Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Were They Thinking?
    — More Tongue, Please

“What Were They Thinking?” highlights products and presentations which just don’t make sense.

This bank of video slots was at the Paris casino in Las Vegas when I visited there in August.

Every set of lips on that display is closed.  Someone seems to be unclear on the concept of the “French Kiss”.

TV & Movie Review
    — Firefly and Serenity

A couple years ago, on a trip to Canada, my boyfriend picked up a copy of the Firefly boxed set at a thrift store, telling me how good it was.  We proceeded to watch the first disk’s worth of episodes the next few times I was at his place, but then he had a break-in where his big screen TV and most of his DVDs were stolen.  The TV and some DVDs were later recovered, but not this set.

I added the set to my Netflix queue, and eventually finished them a month or so ago, plus the follow-on movie, Serenity.  (Particularly of note in the boxed set is that it includes a handful of episodes which did not get aired during the half-season run of the TV show.  A must for anyone who enjoyed the show.)

In no way am I about to become a Browncoat (fan of the show) and rave about how it is the best television show ever.  (Sorry.  That would be Twin Peaks.  Or maybe Lost.  Or I’ll accept The Dick Van Dyke Show, if someone insists.)  And I won’t ever quote lines of dialogue or do Firefly cosplay.  (I will drool over Jayne a bit, though.)

Actually, it took several episodes for me to warm up to the show.  The first disk’s worth, it was simply okay: solidly a “Western in space”, with an intriguing mix of conflicted characters and unrevealed pasts.  Good enough for what it was, but not necessarily anything I would have pursued weekly if I randomly tripped over an episode.  By the end of the second disk, though, I was solidly interested in the show, because it was interesting, different, and engaging.  By the end of the boxed set, I was invested enough to be bummed by the doomed nature of the show.

The Serenity movie, though, is a must for fans of the show.  (Hard to say if it hangs together adequately by itself without the background of the television show.  I rather suspect that the Inara and Shepherd subplots would be pretty obscure.  But this definitely didn’t come across as just a double-length episode of the show, like some Star Trek films did.)  There were two big unanswered questions left over from the show — what are the Reavers, and what the fuck is up with River — and those both get answered in the movie.  (Or at least resolved.  I still have no idea why they did what they did to River — it felt rather like they came up with a solution and then stitched it backwards into her character to pretend it was the cause — but the subplot gets resolved, which is sufficient.)

The scenes with Serenity passing through the Reavers were very well done, a space battle/ballet which brought to mind the attack on the second Death Star from Return of the Jedi, but doubled.  And although I mourn (NON-SPECIFIC SPOILER) for the characters who died in the film, I also appreciate that Whedon did kill some of his precious children, making the story that much more heart-felt.

And a nagging non-question from the show — where does this actually take place, how big of a “universe” is it set in — also gets answered.  We’re so used to Star Trek and Star Wars, where the ships blithely skip all the way across the galaxy, that it was a bit of a shock to realize that the entire show occurs in a single solar system (albeit one with a couple dozen planets).  This information changed the perspective I had on the show a little bit, making things a lot more plausible for the characters to periodically run into people they knew.

(One thing that did annoy me with the extras on Serenity were the repeated comments that the movie was very special in that it was a movie based on cancelled television show, and that never happens.  Well, never since Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, thirteen years before.  And double never since Star Trek: The Motion Picture, thirteen years before that.  So yes, it’s rare, but hardly unknown.  Or “thirteen years” is the definition of “never” in movie land.)

Now Dark Horse Comics is releasing collections of their Serenity comicsAmazon, I’m coming for you.  (But still, no brown coat.  I promise.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dream Journal: September 27, 2011

I slept really lousy on the night after returning from Folsom Street Fair.  Every time I woke up from this dream, I kept sinking back into it:
For whatever reason — dream logic doesn’t requires these things be explained or even make sense — I sat bare-assed on a chocolate frosted cake.  I then proceeded to clean it up by scooping big fingerfuls off my ass and licking the brown frosting off my fingers.  (Yeah, so it looked like that.)

At the same time, my father videotaped this.  He then posted the video to YouTube, under the name “kbd hong” (so I guess I was Chinese in the dream), with the title “Look what I did on my honeymoon!” (but I wasn’t even married in the dream).  The video immediately scored 80,000 views, and soon thereafter broke 300,000 views, and then got featured on Fox News.

My father refused to take it down from YouTube, so I sued them, and I sued him for both defamation of character and for damages (including the money made from page views and ads that came from YouTube).  And I had to deal with a media circus, and repeatedly send cease & desist letters and sue people for reposting and remixing the video.

Worst was the mashup of the video with the song “Chocolate Rain”.
I think I’ll blame this on the Reuben sandwich I had for dinner last night.

Let me revise the intro to this: I didn’t sleep lousy.  I slept crappy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Movie Review
    — Zoolander

The only thing redeeming about Zoolander was that the previous movie I watched was The Devil Wears Prada, a far more realistic, funny, and enjoyable movie about the fashion industry.  Many people over the years have told me how good this was, but I think they need their heads examined.

(Then again, many people like sitcoms, but almost every time I watch one, I can’t fathom most of the appeal.  They usually just aren’t funny.  Like with the movie A.I., I pull out of the show and listen to the music or the laugh track and see how those things lead the audience to what is intended to be funny, even when it isn’t.  It reminds me of the final episode of Ellen, which had no laugh track, and which was made that much funnier/deeper by people who told me they didn’t get it because of that, that they didn’t know what was supposed to be funny.  Boy that’s sad.)

Back to Zoolander, though…
  • Fashion models are goofy, inept, and vapid.  Yup, got it.
  • Fashion designers are goofy, inept, and warped.  Check.
  • Anything else?  Nope.
(Okay, I did like the scene at the gas station, replayed with the statue at the end.  That was twisted.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Movie Review
    — The Devil Wears Prada

I bought The Devil Wears Prada on DVD when the local Hollywood Video closed.  I had seen it when it was in the theaters and damn, I forgot how much fun it was.

One of the things I like about this film is that it isn’t a romantic comedy (it’s a “coming of age” film).  She doesn’t meet a guy from the opposite side of the financial/political/upbringing spectrum, find herself attracted to him, decide she hates him instead, grow to love him, and then end up happily ever after with him.  (They tease at a subplot with that, with the editor she meets, but it is only a sideline and it doesn’t end up ending pleasantly.)

Then again, maybe it is a romantic comedy, but instead of a hunky guy, the opposite lead is Meryl Streep’s “Miranda Priestly”.  Their relationship, although it technically is a mentor/student type of thing, does follow the standard tropes of the romantic comedy genre, without sex and marriage being the end goal (but with “become part of my life and lifestyle” replacing it).

On top of all the glamour and publishing/fashion insight and the love her/hate her relationship the characters end up having with the Priestly character, the final quote from Priestly (“Everyone wants to be like us”) and Sachs’s reaction to it (and the mixed reaction that viewers have — some would agree with Priestly and some would not, adding an extra layer to things) are a fantastic kicker that tie the movie up with a dandy little bow.  (A cerulean bow, of course.)