Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cowboy Be-boppin'... Live!

What would you took a story about a band of bounty hunters and filmed it in the style of a comedic, dramatic, film-noirish science-fiction western? Oh, and did I mention it would be animated? Well the answer is Cowboy Bebop, one of the best regarded anime, at least on this side of the Pacific. With its cross-genre style, bizarre blend of characters, and catchy tunes it engages even those who would normally turn their back on non-childish animation. (I would use the term adult, but then certain people would get the wrong idea.)

The fairly short series (only about 26 episodes) covers the lives of a quartet (quintet if you count the adorable corgi Ein) as they struggle to make ends meet bringing in the worst of the stellar criminals while figuring out how to deal with their peculiar pasts. It is one of the few anime that I would recommend regardless of whether you enjoy that genre. Well, you might be able to enjoy it without watching a single cartoon. As of July, Producer Edwin Stoff with Fox is coordinating an adaption of the series into a live action film. Among others, Stoff was a producer (or exec.) on films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Constantine (2005), and The Matrix (1999)... see any other similarities between these films? Woah! ... Keanu Reeves. In fact, an MTV movie blog already has reported his interest.

Now, I am not a Keanu hater. I think he is a fairly safe choice for the role of Spike Spiegel, at least for one film; beyond that, he (along with the rest of the film) would need to prove himself as the bushy-haired bounty hunter. Sure, there might be better folks out there, but there are far worse as well. He does have a sci-fi background and has had his hand in an action film or few. He has a dry style like Spike and even looks a bit like him, but what he seems to have in most of his roles that he should not is a touch of cluelessness. He would need to soak in a ton of confidence and speed up his speech. He needs to play it confident, sometimes cool, sometimes boastful - that cocky smile he has at the beginning of the dojo training program in The Matrix... that is spot on. He does not need to sound exactly Steve Blum from the series, but it would help if it does not sound like he is contemplating every word that he utters. Spike is confident and assertive, bordering on aggressive, yet relaxed and fluid.

As for the movie as a whole, I have mixed feelings about such an adaptation. Adaptations, reboots, sequels have gotten a bad rap in the past years; these less-than-original retreads of previous material have existed for many years, decades, centuries! Writers and story-tellers remade tales in their own settings or told new tales of old heroes long before movies ever came along. That said, Cowboy Bebop is an early classic, and it while it would be a shame to stain it with a bad adaptation, I do not believe that such a stain could not be washed out and forgotten... and that is only assuming it does not go well.

I am trying to keep my expectations beyond low, but my hopes are creeping up very quickly. As terrible as a poor adaption would be, leading non-fans of anime to one of the golden series, could be an eventual boon for the genre as well as the other "geeky" genres the film incorporates. But "whatever happens, happens."

Oh and if "Tank!" is not the theme song, someone should be run-over by the just mentioned military vehicle.

"See you later, Space Cowboy!"

P.S. Would anyone care to guess how much supervalue seats still are at the Monster Jam? I get such a kick out of those radio ads.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'll Go Get My Ball

I find it interesting how supporting characters manage to steal the scene... or rather the entire movie. I saw Bolt over the weekend, make that Bolt 3D. The story was acceptable as were most of the characters. While admittedly, I am not a fan of John Travolta, I still did not think his voice was a good match for Bolt; a younger, higher pitched would have been better. The animation was pretty good and the 3D effects were not overbearing like some films: HEY! Look at stuff come AT YOU and away from you and BACK AT YOU. WoooOOOOooooOOOOooah!

But much like the penguins of Madagascar, it is the crazy antics of the overly confident sidekick that make the movie. Maybe an entire movie of this raging ball of fur would be annoying, but Rhino the hamster steals nearly every scene he's in with his energetic confidence.

If you love animated films, this one is is probably worthwhile, but it wasn't very memorable, showing how Disney definitely needs the boys & girls at Pixar. I'd probably give it a C+

And any animated film leads me to wonder when the next film by Hayao Miyazaki will be released. His latest Gake no ue no Ponyo or for us westerners, Ponyo on the Cliff, came out in Japan last year and with big names like Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, and Cloris Leachman reportedly attached a month ago to the english dub, it can only be a matter of time before a date is announced.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NY Wrap

...and we had a good time. The End.

Okay, a little more happened than that: We stayed with Lena and the in-laws who were also in town. We visited Northampton, a quaint college town where I saw someone's pet duck outside a store. And we walked around a water reservoir where I took more cool shots.

Barely making it onto the train for our next two legs, we reached New York. We stayed with an awesome couple in Brooklyn to start our final stage. They took us to Grimaldi's near a waterpark for outstanding pizza. But first we made a trip to Times Square; I actually found Midtown Comics by memory and picked up a few trade paperbacks - more on those later. The Plaza de Sanrio was pretty funny, but I knew my honey would love it - an unexpected treat.

Mega Kitty!

Over the next couple days we visited a couple museums, first The Met for a repeat visit. I think we still missed a section or two. I particularly liked some of the smaller asian sculptures and the Tiffany jewelry.

They just don't make 'em like this anymore.

Next up was the MoMA; there I saw some modern art that I actually like. I really enjoyed it even though some others were less than impressed. Not everything was inspirational... like the slanted, quadrangle of string. [Come on, really?! Uh, here I suspended this fork. ART! Ta da! Now give me some candy!] Still, it was a great collection.

A friend and I were really struck by "alien girl" - not the title of the sculpture, by the way.

We saw a preview of the parade's balloons, called Float Night, and had dinner with a co-worker and fellow Techie at Ocean Grill. It was very good and very reasonably priced for NY. Quite possibly the best gin and tonic I have ever had. That of course led into the parade... the Macy's Thankgiving Day Parade! We had a wonderful time. It was fun to see the Georgia Tech Marching Band and all of the floats and balloons up close - a very uniquie experience. Unfortunately, I had some camera issues, so I didn't get a full video of the band, but it was a learning experience. And while we did not get there as early as I recommended (Tip: Show up NO LATER than 6:30am.) we were not too far back and we had a pleasant crowd around us.

We ended the trip with a visit to Lombardi's in Little Italy. I'm really not sure which one I liked better, but they're both better than anything in this town. Maybe I'll need to go back and see. We drove back which didn't seem nearly as long as I thought it would be; the Tech-Georgia updates along the way sure didn't hurt either. It was a great season, Jackets! Way to go!

Oh, and check my honey bunny's page for more details of the trip.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Day 1 & 2

My vacation had a bad start. I left work late and had not packed. The house was a wreck, and I was feeling absolutely terrible. I managed to finish packing, but it took me quite a while. I awoke a few hours later to head south to the airport, late. Already feeling a little sick and stressed about leaving the house and the cat, wondering if I was going to make my flight did not make me feel any better. It was not as bad as I thought, but I did miss checking my bag. Other than being woozy and a hard landing, it went fairly well; the Biscoff Cookies definitely helped.

I took the shuttle and the Blue Line to Government Center, but then I suddenly drew a blank. I could not remember the name of the hotel, and Ina was not answering her phone. Well, I knew it was only a few blocks away so I started walking around. I even helped a lady find State St despite being lost. Ina eventually saved me and so I headed over to the Omni Parker House and checked in. She met me shortly thereafter and we went to have lunch at The Purple Shamrock. Everything was good except the fish, Scrod. Maybe it is the natural flavor, but it resembled cleaning fluid. I received a discount and had plenty to eat, so all was good.

We headed north to do a little sight seeing and found Paul Revere's House. We did not have too much time, so we just took a couple pictures and we split ways; Ina had more convention to see. I checked out Boston's Holocaust Memorial which was very touching; it really is amazingly tragic what people went through.

We met back up and headed north to meet Jill at The Spirit, where some other Tech fans were supposed to watch the game. Well, we didn't notice any, but that did not stop us from enjoying the game. We were impressed with the White Out or as I read somewhere else, "White Wash." More impressive was the game. It was a lot of fun to watch. We went to Jill's house and watched the second half. It was great to catch up with her and her husband and see the Jackets beat the 'canes.

Today was less eventful, but we began the next portion of our trip. After Ina left for a final session, I walked around and took some pictures; Boston Common, the capitol building, and a cemetary where Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere are buried. My mom called and we talked a little football victory then I grabbed a cup a joe before checking out. We boarded the Amtrak train and rode it to Springfield. I think I would like to try another train ride if we can get a good deal. Lena picked us up and then went to pickup their parents. It was good to see everyone. We're all pretty tired, but we have a great week ahead of us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My 3-0 Tech Weekend!

Oh sweet victory! As much as I love Tech Volleyball, the football game over F$U was just glorious. Nerve-wracking, no doubt, but finally - a win! Ina and I joined our friends' tailgate and hung around until near game time. We didn't have tickets and thought we might pick up a pair near Bobby Dodd Stadium; otherwise, ... well, we weren't sure what we'd do. I played a little hardball, but Ina was the real tough sell even though I don't think she intended it. Heck, I felt like the good cop. Well, we took two home side seats on the north 30 and with a couple beeps at the gate, we were in for a fateful afternoon.

Our seats were great, a little higher might've been nice, but we were sitting near some nice Tech fans and a few pleasant 'noles as well. After the usual pagentry, the game had started, and boy did it feel good. The 'noles scored first, but I wasn't detered and neither was the team. Up and down for both teams; it was a fun and exciting first half, but Tech took the lead. My expectations were lifted, but I was not comfortable.

- and with good reason. The second half was slower and with an injury to our quarterback, things turned sour very quickly. But I'll tell you what. With dread of another loss in my heart, I still shouted and chanted and didn't let up. It came down to a play with less than a minute to go; if F$U scored, it was over. Run up the middle. The ball is loose! Into the Endzone. Don't pick it up! FALL ON IT! We've got the BALL! We did it! 31-28! Paul Johnson and the Jackets have finally beat the Seminoles!

There was true elation as the students and other fans swarmed the field. I cannot imagine why event staff and police gave any grief to them at first, but I suppose they at least have to appear like they are disapproving from fear of some lawsuit. The band played what seemed like a straight 15 minutes. Fanfare. White and Gold. Ramblin Wreck. Bud. Finally, the students wandered away, the band played The Horse, and on we went. Life was good.

Bookending a nerve-wracking yet fantastic football game over F$U were two sweet games in O'Keefe. In a three-way tie for second in the ACC and only one game out of first, Georgia Tech Volleyball is on fire after winning two excellent matches this weekend. On Volleyballoween, the Volley-Jackets fended off the Hokies who earlier put a notch in our loss column. It was nice to get a hug from VT assistant coach and former Tech player (and one of my favorites) Jayme Gergen before the game. Saturday, elated after witnessing such an amazing game on Grant Field, I joined the percussion section to cheer on the the Volley-Jackets as they dealt swift vengeance upon the Cavaliers. *The battery (strictly the marching percussion) was off at BoA so I played cymbals for most of the game and snare for Bud.

What a weekend! Oh, and I heard a big monkey was running down the streets of Atlanta away from Tech. Guard your backs.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Last year the number of Treaters was very light so we're forgoing handing out candy - please don't egg the house - this year for Volleyballoween! And tomorrow is the next game in the infamous football series against Florida State. Let's hope for good news.

Go Jackets!

Since today is the day of the dead, I guess it would fit to mention that our TV is on its death bed. It takes anywhere from five to thirty minutes to turn on. We've had it for about 11 years now, but I guess it's time to move on... to WIDESCREEN! I'm thinking we'll go with LCD since we have a large window facing the TV, so if you have any suggestions, throw them my way.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy Third Century to Me?

Happy Third Century to Me

Well, I'm not having a very happy day that's for sure; I woke up thinking about something I cannot seem to change, and it's been bothering me all day. Hell, I'm even passing up eating lunch at Six Feet Under. Hopefully something will improve my mood.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Full Weekend

GTVB went 1 & 1 this weekend and earned 45 digs. So far, collections for the "Dig for the Cure" have reached over $3000; mine reached about $250. I think the overall is on the low side, but hopefully more will come in, plus there is an auction for the pink jerseys... or rather, replicas as the fine print states.

After the FSU match, we went to John Moore's hip shindig with InhabitAtlanta at the new Triumph Lofts; drinks, food, art, friends, good music... and all of it free - we had a pretty good time. And we'll definitely use those Six Feet Under coupons. Yum!

Other than Tech pounding Dook football, Miami eking out a win over Tech Volleyball in 4 (last set was extra points) and wifey studying contracts for her test Monday, there wasn't much else excitement... not that studying contracts is that exciting, but the test went well and THAT is exciting. Oh wait, the homemade cinnamon rolls were very good!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thoth and Last Call for the Ladies

After 2 days of bad #2, and 2 days of no #2, we have new, relatively improved #2! That's about as gentle as I can put it, I guess. Bacon-stealer has been much more lively as well, so I think he's in the clear. Good Thoth.

Tomorrow is the "Dig for the Cure" volleyball match that Georgia Tech is hosting; maybe I can get a few last minute donations. Get those digs, Jackets!

And since we're talking about it, ladies... It's October, so make sure you're doing your Breast Self Exams! Stay Healthy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Save Thoth! Save Halloween!

Our poor Buddy-Cat (that's one of Thoth's nicknames) is not feeling well. After getting a vaccine booster on Saturday, he has had some poo issues since Sunday - not good times. He is eating a little less, too, but that is understandable. He also went outside briefly, so there is tha chance that it might be a parasite instead of a vaccine allergy. Either way, hopefully he will feel better soon since as a black cat this is his favorite time of year.

Speaking of which, I would like to support Melissa of The Bert Show in her effort to Save Halloween. Aside from craft stores and places that discreetly sell decorations (I understand planning ahead) I do NOT want to see anything related to Christmas prior to November. Preferably, this stuff would be limited to December or at least Black Friday. But I invite anyone to boycott stores that put up Christmas decorations prior to the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lazy Day

Slept in. Played with cat. Played with Wii Fit. Checked out prices for cake for GTBAA - it's the 100th year of the Georgia Tech Band. Went to PetSmart; looked at kitties. Went by Best Buy; looked at Wii stuff and cameras. Ran into Jimmy. Ate at Scalini's. Caught a nap (which is why I'm up so late now). Came home and watched VT beat Nebraska. Learned that Bama gave the Dawgs a beating. Played some RRR. Good day.

I finished RRR's story mode, so I think I've unlocked all the games. Now there's all of these challenges to unlock, which I'm not sure how to do quite yet. I have all but one of the jukebox songs unlocked; I particularly like the "Rave" (get it?) original: The Butcher Deejay.

Oh yeah, and for you SB and HR fans, StrongBad answered his 200th sbemail recently. StrongBad's head looked a little big, and the episode was underwhelming; however, sbemail #199.5 was pretty good.

Final note: I stumbled across Peter Hirschberg's site. This guy is living the dream of every kid who went to the video arcade. He has his own arcade. You're thinking, "Cool, he has his a few games in his basement." Not quite. He has an entire building, with about 70 video arcade games. Simply amazing. I'm thinking - congrats to me, right? - that we could take a side trip around Thanksgiving when we go to New York. Oh yeah, I think that will be necessary.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nixie has Go-Go-Juice

For those outside of the Atlanta area... we have a shortage of gasoline. More than half the stations are out, and that's the good times. Lines are incredibly long in the morning and evening hours, so I set out at 10pm and went to a QuikTrip that I thought would have have a bit of petrol. Nope. So I turn left and... my last light-bar of my guage goes out. 18 or so miles to go. No problem. I even pass the next station with gas and head toward the next station that is equally far from home for the next QT. I'll take 22 cents less per gallon since I had to go by that station anyway and I had an entire tank to fill. So there it is: $3.97 per gallon and only about 10 people in line. But the price wasn't even that important; it was just having some gas. And after putting off getting any gas for 18 days, Nixie finally had a full tank!

I was so glad that I directed a few cars to open spaces before I left.

Thanks QuikTrip!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Get Fit!

We purchased a Wii Fit this weekend. Even though the Fit disc it comes with is not the usual game you might expect from a console, it is still fun and enjoyable. I particularly like the soccer ball heading and ski jumping balance games. Doing some of the easier stretches and balance, I could feel a little strain (not painful) in my ankles, so I think that this could be very beneficial as I've seriously injured my ankles from time to time.

I still may need to get my heel and my toe checked out. One of my cousins recently had a ruptured Achille's Tendon: Ouchies!

Oh yeah, back to Wii. We also also bought the first Rayman's Raving Rabbids. It's fun, but I'm racing through the games; in a short afternoon, I played through 56% of the games. I like the story aspect it has, which the second lacks, but from what I experienced at the Seattle wedding, the group experience is sorely lacking compared to RRR2. At least we got it for cheap. Some of the graphics are worse, but some of the games are more fun and silly. Ahhh, cow throwing. Bottom line, RRR for solo play, RRR2 for group play.

Heroes in a few hours! Woo hoo!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My first three pledges!

I've gotten 3 pledges so far for the "Dig for the Cure" campaign, and I haven't really tried. I'll be a little more assertive this week. 14 days left.

And to make it even better, the Yellow Jackets won their ACC opener over Clemson who was picked to win the conference! Too bad I didn't get to see it, though. They also won over Florida A&M, so now Tech is (9-2) which is comperable to several top 25 teams. Keep it up, ladies!

Aside, can someone explain to me why Clemson is playing the same easy team three days in a row? Talk about boosting your record.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dig for the Cure

I picked up my Georgia Tech Volleyball season tickets! While I was there, I met with one of the assistant coaches to collect forms to help the "Dig for the Cure" campaign. Here's part of a flyer I created:

The Georgia Tech Volleyball Team is partnering with the Atlanta Chapter of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation in an effort to raise awareness and funds to help fight the cause of breast cancer.

The Yellow Jackets will "Dig for the Cure" October 3rd against the Florida State Seminoles in Georgia Tech's home conference (ACC) opener. The team is hoping for pledges on a “per dig” basis or as a flat donation.

Having been indirectly touched by cancer - a few survivors, and one not so fortunate (luv ya clcm!) - and being a huge fan of GTVB, this means a lot to me. So... if you would like to contribute, please contact me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cleaning, Finding and Movie Stars

Yea! After only an hour of looking I found a few things I was looking for... rec club ID and a couple credit cards. And if nothing else, my car and my bedroom are a little cleaner. I guess it feels good to accomplish the little things, except for me it's a big thing, so go me! At the same time, I feel like a total loser that I cannot keep up with my crap. I'm getting better, honest!

I finished watching Cold Mountain with my honey tonight. It's films like that that make me feel better about the world I live in. Really - it's not as bad as it could be. And it was a great film. My only issue with it was the number of cameos... I get it, the producer/director/casting agent has connections, now stop interrupting my train of thought with, "Oh hey, that's Giovanni or Cillian or Ray or that guy from My Name is Earl!" and let me enjoy the movie again. Sometimes I wish movie actors would be limited to 3 roles in their lifetime; after that, you must do something else.

Well, it is late/early...zzzz...I need to rest so I can make it tomorrow.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Burn After Viewing

Well, maybe my expectations were a bit high, but I must say that I was a bit disappointed with the latest Coen Bros. venture. It was another "get money quick, the wrong way" movie, like a lighter, more idiotic version of Fargo... but not nearly as good. Well, it's hard to top Fargo, a movie that SHOULD HAVE won the Oscar that year.

The movie is basically a case study in what happens when idiots and self absorbed numb skulls interact. The characters and acting (or intentional overacting) were fine. And it definitely had its moments - there were quite a few moments of hard laughter. Unfortunately, the story was messy and the timing was uneven. A few times I found myself wondering when it would really kick into gear; it was like being in a car that continually backfires.

So for those wanting to take in a great comedy by the Coens might want to either reconsider or just lower your expectations. Like I said, perhaps mine were a bit too high. Still, in some of the worst weeks of movie box office history, this may be worth checking out. Id rating: B-.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On the Edge, But Not Edgy

Fringe is on the fringe of good - I want it to be - but I'm not impressed yet. The opening pilot felt forced, like a D&D dungeon master persuading the group's characters to band together for the first time, and like the start of Bionic Woman. "You just went through some horrible, wierd crap and your boyfriend died... now, come work for me." And as some fellow Maniacs pointed out, the characters aren't eccentric enough to fill the plot light episodes. Okay, maybe the doctor is, but we'll need more than a mad scientist.

The Pattern - I expected there to be some over-arching storyline, but I did not expect it to be revealed so soon, nor so obviously. So do you think this is part of The Pattern? And it seems that it will be pervasive to all episodes without stories that stand alone. Whether that is good or bad waits to be seen.

Still, it is intriguing enough to check out for a few more weeks, and it definitely beats most TV slop. Id rating: B-.

Time to go see Burn After Reading... for FREE!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lost in Translation: Japanese Game Show Style

So, last night, I arrived home too late to jump into Fringe, the new Sci-Fi show on Fox, but I did catch Hole in the Wall. I'm a big fan of the youtube clips of the Japanese version by Fuji TV (search for Human Tetris, 6 is particularly good), but Fox and Fremantle North America (producers) failed again to capture the charm of a foreign show for an American audience.

What did they do right?

Costumes - right down to the over emphasized bulges. Perfect.

Countdown - 3, 2, 1. Good job not screwing THAT up.

What did they get wrong? A lot.

The hosts. Dude - what are you doing up there? Chick - turn down the glam including that hair, and calm down.

Mood - Hole in the Wall is too focused on the competition. Maybe the Japanese are playing for money, but it looks like they're a bunch of adults (I've heard some are comedians) reliving their early teen years and having a good, but rediculous time. The American humor mostly came from flaming gay stereotypes. Not just that, but much like the new American Gladiators, it feels over-produced.

The walls - A lot of the Japanese humor is not the funny moves to get through the moderately difficult holes, but how they react to the nearly impossible ones. Or how they try to scramble off the wall when they get stuck.

The set - It's a minor item, but silly and cheap is funnier than slick and stylish.

Now, I've heard the Japanese adults are normally much more reserved than Americans and so is through things like these shows that they are able to let loose, so maybe we're not uptight enough to start with, but dang - lighten up, don't try so hard and have fun.

And worst of all, they show way too many clips of future episodes at the end, including the fat girl. Okay, I get how that's supposed to be funny, but it's seesm like a one shot deal, and well, now it's ruined. Id rating: D+.

And yes, the irony that the movie Lost in Translation, a favorite of mine, takes place in Japan was intentional.

First Impressions (redux)

I find myself thinking about one thing or another rather frequently, so deeply in fact that I lose track of my surroundings, entering a dream-like state - not a good thing while driving but it usually doesn't last more than a couple seconds. Admittedly, too often I am overly critical about my actions, causing what I'll call guilt spasms. So, I plan to put my thoughts down so that I may more objectively reflect upon my reflections of myself and the world around me, and hopefully I may bend myself more to my liking.

And yes, while I realize the title sounds like something our current President might say, I like it in that it sounds intelligent and ignorant at the same time, while describing a common state of being for myself:

re·flec·ture [ri-flek-cher] - n.

  1. the state of being or condition of oneself while reflecting.
  2. the loss of awareness of one's surroundings while deep in thought.

[Origin: 2007.12.04, DAB; see REFLECT, -URE]