Geek Smithology

August 30, 2005

Rant – Sin City & High Expectations

Filed under: Sight by Nathan @ 9:49 pm

Of the few things I miss about my old job, the weekly Tuesday trip to Future Shop and/or Best Buy is in the top 5. So when I found myself in the local geek box on a tip from Eskimo Bill that I could procure Far Cry on the cheap, I took the occasion to browse. Needless to say (well, unless you think I have no talent for picking post titles), I saw Sin City on the shelf. I picked it up, unseen by me, because it seemed like my kind of movie. Two hours of graphic novel noir later I have to say that gosh darn it, it is my kind of movie. I loved every minute of it.

Yet there was this unexplainable feeling of…je ne sais quoi. Was it Disappointment? Why such a preponderance of despondence over a film I just so recently purported to appreciate, even love? Expectations, dear readers; I was set up. “The comic thing was too much.” “I can’t believe the violence.” “Oh. My. God. That was so fucked up.” This is but a sampling of what I heard. So I was expecting something like Waking Life meets Kill Bill meets Mullholland Drive. That such a movie would be impossible barely registered. I needed to see Sin City.

Was the comic book inspiration intrusive, existing solely because the director was drooling over his digital camera and editing equipment? Sorry, you’re thinking about Sky Captain. This is result of the crystal clear conviction of somebody that knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish and then did it, even though he had to resign from the director’s guild to do it. You call that vision. When was the last time you watched a movie without a single wasted shot (and you can’t say Citizen Kane)? I’m waiting…

It is violent. Somebody rips off somebody else’s testicles with his bare hand. A dog snacks on his dismembered but still living owner. A dirty cop dies when he gets a pistol barrel in the forehead. Add a cornucopia of shootings, stabbings, and decapitations and this ain’t Disney. But it’s stylized and iconic, not graphic — Casino was more disturbing.

Is it a kick in the nuts uber experience? No. While I’ve enjoyed hundreds of movies over the last decade, I can only think of a couple that left me sitting there in the theatre thinking “I’m never going to see anything like that again.” Saving Private Ryan was one. Reservoir Dogs was another.

Maybe I should stop listening to people talk about movies I haven’t seen, or find folks with a frame of reference more closely aligned with my own. If you saw National Treasure but not Million Dollar Baby, we don’t have much to talk about. If you liked Daredevil, but not Hulk, we’re on different planets. And if you can tell the difference Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2, then you’re the Ront, and beyond hope. Before I get any comments saying I’m a film snob, let me take this chance to admit two things:

  • I liked Mortal Kombat. And I’m not being ironic.
  • I’m the guy that saw Spiceworld[1]. Four times.

Do me a favour everyone. If you see The Libertine before I do, only tell me what you thought if you weren’t shocked. Deal?

My name is Nathan Smith, and I am the cynicalman.

[1] It had one thing going for it right away – any movie with an Elvis Costello cameo can’t possibly be evil. I also thought some of the Spice Girls were hot (I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to fill in the blanks.) So sue me.

August 27, 2005

MP3otW – My Favorite Things by John Coltrane

Filed under: MP3 of the Week by Nathan @ 11:23 pm

John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things: a landmark for Coltrane and a landmark for jazz. Few have heard of it [1]. Fewer still have heard it. Is it because a lot of people don’t get jazz? I used to not get jazz. Then I realised there was nothing to get, and now I get jazz.

I think a lot of people are intimidated by jazz fans, because they make wine connoisseurs look like Bud swilling wresting fans in comparison. But you know what? You can drink a bottle of wine and like it without knowing where it came from, or how old it is, or which grape is dominant [2]. So with that in mind, set aside 15 minutes in your busy day, turn this up, sit back, and just listen. Notice how you can marvel at the solos without caring about how Coltrane was recently influenced by Miles Davis’ experiments in modality. Notice how you can feel a tight rhythm section without knowing that influential jazz pianist McCoy Tyner is on keys, or that this was Steve Davis, not Jimmy Garrison, on bass. Note how you can feel the swing without caring that Coltrane put this in 6/8 time (instead of 3/4) and used 10 bars for the verse (instead of 8.)

Doobie doo wah, folks, doobie doo wah.

[1] And if you’ve heard of it, it’s probably because it inspired Robbie Krieger and Ray Manzarek to lay down that extended musical musing in Light My Fire.

[2] Before I get any hate mail, let me express that learning all this stuff about wine or jazz, or anything else you care to appreciate does significantly increase your enjoyment. I’m merely stating that this shouldn’t be a barrier to entry – it should never be a crime to just like something without a litany of justifications for it (if that were true, nobody could say they like Mulholland Drive.)

August 22, 2005

The Cuz comes to Town

Filed under: Personal by Nathan @ 10:22 pm

Yeah, this is already a week old, but sometimes I’m lazy. My cousin, who I hadn’t seen in about a year (since his bro tied the knot. One cousin was the groom, another cousin was the best man, and my brother was the minister. It was surreal.) Anyway, we’ve been friends since, I don’t know, the dawn of time or something like that – I dimly recall trying to start a band called Hungarian Priest but our hit song You’re Gonna Do Time just didn’t resonate with the kids. He’s a fellow Deadhead and gave me a pretty kick ass bootleg from May 1973. As for my part, I grilled up a metric ton of burgers and provided some brewskies.

To prove I have absolutely no vanity, I’m posting this picture that my wife took. If I look like I haven’t slept or showered and seem a little hungover, well, you do the math.

August 20, 2005

MP3otW – Vampire Beats by Mae Shi

Filed under: MP3 of the Week by Nathan @ 6:30 pm

I was thinking about what I should bring out for the MP3 this week and it suddenly dawned on me that I’ve been far too easy on you guys the last couple of weeks, throwing out some nice easy listening; nothing challenging at all. So this one’s a bit of a challenge. The Mae Shi is the kind of band that forms when a bunch of people can’t sing or write a sweet melody, but desperately need to make music. The are the kind of band that will put out an album with 32 tracks in 42 minutes and call it Terrorbird. They are the kind of band that will have 2 songs called Terror Bird, and 5 songs called Repetition on that album.

I’m not saying I dare you to like this (those songs are coming later) but I will say that you need to listen to at at least 5 times before passing judgement. Just to frame your reference, listening to this song 5 times is not much longer than listening to Hey Jude just once.

Without further ado, I present…Vampire Beats. You know you love it!

Perfect Day

Filed under: Personal by Nathan @ 6:03 pm

Yeah, I know the Lou Reed song is about heroin (you’re going to reap what you sow…), but the post is about feeling normal for a little while. Doesn’t happen to me very often, but I’m getting a little better at it over time as I slowly transition from managing a dev team in charge of a scary expanse of legacy to being on a consulting team to enhance a much smaller bit o’ legacy. After doing a bit of design in the morning, the wife and I packed the boys into their massive stroller and walked down the “ice cream park” (so named since they have some playground equipment that looks like an ice cream stand. Gabriel will sell you a virtual chocolate chip ice cream cone for the low, low price of 6 fins. Luckily the 30 clams are also virtual.) In no particular order, here’s what we did:

  • I pushed Gabriel on the swing, even completing the vaunted “underduck” – something he was convinced could only be done by his grandparents. Heh.
  • We played some beach ball soccer.
  • Marie found a frog. Xander was suitably fascinated.
  • Much climbing and sliding, followed by going home and setting up the sprinkler.

After this I fed the boys (Xander somehow put away a peanut butter sandwich, 6 strawberries, and most of my bowl of cereal. That’s crazy talk) and then we all had a nap. All in all, it was a really good afternoon, and has me starting to think about what we should do when I take holidays next (probably in the Fall.) Marie always wants to go to her mom’s place in Regina, but I both hate Regina and agree with Eskimo Bill.

Who knows what will happen; it was just nice to feel mundane (in the absolute best sense of the word) for a few hours.

Eskimo Bill Says… (3 in a series)

Filed under: Eskimo Bill by Nathan @ 5:59 pm

…Driving to visit family isn’t a vacation.

August 19, 2005

He is Spartacus

Filed under: Friends by Nathan @ 8:00 pm

Spartacus (a.k.a Sheldon) has gone off and started himself a blog. You probably think I’m going to link to it, and I won’t disappoint, but just to be a little different, I’m gonna put it in a footnote[1]. Le Fuchs was on my team during my SI days – kind of a part time employee, part time partner in crime. It took me forever to type his email address, because on the way to “fuchss” I kept typing “fuck” — that my muscle memory works like that is a mystery best left unsolved. When we weren’t waxing poetic on the elegance of well written perl, we were debauching ourselves by lapping the sauce like a couple o’ camels two months past the last oasis.

It’s crazy what you learn about people when they start blogs. I mean, I never in a quintillion years (I’d have gotten it in sextillion years, tho’) would have guessed that he was into pearl diving, but there it is, right in his blog. And when I read about masturbatory assistance pillows, it dredged up some awful memories about mousepads with boobies. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. At least we’ve got Fronto’s next birthday present lined up (unless Van Halen puts out a new CD or something.)

[1] The Blog: f00. The domain, fuchietown, reminds shelfoo of a Pseudo Echo song. If he had any taste, it would remind him of a Lipps Inc. song [2]
[2] I am suddenly reminded of that line in High Fidelity when Rob says “how can it be bullshit to state a preference?”[3]
[3] I don’t know how, but it can be.

August 18, 2005

Static Inner Classes and Interfaces – Who Cares?

Filed under: Craft of Dev by Nathan @ 10:37 pm

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