Saturday, March 24, 2007

just back from 300. I wasn't completely unaware about it, but didn't realize, for instance, that it was so gory. its stylized presentation was fairly effective tho it seems like a movie that'll look dated in a couple years. what was the name of that comic book style recent thriller with Gwyneth Paltrow and that actor who isn't so famous as maybe could? 300 looked like that. I liked that other movie well enough tho, er, I fell asleep. I'd forgotten till the closing credits that the movie derived from a graphic novel. it certainly looked like it had. and it also resembled those front story features to video games that set up the boop-boop-boop-blast-blast of the game itself. I think the effort to make the movie look like a comic book took some of the bran out of the story. there's some heart in the movie but a general cheesiness largely overwhelms it. it played to the 14 year old boy in the audience, which, in this case, means the cheap seats. it was wicked how he cut that dude's head off!!!. the endless prattle about freedom sounded like Braveheart. neither movie was really about that, tho I don't mean to say I didn't like either. in fact, the movie had a number of quotes of or allusions to other movies. the late scene in the wheatfield hearkened to Gladiator (I liked that movie: we almost watched again tonight, except Erin voted no). the hunchback seemed like Golum to some extent. the rhino and elephants in battle looked like Lord of the Rings. the movie opted for some rococo comic bookiness that was engrossing if a trifle whack. Leonidas climbs a rocky pinnacle to reach the oracle, his cloak fluttering comic bookly in the wind. the oracle is attended by men who all look like Robert the Bruce's leprous father. the oracle's veils flutter with mesmerizing pointlessness. well, it was supposed to be sensuous, but I felt like a cat watching television as those veils swirled. the Persians, woo boy, were they decadent. from the 1st emissary who appears, it is one hubris-filled snooty pants after another. all of whom get what for in spades by the mighty Spartans. the whole point of the movie was to get our boys in place to do battle. wow, there was a shot of the Persian fleet getting devastated by a storm, which was historically in the wrong place, that was wonderful. straight off the canvas of any number of vast romantically-conceived paintings. yow! the battle scenes were a blur of energy. definitely began as graphic novel. blood spattered about gracefully. the battles in Braveheart largely looked fun. you know, you pull the arrow out of your eye, drink some ale and slap your comrade on your back. the Spartans weren't going to have that much of fun, they were too workmanlike. tho they liked their job. every shiny pectoral muscle had a scar as token of satisfying satisfying puritan work ethic. the battle scenes got a bit wearying, no dynamics, it's all high gear in slo-mo. a great scene was the rain of arrows on the 300. whoooosh, tho, hey, kind of taken from Braveheart, what? Xerxes reminded me of Ra in Stargate, tho played by an angry RuPaul. the soundtrack took steroids but was effective. there's an Imax version available, but I don't think I have the constitution. regarding upcoming cinema temptations: 2 horror flicks that look dully disturbing, Will Ferrell's next one (I'm in),and something else that was loud.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

a little giddy because I just emended a Wikipedia entry. an article on Franconia College mentioned notable faculty, but didn't mention Robert Grenier. now's not the time but I should write more about the school. as far as Wikipedia goes, I have seen errors or skewed viewpoints that I could correct or balance, but I'm not into the necessity that much. the concept of Wikipedia is of course audacious, being open to abuse. not that Encyclopedia Britannica couldn't be abused as well. Wikipedia is a quick easy first step, and one that encompasses popular culture. like, do you think there's an article on Simon Cowell? anyway, I felt duty-bound to give Grenier his due.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

this post by Tom Beckett caught my attention (well, they all do, but). I know a boy, must be 11 now, who likewise holds writing instruments in a fist. he writes and draws, it seems, constantly. he suffers seizures, to which I hadn't thought to attribute that grip until now. the grip I guess helps obviate the physical difficulties of his neurological dismay. Erin suffered seizures after immunization (those 2 facts are true but the scientific (western) community disputes the correlation). it was a long, long road of physical therapy, various mental exercises and homeopathy to come back from that. a heroic effort by Erin and Beth. in the process of that therapy Erin, a natural righty became a lefty. I think it has to do with rewiring Erin so that a different part of his brain manages motor control. don't quote me on this. Erin loves to write, and does so with impressive verve and ease--he has always had a distinctive voice--yet he cannot write with a pencil. that is, it is just about painful for him. which obviously is a handicap, tho schools and scholastic testing agencies and such will make allowances. all this makes me want to say, perhaps obviously and tritely, that every child is a special needs child. being part of the homeschool community, we see many children afflicted with uniqueness. I say afflicted because in the public school setting they are often cast out: dweebs, weirdos, misfits. public school perforce aims for the average student, but you look at your child, or anyone's, and realize that there is no average. it is not true that homeschoolers are typical socially backward, if anything I'd declare the opposite (for one thing, they are used to dealing with adults). I don't mean to rail against public schools nor suggest that everyone should homeschool. Tom's fist grip is an adaptation to a specific physical need. one must be wary of the adaptations children make in school that are forced on them. it wasn't so long ago, for instance, that lefties were forced if not to use their right hand, at least to use the right hand grip when writing. anyway, so I ruminate.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Days PoemCover, Volume 1

Days PoemCover, Volume 1, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

Days Poem Cover, Volume 2

Days Poem Cover, Volume 2, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Erin's finishing up the cover designs for Days Poem, volumes 1 and 2 (and that's all the volumes there are or will be). I did the art but don't know enough about Photoshop (or in this case, its freeware, open source substitute, The Gimp) to get text on. the covers look great, very colourful. Beth long ago had the idea of using a painting she saw, of men on a raft going down a river, a nicely apt image for the poem. we've been unable to find the specific painting. George Caleb Bingham has one that's close. rights issues, of course, are involved as well. so I'm happy to use my own work. and it's nice having Erin's effort involved. I will post the 2 images when Erin finishes, because I think they look awesome and I'm excited about the book. save your nickels.
saw not one but 2 George Hamilton movies: Love at First Bite and Zorro the Gay Blade. we actually went to Barnes and Noble in search for Apocalypto. reviews of which I haven't seen, but it being set in pre-Colombian Central America and my having seen the trailers, it looks engaging. yes, I realize Mel Gibson can go over the top. the dvd is not available till may, but Beth saw the 2 Hamilton movies, of which she had fond recollection. LAFB was the lesser movie. Hamilton plays Dracula, who comes to NYC to secure the affection of Susan St James. Hamilton's good-natured, somewhat preening acceptance of his roles is a transmogrification of corny. it doesn't come across as hammy because he's having so much fun. I particularly enjoyed Richard Benjamin, who took his usual earnest neurotic and added a fun squirrelly touch. the movie seemed dated for several reasons. the iconic disco era stuff, like the de rigueur disco scene itself, were included to highlight the movie's freshness. not so fresh now. likewise all the current stars, like Susan St James and Arte Johnson (who was pretty good, actually), as well as the cameos by Sherman Hemsley and Isabelle Sanford: these folk seem out of date now. Hamilton doesn't. Zorro The Gay Blade was much stronger. GH plays Zorro's son. his father bequeathed mask and cape to him and Hamilton takes over the duties. the other actors don't seem as dated, maybe because they are better at what they do. Ron Liebman as the evil alcalde gets to snap and shout thru out the movie. Hamilton enjoys playing with a broad barely fathomable accent. his Zorro sustains an injury, but luckily his long lost brother shows up to take over duties. this is Hamilton as well. he's flamboyantly poncy and just plain silly. he eschews the black costume for various colourful, fringed and beaded substitutes. Kasey Mohammad writes on his blog about how disappointing his recent viewing of Blazing Saddles was. je connais. a lot of movies, especially comedies I think, hold up poorly over time. partly, it is because the performers aren't able to get out of the era. I mean, Susan St James simply doesn't arise above the late 70s and 80s. she's a worm hole back to then. so is Richard Benjamin, but at least there's a tweak to his role that provided a revivifying flair. there was a Mel Brooks collection available at B&N. I've seen 4 of the 6 movies and have no inclination to see any again. even tho I thought the films were mostly really funny. their edge has dulled, their freshness dissipated. there's a bit of Shakespearian gender juggling in Zorro, with the Gay Blade dressed as a woman fending off the alcalde and dressed as Zorro fending off Lauren Hutton. both brothers enter the realm of mock heroic. anyway, both movies are pleasantly cute and Zorro holds up quite well.