May 31, 2007

Don't get jooxed

I certainly cannot recommend anyone going to because they are streaming movies, television, and more for free.

Not clips of movies...

Not edited highlights...

Entire movies...

The full thing...

Loads of choices, too...

Seriously, this site has to be magnificantly illegal and is clearly going to be shut down soon, so if you go there soon you'll get to see things like full showings of Ocean's Eleven for no charge...streaming video...

Outstanding sir, outstanding...

But don't go there, folks.

May 30, 2007

Let's play hide the star

Just a bit of a time waster here today, folks...

Play the game, find the star, try to avoid cheating.

Seems simple enough.

May 29, 2007

Volume 2 coming

Neil Gaiman's journal page and the DC website are both showing that Absolute Sandman, Vol 2 is getting ready to be dropped to us 'round about October.

So if anybody's looking to get me a Halloween preesnt, this would be the thing.

Not many outlets are offering it as a pre-order just yet, though.

May 28, 2007

Today I offer nothing more than a simple thank you to those who have given their lives for me and my country.

To Jeremy and Chris, in particular, I am honored to have known you.

May 27, 2007

Blogging the 'Nati

Let's check out our little part of the world via the blogsphere today, folks.

We start with the more political side of the 'Nati blogsphere and drop in on

First up is Drinking Liberally which describes itself as "We are liberal and we love to drink! Come join us every Tuesday, 7:30 PM at The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave, Northside." It's a thoroughly one-sided blog that focuses largely on national politics but does spend enough time on local politics that it might be worth skimming through from time to time to keep abreast of the goings-on 'round here.

The Cincinnati Beacon leans left just as our previous blog (it's surprisingly tough to find a conservative Cincy blog - especially considering that we're a pretty conservative town all in all). The Beacon presents itself as if it were a newspaper - setting things up as editorials, lettst to the editor, and recent headlines. Not surprisingly for a blog, it's far less professional than an actual newspaper would be - offering opinions and writing very much in a first-person POV. That doesn't mean that the viewpoints aren't valid, just that they aren't exactly balanced.

Third up in today's lineup is the Cincinnati Black Blog, a blog focusing on local politics and how they affect the African-American community in and around the 'Nati. (Seriously, does anybody say the 'Nati without sarcasm in their voice?) They're on top of Cecil Thomas all the time and checking in with John Pepper, police shootings, and the Charter Committee. While the blog is a little slanted, they do a great job exploring and thoroughly analyzing the issues on which they choose to focus, quoting (and citing) numerous local mainstream media outlets liberally.

I don't want to short the across-the-river neighbors as they've got the Northern KY Politics blog. I'm certainly not down with the NKY politics, so I'm gonna assume that they're doing a decent enough job of covering NKY politics, but I do know that they've blogging on the Enquirer website so I'm guessing that the blog leans a little right.

The next few blogs aren't entirely political as they take time here and there to just point out neat events in and around town, too. The eponymous blog Cincinnati Blog was the first outlet to notify me of the sadness that the Purple Bridge Climb has folded their tent and headed home. Brian Griffin does a nice job pointing out local stories of his interest - some political, some social events - with not too much commentary. It's a blog to keep on the RSS feed for me just to see what I've missed that's happening 'round town.

A similar blog to that one is also called The Nati blog, and they're the ones who pointed out the recent attempt at the Mentos & Diet Coke world record on Fountain Square - something that the Cincinnati Beacon didn't quite approve of. I didn't make it downtown 'cause of general tiredness, but the Nati didn't let me down. They're on my RSS feed list as well.

The Cincinnati Dealer isn't purely a blog as they also present themselves as though they were a full newspaper, but I'm thinking that any newspaper that includes a front page story on finding a local non-compact Caddy parked in a compact car spot isn't a real newspaper. At least they do include a bit of sports news from time to time. If you're looking for a seriously tongue in cheek look at the local news, the Cincinnati Dealer might be the blog for you.

And now we get to the Cincinnati blogs that have darn near nothing to do with politics. Let's start with Make Cincinnati Weird which searches for the freakiest entertaining things 'round our Queen City. The frontpage currently lists stories of the beardless Abe Lincoln statue in Lytle Park, the Burnett Woods Meditation labyrinth, a barnyard burlesque show, the Mt Adams Hillovator, and a bunch more weird things 'round town. I'm thinking that this site might precipitate a number of summer field trips 'round our fair city.

Plus it gives me more reasons to apparently write 'round. Who knew?

Live Green Cincinnati isn't all that weird as they just want the peoples of Cincinnati to become a little mor eenvironmental. They're reporting big on a supposedly major annoucnement about mass transit linking the 'burbs to downtown. Their charge is, in their own words, "Live Green Cincinnati embodies the drive to improve our hometown by inspiring sustainable and environmental lifestyles and building a greener Cincinnati." Sounds like a good thing to me.

Building Cincnnati looks to "celebrate the Queen City's built environment in words and pictures" primarily by taking photos of the various neighborhoods of Cincinnati and posting those pictures in galleries with some accompanying wording. The photos are far from professional, but they give views of town that I've never seen. It'll be interesting a a few decades to see how much of the documentation of our world via the interweb still exists and how much it'll be used for real research purposes. If people want to see what Porkopolis (I'm starting to run out of nicknames here, ladies and gents) looked like at the turn of the century.

Then there's the Cincinnati Geeksta 5chw4r7z's blog which documents (in occasional bits and blurbs) the life of the rarest of species: somebody who actually lives downtown in Cincinnati. He and Ms. 5chw4r7z (as he lovingly refers to his version of The Girl) walk across to Newport on the Levy, eat breakfast on Fountain Square, and do crazy things like look at the graffiti around them. It's a life that I wonder if I should've taken - and one that I know that girl would love to have.

I don't know that I get the Cincinnati Real Estate Blog, but that could be because I've bought two houses in sold one without the help of a blog, and I'm thinking that the real estate agents I've worked with (awesome - Fletcher Zobeck - and pleasant but poorly coiffed - Terry Hartke) probably wouldn't read it. But if you're curious as to how the real estate market in Cincy is going, check it.

And finally, the pièce de résistance is the Cincinnati D&D blog. Seriously, I hope that the people involved in this D&D group are the ones reading it, because the reading of somebody else's campaign may be the worst possible reading I've yet found. I'm a former (and very amateur) D&D kid so i get a lot of the jokes and stories about D&D, but this is almost interminably boring.

Check it out if you're in need of a nap.

And if anybody knows of any good Cincy (non-sports, that's for another day) blogs, feel free to drop a comment or post a hullabaloo (as the Duke would say)

Thanks to Technorati for helping me throw together today's post.

May 26, 2007

More comic book history

Continuing with my occasional theme of the history of comic books, today we take a look at the documentary Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked.

The documentary - reviewed here - is a pretty standard History Channel production. It uses well-read naration over still pictures of the medium (other subjects might have more video, but comics aren't really a moving picture kind of medium) interlaced with clips from interviews of experts in the field - here Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, and others - to tell the story of comic books since their first major boom and Golden Age of the mid-1930's. Heck, the History Channel's website even throws in a classroom study guide for the teachers out there who like to just show videos all day in class. ...not that I know any of those folks...

All in all, it's a good primer for folks who aren't comic book junkies, but it does have enough fresh quotes and stories for the afficionados in the audience. It's not something that I'd watch all in one setting, but in ten- and twenty-minute bits, I've worked my way through its entirety.

You can get yourself a copy from Amazon or just watch the full two-hour doc (in eight- and nine-minute segments) over at YouTube:

May 25, 2007

Stop it...Stop It...STOP IT!

Why must you continue to produce pointless crap, useless little plastic baubles that tempt me so?

I already have dozens of Inaction Figures and Kill Bill figures, and now they have to bring out figures from Mirrormask?


At least I'm not tempted by the Wilco figures.

May 24, 2007

Green American Ballpark

Look like the Reds are finally leading the league in something.

We got some early stories this year about the Cincy Reds buying carbon offsets to make sure that at least opening day is - and a few other dates are - carbon neutral. They're working with Duke Energy to use renewable energy sources for some of their electricity around the stadium.

It turns out that they're doing a little more than that - as commented upon by JinAZ. (I would link to the Baseball Prospectus article, but it's behind a subscription wall.)

According to J, the Reds are purchasing green energy, buying carbon offsets, recycling all paper trash, and reducing electric usage. There's certainly more that they could be doing, but every step in the right direction is a solid start. It's interesting that J is out in AZ and commenting on the electric usage - he being in a city that can only exist through the grace of constant air conditioning.

May 23, 2007

Cornball comics

The jokes are cornball.

The artwork isn't really any good.

But they're comics about DC superheroes, so it's a good time.

Have fun, folks.

May 22, 2007

A new community forum

The interweb has allowed for all sorts of new forms of communication - blogging, MySpace, chats, and now the 21st-century community forum.

Oberlin, Ohio has begun an online forum to discuss community issues like their new initiative to get laptops for every student. For this issue, they've got 138 responses from voters in the city - and from John Memmott, the district's tech director.

I'm impressed with the city's openness with this issue and am curious to see if they're that open with other controversial issues. I'll be especially curious to see if this sort of open forum for discussion could work in larger cities where there are more people who have opinions out on the fringes of society.

May 21, 2007

Latest cool links

Looking forward

Roland Garros is coming...

And Roger Federer looks to have finally broken through perhaps his only block to winning the last of the Grand Slam tourneys, the only one that has eluded him so far.

On Sunday in Hamburg, Germany, Federer broke Rafael Nadal's streak of eighty-one consecutive clay court victories, and he did it in convincing style, humbling the Majorcan 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 to register his first victory over Nadal on that surface. has an interesting article going through the bookmakers' odds of Federer winning the Grand Slam as of beating Nadal at Roland Garros (remember, it's not actually called the French Open) when the tourney starts on May 27th - though they likely won't meet until the June 10th final. The Tennis article points out that Federer's record on clay (16-5 over the past two years) is almost as good as his grass court record (24-0 over that same span, 48-0 in four years) if you take out his five clay court losses to Nadal. Clay isn't Roger's truly weak surface, it just happens that there's one other player in the whole world who is as good as him on that surface.

But if Sunday is any indication (and I'm hoping that it is), then that statement might be changing.

May 20, 2007

Looking up

In case any of you ladies out there were in need of a career change, you just might consider the job of superhero girlfriend.

There are all sorts of bounses incolved:
  • Great views from the top of various buildings
  • Unexpected travel opportunities
  • Surprise bungee jumping chances
  • Shocking secret identity revelations
  • Visits to refrigerators

May 19, 2007

Looking down

I've mentioned my love of Google Earth before, but that's been a couple of years now, and the use of Google Earth (or Google Maps - they're just different interfaces for the same data as far as I can tell).

Since then, MSN has jumped on the maps bandwagon as have a couple of other serivces, but I'm not nearly as familiar with the work of any of these newbies as I am of Google's.

But there's the problem with Google Earth - once I look for my house (and all the houses I've lived in) and work and maybe college and vacations, what else do I look for? What are the coolest sights to see in the whole frickin' world?

And that's where today's link comes into play. Go check out

They're a site that collects direct links to the coolest sights on all of the various mapping websites.

You can see airplanes landing, waterfalls, breweries, circuses, roadside attractions, censored areas, places that no longer exist, and lots more categories.

Web 2.0 is rockin' the map sites, folks.

May 18, 2007

Looking back

It's been nearly six years since the 9/11 attacks, and the images are still shocking.

I stumbled upon this page by accident a couple of weeks ago in searching for the Cincinnati Enquirer logo. Today's link page has eight galleries that show the front pages of local and national news papers the day after (or special editions the day of, in some cases) the 9/11 attacks.

It's interesting to see the differences among the papers and still chilling to see the various views of the impact with the towers.

May 17, 2007

Stuff to flip through

Well Superman did go away for a year or so - at least that's the rumor that I hear from the 52 camp - so it's kind of natural for the peeps of the DC world to wonder if the newly repowered Superman is really the Superman that they all want him to be. After all, he did disappear once before and come back in four different versions - none of whom were actually the real thing.

So this trade sees Superman back in Metropolis saving folks, but the people aren't entirely sure that he's the real deal - hence the Superman: Back in Action moniker. The story's entertaining enough - mysterious aliens come down and start stealing our stuff (cathedrals, bridges, superheroes) for some galactic auction by a character (not really a villian, just a gigantic cosmic wheeler-dealer type) who's a true keepr in the Manga Khan mold). Superman has to, of course, team up with a very oddly-matched crue of heroes (The Soldier, Nightwing, Revager, new Firestorm, and a bunch more).

Conveniently the battle is filmed and sent worldwide for all to see the real Superman - which magically convinces everybody that he's the real deal.

The story's cool enough...entertaining new folks to battle against (and outwit rather than outpunch, always a nice change of pace for the Big Blue Boyscout)...but the whole story's only three issues long - not nearly enough for a full trade. So DC has fleshed the thing out with three random issues from DC Comics Presents.

Fun to check out, not nearly worth dropping $15 for in the stores.

And back to the well I go with one of the only two X- series that I'll slog through...

The Astonishing X-Men: Torn sees a number of the plotlines start to come to a big, old, nasty head under Joss Whedon's X-reign.

The Hellfire Club finally comes out of their hiding places.
Danger (Room) returns to smack down.
Ord brings the pain.

And it all goes to hell thanks to the White Queen, herself.

Nicely plotted...nicely drawn...interesting characters shown in fresh ways (check Kitty's accidental phasing down into the tv room, for example)'s all good stuff here, boys and girls.

I look forward to reading Unstoppable

I think you folks've probably heard that I dig on the new Batgirl series, and Batgirl: Fists of Fury has done nothing to shift me away from that feeling.

This volume recaps Batgirl #15,16,21,26-28 - the only drawback to the collection is that there are such large gaps in the storyline that a lot happens between these issues. We miss, for example, the rumble between Cassandra Cain and Lady Shiva, something that is showcased well in the Kicking Assasins collection.

The stories stand alone as good issues but provide just glimpses into various major Batman storylines. We get one issue that bumps almost tangentially into the following three stories: Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, Joker: Last Laugh, and the very beginning of Gang War. The individual tales are well told, revealing more and more of the Cassandra Cain, Spoiler, and even a bit into Oracle.

The stories would fit a little better, admittedly, if in their proper places with the full storylines, but that doesn't mean that they're any less worthy of a read through.

My lord but Nightwing conetinues to stink like month-old fish.

We've gone through characterizations that have had Dickie boy as a mobster, a cop, a jerk, a good guy, a killer in training, a deadman, and injured man, and just about every incongruous possibility that the DC editors can throw at the wall. In this trade, we see Dickie as a slut.

It's a good six pages before we see Dick in bed with a woman whose name he doesn't even know. And lucky us, we find out that she's pretty free, too, as she throws down (in a romantic kinda way, doncha know) with Jason Todd who has been masquerading as Nightwing himself.

Throw in a little villian guy who eats people, throws them into some sort of impenetrable cocoon, and vomits them back up - before he changes into a little, goatee-ed man.

It's just total continuing crap for the series.

Avoid it...

Now that's a weird little thing there - a Batman story set in 2037 that looks almost Victorian in its art style.

Anyone writing a dystopian future Batman fighting against a government gone rogue runs a pretty strong risk of being compared unfavorably to The Dark Knight Returns.

Luckily the path that Batman Year 100 takes isn't in nearly the same grand scale that Dark Knight took. Instead, we see a Batman still near the peak of his powers (something that's never really explained - my one bugaboo with the story, in fact) who is fighting a small scale battle with the government - falling mistakenly into a coup of sorts.

The artwork is a bit off-putting at first, initially not having the distinction in characters that makes things easy to determine who's who at first, but the style grew on me as the story moved along.

The plot works because the story refers back to the old-style Batman storylines (a style that harkens back to pre-60's Batman) with Jim Gordon's son and a Robin who appears to be new - commenting that he's never gotten a chance to put on the suit before he impersonates Batman late in the tale.

For the artwork style alone, this one's worth a read.

Dreck of the week goes to Detective #27, and Elseworlds title that revisits Bruce Wayne not as Batman but as a pawn in a seventy-plus year conspiracy put into motion by Josiah Kerr (get it? get it?). Bruce never becomes Batman, but he does become Detective #27 - the twenty-seventh in a line of super secret detectives that trace back through Teddy Roosevelt and Allan Pinkerton.

It's a little crazy, and it's a little crappy.

The story doesn't just revisit Batman's history, it goes further to rewrite the language of women's sufferage, baeball, communism, World's Fairs, and just about everything of the era. But where a good story will take a modern tale and tell it through the past era, this takes a past era and makes a false pretense of using it.

We get Selina Kyle spouting about women's sufferage like she's out of the 70s.

We get Babe Ruth swinging lumber and talking about being a detective.

And we get the final poisoning of the story with Bruce Wayne's dad being the bad guy.

It's crap...



Oh, wait...maybe the dreck of the week is this one.

The story of Fantastic 4: First Family isn't bad - a more modern look back at the days just after the FF came back from space all superheroic.

If the craptacular drawings were any good at all, this might be worth reading.

Because of the horrific art, it isn't.

G'night, folks...I'll save the music for another time...

May 16, 2007

Bonds and white America

I know we've gotten into spats here and there 'round these parts in regards to Barry Bonds, so I'm going to throw in my continuing two cents.

According to a recent story over on ESPN, the public perception of Bonds in nearly every area breaks down very clearly along racial lines.

For example, the belief that Bonds used steroids is 76% positive among white baseball fans but only 37% among black baseball fans.

74% of black baseball fans are rooting for Bonds to break Hank's record, but only 28% of white baseball fans are doing the same.

Jayson Stark's column about the poll looks at the disconnect between the assumed opinions of Bonds (cheater, bad guy, not worthy of the Hall of Fame, womanizer) isn't the opinion that is shared by every baseball fan.

Race is an incredibly sensitive subject, and one not to be thrown about lightly. I recognize this.

I also know that Bonds' use (or possible non-use) of steroids is a pretty sensitive subject, too.

But it certainly does seem that Bonds is getting a whole lot more benefit of the doubt from black America than he does from white America.

May 15, 2007

It's a great day all around

Happy New Wilco Day to each and every one of you.

Congrats on making it all the way to the release date of Sky Blue Sky, their new album.

It's like a little holiday all 'round the blogsphere - particularly at the Late Greats.

And there's much happiness with the reviewers, too.

Throw in their eminent appearance in Cincy, and the Wilco love 'round this household has nearly reached a fever pitch.

May 14, 2007

I once pulled the key out and handed it to the girl...while the car was still moving

I'm not all that sure that techniques such as
  • ...turning off the car on downhills...
  • ...driving 38 mph all over town (even on the highway)...
  • ...overfilling your tires...
are great ideas for most of us 'round these normal parts.

By the same token, the concept of 75.6 miles per gallon is somewhere north of fantastic as far as I'm concerned - particularly when it's in something that's not a hybrid.

Gotta love the stuff that bumbles around on NPR.

May 13, 2007

And this is why...

It's pretty clear that the writer of this letter needed a little more edumacation in the science realm.

Click the picture to see a bigger version of the cutout, or click on the link to see the same letter on the newspaper's website.

Don't get me wrong, the letter's no Community Voice, but it's an impressive piece of logic-making in its own right.

By the by, thanks are owed to DanEcht for bringing this to my attention.

May 11, 2007

The Hall of Could Have Been

Lots of baseball players can recount tales that begin with some version of if only.

Tony Conigliaro could've been a Hall of Famer if only...

Ken Griffey, Jr would see his record threatened by Alex Rodriguez if only...

Dave Dravecky would've had a heck of a career if only...

Rick Ankiel woul've been the Rookie of the Year if only...

But some guys actually have beefs that have nothing to do with injuries. This is what the folks over at The Soul of Baseball were looking at in The Hall of Could Have Been.

The article itself is a good one, but the entire blog is excellent. Really nice - sometimes tongue in cheek look at lots of baseball topics.

May 10, 2007

Dance, lil' bugger, dance!

It just doesn't get much cooler than a tiny lil' robot that can dance better than most anybody I know. Now if they could just make it a little more cheaply so I could get one.

The coolest thing about this project from Marek Michalowski is that it's not a standard, single dance move being repeated over and over again. Instead, the lil' Keepon varies the dance moves throughout the video.

Oh, sure, Michalowski seems to be using the Keepon in some sort of semi-scientific study of "dance-oriented nonverbal play", but I couldn't care less about that. Instead, I just dig watching the yellow blob dance.

Have fun folks, and thanks to Annie for pointing this one out.

May 9, 2007

Stuff that's been going into the brain

All sorts of media this last while...various forms...various quality...

Let's start with just the flicks and go for the comics and music another day...

Caught Meet the Robinsons in 3d.

First off, I was surprised and how natural and impressive the 3d effect was. The last film I saw in any 3d was Superman Returns with about twenty minutes of 3d in the entire flick. Robinsons, however, was all 3d, and the use wasn't just a cheap stunt. Instead it seemed a natural extension of the animation to come toward us in the theater. The characters looked like well-sculpted dolls rather than like flat, computer animation.

Second, this isn't a film with lots of levels to the humor. Where Shrek and many other animated fatures have worked differently for adults than for children, Robinsons was all there for the kids. There weren't any adult in-jokes or risque double entendres. The whole movie was written on the kids' level, and it worked well.

Third, the artistic style - based on William Joyce's A Day with Wilbur Robinson is a treat to behold, particularly to see what Joyce himself has done to adapt his barely-mentioned-in-passing characters to much larger rolls in most cases. The book is more beautiful than the film, but the visual style carries over quite nicely.

I enjoyed the film and was just fine without the touch of more adult humor that we often see in animated features. There isn't a lot of character development, and some of the twists can be seen coming from a mile away, but the heads on the screen are likeable enough and entertaining enough that it all works well.

This one would be perfect for kids of nearly any age, and a decent little lark for the adults who have to ferry them to and from the movies.

The Girl and I walked in about ten minutes late to Pan's Labyrinth and found ourselves entirely and completely lost. The titular faun had already been introduced and the entire scene set. We missed it all.

Luckily, we sat through the between-showings downtime and caught the first ten or so minutes of the next showtime, because those ten minutes cleared up a whole lot of plot questions for us and left us with an excellent fantasy film that turns out to be much more about escaping the sometimes awful circumstance into which you've been thrust than it does about following Pan on any sort of labyrinthian quest.

The plot centers around Ofelia whose life has been turned upside down as her mother has taken on a new stepfather whose military position sees the whole family taken to a remote outpost in the fight against the 1940s Spanish guerillas. In her misery at her new circumstances, Ofelia either creates (The Girl's view) or stumbles into (my thoughts) a fantasy world where she is nearly eaten, sometimes berated, and rarely given any clear directives as to what she should do or what consequences might befall her if she doesn't follow the letter of her instructors.

Despite the fantasy world's striking visuals and the trailer's dominant position of these fantasy scenes, most of the movie takes place in the real world where a capricious step-father and Captain tries to run his camp as he sees fit in spite of treachery taking place within. Ofelia is given little freedom, few opportunities, and no companionship of her own age. It is no wonder that the girl would choose an escapeist fantasy - whether she creates that fantasy from whole cloth or simply falls into a world that she never quite understands.

The film is dark but excellent, filled with dimly lit, oddly tinted worlds to show Ofelia's difficulties of trying to be a child in a world of quite formal, military grownups. The few moments of fantasy world provide a bit of excitement, but little that takes place there rarely leads us to anywhere else, never quite revealing whether the fantasy world is real or imagined.

And then there's the big daddy of the early summer: Spider-man 3.

Early reviews of this film have been decidedly mixed, but I'll offer no such middle of the road criticism. I was excited to see this one because I enjoyed both of the first two films, and I managed to wait until Monday just so I wouldn't be one of those "first weekend" freaks who have to see everything the day it opens up.

Take that, Hollywoo! (intentionally misspelled as an homage to 1941)

The film stunk.

There, I've said it.

It stunk.

Wait, I should say something positive before ranting: The Sandman looked right.

There. That was the one good aspect of the film. They got the Sandman character's look absolutely spot on perfect.

(spoilers coming, folks)

(You have been warned.)

The story was far too crowded, never allowing any of the plotlines the room that they needed to develop, leading to a very episodic feeling with each action connected to another that we wouldn't see until three scenes later because the director needed to check in with each of the other ongoing plots.

The directing was heavy-handed
  • Spidey doesn't just chuck the evil black suit, he had to chuck it and then let us see him in the shower metaphorically washing himself clean - in case we hadn't noticed that he's the good Peter Parker again.
  • We don't get a scene with Spidey swinging in, we get Spidey swinging in, pausing in front of an American flag - in case we'd forgotten that he was a hero again.
  • The redeemed villian doesn't die, he dies in front of a sunrise with his two best friends holding one of his hands. And the camera pans down to give us a better view of the backlighting.
  • The bad guy doesn't have to have a heart of gold (in spite of the fact that he's trying to kill our hero and doesn't seem to give a crap what buildings he knocks down in the process), he has to have a kid on a ventilator...and walking crutches...and a mean ex-wife to make him a good man.
  • The fight doesn't tell us that Spidey's dying - the overwraught newscaster has to inform us that "this could be the end of our beloved Spider-Man"
  • Peter doesn't get to act evil, he has to comb his hair forward and let that hair get a little dirtier - in case we had missed the transformation, you know.

Then come the desparate retcons that are needed to make this flick's story work. There are two instances in the film where a character has to preface what he says with a line to the effect of "I have known this for two years but haven't said a word until now..." In one case, it's to alter a huge plot point of the first film - that the bad guy Spidey let go eventually killed Uncle Ben. Now it turns out that the cops have known for two years that somebody else killed Ben...and coincidentally the real killer escaped yesterday. What bad luck.

In the other instance of retconning, a character says "I haven't said anything for two years, but you've been wrong. Sure, I could have cleared this up long ago, but then we wouldn't have had a second movie at all. I couldn't very well do that, now could I?"

Ok, that last part is made up. The character doesn't say it...but it's true. Had that one character spoken up, lives would have been saved, and the major plotline of the second film would never had taken place.

The only enjoyable moment in the film - evil Peter dancing his way down the street and through a date with Gwen Stacey - is so out of tune with the rest of the movie, so out of character with Peter Parker (whose level of agression, not smarminess is ramped up according to Doc Conners) that it breaks whatever momentum the movie might have had going for it.

Everything else you could think of about a film (the dialogue, the acting, the plot, everything) stunk.

Oh, except for Bruce Campblell's obligatory cameo. That was hilarious, and it fit into the flow of the movie.

Even Stan Lee's now overplayed cameo was poorly done - which is tough considering what most of his Marvel-film cameos are like.

Sorry, folks, but I took the $6.75 hit for you on this one. Now you don't have to.

Avoid Spider-Man 3 like it's radioactive.

...and has cooties.

...and bad breath.

...and works for the IRS.

(spoliers over, folks, you can come back now)


May 8, 2007

Sports flicks

I was sitting down to watch a few minutes of a movie while I decompressed from a long week, so I grabbed The Big Lebowski and got to wondering if Lebowski was the greatest bowling movie of all time - not that there's all that much in terms of competition, but...

It also got me to thinking about what films were the best movies in each of the various sports. So...

Best baseball movie
  • Field of Dreams - my pick
  • Eight Men Out - runner-up
  • Bull Durham - runner-up
  • Sandlot - runner-up
  • Bad News Bears - runner-up
  • Major League - runner-up
  • The Natural - runner-up
  • A League of Their Own - runner-up
  • Bingo Long's Traveling All-Stars - runner-up
  • Bang the Drum Slowly - never seen
Best basketball movie
  • Hoosiers - my pick
  • Hoop Dreams - runner-up
  • White Men Can't Jump - runner-up
Best football movie
  • The Longest Yard - my pick
  • Rudy - never seen
  • Friday Night Lights - never seen
  • Brian's Song - never seen
  • North Dallas Forty - never seen
  • Remember the Titans - never seen
Best bowling movie
  • The Big Lebowski - my pick
  • Kingpin - runner up
Best soccer movie
  • Bend it Like Beckham - my pick
  • Vitory - never seen
Best rollerderby movie
  • Rollerball - my pick
Best boxing movie
  • Raging Bull - my pick
  • Rocky - runner-up
  • Rocky III - runner-up
  • When We Were Kings - never seen
Best golf movie
  • Caddyshack - my pick
  • The Legend of Bagger Vance - runner-up
  • Tin Cup - runner-up
Best cycling movie
  • Breaking Away - my pick
Best running film
  • Chariots of Fire - my pick
Best hockey movie
  • Slap Shot - my pick
  • Miracle - never seen
Best pool movie
  • The Hustler - my pick
  • The Color of Money - never seen
So, it turns out that The Big Lebowski is the greatest bowling movie of all time. See what a scientific study can do for you?

May 7, 2007

Somebody else likes lists

Trying to list the best movies is such an examination of personal choice that every person on the planet - every movie-gowing person, anyway - would come up with a castly different list of the best movies of last year much less the greatest movies of a decade or a century.

I, for example, have mentioned my thoughts for best films of the 90's before, crutiquing a critic's choices as a spur to discuss my personal top ten.

I'm back again today to look at a couple of much more thorough lists of the best of the 90's as well as my few thoughts here and there.

First, the two lists - part #1 and part #2.

Agreed - outstanding films
  • Thin Red Line
  • Short Cuts
  • The Truman Show
  • Glengarry Glen Ross
  • LA Confidential
  • American Beauty
  • Election
  • Boogie Nights
  • The Player
  • Three Kings
  • The Matrix
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Chasing Amy
  • Fight Club
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • Unforgiven
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Schindler's List
  • Goodfellas
Yeah, I guess so - good but a level down
  • Groundhog Day
  • Pi
  • The Fugitive
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Good Will Hunting
  • The Nighmare Before Christmas
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Heat
  • Seven
  • Sneakers
  • Braveheart
  • Trainspotting
  • Grosse Point Blank (maybe my favorite on the list)
  • Dazed and Confused
  • JFK
  • Miller's Crossing
  • The Hudsucker Proxy
  • Ronin
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Jurassic Park
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Magnolia
  • Fargo
I guess so, but I don't have to like it - movies I can't stand but that I recognize are probably decently good
  • Eyes Wide Shut
  • Swingers
  • The Piano
  • A Simple Plan
What? - I don't get these choices at all
  • Bound
  • Jackie Brown
  • Terminator 2
  • Barton Fink
  • Wayne's World
Never saw 'em
  • Quick Change
  • Pretty Woman
  • American Movie
  • Rushmore
  • Fallen Angels
  • Howards End
  • Titanic
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Wild at Heart
  • Babe
  • Everyone Says I Love You
  • Out of Sight
  • Chungking Express
  • Kicking and Screaming
  • Breaking the Waves
  • Cantral Station
  • Funny Games
  • Flirting with Disaster
  • Velvet Goldmine
  • Safe
  • Three Colors: Red
  • In the Company of Men
  • Kundun
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Ed Wood
  • My Own Private Idaho
  • Delicatessen
  • Bottle Rocket
  • Heavenly Creatures
  • Hard Eight
  • Smoke
  • Happy Together
  • Cemetary Man
  • Fresh Bait
  • Existenz
  • Dark City
  • The Insider
  • Devil in a Blue Dress
  • Raise the Red Lantern
  • Hearts of Darkness
  • Fireworks
  • Husbands and Wives
  • The Double Life of Veronique
  • Zero Effect
  • Baraka
  • The Eel

So I have three questions for you folks out there:
  1. Which films have I overrated? Which did I say were outstanding but that you think deserve to be moved downward?
  2. Which flicks have I overrated?
  3. And which movies have I missed out on that I should put highest on the list?
And if you'd like another list, there's the 100 Greatest Movie Lines...but I'll leave that for you to explore on your own.

May 6, 2007

Well, look at that...

The girl and I had our anniversary a couple of weeks ago (our seventh, thanks for asking) and headed uphill to Prima Vista (quick review: good food, pricey but worth it, good views).

It's the first time that I've been up on Mt. Hope and seen the view of Cincy that's in the picture above, and the view was pretty impressive. Admittedly, the foreground was a little junkey, but the deep view was pretty cool. I especially love the convention center's Cincinnati sign.

The Prima Vista view was one of the cooler ones in the city, but it's got nothing on the Eden Park view. And my understanding is that the Eden Park view has nothing on a half dozen other views around the city.

In a pretty cool move, the city of Cincy has conducted a study about the city's best views. They're now looking into what they can do to protect those views - mostly through a combination of legislation on development and some simple flora maintenance.

I'm thinking that this summer I've got a task - hunting down some of these views before they disappear.

Or before the city screws them up by protecting them.

May 5, 2007

This article is hot 'cause it's fly

I love math...especially when it's applied to things that it clearly should never be applied to

May 4, 2007

Sorry to get a little heavy, but...

There are two issues that I consider to be the most important to me: education & the environment.

I would imagine that those two issues will remain strongly in my top two for probably the rest of my life.

In the country as a whole, however, I would argue that at the moment the most immediate issue is, however, how we are to deal with Iraq.

Whether you believe that we need immediately to withdraw from the morass that we find ourselves in, have to stay the course until we create a truly free and democratic Iraq, or somewhere int he middle, you must recognize that the issue of Iraq is dividing our country like no military action since Vietnam.

We all owe it to ourselves to know more about the immediate issue of our situation in Iraq and the much, much larger and more important issue of the conflict between a Christian West and a largely-Muslim Middle East and East.

To that end, may I suggest that everyone out there take half an hour and pay devoted attention to the George Tenet interview on 60 Minutes this past week. The video is also available on YouTube, but the clip is broken into parts due to YouTube's ten-minute limit. On Devil Duckie, the video can be watched as one large, streaming file without interruption.

Tenet's - former Director of the CIA - opinions and positions are absolutely fascinating and remarkably honest. He is rarely apologetic, standing behind his positions because they were his best estimates and most honest reports at the time - but he is far from a good soldier when it comes to backing the President.

Please take that half hour and watch this video.

May 3, 2007

The issues of fame

Nice little YouTube collection from YesButNoButYes that leads me to thinking a little more about the trappings of fame and celebrity.

Let's run it down from the top - just the two that interested me, though.

Check the Paul Young video of him singing "Radio Ga Ga". He's smack on stage at the old Wembley Stadium for the Freddie Mercury tribute concert, and he's got the entire crowd of 100,000+ in the palm of his hand. About halfway through the video, Young breaks into the chorus and has the full crowd clapping their hands over their heads. And it's that single moment that made me pause.

I've been in front of a couple hundred people here and there, and it's a bit of an ego boost, I'll admit. But, I can't possibly imagine what it's like to be treated like a god - for a few minutes, even - by a hundred thousand people. To have them hanging on your every word, responding when you want them to, screaming when you tell them to.

I can fully understand how celebrities pull the sort of stuff we hear about in the tabloids - driving 100 mph with hookers and coke in the back seat, throwing commoners through windows of third-story apartments, generally feeling like they're above you and me, like they're entitled to use us as nothing more than stepstools.

It's because we've trained them that way.

Whether they're talented because they can carry a tune, kick a ball, cry on command, or make the ace of clubs come out of our backsides, we pay people to follow them around, documenting their every move. We pay them gazillions of dollars for a few hours of work, and we act like their devout acolytes for those hours.

I'm impressed that none of our celebs have gone bonkers and declared themselves king of the world or something on us.

We'd deserve it for all we've done to further the celebrity culture here in the US (and mostly 'round the rest of the world).

Remember my recent post about the cult of celebrity that we've created? Well, I'm becoming more and more resolute in those thoughts.

Let it go, folks.

They are no better than we.

Don't treat them as though they were.

Kill your idols.

(Well, maybe not kill, literally. I don't want to advocate anybody actually slaughtering the golden calves, but maybe just taking those calves down a few notches here and there.)

Oh, and in the second to last video on that page, we get George Michael leading Queen and the crowd in a sing-along of "Somebody to Love". In retrospect, may I please ask why anybody needed George Michael to come out of the closet? Wasn't it a little obvious?

May 2, 2007

Anybody wanna see Mallorca?

How frickin' cool is this?

Nadal and Federer are scheduled to meet today on a court made half of clay and half of grass. What a cool idea.

Sure it's not really going to settle anything.

Sure it's all for show.

Sure it's a circus.

But it's a cool frickin' circus.

I would absolutely love to see this one - particularly up close. This will be an absolutely singular event that I doubt will be replicated anytime soon - and particularly not with two guys at the peak of their respective surfaces. Nadal goes in with a seventy-two match winning streak on clay, and Federer with forty-eight straight on grass.

This match won't break either of those streaks - and it shouldn't because it's about as far from a real, competitive match as possible - but it's still really cool.

Sure, there are some questions that I have (would Federer rather recieve on grass or serve toward the grass? do you put the players hitting toward or from their favorite surfaces? will they just switch ends?) - and the official website isn't responding as I write this...

...but it's still a really neat event.

May 1, 2007

How stupid am I?

I'm a big fan of Wilco. I've already got a copy of their upcoming album and tickets to their Cincinnati concert.

But I'm not gonna be buying two-inch plastic figures of the band for fifty bucks a set. Particularly when I can't tell which figure is supposed to be which.

There's a limit to how far into fanatical consumerism I'll delve.