Thursday, June 26, 2008


Nothing says I’m in jail and being processed like a Raiders Sweatshirt. Go Raider Fan!

I’m sitting on a couch that is not my own and watching a TiVo-less television. This can be a frustrating experience; commercials, having to channel surf through garbage, all of these things remind me why I love my TiVo. Anyway, enough about Tivo and on to the discovery we’re talking about. I came across TruTV (formerly CourtTV) and what looked like Cops but was so much better; Inside American Jail. This show is a reality show where they film the processing center of a local jail. Drunks, addicts and thieves being processed and put in jail is wildly entertaining.

All of the moments that I wait for when watching Cops fill every moment of this show. Its like you can see it coming, someone is wiggling around a little during a pat down and then BAM, they’re on the ground getting pepper sprayed with 5 officers cuffing them. These men and women are always claiming to be innocent and misunderstood. “I didn’t do anything” is the common cry and I have to admit it makes me laugh every single time.

So if you’re a sicko like myself and enjoy watching the depravity of man via cameras following law enforcement, then give Inside American Jail a shot. Throw it on the TiVo and see what you think. It is worth a place on your Season Pass Manager list. Ohh… beautiful TiVo.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

FYI-Feed Your iPod: Justin Nozuka

It’s difficult to look cool while singing. I guess you have to be a half American, half Japanese, Canadian to pull it off.
I am zero part Japanese so when I sing I look ridiculous.

It was late on a Tuesday night and I was new music hunting. There is something very gratifying about finding new artists. Not only do I enjoy the new music, but I enjoy the process, the hunt. I look at different artists on myspace, read various articles, and click around on the iTunes suggestions of songs “listeners also bought”. I came across a guy named Justin Nozuka that Tuesday night. Initially it was odd, he felt so familiar. I kept trying to figure out how I knew him and concluded I didn’t know him at all. I just enjoyed him so much that it felt familiar.

Justin has a sound like Jason Mraz with the soul of Lauren Hill. Its great to hear a new artist with a good sound and catchy hooks. These aren’t just words he’s singing their emotions that are crying out. The album isn’t perfect. It starts strong but tends to loose steam in the middle. Thankfully it ends with 5 single worthy tracks. I did some singing in High School and still consider myself an American Idol Contender. (This is my last year to audition and put my money where my mouth is.) If I were to make an album, it would be similar to this so so good. This album has haunted my iPod and already has a play count of 38. I may need to take a few weeks off if I can, we’ll see. By the way, I don’t really think I’m an American Idol Contender, I was just kidding…you got that…right??

Give these songs a listen and form your own thoughts.

after tonight

the first song i heard and i was won over. such a great sound and a simple love song.

oh momma

this song is sweet and showcases his vocals. plus it reminds me of my grandpa who calls his wife, my grandma “momma”. this not only reminds me of my grandfather, it reminds me that i will also call my wife momma. ladies be warned.

save him

this is one of the most intense songs i've heard in years… rips my heart out.

Now you should buy the album… If you only pick a few songs then go with these, in this order:
“After Tonight”
“Save Him”
“Oh Momma”
“I’m in Peace”
“If I gave you my life”

So, what do you think??? Comment and/or take the poll.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Get Smart Got me.

I like both their wigs. (yes, that's a rug on Steve's head, for evidence see The Office Season 1)

While we are in the middle of the jam-packed summer season, for me this weekend seemed lackluster. I wasn't really into anything that was coming out. Since I saw 2 movies last weekend, there weren't a lot of options. With garbage like Zohan and Love Guru, this felt like take out the trash weekend. I guess I will go for "Get Smart". I was indifferent about this movie, but I feel like a night at the cinema so lets do this.

As I sat in the theater, without snacks and with a headache I found myself irritable. Little things were bugging me more than usual. Older couple sitting directly in front of me, forcing me to put my feet down when there were plenty of other seats...silly old people. Teenagers talking over the previews in the back of the theater and yelling at their friends sitting at the other end of the theater...pesky kids. The advertisement before the movie encouraging me to "get here early next time to see more" of their advertisements...darn corporate greed. Okay, I was in a not so good mood by the time the film started.

About 15 minutes in I became very self aware of my high-pitched cackle. (After a recording session a few days ago I realized my laugh is kind of annoying.) My genuine laugh out loud moments were frequent. I walked into this movie with little desire to see it, annoyed, and no knowledge of the television show it was based on. While I am pretty pop culture savvy, Get Smart is one that I had little to no knowledge of. I didn't spend the movie comparing it to the TV show, I just laughed. This is by no means a perfect movie, its campy but enjoyable. I am a fan of Carell but I was surprised by Anne Hathaway. Good comic timing and I think the technical term is "very pretty".

So, if you find yourself at the theater deciding what to see, don't hesitate to go with Get Smart. It is fun, doesn't take itself seriously, simple laughs, worth the money. It may even cure you of headaches, silly old people, pesky kids and corporate greed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It ain’t easy being green, and freakishly huge.

Solider: ”Hey man, you think we can work this out?”
Hulk:”I’ve tried multiple UN resolutions, and it was time for me to preemptively get angry. You don’t like me when I’m preemptively angry!”

Everyone turns to each other at work and says “It’s Friday movie day, lets do this.” Sure enough 15 minutes later we are buying our tickets for Incredible Hulk. I wasn’t amped on seeing this movie, but it’s Friday afternoon movie time so I am in. Friends who are fans of comic books seemed amped about this film. I was indifferent. I missed the version from 5 years ago and only vague recollections from the TV show of 30 years ago. Apparently the original Hulk film of the decade was so bad that they’re releasing this version under the pretense that the other film never happened. (While this isn’t a shining endorsement, it kind of makes me want to watch it.)

I like Ed Norton and enjoyed the film overall. Initially it felt very Bourne Identity, with the way it was shot. Then eventually it felt generic. It wasn’t good, but it was average good. I heard some complaints that the Hulk looked too CGI, and if those people want the green skinned man like the TV show, then I think their expectations are off. It was nice to have a solid villan, unlike Iron Man. It was nice to see some good fight scenes. The flow of the movie felt comic book-ish and I liked this factor! Finally it was interesting to see the references to some sequels. Having avoided comic books takes the power out of these scenes for me, but the clapping nerds in front of me were giddy.

So, my encouragement is to check this film out if it looks good to you or if friends are pushing it. While it wasn’t as fun as Iron Man for me, it was still fun. Decide what you will and enjoy the nice cool air-conditioning of the theater. Mmmmmm…A/C!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The career ender for M. Night!

Do you see that crappy movie on the horizon? Lets avoid it at all cost.

Thoughts of Trent is arranging a new feature, and this film is a perfect thing to start with. The idea is for me to engage with a friend and debate a specific topic. My hope is that “The Happening” would be the first chance to try this new feature. I’m working out the kinks, but I couldn’t let the weekend go without warning people about this horrible movie. Seriously, this is bad. In my opinion this is a nail in the coffin of the writer/director role for Shyamalan.

I’m not going to ruin the movie because if you’re dumb enough to see the movie, then I want you to suffer by discovering the lame. Whatever is killing people is also making the acting horrible. If you can make me loathe Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, then you have a bad movie on your hand. I was bored with the gore. While the movie is marketed well, the deaths are just silly to me. And wow, was that a good marketing campaign that focused on the R rating. So good that I thought I had sworn off M. Night after “Lady in the Water” but the advertisement was that good.

Serious disappointment once the movie started. It is a short film at 91 minutes but still feels long. I’m going to put this in the category of “don’t watch on the USA network even if you’re stuck in Duluth.” Avoid it at all cost. If this movie drops off this weekend it will help end the career of the pride driven M. Night Shyamalan. Stay tuned as I post a podcast with a friend who is dumb enough to admit to liking it!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Letter to The Celtics

I’m glad it was in your house, not ours. At least you will have this memory to keep you warm all winter.

I know it seems silly to say with the near 40 point win but you out played the Lakers start to finish. You won and you totally deserve the trophy. While I can’t stand you and look forward to a few years of rivalry, take this moment to hear it directly from me.

I look forward to seeing the Lakers DEMOLISH you next year.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Letter to the Lakers

When you two boys play together it makes me so happy. You aren’t at odds with eachother, you trust eachother...keep it up!

Dear Lakers:

Hopefully you’re having a relaxing day, enjoying the hotel room before the big night. (Don’t go outside, you may get a Boston-style beat down.) This is a crazy time right now and I don’t want to add any more pressure. With that said I really want you to win the next two games. This is very important to me. I’m not basing our relationship on these next few games. I was faithful during the Del Harris years; I’m not going to do anything stupid. Besides the last few months have been incredible.

It’s been so great to see you play unselfish basketball and work as a team. While I value all the championships, this is the most fun I’ve had watching playoffs since Showtime. While I did love you in the Shaq years, that was a very different time based solely on having muscle down low and finesse in Kobe. This time its different…you’re energized, everyone is an option and you work well as a team…it’s been great. I love watching you drive the lane and have a good shot that you could take and instead dishing it out to the player that’s there for the GREAT shot. This teamwork brings me joy. We need to get back to this rhythm.

I want to see that rhythm consistently these next two games. If that happens then you’re going to make history and get the championship. If not, you will have a summer to regret getting overwhelmed over the last 2 weeks. Thursday night you lost a game by blowing a 24-point lead. You pulled it out last night, but you need to stay consistent! I think this lies in the hands of Gasol and Odom. When they are on, it’s a sure victory. It would be perfect for this season to come from behind for a championship after a rough series. Not only would this be historical, it would also be inline with this come from behind season. The dynasty has started and lets do it right. Rebound-by-rebound, quarter-by-quarter, game-by-game you will win ring after ring.

Love you guys no matter what.


Monday, June 16, 2008

I will be kind, and save you the rental

Witness one of the few funny frames from this film.

With Be Kind Rewind coming out on DVD I figured this was a good time to talk about this little film that wasn't kind or good. I caught this film in the theater, and I can assure you that it is not as good as we all want it to be. This is a movie about two friends that are forced to re-film an entire library of movies at their video store.

After watching the preview, I wanted this to be good. After hearing this is from the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I wanted this to be great. After seeing this film, I wanted my 101 minutes back. If there were a 16-minute version that just had the sequences of re-filming the movies and screening them then I would enjoy it. This movie never finds its groove, has an odd tone, and in fact it doesn’t finish any of the love stories it tries to set up.

Great idea for a movie, Good actors that have potential, poorly executed. I’m going to put this movie in the “Take it out of your Netflix queue and look for clips on YouTube” category.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Rare Opportunity…


This article is not a witty response to a movie, or a fun look at politics. It is unlike to anything I’ve posted on here. It involves my thoughts and so it fits in here. Take it or leave it, no one makes you read this crap.

Here is my entire family at my Sister’s wedding; A day filled with joy and tragedy. My sister committed her life to her husband and I danced. Don’t misunderstand…my new brother is great. The tragedy is my dancing.

Weddings are great, aren’t they? (Please note the sarcasm.) While I’m consistently honored to be invited to this ceremony of commitment, most of the time it’s not worth the hassle. I’m not a big fan of dressing up, making awkward small talk and being dismissed to eat far too late because I’m at the singles table. I’ve learned that misguided DJ’s think singles can wait to eat. I hate a bad DJ! Well my sister’s wedding got me thinking. Fear not, this article will not be a sad diatribe on singleness. Instead it got me thinking about family.

I’m 28 years old, I graduated high school 11 years ago this week. My fading memory and receding hairline work as reminders that I am not a young man anymore. I’m closer to mid-life then I am to college. I have plenty of family and friends that are much older than me, but time marches on for all of us. This picture has both sets of grandparent standing along side my brother and sister on their wedding day. Yet as I sit at table 8, and think about the day I think about how fortunate I am to have family. Having both sets of grandparents still healthy and happy seems rare. I often feel guilt when it comes up in conversation but on this day I feel fortunate.

I get to thinking, I need to do something to capture this time and gain a greater understanding of my heritage. Before last weekend my family time line was a random collection of facts. My understanding of my father’s parents was based on a few transparent moments and commentary from their children. So I scheduled an afternoon to have lunch and video tape their recollections of life. As a grandchild I have unprecedented access to these very reserved individuals. I can ask questions that no one in my family would ever dare to verbalize. And on that afternoon I sat down with both my Nana and Papa and went from birth to present day, having them articulate their experiences as my video camera rolled.

I had planned on being at their house for a few hours. I had expected these members of the greatest generation to be characteristically quiet. I spent 13 hours at their house, and left with 9 hours of tapes documenting the experience. As I drove down their familiar street at almost 1:00 in the morning I had plenty to think about. I pondered interesting tidbits like the fact that my relatives include original Mormon leaders and a president of the United States. (Howard Taft looks like my Papa, and that isn’t a coincidence.) I felt the weight of the confessions. My grandfather expressed both pride and sorrow over his involvement in World War II. My grandmother still actively mourns the death of her son second son. Their lives resonate in my mind and I am thankful for that.

I don’t know why I didn’t expect this, but I have certainly been caught off guard. Reviewing this footage will not be an easy task and it is one that I’m looking forward to. It’s not something I plan to complete this summer, this year or anytime beyond that. This is a project I hope will last through generations. The words shared that day will hopefully pierce the minds of many people decades and even centuries from now. All of this from the simple people that are known for their bad puns and long Monopoly games, I am so thankful for my Grandparents. I love their stories, I love their compassion, I love them both dearly. And now I have 517 minutes of video as a vivid reminder of that love.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Looks like it’s worth the wait.

This is Steve Jobs. He brought you Pixar, the Mac, the iPod, and now a new iPhone.
Stay tuned, he’s going to fix the whole poverty thing next year.

Refresh, refresh, refresh. I’ve hit the button at least 60 times in the last 20 minutes. Usually it’s up by noon and it’s 1:00pm. I hope nothing is wrong… refresh, refresh, refresh… sure enough the icon changes and its there. Steve Job’s keynote is a semi annual speech from the CEO of Apple. It is an unveiling of new products and new features. It is a mac geek’s Christmas morning. Sure I could log on to the sight I check daily ( and get a rundown of all the details in bullet form, but I’d rather watch how it unfolds moment by moment.

It’s like watching a state of the union address for technophiles who know they’re choice of Mac makes them far superior to the rest of the world. These speeches run over an hour and often use language that I don’t fully understand. But they all address the needs of the consumer. Macs core value is creating intuitive products. I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops and learn another language, the machine should work for me. Now that Apple has moved into fields of music players and phones it is great to have this ingenuity in these aspects of every day life.

This speech seemed a little off. Steve Jobs looked skinny and ill. He also gave the floor to others more than usual. The announcements were not as shocking as they have been in the past, except for one thing. $199 for an iPhone. Even a less than best speech is still captivating, and had me reeling. They have dropped the price on the invention of the year dramatically, again. I love the way they’ve structured this price change to. Essentially it’s a basic rebate, similar to other companies. What is different is the experience for the consumer. This discount doesn’t require you to mail 20 forms; for the person walking in the store the price is basic and low. I think its hilarious that it is more expensive to purchase an iPod touch, which is identical to the iPhone, but without the phone.

The other big announcement was the new “MobileMe” service. Companies spend thousands of dollars to set up Microsoft Exchange, which pushes email, calendars and contacts to multiple computers. Apple is now offering this service and some great bells and whistles to the everyman. You log on to and use web-based programs, or have them sync with your software. So, you can now take a picture on your iPhone and within seconds have it sync to your galleries within seconds, over which friends and family can view with your permission.

Do you see what this company has me doing? I’m selling their product, explaining it in detail, after watching a 2-hour commercial. Mac has forced me to do some soul searching in the past. I’ve asked myself if I’m just into these computers because it makes me feel a sense of belonging to an elitist sub-culture. (Think about how many products sell an identity or feeling more than a simple item on the shelf.) That soul searching left me slow to purchase new items at a rate matching my impulse but still committed to buying Mac. I’d rather spend more for a virus free reliable product. Now I don’t have to incessantly click refresh, I know that July 11th is the day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Looks like our next president will not be a woman.

Oh wow, she went with a pantsuit. Way to think outside the box.
(I didn’t know pantsuit was one word until I looked it up, pretty cool.)

Hillary Clinton has officially ‘suspended’ her campaign and supported Obama as the nominee. I have to admit, if I had approached this topic a few weeks ago I probably would have written a much different article. I would have spent every word ripping Hillary apart. I do not have an unfounded disdain of Mrs. Clinton because I was raised in conservative private schools since I was four years old. I have come out of that upbringing as a registered independent and someone that is tired of partisan politics. With that, watching her campaign unravel has been pathetic. The last few months she’d continually pushed her campaign forward when becoming the nominee was a mathematic impossibility. She invested millions of dollars of her own money to keep the dream alive when it was clearly alive.

For the last few weeks I’d grown frustrated with this prideful display. It seemed to me that she just couldn’t fathom that she’d lost. A year ago most expected Hillary and Giuliani would be choosing running mates at this point. Needless to say, we are in a much different spot. It was frustrating to see Hillary hurt her party because it wasn’t agreeing with her. She should have bowed out a long time ago and hopefully she’s learned her 20 million dollar lesson. But I’m not going to just talk about her pride and idiocy. Watching her concession speech with my Nana this last weekend changed my perspective.

This was the closest a woman has ever been to holding the highest office in America. 90 years ago woman didn’t even have the right to vote, let alone hold the highest office in the land. My Nana was disappointed that she wouldn’t get to see a woman beat the gender gap. When she expressed her opinion it was rooted in a firm belief that women in this country had made huge steps forward in her lifetime. Upon graduating with her bachelors degree she joined a small club called the UWA, the University Women’s Association because she believed in a Woman’s right to get an education and pursue any career they desired. This was a revolutionary thought in 1946, but it was one she held firmly.

When Nana speaks of her middle years she loves her career choice; full-time mother. She loves her family and speaks with admiration of those years. I’m reminded of her balance. For her the issue isn’t every woman following the same path, but women having the opportunity to choose their path. She speaks of opportunity with affection and longs for women to take advantage of what they have today. While I’m not a fan of Hillary, I am a fan of opportunity. Mrs. Clinton came close, closer than any woman before her. I look forward to a future where a woman president is more than likely. I am anticipating a very specific interaction with my daughter when she’s studying social studies and asks me a question about the 2008 election. I may not recall my annoyance with the media coverage and the unending primaries, but I will remember my Nana’s dream of opportunity being realized.

I leave you with something to think about from a no-name actor.

I don’t care who you’re going to vote for, that is funny. If you can’t laugh at that, then you need to relax.

Here’s your chance to vote!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Song Thoughts: The Luckiest by Ben Folds

This was the least cheesy music video I could find for the song. The important part is to listen to the words, so if the images are distraction, look away. (At the bottom is a version with just lyrics on the screen.) I get the sense that the video is lacking because the director and editor were not working together.

I found this song a few weeks ago and can’t get it out of my head. I guess it’s an indication that I’m a sappy romantic. Whether I’m in or out of a relationship, songs like these strike a chord. Chances are you know me and knew that. If you don’t know me and are reading from another country, well there’s a window into the soul of a stranger. The thing I like about this song is its simplicity. It feels like its stream of consciousness, a man telling a woman in his own way that he loves her. It isn’t polished and it isn’t perfect, he’s just sharing thoughts off the top of his head. At times those thoughts don’t make sense or are awkward and I love that. In my opinion that’s a pure expression of his love.

This song reminds me of “Your Song” by Elton John; words that come out of sitting in each other’s arms and just talking. While I love well-written poetry where each word is deliberate and well placed, I also love clunky and simple expressions. This man is expressing how fortunate he is to have found her. Well done Ben Folds, well done.

favorite line

“I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you.”

Video with just lyrics.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I need to see this film...

Monster Camp...I really need to see this film.

"I eat your mind 1, I eat your mind 2, I eat your mind 3."

I am waiting for this to come out on DVD...oh it looks delightful.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It’s a classic you watched in 9th grade English,
but have you see it since?

I feel such nostalgia when I see this image. While my Dad was an attorney, he never talked to me on the porch swing with such affection, I wasn’t a tomboy and I didn’t wear overalls. I guess it just reminds me of the childhood I never had, as a southern girl in the 1930’s.

Last week I was hosting an improv show and we came to a game where I asked the audience for movie quotes. Usually we get the same basic ones (“I’ll be back”, “Show me the money” “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”). I’ve never been stumped by a movie quote until this show. A woman from the back says “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks.” I responded with a hearty “HUH!?!” She repeated the line and then commented in a snooty fashion, “It’s from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’”. I reply back, “Oh sure, that’s a classic, one of my favorites” and then as an aside say, “Never seen it.” My joke got a good laugh but it made me leave the theatre thinking about that film.

As I changed in the dressing room I told a friend “I know it’s about kids, racism and a guy named Boo, but I don’t remember what happened.” My friend leaned back and was about to give a plot summary and I quickly interrupted him, “no no, don’t say anything. I want to watch it and experience it with fresh eyes.” As a high school student I was forced to read a lot of crap that was given the label of literature. I was especially happy when a movie had a film made because it was a big time saver. I remember being assigned this book and one weekend asking my dad during a trip to Blockbuster if we could rent “To Kill a Mockingbird.” My wise and discerning father smiled and said, “Maybe later, why don’t you actually read this one. It’s good, trust me.” Sure enough, I read the book and it was good. I watched the movie and it was good too, one of the few films that held its own to the book.

When I sat down last week to watch this film I had high expectations and still no recollections of plot points. Watching this movie made me happy. I ran the gambit of emotions and felt satisfied when the final credits ran. It’s really a great story that really kept me going until the last minute. Atticus Finch made me want to have some kids and go to law school. (A few days later, only one of those is still a goal.) This character personifies wisdom and yet communicates values to his children in a simple and powerful way.

I realize that my blog has been recommendation heavy, but I can’t change my course when it comes to this classic film. Click from this page to your Netflix queue and add “To Kill a Mockingbird”. It doesn’t need to take the top spot, but when it gets closer to the number one spot, remember my strong recommendation. One week before I had said “It’s one of my favorites” as a joke, but now it actually is.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It ain’t easy being green, but it is fun to watch.

I think I would date a girl with green skin, if she was that pretty, could sing that well, and could fly. I mean we’d have to connect on a personal level…
ok, why am I considering dating a fictional character again.

My mother has two very distinct ways of communicating dates to me. The most frequently used is last minute notification that leaves me scrambling to reschedule my life in order to attend a family event. Occasionally she will go with extremely advanced warning which involves nagging reminders every week until the event happens. For months our conversations would end with “Don’t forget ‘Wicked!’” It’s easy for me to forget my Cousin’s little league game or my Uncle’s award ceremony at the Moose Lodge. I will not forget the opportunity to see a Broadway Musical. This last Christmas my Aunt and Uncle purchased 75 tickets for “Wicked” as gifts for all of their family and friends because they wanted them to see this play that they love. I appreciate my Aunt and Uncle’s fervor but I did question her judgment, is it really that good?

I’m a big fan of Broadway and get excited when Los Angeles hosts a decent musical. Yet over the past year “Wicked” had escaped me. When I sat down in the theater that night I had a seat 6 rows behind Ted Danson (name drop), zero knowledge of the story, and had never heard a song from this play. In my opinion this is the way to approach a musical you haven’t seen. It’s great to discover the songs as they’re connected with the story. The orchestra began playing the overture and I sat back to experience the play.

I’m not going to give you plot points, that would ruin what I’m trying to accomplish with this blog. I will say this; I laughed during the funny scenes, cried at the touching scenes (wiping tears as we went to intermission), and stood in ovation at the curtain call. This musical is set in the merry old land of OZ. It tells the story of an anti-hero weaved alongside the classic tale of Dorothy and Toto. I spent the majority of the time leaning forward in my seat, an indication that I am enjoying myself and connecting with the story.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the best musical I’ve ever seen and doesn’t have the greatest soundtrack ever. The script lacks a little and the songs are missing great hooks that have you singing your way out the theatre. What’s missing in these categories is made up for in others. It is the emotional connection and laughs that made me leave the theatre wanting to see it the next night. It may sound silly but this play made me think a lot about the power of words and how destructive labels can be. It made me think about integrity, and doing the right thing in the face of a culture that is heading in a completely different direction.

The majority of the people reading this article live in Los Angeles. I’m going to guess most haven’t seen “Wicked”. You’ve got 6 months to see this musical before it leaves LA. It will make you laugh, make you think and hopefully deepen your appreciation for musical theatre. Now, I’m not going to be like my mom and remind you over and over again about this. You need to get online and buy some tickets. I questioned my aunt’s judgment back in December, and in May I found myself back at the Pantages surrounded by 20 of my friends watching this musical. While I don’t have the money to give them the tickets for free, it was so important to me that I did organize the outing. In my opinion it was worth all the hassle of organizing a group of 20 to see it, it’s that good. I hope you will find yourself sitting in the Pantages Theatre laughing, crying, and eventually standing in ovation.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Indy is Back. This is a good thing and a bad thing.

***Standard Spoiler Warning. This article contains my opinions on this film and reveals specific plot points. It also spoils the film by pointing out that it is not as good as we’d expect/want it to be. Read at your own risk.***
Indy has always had a sidekick helping him along the way. This time it’s Mutt, really we’re going to call him Mutt. Mr. Lucas, please don’t call the next film Mutt Jones and the Search for Slick Shoes. (yeah, that was the uber-80’s reference.)

I wanted it to be good. I didn’t pay attention to the negative reviews and I went into the theater with hope. I had just watched all three of the Indy movies that day before entering the theater. (A great treat for a post-finals Saturday.) I came in with a skip in my step and ready to pick up where we left off. The initial shots are just beautiful; the cinematography was in line with the other films. The visual effects looked believable and didn’t take me out of the story. I wondered what was practical and what was CGI because it all fit seamlessly.

It was just great to see Harrison Ford back in the Fedora. While they gave the occasional nod to his age, I was thankful that the film didn’t overemphasize the point. For an example of overemphasizing this point, see Lethal Weapon 4. I felt like the first 40 minutes rode on the foundation of the first 3 films. As the film went on, I got bored and was finding myself the victim of a lame script. The movie does follow the basic Indy formula, but a good formula can be ruined by bad content. It felt like there was so much exposition. Characters just sat around and talked about things, so boring. I think of Last Crusade, when Indy finds the X in the middle of the museum. The way the camera was moving was so interesting while still providing the needed information. Also there was something different about the way Harrison Ford delivered lines. It seemed off to me and bothered me throughout the film.

I had some problems with the plot and the script. For years it was a bad script that kept the main players from making a 4th film; they wanted to get it right. In my opinion, they needed to work much more on this script. I think a story about aliens is interesting and really fitting for the 50’s. I loved all of this in the first 40 minutes. In fact as the movie went on I became less forgiving. Early in the film I chuckled when Indy was catapulted about a mile inside a refrigerator. Sure, I suspended belief but at this point I was in the movies hands and willing to take a ride. As I grew bored and the script kept punishing me, I became unforgiving. Swinging from branches like Tarzan along monkeys? Driving your car into a branch that will launch back and hit your enemies? Taking your boat-car down multiple waterfalls? Suspending my belief during a mine car chase didn’t bother me in Temple of Doom, so why was this annoying. Because I was annoyed, bored and frustrated.

The villain was not evil to me. She felt cartoon-ish and I wasn’t satisfied when she met her end. In fact I really didn’t care that she died. I found LaBeouf’s character to be a nice sidekick. The only thing that annoyed me was his name. Both Mutt and LaBeouf are silly names but I see Mutt as a choice, so I take issue with that. The interplay between Indy and his son was nice, and very reminiscent of the Last Crusade dynamics of Henry Jr. & Sr. I’d like to see LaBeouf make some movies after this in the Indy style. It could be interesting and fun to watch.

I think my viewing the previous three films on the day I saw Crystal Skull set the bar too high. I also think it’s worth having the bar high. One thing I loved about my two favorite films of the four (Raiders & Last Crusade) was the biblical centerpiece. While it may be easy to dismiss this opinion as being skewed by my beliefs, I’m not a Left Behind loving Fox News parrot that wants the bible to invade every corner of TV and film. Okay, with that out of the way, I really like having the catholic lore and biblical imagery in the movies I love. I find it intriguing. I also enjoy the ending of those films because the moral of the story seems to be “Don’t mess with God.” Villains learned that you can’t use God’s power to advance evil, and he’s going to teach you a lesson for trying. Awww…just writing about it makes me want to pop Raiders and Last Crusade back in the DVD player.

Overall my recommendation is to see this movie in the theater. It is worth seeing and while not as good as Raiders it is better than Temple of Doom. Remember that I am a super-fan and really set the bar high. I love Indy and will likely see this movie again in the theater to give it another chance. I think the franchise is deserving of my $9.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Idol has a successful year, with plenty of room for improvement.

Oh how far you’ve come. There were a few weeks when you came across arrogant but those tears seem genuine to me. I got teary watching too, but I’ve always been a crybaby.

Well, we’ve come to the end. I watched the final episodes a week late. Knowing the outcome took the surprise out of it, but it was a good time to reflect. Overall it was a great season with a satisfying ending. While the “ratings juggernaut” may be showing cracks at the seams, this season picked up the pace.

Early on I was skeptical. I was tired of the over emphasis that this was the most talented season of American Idol. I was bored with the auditions. But as the weeks went by, my connection with what became the finalists grew. And the ending was truly satisfying with Cook beating the early front-runner. I don’t want to reveal a man crush here, but I just like David Cook. He seems down to earth, genuine and fun. Early on he came off a little bit removed and arrogant in the early weeks of the competition but eventually he started to act appreciative and didn’t take it all too seriously, while not come across aloof (i.e. Jason Castro.)

Now as great the overall ending was, the finale left me unsatisfied. While I agreed that Archuleta chose a better final song in “Imagine”, I still felt Cook did well. It was great to hear Simon apologize for being too harsh; I love it when he does that. While he’s a pretty self-absorbed guy he has always seemed to be willing to acknowledge a mistake. I wish the Idol producers would do the same and apologize for the lame disappointment that was their “Star Studded Finale.” Bryan Adams? Seal?? George Michael??!!?? The last time I’d heard of Bryan Adams was when he did that song for Don Juan DeMarco Soundtrack in 1995. (That’s right kids; Johnny Depp acted in a lot of crap before finding Jack Sparrow.) The last time I’d heard of Seal was when he contributed that kissing a rose on a grave song to the Batman Forever Soundtrack, also in 1995. The last time I’d heard of George Michael was when he was caught again in a bathroom…nevermind, that was 1998. All of that is to say that they really had lame performances by out of date stars. I hope that they remedy this situation by next year.

With the ratings dipping I look forward to seeing them make some corrections and keep this show chugging along. Keep giving us talented and relevant Idols like David Cook. Keep giving us pathetic and misguided auditions like William Hung. Keep on keeping on and we will see you in 2009.

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