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Monday, February 23, 2009

Daddy'll Sing Bass

After putting up with a broken-down piece of crap for years, I've purchased a new used Fender P-Bass... hecho en Mexico. Soapy came over and helped me figure out how to use a tiny hex wrench to adjust the bridge action... and a fatty hex wrench to adjust the neck. I got the action lowered nicely, and put some flat-wound strings on it so that it felt a lot like my old bass. In celebration I recorded a new ditty. I broke the 2 minute barrier on this one but have still managed to completely avoid chord changes, verse-chorus-verse song structure, or anything resembling musical sophistication. Enjoy regardless.

Click this sweet axe for new music.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Mexico Revisited

My second trip to Mexico was a more relaxing and rejuvenating sort of vacation than the first. My parents' house is complete now, and the guest accommodations are perfect... like private motel rooms in the downstairs part of the house. So I slept better, and also had a place to curl up, pull out my laptop, and check my email. My mom finally has a full kitchen to use, and there's a makeshift studio and theater room upstairs.

We spent a fair amount of time down at the beach, where Danny learned how to surf and I wiped out a few times before giving up. As you can see, crowds aren't exactly a problem around Todos Santos.

Here's a shot of somebody's house... built atop a cliff near the beach. The sun was setting behind their place... creating this silhouette of their humble abode.

February in southern Baja feels like mid-summer in Seattle. There was even fully-bloomed flora to prove it.

During a day trip to La Paz, I took some snaps of people and graffiti. This is the only shot worth a damn though.

That's it for my photographs from Mexico.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Top Ten Films of 2008

The annual movie rankings are due... perhaps past due. So here you go: Stave It Off's guaranteed winners, the slamdunk ten best films released in 2008 (presented in dramatic countdown-style format.)

10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
I can't say too much about this movie without giving away spoilers. Oh what the heck, it appears that Brad Pitt actually ages backwards! So when he's a child he looks like an old man, and when he's an old man he looks like a child. How crazy is that?! When he meets his lover "in the middle" they are both sexy as hell 40 year olds... but you can't help but think there's a tragic doom impending as he turns into a young boy and she turns into a vamping cougar. I can't comment more than that though because I haven't actually seen the movie.

9. Gran Torino
By most accounts this is a tour de force. Clint Eastwood continues to pummel us all senseless with his gritty performances and redeem himself for making countless crappy movies during the 80's. In one trailer, Clint Eastwood actually snarls, "Get out of my yard, you damn kids" while shaking a .44 magnum most crankily. Well, I got out of Clint Eastwood's yard a long time ago, so I passed on this instant classic. Hope the rest of you enjoyed it though... and I'm absolutely positive it warrants its slot on the top ten list.

8. Taken
How much ass does Liam Neeson kick? Well I guess we'd actually have to watch the movie to find out! But I can tell you for certain that the trailer looks absolutely kick ass. Liam is all mean and serious and you can tell that the men who abducted his child are in for a brutal beat down. He looks like he's got Matt Damon (Jason Bourne) meets Daniel Craig (James Bond) written all over him.

7. Revolutionary Road
This film reminds me so much of all those Neil Simon plays... where there's always a bar in the living room... and most of the characters are downing four fingers of whiskey in every scene. Back in my acting days, I was all about those scenes. That apple juice tasted good. And we couldn't really afford apple juice at home, so it was a real treat. My guess is that Kate Winslet and "old man" DiCaprio probably muffed a few scenes on purpose, just so they could get another glass of "whiskey". My educated guess is that this film is totally worth seeing. I'm hoping to get to it myself.

6. Rachel Getting Married
Indie dramas always rock. Especially ones about getting hitched. Remember how good Margot at the Wedding was?! Well, this one got an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, so I'm pretty sure it was good. And, quite frankly, it's important to sneak a few "small" movies into your top ten list so you don't come off as too Hollywood! I wouldn't want to lose my credibility as an ace movie-reviewer guy!

5. Vicki Christina Barcelona
Woody Allen is still alive, and still working through his sexual neuroses. This is a sure bet formula for a great movie. And now that he's quit casting himself as the male lead, you no longer get that creepy feeling as a scrawny old man gets it on with hot young stars. And the cast doesn't get much hotter than this! My sources tell me that there's even a hot threesome featuring Stave It Off 20 Sexiest Men poster boy Javier Bardem. And who are the buns for this man-mean sandwich? None other than Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johanssen! Va-va-va-voom!!!

4. Waltz with Bashir
Some of you are probably thinking that this is just a rip off of Persepolis... another animated middle-eastern autobiography. But I say, anything a woman can do, a man can do better! What's wrong with a little healthy competition anyway? If Munich taught me anything, it's that Steven Spielberg is the greatest film maker in history... and that it takes a man's perspective (someone that's really been there) to understand why war is bad. It was obvious while watching Munich that Spielberg and screen writer Tony Kushner knew a thing or two about war first hand. I'm betting this film wins the best foreign film Oscar and might even help create peace in the middle east.

3. Doubt
This is probably one of those did-he-or-didn't-he kinds of movies. Lots of shots of the mega-talented Phillip Seymour Hoffman looking either pious or guilty... it's hard to tell (because he's THAT good!) Now I'm categorically against the raping of altar boys, and I'm guessing this film probes that sensitive material... I'm not sure though since I haven't seen it yet. But if this film can get me to "doubt" my stance on Catholic priest sexual abuse, then it must be one hell of a picture. Let it never be said that Stave It Off doesn't seek out challenging films!

2. The Wrestler
I didn't need to see this film to know it deserved the #2 slot. The trailer ALONE made me cry. There's that scene when Mickey Rourke is all, "I'm just a broken old piece of meat, and I don't deserve your love... I just don't want you to hate me" and then tears roll down his face! OMG, that is acting gentlemen! (Too bad the academy won't recognize him with a deserved best actor Oscar.) And with that Bruce Springsteen song in the background... I was bawling halfway into the credits of the film I had gone to see.

1. Synecdoche, NY
Let me start off with a modest confession. I haven't actually seen this film either. However, let me follow it up with an even more modest confession. Writer/Director Charlie Kauffman is WAY smarter than me. He's maybe one of the smartest people alive. I don't really get what he's doing 78% of the time. That's how smart he is. So I can tell you unequivocally that this is the best film of 2008, never even having seen a trailer for it. Because if I saw it and didn't like it, I would know that the reason is that I'm just not smart enough to understand it. And neither are you (haha) so go see it right now folks!

Lastly, I want to put out an honorable mention to Let the Right One In. I couldn't actually include it in the top ten list because I haven't seen it yet... but my friend Dan says it's dynamite.

There you go loyal readers. I may not have seen a lot of movies this year, but that never stopped me from sharing my opinions on them anyway! Stave If Off wishes you a happy 2009 and hopes that we'll keep getting this kind of quality entertainment out of Hollywood for another year.

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