Monday, October 24, 2005

Reviews: Doom & Serenity

In an effort to post a bit more, here a couple of reviews for movies Cher and I recently took in…

Just last night, Jade’s B-day, after we’d taken the kids to Casa Bonita, we went out to see Doom. Of course, we left the kids at home and, after seeing it, I recommend you do the same. For those of you unfamiliar with the Doom franchise, it began life as a video game wherein you got to kill lots and lots of monsters with weapons varying from a chainsaw to the almighty BFG (euphemistically referred to as the “Big Frelling Gun”(substitute your own expletive for frelling if you like)). There was always something spooky about playing Doom in the dark. The atmosphere of the game was conducive to making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Of course, in retrospect, it may have been all of the caffeine I was drinking in those days…

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson plays Sarge, a muscle-bound killing machine. While I’ve enjoyed him in films like “The Rundown” and “Walking Tall,” I found this performance to be a half step backwards to his earlier work “The Scorpion King” which was simply awful IMHO. That’s not to say it was as bad as TSK, but it was not good either. The fact that there was almost no plot or character development probably contributed mightily to the hollowness of his performance. The most memorable performance was turned in by Karl Urban. So memorable in fact, I just now realized he played Eomer in the recent Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It’s rare that I fail to correlate an actor with prior performances when I see a show - rare enough that it’s a compliment to his performance that I didn’t notice.

On the whole, the movie was below mediocre. Sure there was lots of killing and gore but, the spooky feeling one gets when playing the video game simply wasn’t there. If you’re gonna make a movie based on a video game, it should at least produce a similar feeling. If you still want to see this one, wait for it to come out on DVD so that you can rent it or better still, borrow it from a friend.


This one was a pretty damn good time. Joss Whedon, the man responsible for the hit TV shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel,” busts onto the big screen with this light hearted, high energy romp through the Sci-Fi universe. It’s not great acting, the effects feel somewhat cartoonish in places, but it works. He intersperses bits of comedy characteristic of his earlier work throughout the film while managing a tangible, if a bit simple, storyline. Also, like his TV work, he spends most of his time on character development. This has the effect of helping you to be interested in what is happening to the various characters. In short, I liked it. If you enjoy science fiction and action, you’ll enjoy this one.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

10.18.05 - Life Update

Yikes! It’s been nearly a month since I posted. It’s been an interesting month although much of it is unblogable. By unblogable I mean that it’s too personal to be aired in a public forum. However, there is a good bit that I can tell you without having to kill you later. Most recently, I spent the latter part of last week driving Dave Liebman and his big band around Denver. They are great guys to a man – very down to earth and approachable and great musicians. For those of you who don’t know who Dave is, check out the link. They played a concert on campus which was, quite simply, mind blowing. The arrangements they used were complex and incredibly interesting – in Jazz terms, deep. I got to watch them rehearse and I have to say, they were incredibly serious musicians. They covered a lot of ground in a very short time. I got to know some of the guys personally and look forward to maybe working with some of them in the future – what an experience! I cannot stress enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to hang out with such great people.

The 2¼ days I spent working on the Liebman show were largely unplanned. In the end, I put in twenty-nine hours. I would have been perfectly willing to do so for free or even to pay for the privilege but they PAID me! I think I may well have found a way to make money that I can get behind. I took on the position of Treasurer for the production club on campus and so far, I’ve been learning a lot and making some great connections in the industry. Last night I went to go check out a venue for a show we’re working on. We met the manager who invited me to come and play without ever having heard me play and let me know which nights the guys who play regularly around town play at her place. Very exciting and very intimidating all at the same time – I so don’t wanna suck!

Just this morning I booked some time with my favorite guitar instructor to prep me for my audition in December for admittance into the guitar program. I think I have most of the audition elements lined out but I want to be sure. The sight reading piece is the only one I’m even a little concerned about – I depend on my ear too much. Playing in a void without accompaniment demands that you pay closer attention to what’s on the page especially in Jazz.

I’ve been recording some of my guitar stuff for the audioblog. I’ll let you know when I get it posted. There’s nothing like recording to highlight where you need work. It’s not that I think I can get it perfect, but I’m struggling with good enough. Why is it that artists are never satisfied with good enough? Perhaps it’s because they are always reaching for the perfect expression of what they see or hear in their mind’s eye. Certainly that’s the case with me. I could probably write it down the way I hear it in my head but to play it that way is altogether something else. Practice, practice, practice…

The internet is a lovely thing. I’m sitting here listening to a local radio station, Jazz of course, while typing this entry and researching links and the like all in an effort to post a coherent, interesting post for your consideration. Computers kick ass! Speaking of technology, I’m getting closer to purchasing a keyboard to make music on. Cher and I went to Guitar Center this weekend and I think I’ve finally found something that will work. Since I use mostly computer based samples for piano and techno sounds, I really only need a very basic keyboard that has a MIDI interface – the computer does the rest. I’ve settled on the Yamaha P60. The P60 is a very basic 88 key weighted keyboard but it has MIDI and it’s available for around $500 depending on where you look. If anybody thinks this is a bad idea, I’d love to hear it before I plunk down the cash.

My Mom and Step-Dad are in town. I wish it were for better reasons. Unfortunately, my Grandmother had a baseball sized tumor in one of her breasts. It was successfully removed yesterday and she is recovering nicely. Hopefully they got it all. In any case, she’s suffering from dementia so it’s sure to be very confusing for her. It’s been hard on my mother. Gram has been none to pleasant to deal with in recent years and most of the family, including myself, have distanced themselves from her. She’s mean, bitter, and lonely because she’s literally chased everyone who might have cared for her away from her. She is the single greatest example in my life that holding on to resentment and bitterness will eventually destroy you. The woman I loved, who fed me pie on her knee and told me stories, has been gone a long time now. I miss her.

The kids were happy to see their grandparents. They live in Nebraska so visits are infrequent and greatly anticipated – they chatter on for days before and after. I’m very much like my mother. If you take a look at the wedding picture on the photoblog, it’s very easy to figure out who she is. She’s the short smiling redhead that I look a lot like. John, my step-dad, is the sweet, smiling, grey haired, hulk of a man standing next to her. I love them both and miss them when they’re not around. They’ll be coming over tonight for family night dinner – something I’m very much looking forward to. It’s strange to me the things that bring us together. To borrow from Bonnie, call your mother! She misses you and would love to hear from you.