The Universe and Me

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Empire strikes out

Movie: Revenge of the Sith. The third of the Star Wars prequels and just as lame as the first two. It really boggles the mind to think of the money involved in and earned from these movies and yet, Lucas can’t shell out for a decent scriptwriter? There are no comedic moments, no attempt at Soloish witty banter, no character development much less camaraderie. There is, however, some recycled dialogue from the future that sounded put in for old time fans to make us wax nostalgic. Instead I winced. There are also an abundance of computer effects and lightsabre fights dangling over precipices. And a character named Commander Cody, no doubt searching for his lost planet airmen. And a wookie who does a Tarzan yell. Natalie Portman does little besides stare out a window and gestate. How she delivered two full term babies when she was nowhere near her third trimester was more astounding than any CGI effect. But the babies don’t return her will to live? Good mothering skills, there. Hayden Christensen did not bother with any acting lessons between films two and three. And he turns to the dark side and starts killing children because he’s afraid his wife will die in childbirth? And this wife he’s terrified of losing says one thing against him and he turns on her and strangles her? Please. There’s more sense in daytime soap operas. The thing I enjoyed most, and it was nearly the only thing I enjoyed, was briefly hearing Luke & Leia’s theme music. C3PO was the lucky one. After al this, he got to have his mind wiped. Sign me up.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hunting for Happiness

The Icelandic alt-rock band Dikta has posted three songs from their new CD at their second webpage over at Myspace. Do give them a listen. The first two especially. I love both those songs. Someone over at Blogcritics has discovered and reviewed the Icelandic singer/one man band Mugison, now that he’s finishing up his soon to be released fourth CD. I like some of his work, but he is very different. Almost painfully experimental, glitchy, surreal and abstract but occasionally brilliant. Nice to see him get some US recognition.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Fourth time (un)lucky

You Are Likely A Forth Born

At your darkest moments, you feel angry.
At work and school, you do best when your analyzing.
When you love someone, you tend to be very giving.

In friendship, you don't take the initiative in reaching out.
Your ideal jobs are: factory jobs, comedy, and dentistry.
You will leave your mark on the world with your own personal philosophy.

Note: it took me four times taking this quiz to get the correct answer. The other three times, it insisted I was an only child. Sorry to my three older sisters! Probably more of a reflection of my innate solipsism, living in my own little Varushka World!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The universe ad infinitum!

Briefly, very briefly, as in blink and you would have missed it, from February to March in 1978, the science fiction sitcom Quark appeared on television. Created by Buck Henry, the show is still referred to as everything from ahead of its time genius to the worst show ever broadcast. Whichever, it did its best to parody the likes of Star Wars, Star Trek, 2001, and Flash Gordon. Set in the 23rd century, or the year 2222, it followed Adam Quark and his unusual crew aboard their spaceship as they collected the universe’s garbage. And had some absurd adventures along the way.

Quark’s crew consisted of: Andy the Android, Ficus who was a take-off on Mr Spock, half man and half plant (funnily when they traveled to a parallel universe where the rest of the crew became their opposites, he stayed exactly the same), clones Betty I and Betty II who both denied being the clone, Gene/Jean (not sure if inspired by the Bowie song) played by Tim Thomerson of the futuristic cop Trancers movies, and a pet ball of protoplasm named Ergo. Mork & Mindy’s Conrad Janis also appeared as Otto Palindrome. I’m not sure how he was connected to the crew. Quark’s boss was The Head, a large head (see 3rd Rock from the Sun’s boss “The Big Giant Head”) which appeared disembodied on a viewscreen much like Holly from Red Dwarf. Their enemies were called The Gorgons, sounding if not looking quite similar to Douglas Adams’ Vogons.

Only the pilot and seven other episodes of Quark aired before the network realized it was on and quickly yanked it off. There’s no sign of a DVD release of the series although there is an online petition for one that you can sign. Since it might be quicker to travel across the universe than wait for that, you can download poor quality files of the episodes from the internet.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ampop Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 23, 2005

All alone with My Delusions

Ampop's new CD titled My Delusions is out! And it’s spectacular! They’ve gone more the direction of alternative pop on this one whereas their last albums were more electronica and dance. The band played at the Iceland Airwaves festival last night, following some shows in the UK, where they’ve received some well-earned attention and radio play lately. There are a couple MP3’s at their website, along with some videos and a place to purchase their work. I wish some US record company or distributor would pick them up, but I tend to live in Dreamworld.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Lost ...and found

Lost: 2.5. Thanks to the observant people on the Internet (who thought it was a continuity error), I already knew Sun lost her wedding ring and where. I wasn’t aware, though, that love will look orange, at least for Jin. He learned a lot of English in one episode. And yes, looked stunning. We learned he worked in the Good Korea as a hotel doorman before he was a waiter. Try as he did to get away from his father’s fishing business, he ended up being the best fisherman on the island. And I’m guessing Ana Lucia isn’t easily impressed. Sawyer thought the Tailaways were going to eat them, which is exactly what I was thinking. Instead they decide to go looking for the Lostaways. Libby stands up for Michael, then apologizes for throwing him in the pit. They’ve got trust issues. How about that? When she tells Michael the Others come from inland, he runs off in search of Walt. Jin and Mr Eko work out their differences and search for Michael who might want to rethink his concept of friendship. He doesn’t consider Sawyer a friend, but Sawyer saved his life and tried to defend Walt. He does consider Jin a friend, but didn’t want to look for Jin when he was lost at sea. I’d be hesitant if I was Libby. Was that a hockey stick Jin carried? In previous episodes, Eko seemed mean, but we may have judged too quickly. We still don’t know much about him except he has an accent and was worse than married, whatever that means.

The Tailaways have a radio but aren’t listening to Oldies FM. Why didn’t they bother burying Goodwin? And if the Others have guns, why did they kill Goodwin with a spear? Why don’t the Others don’t leave tracks? And why don’t they wear shoes? The birds and other animals of the jungle were sure making a ruckus as they approached and walked by. The last Other dangled a stuffed teddy bear. There must be a significance behind or inside these stuffed animals. Otherwise: Jack’s wedding ring is in his sock drawer back home. I was prepared to like Mr Lee for his normalcy and knowledge of medieval Russian history only to learn he was leading Sun on when all along he planned to marry a girl from Harvard. Anyone we know? Jin once gave Sun a puppy named Popo. Sawyer thinks Ana Lucia seems “suited for marriage.” Why, because she’s mean and loves to boss people around? I suspect Kate lied to Sun about why she was reading the bottle messages. Hurley calls women “dude” too. Best line was Sawyer’s: “It’s every man for himself, Chewie.” Next up: One of these survivors will be lost forever.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Out there somewhere

Just to say: There's a link on Kate Bush's website to her "King of the Mountain" video.
Also, the Icelandic band Sálin has posted streamed wma versions of the eleven songs on their upcoming CD at this Tonlist page.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

If I was on South Park Posted by Picasa

Lost in South Park

There's a website where you can create your own South Park characters. A few Lost fans over at Live Journal have created what some of the Lost characters would look like if they were on South Park.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In a northern town

Movie: The Ballad of Jack and Rose. Surprisingly not about the Kennedy’s. I don’t recommend this movie due to the creepiness of the father-daughter relationship, mostly her being obsessed with him. And I don’t see how, with that obsession and his being on the verge of dying, she could act in ways that would hurt him. But Daniel Day Lewis gave a marvelous performance as yet another main male character named Jack. And it gives me the opportunity to blog about how I’ve always found it strange when children don’t share (at least some of) their parents accents, as the daughter in this film didn’t. My Swedish grandmother immigrated to America when she was only 5 and when she went to school, her teacher forced her to drop her accent. A move which today would be considered a violation of one’s civil rights and worthy of a lawsuit. My Swedish grandfather immigrated in his mid 20s and kept his very thick accent all his life but my mother has no trace of a Swedish accent. Maybe it’s just me. I pick up accents easily. After living in Mass a while, it took years to sound like I was from New York again. Then after countless hockey games and always listening to Canadian radio, I ended up with a Mass/New York/Canuck mix. The past few years I’ve listened to Icelandic radio on the Internet and it’s a wonder I can speak at all anymore. And yes, many people wish I wouldn’t.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Drowning in the reel

Movie: Bewitched. Wow, this was a real stinker. And I’m blaming Nicole Kidman. I don’t know if it was the director’s choice or her choice to speak in a whispery bimbo voice, but it made her character come across as a dumb (and wimpy) blonde. Perhaps she was trying to channel Marilyn Monroe. The smart and strong Elizabeth Montgomery would have been the sensible way to go. And it didn’t help when Kidman’s fake American accent slipped into Brooklynese a few times. The script was also severely lame. We’re supposed to believe she or anyone would be attracted to such an egotistical actor (named Jack - can we please have a TV show or movie without a Jack)? And she seemed to love him most when he sweated. Yes, that’s what every woman’s looking for – a man who sweats. The harridan wife mispronounced Reykjavík. There is no substitute for Paul Lynde although the actor gave it a try and came up with the only good line: “The long version is in Aramaic.” As for Bewitched, stick with the original series.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Lost: Everybody Hates Hugo

Lost 2.4. Had to laugh at Hurley in the pantry, especially when the scene went all Twin Peaks on us. Interesting his dream included a milk carton picture of the missing Walt when Hurley doesn’t know Walt is missing. Charlie still doesn’t believe Hurley is worth 156 million and “must have confused it with the 900 trillion I am worth myself.” He sulks off with the made of chocolate lollipops island baby to spy on, then complain to Locke that he’s “tired to being at the bloody kid’s table” instead of on the A-Team mission and wants some soddin’ answers. Locke fills him in on the hatch even though Jack ordered them to wait until inventory was taken. Charlie thinks the button pushing sounds a bit nutsy. Hurley fears change since the last change in his life appears to have ruined quite a bit. We’re guessing particularly his friendship with Mr Cluck co-worker Johnny the gnome thief and Led Zeppelin t-shirt wearer. Can we say Swansong? And look, there’s Drive Shaft’s CD in the $2 cut out bin. Sorry Charlie. Aside from the White Stripes, I listen to little American music, so Hold Steady may as well have been some fictitious band, but they’re not. Anyone care to guess what happened with Starla?

As for the Rafters, Sawyer’s sick of making human pyramids. I knew Ana Lucia (aka Rambina or later Hotlips and probably soon Empress of the Tailaways) wouldn’t take him out with the others, but let him stew for a while. If she isn’t a cop or misplaced from 24, there’s no cider in Canada. Libby says 23 of the Tailaways survived. Past tense. There are only a few of them left in their own private though not as well stocked hatch, including Bernard, Rose’s husband, who’s finally come out of the bathroom. Were the missing lunch for the monster or infected with Danielle’s disease/virus or taken by The Others? If the Lostaways are ever rescued or beamed up, I bet Sawyer’s the first one to sue Oceanic. For all they’ve been through, Jin’s looking mighty fine. Couldn’t help noticing.

Otherwise, at the end picnic Rose keeps an Apollo candy bar (mentioned again and as if there was some significance behind them) for Bernard. Claire finds the bottle from the raft and gives it to Sun who inexplicably buries it. Sayid and Jack investigate the under workings of the hatch. Sayid suspects there’s a geothermal generator or similar power source behind the 8 to 10 foot thick concrete wall but he’s never heard of so much concrete being poured over everything since Chernobyl. Kate mentions the water smells of sulfur. The best quote was really a silly soliloquy by Hurley’s mom, Carmen, which went something like: “Falling down is not exercise. The only time you move is to lift a drumstick from the bucket. Maybe if you pray every day, Jesus Christ will come down from Heaven and take 200 pounds and leave you a decent woman and a new car. {Phone rings} Oh, that must be Jesus. He wants to know what colour car you want.” Next up: Mike goes off in search of Walt and the waskly wabbit shows up again.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lost online games

While waiting for the next episode, or my post about the last episode, work on a Lost jigsaw puzzle or take the trivia quiz.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Not burning down the House

Movie: House of D. Call it bittersweet and moving or “sweet but inept” or “awkward and atrocious,” as one reviewer did, I liked it anyway. A lot of it was set up as a showcase for Robin Williams’ humour so one had to expect some juvenile crassness. But the Duchovny/Leoni team gave this coming of age story a good try and I’ve seen so much worse, so I won’t rip it to shreds like the press did. I will complain, however, about the young actor’s looking a good five years older than thirteen and the ridiculous mullet wig he wore. What, the kid couldn’t have grown his hair out for the movie? The thing I found most strange was the adult Tommy’s Parisian wife not having a clue that he was American. She, not Robin, may have been the real retarded character. Zelda Williams seemed very natural in her role and could easily pursue an acting career. The orange jumpsuit was wonderfully funny. I think I remember some similar outfits. I appreciated the soundtrack, circa 1973, when music was real. I literally gasped when the song “Harmony” came on and it was 1982 all over again. Aw….

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The THT channel

Thanks for the idea to Margaret at work who thinks CNN might as well be renamed "Twentyfour Hours of Tragedy."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cold water surrounds me now

Movie: The Girl in the Café. British romantic drama starring Bill Nighy as an awkward civil servant and the loneliest man on earth who happens to meet Kelly Macdonald, a soft-spoken but outspoken last chance for something like love with a mysterious past. When I reserved the dvd, I had no idea part of it took place in Iceland. So that was a nice surprise and a chance to see some beautiful shots of Reykjavík. Bill thinks everyone knows just one fact about Iceland. Clearly he’s never met me. The movie is reminiscent of Lost in Translation, engaging and bittersweet, but with a dose of G8 Summit politics thrown in. Good soundtrack featuring Damien Rice and Sigur Rós (there are other Icelandic bands, people!) The question of whether Kelly was trying to be supportive of Bill’s work and truly committed to pushing the end of poverty or whether she was a fanatic protester was never truly answered. But it didn’t need to be. Some good quotes: “Anything you say will be more interesting than everything they’ve ever said.” “The dullest man in Canada - and that’s a pretty competitive category.” “The price that has to be paid for that ray of light is some sort of disgrace.”

Friday, October 07, 2005

Lost: Orientation

Lost 2.3. The previouslies are getting lengthy and there’s more backtracking. Anyone care to guess the eight simple rules for dating Locke? It’s interesting to see him in the flashbacks being so messed up and incompetent. Something must have happened between the failed anger management meetings and the plane crash to change him and I’m guessing it has to do with Helen and his former paralysis rather than that his kidney was returned or his father suddenly wanted a best friend. I’m still not sure if the people who said they were Locke’s parents really are or if they’re just con artists. Locke appears to have no doubt. So Kate finds the hatch’s arsenal and rescues John and Jack and I wish they’d either use Locke’s last name permanently or they’d given one of them a different name because of Jack being a nickname for John. But that’s my problem. They’ve got more to deal with when Kate’s ricochet hits the computer. She gets to leave via the front door and return with Sayid and excitement junkie, Hurley. In the meantime Desmond explains that on his race around the world three years ago, some Calvin came running out of the jungle and brought him to the hatch where he inexplicably stayed and every 108 minutes they “saved the world together for a while and that was lovely” until Calvin died. Did he die from Danielle’s virus? Before anyone thinks to ask, Desmond runs off like he has somewhere to go. Jack chases him and ends up lamenting whatever went wrong with his marriage instead of asking if Desmond knows of a way off the island. This ain’t brain surgery, Doc.

It may, though, be some kind of experiment gone wrong. The noticeably edited orientation video from the Dharma Initiative explains that the hatch is station three of six social science research facilities which deal with experiments in psychology, zoology, weather control, electromagnetism and parapsychology or thereabouts. An “incident” happened and since then a code must be entered into the computer to reset the numbers and do who knows what else. Stop another “incident”? Jack believes it’s all a mind game and for once I was on his side and wished he hadn’t pushed the button so we could see what happens if they don’t. That would have been the true “leap of faith.” So now for the rest of the series someone has to be in the hatch, taking care of this. Super. Can’t say I was surprised that Hurley discovered the pantry.

The Rafters get thrown into a cage/pit by Shaft. After a while Ana Lucia drops in and says she was in the tail section of the plane. Sawyer thinks he and his Howdy Doody gun are the best thing that’s ever happened to her but she has her own agenda and it isn’t to be helpful. Curious they showed a picture of Desmond with some so far unseen girl. And that two of the research scientists resembled younger versions of the deliverance dude who stole Walt and the woman on the boat with him. There’s some good reading material in the hatch for Sawyer. Best line: Locke’s “we’re gonna need to watch that again” which is how I feel after every episode of this show. Locke’s father’s “there is no why…get over it” disqualified for being too harsh. Next up: Jin miraculously learns to speak meticulous English and everything’s going to change.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What were they thinking? Take 7

Movie: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Chick flick. The pants, a pair of Levi’s that the girls hope will positively influence their young lives, seem more of a gimmick and have little to do with the action. Instead, the movie concerns the events of a summer in the lives of four teen friends, three of whom travel, and how their lives are changed by what happens, not by the pants. The one girl, Tibby, reminded me of an Arquette. I don’t know if Amber Tamblyn is related in any way, but she could be. Wherever they shot in Greece was gorgeous and I wish I could spend a summer there. The Romeo & Juliet family feud and the shy girl coming out of her shell and becoming a gorgeous babe stuff was a little clichéd. I suppose the leukemia part was too, but having had two classmates who died from it, that storyline got to me.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Queen of the mountain Posted by Picasa

She's here! she's here!

Although the release date is supposed to be October 24th, Radio 2 has been playing the new Kate Bush single, “King of the Mountain.” Her new album Aerial is to be released November 7th and while that’s quite a wait, we’ve all been waiting twelve years for something new from her, so I guess I can wait another month. The music world sure needs her return. Especially since a few weeks ago Gunnhild from Gåte announced her band is “on a break” for an indeterminate time as she wants to do something else. Excuse me for being selfish, but someone that talented shouldn’t be doing anything else. Back to Kate, the Bronte sister’s nightmare with the windmilling arms. I first saw her performing in 1977 (also a November 7th, the internet tells me) on Saturday Night Live and went “what the huh?” The song was the gorgeous “The Man with the Child in his Eyes” whose lyrics ended up haunting me to this day. Of course lame American radio wouldn’t play her music, so it wasn’t until Canadian radio started playing singles from Hounds of Love that I became a true fan. Early reviews of Aerial are excellent: “a melodic, organic sprawl of wind, sea, seasons, time passing, dreams, secrecy and revelation” with the words astonishing and masterpiece also being thrown around. Now if we could just convince Harriet Wheeler to release something!