Saturday, July 30, 2005

Panning For Gold

I've been looking for treasures in the mighty stream of pop culture.

Here are some nuggets I've extracted:
*"Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots"--a quirky assortment of songs released by The Flaming Lips in 2002. Wayne Coyne's voice has to grow on you (Billy Corgan and Robert Smith come to mind as similarly challenging vocalists), but once it does the album keeps getting better and better after every listen.

*"Kung Fu Hustle"--directed by Stephen Chow. I missed this movie at the theaters, but I'm sort of glad I waited for the DVD. I've watched it twice, once with original Cantonese dialogue with English subtitles, and then again with the commentary track subtitles. That last feature is cool--the participants ramble a bit, but you learn about some of the homages to martial arts movies from the past, and that "American food sucks". Set in China circa 1930, it has a funny, surreal and ultimately warm-hearted story to tell. If only The Matrices had been this fun.

*"5 Children and It"--a British film, with creature effects by Henson's crew. Based upon a story by English author E. Nesbit (literature J.K. Rowling read as a young girl?). I'm hoping The Chronicles Of Narnia will be handled this well by Disney...

*Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper--does it remind anyone of how Dr. Pepper tasted 20 years ago? Maybe I'm remembering it incorrectly.

*Bleem! for the Dreamcast--so far I have the discs that allow Tekken 3 and Gran Turismo 2 (originally for the PlayStation) to be played on a Dreamcast. You do have to own the original games, which seems redundant when you have a perfectly good PlayStation around! Emulation just can't get any respect these days. Nintendo may offer online downloads of ROMs from previous titles in their catalog for the Revolution. Microsoft might have to do some fancy flying to have the XBOX 360 (November 2005 streetdate) be compatible with previous XBOX titles. Sony hated Bleem!'s efforts to offer PS emulation for the PC--did anyone get that software to work? Sega doesn't seem to care as much about the Dreamcast versions. There is one more disc out there, that allows Metal Gear Solid to be played successfully on the DC--I will continue panning.

*Charlie and the Chocolate Factory--as I watched the movie it was kind of strange having a picture-in-picture image of the original playing in my head simultaneously, but the new version seemed closer to the book. Which is good, right?

People comparing the two movies seem to have missed the point--that the original film was not a faithful effort and could be considered loosely adapted. Why didn't Tim Burton continue Charlie's story instead? I have "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator" on my bookshelf, Roald Dahl's own sequel. It includes Wonka-Vite, the great rejuvenator! (could some be administered to the movie industry?) I don't know if that story will ever be cinematized.

I thought it would be funny to have "outtakes" as the credits rolled, of the Oompa-Loompas practicing the songs--some of them out of sync or forgetting the lyrics, having to begin again, with Wonka berating them. Maybe they could reveal an unused "Charlie" song too (in case he failed miserably). I guess sham digital bloopers are played out. Also, subtitles for the songs during the movie (with a bouncing gobstopper) might have cleared up some of the wordy, over-dubbed vocal bits. I'll have to look over the lines in the book again.

*I've been trying to keep as many old videogame systems from going to the landfills (to join the millions of dirty diapers, years of Christmas wrap, unfinished models and meals, couches, bubble-wrap and ice--who throws out ice?) as possible. I recently found two Sega Genesis units (the older, larger version) at Goodwill for $1.99 each, with all the needed cords. I paid $129.99 for my original in the early 90's! I am hoping to find an Intellivision or Odyssey 2 someday, but I believe a large digging device may have to be employed in Coopersville (the local dump). I'm sure eBay has a few, but where's the adventure in that?

Perhaps all of this is Fool's Gold.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Cat Juggler

A recent Photoshop effort--

Friday, July 22, 2005

I've Forgotten To Laugh

The world has been woven with surreal sights and sounds for me recently.

1. Teenagers Laughing
I wish that things were still giggly-funny. Walking around in the mall, I passed many gaggles of giddy youngsters. They erupted in bursts of laughter, like Handel's Messiah written for chucklers. I wondered what could cause this, and then I remembered back--single words repeated, with secret double-meanings; the nervousness of youthful infatuations; being able to blame everything on overbearing parents. What have I become? Old.

2. Two Diners At A Restaurant
A couple was seated at a small table in a local eatery. Both of them had meals in front of them. One diner was consuming their food, while the other was talking on a cellphone. Not just a quick, to the point conversation. A rambling, switching ears to relieve pressure discourse. I watched as the eater finished their food, and sat quietly waiting for the talking to cease. For some reason this seemed funny--I should quiz the #1 group to see if they feel the same.

3. Witchcraft Celebrations
I went to Barnes and Noble on Friday July 15th to experience the pre-Harry Potter hullabaloo. It was a scene similar to Halloween (one of my favorite holidays), but with less candy. Some children in costume were getting impatient, and rolling around on the floor, others were in various states of agitation. I looked for the Cliff's Notes on Arthur Miller's The Crucible, but couldn't find it. Perhaps Cliff has been usurped by another literature taxidermist. I hope Greek mythology finds favor with the public next--perhaps polytheism isn't as endearing, though. It is comforting to know people will be buying the books, not burning them. It seems like folks were incinerating Dixie Chicks albums awhile back. That sounds funny now.

Laughter is the best medicine, but I have lost my prescription.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another Passenger

Early morning, July 12th, 2005--my wife's sister had a baby girl!

Welcome aboard, Luna!