February 04, 2010

Wheel of Morality, turn, turn, turn. Tell us the lesson we should learn.

We often think of Disney movies as being made for children, but when you start boiling down the plots to the absolute basics, you can't help wondering just how appropriate they really are.

The Little Mermaid: A spoiled, selfish princess has everything she could possibly want, except the physically impossible. Her desires cause damage to an entire society and force her father to sell everything he has, including himself. All is made right when the person who bought it all is murdered.

Beauty and the Beast: Family repeatedly trespasses, commits bestiality.

Dumbo: Misfit takes revenge on those who mocked his deformity.

Aladdin: Thief and con man forces slave to do his bidding so that he can charm his way into the palace and into the heart of the princess. After he gets everything he wants, he "frees" the slave and thinks that they are friends.

The Lion King: A spoiled prince runs away from his problems, and expects everyone to welcome him with open arms even though he deserted them for years.

Peter Pan: Children sneak out of the house, torment a disabled man.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Man with physical deformity learns that he is a person just like everyone else...as long as he doesn't expect to get the girl at the end of the movie.

Bambi: Boy has dead mother and absentee father, grows up to murder a rival for a girl's affections.

101 Dalmatians: Animal hoarders steal puppies from other animal hoarder.

Marry Poppins: New nanny, who is suspiciously well-known in the chimney sweep community, teaches children to resent their father for working to provide for them, eventually causing them to spark a riot when they don't get their way.

February 02, 2010

You Guys Got Any Milk?

With the Lost season premiere tonight, I'm thinking it would be a great idea for someone to have a Lost-themed dinner (for someone else, not me--I'm too lazy). The problem is figuring out the menu. The first course should almost certainly be a fruit salad including guava, passion fruit and plantains. After that, I can see a few different options for the main course. For example:

The John Locke Orange marinated wild boar roasted over an open flame.

The Benjamin Linus Honey-glazed ham served with Dharma macaroni and cheese and unhealthy obsession.

Edgar Halliwax's Special #15 Two identical portions of rabbit with a vanilla-infused sauce ('cause it's an orchid).

The Jack Shephard Vodka and orange juice with vicodin and tears on the side.

Of course, any of these dinners should be served with fish biscuits and an Apollo bar for dessert.

December 24, 2009


Wow. That really sums it up. Wow.

I know everyone is probably sick of hearing about Avatar, but we went to see it today, so you get to hear about it one more time. It reminds me of Terminator 2 and The Matrix, in that it took ideas that weren't really new and put them together in a new way with spectacular visuals to create something that feels ahead of its time. Remember when you saw the morphing effects in T2 or bullet time in The Matrix? These are old hat now, but at the time they were revolutionary, and they both changed the future of movies. That's how I felt leaving the theater today. I feel like I saw something special and that everyone else is going to spend the next few years trying to catch up or copy the style.

Was the plot the most original? No, not really. Some of it might even be cliched. You've probably heard some of the comparisons by now: It's Ferngully. It's Dances With Wolves. It's 90% of all undercover/spy movies ever. Those are all valid comparisons, but Cameron builds on these familiar themes, constructing a mille-feuille of layer after layer of world building, character, emotional investment and visuals far too stunning for me to even try to describe here. The end result is something pleasingly familiar, yet altogether foreign.

Yeah, "wow" pretty much describes it.

July 04, 2009

Public Enemies

We went to see Public Enemies the other night. I'm not going to review it too much other than to say that I definitely did like it.

What I did want to talk about was this feeling that I couldn't shake throughout the movie, a feeling that I'd seen this before. It's not that I've seen the story of John Dillinger previously, but rather that it seemed like Michael Mann was remaking Heat as a period piece. (I'm not saying it's a good or bad thing, just that I observed it.) I know I'm probably over-simplifying this, but let me give you a few examples of what I'm talking about.


Spoilers for both Public Enemies and Heat from this point on.

Of course, the most obvious similarity is the theme of bank robbery where the similarities go from the very general, machine gun fights outside the banks, all the way down to the very specific, a robber tells someone during a heist, "We're not here for your money. We're here for the bank's money."

In each film, Mann assembles big name stars as the headliners and then populates the rest of the film with other famous actors or character actors so that just about every scene leaves you saying "Hey, isn't that..." or "I've seen that guy before."

Two actors who usually don't share top billing play a criminal with a distinct sense of honor and a lawman who becomes obsessed with catching him to the point of being self-destructive. While these two actors do share the film, they share only a single scene together before the final showdown.

The criminal is always noting the bad ideas that the other robbers have and describes his philosophy about what to do and what to avoid to stay safe. He eventually gets involved with a young woman who gets inside his defenses and exposes the humanity underneath. Unfortunately, the feelings he has for the woman cause him to go against his better judgement and specifically violate the philosophy he outlined earlier in the film. In both cases, this leads to his downfall, and our criminal is not the type to be taken alive.

I'm sure there are others things that I've forgotten now, but stylistically, thematically and even in plot, the similarities between the two movies were quite striking. As I said at the top, I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just that I had a hard time not thinking about this while sitting in the theater.

Have any of the rest of you seen this, and did you notice the same thing?

June 12, 2009

Guess what? I have a blog. I know, I thought I'd forgotten about it, too.

In this post I shall attempt to slake your thirst for my opinions on the most mundane of matters through three brief advertising/shopping related discussions. Or maybe I just didn't have anything else to talk about so you're getting a bunch of junk that poured out of my head. It's a glass half-full/half-empty thing.

I've never been a big fan of changing the name of products, but when a company changes the name of similar products, making it hard to tell the difference between them, it is very frustrating. For years, if I wanted to buy a container of the lower fat Pringles1, I knew that they were labelled as "Right Crisps." Was it a stupid name? Sure, but I knew what they were, and the name was always the same. Now there are Pringles labelled as "Light" and Pringles labelled as "Smart Flavors". One of these is the reduced fat version and the other is the "fat-free" olestra-containing version. If they aren't going to stick with one name, they should at least make it clear on the packaging whether or not you are buying the version that causes anal leakage.

The Wendy's commercials about "Threeconomics" bother me. The entire set of commercials bothers me because threeconomics is a stupid-sounding non-word. However, one commercial in particular really irritates me. It goes something like this:


Three GUYS are sitting around the table eating SANDWICHES from Wendy's.

I'm going to use this Jr. bacon cheeseburger, crispy chicken and double stack to explain to you the basic principles of Threeconomics.

Guy 1 reaches across the table and takes the sandwiches from Guy 2 and Guy 3.


Guy 2 reaches to take his sandwich.

Can I have my doubl-

(Pushing Guy 2's hand away)


Clearly this commercial works only because the guy getting his burger stolen isn't a fat guy2. If that were the case, the commercial would go more like this:


Three GUYS are sitting around the table eating SANDWICHES from Wendy's.

I'm going to use this Jr. bacon cheeseburger, crispy chicken and double stack to explain to you the basic principles of 3conomics.

Guy 1 reaches across the table and takes the sandwiches from Guy 2 and Guy 3.


What are you doing?

Demonstrating demand.

Guy 2 reaches over the table, punches Guy 1 and takes the sandwiches.

Hostile takeover.


My favorite thing about commercials now is that just about every one has the phrase "these days" or "in the current economy" while talking about how much you will save if you use their product. Do they enjoy trying to scare and/or depress people or do they really think people don't know that anything is going on3? I guess that's a possibility. It's not like it's been mentioned on the news, every TV show, ads, and articles as well as every other conversation that people have had with friends or coworkers.

1 Shut it.

2 I'm allowed to say that because I'm talking about my people. Unless you're one of us, you can't.

3 I know. They don't really enjoy it; they're just trying to use everyone's problems and fears to sell their product and who are we to criticize them for it.

May 14, 2009

What Lies In The Shadow Of The Statue

I have less time than I'd like to write this and I have not had nearly enough time to digest what happened, so this Lost finale post will probably be fairly short.

By the way, this would be a good time for those of you who haven't seen the finale or who really just don't care about Lost to wander off and find something else to read.

As I said, this will not be a review nor will it be comprehensive. It's mostly going to be thoughts I had that I wanted to get out as well as some questions and almost certainly incorrect theories.

-I've never been a huge fan of the love triangle or love triangle plus Juliet part of the show. Juliet and Sawyer together after those three years in the DI worked better than any of the other attempted couplings of this group of four, so it disappointed me to see how Sawyer looked at Kate.

-I'm not one of those people who claims they'll stop watching if a character dies, but Hurley and Sayid are two of the characters who I would hate to have the show be without, so I hope Sayid pulls through somehow.

-I'm so used to Ben lying that I thought he was lying when he said that he didn't know Locke would come back to life and that he'd never seen the island do anything like that.

-This was the first time since at least the second season maybe even the first season that I had not heard (intentionally or inadvertently) what happens in the finale. I like it better this way, but at the same time theories take longer to form.

One of the big topics of discussion is what happened with the bomb and whether it really did what it was supposed to do. I don't think it did, and (if you'll forgive me for quoting myself from a comment I left elsewhere) I'm with Miles that what they did was cause the incident. Whatever happened, happened. See also: Chang staying, but sending his wife and child, just like before. Chang loses an arm, just like before. Daniel's mother shoots him, just like she knew she would have to when she sent him back. All of these things were already going to happen, and they happened in the events leading up to dropping the bomb down the hole. They are causing the events that are in the past, not changing them. Jack always threw the bomb down into "the pocket" and caused the incident and Sayid always shot 12 year old Ben, the events happened in the past, but they didn't remember because it was their future. You basically have two options with time travel (ok, more if you start creating new realities, but what does this look like, Star Trek?), you can change nothing important or you can have issues with the Grandfather Paradox (simply stated, you cannot go back in time to kill your own grandfather because then you would never have been alive to kill him). Allowing the 815ers to change anything that brought them to the island creates a paradox: The bomb keeps them from coming to the island, but if they never came to the island they couldn't have set off the bomb, and if they didn't set off the bomb they would come to the island and set off the bomb, preventing them from ever crashing on the island. This goes on in an endless loop. The only way to have a change of this nature work would be to have someone who exists outside of time (or has a paradox-correcting time code) be the one to reset things. Someone special. Someone like Desmond. Craphole Island's not through with him yet.

Now, about the whole NotLocke thing...Early in the episode, we see Jacob and some other guy (he needs a name, so I'm calling him Esau...He's got a nice rivalry going with Jacob and it's better than calling him that guy who isn't really Locke.) watching the Black Rock approach the island, and we find out that he wants to find a loophole to kill Jacob. As we saw toward the end, that loophole was to become Locke, who is dead and take the position of the leader of the Others. So, was Locke ever truly special? I think so. He always had a connection with the island and it healed him. In addition, we saw Jacob speak to him just after he was thrown from the building by his father. (For the sake of my theory, I'm going to assume that whenever we saw Jacob off the island, we really did see Jacob.) This connection made Locke the choice as leader of the Others and meant that when Esau pretended to be Locke, he could get access to Jacob. (Tangent: It's interesting to see that he was able to be Locke, because this makes me wonder if perhaps the other dead people we have seen might also have been him: Christian, who sent Locke off the island and told him he'd have to die, Alex, who told Ben to do whatever Locke--who wasn't Locke anymore-- said, anyone else who was dead and gave advice that lead to Ben killing Jacob. Ok, tangent over.) With Jacob and Esau, I couldn't help thinking back to the theme of duality that has run through the entire show. Black and White. Good and Evil. Locke is a playing piece in that centuries-long game of backgammon. Just before Esau-Locke takes Ben to meet Jacob, the new group from Ajira 316 reaches Richard and asks him what lies in the shadow of the statue. He knows the answer, so they show him what's in the box, and rather than Gwyneth Paltrow's head, it's the corpse of John Locke. With Jacob stabbed and apparently dying, I can't help thinking about what lies in the shadow of the statue. "Ile qui nos omnes servabit"He who will save us all." And who is lying there right now is John Locke. Could this mean that we will soon see a Jacob version of Locke and an Esau version of Locke? I don't know, but at this point nothing seems to be out of the question.