Sunday, January 27, 2008

Once in a lifetime, twice in a week

When Sarah and I went to Texas for Christmas, the presents that her dad and step mom had ordered for me hadn't arrived yet. So, rather humorously, I ended up opening a bunch of boxes filled with printed out pictures of the presents I was supposed to be receiving. One of the upswings of this ended up manifesting itself earlier this week when my presents finally arrived at our place in Seattle.

Christmas 2.0!

So, a lot of this week ended up being dedicated to watching some of the many movies I they got me. First up, and as part of our Bond-A-Thon (still kinky!), we watched Casino Royale. Now, months and months ago, I rambled about Casino Royale, so I wont spend too much time on it now. But, I will mention that it's been interesting revisiting this movie, after having watched the better portion of the Bond library over the last year. The movie stands out almost more for its differences than its similarities to previous Bond films.

It really makes me interested in what the next film will be like. Especially since it been rumored to be a direct sequel spinning out of the events at the end of Casino Royale. Oh, and as a side note, they've announced the title of the new Bond film: Quantum of Solace. (Source)

The title apparently has people grousing because it's "too wordy" or something. But, I'm all for it, since it's apparently the title of a James Bond short written by Ian Flemming.

Oh, and this appears to be a poster for it.

Next up on our little film-fest was the Irish romantic-musical Once. Once was one of the first films we saw after getting back from our trip, and it was the film that convinced me that I'm becoming a big blubbering goof in my old age. Even though it’s technically a musical, it's the type of film where the music actually makes sense in the context of the story, as it follows two young musician/songwriters as they meet, record an album together and flirt with the idea of falling in love.

And, I almost burst into tears in the movie theater when I first saw it.

Truth be told, if I heard the music out of the context of the film, I'd probably consider it to earnest for my tastes. I tend to recoil at singer-songwriter types. But, early in the film, there is a scene in a piano shop where the two lead characters sit down and try playing a song together. This scene, in my opinion, is one of the most pitch-perfect scenes I've seen in a while. It's deceptively simple, but is such a great layered scene that hits all the right notes (pun partially intended). Plus, the ending is pretty perfect too. It could have been botched in so many ways, but it’s simple and effective.

"Hmmmm," the lead characters of Once ponder with Irish accents, "How can we make Tyler cry in public?"

After that, I needed a testosterone-fix. And, for that we put in 300 for two solid hours of Spartans chopping Persians up.

...actually, thinking about it more, watching a bunch of well-oiled, nearly naked men might not be the BEST way to reassert my manliness.

Sarah and I both saw this originally in Hobart, Tasmania during our trip. And, while it didn’t surprise me that I liked it because of its comic book roots, stylized action scenes and painterly scenery; I was surprised how much Sarah liked it. Usually she has a limit to the number of arms and legs she can stand seeing chopped off in slow motion before she throws in the towel on a movie. But, somehow this movie managed to wallow in its violence, macho-posturing, almost deliberately anti-PC morality AND still get Sarah's seal of approval.

In addition to those movies (and another I'll save to talk about after we get around to watching it), I also got Talking Head's Once in a Lifetime box set. Now, I've been obsessed with David Byrne and Talking Heads for a number of years now, and as a result, I already have most of their CDs, as well as a good share of Byrnes's solo releases. But, this package (which also contains a DVD of a number of their videos) is just a little too nice to pass up.

Aw! A baby with puppies. Actually, this cover to the box set is deceptively innocent.

Plus, it's another excuse for me to revisit their songs for the umpteenth time.

It is actually really interesting to hear the better part of their catalogue in just a sitting or two. The three CDs are arranged in a rough chronological order, so it's also allowed me to start an internal debate with myself about whether I like their early stuff, middle of their career stuff or later songs better. Hmmmmm.

Oh, and it was fun to throw the CDs in and dance around our apartment when I came home in a hyperactive mood on Friday night.

"Dance, Tyler! I command it!"

The night before my Talking Heads dance party, Sarah and I went to Zeitoon. Now, I have to confess a sympathy for underdog restaurants. Y'know, those restaurants that you can just tell are going to go out of business. And, Zeitoon definitely appears to be an underdog of the highest caliber.

For weeks now, Sarah and I have walked passed it on our way home from work. And every time it has been nearly entirely empty. Occasionally, it might have a one of two patrons, but never enough to it could possibly be paying the bills on its downtown Belltown location. But, finally, on Thursday night, Sarah and I decided to take pity on it, and give it a try.

And, honestly, it’s quite good. If I were to complain, it would be that the prices might be a tad high. And by a "tad" I mean that if they knock a dollar off their entrees, I would probably consider their prices to be "reasonable." Also, their menu doesn't do their dishes any favors. What are casually described as "wraps" are actually expertly stuff, light and crispy pitas filled perfectly with delicious ingredients. Good stuff, and the owner was almost friendly to a fault.

If you're in our neighborhood, and want some Middle Eastern cuisine, I'd recommend them without hesitation. Do a good thing! Support the underdog*!

Oh, and I discovered a magazine this weeks that seems to live up to its title: Good. Actually, the full title of Good magazine is "Good: Media for people who give a damn." I initially discovered Good through a design site where it received an award from AIGA for its design and layout, but it's fascinating forward thinking angle on politics, the environment and culture has proven to be interesting reading for my daily streetcar rides to work.

Finally, my weekly comic rundown:

X-men #207 - This issue brings the massive Messah CompleX crossover event to a heady and dramatic close. And, now that the storyline is over, I will say that I think it was possibly the strongest X-title related crossover event in years, if not ever. Sure, at points it was uneven. And honestly, the entire storyline basically boiled down to mutants beating the tar out of each other for 13 issues... but really, that's pretty much all it takes to keep me entertained apparently.

Good stuff, with long term ramifications for the series involved. And, while Sarah will no longer have to listen to me babble about "Messiah CompleX Messiah CompleX Messiah CompleX," she's now stuck listening to me speculate about what will happen in the various X-titles going forward.

Astonising X-men #24 - And, while X-men #207 proves how little it takes to keep me excited about the X-men, Astonishing proves how little it takes to loose my interest. At one point, Buffy creator Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-men seemed like the most exciting title in the line up. But, fast forward over three years, and less than two dozen issues, and this title has basically sidelined itself. I'm not one to generally complain about delays in a title's shipping schedule, but this is seriously struggling to seem relevant when it's so obviously lost all relationship to the rest of the titles. Taken on its own, the issue isn't bad, but I still find myself unable to truly care, and just looking forward to Ellis taking over the title.

The Umbrella Aademy #5 - If someone told me, before I left on my trip, that one of the best title's I would be reading when I came back would be written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, I wouldn't have believed it. But, honestly, he's Dark Horse miniseries about a dysfunctional family of superheroes is one of the most interesting and unique things I've read in a monthly format in some time now. It doesn't hurt that he's ably backed up by artist Gabriel Ba (of Casanova fame), and cover artist/mastermind James Jean. Consistently interesting and entertaining stuff.

A private academy of disfunctional superhero children! A man with a gorilla body and human head! The Eiffel Tower! Sing me up!

Finally, today Sarah and I made a run to the CD shop and ended up picking up a bunch of CDs. But, since I've barely given them more than one listen, and because this entry has turned into a rambling mammoth, I'll call it a night.

Talk to you in a couple of days, when I hopefully put up the results of my Commuter Cam Project.

*Side Note: Speaking of underdogs, Sarah and I went to Olympia on Saturday to visit a couple of friends. While we were down there, we caught the Evergreen College women’s Basketball team play. And while they sadly lost to Southern Oregon, and while I didn’t attend Evergreen, I still feel like I should say “Go Geoducks!”

And the winner of the phallic mascot award goes too....

No comments: