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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Art Imitates Life

I have found the eeriest thing on the internets! Why so eerie?

Because way too many recent and significant things in my life are all found reflected, mishmashed, and hodgepodged into this one web cartoon. It's like I'm being spied on and satirized!

Just like Bob (the main character) I had a houseguest named Kevin. I too have recently been to France. I also just watched a movie with French actress Audrey Tautou about kidney stealing... and I have repeatedly been waking up with transvestites... oh, nope, never mind. I mean I've repeatedly been hurting my fingers. Which is different than waking up with transvestites. _Cartoons

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New Week's Eager Faceplant

Assuming you subscribe to the theory that the week begins on Sunday, my week is off to a spectacularly bad start. Rather than be rained out like everyone else, the sun came out just long enough last Sunday to tease us all with shiny happiness and to force my softball team to play their scheduled game on a wet, muddy field. During the second inning I slipped and fell while attempting to barehand the ball after spinning and stumbling awkwardly toward second base from the pitcher's rubber. The result was a severely jammed right pinky. Loyal Stave It Off readers will know that I have just recovered from a dislocated left ring finger. So now I have another hot-dog finger (purple and swollen.) I'm attempting to heal by doing less things with my pinky. I'm trying to use other fingers for all those typical pinky tasks. Typing P's, question marks and semi colons is particularly difficult. Then on Monday I attempted to help a stranger load a large metal desk into a pickup truck. My good deed was rewarded as I promptly sliced open my left palm on a jagged metal corner. If I get a couple of foot wounds and maybe some bleeding around my forehead I'll declare myself Jesus by Friday.

Also disturbing is this horrible song that I can't get out of my head:

I met Ferdinand de Saussure on a night like this.
On Love, he said, I’m not so sure
I even know what it is.
No understanding, no closure.
It is a nemesis.
You can’t use a bulldozer
to study orchids he said,
So, we don’t know anything about love.

The same song later references Holland-Dozier-Holland, who clearly didn't know what Love was about either. HDH can join the club I guess. _Bodily Injury

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Reunion Tour

Stave It Off houseguest Kevin Awakuni has left the building. He's moved on to his Olympia destination after spending three glorious days in Seattle. There was drinking, movie viewing, Sonic's game watching, late-night conversating, and general reunionizing activities. Particularly nice was camping out at the Deluxe with Soapy, Jeff Henry and Kevin... just like old times. Also, it was nice to see Jarrid "The Bee's Knees" Beasley come out of hiding just long enough to drink a beer with Kevin. Awakuni's razor wit stayed mostly in check. I think only Stave It Off Science Officer Alex Tokar and I caught the pointy end of it. And my thanks to those that offered me their couch, but my room proved big enough to set up a second mattress. Kevin spends the next few days in Olympia with old friends before returning to his assignment as our Los Angeles Correspondent.


Kevin sitting at Carole's dining room table

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Movie Night: Unleashed and Kingdom of Heaven

Soapy and Diane accompanied me to the movies on Friday night... taking in the blood and gore of Unleashed and Kingdom of Heaven. And not only did we get two-for-the-price-of-one, we actually got in free thanks to Soapy's magic box of Regal Theater Gift Passes. Soapy left early, rather than face a full five hours of Hollywood, but Diane and I were up to the task. And we endured the marathon, all without a single kernel of popcorn. Both films present an interesting challenge to the viewer, but both left this viewer unable to ignore their fatal flaw.

Unleashed asks you to accept the idea of a kung fu expert enforcer that has been trained since childhood to be an obedient dog for his gangster boss. After escaping captivity, he slowly learns to trust those paragons of human kindness Morgan Freeman and Kerry Condon, who attempt to create a normal life for him. Hoskins is expertly evil in his portrayal, but it is Li who will garner raves for his transformation from a merciless killer in the opening scenes to a terrified man hiding under a bed from a teenager offering him an electric piano (this, along with the ice cream scene are some of the best non-action scenes in Jet Li's career.) It's even more profound when you imagine Steven Segal attempting this kind of vulnerability. Unfortunately a few bad stylistic decisions, particularly during the gladiator pit scenes, turn what should be a taut character drama with startlingly good action sequences into unintentional comedy. This will cost Jet Li the Oscar nomination that he deserves.

Kingdom of Heaven is a sprawling epic filled with cardboard characters that serve as moral stances personified but have nothing you or I might call personality. They do look good, but Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson and Orlando Bloom all fail to command the screen the way that Russell Crowe can. Instead of being drawn into the human drama (as there is little, and even less chemistry between the actors,) Ridley Scott offers only impressively realistic 12th century military recreations to draw us in and entertain us while he spins his parable. These recreations however are fantastic, including the best siege warfare scene Stave It Off has ever witnessed. Scott also has some timely and profound themes to explore in KoH. The film eventually earns 3 stars because it leaves one thinking about the nature of activism, fundamentalism, and how we're still fighting the same wars 800 years later. It is perhaps too kind to the Muslim side, but given the setting (the Crusades) that's not so unreasonable.

Both movies make the claim that a life of violence is no good at all. Both main characters walk away from warrior status to embrace simplicity and love. However, both films preach peace while they titillate us with scene after scene of leg-breaking, head-crunching combat. At some deep level it's creepy to watch films inspired equally by Rocky and Gandhi. Granted, Hollywood churns out films that follow this formula all the time, but I still don't like it. _Cinema

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Excellence in Cartooning

This is the best thing I've ever found on the web. _Cartoons

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Finger Food

A Stave It Off first happened last week, as I dislocated my finger playing basketball. I have never before looked down at a body part and had it appear horribly misshapen (please no jokes here... although I did ask several people, "Guess what's stiff and swollen and purple?")

So the bright side, besides the slightly horrified looks of sympathy as I described pulling the finger back into alignment, is that I've been immortalized in web-cartoon format... also a Stave It Off first! Thanks to Walter for that. I feel just like the Girl with the Pearl Earring.

Over the weekend I also went digital camera shopping with Carole. After my trip to France, and the aggravation caused by my old Canon 35mm (and the price of developing 4 rolls of B&W film,) I'd had enough. So I purchased a Konica Minolta Dimage Z-20 and promptly took it to Walter's party and annoyed various people with flash photography. I'm looking forward to long walks with Soapy as we chat about relationships and take photographs of interesting looking fire escapes and drain spouts. _Bodily Injury

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Wednesdays at the Satellite

I've been away for several weeks and have returned to find our Wednesday Happy Hour crew diminished. Diane and I went anyway yesterday... enjoyed a couple pints of beer, nachos and a hummus plate. The conversation, as always, was delightful.

In this case we talked about my social phobia... I'm comfortable with being alone, or in groups of three or more, but uncomfortable in one-on-one situations. Somehow we managed to enjoy this conversation despite the irony of it being a one-on-one social situation. Next time we need more participants. And maybe I should drink less (but I can't afford to pass up $1 pints of beer) and converse more. Either way we need more creative, intelligent folk to bounce ideas around with.

So I'll invite y'all again to The Satellite Lounge, Wednesdays from 4-7pm. Located at 12th and Pike. Free Jukebox, cheap eats, and cheap shots for cheapskates.

Late Update:
In my infinite power, I have cancelled Wednesdays. Well, ok, I've just cancelled my open invitation to enjoy Happy Hour at the Satellite on Wednesdays. Feel free to continue recognizing Wednesdays in your own way if you really have to.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

P2P Filesharing

Once, in a previous blogospheric life, I prayed for a return to a positive, interesting, file-sharing community. And now I have found the new promised land. For audiophiles anyway, Soulseek is a tremendous application... the user base is global and committed to rare, independent, obscure music. I have to thank Stave If Off cultural correspondant Jimmimoose for the tip. Peace be with you and your RIAA hating ways. _Music

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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Movies

Soapy and I went to the movies last weekend. Scheduling prevented my customary 2 for 1 loitering trick (Kung Fu Hustle was our other target,) so we settled for a mildly satisfying single shot. The post-movie dialogue at IHOP revealed that Soapy disliked the film much more than I did, but we tended to agree on the strengths and weaknesses.

Garth Jennings (best known for directing an REM video and appearing as an uncredited zombie in Shaun of the Dead) takes on the Herculean task of pleasing fanboys and geeks everywhere by refilming Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It almost succeeds, due to the well produced Guidebook interludes, and the efforts of many talented actors (Alan Rickman as the lugubrious voice of Marvin the Robot, Malkovich as an evil genius almost too scary to fit the film's mood, Bill Nighy as William Hurt as Slartibartfast) but is mired in mediocrity by uninspired casting choices for Arthur Dent and Trillian, a sadly lackluster narration by Stephen Fry (who Stave It Off loved as Wilde), and by the director's poor feel for comic timing. What should be a very witty and punchy script instead drags.

One person you cannot blame is Mos Def. Better known for his hiphop (Stave it Off loves Black on Both Sides) than his acting chops, many fans (especially those of the English persuasion) thought that casting an American rapper as Ford Prefect was anathema. Instead he brings a liveliness and presence to the screen that helps keep us awake though Arthur's tedious hissy fits and Stephen Fry's dry wit. His performance bears little resemblance to acting forays by other musicians (like Frank Sinatra or Ice-T) who seem to bank on their stage presence instead of attempting to act. Mos Def entertains by actually trying.

Perhaps the real problem with this film is my own excessive familiarity with the source material. I didn't have any issues about strict adherence to the script or missing subplots. Rather, the jokes just aren't as funny anymore. But have they lost their potency because I've heard them too many times or because they're bound in a previous era's sensibility? I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that someone unfamiliar with the books or the original BBC movie version would probably enjoy the absurdity of this cosmic morality play more than I did.

Overall score: 6 out of 10 _Cinema

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Monday, May 02, 2005

John goes around the world in 8 days

So last week I went to Paris and met Carole's family,
ate cheese and drank wine. Here is Carole flanked by her parents.
The wine and cheese are not pictured.




Here are some links to low-rez photos from Paris.
If you particularly like any of them I will happily email
you a higher resolution copy!

Evil Koenig Danger Color Coordinated
Earl Grey with Lavender Grill
Powder Blue Fleur-de-Lis Faded _Photography

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Sunday, May 01, 2005

FAQ YOU

In an effort to avoid answering explanatory questions, and to practice creating a post, here are a couple of explanations...

What does Stave it off 1, 2, 3 mean?

To what does the 3030 in my name refer?

As for the "bai" in my name, it means white in Chinese
and leaf in Thai...
but my usage is intended to be from the Sanskrit meaning "servant" and is a homophone with "bhai", meaning brother.
But it also refers to water or the god Varuna...
whose name has been given to the so-called Planet X
of our solar system.

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