Jun. 28th, 2006 11:21 am
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When I was little, I was kind of .... obsessive about Superman. I mean, sure, I loved Batman as much as the next proto-gothling, but it wasn't the same. The sense of alienated isolation and loss coupled with the sheer love of his adopted world; the absolute power tempered with compassion and responsibility; the frustration at wanting to tell the world, "Hey, look, I'm really somebody behind these glasses, behind this awkward shyness." The sheer epic grandeur and mythic weight of it all. I ate it up with a spoon.

Where some kids grew up with religion, I grew up with comic books. They helped shape my moral core. They taught me that the proper use of power, any power, is to help those who have none. No one taught me that better than Superman.

(And I learned a lot more besides. I could tell you what all the different colors of kryptonite were -- green, red, blue, white, gold, crystal -- and tell you what they did; I could tell you that a young Clark Kent fashioned his hornrim glasses from two circular fragments of the cockpit glass of his rocket, because regular glass would melt if he used his heat vision. You know, the important details. I had "non-fiction" books about Superman and I studied them the way I never studied anything at school.)

I don't remember, oddly enough, if I ever saw Superman: The Movie in a movie theatre. But I certainly watched it on video, a hundred times or more.

I've seen it since, in the cold morning after of adulthood. It's -- not great. The special effects are no longer convincing. Most of the acting (aside from the brilliant Christopher Reeve) is just not up to par. The script doesn't hold together. The jokes fall flat.

It's not the movie I remember. There's no way to go back and see something like that, from your childhood, and have it be the way you remember it.

Or so I thought until last night.

Watching Superman Returns at the Cinerama was, in so many ways, like having that experience, of seeing the original movie for the first time as a child, back again. It is every bit as good as I remember the original being, in every way that it really wasn't.

The casting is great. Okay, Lois Lane is kind of forgettable, but entirely competent. But Brandon Routh frickin' channels Christopher Reeve -- I kept forgetting it wasn't him, somehow given back to us -- and Kevin Spacey somehow manages to take Gene Hackman's version of Luthor and build on it, to make it something three-dimensional and dark and scary-crazy.

Superman Returns. Boy, does he ever. If you like awesome, go see it. At the Cinerama, if you can manage it.

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Not too much I'm actually doing lately, so I'll tell you about things I've watched instead.

  • Sometime in the nebulous depths of last week, [ profile] windbourne and I watched Revengers Tragedy, starring Doctor Who's Christopher Eccleston, the always fabulous Eddie Izzard, and Derek Jacobi, and directed by the guy who made Repo Man. The perfect movie if you want to see a dark, funny, and bloody Jacobean tragedy updated for a post-apocalyptic Liverpool setting -- and who wouldn't?

  • Thursday, Ahna and [ profile] briara and I went out to see Star Wars: Episode III, which was startlingly watchable. I'd hated Episode I so much that I never even bothered with Episode II, but the trailers for this one were good enough to lure me back. While much of the dialogue was cringingly awful, the politics were actually interesting, Palpatine got some good solid material to work with, the film somehow didn't look as cheap as it's predecessors, and it somehow managed to occasionally hit the epic, mythic feel it was aiming for. It's not perfect, by any means, but at some levels, I think I might actually like it better than Return of the Jedi. Worth a matinee.

  • Later that night, Ahna took me to see VNV Nation at the Showbox, for which I am still insanely grateful. [ profile] kespernorth had told me before that he never liked the band until he saw them live, and since I already did like them, I was expecting a hell of a show, and I wasn't disappointed. Those boys know how to work a crowd.

  • Saturday, I went to Folklife. It was okay. I mainly wandered around and people-watched. Way too hot out.

  • That night, Ahna and I met up with [ profile] ursako and [ profile] bhaiku for another concert, featuring KUMA, who turned out to be all kinds of awesome. Ahna wrote a good review of the show, if you want to check that out, and posted some MP3s as well. Really good stuff. I just kept drifiting closer and closer to the stage as the crowd allowed, to be closer to the ROCK. Just transcendent.
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I saw a TV ad for House of Wax the other night, and it looked pleasantly scary, so I thought I'd give it a try when it opened tonight. (Even though Paris Hilton is in it.) I've never seen the original, so I wasn't worried about them ruining it for me, or anything.

Dark Castle's previous remakes, House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts, were both films I found pretty entertaining. Unfortunately, that's not who I thought made this film, when I went into it. I thought it was the same director as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, and it's not.

But I was under that impression for the whole film, and it's easy to see why -- it's the same goddamn movie:
A group of kids on a road trip, trying to get to an event on time, end up getting sidetracked and stuck in a strange small town. They're attacked by a highly dysfunctional family, including a silent man-child who hides his deformity with a mask and who has a penchant for preserving the dead.
The plot doesn't have a single note of originality to it, but there are some great visuals and nice set-pieces. While the movie builds up the same feeling of nameless dread that the TCM remake did, it takes too damn long for anything scary to start happening. But it does a pretty good job once it does. This is not a horror film content with just killing its characters. It would rather hurt them, which is harder to watch. The climactic scenes of the movie are visually outstanding -- really jaw-dropping stuff. (I found out just now that they were originally planning on presenting this movie in 3-D. Now that would have been awesome.

Oh, one other minor thing -- the very ending has a tiny little twist to it that left me going, "Huh? So what?" Kind of annoying.

I'm gonna have to see the original now. There's no reason for any of you to run out and see this film -- but if you're really in the mood for a horror movie, and can sit through a slow buildup, this is fairly worthwhile.


Dec. 10th, 2004 02:52 am
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Just got back from The End's Deck the Hall Ball. Pretty damn entertaining. At this point, there are several events I really should go back and write about, but for once I think I'll go ahead and get this down while it's still fresh in my head.

Due to horrendous traffic, terrible rain, some poor last-minute navigational choices on my part, and a general lack of parking, we didn't quite get there on time, so Snow Patrol was already playing when we got there. We could hear, while we were still outside, that they were playing Run, their one big radio hit, as we approached. I was glad we'd made it -- I said to [ profile] windbourne that I'd been afraid we'd miss their set entirely. We made it inside, looked at T-shirts for a minute, and then headed into the concert area just in time to hear them saying, "Thank you, Seattle! Good night!" So, yeah. I think I caught a brief glimpse of them as they left the stage.

So then came the descent down steep stairs in the dark down to push my way into a huge mass of people. Let's see, did I overlook any phobias there? I had a little trouble keeping myself moving one foot in front of the other, but I managed, and I was strangely okay once I actually got into the dense crowd.

Keane played next. I'd heard a couple of songs of theirs, but had only really paid attention to one of them, Somewhere Only We Know, which I'd found charming and cute if slightly cloying. They were really quite good live -- the singer has good stage presence, a voice like an angel, and looks, as Ahna pointed out, "like David Cassidy." If he's not already, this man is destined to be the number-one crush object of fourteen-year-old girls everywhere.

As much as I liked the music, this set was nearly ruined for us by the assholes standing right next to us smoking pot. We hate you and we hope you die.

We shoved our way deeper into the crowd for clearer air to listen to The Shins, who had the uncanny ability to sound both tinny and muddy at the same time. .... I dunno. The first Shins song I ever heard, Know Your Onion, was most excellent and was in heavy rotation in my MP3 player for weeks, but everything after that I've been lukewarm about. Tonight's set was no exception. They're decent enough, but they're just not one of my favorites. I think I definitely like their studio-recorded stuff better.

This time, we were standing near the world's biggest Shins fan, who was prone to calling out things like, "The Shins are the greatest band ever! Fuck Keane!" He made me giggle lots. We were also, however, standing near more pot-smoking assholes. I'm carrying mace the next time I go to a concert. Anyway, since I was getting dizzy and headachey, and Ahna wasn't doing so well either, we decided to go sit down like old people.

Up next were The Killers who were OMFG excellent! They had great stage presence, they rocked hard, they had nice jackets, I can't say enough good things about them. I need to get their album. Need.

After that was Franz Ferdinand, who were, if possible, even more excellent than when we saw them at EndFest. They seemed more confident and polished this time. Best performance of the night. The crowd went nuts for Take Me Out -- the half of the crowd nearest the stage were jumping up and down. So great. There's something about this fresh-faced British foursome that puts me in mind of Beatles concert footages.

Finally came Modest Mouse. I like them well enough, but I'm not at all sure why they were last. They sound like they're playing underwater, and I mean that in a good way, but they really brought the energy of the evening waaaay doooown after FF, despite the surprise guest appearance by -- the Sonics' sasquatch mascot. (WTF? WTFF?) Also, aside from the low energy, their set just seemed really sloppy, with long unstructured pauses between songs. A good chunk of the crowd left during their set, including, eventually, us, once we realized a.) we'd heard our favorite Modest Mouse songs and b.) we were slowly starving to death. So we ended our evening with a trip to Minnie's, which was right near where we'd parked anyway.

In all -- not a bad birthday present. Thanks, Ahna!


Sep. 15th, 2004 10:22 am
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Many thanks to [ profile] cithra, who had some nice things to say about my book, Counting from Ten. Glad you liked it.


Jun. 8th, 2004 01:51 pm
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So yesterday I used my new library card to -- get this -- check out an actual book. Yeah.

Walked into the Shoreline branch and glanced at their display of recommended books and spotted Chuck Palahniuk's name on the spine of one of them. I've met Mr. Palahniuk, he's a really neat guy, and I've never read any of his stuff, so I picked it up and looked at it. Fight Club. Cool, I really need to get a copy of that someday, I thought, and put it down and started to walk away.

Then the tiny remaining smart portion of my brain whispered to me: Hey, stupid, you could pay money someday to read that, or take it home for free right now.

Oh. Yeah. Huh.

So I did, and went home and sat down and read the whole thing, and then took it back to the library. It felt good to do that, considering the fate of my last library book.

Finally reading Fight Club, after having seen the movie so many times, was very cool -- like finally hearing the original version of a song you love a remix of.
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Over in [ profile] horror_films, [ profile] vegandreamboat wrote:

in your opinion what are the horror films that changed the genre..not necessarily your favorites but the ones that reinvited horror.

To which I responded:


Oooh, what a good question. I'd go with:

The Haunting (1963) -- the haunted-house movie that all haunted-house movies pay homage to, whether they know it or not. (Stephen King especially has a thing for this story.) Pay no attention to the 90's remake. None.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) -- How many movies manage to invent a monster? Zombies as we know them come from this movie, and have been done to death a million times since. (Pun not intended.) This film has heavily influenced not just horror films, but pop culture.

The Exorcist (1973) -- Something else that filtered into pop culture, and something else that invented a genre -- the supernatural religious thriller.

Friday the 13th (1980) -- Sure, I know Black Christmas may have beaten it to the punch by years, I know Halloween may be a strong contender for the slasher-genre crown, but come on . . . this is the one that's stayed in everyone's mind. If you mention "Michael Myers" to the man on the street, he'll think you mean the comedian, but everyone knows that "Jason" means a hockey mask, a butcher knife, and an unstoppable body count.

An American Werewolf in London (1981) -- This one raised the bar on make-up/special effects technology, blurring the line between the two beautifully and creating a new look for horror. Often imitated, never equalled in terms of sheer impact.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) -- Many horror films since have used dream logic, but never with so much style. Freddy is one of the icons of the genre.

Near Dark (1987) -- This is the movie that saved vampires from being just foofy gothy ponces in velvet capes, and gave us vampires that were thoroughly modern, urban, dirty, and dangerous.

Scream (1996) -- The movie that, for good or ill, revived the horror genre by reinventing it as hip, clever, and self-aware.

This is fun. Any others?


Apr. 15th, 2003 12:02 am
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Saw House of 1000 Corpses today. Thought it was pretty terrible. No real characters, dialogue, plot, logic, anything. Nor was it particularly scary. It desperately wants to be Texas Chainsaw Massacre when it grows up, but it's not even in the ballpark.

I have to admit it was fun to look at -- every single frame of the film is just pure Halloween candy, really. It'd be a great film to have playing on a TV at a Halloween party, with the sound off.

*shrug* It's the sort of thing you'll like, if you like this sort of thing.


Feb. 7th, 2002 12:33 am
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As I'm sure many of you know, I'm a great big Stephen King fanboy. Adore his stuff. Hate to ever say a bad word about him.


I've now watched parts one and two of Rose Red.

I was really expecting a little something more than an homage to Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.

"Homage," of course, being an Old French word for "blatant attempt at ripping off the structure and style of another's work without understanding a single goddamn thing about what made it work."


Thanks and apologies to [ profile] retcon and [ profile] treebyleaf, who, after pointing out to me how Christ-awful it looked from the commercials, were kind enough to give into my begging and taped it for me anyway.

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I must be getting old.

Today's only planned Unit of Productivity was to drop off some flyers for the reading at The Mercury, and since I couldn't do that before 9pm, and since I did so well writing yesterday, I gave myself the rest of the day off. (A "day off" can be distinguished from my usual slacker lifestyle by virtue of the fact that I give myself permission not to feel guilty about not getting anything accomplished.)

I sat around and watched the other two movies I rented last night. Last night (or more properly, "this morning") I watched Idle Hands, which was pretty amusing, but much, much stupider than I thought it was going to be. I certainly wasn't expecting quite so much stoner humor. Seth Green was excellent as always, though.

Today's fare was Bad Moon, a werewolf flick that could more accurately have been titled Bad Movie, and Black Christmas, which I was surprised to find -- it's out of print, and Scarecrow wants a $150 security deposit to rent it, so I was a little surprised that this little hole-in-the-wall video store had a copy. (Of course, I was astonished to find that they had a copy of Nekromantik, which I didn't rent, not this time .... )

Black Christmas was good, if occasionally a little slow and uneven. It's essentially the first real slasher film, predating even Halloween. Has a nice, unsettling, unresolved ending.

Went out and got more copies made of my flyer. Finally checked my bank balance -- I'm pretty much exactly as bad off as I thought I was, which is both scary and reassuring; at least it's not any worse. Took the videos back to the store, which is on Lake City Way; it feels strange and a little pointless to drive so close past both [ profile] wendolen's work and [ profile] treebyleaf's apartment without seeing either one of them.

Made it to The Mercury and put my flyers on the flyer table. Hung around for a little while, and had a Red Bull to try to wake up a little. It didn't do anything for me. I've heard people describe this stuff keeping them up all night and I had no reaction at all. I'm starting to wonder if anything can cut through this fog I walk around in.

Found myself feeling strangely antisocial. There were a few people I knew there, including the lovely [ profile] spaceling, but no one I really felt like I could strike up a conversation with. I decided to give up and go home. I miss the days when I went to the club more regularly, and when more people I know still came out, too. I miss having the club feel like home.

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Spent a pleasantly lazy morning finishing American Gods. It's really quite excellent, if you like that sort of thing. It contains a lot of Neil Gaiman's usual tropes and ideas, but tied together more skillfully and handled with a much more polished and confident prose style than he's shown before. His plotting is excellent but almost a little too perfectly contrived; I find that he creates not so much plots but Inevitability Engines. As Chekhov (no, not the guy from Star Trek) once noted, "If in the first act you hang a pistol on the wall, then in the last act, it must be shot off. Otherwise, you do not hang it there." Gaiman spends a lot of energy hanging a hell of a lot of pistols on a hell of a lot of walls, and then meticulously firing each and every one. I derive a great deal of pleasure from watching his plots unfold exactly as they should, but I am distantly aware that there's something almost mechanical about it all.

Drove to Capitol Hill and ran into [ profile] icprncs and our mutual friend Jeff, and got the chance to wish her a happy birthday. I'd come down to try to pick up a free pass to an advance screening of From Hell I read about in The Stranger, but the store that had them was all out. It was right next door to B+O Espresso, which I've never been to, and which [ profile] wendolen has highly recommended to me, but I decided I'd rather wait and go there with her.

Thinking about coffee reminded me that I should stop by Aurafice and see if they ever got my e-mail about doing a horror reading this Halloween. They hadn't -- their e-mail's been down (which is kind of ironic for an Internet cafe). Paige was enthusiastic, though, and gave me her personal e-mail address to contact her about it directly, which I just did a few minutes ago. Hopefully I'll have details I can post here soon.

By this point it was time to go pick up wendolen and her co-worker, Andria, whom I've enjoyed talking to at the store but had never had a chance to actually spend time with before. We were off to dinner and then to meet [ profile] retcon and [ profile] treebyleaf at Cinerama to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. I've wanted to see this movie on the big screen for as long as I can remember and it was just as wonderful as I thought it would be.

It's interesting, but I always remembered the film as worthwhile, but slightly boring and badly paced. Clearly, I was too young to appreciate it when I first saw it. The pacing is indeed slow, but is deliberate and masterful. It's only playing at the Cinerama for a few more days; if you're reading this and you're in Seattle, go see it. You owe it to yourself.

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I need to take those videos back, do some errands on Capitol Hill, and then head to Riff and [ profile] treebyleaf's to catch the premiere of Enterprise. Not looking forward to the drive. People always drive like idiots in weather like this.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was a lot of fun, but I can't possibly recommend it to anyone who isn't already a big fan of Kevin Smith's films -- it's essentially one long in-joke. But since I am a big fan, I thought it was great.

After waiting impatiently for days for my voting key to vote for the location of the next Convergence, it finally struck me last night that maybe they'd sent it to my "other" e-mail address, an account that I don't check very often -- not since August 1st, it turned out. They had. I found my voting key -- after wading through over 600 pieces of spam. No joke.

I slept for over twelve hours last night, which is ridiculous. My sleep was troubled by a strange series of dreams, a kind I've had a couple of times before in my life -- dreams where I meet someone and fall quickly and deeply in love with them, and I wake up feeling shaken and lost, and have a hard time remembering that the dreams weren't real. I have no idea why this happens.

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Riff came by today to hang out with me until his appointment to pick up his cat at the Cats Exclusive Veterinary Hospital, since it's right across the street from my place. Poor thing was frantic in the car on the way back to its home. It's been fitted with one of those funnel-shaped head protectors to keep it from picking at its stitches -- a device the vet called an "Elizabethan collar," amusingly enough. The cat was scooting around backward in its carrier as fast as it could trying to get the collar off, and I was worried the poor thing was going to break its damn neck. It calmed down a little once it got home, although it was still try to back away from the collar.

I'm at Riff's place now, waiting for our friend Ron to come pick us up so we can go see Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It's a movie we've been meaning to see anyway, and today seems like a good day to do it, since the movie theatres are donating 100% of ticket and concession sales today to the September 11th Fund of the United Way and the Red Cross.

The horror movies I rented last night were a lot of fun: Basket Case was both better and worse than I thought it would be, and featured the least convincing stop-motion animation I have ever seen; and Silent Night, Deadly Night was actually surprisingly good. The storyline doesn't really go anywhere, but what the hell -- the acting was halfway decent, the music was great, and I loved the ending. Neither of the two movies ever managed to be what I'd call scary, but they were entertaining.


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