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Friday, May 16, 2003
Al and Chris
This is the thing I was talking about last night. Al of HateYourDaddy.com and her husband Chris (also known in some circles as The Meat of Cheese, or MOC) lost their apartment in a fire yesterday afternoon. Their dog, Murphy, was in the apartment and didn't make it out.
If you don't already know Al and Chris, it's your loss because they are two of the sweetest, kindest, smartest people I know and they're the last people on earth who deserve to be going through this. Please visit this site, and help in any way that you can, even if it's tiny or an e-mail of support.
We love you, Al and Chris.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
Up with Down
Down With Love is great! I'm go glad I saw it. Peyton Reed is a damned genius. And Renee Zellweger may be a limited actress, but she's brilliant at picking roles for herself in movies that by all rules of logic shouldn't work and somehow do. As I was leaving the theater, I saw all the people lined up for Matrix. All I could think was, "You people are totally in line for the wrong movie."
There's going to be a very important update coming up later tonight or early tomorrow. I really need your help with something and it's very important. Please come back sometime soon and I'll let you know what it is. I promise I wouldn't be making a big deal if I didn't think it was worth your time.
Movies this week
The Matrix Reloaded: I think my thoughts on this movie have already been made clear.
Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary: We got a screener of this and I'm really curious to watch it, but you have to really want to be in the mood to watch a documentary about Hitler. It's not exactly summer movie season viewing, ya know? You could totally double feature this with Faces of Death and be the most depressed person on your block.
The Dancer Upstairs: I like John Malkovich. I like Javier Bardem (even though I thought Before Night Falls was wildly overrated). So why does this movie sound like assigned reading in school? I have absolutely no desire to see this. Sorry, John Malkovich.
Down With Love: At first, this movie looked silly. Then it started to look good. Then it started getting fantastic, glowing reviews (including four stars from one of our critics). Then I found out it's directed by Peyton (Bring it On) Reed. I'm so there. There's a screening of it tonight.
Japón: I read and edited a review of this and I still have no idea what it's about. I just know it takes place in Hidalgo, Mexico, which still isn't enough to make me want to check it out.
Levity: Sounds like another clunker, Billy Bob.
Pokémon Heroes: Never seen any of the movies. But I was very addicted to Pokémon Gold for GameBoy Color for a while. I guess that's neither here nor there as far as the film goes.
The Shape of Things: I like Neil LaBute's movies. They're stagy and cruel, but I like that he was able to go from Your Friends & Neighbors to Nurse Betty both of which I really liked. And In the Company of Men still holds up. I'll probably check this out on video eventually.
DVDs I'm gonna try to watch this weekend: The Pianist (shhh, it's not in wide release yet), 25th Hour, The Kid Stays in the Picture. As usual, too many films, too little time.
Attention Buffy fans!
I forgot to mention that there's a big, fat Homestar Runner shoutout in next week's Buffy series finale. I won't ruin it, but if you really want to catch the reference when you see it, you should bone up on your Strong Bad e-mails here and here.
Cirque du So Gay
I'd done some finagling and wheeling and even a bit of wheedling to get some tickets to Cirque du Soleil (named, of course, for the star of Punky Brewster) for last night. I'd been looking forward to it for weeks. And then sometime in the middle of the night Tuesday, I started to develop a really bad stomach ache. It lasted most of the day yesterday and seemed to get worse when I watched next week's Buffy finale -- (yep, don't ever let me complain about work with such perks as these). By the time I left early from work complaining of feeling sick, my stomach, she was a'crampin'.
My hot date was all like, "Well, we don't have to go if you feel sick."
My response: "Are you (moan) fucking kidding me (Ow)!? We're (sigh, moan, ouch) GOING!"
All the way there, I layed back in the passenger side car seat, whining.
Once there, though, I started to feel a little better. People were all dressed up and excited and even the annoying mile-long line to get parking wasn't that bad.
Let me tell you something about French circus people. They know how to make that American green. People were paying $5 to get in, upwards of $165 (!!!) for tickets, $4 for pretzels, $6 for beer and hudreds of dollars for faux masquerade masks and assorted mirthful crap. Look, French people, I know we haven't been treating you very well as a country lately, but damn! Lay off on the price gouging, already.
The show itself was pretty fabulous, except for my stomach. And watching the little Chinese contortionist twist herself into a tiny ball, her ribs poking out like skewers, didn't help. The trapeze people were fab, the trampoline jumpers were a thrill. The clowns were kind of annoying (yes, you are tré sad, mon clowne, yes), but the people watching was thrilling. One lady in an aisle seat got up and clapped at everything. If somebody burped on stage, she was right there to give them a one-woman standing ovation. After the 30-minute (again, !!!) intermission, the lady came back drinking wine. She got her friend next to her to join in on the standing Os after every burst of applause. There was also the guy with the headset trying to look purposeful, the girl with the super tight skirt who had to sit all crooked so she wouldn't flash the entire touring company, the cat people with the big asses. It was certainly otherworldly, though not from any world I'd want to live in for any length of time.
One guy at intermission was obviously bitter. "I paid $65 for that?" he asked his date. Hey, I didn't think it was the greatest thing ever either, but I haven't had every single ounce of childlike wonder beaten out of me just yet. You just know when he talks to his friends, he's going to all it "Cirque du So-Lame," or "Cirque du So-Gay."
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Case mods, geek talk
This is about the saddest thing I've ever seen. Not only did this guy want to make his computer look like a woman, he needed it to be a sexy woman with big breasts.
Of course, I shouldn't cast stones because I spent a good chunk of my weekend putting together a computer from scratch with a new case (pretty!), processor and motherboard. I had done something similar last year for my brother's birthday. But in that situation, the motherboard, power supply and all that were already built into the case. All you had to do was plug in the drives and stuff and you were good to go. This time, I had to put every piece together, from the add-on cooling fans to jumpers on the motherboard.
I set myself up on the tile floor in my dining room, with a lamp and a big chunk of floor space. I twisted my body all over the place trying to get the heatsink and fan to clamp onto the processor. I contorted to reach wayward jumpers to set the front side bus for the processor to the right speed or to disable onboard audio. I took two hard drives, a CD-ROM drive, an old CD burner, the video card, sound card, SCSCI card, enhanced airflow IDE cables, cannibilizing my old beige box and carefully placing them in the new box. The last time I upgraded my PC was about four years ago, to a beefy Athlon 750 MHz, and I was tired of PC games running slow and sluggish lately. I had a little LCP money coming in, and even if the new stuff isn't exactly top of the line, it's still a huge improvement, done on the cheap.
I doublechecked the manual to make sure I had all the right settings. Put all the add-on ports (USB, Firewire!) through the punched-through breakaway sheet metal on the back. I shut the case and moved it to the home office, where I plugged in the monitor, speakers, Ethernet cable, video capture inputs, printer, mouse and keyboard. I plugged the power cable in and hit the power switch.
There's a moment with any major PC upgrade where you turn the switch and wait tensely for things to go wrong. A million things can happen. You can have the heatsink's thermal strip off center from the processor and it can heat up and burn out. The processor fan can refuse to start (if it's not plugged in, for instance), causing the processor to fry even faster. The DDR memory could be seated badly or on the wrong port. Any add-on card or IDE cable could be loose. So you wait for that first start-up screen to tell you that you at least got the thing to boot up properly. I hit it. And waited. The screen came up. The BIOS loaded. I breathed heavily. It worked. This was the first time I'd done something like this and had it work the very first time.
Of course that wasn't it. There were drivers to be installed. The video card needed to be rejiggered. The BIOS and motherboard needed to be flash-upgraded to make them more stable. But last night, when it was all done and installed, the computer was running smoothly, like a satisfied cat. I loaded up Unreal Tournament 2003 and it ran like a champ, at super-high resolutions. It moved fast and silky smooth. Nothing had burned out and things were working.
With all the other things I do with work and performing and writing, I sometimes forget that I was raised a geek in a geek family. My childhood was spent typing in Commodore Vic-20 programs and finding cracks for games like "Karateka." I get a weird little glow in the stomach when I fix or upgrade my computer without incident. I daresay it made me feel a little.. you know... manly. I could pay someone to do it, sure, but there's nothing like turning on a computer, watching it run perfectly, and knowing that you figured out that disabling the AGP 8x read/writes was what finally got your video card to run without hiccuping every five seconds. You figured out the puzzle. You beat the computer.
Just call me King Geek.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
And, one quick chat-session quote
"When the most emotive person in your movie is keanu reeves, you know you've got problems."
Even more Matrix
It would have given me no greater pleasure to say that Matrix Reloaded was the greatest movie ever and that I was totally wrong earlier (or somehow ended up in the wrong screening room and saw a badly edited version of the movie), but sadly, I'm not the only one who thought it was kind of a snooze. Most of the early reviews have been pretty mixed.
My friend Gissela over at Austin360 was a lot more forgiving. She aluded to the sex scene, which was cut in between what I will forevermore refer to as the MTV's The Grind scene. You'll know what I'm talking about after you see the movie.
Monday, May 12, 2003
The weekend shows
We did it! We got through this amazingly painful birth. The shows concluded with three solid shows, each one looser and better than the last. By the time it was over, on Saturday, we were having fun onstage and people who'd seen our show more than once during its run told us we were much funnier than the week before.
On Saturday night, Raul hooked us up with a private room at Stubb's the same night that his brother, David Garza was playing. We hung out in a little room with food (sausage, brisket, pecan pie!), lots of beer (Dos XX, Shiner, Modelo Negro!) and, once he and the band went on stage, lots of great music. It was maybe our best pseudo cast party ever. It went a long way toward winding us down from a very hectic, tough show.
Tonight we meet for the postmortem on the show. Even in the best of circumstances, post mortems can always be tough and painful. People bring up stuff you barely remember; tempers flare, promises for change are made. They always go on way longer than they're supposed to, wrapping in on themselves in a Moebius strip of hurt feelings and minor recrimination. This one won't be any different, and I have to remind myself that it's a necessary step. We can't forget about the things we could have done better.
Let me be the first to say this about Matrix Reloaded: There's a damn lot of Matrix in that movie. You'd better be prepared to sit through two-and-a-half hours of Matrix shit if you go see it. (Which I'm sure you will because, hey, it's been billed as the Second Coming of Cinema.) Then you'd better be prepared to sit through the longest closing credits in human history to see a very short preview of Matrix Revolutions with footage that looks identical to stuff in Reloaded. So long are these closing credits, that they managed to fit almost the entire contents of the hard-rock soundtrack music into them.
Matrix Reloaded is looooong. In a way that even The Two Towers didn't feel. It's like when you're hanging out with stoners (for whatever reason) and they get to talking about predestination and fate and reality vs. perception of reality and all of a sudden you look at your watch and think in horror, "How the fuck long have I been sitting here listening to this shit?"
Which is not at all to say the movie is bad. It's just long. The action scenes are amazing, but there are a lot fewer of them than you probably think. And everything else in the movie is Very Serious because people are Saving the Earth From The Machines. And they talk about it. A lot. I won't ruin anything in the movie, but let me just say that I was completely fooled: I thought the last 20 minutes (everything after the jaw-dropping freeway chase) were a preview for Revolutions; it all moved like clips from a whole other movie. And then I thought that those 20 minutes were the speed at which the entire movie should have moved. As it is, there shouldn't be a minute when you're bored at this movie (I mean, come on: this film is supposed to save action movies), and I found myself wondering when the Hell people were going to shut up and start kicking ass again.
It's not a bad movie. But it's definitely a puzzling one that moves at an amazingly weird clip and has a lot of, "You know, I don't really care about Neo's struggle with choice and predetermination and the prophecy: I just want to see him crack Agent Smith in the head with a metal pipe again." Pound for point, X2 is actually a more entertaining movie, which is definitley not what I would have expected going into this summer moviegoing season.
Early morning, blue pill
I'm off to see Matrix Reloaded! I'll tell you all about it, as well as what happened with our shows and our fab afterparty, when I get back this afternoon.
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