Music and Comics

...And A hot Chick...


Once upon a time around March 2007 (with April creeping, creeping up, it’s probably here- staring at me)

A rant: I am sick of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys. Or rather, I hate that the radio station I listen to at work do nothing but play their songs non-stop, at least once every half hour. People in Austin seriously cannot be calling in and requesting their tunes all the time, can they?

About ten years ago, on KROQ, the same thing happened with Jane Says- you would hear the song every ten minutes or so, which I can stand because I actually liked that song. And it kept on going until someone wrote an article I the LA Times about how it was the most played song on ‘alternative’ radio stations in the country and even interviewed the Jane that the song was named after.

Since then I have hardly heard that song on the radio.

Can the person that wrote that article do the same with the Peppers and the Beasties?

Pretty please?

And on a music related note- the Cure are finally over (or at the very least, is now very mainstream and thus losing the respect of skinny Goth freaks like me everywhere): apparently Lovesong was sung by one of the American Idol contestants.

Now shut up while I listen to Disintegration, Faith, Seventeen Seconds, Wish and/or The Head on the Door for the 100,000,000,000,000th time (the other albums I have only listened to 99,999,999,999,999 times).

An interesting thing to behold or at least ponder about: With all of the hubbub about illegal downloading of music and movies, did you know you could also illegally download comic books via bit-torrent and other file sharing thingamajigs?

So, every Wednesday, some schmuck buys a comic book, scans all of the pages in and then makes it available to everyone with a fast connection speed and/or is too cheap to buy that book? This is just ridiculous.

Bootlegged comics- the next thing you know unoriginal people are going to cut and paste other people’s blogs unto their own and then suing the original writer for plagiarism.

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Filipino Thoughts


Once upon a time around March 2007 (with April creeping, creeping up)

There were about 250,000 Filipinos who helped out American forces in World War II, recruited around 1941. They were promised full veteran’s benefits. The war ended in 1945. In 1946 Congress reversed on the decision to give those benefits. Only 20,000 of them are still alive.

Representative Mike Honda of California is sponsoring the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, a bill to grant the surviving 20,000 the benefits they were promised.


I just wanted to throw that out there for all of you to know.


I am not too sure on my family’s involvement during World War II. Both of my parents and their siblings were too young to participate (well, one aunt was at least a teenager at the time), although I remember tales told by my Dad’s brother of watching dog fights overhead on the beach by their seaside village of Mulanai (never sure of how the place was spelled) but he could have been joshing me.

On my mother’s side (which lived in the mountains of Luzon where I was eventually born- although I claim the sea as well as part of my heritage), there is Japanese blood from before the war started (although no one wants to admit it or talk about it- if you see my mom and her siblings and even some of my cousins- I am looking at you Ayn & Byron- it is very apparent that somewhere down the line there someone who originated from the land of the rising son).

I have half remembered overheard conversations from relatives that they used to hide friends and family members who were of Japanese descent (at the time, there were second or third generation Japanese-Filipinos amongst the population- not sure nowadays; although Chinese-Filipinos are still abundant; Corazon Aquino was one and so is my Uncle Fred who is Taiwanese-Filipino).

These Japanese-Filipinos had nothing to do with the war and like the ones we sent to internment camps were just victims of being in the wrong place and at the wrong time. If the half remembered overheard conversations could be trusted, I do not think one of those that were hidden had a happy ending as anyone looking Japanese was not trusted and were subject to witch hunts by the other locals.

Thinking not about the Philippines lately but of my memories of the place (there is a funny thing at Mr. Jam’s site you need to read by the way about who we fobs are and how we survive the insanity that is the world of today, mostly we use puns: http://mrjam.typepad.com/diary/wit_of_the_philippines/index.html ).

The Philippines of my memory is one of a depressed lower class, Smokey Mountain (the city that literally grew out of a garbage dump), a lively and struggling to survive middle class and the snobby upper class. Of course, there are also the Jeepneys, people selling balut at 3am, a volcano that puts Mt. Fuji to shame, being chased by dogs (not fun), endless fields of green and smog that makes Los Angeles look a mountain resort, the most beautiful beach I have ever been to, bad, corny humor, the bus ride from Manila to Baguio, the big cathedral in Baguio and the hawkers there, relatives in their early to late twenties trying so damned hard to be hip, Camp John Hay, Nanay and Tatay, the big turtle that was on their local version of Sesame Street and TV variety and game shows that are were popular then (and probably now- back then they already, at least twenty years ago, had their local versions of Idol).

It has been said by some better than me that general and pop culture here now is matching what was already there two decades ago. And with the popularity of Idol and the widening gap between classes, my friend, it is coming true.

But I do not think you can expect people selling you balut at three in the morning. Just cable guys trying to sell you cable while you are making/eating dinner.

I would not live there again; this place is too much my home. As stated on Mr. Jam’s site: [The Philippines is run with] a 24-hour comedy show [t]here called the government and a huge reserve of comedians made up mostly of politicians and bad actors.

Eventually I would like to visit again though. If only to see people who look like me, eat some palabok and to visit that one beach again.

PS: Going back full circle to World War II, Filipina activist Evangeline "Vangie" Canonizado Buell wrote that back then in Oakland (originally found liked at www.racilicious.com ), she had to wear a button that read “I AM A LOYAL FILIPINO” so she would not be harassed because she was Asian and thus, then - and now probably- mistaken as Japanese.

Oh, and “No Filipino or Dogs allowed” signs in restaurants. Laugh all you want and make Bruce Lee jokes, the sad fact is that those signs existed.

Vangie continues:

"When I was walking in San Francisco with Bill (her husband) down the street to go to the Opera, and, you know, it was a crowded street, a white man came up to me and called me all kinds of names and said, 'You shouldn't even be here,' " Buell says.

"That was only a year ago," she adds.


Nothing ever changes does it?

Sigh…and learn how America continues to hate us Asian people at http://cky-brandon-dicamillo-racist.blogspot.com/








And on a completely different topic: I got called old today because I knew what Lollapalooza was.
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Hate Crime

Once upon a time around March 2007 (with April creeping, creeping up)

From Angry Asian Man:

Some follow-up on Marie Martinez, who was beat up last week on a New York bus for looking "Chinese." (ATRICLE BELOW)A 14-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy have been arrested in connection with the beating. Police from the hate crimes task force identified the younger teen after finding her bookbag on the B82 bus on which Martinez was attacked. What about all the others in the pack of kids that punched, kicked and taunted her? And what about the idiot bus driver who witnessed the assault and simply told Martinez (who was wearing her Catholic school uniform) to "go talk to a priest"? This was a hate crime, and that's racist! An online petition is being circulated calling for the MTA and NYPD conduct a full and complete investigation into the incident, as well as disciplinary action to be taken towards the bus driver: Condemn anti-Asian hate crimes and hold MTA accountable!The Petition is at http://www.petitiononline.com/mtahate1/petition.html

DRIVER DOES NOTHING AS TEENS ATTACK HER ON BUS
By DAN MANGAN and LEELA de KRETSER

NIGHTMARE: Marie Martinez, in her bloodstained coat yesterday, was attacked on a B82 bus.March 18, 2007 -- A Catholic-high-school student said she was brutally punched, kicked and teased for looking "Chinese" by a pack of kids as she rode a city bus home from school - and claims the bus driver did nothing except tell her to "go to a priest." Marie Stefanie Martinez, 17 - still bruised and battered after her ordeal - says she was wear ing her uniform when she was attacked by a group of 10 black teenagers shortly after step ping on to the B82 bus at 3:30 p.m. Friday. "I'm just so glad the kids didn't have a weapon. If they did, I could have died if they stabbed me with a pen or something," said Martinez, from the Phil ippines. The brazen beating began as the bus pulled away from Ocean Avenue and Kings Highway, where Martinez boarded with her pal, Sherell. "When we got on they were al ready whis pering and mak ing noises and everything," Martinez said. "They were like 'I'm not letting you past' and everything. They were laughing." The scared schoolgirl said she was laughed at when she tried to defend herself, with the bullies mocking her accent. "They were pulling my hair, pulling my hair, opening my book bag!" she said. "I said, 'Leave me alone. I'm not doing anything to you.' "That's when they started to crowd around me. The boy punched me twice in my face and my mouth." Martinez said she was ultimately saved by a man in his 30s, who pulled her from the group. The honors student then told the driver what happened, and he shockingly said to go to talk to a priest. She instead opted to file a report at the 63rd Precinct. Lourdes Maduindam, Martinez's aunt and legal guardian, said when she saw her niece, "She was bleeding like crazy from her noise and mouth. She had a headache and was dizzy. "Thank God there's no fracture." Martinez said she is so afraid that she doesn't know how she'll get to school tomorrow. "I am terrified. I'm scared to take the bus," she said. "I can't sleep. I've tried to sleep, but I can't. I'm too afraid to." Martinez's lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, said the family will sue the MTA. "How did the bus driver let this happen?" Arnold said. "You have 13 kids making a commotion. This guy just turned a blind eye to it. "He shirked his responsibility to this child." The MTA could not immediately comment. Additional reporting by Eric Lenkowitzdan.mangan@nypost.com
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you, me and VNV

Once upon a time around March 2007 (with April creeping, creeping up)

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy…

JOY!

I am so happy, oh-so-happy.

And what not…

My new favourite band of all time* VNV NATION finally announced their Southwest/West Coast shows with a stop at the White Rabbit in San Antonio on June 15th.

The White Rabbit is an awesome venue although I fear it may actually be too small for them. If an Austin show also pops up, you can bet your pappy I will be there too. If I were a millionaire I would go to all their shows and buy you tickets too.

This should be fun.


“Nothing’s ventured, nothing’s gained- so I should seize the day.”





*(dethroning the Cure after like a bazillion years- nothing against them, though- Robert Smith still kicks ass but this is not about them)

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Good Stuff and Bad Stuff

The New Mural
Once upon a time around March 2007

Starting off on a serious note, an article at
http://www.nypost.com/seven/03182007/news/regionalnews/girls_bloody_beating_regionalnews_dan_mangan________and_leela_de_kretser.htm reports that a Filipino girl was brutally attacked on a bus home from school by at least ten other ten teenagers because she looked Chinese. Just for that and no other reason. The bus driver, of course, did nothing and just told her to go to a priest.

WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ABOUT?

First, we still live in world where you can beat up a kid for the way they look and get away with it? Then, what is the deal with the bus driver? Some heads better be stomped into little itty bits by huge stomping boots because of this. Global warming cannot come soon enough so we can be rid of people like these.

Then there is this story at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6473897.stm where some folk in Indonesia have been arrested for beheading Christian school girls. It just does not get any better does it? This horrible plague called humanity. That tsunami got all the wrong people.

Let us just get the beheaders and the bus beater uppers with their bus driver in a small room let them rip. That or I would love to Battle Royale them up. Any survivors (in either situation) get an RPG in their chest (and I do not mean Dungeons and Dragons).




Anyway:


To get my mind off that topic, think about this: Only in Xena can there be a submarine episode set in ancient Greece. And be serious about it.

The Cure is going to be playing in Hong Kong on July 30th of this year. How cool is that going to be? Anyone got two pairs to tickets and airfare to spare? And while we are at it, can anyone send me to M’era Luna as well?

The Cure is also in Miami this weekend, but I have no need to see them in the Wang of the Nation.

And continuing on with the good, happy news that does not involve beating people up on the bus or cutting their heads off, they are making another comics related mural by the [new] Golden Apple in Northridge (as reported at http://www.dailynews.com/entertainment/ci_5480155 ).

The original mural is a happy memory of mine as it felt like a security blanket when I first moved to the big city. I was disappointed when they painted over it, too bad they were not able to declare it a landmark or something. I am sure that back then when people were giving directions, they were like: When you see Wolverine take a right turn at the next light. Or something like that.

I never cared for the Free Enterprise movie, but own it because there is a scene that occurs that shows the mural in all its glory as well as a scene inside the original Northridge Golden Apple.

[The problem with the new mural is that it will not be as visible as the old one- from what I can tell at least. This new one is not only in a blind spot; shrubbery may obscure it as well. But from the picture, the main image is once again a recreation of Frank Miller’s cover to the first Wolverine mini-series.]

And I might have mentioned this before, but on clear nights at the house I can see stars (I could not see them for crap at the apartment or back in Northridge but they were plenty visible in the outskirts of Ventura County and Santa Barbara). Better still, I can see and recognize at least two constellations (Orion and the Big Dipper). I am close enough to the city to get some glare and the view would not be as great if I were way, away from the city, but I am looking forward to spending summers on the roof just staring up.

[Back to bad news again, I have got to enjoy this while it lasts- at the pace they are building things around here pretty soon I will not be able to recognize Orion if he shot me full of arrows himself]

Someone out there is throwing rumors that the local PBS station might show the new Doctor Series on Thursday nights repeating on Saturday nights.

THAT. WOULD. BE. AWESOME.

Especially if they show the new series that begins March 31st in the old country.

I have not talked about 24 in a while, have I? I am still watching the new episodes as they come but since the two parter the show seems to have come to a slump. They are still exiting, with great openings and endings on each installment but it seems as if all you had to do was watch the first five minutes and the last five minutes and you will have seen everything you needed to know. The show was essentially a donut.

The episode this week was better though as we learn what has happened to the formerly Drippy Audrey who is now covered by a Tarp Audrey. Speculation online had bets that Jack’s revenge comes into play next season or the inevitable movie. I say it will come sooner and it will involve the mysterious exchange President Palmer-Wood had to give the Chinese for Jack in the beginning of the season.

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Do you expect me to talk?

Once upon a time around March 2007

Seen at SXSW: The Hoodoo Gurus. They sound like a band from the late eighties that came from Australia. I have not heard of their tunes previously, but it just kept creeping into my head: They sound like they are from down under (and not necessarily like Man At Work or, god forbid INXS, just that their sound just has that down under feel). Otherwise it was a fun show with one totally awesome surfer guitar song that surprised the hell out of me. .

Lessons learned from this year’s SXSW: Because I could not afford wristbands (again) and the decidedly crappy line up of headliners, I focused my attention onto the day shows. Now I only attended one due to time constraints and lack of sleep (stupid Turtles) but I managed to have fun. The sets were short which is merciful for a band like Payback (who were on before the Hoodoo Gurus) and a tease for a more well known bands that are usually dong a showcase later in the festival.

There were more day shows I wanted to see, but not desperately so. So next year I plan to pay more attention to the day shows. Another thing I might invest in next time is the film pass. With all the attention on the music, people forget sometimes about the movies. At $60-$70 it is a little more affordable than the $120-$200 wristbands for the music. If I can take a week off, there is at least two or three movies I would be interested to see at least once a day. I really would have liked to have seen the latest from Johnny To, Exiled.

Maybe next year.

Seen this weekend:

One and a have seasons with Xena, which Holly has never seen before. A definite guilty pleasure, the show does not get as much respect as other shows, which is interesting at the least as it runs through a lot of ground that Buffy would a few years later with the humor, Hong Kong inspired martial arts, homosexuality and musical episodes. We are currently halfway through season three.

I saw episodes when the show was on, enough to like it better than the show it spun off from and also enough to be happy when there was one that I have never seen before. Due to its syndicated nature, they tended to recycle the same episodes over and over (mostly from the first two or three seasons) and it was unpredictable when a new one would be on.

I was able to catch the finale when it was released on DVD and still think it is one of the best finales of any show ever- second only to the totally awesome Angel finale.

Plus- Bruce Campbell. Hail to the king, baby.

Would it have hurt to have at least one show where Ash falls through a portal and tell the primitive Greek screwheads that THIS A BOOMSTICK!

Oh, well I guess.
Also seen: Two movies that showcase the sport/martial art/boredom reliever that should rightfully be called Jackie Chanism and instead they refer to it as Parkour or Free Running- District B13 and Casino Royale. One was better than I expected and the other was not (until the second viewing where I may rethink my opinion).

I have to got to watch District B13 again eventually. You would think that from the way the movie was advertised, it contained nothing but wall to wall parkour (pun intended). It is still awesome in that HK inspired Luc Besson produced French action movie manner (I love the Taxi movies, Danny the Dog [hell, even Kiss of the Dragon] but could care less about the Transporter movies although the second one was an improvement), but as since us Yanks will not get to see the BBC documentary Jump London anytime soon- this is as close as we get to see Parkour properly explained and performed (the one in Casino Royale had more CGI assists).

By the way, I do not care if Besson ever directs another movie again- if he continues his streak of producing action flicks (and letting us Stateside watch them) I’ll keep supporting them. By the way, the Taxi movies I have are ‘imports’ that I was lucky to discover at one of the used DVD places around here. Too bad the remake failed otherwise we could look forward to Taxi 4 when it comes out.

As for Mr. Bond, Casino Royale is my favourite Bond movie now. I am not a huge Bond fan; I enjoyed the Pierce Brosnan ones for what they were: mindless entertainment. They were fun in that manner. Brosnan is a better actor that they let him be and it is a shame they never let him expand the Bond role. For the record: I never saw the Connery ones (or if I did, was too young to remember or make an impression), the Moore ones were cheesier than the Brosnan ones and the Dalton ones were more missed opportunities.

Daniel Craig made a good first, more inexperienced James Bond. Different from the rest but equally valid I fear that in his follow up movies, we will get more of the Bond the world knows of (although I cheered at the last scene where he finally tells up his name). I like the quiet fighter of this Bond who wants when he meets Vesper to leave it behind to retain his humanity.

Overall, it is still mindless entertainment, but it is nearing the border to make it more significant. As many bloggers have said, the filmmakers need to venture into R-rated territory and that is not going to happen (not enough money in it).

So bring on S.P.E.C.T.R.E., bring on the new Q, bring on Blofeld, hell-I would live to see a new and improved Odd Job. But keep this Bond the way he is who does not need the gadgets- just his wits and his fists.

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son of a pitch

Once upon a time around March 2007

In distant days I loge to sense it all so clear…

Anyway

The Birthday Massacre starts their tour in August and I hope they play some cool venues in town. VNV Nation still has not posted their second leg of their tour which is supposed to hit my neck of the woods. The Cure are doing something this year too as well as Combichrist. Now, do me a favour and do not, please for the sake of all that is good and affordable, do not play all on the same day or even in the same month- stretch out your tours at least six moths apart. I am financially challenged but I would like to see you guys play and not have to choose who I would rather see (If anyone asks, VNV over everyone else [unless Apoptygma Berzerk does something as I have not seen them live yet] followed by TBM then the Norwegians from Atlanta and then the hair challenged ones who have not played in this town in over twenty years anyway).

Sleep deprivation is a funny thing. You do various things to force your self to stay awake. I pretty much become Snake Eyes when I am half asleep (funky speech, not slurred but almost dyslexic, so I stay mute, but not ninja-like- otherwise I function okay if I stay focused on something). I also slap and pinch myself to stay awake. Or walk up und down ten flights of stairs. Coffee just makes me visit the bathroom quite a bit. Loud music only helps if it is song is not one I heard lately. Short power naps work the best though. And keeping my mind busy.

So here I am trying to stay busy.

…………..………….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………………………….


Wha?!

There is a pitch throwing thing going on at Moonstone Books- one of those lesser known comic book companies out there. By pitch throwing I mean you give them ideas for a concept and they either steal your ideas or they hire you to flesh out your concepts. The thing ended a few days ago and I was surprised it was not publicized more; I mean I was lucky to have even heard about it. Or they did not want a billion worthless ideas thrown at them; instead they just got my useless idea.

Moonstone Books is best known for licensing cult properties for their books like the old Kolchak TV show, the Phantom and some books on the White Wolf RPG games if memory serves me right. I am sleep deprived, remember. I read the first Vampire: The Masquerade book they did because of some gorgeous Vince Locke artwork but other than that I steered away from their stuff. I just had no interest.

The pitch thing was for an old toy property known as Captain Action- one of those Mego-type toys where you get a generic toy that you can redress as whatever superhero interests you at the moment. A doll for boys is what it was. But Moonstone Books let you clear the ground and do whatever with the property, you just had to presumably keep the ‘master of disguise’ aspect that comes with the property. So, while I wait for my rejection notice let us take a look at the pitch I threw at them shall we?

Now keep in mind that I put this pitch together in thirty minutes or less and sent it in. Yeah, I know, not very refined- but it is a mental activity I like to do (FYI: my car has had no working radio in it for about ten years now). I stole it from the Neil Gaiman Calliope story in the Sandman where a writer was temporarily cursed with too many ideas and throws out one sentence stories like ‘a guy inherits a library card to the one that was in Alexandria’. I like to come up with the beginning at least for a story based on something like that.

One that I have been trying to get my head around is a murder on the international space station. I know how they did it and who did it, I just cannot place the story in an order that I am satisfied with.

But anyway: Captain Action the Pitch that was born from my head like that God that came from the head of Zeus (watching way too many Xena lately) or a zit. Whatever works. This is © me until I say otherwise or you pay me enough.

The Premise:
A master of disguise, Captain Action is brought back into a world that no longer wants or needs him!

The Character:
Captain Action was the code name for a super secret agent in the sixties and the seventies. ‘Was’ being the operative word. A master of disguise, he retired when the Berlin Wall fell, believing that his work was done. Since then he has observed the world on the sidelines and is content with living a normal life.

The Captain has never taken any credit for his work during the cold war. From time to time, others have claimed to have done the work he did. This does not bother him as some of that was orchestrated by his Masters to protect his cover and to protect the Agency and his country for some of the more heinous things that that was done. Like when the hidden corpse of Hitler was stolen for the formula of New Coke.

It has been a while since he has donned a disguise. He has no need to.

The Story:
Happily ever after never lasts does it? Almost twenty years since his last mission, the Captain watches the news and doesn’t believe his eyes. He sees the identity he took on that last mission wanted for murder!

This should not concern him. It does not, at first. After all, it’s not like he’s the one wanted for murder.

But it nags at him, like an itch he can’t reach.

Begrudgingly, he unpacks his disguise kit and heads out to uncover this mystery. He no longer has any contact with his former Masters; in fact, the Agency he worked for was mothballed at least ten years ago.

On his own, he travels the world searching for clues, encountering old friends who forgot he exists and enemies who no longer hate him. His once reliable ability to disguise himself doesn’t work all the time. And his world wide trip is stretching his budget.

Will he find out who did it before they find out he’s back? Or worse, out of money?

And who are the Last of The Famous International Playboys?

How it will all work:
This take on Captain Action takes a page out of the old pulps, the recent Agents of Atlas mini-series and Warren Ellis’ Fell and Tom Defalco’s MC2 works in that each issue being totally accessible to new readers.

The Captain lives in a world of superheroes but not superpowers. In this world, costumed heroes came about during the Depression, fought in World War II, battled the communists and now fight the War against Terror. The difference between them and the Captain is that the Captain worked for the Agency during the Cold War, sometimes taking the identity of a costumed hero as it befitted the mission. Or when he was ordered to.

The Captain returns to the world he thought he left behind with no resources but his old disguise kit. He’s fallen behind the times a bit, technology sometimes seeing through his many guises, other times being to his advantage.

My proposal for Captain Action would be for an initial short mini-series, about four issues in length. The stories I have in mind would be slightly tongue in cheek. Each issue breaks down as follows

Issue 1: Intro to the mystery, journey to Europe to the tombs of the last living Cro-Magnon man who died in 1988 in Paris during a New Wave Concert; the threat of the Last of The Famous International Playboys is found.

Issue 2: Still in Europe, attacked by John Woo Fanatics and a senior citizen lost in Mera Luna, the world’s largest Goth music festival

Issue 3: The Last of The Famous International Playboys Strike! And a journey to Hong Kong and the hidden secret of Cantopop!

Issue 4: Is it magic? Or just good marketing? The mystery solved! A trip to the most dangerous place in the world-TEXAS! And the Last of The Famous International Playboys revealed! Plus, New Coke returns to haunt the world! And the true meaning of ACTION!

Captain Action. The world left him behind. He was content with that. Now, he has to relearn true the meaning of ACTION! After which he will begin kicking you and you will explode.


Okay the last bit I stole from Warren Ellis. And the concepts I threw out were obviously inspired/ripped off from his works. Yes I am unoriginal. Or I am Chuck Austen. Kudos if you know who Chuck is. Now get away from me.

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I love being a turtle

Once upon a time around March 2007

Kudos to Big Louie for getting into at Michigan to further his education- one of the smartest people I know although unfortunately one day we shall tremble at his feet as he is one day destined to conquer the world and force us to listen to his rantings and Rage Against The Machine (who were forced to reunite just by his glares at Zach).

I tried to avoid talking about this, but it creeps into my mind like a virus. The British have launched Skynet.

Sarah Connor has failed!

And to add more to the mix, the question has been brought up regarding granting robots rights. Which is cool and all, especially if they ever gain sentience, but please don’t look like a Duracell.

Seriously, though both scenarios listed above were found on news sites the past couple of weeks or so and not at a Blockbuster.

The post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi waste land is upon us and the machines are the future.

TMNT REVIEW:
Turtle power indeed. I am not sure if this is considered a SXSW film or not but I am considering it one. Because I can. Deal with it. What it was is one of those www.aintitcool.com screenings that they hold here it town every now and then and is definitely one of the perks of living in Austin. The catch, of course, is getting your name on the list to get into the screenings. So far I have been to two free ones including this one (the other was Corpse Bride-totally awesome) and one that the wife and I paid to attend (a Veronica Mars one). So, thanks, Harry, for putting my name on your website so everyone can now hate me. The line starts to the right.

Anyway, back to the Turtles and the short of it is this: this movie made me feel like a kid again. If you were a Turtles fan growing up and loved that first movie- you would love this movie as well as it is better executed. There is a little more of a fantasy spin to the story, but the theme of brotherhood aspect is the heart of this story. The theme is a little forced but it does its job to bring together our old friends together again as well as the bad guys.

It is a short, tightly plotted movie (about 90 minutes or so) that leaves no filler and to talk more about the story will just spoil it. Suffice to say, I enjoyed it as a mid-level fan (enjoyed the original toon as a kid, cannot watch it now, love the first movie, loved the original comics that I could find and like the current toon).

So specifics:

The animation: The human characters reminded me of Ken and Barbie dolls that bugged me the first few minutes they were on but as you get into more of the story you forget about it. The turtles and other creatures look great though. Jeff Matsuda is a god amongst character designers. The Hong Kong based animation company did a great job overall and I am happy to hear that they have other projects coming up. I think the last time a CGI movie that was more action based was made was the Final fantasy film and Square Pictures was never heard of again.

The action: Intense for a PG rated movie (I had no idea of the rating going in). The much talked about Leo-Raph fight is cool as reported although in my opinion they pulled in too much at times and did not let the audience see the moves the two masters made.

The Turtles: Old friends you are happy to see again.

The ninjas: I want some of my own to command. The set up for the City of War makes me want the sequel now!

The voice acting: The wife said it best when she mentioned to me that the actors were allowed to be just themselves and not be too over the top like you hear from the Shrek and Shrek wannabe movies. Zhang Ziyi is just sexy. And I applaud the choice to not use name actors to voice the Turtles. I did not miss Corey Feldman but it might have cool to hear a cameo from Ernie Reyes, Jr.

MAKO: Taken too soon. A grandfather figure for all Asian Americans, I almost met him at Dragonfest a couple of years back but held back because I did not know what to say to him. Instead my friends and I just joked amongst ourselves about how or Grandpa probably gets more chicks than us. I loved his deliveries in the movie and especially his toot-toot-toot song. It was also nice to see Splinter get into the action as well. My favourite of the supporting characters, he is just too cool.

Story: The story was b-movie stuff, but the good kind of B-movie. Kinda like Big Trouble in Little China and Ghostbusters. The movie’s tale actually feels like it could have been thought up in the eighties. And best of all, to me this movie felt like an eighties movie in the vein of the two previously mentioned.

The Presentation: I love it when Aint-it-Cool does things like this. I actually got a question in at the Q&A (partly because the wife is from Hong Kong and wanted to know how a HK company got picked to do the animation. The tale that Kevin Munroe spewed is one of those Only-in-Hong-Kong tales of a guy whose father owns 60% of the Christmas tree business in the world and how he did not want to inherit his father’s business). But the questions really got thin as people began asking the guy esoteric questions about the TMNT comic book.

Overall: A Minus. Awesome to fans of the Turtles, Newbies might enjoy it as well especially if all they are expecting is stuff to entertain the kids for an hour or so. It is not perfect, but the imperfections may just be part of the charm of this movie.





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Musicpocalypse

Once upon a time around March 2007

So what counts for indie rock nowadays anyway? This I ask since I live in the indie rock capitol of the world? Do I have to be like the obnoxious characters from High Fidelity to enjoy it (the movie, not the book which is on my to-read list)? I am currently listening to the first Interpol CD which was released on the Matador label and enjoying them. Does that mean I like indie rock? Or since they have been played on the radio, does that take away their indie cred? (Strange observation: much has been written about Interpol being heirs apparent to Joy Division, but something must be said of their Pixies influenced Joey Santiago California surf guitars- apparent on songs like Stella was a Driver) All this and more as I have just realized that I am no longer part of the contemporary collective consciousness when it comes to music- be it popular, mainstream, indie or that hated word- alternative.

But then again, neither are you. The playlist of the local wannabe KROQ is 60% songs from the 1990-2005, 25% from 1980-1990 and the remaining 15% from the past two years or so (of which are songs that are repeated at least once every 90 minutes). Of all those, you hear songs from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys at least once an hour. And roughly once every two hours or so, I will hear a song that I like, granted that they did not play it earlier that day or I did not hear it from one of the CD’s I brought with me.

Long story short: Your taste in music sucks.

The good thing about it: Since your taste in music sucks, I am forced to go out and find better music than what you request to put on the radio. 75% of what I find is crap as they want to sound like what you hear on the local radio, 24% are one hit wonders and the remaining 1% are genius. But music lovers all live for that 1%.

Something to be happy about: There is no current version of Hootie and the Blowfish out there (that I know of, if there are, I am happy being ignorant of them). The last thing the world needs now is that kind of yuppie-frat-boy-adult-contemporary rock. They had music videos about golf, for crying out loud.

Something to be sad about: The American Idol phenomenon. This is very much a sign of the apocalypse. Beware if they ever add a fourth commentator to the proceedings. But then again, the way Seacrest looks famished might prove that he is the fourth horseman just waiting for his official invite to join the other three.

To wit:

Randy: War
Paula: Pestilence
Simon: Death
Seacrest: Famine

They are just biding their time I tell you. But first they have to dumb down the general populace so we do not know it is happening unless it is too late.


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Small Stuff

Once upon a time around March 2007

This one goes out to all the folks at Casa Pacifica: Hey, doesn’t Steve Carrell’s character on the Office remind you guys of Sloyan? They look alike, talk alike, have very similar personalities, and have the same initials and even the same first name. I know the character is based on David Brent from the British Office, but maybe Sloyan knew Greg Daniels back in the day? Of course, Sloyan is more of a professional than the guy on the Office, but if you ever listen to the jokes that Mike makes or laughs at, you would think that the next staff party would be at Chili’s.


One thing I like about weekends is that I do not have to hear that Fall Out Boy song (Arms Dealer or something) that is all over the radio every five minutes or so (which is on pretty constantly at work unless I am listening to a CD or something). I did not like the song the first time I heard it and I do not like it now, it sounds for all the world like a Ricky Martin tune- which is another level of hell altogether. That song is now on my list of the most hated and irritating songs ever. And Fall Out Boy is on my sniper list. The makers of the cell phone commercial that features that song is also deserving of a horrible, horrible fate.





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Celeb Deaths and Fob Equity


Once upon a time around March 2007

And with March comes spring break (held the same week by all educational centers all over Austin, which I still think is odd; where I came from they want to keep the adult students away from the underage ones). And at the same time comes SXSW, probably the best event of the year in this town.

And as with last year, I am too poor to buy a wristband, despite the fact that to see so many bands over at least a four day period for less that $200.00 is an awesome deal. So sue me, I do not have that kind of money to part with at the moment. But then again, last year I did not have a wristband either and still had a blast (a week Holly and I coined the Rock N Roll Lifestyle Week).

The bands playing this year is not as impressive as it was last year but that just means that the lesser known ones get a better shot at being noticed. I plan to check out some of the free shows during the day, especially of some of the creatively named bands (I do not think Tia Carerre is in the band named after her), cruise downtown at night, beat up tourists and maybe check out Public Enemy (because you know, I like to bring the noise every now and then).

Or I can be the stereotypical townie and just avoid the whole thing.

Oh, and the fact that I am too old for Spring Breaking.

Captain America is dead (as I have heard, I have not read the book yet).

Who cares?

I do actually (I have an affinity with this character as my parents bought me a Captain America costume growing up and I was always forever making cardboard shields). I hope the stories that come out in this aftermath are actually good. The death of Captain America is an awesome opportunity for the stories to reflect the world we live in. I hope Mr. Quesada lets them take their sweet time before Steve Rogers is inevitably resurrected.


And on the topic of celebrity deaths, Lisa Ling has the right idea:

“[Lisa Ling] said she was dismayed by the media's current fixation on less-than-weighty stories, such as the recent Rosie O'Donnell-Donald Trump feud and [Anna Nicole] Smith's death.

"It's tragic," she said of the latter. "But we have soldiers dying every day. It doesn't sit well with me. I also don't want to sound like this nerdy activist. But to me it's just sort of a sad commentary on the culture."

And this comes from a journalist who went undercover to North Korea to uncover how they really live and not just the PR pieces that Uncle Kim lets through.

An on the topic of brown, slanty-eyed people, the struggle continues to grant Filipinos who served with American forces in the last good and great war (WWII) the same sort of benefits all veterans rightfully should have.

From an article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/03/AR2007030301331.html:

"Historically, we Filipinos have always been looked down on as your little brown brothers -- as these acquiescent people who would just accept anything Uncle Sam would do to them," said Jon Melegrito, communications director of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. "This is about asserting who we are as a people and how we served this country. . . . It's a call to action to stop acting like colonial slaves and to start acting like first-class citizens."

About 200,000 Pinoys fought with the round eyed good old boys in WWII. However, congress stripped most of them of their rights as foreign veterans of U.S. forces -- including the opportunity to become U.S. citizens -- on the grounds that the Philippines was about to be granted independence. You see, this is how you treat your allies.

The movement to grant Filipino veterans of WWII equity in benefits has been going on for a while now and the movement actually looks to be going in a positive direction. Unfortunately it has been very slow and efforts to bring more light into situation just bring proof to Mr. Melegrito’s statement that the general populace just sees us as your little brown brothers. It seems that at the pace they are going, all the veterans would have passed away before anything is accomplished. As it is 24,000 elderly veterans who became U.S. citizens after 1990 have to live off food stamps and Supplemental Security Income payments.

It is just not right.

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CD TRADER

Once upon a time around March 2007

I got this in my emails:

“If you have ever dreamed of owning a successful record store or of being your own boss, here's your chance. CD Trader is currently up for sale and is looking for a new owner that can step in and maintain the same quality and level of service that our customers expect. We have been profitable and growing for 12 consecutive years, and 2007 looks like it will be the best ever. So if you are interested, please call Steve at 818-689-2961. Serious inquiries only”

The CD Trader website is http://www.cdtradertarzana.com/ .

I just want to say that CD Trader (along with Vinyl Fetish) is my favourite record store in the world. Yes, Amoeba has a bigger selection, we can get the tunes for cheaper online and yada, yada, yada. But CD Trader was the one down the street I would go to every weekend, look for great deals on movies and music, talk with the metal head at the counter who listens to more than just metal that it would surprise you how much he knows about Gregorian chants or German industrial music.

Holly and I would pop in every weekend like it was a religion (unless we knew that their famous, quarterly storewide sale was forthcoming).

Definitely on my top ten of things I miss about California, I hope whoever runs the store next keep up the great work they do there.

I know I live in Texas now, but seriously, if anyone wants to partner up with me on this, I would seriously consider it.



Seen again this weekend: The Corruptor

I remember not enjoying this when I first saw it. But then again, at the time I was watching a lot of John Woo stuff of which this is a different beast. This is more crime drama rather than the Brotherhood/chivalry films of Woo. I have come to appreciate this movie more now in this era of Infernal Affairs/Johnnie To films (who I have not talked about yet, but I am planning to watch/rewatch some of his earlier gangland films, so some thoughts are to come soon, maybe). This movie feels like classic HK flicks that were made in the late eighties or early nineties. The Two Gun God that is Chow Yun Fat proves he is more that just a shoot-them-up actor in this flick. Why his Hollywood career never materialized is beyond me. Like many said before, he is the definition of cool.


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