Friday, May 31, 2013

Best Guess Who's Nine Today?

My blog.  My blog is nine years old today.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Best Movie of the Summer?


So far, having seen Iron Man, Gatsby, Star Trek and Epic, I think my favorite movie of the summer might wind up being Badlands*, Terrance Malick's 1973 directorial debut, which I caught at the Film Forum the other week. Predating his floaty camera/close-ups of grass and fences aesthetic**, this teenage crime wave feature is tremendously satisfying. Often disturbing, sometimes funny, and totally riveting (in it's own odd way) it just left me so glad I went to the movies and wondering why people don't talk about this movie more. Let's call this movie the American Breathless. Or Swiss Family Manson. Whichever.

*Of course, I haven't seen Fast & Furious 6, so everything's still up in the air.
**I might have caught on to Malick a little late, but in the build-up for Tree of Life I fell for him hard. Suddenly prolific, I'm sitting out To the Wonder for fear of coming to resent his signature style. He's got two more movies he's filming or finishing, gotta ration out the love.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Best I Am Pretty Happy With My Memorial Day Weekend

My Memorial Day weekend: Pretty low key, but full of good stuff.

For starters, Cousin Danny and my Cousin-in-Law Cassie were in town for the weekend. 

We got lunch at the Brindle Room in the East Village. This picture doesn't do a good job of showing it off, but their burger belongs at the top of your NYC Burger Must List. Fatty and fancy, a perfect combination. 

Walking through the East Village, 80s/90s vintage shop Mr. Throwback was taking delivery of a Bsck to the Future'd out Delorean.

Danny: Making friends every where he goes!

Now my Memorial Day bad news: Roommate Derrin moved out.

The only good side to this change: I've got a couch now!

Spent the on and off rainy afternoon with Pearl and Briana in Williamsburg.

Where I nearly got a rug.

Best dude I've seen in ages. Making a custom T for a trip to Luger's. That's pretty gangster.

Overlap makes it look like Boar's Head is the party meat.

Today's Soup is: Absolutely No Fun At All

Went to this bar called the Commodore to try their Hot Chicken sandwich.

I commend the crunchiness, but its level of Hot was well under what I was hoping for. Something between a Prince's mild and medium. 

The ladies wanted to try Fette Sau. No arguing with that.

Sunday lunch. 

Headed to deep Slope (or Crown Heights or something?) for an Arrested Development Season 4 viewing party. A+ decorations and treats. Made it through four episodes.  They sort of made me dizzy.  I'm not sure if it was funny or just an impossibly clever Mobius strip.  There were two really funny parts involving a duck, though.

Monday! Started the day with a little recon to confirm that Shake Shack was making their Memorial Day corn dogs again this year. 

I swore here.  But it was five years ago.

Then I went and saw that movie Epic, or "2Fast2Forest" as I've been calling it. I found it to be a pretty fun fantasy adventure. This snail has nothing to do with it, but was in the theater. 

Came across New York's very small (one building) New Orleans District.

Then I went back to the Shake Shack to meet up with Chaunte and Jeff. The beautiful day brought out a classic gigantic SS line. Here's my attempt at taking a iPhone panorama photo of it. 


A Shack Stack, too! 

There's this, like, rope sculpture in the park.

Highly photographable.

Then we ventured to Brooklyn 

And attended a fine backyard cookout. 

Expecting a photo of another burger or something? Nope! Kale salad! 

Then walked to the J through patriotic Brooklyn.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Best Happy 30th Birthday

Return of the Jedi came out 30 years ago today. I was six and I was ready for it. While I have a tiny but vivid memory of my parents taking me to see Empire Strikes Back when I was three and a very fine memory of Dad taking me to see a re-release of Star Wars a year or two after that, when Episode Six came out I was fully inducted into Star Wars and prepared. I had talked about its change of name from Revenge of the Jedi to Return of the Jedi with my kindergarten friends. I had to go to a first grade orientation while an episode of Lights Canera Action, a movie preview show hosted by Leonard Nimoy on Nickelodeon*, dedicated to Jedi aired (we taped it. I remember it showing the filming of the sail barge fight). We watched news stories about it on TV, (featured were the Ewoks action figures were hidden by black boxes, keeping them secret until the film's release).  It must have been the first movie I got all worked up to see, a character trait I can't seem to shake.

The hardest thing for me when Return of the Jedi came out: the family had decided to wait to see it on my mom's birthday, well into June. How I suffered and agonized over this wait! Begged to get the picture book, but couldn't have it before I saw the movie.  I Just felt like I was going to die. Then finally, on a hot and sunny evening, we finally saw it.  It is my uncertain belief that we went to the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.  I remember taking it all in as deeply as I could, wishing it would never end.  It all looked so shiny and dark, it was just so good.

I watched Jedi again yesterday. I think it might be the funnest Star Wars movie. It still seems new whenever I watch it, it still feels like a long anticipated conclusion. Here are my bullet point observations from Friday's viewing:

  • In the opening crawl, Jabba the Hutt is described as a "vile gangster."  Such appropriate use of an adjective. 
  • I remember the very opening seconds of the movie from when I first second, our first glimpse of the half-finished Death Star, how cool it looks with half of it not there.  And then watching the shuttle lower out of an approaching Star Destroyer, wondering to myself: "What is that?" (Thinking for a split second it might be another robot, like from the beginning of the Empire Strikes Back) before its wings lower and it heads for the Death Star.
  • I like how the Death Star commander gulps nervously right before Darth Vader appears (there will probably be a lot of bullet points starting "I like...")
  • I like how the first act of the movie has no conflict between our heroes and the Empire.  It's like the first time since Luke gets attacked by the Sand People at the beginning of Episode Four that the Empire aren't the immediate villains.
  • Did the Special Edition make the gate to Jabba's palace bigger? (Yes, according to Wikipedia)
  • I love the Robot Eye doorman.  Always have.
  • And then I also love that large spider robot in the background when 3PO and R2D2 are entering the palace.
  • And I've always been a big Bib Fortuna fan.
  • And Salacious P Crumb, as well.  
  • When they're playing Luke's hologram message to Jabba, his gesture and delivery of the line "these two droids" is like something from an SNL sketch.
  • There are at least two ANH droid cameos in Jabba's droid jail.
  • The blues band added for the Special Edition leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.  Just as bad as Greedo shooting first.
  • I bet Return of the Jedi was the first movie I saw with subtitles.
  • "I'm out of it for a little while and everyone gets delusions of grandeur."  Best.
  • It's funny how Jabba's whole posse just sleeps in the living room.
  • The ethics of Jedi mindtricks, what are they?  How isn't it dark side to cloud other people's reasoning?
  • Everyone loves the sad Rancor keeper.
  • Kind of a lot of weird synth sounds during the palace sequence.  So 80's!!
  • Kind of always wondered where they kept the Sail Barge and skiffs and what it was like when everyone was getting onboard. 
  • Stupid new Sarlacc.
  • Did Boba Fett always have such a clear Mandalorian insignia on his shoulder?
  • As they're flying away from Tatooine, Luke tells R2D2 that he has a "promise to keep to an old friend."  Doesn't he mean to a friend that is old?  Because he's only known Yoda for a few years now.  Unless he means Obi Wan.  But it's not he hasn't known R2D2 longer than he's known Obi Wan.  And Obi Wan was dead most of that time.  LUKE!  What are you even talking about?  Stop being so dramatic with your droid.
  • Similarly, there's something disarming to how the Emperor says "Rise my friend" to the kneeling Vader in the very next scene.  In fact, there is no other dialogue between Luke's comment to R2D2 and the Emperor to Vader.  What contrast!  Who are the real friends, Luke and Yoda (or Obi Wan) or Darth and Palpatine?  There's a Book Club question if I've ever seen one!
  • Struck me in 1983 and it sticks with me now, there's nothing regal about this Emperor.  He's a witch.  You figure he lives somewhere dank, not in a palace of any sort.
  • As Yoda settles in to die, Luke finally asks him if Vader was his father.  Now I'd always assumed that Luke returned to continue training with Yoda and that's what he had been doing between Empire and Jedi.  He really never brought it up?  Didn't debrief with his Master about what happened in Cloud City?
  • It's only a surprise to us that Vader is Luke's father because we trust Vader to be telling the truth. Funny.
  • Imagine if Vader or the Emperor had set up a Google alert for the name "Skywalker."  Probably would have known exactly where Luke was growing up.
  • Hearing Obi Wan describe his friendship with Anakin Skywalker, I imagine Obi Wan meeting a hot shot pilot and deciding to train him to be a Jedi.  Maybe this young pilot is already married?  And there my alternative prequel trilogy begins.
  • Mon Mothma sure says "Bothans" a whole lot
  • I always liked Admiral Ackbar's eyeballs.
  • When Lando and Han are talking about the Millenium Falcon with the Falcon in the background? Matte painting obviousness is kind of out of control.
  • Funny how Han tells and tells Lando to take the Falcon and once Lando accepts Han starts worrying that Lando won't take care of it and that he'll never see his ship again.
  • The speeder bike chase is one of the greatest action sequences in the history of film.  So, so thrilling when they hop on and shoot off into the trees.  This is another scene I can remember watching in the theater and just thinking about all the time afterwards.
  • Wicket.  I just loved Wicket and the Ewoks.  Watching the movie, Wicket is who I identified with, who I wanted to be.  Everyone else was a grown up, Wicket was like a kid.  He made dumb mistakes but he was also valiant and a hero.  Older folks apparently hated the Ewoks but I never did, never had.  I was their target market age and the target market arrow's aim was true.
  • Don't understand why the animal carcass was attractive to Chewie.  Was he really going to eat it? Han, don't you ever let your friend eat?  Is he really in the habit of chowing down on whatever meat he comes across?
  • Just noticed: Luke and Han's little smiles when the Ewoks appear.  Yeah, they're cute.  Everyone gets it.
  • Just realized: Luke lets the Ewoks capture them.  Luke let's the Ewoks almost cook all of them.  There's no resistance, they totally surrender.
  • And it's funny how the Ewoks completely ignore the commands of their new god, C3P0.  And how they've already got one human around that they like (Leia), but they'll just go and cook these other ones.
  • BUT how fresh is it when 3P0 gets the Ewoks up to speed on the Star Wars saga so far and uses sound effects and everything?  Surprising that the Special Editions didn't add him telling what happened in Episodes I through III.
  • Funny when Han gets double-cuddled by Leia and Wicket.
  • When Luke tells Leia that she is his sister, we cannot help but imagine the Jedi Leia that he describes.  That's who we would have seen if Episode VII had been made twenty years earlier.
  • It's so exciting to see the AT-AT at the Endor landing platform.
  • And yet another shuttle!  That's three!  AND another super obvious matte painting.
  • Imperial Guards!  
  • It's so evil of the Emperor to say that Luke's "faith in his friends" is his weakness.  That's a bad thing to say.  It goes against all the ideas of good.
  • Why is Empire always just capturing people?  Why didn't they just gun all the Rebels down in the bunker?  Or Han and Leia after she got shot in the arm?  These people blow up planets!  Why are Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru the only two corpses in the whole series?!
  • The Ewoks, however, are straight gangster and show their enemies no mercy at all.
  • I swear the movie used to show the hangglider Ewok getting stepped on by an AT-ST.  Because it disturbed me so much, seemed so sadistic to include.  Does anyone else think they remember something like that?
  • The space battle, above Endor, first of all is the absolute best.  But did they add that Blockade Runner for the Special Editions?  Must have.
  • Admiral Ackbar has a very floppy hand.
  • I remember, watching the movie as a kid, kind of being able to tell that the black Ewok that helps capture the AT-ST was, you know, a black Ewok.
  • When Luke attacks Vader after Vader says "Sisssterr"?  That part of the fight is so good.  So emotional.  Raw, you know?
  • The ships flying around inside the Death Star, that's so cool.  Like the Speeder Bikes, it's always good, forever and ever.
  • One of my absolute favorite parts of the movie: When the A-Wing crashes into the Executor's bridge and brings the whole thing down into the Death Star.
  • Look how no one inside the Death Star stops to help Luke and Vader.  They're all running around, trying to save themselves.  There's a lesson there.  About evil people not being good friends.
  • Luke taking Darth's helmet off.  Absolute silence in the theater.  Everyone holding their breath for the unveiling of the thing we've been dying to see since 1977.  And total disbelief that he's this old eggheaded man.  But good move with how the Special Editions removed his eyebrows.
  • Like my own dad does, I'm not so sure I believe in the redemption of Darth Vader.  He was an the accomplice to the death of billions of people.  He was a bad dude.  He killed children and his wife.  I don't like my Darth Vader softened, I don't like him the unwitting servant to the Emperor.  He's one of civilizations great villains, that's who he should be.
  • Is someone crowdsurfing in the celebration on Coruscant scene?
  • I miss the classic Ewok song.  That's one of the worst things we lost to the Special Editions.
  • Do you think a lot of the Rebels adopted Ewoks?  Like as pets?  Or servants?  Jesters?
  • And does Leia see the three ghosts like Luke does?  Can everyone?  Is Luke just crazy? Would anyone believe him if he told them?
Anyway, those are the notes that I could not help but write down as I watched Jedi.  Have you any Return of the Jedi thoughts or memories to share?

 *HOLY COW! I've found that very episode on YouTube! See, young Brigham, you didn't have anything to worry about. You'd be able to catch that episode again just 30 years later on the internet. And I was right! It's totally about the Sail Barge!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Best My LA Trip Ended With Art

This is how the LA trip ended. It went with Grandma to the LACMA. To see its world famous Stanley Kubrick exhibit.  Here is a little production model of the War Room from Dr. Strangelove.

Here are some of his lenses.

Here are two pictures from his photographer days that I liked:

Various 2001 props and models:

You know what I've actually never seen the Shining.  But I think I get the general idea.

We saw other art, too.

Voltaire.  I don't usually like posting two pictures of the same thing but, come on!

To the Contemporary Building . . .

Gigantic red elevator.

There's this amazing construct there called Metropolis 2. I've got 9 years to come back on a weekend and see it in operation.

Back at Grandma's, two pieces from the Taylor collection were on display.

We went to dinner at Taylor's (no relation) Steak House with Aunt Louise and Uncle Bob.

And here are Grandma's Mother's Day Flowers, from the Barnes Family.

And that's my whole Los Angeles trip! (Not pictured: Uneventful trip to Burbank Airport and flight home to New York)