Monday, November 29, 2010
At the time I was disappointed, since the only photos I could get were through the fence. (My friends also pointed out to me that a true traveller would have hopped the fence and gotten the shots he wanted.) When I got back to Cincinnati, it occurred to me that there were plenty of historic cemeteries in town that I hadn't been to yet. I suppose I had adopted the rationale that when you hang out in graveyards in other cities, it's tourism, but when you hang out in local ones, it's being creepy.
In February, after being shut in the house for almost a week due to a snowstorm, I ventured out to Cincinnati's own historic Spring Grove Cemetery when the city started to thaw. The New York Times actually said that if you have 3 days to spend in Cincinnati, Spring Grove is where to start. Below are some of the pictures I took.
All images copyright Allister Sears 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
2D. Definitely seeing it in 2D.
The problem was that it was too dark. One of the most common criticisms of the current crop of 3D movies is that the glasses you have to wear noticeably dims the film. At best, this can be an annoyance, but if you've seen any of the footage of Tron Legacy, you know that the computer world within the film is already pretty dark as it is.
Dark skies. Dark costumes. Dark walls. And anything that isn't dark is a dim shade of blue or orange. So, for two minutes, all I could see were shapes moving about.
Oddly enough, the result looked like the cover for the Art of Tron Legacy book.
It wasn't just the dimness that made it look bad. All the smoke effects and lens flares didn't translate all that well into 3D, and most of the time the 3D effect wasn't even that noticeable.
So, yes I'll be in the theater opening weekend to see it, but in good ol' fashioned 2D.
Art of Tron: Legacy image is copyright of it's respective owner and used under fair use.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
|© 2010 Allister Sears|
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I had this problem before when my first generation iPod Shuffle went on the fritz. I bought the Shuffle to have a simple bare bones music player for when I workout. By the time it stopped working correctly the Shuffle was at it's third generation. The line had been upgraded so that the player was the size of a stick of Trident and the buttons had been moved onto the wire of the earphones. Not wanting to be stuck with the basic Apple earbuds, and not caring for any of the other new features, I bought one of the last second generation shuffles which was an improvement over the original without unnecessary bells and whistles.
(On a side note, it turned out my first generation Shuffle wasn't broken at all, but that a bug in a software update messed it up. By the time I realized this I already had a shiny new iPod Shuffle in my hands that I didn't care to take back.)
At least Apple realized that people hated the lack of buttons on the 3rd generation Shuffle, so they brought them back for the 4th generation one. After acknowledging the consumer dissatisfaction with the 3rd generation Shuffle's lack of buttons, surprised when Jobs announced the new Nano would have a touchscreen instead of buttons, making it look less like previous versions of the Nano and more like a jazzed up version of the Shuffle.
I honestly don't see this one going over well. With a display of 1.5 inches, I think the new Nano is just too small. I'm of average size, and sometimes even my bony fingers are too fat for my iPhone to figure out exactly where on the screen I'm pressing. I just don't see how anybody can effectively navigate the menus with such little space to move their fingers.
What also worried me about the announcement was that there was no mention of the iPod Classic. This presumably means one of two things. Apple is fine with the product the way it is, or they plan to drop it soon. Hopefully it's the former. My 30GB Classic is on the verge of maxing out storage space, and there's a spiderweb crack on the glass front. Odds are I'll want to replace it in a year or so and I'd prefer to just get another Classic.
I wouldn't want an iPod touch because as I mentioned, I already have an iPhone. Even though my iPhone can play music, I'd rather have a separate music player. For one thing, I can listen to hours of music without having to worry that I'll have a dead cell phone at the end of the day. On top of that, I'd rather not leave my cell phone in a dock out in the open at a party, just so others can listen to music.
More importantly, I like the clickwheel on the Classic. It lets me operate the iPod completely blind. I can skip ahead to another song or adjust the volume without having to take it out of my pocket to make sure I'm hitting the right part of the screen. Better yet, I can use it while driving. I can change songs or playlists without taking my eyes off the road just as if I were changing the radio station or tracks on a CD. With the Touch, you have to actually look at the screen to know what you're doing. There's no tactile feedback. If you're driving, I doubt a cop will care that you were just changing the song on your iPod and not texting somebody.
Hopefully one of two things happens. Either the Classic sticks around, or if Apple does finally decide to drop it, they bring the clickwheel back to the Nano and up its storage capacity to something around 60GB. Maybe then I'll once again feel the urge to have to get it right away.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Monday morning, Expendables took the top box office spot with Eat Pray Love a respectable second. Scott Pilgrim came in fifth at $10 million, a sixth of its budget. Ordinarily when a movie as heavily promoted as Scott Pilgrim does that bad off the bat, you call it a bomb, but in this case I'd hold off on that title.
Bombs are usually movies that do poorly on opening weekend, never have hope of finding an audience and usually start with the words "a film by M. Night Shyamalan." I don't think this holds true for Scott Pilgrim. Instead, I think this is just a sign that the business model that was kicked off by Jaws, where a movie's success is determined entirely by its opening weekend, is moving on.
Scott Pilgrim may not have gotten a lot of viewers, but those that saw it clearly loved it. As I write this, it currently has an 8.3 rating on the IMDB and an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, (compared to Expendables' mere 42%.) That's the response of a movie that gets multiple viewings from its audience. Maybe they all won't go see it again in theaters, but they will rent it, buy it, quote it, dress up like characters from it and overall keep it in the public consciousness for years to come.
That means the money it didn't get from the box office, it can still get from home video sales and rentals, not to mention all that sweet, tasty merchandising money. Sure, some of that money won't show up for years down the road, but look much money Disney is still making from selling Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise. That's a Christmas movie that came out 17 years ago, and people are still buying merchandise from it year round. That's the power of having a true cult classic in your film library.
But if Scott Pilgrim is so loved by its fans, why did it do poorly at the box office? It was a cult classic by design. Almost every frame of the movie is an in-joke for nerds of all types, whether they're gamers, comic fans, film buffs or just Canadian. It never tries to cater to an audience beyond this and shouldn't be faulted for it. Imagine what the Expendables would have looked like if they tried to include a deeply spiritual romantic subplot to try and draw in some of the Eat Pray Love crowd.
In all fairness, the whole premise of the movie doesn't even make sense to a lot of non-nerd types. Many of my friends who heard about the movie couldn't seem to wrap their head around the fact that they never explain how any of the characters suddenly get super powers, (except for the one guy who has telekinesis because he's a vegan.) Oddly enough, these are the same people who accept without question that Scarface somehow gets access to a magic machine gun with a nearly unlimited supply of bullets in a movie supposedly set in the real world. As for Scott Pilgrim, I can't explain it any more than saying it's like a cartoon and just accept it as is.
Based on the word of mouth I've heard on The Expendables, I don't expect to hear much about it in coming years. It sounds like if I really wanted to have a man-tastic cinema experience, I'd be better off watching Die Hard, Total Recall and The Transporter back to back.
As for Scott Pilgrim, sure it might not have done well now, but it will stick around. Ten years down the road you'll see some girl walking out of Hot Topic with Ramona Flowers shirt (Scott Pilgrim's love interest), and she'll clearly be way too young to have seen the movie when it first came out. She'll tell her friends they need to see this great gamer movie that came out a decade ago. The Expendables will be bundled into a Stallone movie boxed set along with Cop Land, and Get Carter, perpetually on sale for $10. We'll see which movie is still making money then.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I suppose I wouldn’t be a proper nerd without writing more of an in-depth review on the conclusion of Lost, so here goes.
Back in high school, my English teacher explained how the last few chapters of Huckleberry Finn is something that has been constantly debated in the decades since it was written. For those of you who never read the book (or those of you who read it and forgot what happened) the story starts out with the fun and fancy free spirit that ran through it’s prequel, Tom Sawyer. Then the tone shifts to something far more mature as Huck and Jim go down the river. However, the final chapters return to Tom Sawyer’s lighthearted tone.
As my teacher explained it, years went by between when Mark Twain started writing the book and when he finished. What people have debated was how seriously Mark Twain meant for people to take the ending. Was it something he dashed off to put an end to a story that had escaped his control, or was there meant to be something poetic about Huck and Jim reverting to the people they were before their journey began?
Not long after the finale of Lost was over, I sensed a similar debate would start raging among fans of the show. The show raised so many questions but the finale answered so few. So did the producers really know how they wanted the show to end, or did they just come up with something because they told everybody the show would end after six seasons? Also, how much of the show’s mysteries were red herrings and which were simply plotlines the producers forgot or abandoned?
I suppose whether or not you were pleased with the finale depends on whether or not you really cared for the show’s questions to be answered once and for all. Personally, I loved the finale. For a long-format story I invested six years in, I felt the payoff was worth the time spent watching.
Obviously, a lot of the show’s questions went unanswered. Then again, this is a show that had so many questions about it that even the writers of Wired didn’t catch on when some of the answers were given subtly and spread out over the series. (Yes, the polar bears are completely explained over the run of the show.)
I think to answer all of the show’s mysteries would have been a disservice to the fans. What made Lost such a cult hit was the early episodes where we had no idea what was going on, and that fueled our imaginations in a way that most shows simply didn’t.
Think about it. When we talk about TV shows with our friends, it’s usually just a recap of our favorite scenes or lines. At most we talk about whom we think is going to kill or sleep with whom, but we’re never really challenged as viewers. Lost, on the other hand, demanded that its viewers channel their inner Stephen Hawkings.
As viewers, our theories didn’t just involve the characters’ interactions with each other. It involved the very universe in which they existed. We asked ourselves everything from who could be trusted to whether the story was set in the real world or if everybody died and was in some kind of purgatory.
The purgatory theory is especially worth noting because it was a popular one among viewers, and was openly shot down by the producers. For the most part, they were being truthful. The Island wasn’t purgatory, but that’s where the flash-sideways of season six ended up being set.
Instead of a finale that resolves all of the great questions of the Lost universe, we were left with a finale that only resolved their personal storylines. We find out why they were brought there, and what their purpose was. We learn that in some way or another, most of them get happy endings, or at least a chance at redemption, while for others it isn’t so clear.
Quite frankly, I’m fine with that. The best moments of the finale were the ones that reminded you how far the characters had come. After six years it was easy to forget how Charlie went from heroin addict to surrogate father before sacrificing his life, or how Jin and Sun went from being a distant, emotionless couple to being truly in love.
The smoke monster dies, the Island is saved, Rose and Bernard live in peace under the watchful eyes of Ben and Hurley, and Jack dies right where his journey began. Everybody else either dies or escapes the island for good. That’s all I could have asked for. All I cared for was to have the main characters’ plotlines wrapped up. As for all of the other questions, (many of which CollegeHumor.com wrapped up into a nice little video,) they’re things that will keep us talking for years to come.
I’m sure a lot of the show’s unresolved moments were due to plot threads that the producers chose to abandon mid-series. The fact that the Dharma Initiative dropped a crate of food on the Island suggests that the producers might not have decided that the Dharma Initiative was more or less defunct decades before the story began.
Maybe Juliet’s claim that the nuclear bomb worked is proof that the producers hadn’t decided the flash-sideways story would be set in the afterlife until later in the sixth season. Or, maybe as she was dying she had a vision of the afterlife and mistook what she saw as proof that a parallel world existed where the bomb went off.
My point is that the show left much for us to talk about, whether you were pleased with the finale or not. We’ll never officially know if the producers meant for the Dharma Initiative to be a distraction from the Island’s true mysteries or if they began the show intending for all of the strangeness to be the result of their experiments. We’ll never know what was up with the Egyptian motif, or why the Man in Black’s death released the smoke monster while everybody else just died.
But we’ll still talk about it.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
- That Disney movie you loved when you were young will still be as enjoyable now as it was back then.
- You haven't watched it in years.