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Hugo

I saw Hugo in 3D today. I enjoyed it but I can understand some of the reviews which were less than glowing. Asa Butterfield who plays Hugo Cabret does not seem to have a wide range of facial expression, okay he has a very limited set of facial expressions. He can look determined. Many complain about the minutiae relating to film history. I enjoyed that part. I like films. I could probably watch this several times to catch little things that Scorcese added, like the Fantomas poster. Someone mentioned a person looking quite like James Joyce at a table in one of the opening scenes. True, these little things don't necessarily add to the cohesive whole but I liked it. From the book to the movie some of the scenes or actions and at least one character disappeared. I would have liked to see that character back but he wasn't totally necessary. Some characters and scenes were added. Some of those were good. Some seemed a little unnecessary. Some were obviously done just for the 3D.

How Hugo obtained the key was totally changed from the book. I think a whole set of emotional responses went away by altering this. And that he has Hugo instead of Isabelle unlock the back door to the theatre seems simply wrong to me. It takes away from Isabelle's character as developed in the book. She was more in the book and I think that was good.

I liked this movie a lot but it had a few flaws. Maybe I see them because I read both the book and the reviews before seeing the movie. I did enjoy their use in several scenes of Camille Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre. I enjoyed the music and soundtrack overall but this, for me, was particularly enjoyable.

One other note, I have seen this movie mentioned as being science fiction. I have seen people suggesting it be nominated for a Hugo (funny, a Hugo for Hugo). However it was not science fiction. Such automatons did exist at that time. See this article on Maillardet's Automaton.

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Renovation

The last WorldCon I went to was Con Jose in 2002. I think I was there for two or three hours, hm, maybe four. Much like my attendance at other large conventions I probably said about 10 or 12 words to two or three people. I actually don't like large conventions and, more often than not, am rather overwhelmed by all the people wandering around. So to reinforce my feelings with respect to large conventions I may attend Renovation. It is unfortunate that it will take at least four hours to drive there. At Con Jose I could escape and be home within 45 minutes or so. We shall see. P will not be attending. She will stay home with Buku & KD. Maybe I will irritate people and take photographs. Well, the costumed ones probably want their photos taken or they wouldn't be costumed, or at least this is what I assume. Must figure out how to get better attitude soon. However after a four hour drive (or longer if there are accidents or highway construction) my attitude may be something less than optimal.

Meanwhile I am amused by someone using the word "awesome" four or five times is as many sentences. I'm trying to remember if I ever had such exuberance, only after the use of alcohol or other medication . . .even then, not really that much exuberance. Nothing wrong with it, you understand, just not something I'm very familiar with.

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Dark City

Watched Dark City tonight. It was enjoyable and only a little confusing. I think I would have investigated the machine rather than the beach. I liked the singer. Lots of unanswered questions in the films nevertheless I found it entertaining. Not a classic really but not bad.

I am a bit angry tonight. Buku the dog is very frightened by the fireworks and it is still only 29 June. I like fireworks but really never realized how I could be affecting animals, scaring them. I no longer shoot off fireworks and I don't ever recall shooting them off this early relative to 4 July. I'd like to do the connection thing Powder did between the hunter and the deer but instead with Buku the scared dog and the people shooting off fireworks.

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Big Black Dog

I heard this song on the latest album from Emmylou Harris' Hard Bargain. Patty found the video. I thought I would post it here.
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Kes

I watched Kes last night. This was a fairly good film although I must admit some difficulty understanding what was said in many instances. Many of the people in the film are from the area in which the filming takes place, in Yorkshire. Many of them had very thick accents. I feel that the inability to understand what they were saying was my own problem, not the film's, since the director, Ken Loach, was trying to make as realistic a film as possible. I understand this film was about the working class, the harshness of that environment, that this was in a sense a political film and possibly and unfortunately about reality but I must admit that I really did not like the ending. It may have been necessary for the film, a point to be made about the environment and the people living in it. Still . . . I won't say what the ending is, in case you ever get around to watching it.

There is more explanation on the wikipedia page. I should note, as you can see from the wikipedia page, that obviously others thought more highly of this film. For instance from the wikipedia page, "The film is ranked seventh in the British Film Institute's Top Ten (British) Films and among the top ten in its list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14." It's just my emotional attachment to animals and the ending that caused problems for me. The filming, the lighting, etc. were all very good. It was a very realistic film, I suppose, but in an environment very different from mine, now or in my childhood.

So, I would recommend the film.
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Tuesday - 12 April 2011

Tuesday, 12 April 2011 - Buku's birthday (well, maybe)

On Tuesday I went to San Francisco, driving with various CD's from Aretha Franklin's Complete on Columbia:collection, and arrived in the city around 10:30 AM. Since I had decided that if Aretha could wear hats, so could I, although possibly not exactly like the hat she wore for Obama's inauguration, I decided my first stop would be Goorin Borthers. Unfortunately they did not open until 11 AM. Amazingly enough I found a parking space almost immediately in front of their business on Haight Street. Since they were not yet open I was forced to walk up and down Haight Street, purchase a coffee with two shots of espresso, visit a "Smoke" shop and view their merchandise and various other establishments. Such pain . . . Finally the the store opened. After much looking and considerable mental questioning I purchased a Downey II. The shop person and another woman there agreed that the color and style of the hat was a good chioce for me.

From there I proceeded to Golden Gate Park. Again, horrible parking karma forced me to park only about half a block from the de Young and about a block from the Conservatory of Flowers. Hat placed on head and jacket in place I walked to the Conservatory of Flowers. I know it seems startling but it was rather warm inside with a jacket on. Walking through the entire Conservatory I finally arrived at the Wicked Plants Exhibition. It was nice but rather small. There was no belladonna nor any henbane. i was amazed. Still, I took some photos.

From there I returned in the direction of my car and proceeded to the California Academy of Sciences. We had visited it when it had re-opened some time ago but had missed seeing the Rainforest Exhibit. Again, you may find this startling but it was warm in that exhibit with a jacket on. I enjoyed the exhibit and took some more photos. From there I wandered around a bit and the went up to see the state of the Living Roof.

Attempting to avoid the ever-present mayhem of small children in the Academy of Science, I ventured across the Music Concourse to the de Young Museum. The first thing I visited was Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico exhibit. It was very nice and not too crowded. It was odd at times, almost like feeling a strange presence around the various stone statues. From there I proceeded to the Balenciaga and Spain exhibition. I must admit being not quite as enamored of this exhibit. It is a very nice exhibit but I'm not particularly knowledgeable about women's fashion so it didn't really grab me to any great extent.

To end my day in the city I decided I needed to eat a late lunch at a Mexican vegan restaurant that I had read about. The Gracias Madre restaurant was excellent. Again, a parking space directly in front of the restaurant was available. The interior is very nice although a little noisy but fortunately at 2:15 PM in the afternoon it wasn't that crowded. I had pozole and enchiladas con mole. Both were very good although I didn't particularly like the cooked greens that came with the enchiladas con mole. They were relatively crisp for being cooked but I didn't really like their taste. The refried beans were fairly normal but spooning a bit of their Salsa Verde green sauce over them made them quite tasty. The malbec I ordered was very good too!

Finally, just after 3 PM, I left the city. The afternoon commute still hadn't started to full effect so the drive home was just fine.

Before returning home I bought Buku a new toy and a few treats for him and KD too.

A fairly marvelous day . . .

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My Morning - 13 February 2011

Logged into work, checked email and jobs. Exercised. Read my four Sunday newspapers, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News & The Valley Times. I separate them into sections, the comics, magazine sections, Style, A&E, Book Reviews, Travel, News, Business, etc. I start off listening to Israeli Song performed by Eli Degibri, Brad Mehldau, Ron Carter & Al Foster, proceed to Flying Toward the Sound by Geri Allen and then New York City, 1964-1965 - Lucky Thompson. I keep thinking I should go to Corflu but obviously decide not to. I thought I had paid for a membership but checking things last night I realize I had not. I immediately send membership fees to Chris Garcia. In other words I paid for the full weekend but only attended for about two hours on Saturday late afternoon/early evening. I listened to one panel, a trivia bowl or pub quiz or whatever they may have called it. I knew none of the answers and must admit I wasn't particularly interested in the questions. I sit in the back and play Angry Birds. I talk with several people, say hello, don't go to dinner and really feel less than social. I have membership to Potlatch and Fogcon and probably won't go. I have membership to Pantheacon and will probably only go for one day, part of one day. Work has been a tad beyond overwhelming. The health of Buku the dog is the same, as far as I know. He seems okay but we know his heart is not. We give him five different medications each day. For some reason I'm distracted and not particularly happy.

I did prune 5 roses in the yard yesterday and did some other pruning, quickly filling our two green bins. That was fine. The dogs wandered around the yard at the same time. Buku sat under bushes while I trimmed Mr. Lincoln and the surrounding English Laurel and the overflowing Lady Banks.

My mind wanders to What A Day by Throbbing Gristle, the lyrics, the song.

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Corflu

Just a note to say that work has been extremely hectic. I worked most of last Friday and about half of Sunday, also well into the evening on Friday. It looks like this weekend will be equally entertaining so I may not be at Corflu very much, if at all.

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November

I said I was going to get back to this and then did not. November has been too much fun so I thought I would post something about it.

About 1.5 weeks ago I stubbed a toe and it very quickly turned all black and blue as did portions of my foot (non-toe portions) just below it. It is still painful but not as black and blue. I'm trying to decide if I should go for an X-ray or if that would simply be a waste of time. I normally run on the treadmill four or five times per week but haven't been doing that assuming I should let the toe/foot heal more but am beginning to wonder how long I should continue not going on the treadmill.

One week ago I had a root canal. The dentist actually pulled out two dead nerves. I still have to go back to that dentist for a follow-up check and then back to my regular dentist to have a crown put on that tooth. That will require at least two visits.

Then on Monday I had a colonoscopy. The 24 hours of preparatory requirements were no fun and I think my body is still recuperating. For the root canal I started taking antibiotics and I'm wondering if that is affecting my body's adding back bacteria where the colonscopy went. The good part was that they found nothing and so, barring the unforeseen, I won't have to have another one of these for ten years.

Then yesterday my stereo power amplifier decided to start having problems. It has blown fuses before but after it blew three in a row I figured I had better take it in. Add to that the fact that I saw some arcing in one of the tubes that I should not have seen. I should not see arcing in any of the tubes. So I took it in the place where I bought it. I assume I just need to have at least one tube replaced but they will check all 8 of them. That's a little expensive but not nearly as expensive as replacing the whole amplifier. The bad part at the moment is that their service person only comes in on Mondays and Tuesdays so I will be without the stereo for almost a week.

I sincerely hope that the rest of the month does not follow the pattern established up to this point.

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Time

Time has passed. I plan to post books I've read and movies I've watched. Lately I've had this horrible desire to get away somehow, somewhere. Unfortunately I'm very tied to this material world. I wonder if a weekend or three or four days somehow, some way could help. Unfortunately I don't know where that place might be. I've been feeling a bad gnawing, not horrible, just a small void. In another direction I've had a greater interest in "classic" movies, hm, how about arty cinematography, scenes, pictures, directors, actor interaction, etc. Hm, you can see some of that void in some of the movies I've been watching. I wonder if the writers/directors feel it or are just putting something of which they are peripherally aware on the screen. Meanwhile an uncle has died. Supposedly he went to the doctor due to tiredness and lack of energy, quick diagnosis of some severe leukemia and under two weeks later, he's dead. Life & death. We weren't very close but he was a nice person.

The other issue that has sat itself in front of me lately is I don't write good criticism or reviews or whatever you want to call it. I've not practiced the art if you will and honestly sometimes I become annoyed because of some of the things I read that are supposedly good reviews or criticism, or at least good enough to get published in a place that pays money for such things. They put down great words at times but they're nebulous fluff. I see those words as pretty or skillful but somewhat empty. Some of these reviews or critical articles are good and I'm surprised at some of the connections they make. I say to myself that they live these films or books, they spend much time connecting the dots. Sometimes I wish I could connect the dots with such skillful use of words.

The other thing is sometimes other people write serious and constructive things about material in which I'm not so enthusiastically interested but want to respond, even though, as noted, I don't write serious and constructive reviews of such things. I don't enjoy writing serious and constructive reviews but occasionally wish that I did. Ah well. Conundrums, eh?
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