The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) - I heard about this film during the Film Festival, where I saw a documentary about the “Ozploitation” films of the 1970s and 80s—a series of films that basically jump-started the Australian film industry. This was one of the first. I’m sure it’s described as a “sexy romp of a film” about a “real Aussie” who goes to the UK and all sorts of stuff happens. He drinks (mostly Foster’s), he attempts to shag the “pommy skirts,” gets ripped off by taxi drivers and hotel owners and pretty much everyone else—but manages to have a good time, nonetheless. I can see why Australians loved the film so much.
Honestly, his Australian accent was so strong that I could barely understand him much of the time. And his speaking was probably 50% Aussie slang, some of which I got (“she’ll be apples,” “chunder,” “woop woop,” “fair dinkum,” “sheilas,” etc.), some of which I didn’t (“raw prawn”?). Quite a bit of non-PC references, but you can’t judge the language of a film from then on today’s standards.
Coraline (2009) - In 3D! Woot! Yeah, it was actually pretty cool…a “kid’s” movie, but not all happy happy joy joy warm and fuzzy. Dark, creepy. Good music. Beautiful animation, incredibly creative. Based on a Neil Gaiman story, and—and let me make this perfectly clear—HAVING NOTHING TO DO WITH TIM BURTON. Four stars.
I Stand Alone - By French director Gaspar Noe, who later did the even more unsettling Irreversible. Uber-creepy and disturbing. Urgh. Two, maybe three stars, I guess…it did what it wanted to do, which was to creep you the fuck out. [Netflix]
An e-mail I sent yesterday to Colorado State Rep. Jerry Frangas. It continually bothers me that legislators will do anything to avoid raising the tax gas, from raising the cost of car registration (which affects you even if you don’t use the roads at all!) to something as ridiculous as the recently-discussed plan to “add GPS/recorder units to all cars and readers to all gas pumps, then charge extra for miles driven when you fill up.” Yeah, like that’s not going to be expensive or unpopular! I figure the only reason they don’t is they think it would be political suicide. Jeez, politicians, how about thinking about something other than your own future, like, you know, the good of the country? Just grab some sack and say, “You know what, people? It sucks paying higher gas prices, but you paid it last summer when gas was $4 a gallon, and if you want us to keep the roads from falling apart, well, then, if you use gas on the roads, then you need to pay for the roads’ upkeep.” Done.
Sheesh. Frickin’ cowards.
I’ve read that you may be trying to trim SB108 by removing the $10 million/year provision for alternative transportation design, construction, and maintenance, including bicycle and pedestrian paths (section 43-4-206). As someone who has cycled to work nearly every day for the past eight years, I would urge you to leave this small amount of the entire bill in. I drive my car maybe twice a week for shopping, but I would pay higher registration fees in exchange for better bike paths. Colorado is an excellent biking state, and as the recent gas price upswing showed, we could definitely stand to get away from using our cars all the time.
If I could say one more thing. I wish legislators would just buckle down and raise the gas tax, rather than all this foolishness with GPS tracking/pay per mile or charging higher registration fees. If I never drive my car once in 2010, my registration fees will still be increased as much as someone who drives every day of the year (causing more pollution, road wear, damage, etc.). Why not just increase the gas tax? The only opposition I’ve heard says that “it gives hybrid/high-mpg owners an advantage,” but that’s a minor difference (and a sour grapes complaint by SUV owners), and people driving high-mpg vehicles should have an advantage—they’re lighter and cause less damage and pollution. The real reason, I’m convinced, is that any legislator—state or federal—thinks it’s political suicide to increase gas taxes (despite our having some of the lowest gas prices in the industrialized world; many experts saying that’s what we need to do, etc.). So plans to “install GPS devices in cars and gas pumps to track and charge miles driven” is ridiculous. Get your fellow legislators to show some courage and leadership, and just admit that gas taxes need to be increased. People who drive more will pay more. People who drive less—or change their habits to drive less—will pay less. The state gets the money it needs. Problem solved—if only politicians could only be less worried about being unpopular by voting for increased gas taxes.
So in a post on BoingBoing, a metalworker was talking about using a metal press: “I formed the strip on a hydraulic press (read: car jack in a steel frame)”. It never occured to me to be able to use something as simple as a car jack when I’ve needed a hydraulic press! Okay, the one time I really wanted a press was when thinking about making dome poles—the metal poles (thick electrical conduit, usually) have to be crimped at the end for five inches or so, punched with a hole, and bent to the proper angle. But you could easily make a jig out of a really dense wood (‘cause building a steel jig from scratch…well, that’s outside of my ken…), set it up between a pair of car jacks, put the pipe in the jig, and then just pump away at the handles ‘til your pipe was crimped/bent/punched. Coolio!
Of course, I’ve got a dome now and don’t need a hydraulic press. But it’s worth keeping in mind for future projects…
I know that ukeleles are quite the fad now, but I think I want one. Not that I have time to learn to play one, mind. But they’re small, portable, supposedly easy to play, and cheap! Found them online for like $30, at which I was surprised. However, after some quick internet research, I think I might go for the Kala KA-15S, which got good reviews and is still under $50 or so.
The Cocoanuts (1929) - Marx Brothers’ first film, but you can see the pattern that all other Marx Brothers’ films follow (song and dance numbers separated by little verbal and physical comedy skits by the Brothers; a thin plot usually involving the Brothers getting a guy and a girl together against opposition). [Netflix]
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Man, do I love this film. Saw it with Rocky at the Esquire Midnight Madness, and it’s a perfect Valentine’s Day movie. Really clever, well done, good effects that support the movie rather than overshadow it; a clever plot that isn’t so convoluted that you can’t understand it… Yeah, this is one of my favorite films of all time.
War of the Worlds (2005) Yeah, a total popcorn flick, but I did like how it didn’t focus on “how to fight the evil alien would-be overlords” and more on just one normal guy (when in the movies, “normal” = Tom Cruise) trying to run from an incomprehensible event and still keep his kids with him and safe (though there was still one bit of Hollywood heroics…I guess Tom Cruise can’t be totally normal and non-heroic throughout a whole movie. Interesting—it’s the Second Spielberg movie I’ve seen in three days (Goonies on Sunday). Anyway. Three stars for the popcorn movie that it was. [Netflix]
Got my new camera in the mail yesterday! A point-and-shoot, but a really nice one, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5. It’s got a huge Leica lens, 10x optical zoom, and way more features than I can reasonably expect to use. The only drawbacks are 1. it uses a rechargable battery (I prefer ones that use AAs or AAAs, because you can carry extras with you and you’re not stuck if you’re somewhere that you’re unable to plug in a charger for a while…like, say, Burning Man); and 2. it doesn’t have a viewfinder—you’re stuck using the LCD screen for pretty much any picture-taking. I guess I’m kinda old-school in that I like holding it up to my face and looking through a window (helps stabilize the camera, too!). But still, I think it’ll be really good, if I can figure out how to use the various features (ISO settings, long shutter times, etc.) as well as I could on the old Canon PowerShot.
Carlito’s Way (1993) Good acting in an otherwise unremarkable gangster film. Three stars. [Netflix]
Take the Lead (2006) Teacher-inspires-forlorn-students cliche film, notable only for the good dancing. Two stars [Netflix]
Ushpizin (2005) Good Israeli film. Four stars. [Netflix]
The Goonies (1985) I’ve never seen this movie before. I can see why it was so popular, tho’ Spielberg borrowed quite a lot of tricks from 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and other films (giant rolling stones, reaching through scary holes to turn key mechanisms, skeletons popping up here and there [including of previous adventurers], etc.). Come to think of it, the bulk of the movie is kinda like an extended version of Raiders’ South American idol-cave scene…go past lots of scary things and creative booby-traps to get the treasure.
Rocky and I got tix on Friday for our March vacation—two weeks in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico! Woot! First, the tix were $405 each—and the last time we checked (back in October), they were $770! And we’re reading through the guidebook and it’s got a ton of things to do and see in the places we’ll be: horseback riding, mountain biking through the cloud forest, markets, etc.. And finally, the guidebook has things like this: “Beautiful old colonial hotel in the center of town, with friendly service, wood beams, high ceilings, tile floors, tree-shaded patios and rooftop deck. Breakfast served. Doubles US$14/night.” Another nice thing is that the trip’s in just five weeks—far away enough to have time to do what I need to, but close enough that we’re not waiting interminably for the time to arrive.
Anyway, VERY excited. Already got a pile of stuff ready to pack (and spent quite a bit of money getting yet more travel gear: a small, lightweight tripod that still extends to 42”, a small powerful flashlight, a pair of pants that will be good for dress-up dinner nights, a broad-brimmed hat that I can still crush down for packing, and some other stuff). Still need to buy a new camera and make a travel journal, and decide which clothes to take, but I’m in good shape.
The Secret of Roan Inish - Four stars for being a good family film that I’ve never seen before. [Netflix]
The Big Lebowski - Got this used DVD a couple weeks ago at Twist and Shout, and watched it with Rocky last night ‘cause she’d never seen it, and it’s been a long time for me. I forgot what a great film this is. Love it. Five stars.