try to export my posts here over to there so it's all nice, neat and combined.

It's just remarkable how quickly I stopped blogging daily when it took a little more effort to do so. Fairwell, Blogger. You've been good to me.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Recently Watched: District 9

I went for polar opposites this week. Following Treeless Mountain, I decided to go for something a little more fictional, a little more sci-fi.

Actually, the two films share a common documentary shooting style. In the case of Treeless Mountain, it comes in the form of viewing scenes straight out without a common narrative line. The narrative line in District 9 is very clear, but they highlight it with a Greek chorus of news reels, fictionalized documentary footage and interviews with experts on the alien refugee camp in Johannesburg.

The opening sequence, spliced together with interviews and docu-style footage, is nothing short of remarkable. It's a great introduction to the story and gets you emotionally involved in the same way you would as if this were being presented as a current world-wide concern.

The special effects are impressive given the relatively low budget. And I'm still not sure if the aliens we saw were purely CGI or a combination involving intricate puppets. Whatever the method, they're impressive looking and avoid the cartoonish feel of most sci-fi aliens.

The films weakness comes in the final act, when the documentary method is cast aside for sci-fi action drama. I'm not sure what Director Neill Blomkamp could have done differently here though. I don't begrudge the need for an action climax, but once chaos ensues, Blomkamp starts relying on sci-fi staples and even a few cliches.

Giant mecha-machine for our protagonist to ride a la Aliens? You bet. Weapons that vaporize the Blackwater-style troops into a slop of blood and gore? Sure. And your primary antagonists will of course die in some karmic fashion that punishes them ironically for their mistreatment of the alien refugees.

But that's forgivable compared to the campy depiction of Nigerian criminals who want to eat the aliens in order to gain their ability to use biological weapons. The scene in which a Nigerian witch doctor prepares the protagonist to be killed and eaten was nothing short of offensive.

These latter aspects will keep District 9 as merely an Oscar nominee this Sunday, I suspect. But don't let me detract anyone from watching this movie. The good so far outweighs the bad that I sad even mentioning it.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Recently Watched: Treeless Mountain

So Yong Kim's 2008 film "Treeless Mountain" plays out as much like a non-narrated documentary as it does a fictional film. It's a pretty common tactic for art-house style films, allowing life to play out as life does, but it's not my favorite story-telling method.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I like my stories to tell pretty clear stories. It might be due to the excessive amount of fantasy and science fiction I read, which tends to favor a tale with clear peaks and valleys of drama, action and exposition.

However, when the topic is interesting enough to me, I can really love the telling. Kim's photography combined with some pretty brilliant performances from the film's young protagonists didn't make the 90 minutes go fast, per se, but each minute was still very compelling.

Even though it's not my favorite style, films like this work really well with stories about children. They have no idea what's going on and why, just like the viewer. So even though we never find out why Jin and Bin have been abandoned to their relatives, it works because Jin and Bin don't either.

It's almost like Kim made a rule when filming that states, "If the kids don't know, the camera doesn't know." Why is their aunt somewhat warm and caring one moment only to dive into alcoholism and neglect the next? Why are their grandparents initially angry at their arrival but finally become the first sign of hope and warmth for Jin and Bin?

These questions are never answered in the traditional narrative sense. The grandmother doesn't suddenly set aside her agricultural duties to explain some tear-jerker of a sob story to the kids. It leaves the viewer to understand the real story, which is this: How do two small children survive and cope given no information and no explanation for why they're suddenly orphaned with no idea where there mother is or when she'll return?

Initially, they're forced to obsess over their piggie bank. Once filled, their mother said, she'd be back. Watching the pair sit at their street corner with a full piggie bank watching angrily as bus after bus drives by without dropping off their mother is heart breaking. But at their grandmother's house, they're suddenly participating in a busy farmstead, working and contributing to their work. With their idle hands suddenly busy, and the pair now in control of at least some of their life and destiny, Jin and Bin suddenly come alive again, shown running through the fields singing a Korean children's song as they hike across the fields.

Don't think I'm spoiling anything with this movie. It's not that kind of story. There are no great revelations that should be hidden, and no scene plays out like a surprise. When the kids hike off to the bus stop to wait for their mother, the viewer already knows what's going to happen.

I think on the whole, the film is really about two small kids coping with the reality that surrounds them, and the director adeptly shows two sides of the story: one a failure, the other a success.

Only downside: I can't remember who the heck told me to watch this movie. Was it you?

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Compromise

I've been bouncing inexplicably between Blogger and Tumbler for some time now, frustrated by the advantages and disadvantages of both.

I have history with blogger, and more than four years of back posts writing first as religious commentator, then as community radio volunteer DJ, then as Andrew Bird superfan and now as a random place to drop things that interest me and photos I've taken.

I switched to Tumbler because its microblogging fascinated me and it was easier to follow Chris' blog from there. Plus I follow Hipster Puppies, which is amazing.

But it still lacked some diversity, such as the ability to leave comments and the ability to interact with people who are not members of Blogger. The compromise? I just found a way to import all my blogger crap over to Tumblr. Best of both worlds.

That said, consider this my personal plea to Blogger to create a link allowing me to put up quick mini posts like Tumblr does. Getting to click "Share on Tumblr" to make a blog post is entirely fantastic and keeps me updating things more often.

But now, I don't have to ask anyone to change their pattern or adapt to my latest social networking whims. Stay tuned here for future posting.

Monday, February 08, 2010


I've been blogging over at Tumblr these days. To see what's been up lately in the world of discords and harmonies, visit:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dark Crystal Redux

So, this is really dumb. But I'm a sucker for gelfling humor.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Your Mom

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) resorted to schoolyard tactics this week on the Senate floor when debating health care.

In reality Stabenow's "your mom" statement was accidental, but even Salon was unable to resist a few chortles over this one. I certainly stood up and read it to my coworkers, and then examined the text again to see how Stabenow could have thrown "your face" in there somewhere too.

I admit I can't resist a good mom joke, or a "that's what she said," "so's your face" or my current favorite, "in my pants." Especially when it's spoken accidentally like the politicians above, or merely imagined.

But with blogging, albeit amusingly, about mom jokes, it seems that They Might Be Giants may have been right to include things like "that's what she said" among their list of phrases that need be retired, which also included "phone tag," "my bad" and "(fill in the blank) on crack/steroids/acid."

My wife isn't here, but I already hear her saying "Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it," when I declare that perhaps it's time for me to find a new outlet for absurd amusement. We've enjoyed the childish jokes for the last decade (or more), but we may have reached a level of excess.

Already I've worked "phone tag" and "on crack" out of my vocabulary, as evidenced by numerous phone messages I've left at to sources at work stumbling over myself as I say "Oh, hey, um, I guess we keep missing each other" just to avoid saying "phone tag" one more time. Why not drop the frequency of "your mom" and "that's what she said?"

The timing is ripe with the Onion's recent declaration that Western civilization would actually reach rock bottom at 3:30 p.m. today. Did you feel that strange urge to go rent the Jonas Brothers 3-D concert DVD just a bit ago? That was it.

As encouragement, I'm remembering the first time I threw a "your mom" joke to someone. Anyone that knows me can't really imagine me having any malice toward the recipient of a mom joke or the mom in reference. I've stated since my teenage years (have these jokes been going on that long?) that a good "your mom" line is purely in the abstract. But the good people of Oklahoma don't deal in abstract. These are folk who really are offended at the suggestion that the women who bore them for nine months would ever wear army boots.

My comment was not only innocent, it was stolen from Calvin and Hobbes. I said it only to get chuckles from the people around me whom I had hoped never heard the line before. I did this a lot at 12, and even threw out one-liners I didn't understand. Picture my skinny-ass self in Oklahoma stumbling over my words saying, "That shirt's very becoming on you, if I was... wait... that shirt's... hold on.... how does it go?"

To the boy sitting behind me at a Boy Scout meeting I suggested that his mother was so repulsed by his face that she sequestered the assistance of a grocery bag to kiss him goodnight. He yanked the chair out from under me. I learned several things soon after making the comment:
  1. Clipping your head on the seat of a chair and than having it drop to a linoleum floor hurts. A lot.
  2. This boy's mother was dead. I swear I did not know this. Even outside of a state where "your mom" jokes are considered the worst insult, this would garner a negative reaction. I can't remember the boy's name now, but if you're out there reading this harboring any resentment, understand that when I remember this moment today I still feel really guilty. I also have it on good authority that your mother was a saint.
  3. The kid with the physical injury always gets the attention, even if he did just poke fun at someone else's dead mother. The sympathy did not make me feel better about the situation.
I'll take this story with me as I try to come up with cleverer, wittier and less childish come-backs and one-liners in the coming weeks. I can assume that each time I insult someone's mother, they may as well pull the chair from under me and leave a lump the size of an egg on the back of my head.

It may involve some failures, some duds, but it'll not only enhance my own character but I consider it my duty to help bring Western Civilization back up after the Onion's cruel assessment.

(eds. note: tee hee! I said "doody!")

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Opus

Megan and friends Katie and Josh all celebrated birthdays in the last month (and a half). And we have pictures to prove it.

But most importantly, take a gander at my baking opus — the Pac-Man cake!

It features a Katie Pac-Man, a Josh Pac-Man, and two extra lives (which I named Toby and Finn).

And if you want to see it at an angle like you would playing it tabletop at Mazzio's Pizza when you were a youngin', check this angle out:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pita Bread

I made pita this weekend. It's one of the easiest and fun recipes I have, plus it's 100 % whole wheat! Seriously! Check our ingredient list: whole wheat, water, flour, yeast, salt.

Bread the way bread was meant to be. I modified the steps a little bit from our Laurel's Bread Book recipe. Rather than dive into mixing and kneading, I started a proof the night before and got the yeast started. I also mixed the dough and relaxed it a bit before I started kneading. Just a few tips I stole from Alton Brown and Rose Levy Beranbaum.

For baking, it's so fun. I just roll the dough flat (as thick as a whole blanket, so says Laurel) and bake them about three at a time for three minutes. And they just puff like balloons.

We filled the pita with tabouleh and made copious "om nom nom" sounds while we stuffed ourselves. Benjamin Franklin said these things are great riches: "a little house well filled, a little land well tilled and a little wife well willed." In my experience, you're better off filling the wife, like so: