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Monday, July 25, 2005

Diane's Movie Quest

The bet is on... can Diane possibly watch 30 feature length movies between August 19th and September 5th? Walaka and I have a gentlemen's bet on this one. Personally, I do not believe anyone could watch that many films without losing their mind... but we'll see. Bragging rights in the blogosphere go to the winner.
Here's the problem... Diane needs to actually find 30 movies! She's exhausted the public library system (which might get her 4-5 films... apparently the good ones have 300+ holds on them!) She is entertaining the idea of trying to get a 2 week freebie subscription to Netflix, but that will only net her about 10 given the turnaround between shippings and the "3 at a time" rule. She can't afford to actually go rent films at Lackluster Video. So... does anyone want to loan Diane movies for the cause? I'm offering up my small collection of DVDs (she doesn't have a VCR so it's DVDs only!) Also, does anyone know of a place that might offer $.99 rentals on Tuesday or something? If she could find a deal like that, or enough of us are able to loan her some films, she could at least find the 30 DVDs required to attempt her feat. We're also counting any films seen in theaters, so be sure to invite Diane out to movies at the Crest that fortnight. I don't think she can do it, but I'd love to see her go all glassy-eyed and feral in the attempt. Leave your offers on the comments page so Diane can check it, and the rest of us can know what's on the table already.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Comic to Film Adaptations

It's been quite a torture for me to resist going to see The Fantastic Four. And I probably will see it someday because I once swore a blood oath to watch every film based on a comic (FBC). Even knowing in advance that this film will definitely suck won't stop me... it'll just stop me from paying $9 to see it at a first run theater. Tonight I'll be watching X-Men and X2 in marathon format just to revel in two films that actually did it right. In the past I've actually watched stink bombs like The Pushisher (the recent one, not the original Dolph Lundgren version) and Elektra just to honor my oath. I've actually tried to track down a rare Captain America film done in the 70's. I also once sat through a horrific Dr. Strange made for TV FBC from 1978. Today, I was ecstatic after finding out that French comic book artist Moebius has had his classic comic Blueberry turned into a film. It was released in America under the name Renegade... and it just got added to the top of my Netflix queue. I also found out that Gerard Depardieu has starred in a series of Asterix and Obelix FBCs, but they aren't available in the US. Perhaps Scarecrow will have them... And yesterday I saw a trailer for V for Vendetta (staring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving and adapted by those Matrix masterminds) originally written by the greatest comic writer ever Alan Moore.

All this is to say that I grew up loving comics... and for the most part I've been loving the FBC revolution in the last few years. But will oversaturation ruin this phenomenon for everyone? Does Marvel really need to follow up on the failure of marginal adaptations like The Punisher and Elektra with even less appealing ideas like Nick Cage as Ghost Rider (sorry Darcy, but this is going to suck bigtime) or Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Will more and more failures ruin the warm glow around franchise films like Spiderman, The X-Men, or the newly resuscitated Batman.

So I should probably figure out how to post one of those obnoxious polls over to the right side of the screen and ask everyone to vote on their favorite FBC, or perhaps what film they'd like to see made (e.g. could Pixar please make a 3D animated Betty Boop movie?!) For now I'll just post my own list of recent FBC's I really enjoyed: Hellboy, Constantine, X-Men & X-Men2, Spiderman 2 (#1, not so much), Batman Begins, Ghost World (obviously), Sin City (which overcame the totally lame Bruce Willis) but not Road to Perdition (which couldn't overcome the equally lame Tom Hanks.) Sorry to Ang Lee's Hulk and Ben Affleck's Daredevil... they didn't make the cut either. _Cinema


The Island

Looking for a midsummer beautiful people fix?

The Island, as science fiction, is crap. It borrows stylistically from Minority Report and it steals it's plot from I, Robot. Every time there ought to be an extended exploration of a morally complicated issue instead we get an over-the-top car chase with really expensive looking stunts and explosions. Steve and I counted at least 7 major product placements... which was probably required in order to finance the demolition of that many cars, helicopters, buildings, etc. Of course, that's what you expect from a Michael Bay film... so Steve and I enjoyed every minute of it. Bay has mastered the art of rediculously intense chase scenes and there's plenty of that in The Island. He also has a knack for finding a good mix of actors to play with. Believe it or not, Bad Boys 2 (the last Bay film I saw,) was actually enjoyable because of the charismatic rapport between Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. This time out, Scarlett (OMG she's a goddess) Johansson and Ewan McGregor have the chemistry. They don't exactly smolder the whole time, as that wouldn't work with the plot, but they have their moments. Then there's the sexy threat of Djimon Hounsou's bounty hunter character (a French accent goes a long way) to spice things up. Throw in a symathetic sleezeball in Steve Buschemi and a menacing villain with a god complex in Sean Bean (still trying to top his magnificent performance as Boromir,) and you have a good formulaic romp with all the stylistic trappings of sci-fi without any of the heavy political or moral musings. Also worth noting is that this movie is quite long at 127 minutes... and sometimes feels longer as you launch into the 2nd or 3rd extended chase sequence. It is however, nicely parsed up with moments of romantic intrigue and comedic moments. Having a panicked (and gigantic) Michael Clarke Duncan careen wildly though a hospital wing smashing people through glass doorways is actually pretty funny. And having Ewan McGregor play opposite himself as his clone meets his creator, one with a Scottish accent and one with an American accent, is another rich touch. _Cinema


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Case Management #3

Rejoice all ye faithful. The scanner at work was finally fixed. Plus I finished up a major project, so I'm back to goofin' off. I can now proudly present the third attempt at a web comic. As I said before, I'm leaning toward trying to make things look better... and in this case, that means limiting myself to a single panel. I had some fun learning how to use the gradient tool in Photoshop and I tried to keep the artwork at the highest resolution possible. I've already done a mock-up of the next installment... and don't worry... speech bubbles and multiple panels are coming back! Thanks for being suportive y'all. _Cartoons


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Frenchies Redux

I got an email yesterday from Simon, the 21 year old son of Dennis and Therese, who was visiting Seattle a few weeks back as his father and his father's partner did professional consultation with local fetal alcohol syndrome guru Ann Streissguth. He sent me some photos and an update on their whirlwind tour of the western United States and Canada. Unfortunately Carole is not pictured here, as they had given her their cameras and forced her to keep taking group photos until they got a good one. So here's the good one. This was taken at Ann's son's house during their Fourth of July party. I'm looking forward to the rest of their shots, especially the one of Simon proving that he could pick me up (outside O'Shea's Tavern, after having several pints inside.) And perhaps there'll be a good shot of Dennis and Therese dancing at the New Orleans nightclub.

From left to right: Anne, Simon, Dennis, Therese, Thierry and John


Monday, July 11, 2005

Here It Is...

The highly anticipated Case Management #2 is now available. This image should resize to fit your browser window, so blow it up big in order to read the text. I think this will be the last one that I'll have in portrait dimensions... the rest should be landscape in order to make best use of the screen. _Cartoons


Friday, July 08, 2005

Since Walter's Been Dropping the Ball...

I've decided to publish my own eComic... but this is only computer enhanced, not computer drafted... so apologies for the sloppiness. So, based on a previous life as a case manager for schizophrenic people, here is Case Management #1 (make sure to buy multiple copies and keep them in acid-free mylar baggies with carboard backing.) And a big 20 point bonus to anyone who can tell me why I found this hallucination/delusion so interesting (and worth memorializing.) _Cartoons


Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Stomp on Old Grounds

In an effort to entertain a group of visiting French doctors working on fetal alcohol syndrome research, Carole and I took them to the New Orleans Club in Pioneer Square last night. I haven't been there for at least 6 or 7 years, and not regularly since I was a 22 year old undergrad student in love with jazz and living on a shoestring. We had an outstanding time... the music was terrific (except for a guest vocalist from the crowd who sang an uninspired rendition of Stave It Off favorite, Stars Fell on Alabama.) There was general appreciation of the food (cajun fare) and the decor (especially the 30 or so painted black and white portraits of jazz legends,) and Therese and Dennis gave us all a treat by kicking off their shoes and dancing in the middle of the restaurant.
Each time the conversation evolved into stream of fast-paced French and laughter, my thoughts strayed back to the nights spent smoking cigarettes, sipping on mint juleps and marveling at the old black men playing bop and traditional jazz. You can still buy a plate of beans and rice for a buck fifty. I think the same old men are still playing their regular gig. So enjoyable were those moments of nostalgia that I almost regretted it when Carole resumed translating or one of our guests asked me something in English. _Music

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Diving Season Opens

Diving season opened this year on July 4th. My independence was celebrated by jumping off a springboard high into the air and executing an endearingly imperfect forward flip with a 180 degree twist before plunging into a remarkably pleasant Lake Washington. Even though I was outclassed by new Stave If Off AquaTeen Julie Dillon (who managed at least two dives with a 3.4 degree of difficulty) I still managed a smile afterwards. Perhaps it was the illegal beverages or all the crazy antics of small children... but I can't wait to go again.

Chris and John pose with Mt. Rainier and watermelon rind

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Monday, July 04, 2005

Adios Wheylona

Today, our beloved Wendy and Gonzalo fly to LA as the first stop on their relocation to San Sebastian, Spain. Last night Diane, Wendy, Eric, Sylvio and I toasted to Wendy's success; first with vodka mango smoothies, then with red wine, then with beer, then with white wine, then with more beer, then with vodka pineapple smoothies, and finally with more beer. Oddly, no hangover ensued. Perhaps that's because of all the food we ate, or because of the healing properties of mango and pineapple. Or perhaps it was a miracle, and we may have to someday cannonize Wendy (assuming she doesn't outlive us all.) Anyway, it was wonderful to be able to host a dinner party again. I turned my dining nook table into a buffet table, and we were able to fit comfortably on the new futon couch or any one of several chairs. Even my pink hippo beanbag got use as a footrest. Cooking for five people is always a fun challenge, and finding that many serving plates an impossible one! I'm so excited to be able to have events like this again... I'll start planning the next one as soon as I finish all the dishes sometime next week! Plus it was excellent to further acquaint myself with new friends Eric and Sylvio, who were delightful company.