30 July 2008

Post 'quake stuff

The epicenter of the quake was in Chino Hills, which is fairly close by, maybe 7 miles away. Most of the area was just shaken, though there were scattered power outages, and some damage here and there.

After the quake, I was working in the stockroom and heard helicopters going all over the place, looking for damage. Since there was little, beyond a handful of broken water lines, had some thrown garbage into the street, I'm sure they would've covered it.

Granted, its been 14 years since the last quake in an urban area, but I don't think we need the coverage.

Talked to my mother to calm her, back in Chicago. Told her also I'm planning a trip home in September. She was happy. I've not seen here since April of '06, so I guess it will be nice to have her nagging me for a few weeks.

The Breaking Dawn release party is scheduled for Friday. BW is the 4th book in the Twlight series by Stephanie Meyer. It's a vampire love story that is basically Buffy without the the girl being a superhero. Anyways, while I'm not working the August 1/2 release night, I'm thinking that all the people who are going to be there is goth girls in their black clothes, tons of black eye make up and their closeted homosexual emo boys, with thier hair pressed flat, wearing girls pants.

Jebus, I'm getting old. I just don't understand them.

29 July 2008

5.4 Earthquake rattles the IE

In the three years I've lived here, this was my first quake that I was awake to experience. I've felt a few, low Richter scale ones, like someone kicking a chair or slamming a door.

I was at work, sitting in the break room. At first it sounded like the garbage people dropping off an empty container. When they drop it, it makes a terrible noise, plus shakes the store.

But this went on and there was one good tug, and then it ended. All in all, for about 10 seconds. It didn't scare me, but it was, interesting. A few things were knocked off the shelf at work, but beyond that it was uneventful (beyond knocking the land lines out in IE for about an hour, causing the mobile phone's to then take the burden of people calling everyone).

The local news loved it, though. After all, at 5.4, it's the first quake of this size in an urban area since 1994's Northridge. So, yeah, KTLA devoted 6 hours of coverage - a bit overkill, but you know, what else where they doing?

27 July 2008

Starbucks test markets Sorbetto

Here in LA county, Starbucks is test marketing more things that seem designed to get them further away from their roots.

It's called Sorbetto, an icy, Italian drink. Okay, whatever.

While in some dark part of my mind, I think this is a bad idea -because all it really is a gourmet Slurpee in an Starbucks cup - I'm puzzled by the company's strategy. Retuning CEO Howard Schultz wanted to get the coffee chain back to its roots, and get out of all non-coffee related business. But he continues to do the opposite of it.

Anyways, the store I frequent has advertising all over it, hyping up Sorbetto. The store is decked out in mostly pink splotches -decals on the floor and windows. It looks horrible, as if someone hosed the place down with Pepto-Bismol (woo, a Steel Mongolia reference). The decals on the window look like some kid with a paint gun shot at them. Or, for you Star Trek geeks out there, the pink splotches also remind me of the scene in The Undiscovered Country, where after the gravity has been restored, the Klingon blood floating splashes to the ground, the table, the walls.

It looks sort of like that.

On Wednesday, they're having a party to officially launch the test program. For a free drink, I guess I'll go there and mock it.

26 July 2008

Movie: The Dark Knight (2008)

While never a huge Batman fan -as in one who read the comics and the graphic novels - I’ve appreciated the vision of Tim Burton, who brought a stylish version of the DC franchise to life back in 1989. And even though Batman Returns was a some what derailing of what he did in the first film, the franchise went off the rails with Batman Forever (due to the horible performance of Jim Carey) and Batman and Robin (just the whole thing, really).

Then in 2005, Christopher Nolan brought the franchise back in a slick, well made piece of eye candy. But beyond the action and mechanical effects, Nolan brought a sense of psychology to Batman, that in a sense, the Caped Crusader had to be bit off his rocker, just like the villains.

Now three years later, The Dark Knight offers us an even deeper, darker look into the mind of a killer and hero out to get him. Writer/director Christopher Nolan along with his brother Jonathan, unwind a complex drama about a corrupt city and the few willing to risk it all to save it.

The film is wonderfully layered, often ambitious tale with its many mind games and characters that also features a bravo performance from the late Heath Ledger as the psychotic Joker - a role that is bound to get him an Oscar nomination - while Christian Bale as Batman and Bruce Wayne must decide that classic Star Trek motto of the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

Batman, unlike the Spider-Man franchise or even X-Men, is set more in the real world, thus more believable. He has no super-powers, thus he must use wit and brawn to succeed. This makes the audience feel a more part of the story. That The Batman makes his battle with The Joker more personal, forces him to look at his own beliefs and even forces the audience into asking what they would do when confronted by such a moral dilemma.

As noted, Heath Ledger’s performance elevates him beyond the cartoon aspects that became Batman’s nemesis’ during the earlier film series, with the exception of Nicholson's role as The Joker. His audacious take on the role, dark and full of menace makes The Joker one of the best villains a super hero franchise has ever created. The fact that The Joker has no moral dilemma, no soul makes Ledger’s performance even more impressive.

Perhaps, looking into your dark side, looking into a pit of nothingness that is The Joker, was Ledger’s downfall. Jack Nicholson had warned Ledger of the power of The Joker. A creature with no soul, is bound to consume you.

Meanwhile, Maggie Gyllenhaal does fine, in what amounts to a small role here, as Rachel Dawes, but even here, she surpasses Katie Holmes wooden performance in Batman Begins. The rest of the cast elevates the film also, with a bigger role for Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon and the evolution of Harvey Dent from White Knight of Gotham City to Two-Face. The always reliable Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine could read the ingredients to rat poisoning and make it sound brilliant.

And while Nolan only spent three weeks in Chicago filming Batman Begins, he spent three months for this film, giving the city a chance to shine, even though we never really see any of its classic landmarks, with the exception of Lower Wacker and the Chicago River. And that blowing up of the hospital in Cicero was way cool.

I’m curious now, where the franchise will go from here. Ledger’s performance and tragic death is bound to haunt the next film, and it will be hard to top. Whether Nolan returns to direct or not, when that third film gets made, it will need to honor what Nolan has started with these two films, and not let the franchise become the sad, silly, and overproduced, with over the top villains that would eventually kill the franchise the first time around.

24 July 2008


I was reading a story about Dark Knight star Christian Bale about the hullabaloo this past weekend in London. In the article, the writer says Bale is a very private person, and has yet to reveal the name of his daughter to the press and the public.

It struck me odd that either of these groups needed to know this. Who the fuck cares? Why do we have this bizarre fascination with celebrities? Why do we need to know everything about them? Why do we throw money at People, Us Weekly, OK Magazine to learn all the stuff we don't need to know?

Some claim (like TMZ), as public figures they leave all private matters behind, and that the public has a right to know, say, what the name of Bale's daughter.


I can careless (as a matter of fact, while I knew he was married, I was unaware he had a daughter, and I've lived a blissful life, not worrying a night away because I did not know it) about the private lives of any celebrity. At times, I feel the press does go out of their way to get photos and "create" stories to sell to magazines and so-called "entertainment" shows like Extra and almost everything on the E! Network. They hound people, wrapped in the American flag, and think its alright to talk to people like they're the best buds in the world.

American’s who watch reality shows like Tori Spelling and the Kardashians are pathetic, inhuman creatures, getting off on soulless, questionable morality, dysfunctional stars who have way too much money and time on their hands. And why that ugly-assed Paris Hilton is even considered a celebrity is beyond me.

These fools have never worked for a living, have been sheltered from the real world, and have no idea how to interact with normal people.

And American's think this is cute, and fun.

You all are a bunch of morons.

Christian Bale's problems are his own and I don't care, or even think, we need to know them. We certainly don't need to know the name of his daughter.

20 July 2008

Movie: Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild (2008)

After filming finished for the day on Star Trek: The Helena Chronicle episode I'm directing, Letter of the Law, I went to JT and Adam's place. On Thursday, JT had called to ask if I wanted to a preview of Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild, the obvious sequel to 2006's Another Gay Movie.

The first film was a parody of the American Pie films, and the other gay "coming out" movies. While the film had some funny stuff, it's dependence on gay stereotypes got annoying. It's cast was appealing, and very pretty, but ultimately it was more miss than hit.

The sequel offers some of the same raunchiness of the first film, though there was some attempt to go beyond the usual sequel style, which director Todd Stephens said last night was to basically remake the first film. But again, the film has more misses than hits.

Only Jonah Blechman as Nico returns for this film, with the rest of characters recast. His off-the-wall performance is perhaps the best part of the film, and he really shines in the one of the two (in my opinion) inspired sequences in the film: the "watersport" scene that turns into a song and dance number which highlights Blechman's roots as ballet dancer.

And while there is a terrible "crab" scene, there is a brief animation sequence which is so odd, it none the less, is pretty funny and creative. There is a gentrification joke given by RuPaul, which I also thought was pretty clever, if only because its very truthful.

Gossip queen Perez Hilton appears as Mario Lavanderira, who after a bump on the head while trying to give head to a priest, pops up in the movie at the most random times, preaching God's love and telling everyone to stop being gay. And while I hate everything he stands for, I was oddly surprised I liked him the movie. Maybe it to do with him just appearing out of no where, through out the overlong film or that he was playing such an opposite character.

Go figure.

The film was also heavily product placed, and while it was intended to be a joke about films that use that style to help finance the films, it also becomes overused, and eventually runs out of gas.

One the reason's JT asked me to come was to support Brent Corrigan, who has a small role as Stan the Merman in the film. Brent is attached to star in JT's feature film debut, Judas Kiss. This is the second time in the last few months I've met the utterly charming, genetic lottery winner Corrigan.

After the film, we had a late dinner with Corrigan, his manager and Jody Wheeler, who directed JT and Brent in the short In the Closet, which was showing at Outfest today. Corrigan is a really nice kid, with a great head on his shoulders and shows a lot of maturity for a 21 year-old.

And such a glamours life, we ate at IHop in West Hollywood.

He's kinda of shy in some ways, as much as he's open out his entire life. Of course, he's unbelievable gorgeous, but he's very down to earth and its very easy to have a conversation with. His life has been fairly rough, and while some the porn media want to portray him in some sort of dark light, he's far from the horror they've painted him. He's smart, knows what he wants and is willing to work hard for it. He's a rebel, in some ways ,within the porn industry, in the sense he trying to do things his way, fighting a well-oiled porn machine that does not want one of the pretty boys knowing more than them.

Anywho, back to the film.

Supposedly, the print we saw was "incomplete." The film does need to color corrected, as there are some beach scenes which are totally washed out. In the crab sequence, you could easily see the wires they attached to the creatures, and those should be digitally removed before the film is released -in theory, this Labor Day in theaters. My guess is the film will never see a theatrical release, beyond its showing at festivals like Outfest.

But it will clean up on DVD, which is where the real money is anyways.

15 July 2008

Lost on an Empty Sky

So, Brit Hume is reducing his workload at FOX News by the end of the year, when his contract is up. He is quoted as saying that he's "been doing this a long time, and it's just not as fascinating to me as it used to be. Look, journalism is a lot about enthusiasm. You have to have it. I find I am no longer as interested in politics as I was."

I can actually understand that, but apply it to my work. I've been working retail and the book business for far too long, and it has lost all of its appeal. I find it harder and harder every day to get up and go there. And I'm no longer interested in what my company says anymore, and no longer care what my RM's and DM's say.

I'm bored and feel that I no longer can be challenged. I've learned all that I can, but to achieve anything more there, I need to sell my soul to the Gods of Demographic Numbers.

And that is something I'm unwilling to do.


I need to win the lottery and open my own business.


This Saturday marks the fortieth anniversary of the passing of my father. It astounds me every year when this time comes around, and I realize how much time has slipped away.

I have very little memory of him, though he is kept alive in pictures that I have of him. I have an uncle who keeps his memory alive when we get together. He can tell many tales of my father.

But it astounds me that I've lived nearly all my life without him. Its bizarre to think that 40 years has gone without him here. And I wonder, a lot now, what life we all would’ve lead had he not died on that July day in 1968. I know its silly, and ultimately pointless, but I still would like to see a "what if" version of my world.

I cannot say that not having him here would've been better, but deep down in my brain, I believe it would've. And despite the many rows I heard they used to have (from my mother), I still think that would've stayed married.

Anyways, I miss him.

12 July 2008

Washing the car and paying for gas

I've never been one of those guys that washed his car every week, or every other day. A car has always been a means of travel for me, not a status symbol. So, it's not very often that I do wash it. When I was living in Chicago area, I would wash it a couple of times during the winter, but it was only to get the corrosive salt they used on the roads to melt the snow and ice. During the summer time, I hardly washed it at all.

Since moving here, I've sort of got in the habit of not washing it. Mostly because of the dust that gets blown around here. Living in a near desert area, dirt is an everyday annoyance.

So today, on a whim, I decided to wash my car. To be honest, I cannot remember the last time I actually washed the beast. Had to be sometime in 2007. Really, sometime in 2007. It took all of about half hour, and I was pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Late this afternoon, I decided to go for a walk. I was bored, the house a bit warm. So, I leave and pass by my car parked out in the back. I notice were the water ran down hill, the dirt has left mark on the pavement, like a ring in a tub when washing a particularly dirty child.

It made me realize how dirty my car was. Maybe I should wash it more than once a or twice a year. Plus, I've heard, keeping you car clean prevents drag and thus save money on gas.

Speaking of gas, I paid 4.35 a gallon on Friday. Three weeks ago, I paid 4.49, one week later I paid 4.45, and this week 10 cents less. So, it went down nearly 20 cents in three weeks. Pretty good, but its bound to rise again.

Book: How I Paid For College by Marc Acito

It's 1983, and in a sleepy New Jersey community 17-year-old Edward Zanni is breezing through a carefree summer and rehearsing for his high school's production of Grease. However, the fun comes to a screeching halt when his father refuses to pay for Edward's forthcoming term at acting school.

Edward's in a bind and, proof that he's destined for a life in the arts, incapable of holding down a job. So he turns to his loyal (but immoral) friends. Disguising themselves as nuns and priests, they merrily scheme their way through embezzlement, identity theft, forgery and blackmail to get his fees. Along the way, Edward learns the value of friendship, work and how you're not really a man until you can beat up your father, metaphorically or otherwise.

It's a wildy campy novel filled with, at times, unbelievable occurrences. I loved the era he set in the novel, as he also makes social comments on family relationships, sexuality and pop culture.

But even as a comment on the 1980's, one can also look at the novel as maybe too campish, and certainly never real. All the things that happen in the book comes from a fantasy world of TV and movies where the heroes get away with outlandish plots as the ones presented here.

But you don't read this novel for any real thoughtful commentary. It's a fun, beach read of a novel.

10 July 2008

Matthew Montgomery and his films

After months of Netflixing TV shows I've missed, I started to rent some gay themed films. Shelter was nice, and did a brief review of it on the blog. East Side Story was another. Then I rented two flicks that starred Matthew Montgomery, an actor friend who played on the web series Star Trek: Hidden Frontier as a Klingon that I worked on. Now he plays Own Vaughan on the HF spin-off, Star Trek: Odyssey.

The first was the horror thriller Socket

I liked it very much, despite the film resembling an even lower budget David Cronenberg film (writer/director Sean Abley used Videodrome as template). Still, Matthew Montgomery showed his acting chops (among other things) and now I know why HF cast him. He's very good.

I then rented Long-Term Relationship, a romantic comedy that once again showed me what a find Matthew really is. His range between drama and comedy is near perfect, and I began to wonder why he is not doing more films, even though he's found a rewarding career in indies.

I've qeued up Back Soon, the film he did after LTR, from the same writer/director and most of the same cast.

According to his IMDB posting, he's completed four films in 2008, with another currently getting close to production.

In a recent interview with AfterElton, Matthew explained why he's not gone mainstream:

AE: Do you have an agent? Are you auditioning for studio movies? Network roles?

MM: I’m still a non-union actor. So everything I’ve done up until now has been without representation, without being in a union. It’s all been on my own. Most of the network stuff, I’m not eligible until I’m in the union. And a lot of reps don’t feel comfortable representing an openly gay actor or someone who does primarily independent gay cinema, and I have no interest in changing how I represent myself.

So, yeah for Matthew. Yet, despite knowing him sort-of well, I think he's a brilliant actor who should be doing movies or network TV shows.

And he's really good on Odyssey.

06 July 2008

Hancock sucks, but movie studios claim its "fresh" and "different"

I love how movie studios spin things. They should be working for Bush, cause they can make even crap look good. Take, for example, Hancock. It opened on Wednesday, and made a $107 million in five days. Pretty good, but the film got horrible reviews.

"Will Smith, Mom, apple pie and the Fourth of July. It doesn't get any better," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. "People just so relate to him and the characters that he plays. They totally embraced it as something different, something fresh."

Oooookkkkkkaaaaaay. If you say so.

Then there's this: "Hancock did not get great reviews, but it doesn't matter. A guy like Will Smith is arguably the most-bankable star in the world," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers. "He's utterly likable and he's real, and that permeates from the screen to the audience."

I like Will Smith, but I find his films to be nothing but empty set pieces. I cannot "relate" to him, if only because he is a movie star and I'm not. He's less rich than Oprah, but he's richer than I'll ever be. And "something different, something fresh" is not in a studios vocabulary, so I wonder where this Sony guy got that idea.

All Hancock proved was that people will go see anything, even if its shit. And the studios know this, so there is no attempt to make anything that will have legs beyond its first week. Expect Hancock to have a huge drop off is ticket sales, next week if only because no one will pay to see it again.

Hell, if these guys can say this about Hancock, just think what they could do for W and his War on Terrorism (TM).

Doctor Who 4.13: Journey's End

There is many things to praise in the final episode of the season, but there is equal number of things that make Journey' s End the weakest of the three episode arc.

First I must comment on the TARDIS pulling the Earth back to its orbit. Beyond it being just illogical, its just plain dumb and takes you "out of the story" so to speak. I mean, this past week, Charlie Jane Anders of the science fiction blog io9, called Davies "the gay Michael Bay." And lives up to that motto after the whole tow truck pulling of the planet.

I was really anxious to see this episode after last week's outta nowhere cliffhanger, but I felt cheated with this finale, if only because the entire episode appeared to be written by a fanboy. It's fanfic to the max, and that's its problem. I give RTD props, as he brought back an aging show in need of fresh blood and a new direction. The first season is perhaps the best, if only because it attempted to break out its tired formula that doomed it by the late 1980's.

But over four years, the show has quickly fallen back into the same tracks that John Nathan Turner made with 6th and 7th Doctor's.

But the show was crammed with too much companion angst and too much Davros going on and on about destroying the universe -a distracting thing, despite the actors performance. And while I love continuity, RTD just seemed to go over board with it in this episode. Nothing brings a action sequence to a halt more than pointing out that Gwen Cooper from Torchwood resembles a maid from season one's The Unquiet Dead (of course, they were played by the same actress).

The best part of the episode was Catherine Tate, who for my money, became the best companion in its four year revival. She resembles Sarah Jane in many ways, which is logical because of RTD's love for Elizabeth Sladen's portrayal of Sarah (who is the second best thing about this episode). So I was disappointed at the way she was shoved out of the series. Tate seemed to be having the time of her life as the hybred human/Time Lady. But like Rose from her final scenes in season one's The Parting of the Ways, Donna could not "handle" being the hybred. I was disappointed that RTD went back to the well for this one. Donna deserved to stay, but if she had to go, then in a much better way than she did. It was too Star Trek Vulcan like the way the story was written.

Plus, I hated being manipulated like this. We were told a companion dies, and just like Doomsday, it happens only metaphorically. It's suppose to be a clever McGuffin, only it turns out to be a rehash of a show done two years ago.

One last thing, while I liked the idea that it took "three" Doctors to solve the problem, the fact that the second 10th Doctor must "pay" for the genocide of the Daleks is plainly ridiculous. The Doctor -the real one - has let aliens die before, and seemed to carry no guilt. Why second 10th Doctor must pay for destroying the Dalek menace once and for all just makes no sense. Of course, it sets up the even more ridiculous ending: Rose living with the second 10th Doctor that she loves. Everyone must have a happy ending, I guess.

I suppose with Doctor Who taking 2009 off (beyond a handful of specials so series star David Tennant can go off and play Hamlet), it could be a good thing. With Steven Moffat taking over from RTD, they may need a year just to regroup and see where they went wrong after season one. I like Tennant a lot, and hope he stays beyond the 4 specials in 2009. When given a good script, like Moffat's Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead from this year and Paul Cornell's Human Nature/Family of Blood from last year, David Tennant really shines. It's like he knows these are good scripts, unlike some of RTD's by-the-book episodes.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is just plain hot. As someone once said, his body is built for swimming.

He should be the best thing at this summers Olympic Games, considering most of the Americans have already been eliminated in the early trials of the most popular, most viewed sports.

As a matter of fact, the only games American's have the most prominent is swimming. So, for Phelps, he becomes America's best chance for taking home some gold.

04 July 2008

4th of July

After complaining about work so much, I decided today I'll just say this: It's getting harder and harder to get up each morning and go there.

It's just not fun anymore, you know?

So, anyways, went to work -and for a company trying to cut costs, why have me work today is beyond me. It's just I'll get paid 8 hours for working, plus 8 hours for holiday. Work 8, get paid for 16. While I'm not complaining, it seems rather loopy. But that's Borders Books and Music for ya.

Got home and saw people already setting up to watch the fireworks. I guess the one advantage to living here, is that I can watch the fireworks display right from my front porch. So I made myself some hot dogs, pulled the folding beach chair and sat outside.

A very nice lady named Debbie knocked on my door and asked to sit on my front lawn with her family. And since the people to the left and right of me cordoned off their front lawns like some scene out of CSI, I said yes. Now, I can understand somewhat why they did this -after all, you don't want a bunch of people laying around causing all sorts of problems on your front lawn. Still, none of these people actually own the property. It's a gray are, so I'll give to them. Just does not seem American, what ever that really means.

I brought out housemates boom box, this 1980's style thingy that would've not been out of place on the shoulders of some white kid from the suburbs trying to look cool walking through the local forest preserve. I plugged my iPod into it, and jammed to some tunes.

All in all, a nice display of fire works (look below).

It is also the first weekend since the end of May that I have nothing to do. No place to go, no gas to lose (though I paid 4.41 on Wednesday, which was 4 cents cheaper than last week and 8 cents cheaper than a fortnight ago. Don't know if it means a damn thing, but ya for David).

Suppose to be hot this week, really hot. So I might get up early and go bike riding before the sun starts baking like pancake on a griddle. Otherwise, I need to read. I've barley picked up How I Paid for College.

But there is the season finale of Doctor Who. I'm really curious how Journey's End will top last weeks episode.

Happy Birthday, America

01 July 2008

James Bond 22: Quantum of Solace teaser trailer

Wall-E (2008)

The crew at Pixar have had nine successful films, and its mostly because they know how to tell a story. This is what, in my opinion, has failed parent company, Walt Disney for years. Pixar's films are made with imput from everyone, and everyone gets a chance to shine.

Disney animated films of late are sad little pictures put together by demographic team who see profit in toys than telling a story kids and adults can enjoy.

And I think only Pixar could tell a story mostly empty of dialogue, and still get across the emotion needed to follow it. The visuals are wonderful, the CGI almost real looking , with some wonderful set pieces including a scene where the robots run wild that had me thinking of Monsters, Inc.

The enviormental message is there, and while it does not hit you over the head, I can see some people on the Right calling it very leftist.

Anyway, the film is rather brilliant and another flower in the hat of Pixar.