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Saturday, April 30, 2005  

Birthday Shenanigans
Monday is Julie's birthday, and so we are celebrating tonight! A small crew is heading to the Cat and Fiddle for a proper British supper, then back to Verives Hollywood for drinks and rendezvous with the bigger crew. After some appartment-bound reveley we'll be heading off to our favorite Saturday night goth venue, Bar Sinister! We should have a sizable posse, but it is still weird for us to be missing so many friends at our birthday events. So our thoughts will be with everybody who is spread to the four winds and unable to join us tonight (you know who you are!) I'll post some pics tomorrow or Monday depending on the damage...

posted by JMV | 4/30/2005 06:05:00 PM

Wednesday, April 27, 2005  

Is This Getting Boring Yet?
(Stupid blogger was down all morning...)
What the HELL do you mean it is nearly May? I refuse to believe we are 1/3 of the way through 2005. If my life was a movie this would be the part where pages are flying off the calendar. I feel alternately complacent and horribly freaked-out by my increasingly time-lapse existence. Work. Eat. Sleep. Work Eat. Sleep. At least pay-days seem to come quickly. And here we are, another Wednesday; so go forth and answer my Quiz Questions:
1) In matters of Tortillas, corn or flour? (any exceptions?)
2) What was your first double-CD set?
3) What is sexy?
4) How do you stay organized? Do you have any Personal-productivity tricks?
5) Who is your favorite Star Wars character?
6) How many pairs of shoes do you own (and actually wear?)

posted by JMV | 4/27/2005 01:54:00 PM

Saturday, April 23, 2005  

Pirates of a Different Breed.
It seems that the beloved "Rooster Sauce" is a hot enough property to lure counterfeiters into producing fugazi chile sauce.

posted by JMV | 4/23/2005 03:36:00 PM

What's That, In The Sky
Somethings are just too good NOT to scrape.
Case in point: Penguins delayed at airport security. I haven't been able to find a video of this yet, but I'll keep looking. I'm SO jealous of the little kid in that last picture!!

posted by JMV | 4/23/2005 02:46:00 PM

Friday, April 22, 2005  

Links For a Sunny Friday
Ha Ha. I started the post yesterday so I could actually get it up in a timely fashion, and today the Marine Layer decides to return to the southland. It just goes to show you.
Free music on Amazon.com! (or go directly to the top downloads.)

A cool app that mounts your 2gigs of Gmail storage as a drive in Windows Explorer. (any one know of an OS X equivalent of this?)

Suspended animation for humans in 10 years?

How to eat everything, an article by Jeffrey Steingarten with steps to get over “food phobias” and matters of taste so that you too can be an omnivore.

Rebates may suck, but at least it means free tivos!

More to come…

posted by JMV | 4/22/2005 10:15:00 AM

Thursday, April 21, 2005  


So, I got a smattering of pictures up on flickr of the wedding. here is the set.

I'm very happy with the way the new camera performed and I think I got some really good shots. Once I "go pro" after payday I'll upload a bunch more. Let me know what you think.

posted by JMV | 4/21/2005 10:49:00 AM

Wednesday, April 20, 2005  

Wednesday Already?
Like sands through the hourglass…
1) What makes you ANGRY?
2) From an iconic/architectural/monumental perspective what is your favorite building?
3) Do you “work out?” How?
4) Favorite ice cream flavor?
5) Blue ink or black ink? Ballpoint or Rollerball?
6) What was the first music that you “discovered” without parental influence? Do you find that your current tastes reflect this initial discovery?

posted by JMV | 4/20/2005 11:30:00 AM

Tuesday, April 19, 2005  

Unstoppable Slide Into Adulthood
Beau and Mary’s wedding finally came to pass over the weekend, and everything went really really great! The day was perfect, the ceremony intimate and touching, and the reception a lot of fun! I couldn’t be happier for the “new” couple and I hope they are enjoying the sun, beach, and fruity-drinks in Jamaica! I think this also marks the point at which I have more close married friends than close single friends. It is a weird place to be where you are, by all official definitions, an adult with a Job and Debt and a Family etc but you FEEL like adulthood is still around the next corner.

I’ll have some pictures up shortly. I just have to sift though the 400+ shots we took and find the cream of the crop. In the meantime, check out what Julie has up.

posted by JMV | 4/19/2005 02:16:00 PM

Friday, April 15, 2005  

Friday Linkagogo
I’ve been telling people for years that alarm clock technology was way behind the curve, but it looks like things are finally starting to catch up. First there was the rolling alarm, and now a watch that monitors your vitals and decides the best time to rouse you. Maybe it is time that I prototype my idea for the puzzle-alarm.

What do you get when you cross a whale with a dolphin? Why a Wolphin of course! No. Seriously.

posted by JMV | 4/15/2005 02:41:00 PM

Thursday, April 14, 2005  

People are always singing the praises of Bit Torrent to me, and I have mostly ignored them since I haven’t had much luck with this new wave in file sharing. For those unclear on “BT” it is a way to share large files across the internet. Without getting into the technical aspects (see here for more info) Bit Torrent spreads the bandwidth burden among many different “nodes” as opposed to just the guy that HAS the file and the guy that WANTS the file (like a typical peer-to-peer solution like Kazaa or Limewire.) It is ideally suited for large files that are “time sensitive” (because the more popular a file is the faster it will download) and so has found its niche in distributing TV and Movie content. I know people who have whole “DVR” setups that revolve around RSS feeds and Bit Torrent that will automatically download the TV shows they watch each week.

I’ve only dabbled in BT, and mostly to download audio bootlegs of concerts. The few times I’ve tried to deal w/ video content from BT I’ve been stymied by slow-speeds, huge-files, weird video codecs, and poor software. But on Sunday my aging TiVo failed to record Arrested Development and Julie and I were hard-up for the weekly exploits of the Bluth Family so I turned to BT to get my fix. It took me most of an evening btu I finally got the client running, found a .torrent for the episode we missed, downloaded it, got the necessary video codecs and software installed, and got the powerbook connected to the TV (though I was missing the cable necessary for the stereo connection.)

So, it worked, but I’m a little sad to say the whole process become a bit of an obsession. I wasn’t about to let any of the many stumbling blocks that cropped up during the whole procedure stop me from getting that show downloaded. I’m still having some difficulty with getting my router configured to fully work w/ bit torrent (like my TiVo the router is on its last legs.) The good news is with some more work this whole Bit Torrent thing might solve the whole “Gilmore Conundrum” and allow Julie and I to catch-up on three seasons before the 6th season begins in the fall.

Anybody have any luck with BT? Any favorite apps, tricks, or hacks? Best tracker sites?

posted by JMV | 4/14/2005 11:32:00 AM

Wednesday, April 13, 2005  

Quizzy Goodness
You know the drill:
1) What is your favorite Sesame Street character?
2) What is the song of the day?
3) What is in your pockets?
4) What was for dinner last night? How about tonight?
5) What current fashion/style trend do you think we will look-back on in 15 years and go, “what the hell were we thinking?”
6) If you were a super-mogul, what movie would you get made?

posted by JMV | 4/13/2005 11:44:00 AM

Monday, April 11, 2005  

Choose Your Own Update
Gah! This was supposed to be posted HOURS ago, but the network at work has been down (I guess I shouldn’t complain too loudly as I’m blogging on my break but…)

Imagine: you sit down at your computer after lunch, launch Firefox, and swoop over to your “Octopus Hat” bookmark. When the page loads would you most like to see:
a) a detailed though cursory account of John’s weekend
b) more composed thoughts about one of the DVDs or CDs “consumed” by John over the weekend
c) Random thoughts about something random.

I ask because after typing up a post of minutiae from the weekend I had second thoughts about posting it. Basically the thoughts went something like, “who the fuck would want to read about that.” So I give you, dear reader, the choice…

posted by JMV | 4/11/2005 04:11:00 PM

Friday, April 08, 2005  

Speaking in Tongues
Jules and I got the chance to see “Stop Making Sense,” the brilliant Talking Heads concert film, at the Arclight last night. The film, directed by Jonathan Demme, is considered by many critics and cineastes to be the pinnacle of the concert-on-film genre and seeing a 35mm print projected on the big screen backed up by the Arclight’s excessive sound system was mind blowing. I don’t think I’d ever seen a concert film in a theater before and it greatly adds to the experience. The audience in the theater would yell and clap along with the crowd on-screen making the show fell almost like a concert. The ageing print was even able to reveal more detail than I had previously seen in even the DVD version of the film which highlighted the brilliant direction and set-up of the film.

The film really is deserving of its place as one of the great concert films. It was, as the opening credits inform us, “conceived for the stage by David Byrne” and it is obvious his virtuosity extends past music. The show begins with Byrne alone on stage strumming “Psycho Killer” on an acoustic guitar and backed up by only a boom-box on a well-lit and bare stage. Each of the next 4 song adds an additional musicians and instruments until the full band is assembled for a inspiring rendition of Burning Down the House. The energy level never dips for the next 10 songs as the band cooks their blend of polyrhythmic-synch-funk at the height of their power.

And all the while Demme’s army of cinema-verite cameramen drift around the stage capturing the little looks and dances and stomps and nods of the band in full swing and painting each musician as a character and not just “the keyboardist” or “the dude with the bongos. It is really the camera work that is my favorite part of the show; each song is shot slightly differently keeping the whole show fresh, though still a cohesive whole. There are no flashy swooping shots, no gimmicky cuts or dissolves, just straight-forward and solid filmmaking. Music video producers of today would do well to take the lessons of this film to heart. Even if you are just a casual fan of The Talking Heads move this movie to the top of your Queue and bask in the brilliance of David Byrne and his big-suit.

posted by JMV | 4/08/2005 09:10:00 AM

Wednesday, April 06, 2005  

6 More
Another week another pointless quiz.
1) Marv, Dwight, or Hartigan?
2) What restaurant do you most-often eat at?
3) What would you buy w/ a $100 Amazon gift-credit?
4) Which movies could you watch daily and not tire of?
5) At your most entrenched, what clique/scene/sub-culture did you/do you most identify with?
6) What is your Favorite Smell (bonus points if you “paint a scent-scene” instead of just say “New Car.”

posted by JMV | 4/06/2005 11:19:00 AM

Monday, April 04, 2005  

Multimedia Sin City
check this out to see side-by-side comparisons of the original print material and stills from the Sin City trailer. This is just the tip of the iceberg of cool-as-shit visual matches in the film.

posted by JMV | 4/04/2005 03:59:00 PM

Saturday, April 02, 2005  

They Just Don't Get It, Or I Never Will
Let me start out by saying Sin City was all that I hoped it would be. Miller and Rodriguez adapted a previously inadaptable graphic novel and broke new cinematic ground while doing it. They didn't pull any punches and they make no apologies for the bloody, dirty, sacrilegious, misogynistic, and utterly morally bankrupt tale(s). Let me also say that I feel I can in no way offer-up an unbiased review of this film. I'm a HUGE fan of the source material; i own every graphic novel, toys, tee shirts, and even a Sin City zippo lighter. The books have long been on my list (right between Transmet and Hellboy) of the comics that I most want to see (and never thought I WOULD see) adapted into film. So last night as I set in the theater filled with middle-aged Hollywood society I was giddy with anticipation and delight as the first panels washed over me. And that's what it was: actual pages from the comics reproduced as moving images. Not like Spiderman or (more-so Hellboy) where certain images on screen would perfectly mirror a panel from the comic, but EVERY FRAME of film on screen was DIRECTLY related to a page of the comics. And this is the first point of contention building among the reviews/critics/fanboys: does the accuracy and faithfulness of the adaptation detract from its artistic value? In this case, I don't feel that it does; I think it is the faithfulness that is the point of the film. But many of the critics’ barbs towards the film have been this unflinching representation of the exceptionally graphic source material. Other criticism leveled at the film have similarly centered on the source especially the heavy "hard boiled" and Film Noir style. The charm of the books is partially the way Miller takes conventions from Film Noir, tropes that have been made trite and clichéd by countless repetitions in Hollywood film, and magnifies them to create a highly-stylized and grossly over-exaggerated story. With the film we see these elements exaggerated yet again; the resulting hyper-hyper-reality seems wholly new to cinema and is perhaps the greatest strength of the film. So when critics deride the dialog or the graphic violence I can't help but think they missed the point of the film.
But disagreement with reviewers aside, the film was stunning. Visually there isn't another film like it. For better or worse, nothing like this has even been seen by the American movie-going public. It is perhaps the first HD feature to take full advantage of the new medium, and not just be a film shot on HD. Unfortunately the state-of-the-art in cinematography is still ahead of the acting craft, and this is where one of the films biggest flaws lay. The performances in the film are uneven. Not bad, not stiff, certainly not as plastic as those in Sky Captain, but just uneven enough to be noticed. Each actor dealt with the challenges of performing in a green-screen world differently. Perhaps Rodriguez is uncomfortable directing women (especially when the actresses are playing such blatant caricatures of adolescent fantasy) but he extracted three fantastic performances from his male leads and many uneven and sometimes shaky performances from the ladies of Sin City. Rosario Dawson seems very stiff in her first scene, but by her big finally has clearly warmed up to the new environment. Alexis Bledel is uneven shot-to-shot: sometimes nailing the coy seductress perfectly and sometimes slightly ill-at-ease with her dialog.. Del Toro and Clive Owen's (Tarantino directed) scene together is another highlight of the film, and Bruce Willis settled into the role of crusty retired detective Hartigan like he was putting on his favorite jeans. The man has made a career of playing the characters that Miller based Hartigan on and it is cool to see him play with such a familiar archetype.
But, of course, the star of Sin City is Marv, the huge ugly lug who's image has become synonymous with not only the whole of the Sin City canon, but non-superhero comics in general. And Mickey "I thought he was dead" Rourke delivers the stand-out, and stand-up-and-cheer, performance of the film. Not since Ron Perleman donned the red-right-hand of Hellboy have we seen such a perfect, dead-on-balls-accurate casting choice in a comic adaptation. Marv has seen a thousand bar fights and killed countless men, drank countless beers, and fallen in love only once and Rourke, like a master thespian, uses his troubled past to create the character. He digs down deep into his guts and pulls out fat chunks of gristle, slick with blood and bile, to paint his Marv. And he OWNS Marv. It is an exhilarating joy to watch such a difficult character (he's a psychopathic monster that you can't help but love) come to life in a way I never could have expected.
In my (admittedly fanboy) eyes Sin City succeeded on every count. As a film it is taut, visceral, and entraining and it effected me the way that Pulp Fiction or The Matrix or Fellowship of the Ring effected me. As an adaptation of a classic and important piece of sequential-art-history it is synaesthetic, and akin to two hours of Deja Vu for those familiar with the source. As a proof-of-concept for HD production workflow it blows doors wide open and sets the scene for even more innovations by the next crop of super-star filmmakers. I belive we'll look back in 20 years and see Sin City as the harbinger of the digital age of cinema. It reminded me of why I fell in love with film as an art form in the first place. Film cannot grow old and stale and boring. Film is tied to technology in a way that no other art is, and that means there will always be Lumieres and Hitchcocks and Renoirs and Kurosawas and Spielbergs and Jacksons to blow the lids off of the status quo. The times they are a-changing and the writing is on the back-lot wall now: film is dead, long live filmmaking.

posted by JMV | 4/02/2005 01:18:00 PM

Friday, April 01, 2005  

Big Fat Kill
The long awaited film adaptation of Frank Miller’s Sin City is in general release today, and I’ve already got my tickets for the 7:30 show (3rd row center.) I’m excited and slightly apprehensive about seeing how Rodriguez translates Miller’s gritty and dark stories and images to digital media. Rodriguez has always had a very tongue-in-cheek style and I’m not sure how that is going to mesh with the source material. There is also a lot of new and untested technology at work on this film, and it has the possibility to really shake things up in the production world. The whole film was shot against a green-screen on HD cameras and the sets and many props added in post (same idea as “Sky Captain” but a different approach.) Rumor has it that Rodriguez’s digital workflow was even able to sway the staunch analog traditionalism of Quentin Tarantino. If Sin City can put up the numbers the way Sky Captain didn’t then I imagine HD production will gain a lot of ground Hollywood and that can only be a good thing for an industry full of bloated budgets and studio-choked distribution. Either way I’ll have my thoughts for you tomorrow…

posted by JMV | 4/01/2005 01:55:00 PM
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