Tuesday, June 28, 2005

We're almost off!

In less than 12 hours, Alli and I will hopefully be on the road on our way to Santa Fe, New Mexico for 5 days of relaxation, spa treatments, possible hiking (we'll see) and art galleries.

I'm really looking forward to this vacation. I need an extended break from work (especially considering I have a ton of vacation built up) and this marks the first time in 5 years that Alli and I have really done anything for our anniversary. I'm looking forward to the trip and we'll take lots of pictures and post them on flickr when we get back.

For now, SAYONARA!!!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Box Office Decline

So, the box office is down for something like the 97th straight week.

I know of two reasons why:

1) MONEY. Movies have become way too expensive. To pay bloated movie budgets and actor salaries, theaters have been forced to raise ticket prices astronomically. Here in the Kansas City area (where tickets are probably lower than the rest of the country), the price of a normal adult ticket is about $8.50. Matinees will cost you $6.50. That's just too expensive. I remember the days when tickets used to be $1.75 for matinees (and I'm only 28). If you purchase a DVD in the first week it is out, it will cost you no more than $20. Plus, you'll own the movie for watching whenever you want, so it's pretty much the same price.

2) CRAP MOVIES. Has anyone noticed how the movies that are put out on a regular basis are unoriginal, derivative, and often just plain crap. More often than not, you'll get maybe 10 great movies out of the hundreds that are released every year. You'll might not even see all of them in the theater. Every other movie that comes out is a remake of some foreign film. I don't have a problem with re-makes, but when each one is some different take (actually...usually not even that different) on the last Japanese horror flick that scared the crap out of everyone...well, that's just lame. Hollywood is becoming more about excess than it is about art. Directors are becoming almost as big of prima donnas as their actors.

And for some reason they don't get it.

It's no wonder that America is disenchanted with going to the movies.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Getting Mad at Books

Do you ever read a book and then when you realize it's done, you get upset, because it's the best thing that you've read in a while and you can't be sure if you'll read something that good again soon?

Well I do.

I just finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It was one of the best books I have read since High Fidelity. It was funny and sad and heartbreaking and familiar at the same time.

The book is very Catcher-in-the-Rye-esque, but modernized in its own way. The story is told from the viewpoint of a boy named Charlie who is 15 and is getting ready to start high school. In a series of letters to an anonymous recipient, he shares his fears, his anxieties, his feelings about love, life, loss, growing up, and family. He is surrounded by a cast of characters that everyone can relate to...the people that you went to high school with and can remember now, if only a far away silouhette of them.

It's fast-paced (I read it in 3 sittings), and relatively short, but is a terrific read. I'm glad that I finally got around to reading it (although now I'm mad that I did because I'm sad it's over), considering that I've had it for about 2 years but have either read other things (all the Fletch books, all the Dan Brown books) or have been busy.

For those of you who are growing up and found yourself relating to Holden Caulfield when you read Catcher in the Rye (please tell me you've read that book), I really think that you will enjoy this book. It might even make you feel infinite (inside joke...read the book to understand).

Friday, June 24, 2005

Summer Movie Update

So I've seen a couple of the movies that I wanted to so far this summer, and I have NOT been disappointed at all. Last week we saw both Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Batman Begins. Both were extremely entertaining flicks, like I expected them to be.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith was extremely fast-paced and not entirely what I expected. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt sizzle...their chemistry is...well...it carries the movie. Brad Pitt continually entertains me. He's more Rusty from Ocean's 11 in this movie than he is Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Clever and witty. He delivers his lines really well. Angelina Jolie is one of the best female action heroes in Hollywood. Not only is she pretty, but she also looks like she could very easily kick your butt.

Batman Begins was quite possibly the best superhero movie I have ever seen. The acting, which is normally one of the banes of superhero and comic book movies was fantastic. You couldn't ask for a much better cast...Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Christian Bale, and Katie Holmes all do terrific work. I can't wait for the next one and people are beginning to speculate as to who will play the Joker. Front-runners right now are Mark Hamill (who voiced the Joker in the animated series), Crispin Glover (who was at his creepy best in Charlie's Angels), and Paul Bettany (?).

I'm hoping to see at least one more on my list this weekend. Maybe the Longest Yard or something like that. Then next week, it's off to Santa Fe for our 5-year anniversary trip! I can't wait. We're going to take a ton of pictures so we'll have lots to share.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day

One of my favorite filmmakers in the world is Kevin Smith. You parents may not know him by name, but you might know about his movies (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl). His story is one of the good ones in Hollywood, he charged $28,000 worth of movie equipment on various credit cards so he could make his first movie, Clerks, which was critically acclaimed and earned him the career that he has now, making movies on his own terms. His voice is extremely unique, one that is snarky and clever, albeit extremely crass. You may not agree with a lot of his views -- I know there are many that I take issue with -- but he is one of the greatest and funniest storytellers on the planet.

Smith and his studio, View Askew, have a massive following, particularly in those of the 18-35 age group, particularly because Smith makes himself completely available to his fans, often speaking at colleges and comic book conventions, as well as posting on a regular basis to the forums on ViewAskew.com. Recently, he started a sort of online diary called "My Boring-Ass Life" in which he expounds on just that, all of the things that happen during his day-to-day life.

I've been reading it for quite a while now (see SilentBobSpeaks.com) and I normally wouldn't point discerning minds there because he can be pretty crass and use some colorful language, but on a day like today, I had to. 2 years ago, his father died very suddenly. It was a painful time for him, but in true Kevin Smith fashion, he writes about what he feels and his own life story. This post on his blog is about his dad and I wanted to put it up here today. My father has been an amazing influence on my life and I am always appreciative of the sacrifices that he and my mom have made to make sure that their family has always been provided for. He is the kind of man that people aspire to be like for their families...always supporting, always loving, always hurting for their loved ones when they hurt. He has shaped the man that I have become thus far and I hope to continue to become more and more like him.

I have also been fortunate enough to have married into a family with a great dad as well. He has taught me a lot of things as well and I am forever grateful that he and my mother-in-law gave me their blessing to marry their wonderful daughter. I don't mean to be a total sap, but I know this: the father-figures that I have had in my life are better than anyone could ever ask for. I am so blessed to have such amazing examples to model my life after.

One of the things that Kevin Smith did in his post was list all of the things that his father taught him, so I would like to do the same and highlight some of the things that my father and my father-in-law have taught me.

Our Family

My father and father-in-law taught me:
  • That there is nothing more important than family.
  • That giving your wife flowers never gets old.
  • That we won't always agree...and that's OKAY.
  • That if a love for music is wrong, I don't want to be right.
  • That you can feel it when you strike a golfball in the sweet spot.
  • That most food that is grilled is better than most food that is NOT grilled.
  • That love always wins.
  • That I wish I would have stuck around to learn piano or at least some other instrument.
  • That you should always buy whatever candy/coupon book/ baked good a kid is selling if they ask you.
  • That, if you can, you should laugh until you lose your breath.
  • That those "computer things" are going to be HUGE.
  • That crying and caring deeply about things does not make you less of a man.
  • That honesty is always a good choice.
  • That a walk with God is much much better than one without Him.
  • That my brother will always be my brother and I should be continually aware of my influence.
  • That you should stand up for what you believe.
  • That when your father-in-law refuses help from his daughter to dig out a grease trap, help him and don't ask questions.
  • That the difference in our ages does not preclude us from being great friends.
  • That the difference in our ages also will contribute to many MANY misunderstandings.
  • That the things that you do, watch, and listen to should have "moral redeeming value".

Happy Father's Day, you guys. You are amazing in ways that I cannot even explain.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

HOW Design Conference

Returned late last night from the HOW Design Conference in Chicago. It was a terrific show, filled with great speakers and insightful instruction. Plus, it was in my favorite big city in the U.S. Chicago is a town that has done the big city right. One morning, as Alli and I were walking around after grabbing breakfast at the Corner Bakery Cafe, we visited Millenium Park, which currently has a photographic/historical display of Chicago and its development. What always impresses me about the city of Chicago is how they manage to keep this booming metropolis clean and green like they do. Their downtown is beautiful, with gorgeous architecture that is highlighted by more common green space than I have seen in a big city.

We did all sorts of fun stuff in our down time, taking an architectural boat tour of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River (which was a lot of fun, even if I did get totally hosed), visiting Navy Pier, trying some original Chicago pizza. We also stayed in this great hotel with a terrific view from the 33rd floor.

Now, there's the possibility that my brother might be moving there for work, and I'm really excited for him. Not just because this is a huge opportunity for him, but also because I want to visit him lots. Out of all the major cities in America, Chicago is the one that I would live in. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's already too hot outside...it's MOVIE TIME!

Summer is really only good for one thing:


It's too hot outside (KC is already recording those scorching 90 degree temperatures), so what is there to do but sit inside and blog blog blog? GO TO THE MOVIES!

There is a lot of stuff that I want to see out there this summer. Some of it is already out and some of it is getting ready to come out. Here's a brief listing of what I think looks like a fun outing to the movies:

Let's start with what's out already...

I like Dreamworks, even if Shark Tale was lame. Shrek still remains one of the greatest animated features of all-time. The cast is good (even if it does include Ben Stiller in his 647th role since 2002) and I think the concept sounds funny.

The Longest Yard
Adam Sandler and Chris Rock remake the classic (so I've heard). Football is cool and this movie has cameos out the wazoo. While the reviews on this have been lousy, it looks like a movie I could get into.

Paul Haggis, who brilliantly penned Million Dollar Baby, debuts as a director in this ensemble starring just about everyone in Hollywood, but particularly Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Ludacris, Ryan Phillippe, and one of the best actors of this era...Don Cheadle. The buzz on this movie (I can't believe I just typed that) is huge and it has been way under the radar, but everyone I've heard from that has seen it has said good things about it.

Lords of Dogtown
True story about three guys who revolutionized skateboarding forever...sure there was a documentary about them in 2001, but I think this dramatized version just looks more interesting.

And now for the coming attractions...

Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Despite all the extra-curricular news surrounding this movie, I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE IT. The chemistry between the two of them looks sizzling (unlike Brad and Julia in that awful movie about the gun) and lots of stuff gets blown up. Oh yeah, and Vince Vaughn is in it.

Batman Begins
LOOKS AWESOME. Batman drives a Hummer. Mrs. Tom Cruise and the dude from The Last Samurai. Word.

Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman in an interesting take on a remake of the classic TV show. Will Ferrell is genius and I am really interested in seeing Nicole Kidman in a comedic role.

Fantastic Four
Comic book movies are awesome. I don't care what they are...you have a really good chance of being entertained.

The Dukes of Hazzard
Because any movie that has both Stifler and Johnny Knoxville is going to be good.

Looks like a funny animated flick with Obi-Wan McGregor as the main voice.

The Island
Say what you want about Michael Bay, but he can make entertaining movies (see Bad Boys I&II). This movie looks a little Matrix-esque, but with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johanssen (and some other good actors), I'm excited.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Apple / Intel

Snowballs are being thrown around in hell.

In a move that I can't really quite understand, yesterday, Steve Jobs announced that in the future, Apple Computers will be produced with Intel chips, abandoning their long relationship with IBM and their PowerPC chip.

I don't know why Apple would choose to do this, other than to increase marketshare more by going with a more widely accepted (and much cheaper) chipset for their computers...wait...I guess that's a pretty good idea.

And to be honest, I don't care. As long as OS X continues to rock the house as the best operating system on the planet, I will be happy. If they don't screw it up on the Intel boxes, they should be fine. I say, the more Mac users, the merrier.

UPDATE: Todd Dominey over at WhatDoIKnow.org has a great overview of the news. Explains a lot.