Friday, September 25, 2009

Finally Mac Goes Blu!

Apple has at last announced their inclusion of Blu-Ray software on their upcoming iMacs. This is very exciting news since the company has long been claiming a general disposition toward the format. But I have a sneaking suspicion that negative attitude dealt more with economic issues than quality concern... it may have had something to do with the new competition since Apple was hoping to push home video into a strictly digital format. But there are ups and downs either way you look at it... and until digital can actually maintain the picture and sound qualities of more “solid” formats, it can’t expect to be the industry leader.

Here is my source article. That’s about all the info I’ve got at this time. But very exciting news. Yes sir.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


This single glass orb
in the heart of our city
hums with pure energy
hums out of misery
runs all that we can see
as we hit the spinners
with so much veracity
creating pure energy
that heats up the carbines
that take us out silently
but only in visions
and only as minds do
we match this intensity
creating a cycle
as we hit the spinners
creating pure energy
that hums through our city
in a single glass orb.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On Daddy Dexter Driving Into A New Season

I’m a Dexter fan. Yes sir. Watching his murderous exploits each week tickles me like most shows cannot. I own all three seasons and the soundtrack. I even named my cat after him... So suffice to say, I can’t wait for the fourth season to start. And I have massively high hopes. The guest star this year is John Lithgow!
How awesome is that? But all is not as it seems in Dexter-ville. Oh no.
Each year, just before we are about to be hit with a splendid array of plots, characters, and continuity that’ll make your head spin... we get pummeled with a novel that has nothing to do with one of the greatest characters of our time. This blunt attack on our senses provided by one Mr. Jeff Lindsay.
Mr. Lindsay had a great idea. And he got that idea published: Darkly Dreaming Dexter. This was a lovely novel... compelling and quick witted. And despite the almost “evil twin” like dynamic forced upon us in the last twenty pages or so... it still holds up as a good read.
Then came the good one: Dearly Devoted Dexter. This is the definition of a page turner. Quite clever and filled with surprises. And when I first read it (and the mind boggles knowing what I know now) I thought the novels had a chance of being better than one of my all time favorite shows.
But I was wrong! Oh so wrong! Dexter In The Dark was a boring schlop of a read... utterly unentertaining. It feels more like a “new” Anne Rice novel than a crime thriller (or whatever you’d call it).
However, the follow up gave me hope. Dexter By Design at first seemed to be fun. Not at the same level as the first two... but a massive step up from the third. Then it took a drop. Things started to make less and less sense until the ending which leaves you with nothing to hold onto. Not even the excitement that the next one will be better... because I don’t want another one. I don’t want another poorly written book tainting the good name of Dexter Morgan and all that he stands for. Lindsay’s problem is a classic one... he assumes that Dexter is a smart guy and tells us so repeatedly, but never actually shows it. Nothing that happens in these later books can be traced back to a clever/quick witted mind.
But... I digress. Season One is splendid on Blu-Ray and some of the best television you’ll likely ever see. Season Two is faster and funner (if that’s a word). Season Three is such a brilliant build... Jimmy Smits keeps you guessing all season long until you hit the climax and  a pleasure cloud envelops your whole body with the wicked joy of it all.
And Michael C. Hall is one of the greatest working actors out there (so yes I will see Gamer). His performance in Six Feet Under is absolutely nothing short of brilliant, especially when you hit that one episode in season four. Mm-mm good.
So I’ve seen the first episode of the upcoming (much anticipated) season four of Dexter. And while I think it may have been a slightly less than finished cut, it still maintains that edge we’ve so often come to expect from the show. But the new season comes with its own surprises.
My expectations were for a clean connection to season three as we saw coming out of season one and into two... they are literally only weeks apart. That’s what I anticipated here. But no dice. Rather, we skip out on all of that pregnancy stuff. No big loss. We saw enough of that in Angel
Thanks Julie Benz for the good memories. But we also miss some of the Deb investigation. And yes some awesome characters reappear and most relationships are exactly where you’d expect them to be... there’s a strange leap for two specific characters. You’ll know who when you see it. Too bad. I liked the season three subplots. But I guess the writers just didn’t need the specific one in question.
I’m trying pretty hard not to spoil the event for anyone, so I should really stop this article now. Let’s just say, the season four premier packs a real good haymaker. And Dexter just rocks. Been reviewing old seasons on beautiful Blu-Ray. And they look just perfect.
The new season premiers September 27th.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Who Wants To Pay $135,000 For A Blu-Ray Player That Doesn't Do Anything??

Just found out that the company Goldmund is producing a $135,000 “universal” player that doesn’t actually play every format... 
and doesn’t have the capability to play BD-Live? Here’s the source article. Why would anyone buy this 66lbs (note the “bs”) mediocrity? They’ve got that much money to throw away I suppose? Give it to someone who needs it...
The fact is, Blu-Ray players can already play all DVDs, most VHSs have worn out by now and look terrible anyway (not that you can actually play them in it), and HD-DVD is dead and gone. So what is Goldmund trying to prove?
And who the hell would actually buy this crap?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Still Don't Know How I Feel About Ares

This may seem a strange topic of conversation, but I’m a big fan of space and very interested in all things NASA. So, I wanna talk about the Ares rocket... because it’s surprising to say the least.
First things first, I am very glad that we’re going back to the moon. Finally. And that means we’re going further still, to Mars and beyond. Thank god for that. But the way we’re getting there is odd. And while I’m all for “stepping back to step forward” as my latest short story implies, I just didn’t expect it from NASA.
Look at this:
It’s the Ares. It is how we intend to go to the moon. And it’s not a Shuttle
It doesn’t feel like it could someday bus people back and forth between worlds. 
It’s reminiscent of the Apollo
I suppose that’s understandable. The successes of the past inform the successes of the future. We cannot help but stand on the shoulders of those who came before us...
But couldn’t we have built a new form of Shuttle that left some extra room for a Lunar Pod? Maybe I just think that’d be cooler from a Sci-Fi perspective. Or maybe there’s more to come and maybe this was the cheapest way to just get us back up there again?
I want to live in 2001: a space odyssey. Hopefully we’ll reach that level of technology some day soon... you think these missions will lead to a new Lunar Colony? I hope so.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Months Of Music

Every year, at around the same time, I get hit with a slew of new albums by some of my favorite artists who seem to enjoy making me pay for everything at once. I know what you’re thinking, who the hell pays for music? I guess I’m one of the few nowadays, but I’m actually pretty proud of that. These artists worked hard and deserve to see their work hitting high sales lists. Honestly, nothing is more depressing than feeling that all of your pain was for nothing. Granted concerts get the blood pumping and the green flowing.
Anyway, I just wanted to talk briefly about my favorite recent albums... and some other noteworthy ones:
Big Whiskey And The Groo Grux King (Dave Matthews Band) - I think this is what you’d call a masterpiece. It comes from the heart and soul. The band took a massive hit when LeRoi passed, but somehow out of the tears a new bond was formed. It took the missing man’s passion to rekindle something in the almost separated band’s friendship... I think the coolest thing is LeRoi’s last tapes inspired the album as a whole. So we can sort of call this LeRoi’s last stand.
Hombre Lobo (Eels) - While not the greatest album E has ever shaped, it has moxy. E has a great deal of fun here and I’ll be damned if I can’t play along.
Around The Well (Iron & Wine) - These aren’t necessarily “new” tracks... but they’ve never (or rarely) been heard before. Their last album, The Shepherd’s Dog, is one of my all time favorites. And this one feels like a lovely companion piece including some of the B-sides and alternate takes from that effort. Iron & Wine is quickly becoming one of my favorite bands. In fact they lead my top 25 most played list on iTunes.
Far (Regina Spektor) - Far is one of those rare albums that just lifts my body up while smashing my head into the mud. I think I’m in love with Regina Spektor and she kind of shoves it in my face. Blue Lips and Eet are such good tracks I listen to them and laugh out loud because I’m so happy.
No One’s First, And You’re Next (Modest Mouse) - Just a good collection of B-sides from a growing band. Like Iron & Wine’s The Shepherd’s Dog, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank tops my favorites list... it just hits me in a different emotional place.

The Birth (Stardeath And White Dwarfs) - The kid brother band to The Flaming Lips... and very much a triumphant Freshman album. I’ll buy the next one too.
Wait For Me (Moby) - Just a great album. Emotional and Eclectic. Moby kicks ass and raises the bar for electronic music every time he spins a record.
Life On Earth (Tiny Vipers) - I feel like I’m the only person who knows this band, but it is amazing. beautifully simple and melodic. I have all four of her albums and love them love them love them.
Humbug (Arctic Monkeys) - An oddly darker album by a band best known for their hit I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor... but you probably won’t wanna dance to this album. That’s alright though. Listen in the car. What’s weird to me is the way the drums sort of over power. Not in a bad way. It’s just surprising. It’ll grow on you.
Dark Night Of The Soul (Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse) - So amazing. So sad. EMI won’t let this album be released traditionally. So if you can... you have to go illegal to get this bad boy. If you don’t already know, just check it out HERE.
These are just some of the summers best (in my eyes, or ears). Maybe you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

Horror And Horrible Horror

I have a firm belief that Horror is in many ways the perfect genre... when used correctly. But that’s a heavy concept, to use Horror correctly. 
Think of it like this. Horror consistently grosses well at the box office. Sometimes this is because it was a small budget picture and therefore did not need much to break even. But more interestingly it is because people are hoping to be thrilled. And they will gamble often to see if a film can actually force them to react. So we’ve created a system where the flick doesn’t have to be good in order to make money... it just needs a good trailer, or 
And that’s what I really wanna talk about.
Originals and the Dreaded Remake... Films that force viewers to compare them to something else. And if they fall short of the classic greatness, then that is death (with the exception of a few bucks). But if they jump the hurtle without misstep they will be praised for years to come.

My opinion is a film should not be remade simply “because”... or, sometimes people force their love for a classic work to cloud their judgement and make the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons. A light example is Halloween. How and why was Rob Zombie allowed to touch this film at all? What about it actually needed remaking? But it made money.

Yet sometimes the remake is righteous. The filmmaker doesn’t make the movie just out of admiration but with a specific purpose... the ideal version of The Thing From Another World is John Carpenter’s The Thing. He gave the film meaning for a new generation by rationalizing what the scenario would actually be like. And it’s amazing how real this movie is considering the source material.

The reason I bring this up? I’m watching The Haunting. It is surprisingly brilliant. Though I’d be labelled a moron if I said the same about its purposeless remake. The original is layered and saturated with common perceptions of the 50s and 60s. An attempted rationalization of ghosts and their effect on the living. But the remake is just a Hollywood movie with no expectation at making you think... rather it hides behind cheap special effects and a body count. The original had almost no special effects and only one death to speak of (minus the prologue). But that was a horror movie. And a fantastic one at that.
“Suffer Little Children! Suffer Little Children! Suffer Little Children!”

Tell me that’s not creepy. Other examples are Carrie and Carrie... the later being absolutely pointless, boring, and lame. Or House Of Wax and House Of Wax. The original isn’t necessarily scary, but very fun and interesting. The remake is stupid... made for a generation used to cheap thrills that don’t effect them after they’ve left the theatre.

But then there’s The Fly and The Fly which are both great... funnily though, both films suffer from bad sequels, Return Of The Fly and The Fly II. Cronenberg’s version is great because it had a reason to be made... it changed the purpose of the film to suit a new generation... He collected his views on how obsession can lead men down the wrong path. A concept only quickly stated in the original.
This entry is more of a list I suppose, but I hope I’m at least making you think of how the studios view their investment in Horror as a genre. They often seem to say, “make a good trailer... if you can’t do that, find something cheap to remake. We should at least make bank.”

I ask, why can’t they shoot to make a Horror film worthy of winning an Oscar? And I hear a stupid answer about the genre being cheap. But if films like The Thing and The Shining can scare you without using cheap tricks... if they can also make you think and keep you grounded in a believable reality... why shouldn’t they be award winning pictures?

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Little Flight Music

Songs for running away... from whatever it is you need to run away from. Be it work, home, or yourself, these songs should help you along the road:

1. Cluster One - Pink Floyd
2. Come Away With Me - Norah Jones
3. Boo - Pinback
4. The Living Sea - Monkey
5. High And Dry - Radiohead
6. Parachute - Sean Lennon
7. Isolation - John Lennon
8. Jets - Moonbabies
9. Where Is My Mind? - Pixies
10. Perfect Disguise - Modest Mouse
11. The Seer’s Tower - Sufjan Stevens
12. I Talk To The Wind - King Crimson
13. Dreamer - Tiny Vipers
14. Jltf - Moby
15. Seaside - The Kooks
16. Wondrous Place - The Last Shadow Puppets
17. Pretty As You Feel - Jefferson Airplane
18. A Comet Appears - The Shins
19. Blue Lips - Regina Spektor
20. Smoking Pot Makes Me Not Want To Kill Myself - Stardeath And White Dwarfs
21. Halfway Home - Jason Mraz
22. Highway (Under Construction) - Gorillaz


Friday, September 4, 2009

Who Gets To Classify Neo-, Pseudo-, And Actuo-Noir Anyhow?

So I’m confused... every time someone brings up the term Film Noir I assume I know what they’re talking about because I understand the “rules” of the “genre”. I put those two words in quotes because they are both facades.
Let’s talk the “rules” of Noir. 1) It must dabble in some form of criminal activity... that’s key. 2) It must pull focus to darker places like smoke or shadows, but that’s all camera work, right? 3) It must live in a world of anti-heroes and femme fatals. 4) And it definitely must be stylized. So if the film doesn’t factor in all of that... it’s not a Noir? Or could it be Pseudo-Noir? 5) This is the kicker (for extra points), the film in question must have been made between the years 1941 and 1959??
Let’s talk “genre”. How in the hell is Film Noir considered a genre? I say this with the upmost respect for the films therein, but every time someone lists to me which ones are Noir and which aren’t I find myself trying very hard not to ball my fist up and punch them in the face. See if we follow the “rules” then Noir is simply a specialized Crime-Drama or Thriller. But apparently that’s not how it works. It’s as if the French were just trying to confuse me by classifying something that it turns out is actually unclassifiable.
Seriously, if a film was made in the ‘60s to present day... it’s Neo-Noir? I understand the reasoning for some films to be classified this way, but someone’s trying to tell me we can never again make another Actuo-Noir. And that doesn’t fly. See, if you are honestly prepared to call this a genre, then it must be a genre... not an era of film, which is closer to what they seem to have pinned it as, just without the title.
So I say enough with the bullshit. M. Verdoux is not Noir because it is a comedy without the standards of Noir contained therein... it may be a Pseudo-Noir/Comedy or Crime-Comedy (why not?).  But it is not a Noir. The Maltese Falcon is certainly a Noir... so too are Citizen Kane, Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., and The Lady From Shanghai. The Naked City should not be titled Noir, but Pseudo-Noir. It’s closer to a Crime-Drama... with cops. And check this out, Miller’s Crossing is definitely Noir. Not Neo-Noir, not Pseudo-Noir... but full on Noir. It earned this title by not going too far over the edge with nudity and profanity (not TOO far).
See Neo-Noir was created because there’s too much cursing in the new Noir films... but that makes sense. Wouldn’t you curse in those situations? Hell yes.
I’m just saying, if Film Noir is to exist as a “genre” please make it a genre (without the quotes)... because it deserves to be a real entity. No other genre in the history of film has had as much trouble and confusion brought upon it. Westerns are easy (anything in the West), Sci-Fi as well (anything using Science as a mode of story telling)... and while both of these are the closest related genres to Noir, being that they are purely scenario and setting related, they have never been debated to such a bloody pulp (hah, I said pulp).
You know what else is a good Noir to check out? Brick. And that’s solid Noir. Believe me, it earned the title.
Clap if you agree.
P.S.- Other genres that may be confused for and connected to Noir: Mob/Gang, Mystery, and Detective which can all be more generally categorized under the Crime umbrella. And how sad is it that none of the films I mentioned are available on Blu-Ray? But this one is.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lookin At Mars In High Res

We’ve got High Resolution pics of the surface of Mars... I just think that’s pretty cool. Check it out!
image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows gullies near the edge of Hale crater on southern Mars.

Dracula Just Isn't Dracula Without The Music

I recently sat down to rewatch the classic Universal Dracula... you know, the one with Bela. And I was excited remembering how it used to frighten me when I was little. I wish I didn’t have such fond memories of the film. And I almost wish I hadn’t read the book between those old viewings and this latest one.
But something happened as the movie carried on... and on... and on. I was bored out of my mind. And then I remembered something I had been given by a friend... 

the Philip Glass neo-score to the classic film. I found the correct time and pressed play on both my iTunes and my Netflix, and this truly made all the difference. Suddenly the bland muted sound turned into colors... and certain key moments popped out, became creepy and interesting.
My favorite moment is Renfield crawling across the drawing room floor. It’s so damn menacing but his face is filled with utter delight. Oh movie magic.
So what’s interesting here is how much a score can effect a film. I know, I know. This isn’t new information, but just a little food for thought.
Now I’m a little scared to revisit Frankenstein... although, few things could be less entertaining than Mary Shelley’s “novel”. So we’ll see.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

So... Vampires Are Real??

You know, it’s funny how some fads can take off in a really big way. I’m a fan of True Blood, I think it’s a very well produced show with strong actors and interesting writing. The thing that confuses me though is the explosion of vampire culture. See HBO is putting the beverage Tru Blood on the market... which is kind of cool I guess. But it makes me feel like a bit of a geek. Here’s the thing, it seems the world is becoming very accepting of geekitude. And as a geek in many respects I’m excited, if not incredibly surprised.

Everything from Comicbook-culture (Star Trek to superheroes to vampirism) is now considered decidedly cool. What’s interesting about this is how far it has come. Not fifteen years ago these visions of intricate, alternate realities were left to the obscure. They were those secret little things you’d spend your time reading in the privacy of your room when no one could claim you were doing anything but sleeping.
I’m thinking, it is an example of technology’s ability to bring things closer together while all the while spreading them farther apart. When people go online and see a website has a massive audience (no matter how strange the site) they will be interested in at least learning what it’s all about. And once an odd thing like vampirism catches your eye, you will want to know just a little more and a little more. It’s good for conversation to be as knowledgeable about “everything” as you possibly can be. And everything includes obscure geek culture. But when everyone has access to the internet, and everyone has a multiverse of information at their fingertips, the word obscure almost loses meaning... Because there is literally too much. So nothing can be obscure if everything is obscure. There will always be an audience in some form or another. And the most amazing thing, I think people will actually buy this product... I might.