Monthly Archive for August, 2003

arghh, prepping for my move back to the states certainly turns up alot of junk i’ve been saving for no good reason or at least one i’d forgotten long ago … however, i was fortunate to find two blank cards i’d bought at the now-defunct museum store bearing jack vettriano’s works. i really dig his nod to the 30s/40s style and reflective “just rained” surfaces upon which most of his characters can be found. i was happy to find an online gallery through which you can browse and buy prints as well as cards (although i’ve yet to find the prices) plus there are some pretty cool works from other contemporaries. for the record, my bella donna italiana received dance me to the end of love with her Xmas gift and is about to get back where you belong as my bittersweet epilogue.

now, more than ever, ahh-nold seems to be prime material for the governorship of california….

Schwarzenegger: “Bodybuilders party a lot. Once, in Gold’s — the gym in Venice, Calif., where all the top guys train — there was a black girl who came out naked. Everybody jumped on her and took her upstairs, where we all got together.”….read more

nice hati hate the whole idea of royalty here in the uk. a small group of inbred people worshiped by the public, while holding no real governing power and yet still raking in the taxpayers’ dollars. that’s why i wasn’t too excited about visiting buckingham palace. i heard it was full of knick-knackery and highly overrated as a tourist spot. but this month was the limited summer opening of the palace’s state rooms and tickets were able to be booked in advance(online), so i said what the hell. it actually wasn’t too bad. kind of like the white house on steroids. lots of gold leaf and victorian era stuff. there were actually some pretty good paintings in there as well. by the likes of rembrandt, poussin, and rubens. it still made me ponder the question: what do these people DO?

we also visited the royal mews. the place where the horses, carriages, and rolls royces that the royals travel around in are kept. the horsemen and drivers also live there. beautiful horses, which reminds me to wish a big horse-lover, my lovely sister georgia, a happy birthday today (the 26th).

leeds castlewe took a road trip to “the loveliest castle in the world”, leeds castle on sunday. it’s not anywhere near the big, northern city of leeds, but southeast of london, adjacent to the tiny village of leeds in kent. it was quite beautiful and in a picturesque setting: on an island surrounded by a lake. the sprawling grounds included a maze, a grotto, vineyards, gardens, a golf course, and an impressively stocked aviary(first time i’ve seen a toucan up close). they had peacocks roaming the grounds and even had the cool, black swan, which is the symbol of the castle. the castle also has an american connection. It was owned in the 1920s by an american heiress, lady baillie, who modernized the interior by adding central heating and ebony wood plank flooring, among other things. its history goes as far back as 860 and in the 18th century, the castle was passed on to lord fairfax who came into a large hunk of land in virginia. part of that land is now known as the county of fairfax, where i once made my home. i almost forgot the true highlight of our visit there: the world famous dog collar museum on the castle grounds (i kid you not. actually pretty cool).

full throttlei wouldn’t exactly call the quiet american ‘high-brow’, but on the other end of the spectrum we gots the charlie’s angels: full throttle. ignore the mostly negative reviews, this is a fun flick. dumb, but fun. i dare say it’s almost better than a bob hope Christmas special. you get to see cameron diaz and lucy liu in a variety of skimpy outfits (i’m purposely leaving that E.T. girl’s name out here), although i must warn there’s a disturbing scene where cameron masquerades like a very convincing butch dike. this isn’t as good as the original because 1) bill murray isn’t in it and his replacement, bernie mac, is totally lame, 2) no real entertaining bad guy like weird sam rockwell in the first (but the villainess here, hardbody demi moore, has other attributes…like being the hottest 40 year old woman on the planet), and 3) not enough of the thin man (crispin glover goes down like a hero though). there’s some excellent use of music as in the first movie, but no instant-classic scene like the alley fight to prodigy’s ‘smack my bitch up’. they do use that tune again in this one to pretty good effect. oh, and my man jp has a keen eye. he spotted the tribute(spoof?) to loverboy on the movie poster(the v-sign held behind the bum, see thumbnail attached to this post). i doubted him, but the fact that loverboy made the soundtrack convinced me. the music ranges from the beach boys to classic rock to hair bands to rap to rage. and there’s a lot crammed in here: spoofs of cape fear, CSI, risky business, flashdance, and raiders of the lost ark, plus more i’m probably forgetting; cool fx where you just have to suspend disbelief, another great choreographed dance scene with cameron, some odd cameos(bruce willis, pink, the olson twins, jaclyn smith, carrie fisher, eve), and a strange string of incest and whore jokes with john cleese(this went about 3 jokes too far). bigger, faster, and louder than the first, but not better.

f::b can take the high-brow flick this time; gianni reports old school needs no post-cinematic analysis … he was rumored to have muttered ” it’s almost as funny as bob hope ” ๐Ÿ˜‰ nearly parallel with the van wilder plot (improbable frat hi-jinks) yet fresh enough to deliver several good laughs. will ferrell’s best offering since zoolander and either wilson brother cracks me up (if you ignore the stale royal tenenbaum). basically luke has to turn his home into a frat-house to adhere to a new zoning law, so he and his 30-something cronies lead an unlikely crewe to gonzo-fab nirvana. for a light and goofy 2nd video rental, pick it up!

the quiet american. a murder mystery and love triangle set against the french indochina war in 1952 vietnam. it’s based on the 1955 graham greene novel of the same name. for a subtly anti-american film, i quite enjoyed it. it’s great moviemaking but beware, also great propaganda. excellent acting by michael caine (he got a best actor nomination) and engrossing story, though i hated the hypocritical, conscienceless nature of the caine character. here’s the basic story: a british journalist(caine as thomas fowler) in saigon befriends an american(brendan fraser as alden pyle). the american falls in love with his vietnamese mistress and can offer her youth, marriage, and america. the brit is a senior citizen with a wife in england, who won’t divorce him. the american, who is more than the idealist medical aid worker that he seems, is found dead at the beginning of the movie and the movie proceeds to show us the events leading up to the murder. we find that fowler is implicit in the american’s death. but he is the moral hero because we are to believe that the american is a terrorist killing innocent civilians in the name of uncle sam. a bombing that actually happened is the turning point in the “awakening” of the fowler character.

the fowler character was semi autobiographical it seems, since greene spent time in saigon as a journalist, smoking opium and screwing prostitutes. i haven’t read the novel, which is said to be more anti-american than the movie, but he supposedly portrays the american even more like a caricature than the movie did. the choice of names for the american(pyle) is telling as well. and he even gives his book a nicer ending in that fowler gets the divorce he asked for from his wife. this, so he can offer marriage to his mistress, a good 40 years his junior. the left leaning reviewers call this film “timely” because of its parallels to america’s war in iraq. an indictment on america’s meddling in world affairs. that’s a stretch. weren’t the french and the british the colonialists? we, the anti-communist, anti-colonialist, and idealist americans are painted as the bad guys. this should offer some insight into mr. greene:

But as David Thomson notes in the excellent essay on Graham Greene in his invaluable ‘The New Biographical Dictionary of Film’, “Greene once said heโ€™d rather live in the Soviet Union than in the United States.”

“to be human is eventually to have to choose”. that’s the big “statement” of the movie. well, besides conniving in a murder, i say history tells us that fowler chose wrong. jeff mcmurdo sums up the choice that the caine character makes in his article titled requiem for the “quiet american”:

vietnam and communism should be ….judged against the relative prosperity, freedom and independence of their U.S.-supported neighbors; Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea. An unlikely vindication of the quiet American came from a former Viet Nam war era draft-evader. Prior to his visit to Hanoi in November, 2000 President Bill Clinton declared in a speech at Georgetown University Law Center, “The twentieth century resolved one big question, I believe, conclusively. Humanity’s best hope for a future of peace and prosperity lies in free people and free market democracies governed by the rule of law.”

yes, the real “message” is what happens after greene’s story ends.

the superman (and batman) legend has been soiled. the guys at dc comics have gone totally left. they’re giving us superman as anti-war protestor puppet and lex luthor as our president. i think the old issues where the superheroes did the right thing and fought evil are going to be even more valuable on ebay if this trend continues. sad. so sad.

i don’t know if jeremy shockey’s supposed “homo” comment was made by him or not. even if he said it, it’s not as serious as people are making it out to be, especially in its context. it was a flippant, harmless remark. one thing i know for sure: i totally agree with his other comments about parcells. i never did like him and now that he sold out and went to coach, of all teams – the hapless cowboys, i like him even less. (anyway, didn’t parcells once call a player “she“? touché.) how could a former coach of the giants go and coach the cowboys? my answer: a big ego and probably lots of money. may that team continue its downward spiral and tuna stews on the sidelines.

i’m just testing here to see if yahoo uses those annoying pop-up ads when linking to photos on their server. this photo is of my nephew, panagiotis, and me with an animal friend at the st louis zoo. it’s from my yahoo photo album, which gives you a decent 30Mb of free space (hint: make all your photos 400px wide before uploading to get the most photos possible on the server, unless you’re using their printing service in which case you should upload a higher resolution file).