Category Page: reviews
Note that on the category pages, the posts are in chronological order, unlike the rest of the weblog.
Wednesday, May 30, 2001
blog you? blog you! Two
blog you? blog you!
It's not so much that I want to jump to the defense of my friends, but perhaps only critique the reviewing style. As I read these reviews, of blogs I have been reading regularly for months, I was struck by the offhandedness of them. It seemed that they had read a few posts on the main page, and then perhaps one or two posts in the archives. I understand that they don't have time to read a blog's entire history, but it seemed like only a few posts were commented on, and a sincere effort was not made to really sense the flavor of the weblog.
"That's no way to review a blog," I snorted. For one does not properly know a blog to but go look at it once and never return. To review a blog should be to tell someone whether it is worth putting it on one's sidebar, and visiting day after day...through bored angsty posts, stupid updates about the fam, and transcendant moments of brilliance. It should be a review of the voice!
And so, with that, I intend to put my money where my mouth is. I am going to do some critical reviews of blogs in the days to come. I think I shall start alphabetically with my sidebar...so if you don't want to be included, please let me know. Otherwise I shall sharpen my pen....hehehe. Keep in mind, however, that these are all weblogs that I truly love and read nearly every day. As such, they are likely to be partially "sunshine blown up the arse" rather than the "critical duty" of Blog You!. I will not, however, shy from the truth, and some criticism WILL be provided in every case.
If you would like your blog reviewed, you may Email me and I will consider it, but we'll see if I run out of steam by the time I exhaust my sidebar.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 12:11 AM
A Tour of Accidental
Ahhh Julie. She is first alphabetically on my sidebar, and so she gets a review even before she has a chance to protest!
Julie has written an astounding number of posts since she began Accidental in June 2000. She goes for sheer volume. Personal anecdotes, quotes (she has a terrible habit of quoting and not revealing the source), and TV and Movie commentary and news I would say comprise the bulk of it.
She has put so much effort into her weblog, practically her whole life it seems, that it makes there a lot to like on a daily basis. Oft commented on are the mosaic-like photo mastheads she designs (you can see all the past ones on her sidebar), which are spectactular. She includes a song of the day including the song...I only wish she had an index of them somewhere. Plus, her webcam photos are often...how you say...Ghetto Fabulous. At one point, in response to many search engine requests involving the word "nude", she offered to release real nude photos of herself upon request. I think she's pulling our collective leg, though, I don't know why.
There's probably a little too much about TV reality shows and ultra-lite news commentary for my taste...and I don't know if anyone finds one's ICQ chat transcripts as amusing as they themselves do, but to each her own.
If nothing else, Julie is an honest blogger. She's forthright about everything, from her strained relations with her Dad, to her polical views, her long distance love affair, she is nothing if not candid. Here's a favorite early post, a harbinger of things to come.
All in all forgivable...she has a lot of soul for a young lass who's never been kissed and never got drunk. I salute her. If you read nothing else today, read some of my favorite Accidental Julie's...
Oh, and like me, she likes Triscuits.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 02:54 AM
Saturday, June 02, 2001
the airman's mess
Sorting through The Airman's Mess
By the tone of The Airman's Mess, one would guess that the author, hereby known as SaigonSam, was a hard drinking grizzled old 70 year old airman with finely honed storyteller's voice.
But then one reads further and discovers that he's a 22 year old Canadian Census worker (and pilot) who still thinks that Chicken Broccoli Liguini is the ultimate cuisine to serve a prospective serious date. He describes his recent high school reunion as "Sort of like in the excellent film Grosse Pointe Blank, except I'm not John Cusack. But I do have "99 Luftballons", as does the excellent soundtrack."
The Airman's Mess is not about design. There is nothing slick about it. It's about a good, unvarnished look at the life of a young man who also happens to be a damn good storyteller. Even something as simple as poetry written on the sidewalk on his way to the grocery store becomes prosaic from Sam's keyboard.
No one is ever referred to by their real name...everyone is referred to by their imaginary radio handle: Goodbar, eGirl, Cueball, Funboy. He introduces and revisits his characters with supreme skill, low-key and never maudlin. The real emotion is always implied, rarely explicitly stated. Somehow it comes through all the more powerful as a result.
He talks about his loneliness in a way that doesn't scream out to be pitied...it's just ordinary lonliness rendered with self-compassion. One doesn't know what happened between he and eGirl, but his quiet wistfulness speaks volumes.
The Airman's Mess gets my vote as the most deeply underrated blog in the air. Don't take my word for it though, read some posts about Sam losing his wank drive, half a beer...rounded down, a blue vinyl couch and taking care of your local census worker.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 10:31 AM
Monday, June 04, 2001
Who the hell is The Booge?
Go to The Booge. Scroll all the way down to the lower left hand corner and there he is, The Booge, the cat for which the weblog is named. Incidentally, I am told that it is pronounced, (boodje) as opposed to (booj) or (boo-gey').
That's one answer. The other answer is, it's rabid Frank Zappa fan Pat Goegan, occaisionally his lovely wife Lorrie, and at least once, his infant son Ben (who clearly can't code worth shit). Ben was still a long way away from being born when Pat first began The Booge, and is now a wide eyed troublemaker some year and a half later. Much of The Booge has been the story of a young father who thinks way too much.
The Booge has gone through several redesigns, and his latest is pretty darn sharp, although as I read through his archives I realised that the right-aligned text has got to go!
In addition, Pat is serious about his weblog. I once asked for his address so I could send him something, and he refused. I thought he was joking, so I gave him a hard time about it. Finally, he consented because he didn't want me to stop reading The Booge.
As if. Because more than anything else, The Booge is about community, and The Booge is the glue that holds other weblogs together. Pat knows how to nurture a weblog and make it a part of his extended family. In addition, he's personally responsible for the life of at least one blog. Much of The Booge is communication and gentle ribbing with other weblogs. It's not unheard of for Pat to post a comment to a post to a comment he made on someone else's weblog.
In a year and a half, Pat has posted an incredible volume, here's a few of my favorites:
coming soon to a crib near you
And, as an extra added bonus...my very own beat poem to The Booge. Enjoy.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 04:05 AM
Sleuthing out clinkclank.
If it weren't for the "voluntary simplicity" layout and refined sensibility of the posts, I would think that the author of clinkclank was a freemason. There is something inscrutably mysterious about her site.
Usually when you go to a site is has a guestbook, links to an Email address, little side projects, a name, or at least an archive and some direct links to posts. The only thing I really know about the author of clinkclank is that she's a she, she lives in San Fran, she uses Blogger, and she likes Kottke.
She posts mellow, funny, well put-together posts...but once they're gone, they're gone. There's no archives, and nothing else anywhere on the site indicating who this person is. I tried fussing with the URL and using a search engine to find something interesting, but no dice...it's just the top level index page as far as I can tell.
About a week a week ago she mentioned putting up archives, but no dice...and soon that post will have moved off the page. Catch it while you can.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 11:56 PM
Wednesday, June 06, 2001
Exactly one dollarshort.org.
When I happened to click on DollarShort via Blogger's blog of note, I assumed that it was a well established, mature blog that I simply had never happened upon, or seen on any sidebars. The design was impeccable, the writing a honed voice, and...well, it just had that consistancy and supa'star quality that one finds in blogs like Harrumph.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that DollarShort was just over 2 weeks old when I stumbled upon it fresh from blogs of note. Even now, it's only a few months old, and already represents a body of work that the Author, Mena, should be more than proud of.
It is an unfortunate reality that sometimes the most vital blogs have mediocre design, and well-established blogs with great designs and confident in their readership slip a little...their content becoming a bit Kottke-ized (the greatest repsect to this venerable blogger of course). Mena, however, is perhaps new enough not to fall into this trap.
She is a lady who wears her social dysfunction and colorful family history with pride. She is frank and unabashed with her readings, and it never comes with that "I know, I know, I'm fucked up" kind of apology. I find her style similar to the tinyblog in this way...usually one post a day, one treatment of a specific theme, very autobiographical She just tells her story and tells it well. .
I remember sitting there a little stunned as Mena calmly related how her Mom used to tell her to "pack up her barbies" before trucking her off to Las Vegas because gambling runs in the family, and her parents were too paranoid to allow her to be under the supervision of a stranger for even a moment.
In addition to the writing, there's bonuses. One of her early posts was a comic-book rendition of a hellish childhood camp experience. Her husband contibutes in his own uber-pro way as well. When Mena recalled the fun of MASH, he wrote her a special, super-snazzy version of the game. When Blogvoices went out, he wrote his own customized BlogVoices-style comment system just for her. Shit, I need a husband like that.
I had a hard time picking my favorites, (and I would read each and every one, if you haven't already) even out of only 3 months of archives. I know I'm gushing, but I look forward to reading DollarShort every day:
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 03:15 AM
Saturday, June 09, 2001
What's it all about at Harrumph?
It took me a few days to really wrap my brain around how to write a review for the nearly iconic blog Harrumph. I considered both skipping it, and taking it off of my sidebar so I wouldn't have to review it. But the I would miss out on Heather Champ's pretty little pictures, and a certain kind of dialogue that I have grown accustomed to.
One reason I was intimidated is that heather's archives are huge. Harrumph has been through three major incarnations: the original hand-coded pages, starting in January 2000 (!), her regular blogger pages, and then, more recently her "one post to a page" marvels. I didn't start reading until November of last year so I had a lot of Miss Champ to catch up on.
I feel a bit awkward offering actual criticism in these reviews, but to be fair I must say that much of Heather's day to day writing, as I have experienced it, is a little tepid. There's quite a bit of reference to her web friends and family, and many posts on the sweet mundanities of life, as in many blogs. It does get a little old at times. The redeeming quality to all of it, is it's clearly, as she states in her tagline "all about love, baby!" despite the somewhat gruff sounding domain name.
When Heather's blog works the best, is when she's combining her words with her visual ideas, because they are goddamn brilliant. Heather's visual presentation has only gotten better over time, culminating (so far) in her current layout. It features her now trademark dual-font masthead, and every day a short series of photos, often of the same object. As an amatuer photographer, I personally think it is fucking genius what she does with that pencam.
That's right, every post. If nothing else, Heather does the footwork, and that's what I most respect her for. She puts in the work every time to make each day's post look like a million dollars, and it does. Not to mention that she has her finger in a lot of other pies. She at least partially runs the former FOJM (friends of jezebel's mirror) now The Mirror Project, and she just seems to be at least peripherally involved in just about everything cool happening on the web. In addition, next to Kottke, I wonder if perhaps she is one of the most sidebar-ed blogs on the planet?
To her credit, her writing does sometimes surprise and delight, and I was happy to discover many gems in her sizable archives. Here are some of them:
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 10:37 AM
Tuesday, June 12, 2001
Lukelog isn't ugly...
Luke overwhelmed me by sheer volume. I had to take random, almost Nielsen-like samplings of his blog in order to put together a complete picture. For Luke Martin, housemate of Meg, of not.so.soft, blogging is truly a way of life. I believe that Luke considers it to be his solemn duty.
Luke takes full advantage of his Londonite status, and catches all of the most amazing and obscure shows, movies, and internet sites, and reports back to us from his culture bunker. Frequently! There's something grounding about reading Luke's first thing in the morning (for me, anyway) post. The way he does it is really in the traditional(?!?) style of a weblog...short frequent posts that record one's travels through the world wide web. Keep in mind that the lukelog is also a relatively adult place. A surprising majority of his links are blocked by my corporate firewall. Way to go, Luke!
His first post even mentions the state of being tiny. And witness the power of his almighty, all-encompassing side bar. More blogs than you can shake a stick at.
Here's some of my favorite posts by Captain Fez:
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 03:47 AM
Wednesday, June 13, 2001
miss fancy pants
Miss Fancy Pants is a two.
Emily's numerological info nails her as a two, which says, among other things, "Twos try to retain control over their lives by using their strong emotional intelligence to anticipate and meet (comply to) the needs of others. By making themselves indispensible, Twos feel that they can assure themselves a place in others' lives."
How accurate, I thought, as I read her weblog...or what there is of it since her redesign, only since March. Most of her posts are as one of two. Her weblog seems to be primarily in relation to those around her, and includes many excellent links to the writing of others, or to her collaborative projects (which I'm not reviewing here). They are of particular interest to people in her demographic, a young and intelligent suburban girl. Her sweet little bio tells it pretty well.
In addition, she is a stellar web designer, and her CSS skills are to be truly honored. Everywhere you look on her relatively extensive site is good, solid, well-implemented design.
Speaking of the rest of the site, it is worth mentioning. She has a little photo blog on her sidebar which is very cool, and she has a storytelling section, that is worth looking at. My favorite of that section is this cool story about Peter Pan.
It struck me particularly funny her dismay at search requests invloving pants, which are honestly pretty darn tame...that girl needs to take a look at some truly disturbing search requests some time. I myself get a lot of requests for boys' armpits, armwrestling girls, and recently, plaster casted ladies.
Just remember, she's got a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel. I really liked these posts:
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 02:37 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2001
Make some time for not.so.soft!
Her name is Meg. She's a newmeejahoor living in London. Hey...didn't I already write some kind of review of not.so.soft?
Yeah, I did. And it's 4:37am, and I've been reading Meg's weblog IN IT'S ENTIRETY for at least four hours now. My brain needs defragging, much like megs. Meg tells really good stories...and really interesting things happen to her. It's a good combination. So, I realized that Meg's blog needs to speak for itself. So I need you to pencil in some time for Meg. Really. So, if you come up with:
- Only a moment: read "6 questions"
**** big liverpudlian mamma crackwhore and her bitch
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 05:11 AM
Saturday, June 16, 2001
a word about blog you!
Ed Champion over at Blog You! finally noticed the tinyblog review thing and sent me a really nice, sincere Email explaining what they were trying to do at Blog You! and all that, and then wrote a snotty little side bar linking me in typical Blog You! form. I guess they're like Howard Stern, who insists that his public persona doesn't have anything to do with what they do in real life. They also said they would review the tinyblog when they got around to it. I wait with baited breath.
In any case, I thought I would just say a coupla things since I'm really the one who invited comparison between my reviews, and theirs. For one thing, after having spent a bunch more time looking at Blog You! I can tell you that I now understand the joke a little better, and am glad the site exists (for which I'm sure Tom and Ed are breathing a great sigh of relief).
However, Ed's explination that Blog You! is a poking fun at the form of a weblog, and sort of debunking it as a sacred medium (in his Email, which I am mostly paraphrasing) doesn't quite fly with me. He said that it's sort of "part of the joke" that they don't read any weblog very thoroughly, but then says that, hey, if they pulled any punches, then it would fall into the same insipid trap as any other blog *cough*.
I guess I'm just sensitive, but the idea of it not mattering whos feelings are hurt in the noble pursuit of truth just seems awfully suspect for two guys who use a "donald sutherland" rating system. I guess it just cheesed me when they reviewed Shauna so superficially, when I feel like if they would have read any ten posts they wouldn't have had to pull any punches to see that her weblog is one of the funniest and most unpretentious on the planet.
Granted, there's over 100,000 weblogs on Blogger alone, and certainly a lot of Ego. I don't deny that the form could be poked fun at... but I'm one for going easy on the little guy. I'm also one for giving credit where credit is due. Blogging is a diificult thing to do with pinache day in and day out. Somtimes 5 or 10 posts in a row are going to be average, but if 60% or so of a blog's posts are really good, I consider that outstanding. I'm sure that I could find weblogs that I could really give a hard time, but for the most part, I LIKE blogs, and the ones I'm reviewing (the ones on my sidebar, although I'm starting to get a handful of requests) are blogs I really love. I don't see any sort of betrayal of truth by pointing out the best of a blog, eh?
Blog You!'s intention is to seperate the wheat from the chaff, and so is mine.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 10:42 AM
Monday, June 18, 2001
The ickle and decadent Robyn of Orbyn.com, in pictures!
Robyn says on her about page:
Orbyn.com, however, was never meant to be much more than an interactive favourites folder.And this is true to some extent. Orbyn is peppered with links, little commentary, chat transcripts (some of which are funny, more of which you had to be there) and the normal stuff you find on your average weblog. Plus, she possibly has a life, and isn't quite as committed to weblogging as others. Thus, updates are sporadic.
But then she also says:
I built this website on rock and roll.Which is apparently true, because there's definately enough here for me to come back and she what she's doing day after day. Robyn is a sassy and dramatic lass, and the first weblogger I know of officially dubbed ickle.
She frequently inlines pouty photos of herself, and doesn't take herself too seriously. Hence, her self-portrayal as Bjork. She also puts her performing art background to use in order to masterfully portray a range of human emotions...once, even, by request.
Here are some of Robyn's gems:
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 12:21 AM
Tuesday, July 17, 2001
a pie in the sky
How to find a Pie in the Sky
Unlike the tinyblog, Pie in the Sky is not much about it's author, Melissa. True, the story of her blog from beginning to current takes us through her Law School finals, graduation, first job in law, and travails of the bar exam, but this is just the parmesan cheese on the pop cultural spaghetti that is Pie in the Sky.
Pie in the sky always seemed to me to be about culture on the largest scale and commentary about how it affects us. For the first time, this most recent Friday the 13th, Melissa refrained from posting for a whole day! Each and every other day is packed with several snippets of political and news commentary, light sports commentary, and especially media commentary.
Notes about upcoming and current movies, books, and music became such a big part of Pie in the Sky, that eventually Melissa couldn't contain it and spawned the quite foxy Culture Vulture to hold the runoff. Which brings me to my personal favorite thing about Pie in the Sky, it's prolific showcasing of other blogs.
Melissa seems to produce a list of at least two dozen blogs a month that are worth a good look or two at the very least. Now that Pie in the Sky seems to produce quite a flow of traffic (as I can see in the referral logs whenever she links to me) I really appreciate the hits she funnels to lesser known, and often brand new blogs, as well as the opportunity to see some new talent without having to wade through the steaming cesspool that is a "recently updated list".
Pie in the Sky is like a satisfying little light snack everyday, wrapped in a pretty neat little package. Her design, although hardly breathtaking on first view, is well designed down to the tiniest detail. It's classy and simple, with neat little touches like the fact that the unique link for each post has a little clever title. I will also commend her for having one of the neatest little sidebars in blogging.
Here's a few posts I really liked:
and also worth reading is her "legal disclaimer" for Meeting of the Minds (see the sidebar, right at the top).
enjoy...glad to be back!
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 02:20 AM
Thursday, July 19, 2001
Sanity Check. You know you need one.
Sometimes, when people talk about someone being "not normal", I say loudly, "Show me the normal person!"
I am beginning to realize that I may have found her in Sanity Check's Karen, the grounding presence in my web life. After hearing about intraglobal romance, exciting new web projects, and a million funny childhood anecdotes, all presented with the guile of a 4 year old trying to get attention at another kid's birthday party (and that's just the tinyblog!), I am so darn happy to land at the comforting home of Sanity Check.
With it's simple icy masthead, clean as a whistle design, and the most even tempered posts this side of the Mississippi, I feel as if I have entered a new plane of normalcy. It's so compelling it's as if the normalcy scale had been recalibrated.
I present for you here, the Sanity Check scale of experience, sorted numerically from ordinary to RACY:
1. paid the visa bill
I seem to remember something about Karen's plans to go to an orgy-themed office party as well, which would make an easy 11, but alas I coudn't find the post.
Enjoy the sanity!
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 02:56 AM
Wednesday, August 08, 2001
The warp and weft of ShellyWeb
Oh dear. Shelly and I have had the biggest struggle with her archives. I've been meaning to review her for about a month now, and trying to make it so there were unique links on all of her posts, as I love to compile a "tinyblog favorites" to go with a review. Finally, she got all of the archives on her old HTML posts working, and then today, when I went to read her, suddenly the newer archives weren't working.
So, I thought, can I write a good review without a best-of, from memory? I think I can.
When I first happened upon the ShellyWeb, (one of Melissa's picks, by the way) she had a layout that included a picture of herself that made it look like she was about 16. That, combined with a searingly sincere missive to love and her current boyfriend, made me think she was 16, and I instantly put her on my sidebar as a delicious little guilty pleasure.
As time went on, however, I found that Shelly is not 16. She's a mom with a preteen daughter from a tragic relationship, and she's older than me.
She has the taste of life on her tongue and it comes out in her posts. She's a moody cat, and you will often find her either in heaven or hell. So, it's hot pain and hot pleasure every day. She aches so thoroughly and loves so hard it makes me love and ache just to read her. I hope that man really loves her, because you can tell her heart is really in it...in everything.
Oh, I did get one absolute link to work, to a favorite early story:
Enjoy! Salud, Shelly.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 01:09 AM
Thursday, August 09, 2001
what's new pussycat
A big, stupendous, totally biased review of What's New Pussycat? that will take you two days to read.
This is likely to be one of the least objective reviews I have ever written about anything? Why, because Shauna is a friend of mine. How much of a friend can you be with someone who couldn't even fly to see you for less than $800? Pretty close friends, amazingly enough. Especially amazing since I haven't even seen a photo of her taken in her adult life. Who knows, if she didn't live in Canberra, the capitol of Australia, we could be married by now.
Our friendship has enriched me in a multitude of ways. For instance, now I can make such authentic Australian exclamations as, "Don't just sit there like a stunned mullet," or "ooh er!" or "he's a shonky fuckwit". From her I learned the very idea of blogging, as I came across her site on the lovely, but now defunct Astounding Websites. Eventually she even came to host the tinyblog. In addition she has helped while away countless hours at my boring graveyard job with her dulcet tones.
Shauna tells stories about her life. And they are funny. Ok, they're not all funny. Sometimes they're heart rending, but more often than not, they still manage to be funny.
But Shauna doesn't want to be funny. Evidently being funny doesn't do much for winning the Nobel prize for literature or at least becoming some kind of meme-creating A-lister. I'm not sure which she would like more, but something where the lead singers of Radiohead and Gomez would come and give her hot kisses while groping her arse is the main aim, I think.
Well, funny might not be good enough for Shauna, but it's good enough for me. Unlike the other reviews I've done, I had already read Shauna's blog in its entirety before I sat down to review it. Besides, it's a sweet kinda funny, a tender kind of funny, a self-effacing kind of funny. Shauna doesn't realize that to tell a heartbreaking story like it's funny is a gift, and a rare one. She doesn't understand because she is a pretty insecure cat (read: ignored on ICQ, and step away from the site stats, missy).
Consequently, she doesn't realize that she had created quite a little body of work since May 2000, when she created her weblog. It's a fair amount to read, and I'm going to suggest that you read all of my picks. So I'm just going to leave this post up top for a few days, and you can take your time and get to know Shauna, her dog Harry, and her sister Rhiannon. While you're there, don't forget to pay homage to the evil Mr. Guestbook.
and last, but not least, the quintessential Pussycat Post:
Enjoy. I insist.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 06:43 AM
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
mr. sammler's planet - book review
After so many nights chugging away at it, I finally just finished probably one of the best books I've ever read, Mr. Sammler's Planet, by Saul Bellow. When I realized this was a book about a Jewish holocaust survivor, that won the Nobel prize for literature, I rolled my eyes a little and prepared for it to be laid on thick. But this book is a real look at what it means to be a human being, and Bellow writes with an amazing amount of humility for the obviously brilliant writer that he is.
The main character is a bit of a grumpy old man, and often very little action happens between his musings, but actual action does happen, and when it does it really seems like it fits. When he finally gets to his Auschwitz recollections, he does so with detached reality, and you don't feel like he's making a play for your emotional attention.
Maybe this book is not everyone's style, so if not, at least check out a few quotes I found amazing.
"Eisen, separate them," he said. "He's been choked enough. The police will come, and then there will be arrests. And I must go. To stand here is crazy. Please. Just take the camera. Take it. That will stop this."
She crossed her legs on a chair too fragile to accommodate her thighs, too straight for her hips. She opened her purse for a cigarette, and Sammler offered a light. She loved his manners. The smoke came from her nose, and she looked at him, when she was in good form, cheerfully, with a touch of slyness. The beautiful maiden. He was the old hermit. When she became hearty with him and laughed, she turned out to have a big mouth, and a large tongue. Inside the elegant woman he saw a coarse one. The lips were red, the tongue was often pale. That tongue, a woman's tongue—evidently it played an astonishing part in her free, luxurious life.
"His life had nearly been taken. He had seen life taken. He had taken it himself. He knew it was one of the luxuries. No wonder princes had so long reserved the right to murder with impunity. At the very bottom of society there was also a kind of impunity, because no one cared what happened. Under that dark brutal mass blood crimes were often disregarded. And at the very top, the ancient immunities of kings and nobles.
There was more...there were so many quotes from this book I wanted to share, but I guess if you're interested you'll just read it.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 02:21 PM
Monday, December 06, 2004
i love movies
My dad said he'd like to see me do some movie reviews, which I haven't really done on the tinyblog. So here's my two movie reviews. One is for Terminator 3, a fine movie with the governor of California as the robotic savior of humanity, and the other is Japon (Japan in Spanish) that has absolutely nothing to do with Japan.
I saw The Terminator on video and I think it was one of the first graphic rated R thrillers I ever saw. It was exciting and sort of funny in a weird way, and it had an outstanding, tense soundtrack and did a lot with a low budget. I didn't know who James Cameron was, and I didn't know who anybody was but Arnold of course, and I went Arnold crazy. I saw all his movies with all their snappy post-kill quips.
But Terminator was the best, and it allowed James Cameron to become the incredible hollywood ho-bag he is today (I can hardly wait for Aliens of the Deep (2005)). T2 wasn't too horrible, but it was definately James Cameron in full Titanic glory, with all the glossiness that is modern big cinema. It had, like, emotions, and character redemption and a teen-beat cover model character and a budget that would seriously choke a horse. He made back every dollar though. No more "being an emotionless villain" crap, this time Arnold had to be a hero. I loved that movie when it came out, but the huge budget and even huger plot holes it introduced really didn't quite do the movie right.
So Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, wasn't really directed by James...he had a writing credit though. I think the technical term is he "phoned it in". But, to it's credit, it had a bunch of no-name actors, and a fairly low budget (compared to T2) and really had the grittiness of the original. It's amazing Arnold deigned to show up...I guess he's really the ultimate ho-bag, and he ended up getting paid for free campaign material. (Ah don't care if he's Austrian, a man who can blow shit up like that is an honorary American in my book! Make that man president!)
Oh yeah, the movie. Okay so the plot holes get bigger, but they also sort of go back to the spirit of the first movie. It really feels more apocolyptic. So it was kinda enjoyable, and it was cool to see something that was started in the first movie come to fruition. I mean, they totally set this up to continue as maybe a TV miniseries, or a bunch of direct-to-video throwoffs...of John Connor endlessly waging war in the future. I hope that wasn't a spoiler. Do spoilers even matter for movies like this?
Okay, and one big complaint is John Connor...could he have been a bigger wuss? His mom supposedly trained him in all these military arts and he rides a motorcycle at 80 on a twisty road and makes all kinds of dumb civilian moves. He really could have been a stronger character. The very young Ed Furlong obviously did a much superior job, even at 14 or however old he was.
So it's clear I have kind of a love/hate relationship with this movie or more accurately like/disdain, and that's okay. I'm glad my man Nate had the courage to pick it up at the video store and I'm glad I watched it. If you didn't watch the other two, fer chrissakes, don't start now. But if you did watch the other two, then you should obviously watch this one too.
Was I gonna review a whole 'nuther one? I have to go to bed. Maybe tomorrow.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 02:39 AM
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
what i think of every movie playing in seattle right now
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 12:52 AM
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
okay dad, i'll keep writing movie reviews...
...as long as you promise to never call me "The Ebert of the Web" again. Do we have a deal?
Tonight I saw a beautiful movie and I'm partially glad and partially very sad that Loverzan wasn't here to see it with me. You see, it's one of the best sequels I've ever seen, and it's about love, and we saw the first movie together. So perhaps you can see how that would be beautiful and also heartbreaking. But too heartbreaking. So I saw it alone. I hope she sees it too.
I saw a review in The Stranger when it came out...a good review. If I remember correctly, the cynical Seattle paper, The Stranger, said to do yourself a favor and go rent the the original movie, Before Sunrise, and then go out and see the Sequel, Before Sunset. That made me remember the first movie and knit my brow in surprise. They made a sequel to that movie?
Okay, now this sounds terrible, but it's a movie about a character played by Ethan Hawke (hey, keep reading!) hanging out all evening with some unknown but extremely cute french lady. All night they walk the streets of France and talk about love and philosophy and sort of try to act cool and give each other a hard time, but can't be blind to the fact that they have some serious feelings for each other. He's leaving in the morning, and after their whirlwind night of love, they make a romantic pact not to exchange numbers, but just to meet at the train station in six months, and that's it.
That's it. They just talk about philosophy all night (they don't even show the sex) and then he goes home. And yet I guess I give up all guy cred I ever had when I say that this movie is truly better than all the Terminator movies in the world. Some of the dialog was cheesy, but something was said, and I wasn't sure what.
So I missed Before Sunset it theaters (cause, you know, whatever) but it just came out on video and I decided to get it. For old times sake or something. And unbelievably it surpassed the original. It's not like they're the two best movies I've ever seen, far from it. But the first movie had something truly special and honest about it, and somehow Richard Linklater (co-writer and director of both movies) manages to go ten years in the future, take it all up one notch, and deepen his presentation.
Near the end of the movie (which I will not reveal) he is noodling about in her apartment, and she's making some tea, and he wanders over to her CD player. He looks through the stacks and just puts something on, without a word. I laughed...that's just what I'd do. Then the first strains of music come on and it's Nina Simone and I think, holy shit, that's really what I'd do. And then he says, "I can't believe I missed her in concert. I can't believe she's gone." Then I thought, Get Out Of My Head Richard Linklater!
But that's why I realized I liked both movies. Because even though both movies have dialog that's a little contrived at times, they both felt like a true portrait of two smart people who didn't really believe in love, but nevertheless were falling in love. Bantering, trying to one up each other, but only tenderly, taking it back, making innuendos and then pretending like it was a joke, acting like it's no big deal when they both know it is, trying to get every moment to count, taking it to the last moment when they can possibly be together...sublime.
Hey, if you go see it and are like...holy shit that was boring...then I'm sorry, I'm a girlie man, what can I say? Chin up, I'll bet they're going to make a IMAX 3D Terminator 4. where some really fuckin' cool robots get blown up by the new kung-fu matrix T-1 Billion and the shards spin and fly towards you and it looks like they're going to drip robot blood RIGHT ON YOU! I'll go see it with you.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 01:34 AM
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
A friend of mine runs a truly punk rock blog over at Saltcellar. He plays blog chess, does blog tourette's syndrome, and attracts weird 16 year old livejournal girls in his comments (who he is unnerringly friendly to). Mah man takes the livejournal to it's highest artform.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 12:17 AM
Saturday, January 08, 2005
real life horror movie
I had a couple of beers before I went, but I was still surprised that my body was shaken with sobs more than once while I watched Hotel Rwanda, again even when I walked out on the sidewalk. I looked at the faces around me...I think it shook everyone in the theater up.
I wasn't sure when I planned to go if I should be more worried because it would be too polished, or that that there would be too many graphic scenes of people getting hacked up with machetes. Turns out it was a fairly good balance. They kept it to a real human movie, without descending completely into the utter madness it must have been like.
I knew a little about what happened. When I got a little interested about what's happening in Darfour (I even wrote a little about it in the Wikipedia), and read about parallels to Rwanda, I read a little about it. Almost a million Rwandans were killed by organized militia, and even ordinary neighbors. Most of the killing was done with a machete.
In 1994, right around the time Kurt Cobain blew his brains out in his Seattle home (I was drinking coffee at a Rockford, IL Denny's that day, I never heard anything about Rwanda), all hell broke loose in Rwanda and a man named Paul Rusesabagina, a manager at a four-star hotel in Rwanda, wheedled, negotiated, bribed and intimidated and somehow managed to keep the over 1200 people who came to the hotel as refugees from being slaughtered.
Regardless of its importance (which to me, is considerable) it is an excellent movie. It's a movie about Africa, a movie about racism (in more ways than would be obvious) and a movie about humanity at it's truly best and truly worst. Don Cheadle handled himself pretty damn well, and it's pretty cool to see even a dramatization of something like this.
It hurts me to think that what happened, which is like the worst horror movie ever, that came alive for these people, is still basically happening in other parts of this "civilized" world.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 01:27 AM
Sunday, March 26, 2006
ramblings and reviews of good things
Okay, this is a damned cool idea: Flapart, slightly disturbing dustjackets that you put over books you're reading. My suggestions:
The new Neko Case is out. I didn't like it at first, but now it's starting to grow on me. That chick is pretty damn cool. My favorite songs are John Saw That Number (I love it when she gets biblical) and That Teenage Feeling. That teenage feeling has been kinda inspirational for me lately. I've been holding out for that teenage feeling. The illustration in the liner notes is killer, too. It depicts a huge cartoonish semi that says "I Love You" on it. It's all distorted and the drive train is conspicuously snapped. Sounds familiar. As usual the Pitchfork review has something good to say.
The real surprise, however, is a new release from a new friend Brenda Belcher. I met her at Zan's birthday party but couldn't really hear her songs. She called me a few days later and said, "Hey computer guy, can you help me twiddle some pixels for my album cover?" I told her to sure, come over.
We got those pixels whipped into shape, and I earned myself one of her CD's when she got them printed. Preparing to be polite, I popped it into the CD player a few days later and was surprised to hear some really wonderful songwriting. It's sort of like a more personal, less political and bombastic Joni Mitchell.
In my favorite song so far on the album she says, "Bring over that smile of yours and let me drink it in, gotta find a tupperware or something to save it in." For some reason this has been just what I've been in the mood for and it has been heavy on the ol' playlist, along with rap songs I'm memorizing for my upcoming birthday party (details to follow).
There's no public way to get Brenda's CD right now (we need to make you a website, honey!) but when I asked her if I could distribute her music she said, amazingly:
as for my distribution policy, i was afraid i would have to start thinking about that! knowing that i cannot, nor do i care to, enforce a strict no-copy policy, I will just encourage people who want to support my work to give me a modest donation to offset the cost of production. If they are satisfied with a burned disk, a few dollars is fine. Or I will take orders for new cd's at $5 a piece.
So, I feel quite comfortable offering an mp3 of her song here on the tinyblog. If you're interested in hearing more, you can contact Brenda via me for the time being. Here is:
Girls in General
Interesting. Mettlesome. Seem to have a completely different set of cultural values amongst themselves than men, that has a completely orthogonal communication scheme with men. Amazing equipment and movement that keeps ya' coming back for more. Juiciness. Review ranges from 1 to 5 out of 5 stars DOG (depending on girl).
Andy and Alissa's Wedding Spread
The smoked gouda was a little weak but otherwise outstanding. Chicken, pork ribs, shrimp, crab legs, and an excellent smoked salmon served with cream cheese and capers. Wonderful pineapple slices. All ably served by the Kent Embassy Suite's staff.
I love you Andy and Alissa...check the photos! How the hell did I end up without any wedding cake?