January 30, 2005

5 Disc Changer...

     In my car this week (click on the album title to hear samples with Windows Media):

Ian Brown (Solarized)
Masive Attack (Mezzanine)
The Cure (Mixed Up)
John Butler Trio (What You Want)
Muse (Absolution)

January 28, 2005


Thanks for putting Americans to bed for years with a smile on our faces, Johnny.

"For three days after death hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off."
-Johnny Carson (1925-2005)

January 25, 2005

Upcoming Films

I've seen the trailers for these movies recently, and they look like they could be great. Click on the title to see the trailer!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Johnny Depp remake
Aliens of the Deep - James Cameron documentary
The Jacket - Adrien Brody creep-fest
Kicking & Screaming - Will Farrel coaching a children's sports team?
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - literary cult classic finally hits the big screen!
Constantine - Keanu Reeves dark super-natural thriller
Cars - the new one from Pixar with lots of stars from Owen Wilson to Paul Newman
War of the Worlds - Tom Cruise joins up with the great Sir Spielberg for this classic radio drama on the silver screen.
Be Cool - Like Get shorty? CHeck this out...helluva cast

Oscar Time Again

     Oscar nominations were announced today. Many fine films, many fine actors and actresses, but most of these films did fairly poorly at the box office. The top best film nominee at the box office as of today is "Ray," with about $73 million total. Not exactly a blockbuster. This of course does not mean they are bad films by any stretch of the imagination. The Aviator is supposed to be fantastic, and I'm sure will easily break $100 million by year's end. So my point is that most of these films no one has seen; including me. Of course now that they have been nominated, people will flock to the theaters to see them. I intend to see all of them except Ray by Feb. 27th at 7pm.
     I take little stock in what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences says is the best. After all, the number of snubs and ridiculous wins over the years is staggering. Of course my own personal bias of Star Wars (possibly the most influencial film ever for visual and sound effects) losing to a Woody Allen flick that was nothing short of mediocre. Jim Carrey not being nominated for Man on the Moon. Saving Private Ryan losing to Shakespeare in Love. I could go on and on.
     Of course, having said all that, the Academy usually gets it right. Dances with Wolves, Rain Man, Jessica Tandy in '89, Nicolas Cage in '95, etc. This year, the films aren't the news. All of the media outlets today are quickly mentioning all the nominees, then jumping right into two stories, which are of course the same story: the snubbing of Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Passion of the Christ. Fahrenheit 9/11 received no nominations, and The Passion received 3 for make-up, score and cinematography. Of course these were both political moves on the part of the Academy. Why religion is political I don't know, but apparently it has become that way due to the media and probably Bush's obvious spiritual life.
     So, I might as well jump into the mix as well. Putting politics and religion completely aside, I didn't feel that either film was all that great. Fahrenheit paled in comparison to 2002's Bowling for Columbine. It was simply a fat man preaching about his political beliefs; and The Passion was nothing more than two hours of watching a man being tortured to death. Mel sure loves the violence.
     I do think Fahrenheit should've been nominated for most clever editing, and Jim Caviezel not being up for best actor is crazy! The man learned Arabic and was struck by lightning twice during filming! If you are religious, the film can be very powerful as well. Plus, the film is number 9 domestically in the top-grossing films of all time. He must have done something right, no?
     Anyway, here are my predictions for winners (in the categories that I care about), even though I haven't seen most of the films (yet). These are my predictions, not necessarily my hopes:

Best Film: The Aviator
Best Actor: Don Cheadle...maybe Foxx
Best Actress: Hilary Swank
Best Actor in a
Supporting Role: Clive Owen
Best Actress in a
Supporting Role: Cate Blanchett
Best Director: Scorcese (Aviator)
Best Documentary: Tupac: Resurrection
Writing (adapted): Finding Neverland
Writing (original): Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Visual Effects: Spider-Man 2
Costume Design: The Aviator
Animated Feature: Shrek 2

     Well, that's my mind this year. No clear front-runners, and a bunch of relatively unknown films in a year where Hollywood basically shat itself with junk. Of all the films nominated for something this year, I have seen and can recommend the following:

Hotel Rwanda
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Incredibles
Shrek 2
Phantom of the Opera (if you don't mind a musical)
Super-Size Me
The Village

Related Links:
Everything Osacar here
Fahrenheit 9/11 at IMDB
The Passion at IMDB

January 22, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

     Two words: Don Cheadle. Feel like being depressed, angry, and worried all at the same time? See Hotel Rwanda. The story of a hotel owner (Cheadle) and his family who try to harbor some of the victims from the genocide that occurred in Rwanda in the mid-nineties. Don Cheadle is nothing short of brilliant and the audience is swept away by the emotion. Hotel Rwanda is sure to be nominated for several Oscars (including best actor and picture).

     The film can be very brutal at times, and it reminds me to be thankful for what I have and WHERE I LIVE (the greatest country in the world). At the same time, we (Americans) should be shameful for the things that occurred there, and we should be even more ashamed of how the exact same thing is happening in the Sudan right now. All I could think of the whole time is that while I'm eating my $5 popcorn and drinking my $4 Coke, women and children are being raped and murdered in Sudan, while the UN does nothing....NOTHING; and the international media remains silent.
     It's too bad I have to turn a movie review into a political rant, but I can't get it out of my mind now, and I've sworn that although I can't do anything directly to help, I'm not going to sit on my ass and do nothing. I will at least write some letters to people with authority or power who maybe can do something.
     Proving me wrong once again that PG-13 movies sometimes are worth the price of admission, Hotel Rwanda was a fine film with lots to offer. An educating film with great performances by everyone involved. Too bad Nick Nolte isn't really in the UN - and I use this term lightly - "peace-keeping" force, so that at least someone in that organization would know how to kick some butt when butt needs to be kicked. Nice cameo by Joaquin Phoenix as well.

Related Links:
Hotel Rwanda's Official site
Hotel Rwanda at IMDB
89% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes
Don Cheadle visits Sudan with law makers
Find out more about Sudan here, and what else you can do to get involved
Visit the United Nations to see more.
A BBC article on what is happening in the Sudan region
A more sarcastic article written about the atrocities in Sudan at Bird's Eye re-View

January 19, 2005

Titanic Blunder

Spoiler Warning!! If you haven't seen James Cameron's Titanic (you're living under a rock) don't read any further.

     I was thinking about movies this morning, and I realized that at the end of Titanic, Rose throws a multi-multi-million dollar diamond off the back of a boat into the murky depths of The Atlantic Ocean. How stupid is that? Even if she knows she's going to die, donate the money to charity, or give it to your grand daughter! What the hell was she thinking? Think about the Tsunami victims for God's sake!

     Not to mention the La Coeur dela Mer was simply a gorgeous piece of jewelry worn by great nobles from European history; now it will never again be seen by anyone. At the very least, it should be in a museum. The whole movie is now completely ruined for me. Good job Ms. Dawson.

January 17, 2005

Video Rentals

     After all my ranting and complaining about Blockbuster Video over the years, they have finally come around and slowly made some progress on customer service. For one, no more late fees! They still have their stupid day and a half rentals with due dates, but now you can keep them a few days later free of charge. Nice. Make sure you read the fine print on that though. You can't keep them forever.
     But what I'm liking most recently, is their on-line rental system. You get to make a list of all the movies you want to see. Then, they send you the first three movies on your list. Keep them as long as you like (hours, or months). Then for each one you send back to them in the prepaid envelope, they send the next one(s) on your list. Plus, every month you receive 2 coupons for a free movie or video game rental in the store (including new releases). All of this for only $15 ($2 cheaper than netflix - a similar service). The coupons alone almost equal the $15. What a deal.
     One of the cool things about this service, is that besides the library of over 30,000 titles (and growing) they also have TV series on DVD (Seinfeld, Chapelle, 24, Curb, Sopranos, Ali G, etc.). You can rent an entire season at one time, and not feel pressured to watch it all in one weeknd.
     The one and only minor drawback I have found so far is that games are not included in this deal. But I can use the in-store coupons for games as well as movies, so it's a minor detail.

(1)After using the service for about a week and a half now, I've found it's incredibly fast and easy. I can't say enough about it. Within 2 days, I already had the first 2 movies and the 3rd came shortly after. I also already returned 2 of them last thursday and the next two arrived the following Monday! Fantastic service! - (1/24/05)
(2)It's been a month now, and I've rented about 12 movies and a couple games from the store with the free coupons. Talk about getting your money's worth! I've seen about 7 new releases and a handful of old movies that I've always wanted to see but didn't wanna pay the five bucks at the store for. Once again, DO THIS! - (2/6/05)

Relevant Links
End of late fees!
Sign up for
online rentals now.

Sports in MN (or lack thereof)

     Locked out.

     Is anyone really surprised they were beat in the second round of the playoffs to the Eagles? I was more surprised that they beat The Pack as bad as they did. Although we lost fair and square, I did feel that the refs were slightly on the side of Philadelphia. Ridiculous pass-interference calls (that were never replayed by Fox). Apparently the rules have changed so that you can advance a fumble for a TD.
     Part of the blame is on Tice. Going for it on 4th and 22, but not going for it on 4th and 2 when we're down by 17 pts with 8 minutes left in the game? C'mon Mike, use your head or grow some balls. At least be consistant.
     Anyway, they're done til next year; when they can disappoint us again. I predict they'll lose the opener, then win 7 in a row (getting our hopes up again), then lose 4, then win 1, then lose the last 3. They'll be 8-8, maybe make the play-offs, and lose in the first round.

     Apparently my boycot is working. I've vowed not to watch the Wolves til they win 3 in a row or make a big trade. That night, they went into Denver and won easily, then beat The Trailblazers at home, and are playing the Raptors as I type this. Hopefully they'll win so that I can watch them play the Lakers on Thursday.
     There is another explanation to their success however, and that is: Michael Olowa-suckass has been suspended for 4 games. Hmmmm.
     One other thing, pay attention to the number of uncontested 3 pointers that are shot and/or made by the opposing team. Flip refuses to guard the best three point shooters/teams in the league. He only worries about the paint, and it kills us game after game.

Update - 2 hours later:
Well, we lost. I didn't watch, but here is the key stat I mentioned:

3points made/attempts
Raptors - 10/20 = 30 pts
T-Wolves - 1/16 = 3 pts

January 14, 2005

Titan A.D.

     The Huygens has landed! We have landed on Saturn's moon, Titan. Fascinating. The rocket blasted off from Florida some time in '98, and we're finally there. Last night at about 4:15 in the morning, Huygens detached from Cassini and hurtled through the thick atmosphere of Titan taking all sorts of measurements and readings. Pictures taken, audio recordings, temp, wind speed, chemical compounds, etc. There are photos and other info available too. Here is the link. Have fun and support space exploration. It is so exciting!


TITAN: Largest Saturnian moon. May harbor organic compounds similar to those predating life on Earth. Temperature is minus 292 degrees F (minus 180 C) - and you thought it was cold in MN!

HUYGENS PROBE: Spacecraft is 8.9 feet in diameter and 703 pounds (317 kg). Was released from Cassini on December 24 and landed on Titan January 14.
The probe will sample Titan's atmosphere, measure its wind and rain, listen for alien sounds and take pictures.

Other Relevant links:
Nasa home
ESA - The Eurpean Space Agency
We're spending millions just to crash a ship into a rock! Why? Click here.

Newest CNN article - (1-15-05)
Listen to audio recordings of the winds of another world during the descent here. - (1-15-05)

January 09, 2005

Timber Pups

     I don't know what's going on with the Wolves. They continue to lose lose lose. Besides the fact that Flip continues to play Olawa-suck ass night after night, our defense just isn't there. Although Garnet's numbers look good, he just isn't the same player he was last year. He misses a lot of shots this year (at important times) that would've gone in last year.
     We've lost the last 7 games on the road, and aren't looking too good at home either; barely beating Philly without A.I. We lose to all the bad teams: Raptors, Pacers (without Artest and O'Neal), Bulls, Wizards, Bobcats, Grizzlies...it never ends. We suck. And now Cassell is out with a strained hammy.
     I think we'll be okay. We're just in a slump, but we need to come out of it soon, and show everyone what the T-Wolves are made of.

Should be on the trading block:

We need:
Another GOOD big guy
Draft picks

Relevant Links:
Timberwolves official site.

January 06, 2005

The Incredibles

     Good. Not Great. I definitely think "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo" were better. The Incredibles is the story of a family of super heroes who are left to face an arch nemesis because all of the other super heroes were killed. I think part of what detracted from the film was that the main characters were basically humans. Pixar has always made films about things that normally don't have a personality (Toys, Monsters, Fish, etc...). Making it humans, albeit super-humans, made it like any other movie about people. I like to see the movie from a different perspective.
     Secondly, the cast left something to be desired. I mean, I like Craig T. Nelson (Coach) and Holly Hunter; but they're nothing special. And I'm sick of Samuel L. Jackson. Jason Lee was a bright spot, but he didn't have a large role, or even a good role for that matter.
     Another thing, I think Pixar is becoming too much like Disney. They used to release a movie every 3-4 years, and it was something special. Now they crank one out every 6 months to a year, and they get bogged down. Don't get me wrong, I still liked it, but the wittiness that used to be there, gets slighted by the need to produce more films and make more money. They showed a preview for the new movie from Pixar coming soon: "Cars." Looks good, but it's coming soon, probably before Incredibles even hits video stores.
     Every Pixar movie has a short film immediately preceding the feature length film. I always look forward to these, but this one was by far the worst of them all. It was cute, but I didn't feel a spark of excitement. It was too Dr. Seuss-ie.
     Having said all this, I think it was a good, fun movie; but wait for the DVD. Then after watching the DVD, pop in Monsters, Inc., and see what a really good Pixar movie can be. The best thing about The Incredibles was the Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith trailer. I almost had an orgasm.

Relevant Links:

Imdb's take on The Incredibles
The Incredibles Official Site

January 04, 2005

Flight of the Phoenix

     Your basic small group disaster, everybody work together, stop fighting amongst yourselves, which person is hiding a secret, watch out for the bad guy, what are you thinking, don't be stupid, will they make it out alive, wait for the DVD, that would never happen, which one will inevitably die, lame soundtrack, PG-13, edge of your seat for no good reason, popcorn flick. I liked it.

Relevant links:
Flight of the Phoenix Official Site
Flight of the Phoenix at imdb.com
Just view the trailer here.

Ocean's 12

     The only thing really stimulating about this film is Soderbergh's directing style. The rest was a half-assed attempt to appear as a believeable sequel. The events that take place are slightly convoluted, but at the same time predictable. Julia Robert's role in the heist was so obvious, and the ending (with the whole "how we did it" scene) was a total cop out.
     Pro reviewer after reviewer remarked time and again about how this whole movie was just an excuse to get all these stars together and have a blast in Europe. That's exactly what it was. Let's make a movie that we know everyone will go to see, and we'll film it in Amsterdam. Bring the champagne!
     It wasn't horrible. I had some fun, and there are definite dialogue moments of near genius. Plus, there's at least one star and/or character that everyone loves in the group (for me it's Don Cheadle as Basher, and the duo of Casey Affleck and Scott Caan). It was worth the price of admission, which for me was free, so let's just hope Danny Ocean doesn't have a kid. We all know how unlucky 13 can be.

Relevant Links:
Check out the official site
Everything you need to know about Ocean's 12 at imdb.com
Here's the trailer (just as good as seeing the movie).

January 03, 2005


     Well, they did it. The Vikings backed their way into the play-offs, and I lost a bet I made before the season even started. We lost 4 of our last 5 games, and we're only the ninth team in history to make the play-offs without a winning record. The only thing that got us into the play-offs and saved Tice' job, was a botched extra-point snap by Detroit a couple of weeks ago. Hooray! All we have to look forward to now is an ass beating at Lambeau on Sunday. I'll see you all at the losers pub on Monday after work!