Archive for July, 2006

Survivor

July 30, 2006

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

Author:  Chuck Palahniuk
Genre:  Fiction

Notes coming soon…

From ChuckPalahniuk.net, Gallery of international Survivor covers

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The World Cup of Beauty

July 28, 2006

Miss Universe winners

As a kid I remember watching Miss Universe pageants on TV with my parents. I could be wrong, but I specifically remember them airing the show from 10pm-Midnight (PST). Anyway, my mom would make me take a nap in the late afternoon/early evening if I wanted to stay up late and watch with her. These are some of the things I remember…

  • My parents were always interested in seeing who was representing the Philippines. They wanted to know her last name or what town she was from. Or was she full Filipino or a mestiza. Our family moved to America in 1973, when I was 3-years old. Apparently Miss Philippines won that year and Miss USA was 1st runner up.
     
  • I remember another year Miss Philippines was in the top 5. She was the shortest by far, and she wore some weird dress that went off to the sides and she had to hold her arms out the entire time. Miss Trinidad and Tobago won that year—she was the first black Miss Universe. That was in 1977.
     
  • The following year, I remember asking my parents why Miss South Africa was white and not black. They told me there were both black and white people in that country, but they didn’t mention anything about Apartheid. The again, how do you expain that to an 8-year old? Miss South Africa won that year—1978.
     
  • I also clearly remember an interview with Miss Israel. Bob Barker asked what she did back at home, and Miss Israel said she was a soldier. She followed up by saying she was really good at shooting with machine guns. I remember my parents talking how both men and women have to serve two years in the military after graduating from high school before they can go to college.
     
  • My last childhood Miss Universe memory is of Shawn Wetherly. I remember watching her win Miss USA, she was from Hawaii. And I was routing for her to win because she was dating a 49er. Her boyfriend was Dwight Clark. This was in 1980. I was 10 years old.

I don’t have many adult memories of Miss Universe. However, the one I felt closest to was1996 Miss Venezuela—Alicia Machado. I really had no clue who she was until one day I saw a soundbyte of her on Entertainment Tonight. At the time she was getting so much heat from her home country and pageant officials about how much weight she quickly gained. And remember her saying, “So what if I’m a little chubby. Look at me—I am STILL cute!” At the time I was living in losAngeles, and it turned out I knew people who were good friends with her—David and Jose Luis. She would stay with them up at their house up in the Hollywood Hills when she was in town. They joked about how all of her Louis Vuitton luggage filled their entire 2-car garage. I never actually met her, but I think she’s awesome.

From Wikipedia

World Region

Wins

Countries

Europe

12

Sweden (3), Finland (2), France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Russia* and Spain

North America

10

USA (7), Canada (2) and Mexico

South America

10

Venezuela (4), Brazil (2), Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Peru

Central Am.

Caribbean

8

Puerto Rico (5), Trinidad & Tobago (2), Dominican Republic and Panama*

Asia

7

India (2), Philippines (2), Thailand (2) and Japan

Africa

3

Botswana, Namibia and South Africa

Oceania

3

Australia (2) and New Zealand

Middle-East

2

Israel and Lebanon

*Russia had to step down one year and was replaced with the first runner up from Panama

Official Miss Universe website

 

Clerks II

July 22, 2006

Clerks II

Genre:  Comedy
Written and directed by:  Kevin Smith
Starring:  Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman
Jay & Silent Bob:  Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith

[Background]
I admit I never saw the first Clerks movie, but I’m somewhat familiar with Kevin Smith. Back in the day I did see Chasing Amy and Dogma, loved them both. A couple months ago I heard Kevin Smith on a radio morning show and thought—Wow, what a groovy guy. However, I don’t follow his films like I do Christopher Guest featuring Parker Posey. I admit my ignorance of Jay and Silent Bob. How ignant? Brace yourself. I assumed they were just another Bill and Ted, and I didn’t know Silent Bob=Kevin Smith. I know. Soy un perdedor. 

[Movie Review]
Ok, there I was, ready to walk out on Clerks II after the first 10-15 minutes. I didn’t think I could get into Dante and Randall’s characters. And I didn’t think I could deal with Rosario Dawson. But I decided to ride it out. And now I’m glad I did. As the movie progressed, I liked it more and more. But I’ll warn you, it’s not for everyone. They talk about a lot of inappropriate things that people don’t normally think about let alone say out loud. Like ATM, which made me smile and think of Rocky, Elle and Vivid girls. They brought in a donkey and took it where Tom Hanks and the boys of Bachelor Party didn’t dare go. Oh hell no. And if you’re a freak for stuff like Transformers and the Star Wars and Hobbit trilogies, they go at with so much passion that someone eventually pukes. When you see this film, leave yourself open and you’ll grow to love each character. Even Rosario Dawson. And for a simple script primarily shot in a single location, the photography and editing was genuine and flawless.

Have you noticed that every film with a loyal cult following features an ensemble dance montage? For example, everyone in that downtown Chicago parade was synchronized dancing to Twist and Shout in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and everyone at Rydell High geeked out to We Go Together in Grease. Even music videos followed suit—like Thriller and Love is a Battlefield.  Good stuff. It can’t be easy working a synchronized dance montage into a storyline. But Clerks II lets everyone have it with the Jackson 5’s ABC, complete with masculine choreography. And it takes guts reincarnating the BFF bond of Butch and Sundance on bumper cars in a Jersey amusement park to the tune of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.  Lastly, if you’re into cameo appearances, you won’t be disappointed—Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Wanda Sykes, et al. I’d be interested in hearing from longtime Kevin Smith fans to see how Clerks II compares to the original.  

Added: Joel Siegel is a dick…


Clerks II trailer

 
Henry Rollins interviews Kevin Smith 

Kathy Griffin—The Warfield

July 20, 2006

Kathy Griffin

Genre:  Comedy
Venue:  The Warfield / San Francisco CA

There was a line around the block waiting to see a sold out Kathy Griffin show at Crazy Horse The Warfield on Market Street in downtown San Francisco. All this for a D-list celebrity? HELL YEAH! I don’t care too much for her reality TV series My Life on the D-List. And not because I don’t find it entertaining. I don’t think it showcases her talent very well. Nothing compares to Kathy Griffin live—her foul-mouth celebrity trash talk and AWESOME energy.

The first time I saw Kathy Griffin live was pre-Suddenly Susan, back in ’93 or ’94 at an improv actor showcase at the Groundlings Theater in losAngeles. I was with my friend Ray, a struggling actor at the time. After the show we drove down Melrose and luckily saw her walking down the street by herself. Like true scrubs we rolled down the windows and pulled up alongside her and yelled—Hey!  She walked up to the car, flipped her hair and she was all—Hey, boys, what’s going on?  And we were all—We just saw you at the Groundlings and we think you’re hilarious.  And then she’s all—What?  And we’re all—We love that you love beef. You were the funniest one in the whole show!  And she’s all—Fuck! Here I was, thinking… Cool, these guys are trying to pick up on me. Or offer me money.  This girl was somethin’ else.

Kathy Griffin dropped a lot of names in her recent SF shows at The Warfield. The 80/20 rule applied. Or maybe more like 90/10. She sang praises about 90% of them. For the remaining 10% (which was 98% of her material) the stories were oh-so-fucking juicy!

Listen to the KIIS FM On-Air segment where Miss Ryan Seacrest does a telephone interview with Kathy. Ryan dished it out but couldn’t take it and ended up whining like a brat—It’s MY show! and then resorted to hanging up. Hear it for yourself, Kathy Griffin let her have it!

 KathyGriffin.net | WireImage

Crocs

July 19, 2006

Crocs

Boulder company Crocs makes non-slip outdoor sandals designed with airholes and made of a unique foam plastic that prevents foot sweat and odor. Hell-o! If you know me, you know I dig clogs. And you know I hate wearing socks. I love Crocs.

Crocs come in both standard and funky colors. Though I’ve gotten many compliments on my Crocs, I’ve had a few haters tell me they look like kids shoes or gardening clogs. My 4-year old nephew teases me about my clown shoes. Somebody needs to either grow up or pick on someone his own size.

 The unofficial Crocs spokesmodel  | These shoes rule, these shoes suck

   

Strangers with Candy

July 18, 2006

Strangers with Candy

Genre:  Indie Comedy
Directed by: 
Paul Dinello
Starring:  Amy Sedaris, Greg Hollimon, Stephen Colbert
Cameo appearances:  Everyone and their mother 

[Background]
I have never seen an episode of the Strangers with Candy TV series, nor am I familiar with Paul Dinello or Stephen Colbert. However, I have seen Amy Sedaris on the Late Show with David Letterman several times , and I think she is a fun bumpy ride. I laughed my ass off each time. Click below for clips.

    

[Movie Review]
In the movie Jerri Banks, played by Amy Sedaris, physically reminds me of a Tracy Ullman character, and the storyline brought flashbacks of Drew Berrymore in Never Been Kissed. But here’s where they differ. Whether fugly or twisted, every Tracy Ullman character is endearing. And Drew Berrymore is always likeable, even when she married Tom Green. This Jerri character is not likeable in the least, in looks or behavior. Maybe it was poor comic timing, no on-screen chemistry or lack of a soundtrack. I don’t know. I don’t want to spend too much time thinking this one through. Even with cameo appearances by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Allison Janney and Mr. & Mrs. Sarah and Matthew Jessica Parker, I just didn’t like the movie. There—I said it.

To Colbert and Sedaris fans, I apologize. I just didn’t get it. Especially the story of a Dad in a coma and the 40-something year old daughter going back to high school. From the limited things I’ve read about Strangers with Candy, I was anticipating a balls out comedy about a middle-aged woman who hooks while high on crack, and ends up in prison befriended by a beefy inter-racial lesbian couple named Aquanetta and Letty. That’s what I was hoping for.

If you have comments comparing the TV series with this feature film, please share your thoughts.


Watch the trailer

Java Beach Cafe

July 18, 2006

Java Beach Cafe

What is it?:  The start of a good day
Ocean Beach location:  Judah & La Playa (Great Highway)

The start of a good day includes—a walk down Great Highway, the sound of the ocean surf, and an extra large cup of coffee from Java Beach. The start of a great day includes—all of the above and no fog.

Today is the start of a GREAT day.

Lullaby

July 17, 2006

 Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

Author:  Chuck Palahniuk
Genre:  Fiction

From ChuckPalahniuk.net, gallery of international Lullaby covers

   
   
  

Lullaby comics

The War Tapes

July 16, 2006

The War Tapes 

Genre:  Documentary
Directed by:  Deborah Scranton

Starring as themselves:  Zach Bazzi, Mike Moriarty, Steve Pink

From Wikipedia

The War Tapes is a war documentary filmed by soldiers themselves. It follows the deployment of three New Hampshire National Guard soldiers before, during, and after their deployment in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The three men who play the roles of journalists, narrators, and soldiers are Spc. Michael Moriarity signed up in a burst of patriotism after Sept. 11 and asked to be shipped to Iraq. His colleagues are Sgt. Stephen Pink, who joined the National Guard to help pay for college. And Sgt. Zach Bazzi, a Lebanese-born American who would rather remain stateside but is loyal to his unit.

The film won the prize for Best International Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in May 2006. Moreover, it is possibly the most innovative result of the embedded reporter program. In this case the reporter did not go to Iraq but provided cameras to the soldiers who would mail tapes back for editing, and receive direction on filming via instant messaging.


Watch the trailer

Marcus competes in Tang Soo Do tourney

July 8, 2006

Marcus — Tang Soo Do tournament

Event:  2006 Tang Soo Do World Championship
Location:  Anaheim Convention Center
Featuring:  Marcus (Age 9)

My brother Alexis, his wife Sharon and their 9-year old son Marcus moved to Delaware three or four years ago. Until this weekend, it’s been over a year and a half since I’ve seen my nephew. Marky-boy is currently a brown belt in Tang Soo Do and competed in his first world championship tournament in Anaheim CA. In Friday’s group competition, his team took first place. In Saturday’s individual rounds he took 3rd place in weapons, and was an awesome sports fighter in the performance and sparring rounds. So proud of the boy!

The Road to Guantanamo

July 2, 2006

The Road to Guantanamo

Genre: 
 Drama / Docu-Drama
Directed by: 
Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross
Starring:  Riz Ahmed, Farhad Arun, Waqar Siddiqui, Afran Usman

[Background]
This was my road to The Road to Guantanamo:

  • 0830: Started with a brisk walk along Great Highway
  • 0900: Grabbed some coffee at Java Beach
  • 0930: Read 10 chapters of yet another Palahniuk coloring book
  • 1000: Lifted weights and did a yoga class at 24-Hour Fitness
  • 1130: Had an early lunch—spinach salad, chicken and a beer
  • 1200: Caught a matinee at the Landmark Embarcadero

My original plan was to see the quirky crossword puzzle documentary Wordplay, but when I found out Parker Posey wasn’t starring in it, I saw The Road to Guantanamo instead.

[Movie Review]
Wow. This POW docu-drama was shell-shock to my Sunday morning quality-time-with-myself ritual. Watching men handcuffed with bags over their heads being corralled by US military was an eyeopener. The Road to GTMO features the story of a group of four Pakistani friends. In this post-9/11 story, this is their road to Guantanamo.

Shafiq, Ruhel, Monir and Asif are best friends living in England. One of them is to be married, so they visit Pakistan. A week before the wedding, there is a massive attack in neighboring Afghanistan, so they travel through the desert by bus hoping to assist Afghani citizens in the relief effort. After two days in Kabul, they realize they can’t really offer much help. They try returning to Pakistan but are caught in wartime crisis and detained by military forces. Eventually, three of the four friends are shipped from Asia to Cuba. The fourth friend, separated during the chaos, was never found. Is it the same old cliche—wrong place at the wrong time? How do you prove to the US and British military who you really are (or who you really aren’t) when everyone surrounding you at the time is a suspected Bin Laden student or a fighter for Al-Qaeda?

The film gives you a horrifying look at the darkness of war. Imagine dozens of humans transported through the hot desert in an over-crowded metal debris bin with bullet holes from machine guns to provide minimal light and air. Imagine the journey continuing for those still living as they are shipped to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba blindfolded and chained to the floors of military airplanes. These war prisoners are then placed in tiny outdoor cages like dogs in a kennel, but with less freedom and nourishment. They endure repeated tactics of military interrogation through blasts of  violence, intimidation, and endless motherfucker this and motherfucker that. In short, this film is a war story complete with psychological drama so heavy that at times it’s difficult to breathe.

Seamlessly mixed into this film are a clips of actual news footage, including sound-bytes of Bush, Rumsfeld and Blair. The story is narrated with documentary-style interviews of the actual characters from which this movie is based. After two years of detainment, the three men were eventually released from GTMO and never charged.

On a personal level, this movie is a look into a reality too harsh for me to comprehend. It makes me even more thankful for the charmed life I live, but at the same time makes me question whether or not I live in a bubble, and if that’s a good thing. And although I do my best to live a good, upstanding life, do I have greater responsibilities?

On a lighter note, I couldn’t help but think of Henry Rollins during parts of this movie. When asked if he could go back and revisit any parts of the world, Rollins says time and time again—Egypt and Afghanistan. There’s also a scene in The Road to GTMO when one of the prisoners has his ankles and wrists shackled together and is forced to squat for hours at a time chained to the concrete floor of a prison cell with heavy metal blaring and strobe lights flashing directly in his face. With Rollins in mind I thought to myself—Are they torturing this guy with a heavy dose of Slayer? 

Let’s cut to the director—Can you believe Michael Winterbottom was the same guy that directed 24-Hour Party People? It’s true. How does a guy go from directing Macaulay Culkin and Fez from That 70’s Show as highly-spun glittered-up dope-slinging club kids, to directing a hard-hitting look at recent controversial prisoners-of-war in Cuba? In between these two films, he directed 9 Songs, which I’ve also good things about.


Watch the trailer

You should definitely see this movie.