Sunday, July 31, 2005

Now You Have Next Friday Night (August 12th) Planned For You

Well, unless you're Shakeer, who abandoned us. Anyway, The Decemberists are playing Friday at The Bite from 7:30 to 9:00, followed by the Violent Femmes till about 11. We can eat and experience some great music at Waterfront Park. Just figured I'd catch you all early before you made other plans. I realize I already told many of you this, those valiant enough to venture into the heat to settle old scores (which remain largely unsettled because the majority of the cowardly Slytherin team did not show.) So there is no new information for you hardy folks aside from this : A Lame Post I Hid In the Late June Archives That probably should have stayed hidden. Oh well.

post script
I suck.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Slytherins are cheaters!

Ben, I hope you don't mind if I post about this. I'm kind of at a loss for something more substantial to do...

Anyway, new information has arisen concerning Slytherin's "win" on the 16th of July. It appears that during their huddle, they all decided to take a fake snitch and throw it in the grass in front of their seeker, thereby winning the game on false pretenses. Thus, I believe that I am correct in thinking that Gryffindor was the true winner of that game. Damn Slytherins and their foulplay. Leave it to them to stoop so low. Nevertheless, Gryffindor will triumph once again in the rematch this Sunday at Gabriel Park...AND THERE WILL BE NO CHEATING!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fun With The Face Book

So at good old Gonzaga Face Book there is one kid whose single purpose in life seems to try and make "friends" with everyone in our class. I dont know you kid and you do not fit the criteria to be my "friend" on the face book.
A. Person I know
B. Hot chick
C. Dork

This kid is none of those so I rejected him twice. I think that i maybe hit the wrong button the first time, so he sent another. nope I dont want to be your friend... Yet.
nope I just googled his name and the first thing to come up is Sex Offender Registration Home Page

Big Omega In The Sky, a la Batman

I never thought I'd say this, but what happened to our posts by Tuesday? I haven't had much time to check in here but every time I do, the aspartane one takes more and more scrolling to reach. Come back Alex! And Jeff too. I want updates on that shoe clerk job.

Monday, July 25, 2005

WEATHER UPDATE this is serious you guys seriously be serious I'm serious

Because I am a nerd and I want to inform people who are attending Marquette of its current weather situation, this is the doppler radar for the Midwest/Great Lakes area as of 10:05 PM PST:



So yes, the upper Midwest does recieve cataclysmic thunderstorm action every now and then. Hey, at least the heat wave going on there will calm down a bit... right? Right? Hee hee weather. You so crazy.

PS: This just in from Milwaukee: (Actual news headline)

Police: Vengeful Woman Smashes Boyfriend's Turtles
One Turtle Dies

Oh Milwaukee.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

So LISTEN UP!!

Here's the deal.

I'm compiling a list of everyone's screen names, email adresses and college mailing adresses and then handing them out/emailing them to everyone before we all leave.

Thing is it's not a good idea to post your mailing address on a blog. Duh.

So send me an instant message with all your info.

Here's my screen name for those who don't know: mufasahp. I should be continuously online just im me even if I'm away.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Memoirs of Italy

Everything in this post is true, besides the stuff that isn't.
And I blame Ben for all of this.
Okay, it took a while, but here it is. The story of my trip to Italy.
The flight there was pretty uneventful except that during the few hours of darkness there was a lightning storm a little ways off from the plane. One of the coolest things I have ever seen.
Unfortunately, I couldn't assemble my C4 Beginner's Explosive Kit so the flight wasn't as good as it could have been. Ha ha, just kidding, or am I...

Anyway, so we arrive and I immediately see a woman who resembles Jabba the Hutt and a guy who appears to be snorting some kind of powder. Hmmm...the completely non-existent plot thickens. Apparently, the Italian money changers refuse to exchange Euros for American dollars. Some sort of protest or something. So I had to resort to a bit of gun running for the good ol' Italian mafia. Thankfully, both pedestrians I ran over while fleeing from the cops survived and, as I hear it, will fully recover. Only one problem, when you get inducted into said mafia, it's not the easiest thing to leave. Good thing I had some of their guns. After several shootouts, a couple of car chases, and a gunfight much like the one at the end of "Scarface" those mafioso bastards finally caved and let me go.

I finally arrive at my place of residence. It's actually pretty good, complete with a small pool, water that works a whole fifty percent of the time, a guard tower and a rocket launch pad. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete preparations to launch myself into space before disaster struck. There was no food! This was worse than anything I had experienced in this country, including having to...well, I'll let you figure that other one out on your own but it was so bad that I would have had to make up words to describe it. But thanks to a grocery store within walking distance I was easily able to acquire the necessary materials for sustenance even if it meant fighting off about ten other patrons to get some bread. For some reason, Italian bread has a half-life. Or maybe that was just the loaf I bought. That would explain why those patrons were wearing hazmat suits. I just put it down to some funky local custom. Interesting.

The rest of my stay in Florence was pretty uneventful and most of my stay in Rome was too. Of course, that only lasted until I tried to steal two-fifths of the paintings in the Sistine Chapel. You may have thought that this was impossible but, once again, I proved you wrong, didn't I? I tell you what, though, that sucker was pretty hard to sell.

Man, what a trip. Ben wanted me to talk about the girls that I hooked up with but I wanted this story to be believable.

By the way, Ben, this post should probably come with some kind of disclaimer.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Half Blood Prince

Oops Ben, sorry...I spaced for a bit.

Well kids, this post was due about four days ago. What can you do, I'm a busy girl.

So anyway, I, as the captain of the winning Quiddich team, was charged with the task of posting about the happenings of July 16th. And what a great day it was!

And I had a whole post ready for posting, but then I lost it. And I don't want to make it over again, so I'm just gonna go over some of the highlights, and those who were there, add something else. Your favorite part, if you will. Something I missed, something memorable.
It started at Magda's. Oh, the food: There was plum pudding, pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes, treacle tart, crumpets (one with a silver sickle in it) and tea, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, fizzing drinks, chocolate frogs, licorice wands, cockroach clusters, roast chicken, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, boiled potatoes, and of course, butter beer. After we ate all we could, we mended and polished our brooms. Then off to Gabriel Park.

What a game! Here were the teams: Gryffindor! Lead by the ferocious Captain Ben Vincent, and an excellent keeper, to boot. His team was made up of Chasers 'Cory the Quick', Nancy, and little Erik Peterson, Beaters Mad Mike and Ian the...insane? And let's not forget their persistent Seeker, Magda! Unfortunately, this valiant team was no match for SLYTHERIN! (All hail the great Salzar...Sssssssss) But I digress. Lead by Chaser Misha the Merciless, this victorious team consisted of the wonderful Amir flying around the hoops as Keeper, Misha's fellow Chasers Cynda and Katie Hummmmmmmm (our team was switched up a bit), Beaters Adrianna and Crazy Kenneth. Let us not forget our Seeker, the one we owe the win to, Ben k.! We also received help from Chaser Jen, who graciously graced us with her presence as Chaser while Cynda took pictures from the side.
So it was a pretty vicious game, some injuries, some inappropriate behavior (Cory put himself in time out for grabbing my bum), Bludgers flying everywhere...intense, that's what it was.

And after the game, Ben Vincent was so distraught that he unintentionally let us all see his problem with ButterBeer. That's right kids, Ben is a Butterholic, sad but true.

So then to Barnes and Noble, then to Powells, then back to Barnes and Noble. Then we got a crate of books, some went home, but others went to Nancy's and with the help of Coke and Jo-to-Go, stayed up till 5:30 reading, napped till about 10:30 and then read some more with Pizza!

(Whistle Noises) What a night. So anyone got any highlights of the night they would like to share?

Harry Potter, how amazing.

PS I still love Malfoy

PPS And Snape...I'm sorry, I can't help it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Lord Giveth and He Taketh Away

I'm Keough Hall at Notre Dame. How sweet is that? I am going to kidnap Todd and force him to be our mascot. Which would mean he would have to dress up as a kangaroo. I don't know which one John is in, but I assure you, Keough will bring much shame upon it over the course of the next four years. Unless he's in Keough, in which case we will unite to bring glory to our hall.

[496,700,000 Jocelyn Abrenica Lake Hiawatha, NJ, USA My Immortal by Kidz Bop Kids.]
This lady won a free iPod mini along with fifty songs for buying this song during an iTunes promotion. America needs change, my friends. And it can start by severing all ties with New Jersey.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mexico

My loyalty to Ben beat out the recluse in me that did not want to post.

Overall, good trip. It was more of a service trip than a mission trip. First day I helped to chisel out two windows that had a view of a brick wall so that they could be used elsewhere. My favorite project was the ditches. We dug twenty inches deep, a foot wide, and about 150' long in two spots to prepare for a brick wall for the parking lot of this church out in the middle of nowhere. We also renovated a pastor's house. The work made the trip worthwhile, cause it wasn't really that fun.

We visited dirt-poor villages to show the kids a puppet show and the Jesus film. These people seem to have nothing, but they somehow get by.

I saw Los Cuatros Fantasticos. That put me in a good mood. We also visited the giant statue of Jesus that overlooks the city. Behind it is one of the nicest Catholic churches I've ever since. My favorite idol was the golden image of Pope John Paul II. I was explaining to everybody why he was my favorite pope, but these Protestants had the expected complete obliviosity concerning Catholicism, posing the usual questions concering the "difference between Catholics and Christians." My friends said I was weird when I said I missed Catholicism. Though to be honest I wouldn't have been to able to stand dealing with Jesuit any longer. Some connections also got us into a professional basketball game. It had been a while since I saw other Americans, let alone black Americans. Their skill's not at the college level, but they're more athletic. I didn't care much for the site-seeing. Rolling Hills sure is a high rolling church.

It averaged 115 degrees. I had a pretty bad nose bleed about every other day. At least the occasional showers granted a small break for the constant sweat. Most toilets there don't have seats. Having Mexican food every day gets kind of old after the first week. Being surrounded by 11 girls, I was silent for a lot of the trip. That was probably the hardest part of the trip. I guess I just wasn't up for talking about who's cute or what's wrong with guys. There was one other guy. We made friends as naturally as Jack Byrnes and Bernie Focker. I'm glad things dry up quickly down there, cause when I came to my host family and hear that the toilet on our floor overflowed and soaked our things, I only had to deal with a funny smell. I was supposed to lead worship, but I was really bad at it. A singer and painist stepped forward, and we led worship together, but I really didn't like it cause I like to be unseen in back without having to concentrate on playing the music.

I bought a couple really pretty guitars for $38 each. Sun glasses for $3.50. Snow cones are everywhere there.

A few PS's...

I was at Gabriel Park at 1:50 on Saturday. I took Kristin to work at 1:00, talked with my boss, worked out my schedule, had to stop at home, and when I didn't see anyone, I figured I was too late and had missed the kickball.

I got the Harry Potter book this evening and I'm loving it. I'm on page 200.

My cat got chased away by a raccoon on Tuesday night and has not been seen since. A search and rescue dog followed her scent to a stream in Quail Park a few minutes away. The scent disappears as if she was picked up there, though she might have jumped the stream. I never liked the cat, but it has been my mom's prized possession for the past year, and she has been losing weight while worrying over her cat virtually non-stop.

Harry Potter 6

So I am sure that many of you have gotten to read at least a couple pages of HP6, just wanted to see if you all liked it or not. No spoilers please.

oh post how far you are into it. I am at 456, my eyes are starting to go bloodshot, like i had been playing video games for hours.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

I'm gonna do a new thing, where instead of linking to a film's official site, I'll link to its page on Rotten Tomatoes, which takes in reviews from across the country (the jury's still out on the Gravy's inclusion), boils them down to a yey or nay, and gives a percentage of positive reviews. For instance, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory currently rates an 83% from the critics.

That said, onto the meat.

Let me start out by saying I'm a HUGE Tim Burton fan. Next to Scorsese, he's probably my favorite (and maybe Spielberg...MAYBE). I've seen every film he's done starting with Batman (which means all I have left are Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, but it's only a matter of time), and while most of them (except of course Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood) have their flaws, they are always fresh, original, and exciting (even Planet of the Apes has a number of moments I adore).

So when it was announced Burton would be taking on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, my favorite book from childhood (and probably in the small running for my favorite book of all time), it seemed like the perfect match. When it was further announced that Johnny Depp would be Wonka, the geek pistons were firing at full speed.

And for the most part, the film delivers. I haven't read the book since fourth grade, so I can't really judge how accurate it is, but at its best moments it recreated what it FELT like when I read the book. At its worst moments...it was adding stuff about Willy Wonka's father, the most useless subplot which really interrupted the entire flow of the picture.

What that did most, though, is it made the movie about Willy instead of about Charlie, who is the actual main character of the story, at least up until the point that they enter the factory. From then on, it's all Depp's show.

And Depp does remarkable work, as he always does. I think about this from time to time and realize that Depp has accomplished so much as an actor, and is so good, yet never takes a similar role twice (except, of course, that Agent Sands from Once Upon a Time in Mexico pretty much is Captain Jack Sparrow). Sure, some roles have some things in common (I found pieces of Edward D. Wood, Jr. in Willy Wonka, for instance), but Depp diversifies with each movie. And that was certainly true here, with Depp at his utmost bizarre.

As for Charlie himself, Freddie Highmore avoided my biggest fear, which was that I'd just keep remembering "Finding Neverland" every time I saw the kid. Far as I'm concerned, his was the best supporting performance of last year, and he very skillfully portrays Charlie Bucket entirely differently, as exactly who Charlie should be - earnest, loving, and completely loyal to his family. Next to Dakota Fanning, this kid's the best child actor working today (I dream of the day these two grow up and work together on a film).

The rest of the cast is fantastic, a trick Burton always manages to pull off. Particularly outstanding are David Kelly (the oldest-looking man alive) as Grandpa Joe, Annasophia Robb as Violet Beauregarde, and Missi Pyle as Mrs. Beauregarde (those looks she gives sells that role alone). In fact, I loved all the children...though Mike Teavee was more than a little annoying. Noah Taylor (Almost Famous, The Life Aquatic) and Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club, every Burton movie since Planet of the Apes) do pretty admirable work in minor roles as Charlie's parents.

And I almost forgot to mention Deep Roy as...the Oompa Loompas! Every last friggin' one of 'em, and he gives them all a different personality and he dances and he plays guitars and rows a boat and it's all this ONE GUY. While Roy's not the best part of this, he does lend the Oompa Loompa's some major credibility they'd never had for me in the book or the original Gene Wilder film.

But Roy doesn't sing the songs. That role belongs to the man among men...Danny Elfman. Elfman has an impressive resume...the original Batman theme, the Simpson's theme, Army of Darkness, Mission: Impossible, Good Will Hunting, the absolutely brilliant theme from the Dilbert TV show, both Spider-Man films...

Not to mention every Burton picture, with the exception of Ed Wood for reasons that are beyond anyone, but this is right up there with his best work from Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas (nothing beats The Nightmare Before Christmas, though). Not only does he do the regular score work, but he sets music to the original Oompa Loompa lyrics written by Dahl all those years ago. Making it even more fun, they're all in a different style, and all absolutely fantastic. Oh, and the theme song as the kids enter the factory is fantastic.

Then there's Burton himself...back in 2003, when Big Fish came out, many people asked if Tim Burton had finally grown up. He denied this repeatedly, saying he's still the same guy who made Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. And with this film, he certainly proves it. This is the most fun I've had watching a Burton movie, with the exception of the grossly underrated Mars Attacks! It's clear he pretty much let the actors cut loose with their archetypal roles, reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands. The production design, as expected of any Burton film, is stunning. Not just the factory, where Burton lets his own imagination run as wild as the cast's...every single location is carefully designed. In fact, for my money, the Bucket's house is just as fascinating as the factory (that sloped door got me every time).

But unfortunately, this film doesn't quite reach to the heart as well as it tries. Burton's certainly capable of this (see Scissorhands, Ed Wood, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Big Fish), but reaches a bit too far with the whole thing about Wonka's dad. The better moments are with the Bucket family (where the overall focus of the story really belongs), and even Charlie's relationship with Willy.

But I do feel I'm harping too much on the bad. I had a blast at this movie, probably the most fun I've had all summer in the theater. Though seeing that trailer for The Corpse Bride beforehand, man...Burton's got a whole 'nother card up his sleeve with that one.

Oh, and the Bridgeport Theater was very disappointing. Skinny seats and way too little leg room. So, probably never going back there,

I hope to see Crash tomorrow, which Ansaf insists is the best movie ever. So we'll see how that goes.

Friday, July 15, 2005

FANTASTIC FOUR

The X-Men is about how superpowers can be a burden, even a curse. Spider-Man is about how powers can be a responsibility. The Fantastic Four is about how powers can be...fun?

It's very important to mention that I thought this was gonna blow. Most of the casting was lame, the trailers were lame, and more of the early reviews said it was lame. So given that mindset, I actually came out pretty happy.

As always, this is way longer than it needs to be, but it isn't really an incredible movie and isn't really a bad one so it can't be summed up so simply. Oh, and I saw this on Monday, so I've been able to let it sit for a bit (would've had this up then too, but it's been a long week).

So the bad...

Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic, played by Ioan Grufford, whose first name I cannot pronouce). Lack of showing Reed to be an absolute genius. Victor says early on "of course he's right...he's always right." Let's see WHY. The comics nail this really well...he'll spout off some random intellectual thing or they'll be in need of some invention and Reed'll just be like "yeah, made that earlier this week." Now, obviously his focus was on his big power-reversing machine, which is a pretty damn good invention in and of itself, but you never get the feeling that Reed is a genius, but rather just a shy dweeb.

Reed and Sue's relationship. There should never be any portrayal of Reed and Sue that has them on the outs. Comic book relationships move like soap operas, but Reed and Sue have been in love since the moment they met. I know they wanted to throw some romantic intrigue to draw in the girls (which, as you may recall, was the chief reason "Batman Begins" was not perfect), but can we not have romance in a relationship that works? Is there not something powerful in watching two people totally in love?

Then there's Sue Storm, who I have more than a bit of a soft spot for. She's the maternal one on the team, the one who really watches over all the boys when they get a bit too thrill-happy or mopey or whatever. But the way Jessica Alba decides to play it is to make her a total bitch.

On the subject of Sue, totally unnecessary how many times she stripped down to her undies or nothing. I'm all for the nearly-naked Alba, but not at the expense of one of the strongest females in comics (her and Lois and far as I'm concerned).

Doom (who also shows up in a costume for no reason...works in the comics, NOT onscreen). The guy (too lazy to look up his name now, but he's on NIP/TUCK) who plays Victor Von Doom is truly atrocious. Considering Doom is one of the best villains in all of comic book history (right up there with Lex Luthor and The Joker), and probably the best villain besides perhaps Magneto that Marvel has, they could have given the character some...I dunno...something more that would make him seem like...a threat.

Special effects. Mostly horrible. The Thing worked better than anticipated, all of Johnny's far shots and most of his close shots worked pretty well, and Sue's invisibility worked as well as any invisibility I suppose. But we haven't quite reached the point where a human can stretch believably. When he got into the really abstract shapes you could kinda bend your mind around it, but anything you SAW his arm or whatever stretch out, you didn't believe it for a second.

Ben Grimm's wife...understandably upset, but damn that was fast and overly dramatic.

The bridge scene...man, what a coincidence that Ben Grimm would just be there, and wait a second is that a fire truck? Wait, Reed and Sue and Johnny are here in a taxi now? And holy crap, is that Ben Grimm's wife? I half-expected Spider-Man and the Green Goblin to be duking it out that very night.

The direction. The first major comic book movie to completely lack style. Tim Story basically just photographs it, and that's that. One reviewer nailed it when they said that this is a film that needed a Spielberg or a Columbus. Instead, they got the guy who did "Taxi." That said, he does capture the action moments (I dug all over Reed funneling the water from the hydrant) better than Nolan did on "Batman."

The dialogue...I thought about mentioning specific lines, but it's not even worth it. There's hardly a good line to be found. It's not even that it's comic book-y, though some is. Most of it, though, is just outright BAD DIALOGUE.

Now to the good...can there be good? YES.

First, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans are PERFECT as Ben Grimm (The Thing) and Johnny Storm (The Human Torch). Also the one relationship that completely worked, partly because it's the most fun. That's all there is to say about that.

The costumes. Next to Spider-Man, the best costumes in a comic book movie, because they echo all that is great and iconic about the comic book costumes, and they still look DAMN COOL if you ask me.

But mainly...they nailed the spirit of the story. For all the showboating Johnny may do or all the moping Ben does, these are essentially good people who, when the situation arises, will do the right thing and use their powers for good. There is never any doubt about that, never a chance they will take the easy way out and be tempted by darkness or whatever. These are the kinda people you imagine when you think of heroes (which I hope and pray they stay strong to for "Superman Returns").

They also make no attempt at secret identities. These are who they are, everyone knows where they live, they say hi to people on the streets, and no one has any problem with that. This is a world of superheroes.

The science fiction is not applied science. Most of this stuff outright does not exist, but this is the world of The Fantastic Four. Unstable molecules are the reason their costumes can adjust like that? There's no such THING as unstable molecules! A machine that reverse the effect of a space cloud? What? And what's a space cloud while we're at it? But this is a world where people could come back from a catestrophic space mission and have these incredible powers, and that's why I am so glad they left stuff like that in there.

There is not a lot of action in this movie. It's been said that if you've seen all the trailers (and I doubt you have...there's like ten of them), you've seen 95% of the action...that's not true, but it's close. But...there's not a lot of action in the Fantastic Four comics. It's not action-oriented. And I think Reed even say this in the film...they're SCIENTISTS for pete's sake. Besides Ben and maybe Johnny, they shouldn't really have a clue how to fight, never mind with powers.

I really can't wait for the sequel for this. Hopefully Marvel and Fox will listen to the fans (as WB should with "Batman"), because this movie sets it up well enough that the sequel could kick ass. I can't wait to see the team just hanging out at the Baxter Building, Reed stretching all over the place working on twelve different inventions and Ben and Johnny chasing each other around the room. I love how they set up who Doom eventually becomes. There's so much in the film that's so promising, but so much that just drags all that down. But ultimately, the movie is more than the sum of its parts, and I walked out very much enjoying myself.

Recommendation...if you like the first two Superman movies (which are the gold standard for comic book movies), if you want a fun alternative to "Batman" (but see "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" first...it's great stuff)...really, if you've been enjoying most of the comic book movies that have been out, you should enjoy this. Don't go in expecting Spider-Man 2, you sadly won't get it. But it is a good time at the movies.

Later this weekend...Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and first trip to Bridgeport, hopefully). And I HAVE TO SEE CRASH. Ansaf, if you're reading this, I HAVE TO SEE CRASH, I KNOW. Life.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I AM POLLUCK

I have invented a new game that I play at work when I get bored. It's called "screw with the customers." Bascially, during that 3-5 PM downtime when nothing is happening, I draw on a bunch of napkins with a pen and then scatter them liberally throughout the resturaunt. They are covered with things such as stick figures re-enacting a massive pirate war, to the words "I AM POLLUCK" and a whole bunch of scribbles, to a drawing of a mountain, to a massive smiley face, or some integrals that I was trying to remember from my "Calculus for Dummies" book. That way customers get dinner and a nice piece of napkin art to take home with them.

Okay, so I get really bored at work sometimes. Beats throwing french fries at the drivethru people when they're not looking!

Anyway, tomorrow is HARRY POTTER DAY so I am entering a media blackout until I finish the book lest it be spoiled for me. Later children.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Muggle Quidditch

In honor of the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we are having a Quidditch game in Gabriel Park at 6:00 on Friday, after which we will join the festivities downtown at Powell's and then head back to Barnes & Noble to get our long-anticipated books. Then we will head over to the 24-hour Starbucks by Fred Meyer to get caffeinated and read our books!

So even if you aren't a Harry Potter fan (God forbid), we invite you to come play Quidditch with us. Bring a broom if you want to play. We'll explain the rules once we're there (it's like soccer, basketball, and dodgeball rolled into one... intense).

6:00. Friday. Gabriel Park.

P.S. Not to divert attention from Harry Potter, but Doug insists on informing you all of his proposition for a kickball game on Saturday at 1:00 to celebrate his, Skylar's, and Shakeer's consecutives birthdays this week. If you're not still reading, or dead tired from staying up all night, be there.

"Dear Aunt Donna, thanks so much for the graduation monkey..."

(You write that enough times longhand, and you start making mistakes. I have no idea where the "k" came from but it at least gave me a way to spice up that particular thank you note. I awarded it "Best Note" over the other 43 I had to write.)

IMPORTANT: THIS POST HAS A REALLY COOL POINT, BUT THE FOLLOWING SEVERAL PARAGRAPHS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, SO SKIP OVER THEM UNLESS YOU'RE REALLY BORED. There'll be asterisks by the cool part.

Anyway, I've been holding off on this post for a really long time, so it might be really long. (Wow, that was xanga. "Let me describe not only the minute details of my life, but even the details of what happened WHILE I WAS WRITING THIS." Cynda pointed out that when I insult xangas I insult most of my friends, but I'm not talking about you guys. Almost none of you write stereotypical xanga material.) This paragraph probably wasted an entire minute of your time that could have been spent productively, and so far my post has about twice as many words in parentheses as out. That will have to change.

So I went to Wisconsin, back in early June, and I thought it would be a great place to blog from. (My dad was receiving an award and giving a speech to several hundred people, which left me ample room to make fun of him and say "someday you'll pass that thousand-member audience mark, and let me tell you, it feels great!" Agh, more parentheses.) Turns out I was wrong. I couldn't bring myself to blog, no matter what happened, which was probably good for you guys because Madison, WI is a pretty boring place. It's not a bad place... it's just boring. The conference center was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but apparently it was before he studied any form of architecture, and that was the high point of the journey. This is getting too long, so: 1. Tillamook cheddar beats the crap out of Wisconsin cheddar. 2. The flight home was a nightmare and Northwestern Airlines sucks. 3. There is only one good reason to visit Madison that I can think of, and it's to buy the thick coffee table book on ancient Roman pornography that fully my entire family gawked at in the bookstore for half an hour, oblivious to the numerous passersby, which was a little embarrassing.

Then I went to Las Vegas. I'm not gonna lie, act like one of those "ugh, Las Vegas, the crudest, most debased form of America" types--I loved it and I recommend it. I didn't get to make use of my age at all, though, and my parents would not let me visit In-N-Out Burger, so someday soon I'm going back. You're invited.

We visited Hoover Dam, too, which would have been cool except I had just seen Goldeneye a week before, and it starts the movie with a way bigger dam than Hoover. (James Bond jumps off it with a bungee cord, da?) Hoover Dam wasn't big or vertical enough to do that, so I couldn't help being a little disappointed. I tossed a penny over the side, though, and after a while I couldn't see it anymore, which I thought was cool until I realized that any random terrorist could have sauntered on up and dropped something dangerous like a bomb or a Superman costume without a safety label ("suit does not enable wearer to fly") over the edge, bringing chaos and havoc to California's vast irrigation system.

Which reminds me--I don't know how this happened, but I had a hard time even getting to Las Vegas in the first place. Why? 'Cause I'm on the federal No-Fly List! Hmmmm. (I'm not kidding, that's what the lady at the desk told me.) She then explained, "you just have to let me take your ID and copy all the information into my computer, and then we'll print your ticket." This seemed odd to me:

Mildly Attractive Transportation Woman: "Uh oh, our system has an alert out for Ken Colwell. Are you Ken Colwell?"
Ken: "Uh, yeah. I'm an Eagle Scout though."
Her Far Less Attractive And Unamused Coworker With Raised Eyebrows: "Not gonna cut it. We need some ID."
Ken: "Ooookay, here. It just proves that I am indeed Ken Colwell, who you're apparently trying to stop from flying."
Woman 1, Looking Back Up From Screen: "Ah, there we are... okay, you're right, you're the guy. Now go right ahead onto the plane."

Does that seem weird to anyone else? I mean what if I'd shown them some *other* ID, Bill Johnson's, they would have said, "Oh, never mind, you're not on the list. Carry on." Anyway, I have to fill out some verification form and send it to TSA. Oh well. I knew my incessant terrorist activity and political rebellion would have some consequences someday.

Man and the worst thing about being on the no fly list is that you can't make jokes about being a terrorist to your family while you're in the airport. It's illegal and they TAKE IT VERY SERIOUSLY unquote!

Anyway, we got back from Sin City, I had literally a six-hour time window to see Jen before she left for a ten-day wedding/camping trip in Minnesota (I guess that's how it's done in the Midwest), and then, confused, lonely, and depressed, I went fishing on the coast with some friends from Scouts. Turns out fishing is like a video game except way more boring, way more exhausting, and way more satisfying when you kill the enemy. Using my new Optio WP, which I love like a pet dolphin, I got a picture of my 45", ~50 lb catch:


For some reason I think that picture makes me look like Cindy Lou Who from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Anyway, I was thinking maybe I should have a halibut party sometime and get rid of the remaining 15 lbs of fish we have in our freezer. Patrick and I tried deep-frying it, but the batter was tasteless and it turned out terrible. With your help, I'm sure it can be better.

Much of last week was spent earning money as a Stuff Doer. This is gonna sound lame, but it's seriously a great learning experience every time we do it. Pulling out blackberry bushes, weed-whacking about an acre of weedy/blackberried area (or that's what it felt like), filling an entire frickin 30-yard dumpster with assorted crap, delivering literally a ton (yes, 2000 lbs) of junk to the dump, or even trying on a leather motorcycle outfit, complete with stiff leather pants and a glove--this kinda stuff sticks with you forever. And yes, it gets me to realize why I'm going to college, and yes, it was my first time at the dump, and yes, Mike, if you ever leave a cup full of dog excrement in my car again I will kill you.

I finally found out where I'm living next year--a "townhouse." I didn't even know they existed before I was assigned into one, but they're pretty sweet. First of all, I still have a roommate, and he's from Green Pond, South Carolina, which is too small for Google Maps to label. He gets hurricanes every year and can dig Civil War buttons up in his backyard with a metal detector. If that doesn't broaden my horizons, I don't know what will. (Not kidding, I'm pretty excited.) Second, we share a living room and A KITCHEN with one other double room. The kitchen is capitalized because Cornell makes this huge deal about not having microwaves or anything except a tiny fridge in dorm rooms, but townhouses can put in whatever appliances they feel like. Don't tell me that's not awesome. I have a funny story about catching my toaster on fire the other day that would be vaguely relevant, but this post is already longer and deeper than a Hemingway novel, so it might have to wait for another time. Third, we have two floors. Two floors, people, count 'em, upstairs and downstairs. It's possibly the most civilized college housing I've ever heard of.

I'm also looking into the computer I'm going to get--leaning strongly towards the Toshiba Tecra M4, a tablet PC with a normal-sized screen and waaaay above-average processing power, even for a laptop. The more I read about it, the more excited I am. There's an acronym spreading through the blogging world, YABHTU--Yet Another Blissfully Happy Tablet User--because everyone who gets a table absolutely loves it. If anyone else is thinking of getting one, tell me about it, k?

I'd discuss AP scores but the only really satisfying person to discuss them with would be Pozzi, and I don't think he reads this blog. So, onto the real point of this post! Asterisks galore!

***********************************************
KEN'S AWESOME STORY
***********************************************

On Monday I got three pieces of mail: a letter from some Greek Catholic bank account my grandparents opened for me a long time ago, my AP scores, and a letter from Cornell Arts and Sciences. The latter read, "Hello Kenneth, welcome to our school, here's some stuff you already know because you've been reading it online for months already, da da da, boring, more boring, your student advisor is Jessica Someone, your academic advisor is Professor Steven Something in the field of Astronomy, boring boring boring, read your AP scores now because they'll be far more interesting, you are feeling verrrrry sleeeeeepy...." So I moved on and tossed it in my pile-of-Cornell-stuff-that-was-due-a-long-time-ago. The next day, I'm in the bathroom, and Mom bangs on the door: "Ken! Ken!! There's a Cornell professor on Nova tonight!" I went out to watch it, and it was the program on the Mars Exploration Rover team that built two robots to explore Mars back in 2004--led by a Cornell astronomy professor, Dr. Steven Squyres. I sprinted downstairs, dug up the letter for a quick name check, and spent the next hour watching my academic advisor for my time at Cornell as he led a team of engineers and scientists to launch the most successful rover program in the history of NASA and spaceflight. After the program ended, I looked him up in Google News, then Wikipedia--this guy is one of the most respected leaders in the field--and then heard Dad say to Mom downstairs, "STEVEN SQUYRES is Ken's advisor!?" Yeah, Dad. That's right.

Man, college is going to be so sweet....

...and THAT is most of my summer so far.

[edit: Ben, you might be amused to know that the only force powerful enough to overcome my procrastination in writing this post was procrastination towards cleaning my room. This motivation thing is something I should get a handle on before I leave, huh.]

[*second* edit: Guys, I change the time when I edit. Surprise. I didn't even know your post was there. But you can jump all over me for it if you want. Meanwhile, I'll gladly put it back at 9:30, even though that was like an hour ago.]

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Can we...?

Can we play kickball this weekend/Friday?

I feel the urge to kick something.


Oh, and for those interested Tech Volunteer time for the summer show is NOW, from 3:15 to whenever you leave everyday. We would truly appreciate anyone's help...there are rafts to be built (well, singular "raft").


NOT TO DIVERT ATTENTION FROM KICKBALL THOUGH

Monday, July 11, 2005

My Family Would Call What This Post is Composed of, and is in Its Entirety, 'Drivel.'

Well, I beat Mario 3 yesterday. It's my favorite game ever, but since I never had a system before the Xbox, I never got enough time with it to beat it by myself. I guess the only reason I did that this weekend is because I am trying to go cold turkey off TV and needed the electronic stimulation (my brother downloaded a simulator off the web, you can get almost any old game.) I beat the King of the Koopas with my last life, after just discovering a new way to get to him, and consequently an arena to fight in that I had never seen before. I also finished The Sound and the Fury which I picked up because of the TV thing. It was very interesting. In that book Faulkner wrote at least half of the Top Ten most perfect phrases I have ever read. I am definitely reading it again soon so I can more completely wrap my head around that stream of consciousness stuff, but I just started a new book which shall remain nameless, unlike the supervillian in Harry Potter, Voldemort, whom I name quite defiantly and whose newest scheming I await quite anxiously. Much like my extended family awaits the thank-you notes I still have not finished. But I *will* finish this post with a pun I just thought of, a la Dr. G., with whom I talked tonight.

So a guy steps up to the doorway of the circular cabin he's camping in when suddenly the door slams shut, hitting him in the head. He yells in surprise and pain and falls backward into the sand. The door opens and out steps his friend.
"What's wrong with you?"
"Yuert me!"

post script
Pulling out of the Raleigh Hills Starbucks parking lot, I saw Miko in the passenger seat of the car next to me. Judging by the hat on the lad next to him, I'd assume the driver was Rosick. I somehow kept all expression off my face as I nodded very seriously to him (he of course returned the nod in the same manner) but as I drove away I could not contain my giggling.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Oh Hurricanes


Oh Jim Cantore. His signal just cut out during coverage of Hurricane Dennis, the strongest hurricane to strike the Florida gulf coast since like 1969 or so. Even the National Weather Service is getting sassy in its reports:

HURRICANE DENNIS SPECIAL DISCUSSION NUMBER 22
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
7 PM EDT SAT JUL 09 2005

WHAT A DIFFERENCE 2 HOURS MAKES! AIR FORCE AND NOAA HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT INDICATE THE CENTRAL PRESSURE OF DENNIS DROPPED 11
MB IN AN HOUR AND A HALF. DENNIS HAS POSSIBLY STARTED A RAPID DEEPENING PHASE. THE EYE HAS BECOME BECOME DEFINED IN BOTH
RADAR AND SATELLITE IMAGERY...

AFTER DEEPENING ON A RATE THAT BORDERED ON INSANE DURING THE AFTERNOON... DENNIS HAS CONTINUED TO STRENGTHEN AT A MORE NORMAL RATE THIS EVENING

Usually it's all "blah blah blah blah hurricane blah blah" but they're using exclamation points and stuff. And the word insane. You don't want weather reports using the word insane, that can never be a good thing. Unless it's something like "BOY! THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS INSANELY GOOD TODAY. WE RECCOMEND JUST CHILLIN'". So in conclusion, it sucks to be in Florida/Alabama/wherever right now. Here's hoping the damage isn't too bad and that good ol' Jim Cantore is not getting struck by flying debris or cattle right now. Because that would suck.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Extravaganza

I found out recently that Shakeer, me, and Sklyar have birthdays on consecutive days, ie, the 12-14, respectively. Sky and I talked about some sort of big Gabriel park thing, since that seems to be the convention for birthdays and half-birthdays. Anyway, I think he said something about Saturday, but I am pretty open. I forget when Dave's birthday is, but we might be able to throw him in too. People with better group-amassing skills can take over from here.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Good Haul...

What I have recieved from Jesuit:

19 t-shirts,
8 pairs of shorts,
3 sweatshirts,
3 hats,
3 pairs of shoes,
2 jackets,
a keychain, lanyard, laundry sack, vest, blanket, mini-mag light, towel, oh, and one of them... uh, educationy things.

I had one of those transistiony days again. Pretty much seperating all of the clothes that I have (mostly Jesuit) into what I'm taking to college, what I am putting into storage, and what I am giving away. That, and I met my roommate on aim. "I totally scored with my roommate", was among the gibberish that spewed out of my mouth tonight, literal meaning aside, I really did get amazingly lucky with the whole roommate thing. He went to a Jesuit school, is Catholic, our tastes in music are roughly similar, he likes to backpack, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, goes to bed earlier than I do, west-coast represent. And his birthday is the same as my brother's, which is really weird, but at least I won't forget it. So all in all, I consider myself really lucky. College is going to be sweet. I can't wait. Except the whole leaving you guys thing, which sucks, but life goes on.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My Poker Hat is Lucky


pre script
This post is meant to be the antithesis of my "My Class Ring is Evil!" post because I have found a lucky poker hat, I think. It needs more testing. But so far its 2-0. It was my great-grampa's. I am wondering what would happen if I wore them at the same time (the hat and the ring, not the hat and my great-grampa). I am hesitant, though, because the ring did take out my lucky watch. I need to determine the hat's potentcy.

Anyway, I don't really have anything to post about. Lately I've just had ideas for short posts that never seem to validate themselves enough to warrant posting, which I just realized runs against our new blogging philosphy (like Benware's "read the crap"), post the crap. So against my better judgment, here are the candidates that I remember thinking of this week :

I have been called Mom or Dad at least seven times this week. [Edit:13]

If it's wrong to rear-end a girl to get her number, I don't want to be right.

[Attempt at humor regarding college major choices.]

[Lame story about skillfully maneuvering my way around one of the irritating police blockades that frequnetly occur in my neighborhood.]

(And finally, what interaction with me would be complete without a stab at something deeper that never fails to turn out utterly teenager) What if this is purgatory and nobody told us?

Ok, that's over with, with a little editing. Pretty poor. That's why I didn't post any of them. But I need to set an example you can all easily surpass. Getting to the point, I had an idea for another one today, but as usual it really needed a visual representation like I have in my head but can never translate into words. So I tried to draw it:



Yeah, and Dr. Gorman picked me as the most likely to be a cartoonist in our Physics class. It's basically a bastardized Toothpaste for Dinner. I hate being a hack.

post script
By Darwin I just meant his survival of the fittest stuff, and how it could eventually apply to the panhandlers. But I'm thinking that maybe if I did more, Darwin would be my main character. In my mind, he would be a funny guy to have ironic things happen to, though I may have already maxed him out, I can't really tell.

Monday, July 04, 2005

All in a days work

Well, today has to be one of the most interesting days that I’ve had all summer. After coming back from Jim's awesome party filled with delicious ribs, I went to Starbucks to see the Dr. and to have a good time. Upon arrival, I realized that he was not at the Starbucks and after waiting for another 10 min. I started to think he wasn't coming. Around this time Benny V arrived and we were having a chat when this old lady walked over to us and said something close to this: "Can you boys follow me and help me unload my van? I'm not lazy but I’m just too tired to do any actual work. I'll pay you $10 each." So being the men (and women) for others that we are, we decided to go along if for no other reason than to make our wallets that much thicker. On the way there we discussed what we would do if she pulled a shotgun on us and turned out to be a homicidal killer. We came to the conclusion that I would hide behind Ben and he would take the bullets with his extra fat layer. In any other situation we were going to jump out the nearest window. So anyways, while unloading her van we noticed that all of the stuff was complete and utter crap. Nothing of it was valuable and it was all weird stuff like rags, chairs, a ladder, and even what I believe was a broken telescope. Her back yard was nice but the pool had more algae in it than ken's bathtub, and the house was a disaster. Smelled bad too. It was like someone organized had lived there then she moved in and destroyed everything.

Before we left she gave us the money and said: "If you boys are interested I’ll have some odd jobs through the summer that take about an hour, if you give me your phone numbers I’ll give you a call." I politely let Ben do the honors and said he would notify me if anything came up. Ben gave her his cell phone number and we got out as fast as we could, hoping that the dollar bills where not covered in some type of . Oh, and the good Dr. never came to Starbucks. We were sad.

Hey Ben, just a thought, but we should give ken and mike her number so they can actually do their job as the 'stuff doers'. That way you have a scapegoat and we never have to see her again!

Cory does it say in the bible that the greatest form of love is laying down your life for a friend or something to that extent?

Friday = Kickball

Ok, since we haven't had a kickball game in a while I though we should have one on Friday at Gabriel park. I don't have work but many other people probably do so I thought we could have it at six that way it's not super hot and people who work during the day can come. I also thought that after we were done it would be a nice opportunity to do some stargazing as well.

I'm posting this here because it's always up to me to call everyone and I thought I'd save myself from being yelled at for forgetting to invite people and some time. So if you're up for it let me know so we can make sure we have enough people.

Also, sometime this week (I'm thinking around 9ish) I wanted to go see War of the Worlds. Any takers? If so let me know.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

College

Yeah, I am in college right now and it is alright; well if you consider attending Gonzaga summer school in Spokane for six weeks college (?). I bet that sentence was not grammatically correct. Well Our dorm is brand new, like not even on the maps yet!!!! lol!! Wow, what the hell was that? I think it was the lack of sleep. Yeah. I am talking to myself; great. I like my roomate from Wisconsin; and in turn, he likes Halo 2. A lot. "Fuck, what the fuck! Did you see that?! My teammates suck ass!" is what hear multiple times a day.

College is also hard:
12 history essays in six weeks. Also, map assignments that take two hours of just filling out stuff.
Multiple speeches for Mr. Hazel's nephew.
Critical thinking homework that takes like an hour and one half; that's right: one half.
Study skills class: we don't know what we are going to do in that besides guess, learning how to take notes!

I am not saying this for you to feel sorry for me at all; it is fun staying up until two playing street fighter II on a guy's Xbox. This xbox has been modded so much that it's crazy: 150 gigs, has every video arcade game ever, NES, SNES, N64!

Oh and my roomate likes to call me fat. And pregnant. He is like Devon-skinny (I don't mean that in a bad way at all), but no where near as tall.

[Edited by Shakeer]

Most awkward thing ever

Those who know me know that it takes a lot to make me feel awkward. But today... I got promoted. Not really promoted, because I don't think that I'm going to get paid any more than I was, and I don't get a new name badge or anything, I just get more responsiblities and more hours. Anyway. One of the shift leaders is pregnant, and is having a rough time at it, so she can't work nights anymore. Which means someone else needs to step up for her. And since I'm the GSR that has been there the longest, I was chosen. Above two people in their 20's. So there I was, the boss and the other guy there was about 23, and I was pretty much telling him what to do. So awkward... Anyway, that's my story. And why I couldn't be at Devon's tonight. And why my job is better than Burgerville. And... whatever. Peace.

BEWITCHED

Yeah, that's right, I saw it. Well, it was with my mom so she paid for it so that made it a bit easier.

And the verdict is, better than I expected but still a pretty poor movie, especially given the talent involved. Who you say? Well, obviously Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman, but also The Daily Show's Stephen Colbert, Jason Schwartzman ("Rushmore," "I Heart Huckabees"), Michael Caine, and Steve Carell in one of the more bizarre cameos I've ever seen. Actually, the supporting cast is all quite good, with Schwartzman proving once again that he's one of the best under-the-radar talents around.

But the chief problem with the film is that the leads take it in two different directions. Nicole Kidman does very solid character work, playing to a slightly kooky romantic comedy. Meanwhile, Will Ferrell plays Will Ferrell. And I love me the Will. Don't get me wrong. "Anchorman" was the funniest movie last year, and his work in "Old School" and "Zoolander" was genius. For that matter, he was one of the best aspects of "Melinda & Melinda." But "Bewitched" took him down a path that I feared would happen, which is essentially giving him a bunch of lines that don't really make sense for the character, but are the kinda things you'd expect Will Ferrell to suddenly burst out saying.

Not that I really have a problem with that...my favorite Adam Sandler movies were made using that formula. But, first, Ferrell is a better comedic actor than Sandler and we're essentially seeing his talent go to waste on stuff like this (and, I fear though I did not see it, in "Kicking and Screaming"), but also that Nicole Kidman went in a very different direction, meaning essentially director Nora Ephron (who has a pretty good history with romantic comedies with "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail"...but she also did "Michael") sat back and just kinda had Kidman and Ferrell do whatever they saw fit.

Looking at the movies Ferrell's got coming up (and there are quite a few), I think he's in pretty good shape for the future. And really, I guess if my biggest concern coming out of the movie was Ferrell's career path, I guess the movie wasn't all bad. And again, Nicole Kidman was fantastic.

Still, not recommending this movie at all. Go see any of the last three I reviewed (especially "War of the Worlds"...it's unbelievably good).

Saturday, July 02, 2005

4th of July Plans

Hey guys, this is a little bit late, but I only got the go-ahead from my grandma a couple days ago, then there's the laziness factor...

Anyway, here's the deal: for anybody who wants to, you're free to come to my grandma's house around 9 PM on Monday (the 4th) to witness the Waverly Golf Club's show from right across the river. It's a fun time, there'll be some small assortment of food, but be sure to bring a coat or blanket if you're coming. You'll be safe from bugs because of my grandma's screened porch, but it can still get cold.

Anyway, I'd post her address here, but then I remembered I shouldn't be posting addresses on the internet. Call it a paranoia of mine. In any case, if you have any interest in coming and there's the slightest possibility that you can, give me a ring so I can hook you up with the info on how to get there. Lemme know ASAP, so I can get a head count, because I like getting head counts; they make me feel better.

Once again, sorry that this is rather last-minute; my bad.

MR. & MRS. SMITH

Hey, if you're looking for, like, an actual review, scroll on down to the "War of the Worlds" one. But since awhile ago I told Ben I'd review every movie I saw (which hasn't really happened, but it will now so there), here's the review for "Mr. & Mrs. Smith."

It's more fun than any movie you're likely to have seen for a long time (for me, it's the most fun I've had watching a movie since "Sky Captain," and I mean that seriously 'cause "Sky Captain" freaking rules and anyone who says otherwise is foolish).

Angelina Jolie's boobs are clothed, but still on display a lot.

Brad Pitt's the coolest guy working in movies (eat it, Clooney).

Lotsa people get shot or otherwise injured/killed.

The highway chase/gun fight kicked ass over the one in "The Matrix Reloaded."

Seriously, though, Pitt and Jolie have some of the best onscreen chemistry I've seen in a LONG time, ESPECIALLY for an action movie. And it's probably the best action movie to come out in awhile, speaking in pure action terms (meaning that all the flashy camera moves still show everything that's going on, unlike say "The Bourne Supremacy" and some parts of "Batman Begins"...."War of the Worlds" is exempt from this because I don't think of it as an action movie).

Um...so yeah, if you're feeling like all the big summer movies are a bit weighty ("Batman" and "War"), go see "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." You should really see it anyway, but it's hardly required viewing (unlike "War of the Worlds").

Wow, I like how I mentioned other movies more often than I did the one I was talking about.

WAR OF THE WORLDS

Remember, first and foremost, this is in every way a WAR movie.

The first words of Harry Knowles' review of "War of the Worlds" were something along the lines of "you are not ready for this." In doing some reading on the film, I knew that much of the movie was going to be scary, even horrific. Knowles saying Spielberg set out to create, and achieved creating, the "modern holocaust" made me think even more than I was prepared.

But you really have no idea what you're in store for with this film. It's something that reminds us that film is a director's medium, and beyond great performances and fancy effects, it's the imagery that makes film film. And man, that's what stuck with me and the guys I saw this with opening night. A comment or two was thrown in about other aspects of the film over bottomless Red Robin fries, but it was the imagery that stuck with us. That first Tripod attack. Dakota Fanning's scene by the river. What we see on Tom Cruise's hand when he pulls back from the window. The train. The mob scene with the car. It's absolutely stunning, horrifying, and at times thrilling. It is a survivor's story.

And that's, and I hold strongly to this, what makes the film. Alex Ward and I kinda jointly commented on this, that with most alien invasion stories, or disaster stories, the focus is on the President, or the star jet fighter, or whoever the hero is that saves the day. This was about a guy, Ray, who's been a pretty bad father over the years, and has to watch over his kids for the weekend. Unfortunately, this weekend, aliens are attacking. The plot is obviously the aliens, but the underlying story is about a man figuring out how to be a good father amidst horrific circumstances. It's about survival.

This is a WAR movie. Throughout the entire film, I was reminded the title was not without reason. But it bears more in common with "The Pianist" than any other kind of war movie. And, for those of you who remember, "The Pianist" was essentially about this guy trying to survive the Nazi Holocaust, without any explanation as to the overlying circumstances. So it is with "War of the Worlds." There's no explanation as to how it started, and how it ended is just as mysterious (though the audience benefits from an end narration that, presumably, the characters do not hear). But that's what it would be like.

And I've heard some complaints that not enough is explained about the motives of the aliens or enough about how exactly they were defeated, or other such details. Well, a couple of arguments to that...first, I loved that we finally got a movie where the main character didn't travel aboard the alien spacecraft and learn of their planet's impending doom unless they anihilate Earth, and all this has to be heard through some kind of alien translator and so forth (my geek knowledge is really coming through, hear, I know). And second, again, if you were Ray or Rachel or Robbie, you wouldn't know. And I don't usually go to movies to learn stuff, I go for stories. And this was a great story.

And again, that limited viewpoint was probably the most effective aspect of the film. This was something Spielberg learned unintentionally when he made "Jaws" - There were supposed to be far more shots of the shark, the mechanical shark didn't work so well, and in the end it was more terrifying not to see the shark. So now it's a trick he uses frequently. And even still, without removing us for a second from either Ray's, or his daughter Rachel's (Fanning) point of view, he manages some just incredible imagery of the war on a larger scale. Some of these pictures I've seen online, but it's nothing compared to seeing them in action on the big screen. It's enormous.

And this is how good a director Spielberg is - in the middle of all of this, he manages these incredible camera tricks that you are not even aware of while you're watching this (it took a second viewing to catch that there is a four-to-five minute uninterrupted take as they drive down the freeway that starts outside the passenger side of the car, moves to the front, swings around to the other side, goes INSIDE the car through the rear driver's side window, moves to the front seat, then out the front passenger window, then back around to the front of the car, then around to the opposite side from where it started, all the while the car is moving at a high speed).

However, in limiting the point of view, it's not about the Tripods or the huge attack scenes - It's about the cast. In particular, Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. With Cruise, you either love him or you hate him. For me, when he gives himself over to the right director (Cameron Crowe, PT Anderson, Michael Mann, and Spielberg immediately come to mind), I think he's a fantastic actor. And while this is hardly his strongest performance, it is a very solid one. That look he has when he first sees the Tripods. Just comparing his attitude when they're first driving down the highway to "Little Deuce Coupe" (which, the second time I saw that scene, almost made me cry).

But the real star is Dakota Fanning. I've been aware that she is indeed out there and I've heard from a number of people that she's a fantastic actress, so I'd been looking forward to seeing her in this. And wow...I mean, there's no separation here. She inhabits this character through and through. And Spielberg has a long history of drawing great performances from kids, but this is the best I've seen. It's just breathtaking work; every look, every line, every movement is so absolutely completely displayed. Again, I point to her by the river, and to the "Little Deuce Coup" scene. She deserves every ounce of praise she gets.

I really can't praise this film enough. I had planned on coming home afterwards, but walking out we knew that we HAD to keep talking about it; there was more to cover than could be on the way to the parking lot. And I often shy from giving Spielberg that much credit, but I kinda realized with this film why that is - a part of me doesn't believe there's someone out there this talented and this brave. Nearly every complaint (well, at least the ones from the geek sites) I've heard about the movie is that it isn't like the movie Spielberg used to make. And he could keep pumping out those old kinds of movies without any complaints, but it's the kind of bravery that produces a remarkable picture like this.

As with all the movies I see, if anyone wants to gab about this some more, just bring it up sometime, because I love talking about this movie.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Local Celebrities

Just So You Know:

If anyone else gets the AGE QUOD AGIS magazine (yay Jesuit publications), you may have noticed that two of our very own are in it ( I like how I say "our very own", like we are either a very exclusive group of friends or a completely different species...but there it is, I'm not changing it)!

Yes, our lovely Cynda is on the graduation page in her glorious gown and mortarboard (God I love that word, too bad we hardly ever get to wear those things, they look so stunning on everyone), and our own little Benji is staring pensively into the fire at St. Benny's on this years FME.

Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.

Oh my God, you guys are like, totally popular, you're like, practically famous now, oh my God (I need to cut down on my use of parenthesis)