May 31, 2005

I wish this were a normal day

This should have been an ordinary Tuesday. I was worried and pensive all day today. It was nightmarishly busy around the office. We finally have solidified plans for the weekend after next's home-buying trip. The Missus has her own work issues, as with the weekend, combined with her trip, she hasn’t been in the office in 2 weeks.

And none of it mattered to me today. My father has cancer surgery tomorrow afternoon. As much as I try not to be, I’m terrified of what they will find. Or will not find. Or anything else that I can think of. My parents are handling this well, I think. Dad is very stoic and that seems to be rubbing off on Mom. She told me this weekend that she’s ready for anything.

Except the worse. Nobody talks about that, and I don’t blame any of us.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

Why did he wait this long?

Daniel Okrent, in his last column as the NYT Ombudsman, launches a couple bombs at the Times Op-Ed Page. Witness:

Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults. Maureen Dowd was still writing that Alberto R. Gonzales "called the Geneva Conventions 'quaint' " nearly two months after a correction in the news pages noted that Gonzales had specifically applied the term to Geneva provisions about commissary privileges, athletic uniforms and scientific instruments. Before his retirement in January, William Safire vexed me with his chronic assertion of clear links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, based on evidence only he seemed to possess.

The entire article is worth reading, as he spills out 13 things he wanted to write about. Each one will make you wonder why he didn't.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:38 PM | Comments (1)

Still the best political insider ever nicknamed after a porn movie

W. Mark Felt, the number 2 man in the FBI during the Nixon Administration, has publicly outed himself as the legendary "Deep Throat". It's a bit anticlimactic, isn't it? The great political mystery of our time revealed to be a guy nobody has ever heard of. Apparently, Felt did the deed as much out of pique that Nixon insider L. Patrick Gray, and not him, was named to replace the late J. Edgar Hoover as head of the Bureau.

Say what you will about Nixon, but breaking the FBI out of the grip of Hoover and his followers might have been the smartest thing he did in office.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:35 PM | Comments (1)

May 29, 2005

A question of movie etiquette

I went to see Revenge of the Sith again yesterday, this time on a DLP screen. This mid-afternoon showing was a complete sell-out. Now, the Missus and I are professional movie watchers. Buy the tickets online the night before, get lunch and line up in plenty of time. We got some nice seats about halfway up the theater and on the end. About 20 minutes before Showtime, the usher made an announcement that the show was a sellout and he requested that people begin moving down the row to close one-seat gaps and open up seats for latecomers.

And my response to that is “Bite Me”. I did things right, I waited in line and got the seats I wanted. If you are dumb enough to come to a big movie right before it starts, you should expect to get lousy seats. If that means you sit on the end of aisle 3 and your girlfriend is halfway in on aisle 14, maybe that’s God telling you to plan ahead. I don’t sacrifice my comfort for your personal foolishness. My wife says movie karma will come around and bite me in the ass for this, but if I am dumb enough to be a latecomer, I deserve bad seats.

Oh, and if you’re bringing large groups of children under the age of 8 to a movie rated PG-13, and feel the need to talk incessantly through it, reminding your kids to “close your eyes” and “the younglings are just sleeping”, perhaps you should shut the hell up and wait for DVD. Or at least sit somewhere other than right behind me, because at one point I was sorely tempted to rip the straw from my Jumbo Diet Coke and use it to crudely gouge your eyes out. Lastly, why was it worse to see the dead-but-seemingly-intact bodies of the kiddies then to see Anakin laying in molten lava with his legs and arm cut off, on fire and screaming in pain? Which is more likely to cause childhood nightmares?

Posted by Frinklin at 11:05 AM | Comments (2)

May 28, 2005

"Too bad his inner child never learned how to write"

I'm not a particular fan of Orson Scott Card, but I've found myself agreeing with many of his takes on pop scifi, especially with this review of Revenge of the Sith. And speaking of Card, I'd also like to point out that his Ultimate Iron Man, while as slow-moving as a Warren Ellis comic, has some pretty slick dialogue. So he knows what he's talking about.

Thanks to Josh for pointing me to this.

Posted by Frinklin at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

The only adequate response to this is .... COOOOOL

The ten-minute extended trailer for Batman Begins is available here. After Tim Burton's okay but overly arty and self-conscious takes and Joel Schumacher's soulless and slick version, this prequel by Christopher Nolan looks pretty damned perfect.

Posted by Frinklin at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

The Lost Finale

Now, I seem to remember reading somewhere- I’m not sure where, TV Guide maybe- that JJ Abrams had learned from one of the failings of the X-Files. See, that show kept building mystery on mystery, and never resolved any of them, until the deeply dissatisfying movie. So, now that I could watch the Lost finale with my wife by my side, I was expecting some answers.

There wasn’t much, was there? Don’t get me wrong, in of itself, this was a terrific, taut episode from start to finish. But there weren’t many questions answered, now were there? I guess we do have an idea just who the “others” are, and the subtle revelations that Rousseau was concerned with the wrong boy. Speaking of the “others” , on what Deliverance World Hell did they find the “We’ll take the boy” guy? Sweet Jesus he was creepy. I also loved the interplay between Charlie and Sayid (Do. Not. Hit. Me. Again.), as well as the Jin-Michael-Sawyer troika on the boat.

Still, some of this was running in place. The flashbacks didn’t reveal much of anything we didn’t know already, save for the creepy interlude in the men’s bathroom with Jin. I love Hurley, but his dash though the airport was a touch too long, and seemed to drive the point that he wasn’t fated to end up on the island a bit to obviously. And the Jack and Locke stuff is repeated, but after the hazy black stuff, wouldn’t Jack be just a tad more willing to accept the supernatural side of all this?

A little running in place, but I can’t wait for next season.

Posted by Frinklin at 12:47 AM | Comments (1)

The House thing heats up

In two weeks, the Missus and I will officially be house hunting. The weekend of the 10th of June is our time. We start filling out pre-approval forms this week. We could be moved as early as two months from now.

What seemed a long time away has now become right now and it’s a bit of a freak-out.

Posted by Frinklin at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2005

Oh Hell, how much must this hurt?

Veteran Rick Heiling was impaled by a broken bat while pitching for the AAA Nashville Sounds Friday night. He was hit in the left arm, and sent to the hospital overnight for observation.


Posted by Frinklin at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2005

My only problem with this is that it says I get along with hippies

You are 0% Rational, 28% Extroverted, 28% Brutal, and 14% Arrogant.

You are the Emo Kid, best described as a quiet pussy! You tend to be an
intuitive rather than a logical thinker, meaning you rely more on your
feelings than your thoughts. Not only that, but you are introverted,
gentle, and rather humble. You embody all the traits of the perfect emo
kid. You are a push-over, an emotional thinker, gentle to the extent of
absurdity, and so humble that it even makes Jesus puke. If you write
poetry, you no doubt write angsty, syrupy lines about depression,
sadness, and other such redundant states of emo-being. Your personality
is defective because you are too gentle, rather underconfident in
yourself, decidely lacking in any rational thought, and also a bit too

I probably made you cry, didn't I? Fucking Emo Kid.

To put it less negatively:

1. You are more INTUITIVE than rational.

2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.


Your exact opposite is the Smartass.

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Hippie, the Televangelist, and the Starving Artist.

Seen at Tainted Bill... why not take it yourself?

Posted by Frinklin at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2005

Just ODD right now

The Missus is on a business trip, and everything is off at the Frinklin Manor. The dogs are wierd all evening, thinking that she'll show up any minute; the house seems empty and don't get me started about the bed.

On a only tangentially related note: today at work we were all herded into the conference room to let us know that Comhugeco is closing one of our departments and sending the jobs to a horrid place known only as "Fresno". It wasn't in my department, but I couldn't help but wonder, "Didn't I just leave this party?"

Posted by Frinklin at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2005

Amateur Movie Review: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

After three classics and two mediocrities, I was worried. So was every other geek in the world. Would the final Star Wars movie close the circle, and end the saga well? Would it be painful to watch like The Phantom Menance or would it soar like The Empire Strikes Back? To hell with that: would it be good?

The answer is a resounding sorta.

Revenge of the Sith is an excellent movie… at times. Revenge of the Sith is also a terrible movie…at times. Everyone knows the story: Anakin turns on the Jedi, becomes Palpatine’s Sith apprentice and eventually turns into Darth Vader, merely the best screen villain ever. How we get there is the mystery. This movie is split into three very distinct parts: part 1 is the space battle above the galactic capital of Coruscant. Part 2 is the temptation of Anakin, where Palpatine tightens his hold on the young Jedi. The movies caps with the purge of the Jedi and the final confrontation between Anakin and Obi-Wan.

Revenge opens very quickly with the battle for Coruscant. Palpatine has been “captured” by Count Dooku and General Grievous, the newest CGI creation; an asthmatic lizard/droid that features a hacking cough and four lightsabers. The space battle is A New Hope write large. Instead of a few starships and scattered star fighters we get thousands of them. The screen is quite literally stuffed with stuff going on. It’s brilliant and confusing at the same time. The scene shifts inside the ship, as Obi-Wan and Anakin attempt a rescue of the Chancellor. Dooku, despite being portrayed by the marvelous character actor Christopher Lee, is a non-factor. He has about 4 lines, and is ultimately defeated by Anakin in the first of many lightsaber duels. The action is terrific, if a bit too CGI speeded up for my taste. My question for Lucas is this though: Why cast Lee, a classic screen villain of very advanced years, and then put him in a physical role? Yeah, with the computers you can barely tell when the stuntman takes over for Lee, but it just seems out of place. The best part of this section of the movie is the Anakin/Obi-Wan relationship. Unlike Attack of the Clones, the two are obvious friends.

The second section bogs down at times, as Anakin spends entirely too much time with Padme. Like AOTC, the dialogue between these two is awful. Hell, at times it makes the dreck from the previous movie look like Paradise Lost. There is zero chemistry between Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, and after three movies I still don’t give a damn about Padme. Portman is a dynamic actress is character-driven pieces like Garden State and Closer, but is absolutely lost here. It doesn’t help that Padme has gone from Queen to Senator to Prop during these prequels . She’s there to love Anakin and look vaguely heartbroken at times. And that’s all that happens.

At the other end of the spectrum is Ian McDiarmid’s excellent work as Palpatine/Sidious. He’s perfectly convincing as the embodiment of evil in this movie, though after his unmasking as the Sith Lord, his performance becomes slightly unhinged and over-the-top. The first half of this movie belongs to him though. Unlike the previous prequels, much of the acting is adequate if not good. Ewan McGregor finally seems to enjoying himself as Obi-Wan, playing him as a swashbuckling adventurer at first, but darkening in a very believable manner once the truth about Anakin comes out. McGregor hits emotional high points both when he realized what his apprentice has done and at the end as he battles Anakin on the lava planet.

The final third of this movie is, of course, what everyone has been waiting for the past 28 years. Anakin pledges himself to Sidious, and the Emperor unleashes “Order 66”, and the clone army turns on the Jedi. These scenes are strangely touching, both with the major characters like Obi-Wan and Yoda, and the minor like Aayla Secura and Ki-Adi-Mundi. Anakin leads the clones in an attack on the Jedi Temple and none, not even the “younglings” survive. Christensen does some of his best work here, as Evil Anakin he’s far more believable. He has a very effective array of glares and cold stares, and the makeup work -particularly the “Sith eyes”- is great. Revenge of the Sith then splits focus between Obi-Wan and Anakin on Mustafar and Palpatine and Yoda at the Galactic Senate. Both fights are dazzling, and the CGI work is seamless, especially when the Palpatine starts flinging giant Senate booths.

So, what is the verdict? I don’t know. There is a lot to love here, especially for a SW devotee. McGregor and the snakelike McDiarmid are perfect, and the overall acting is vastly improved even considering Portman and Christensen’s scenes togther. The action is immense, and the virtual worlds are as well-constructed as they are in any movie, including the LOTR series. That may be as much a debit as a credit for this movie. It may just be too big to enjoy as much as admire. Lucas has obviously made it a point to pull out all the stops, and it works mostly. I just wonder if the movie was a tad smaller -maybe take out a couple starships or slow down the lightsaber duels just a tad- it might be easier to follow.

The other problem is obvious. Lucas simply has a tin ear, both for a dialogue and real human emotions. We never see how much Padme and Anakin are in love, so they constantly have to say it. We can't just figure out that Anakin has sent himself to his personal hell, we have to see it. Most of the real emotions here are blown up to ludicrous preportions. The worst example: Vader, now encased in his familiar armor, finds out Padme has died. The scene is perfect at first; he trembles, and the scenery starts to crack and break. But Lucas just can’t leave damn well enough alone. Vader leans back and bellows “NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!”

I couldn’t tell if it was the real movie or a SNL-style parody. And it’s upsetting, because many of the smaller moments are so much more worthwhile, such as the pain in Yoda’s voice when he admits he’s failed, or the look of shock and horror on Jimmy Smits’ face as a young Jedi is killed in front of him. I think I need to see this again, now that I’m past the idea that this is the Last Star Wars Film.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:01 PM | Comments (2)

May 19, 2005

Did I drink the Kool-Aid?

The missus and I just saw Revenge of the Sith. How was it? Not as good as it could have been, but still pretty fine. You certainly get bang for your buck, as the movie never seems to slow down. I'll post an actual review tomorrow or Saturday.

I do have one request for the DVD: Slow the damned lightsabers down. At this point it's impossible to tell what is happening during a duel they move so fast.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2005

Starts at midnight


Revenge of the Sith opens tonight at midnight. Bill McCabe wants to know when you're seeing it.

The missus and I have tickets for tomorrow night at 8PM. I've slowly been sipping the Kool-Aid and have started to think this could be worth it.

Then I made myself watch The Phantom Menance and Attack of the Clones again this weekend. Sweet Jesus TPM was awful. I mean, Battlefield Earth awful. Episode II was better, though still pretty lousy.

I have little faith, but I can't NOT see it as soon as possible.

Posted by Frinklin at 07:24 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2005

I didn't even like this guy

Posted by Frinklin at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

Minor Panic Averted

"This place is a dump!"

Not at ALL what you what your Father/Realtor say when checking out your possible dream home. Dad checked the place out this morning, and when the Missus and I met for lunch today I had to call him.

Not good.

The house that looks so cute and perfect from the pictures is actually junk inside. The paint is new, but not done particularly well. The hardwood floor is actually cheap laminate. Nothing in the house is actually replaced, it's just been painted over. The door between the outside world and the finished basement is hollow-core. This suddenly ramshackle mess also turns out to be about 25 feet from the busiest street in the city.

I guess we won't be putting any sort of offer down on this one.

Posted by Frinklin at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2005

Minor House-Related Panic

We've found a house in Tacoma.

But it's just too soon. We have found a lovely four-bed, 1 and 1/2 bath craftsman 5 minutes from Ensie's soon-to-be-job and 10 minutes from downtown.

But it's just too soon. We weren't expecting to find a house until we visited in June. But Ensie cried when she saw this house. She cried she loved it soo much.

But it's just too soon. But the house is almost perfect. It has the smart-homebuyer stuff (new electrical, new plumbing, new roof, new paint) and the bonus stuff (hardwood floors, a full-sized deck, a 5,000 square foot fenced-in yard) that we are looking foor.

So our realtor (my Dad) will be visiting the house tomorrow. We're trying to come up with a way to make an offer. I don't think it will happen. I don't think it can happen.

It would be cool if it did though.

Posted by Frinklin at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

Okay NOW it's a new series

The Sonics second-best player doesn't play because of injury, but Ray Allen (finally) goes off for 32 and the Supes win 101-89.


Am I suprised the Sonics held serve? Yeah I am.

If I was a Spur fan, would I be nervous? Just a little. With today's game, Bruce Bowen might have vacated Ray Allen's head. If they can't stop Allen, the Spurs could lose.

It's a big if.

Whoever wins game 5 wins this series.

Oh, and I would like to thank the NBA for making me look like a dolt. After the first games were completed for this round, I asked if any of the four losers" look good enough to win a game, let alone a series?" Since then the Mavs have won a game, the Pacers have evened with Detroit and Washington has been crushed by Miami.

Well, one out of four ain't bad.

Posted by Frinklin at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2005

Only MOSTLY dead

This doesn't make it a new series. The Sonics are still in danger of being bitch-slapped right out of the playoffs. But they won't get swept, and they won't go down without a fight.

It's also good news that the Sonics won without much production from Rashard Lewis or Ray Allen. You can't think Jerome James will have a game like this ever again though.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

My wife’s odd music taste

I have a sampler CD called Short List 2004. It has various tracks from lesser-known artists like Dizzee Rascal, Nellie McKay, Mercury Rev, The Streets (“Dry Your Eyes” might be the saddest song ever) and the like. Also included is the song “Surfing on a Rocket” by the French electro-pop group called Air. I like this song. It is a pretty, spacey tune, much like everything that has ever appeared on an Air album. I think it makes for some nice background music. My wife is ambivalent about it, and usually skips it when it comes up on the CD player or her iTunes.

Last night, while watching Lost we saw a Nissan commercial featuring “Surfing on a Rocket.” It is a typical car commercial: suburban family conquers the jungle and the beach in their mammoth SUV that will almost never leave the pavement. My wife listens for a second and turns to me and says, “I think I like this song more as a commercial.”

I just sort of let that remark hang there for a moment. Apparently without the suburban assault vehicle montage the song is dull, but WITH a Nissan Titan or Behemoth or whatever it’s called, then it’s perfect.

Ensie also has a serious problem the first time she hears a song. No matter how much I know she’ll love the song, the first time she hears it she hates it. I’ll play the first 30 seconds; she’ll shake her head and say “No.” The next time she hears the song it will be marginally better. By the fourth or fifth time she’ll be full on rocking out to it. The most recent examples of this are the Kings of Leon song “The Bucket” and Louis XIV’s T-Rex sound-alike “Finding out True Love is Blind.” She’d shudder and skip the song when she first heard them. Now she’ll have it blasting out the Beetle’s speakers, preferable over and over.

Right now we’re working on The Sights “Baby’s Knocking Me Down”. I give it another week or so.

Posted by Frinklin at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

Another “What the hell” morning-TV moment

Yesterday the Missus and I were watching the local NBC affiliate’s morning news programs. Now, morning news barely qualifies as news at all, especially at the local level. But this channel is the best of an awful bunch here in San Diego. Anyway, they had some local “expert” on parenting promoting her new book which tells you to ether slavishly follow whatever the current conventional wisdom states or to ignore it completely. The perfectly perky but slightly dim host asks her about her own experiences in parenting. The writer, a well dressed woman in that PTA mom kind of way smiles bright and says, “I have a son who’s mildly retarded. He’s like Forrest Gump; handsome and well-mannered.”

The term “handsome and well-mannered” is heady praise indeed. It’s already in heavy rotation in the Frinklin household.

Posted by Frinklin at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

I’m a bit behind the trend

I’ve been wearing my yellow wristband for about a week now. I know, only 8 months or so behind everyone else. But it didn’t mean anything for me then.

It does now. My Dad has cancer.

It’s one of the reason’s Ensie’s quest for a job up in Seattle has taken on such an urgency. We’d been talking about moving long before this, partly because of Dad’s recent heart troubles, plus the easier housing market and the plain fact I wanted to go home and she liked Northwest life too, but it didn’t matter as much then.

My father has melanoma. They’ve removed most of the lesion, but they have more to remove, plus they’re taking out a lymph node. If it has spread more, there will be chemotherapy in his future. Between this, his heart trouble and his diabetes, I’m terrified I might lose him.

My father and I have gone through times where we weren’t close. We went a couple years back when I was in high school were we didn’t have any contact at all. It was as much my fault as it was his, and I regret it now. But it doesn’t do any good. Since Ensie and I got married, and my parents decided to get back together I have more of a family than I think I’ve ever had. My wife’s family made me realize how cynical I had become about the idea of family. Even now, several years after meeting them I’m stunned how well they get along, and I’m stunned more by how much it doesn’t matter if they don’t.

Now I’m happily married, and buying a house, and I’m more centered than I thought I ever could be. My parents are back together despite how scared my mother is, and I’m amazed that she manages to stay so strong, which is not her normal setting. Mom’s a bit of a drama queen, and she knows it. Still, with a little help from me, she gets through.

I don’t know what will happen the next few months, and part of me is terrified about what might happen. But I’m excited too. My wife and I buying a house. I still can’t get over being married sometimes, let alone buying a house and -dare I say it- kids.

So I wear the yellow wristband now. And I look at it a few times a day, just to remind myself that Dad’s position isn’t one that is his alone, that a lot of people survive cancer. And it makes me feel better.

Posted by Frinklin at 07:05 PM | Comments (1)

May 10, 2005

SOOOOOOOPER Sonics update

How not to win a playoff series in which you are a decided underdog: lose the first game in horrific fashion, get your superstar player and sixth-man hurt, and then proceed to bitch about how mean the other team is.

Thank you for playing Sonics, enjoy the home version.

Is it that bad? Yeah, it probably is. The Supes were killed on Sunday night. San Antonio could have beaten them by 50 had they wanted too. After getting blown out of the gym, the Sonics now have to come back minus Ray Allen and Vladimir Radmanovic. They still don’t have anyone to play adequate defense on Tony Parker, either. And please Ray, I know you’re upset about getting hurt and yes, Bruce Bowen might be the dirtiest player in the NBA, but shut up. This is playoff basketball. It was a weenie move when Sacramento bitched about the Sonics; it’s still a weenie move now.

I think they’re toast.

All the lower seeds might be toast. Among the group of Seattle, Dallas, Washington and Indiana, did any of them look good enough to win a game, let alone a series? The Mavs might have a shot, just because of how awful they played at times against Houston. They’re used to it.

Posted by Frinklin at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2005

Reason #4,235,222 why dogs are better than cats

A stray dog in Kenya rescues an abandoned newborn baby, carries it to her den and keeps with her puppies.

I think somebody deserves a Milk Bone, don't you?

Posted by Frinklin at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2005

The NBA Playoffs: What the hell happened?

No, seriously, what the hell happened? We get only two Game 7s in the first round and they end up 40-and-27 point blowouts?

What the hell is up with that?

Well, we're on to round two and I only blew it on two series: Indiana stretched the Celtics to a seventh game and just torched them at home, and the Nuggets collapsed like the playoff neophytes they are.

#1 Miami Heat over #5 Washington Wizards in 5
Miami just looked awesome against New Jersey, while Washington was one Gilbert Arenas miracle shot away from an awful collapse in game 5.

#2 Detroit Pistons over # 6 Indiana Pacers in 6
I have no idea how Indiana humiliated Boston like that, but it's the end of the road for the Pacers. Detroit looked very good against the Sixers, and they are staring down at a matchup with Miami

#1 Phoenix Suns over #4 Dallas Mavericks in 6
Despite winning by 40 in the final game, Dallas never really stopped (or even controlled) Tracy McGrady. You think that D is going to be able stop Stoudamire, Johnson, Marion et al?

#2 San Antonio Spurs over #3 Seattle SuperSonics in 7
I'm probably going out on a limb by even predicting this series goes the distance. Seattle looked better against the Kings than I had hoped, an Ray Allen has been unstoppable so far. Still, San Antonio wasted a very good Denver team. I've learned my lesson.

Posted by Frinklin at 12:51 AM | Comments (1)

May 07, 2005

What kind of float would this be?

I'm beginning to realize that James, of the awesome Afro and odd chopstick habit, makes a career out of being quirky. On friday, our office celebrated a co-workers birthday with cake and ice cream. James got himself a soda and made a float. Only instead of root beer or Coke, he did it with a Dr. Pepper. I've heard of that before, nothing out of the ordinary.

Only the ice cream in question was mint chocolate chip. I have no idea how this tasted, but he seemed satisfied with it.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005

Amateur Movie Review: Kingdom of Heaven

I liked this movie a lot more when it was called The Two Towers.

No, that’s just being facetious. While Kingdom of Heaven borrows quite liberally from Braveheart, LOTR and director Ridley Scott’s own Gladiator, this movie stands on its own. It may be a little rickety at times, but it stays up.

A buffed, slightly less feminine Orlando Bloom stars as Balian. He’s a broken man when the movie opens; a blacksmith morning the death of his newborn son and his wife’s subsequent suicide. He’s visited by Geoffrey (Liam Neeson); a Baron who claims Balian is his illegitimate son. After some initial hesitation, Balian eventually joins Geoffrey in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He becomes a knight, and inherits his father’s lands.

Kingdom of Heaven is set within the time of the leper King Baldwin, played here by Edward Norton. Baldwin, though young and infirmed, was a wise king who had set a hard, edgy peace with Saladin and his united Arab legions. Jerusalem, brutally conquered and “purified” of Muslims in 1099, was by then the only Christian area in the Middle East. Baldwin died young, and his successor, Guy de Lusignan, was a foolish buffoon who wanted war with Saladin. The movie and actual history track closely for the most part. There was a time of relative peace in the Holy Land during the reign of Baldwin. Guy was his idiot successor who, along with his ally Reynald and the Templars, goaded Saladin into an all-out war.

Ridley Scott isn’t quite in top form for this movie. His Gladiator was a better look at the ancient world, but KoH comes close. He makes excellent use of the Middle East setting; this movie is full of sweeping desert vistas, and old Jerusalem is almost a character in the movie with all its bewilderingly crowded glory. The battle scenes are brutally chaotic, all spurting blood and splattered mud. The single most effective shot comes after a battle. The Crusaders have been decimated, their bodies lying in the sand and the camera pans to show hundreds of vultures circling overhead. It’s a shot that defines the movie.

Kingdom of Heaven is cast very well, though as with most historical epics, the supporting characters seem far more interesting than the lead. Neeson as Balian’s father has a very weighty presence, one that leaves the film far too early. He’s basically replaced by Jeremy Irons, frighteningly intense as always, as the King’s advisor Tiberius and David Thewlis as the Hospitaler. Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud brings a depth and dignity to the role of Saladin, which is matched by Norton as the King. As a leper, he is unable to show his face of his skin, and you can sense both his pain and wisdom. The revelation of this film is Eva Green as the Princess (later Queen) Sibylla. She is radiantly beautiful in the beginning, but once the Crusaders’ fortunes turn for the worse, her physical presence seems to suffer along with the city. She, with her giant luminous eyes, becomes increasingly magnetic. The only misstep is Marton Czokas as Guy. He’s way over-the-top, almost foppish at times as the sneering, contemptuous Frenchman.

Oh yeah, there is that Bloom guy too. He doesn’t carry the movie, but then he isn’t asked to do so. The best move Scott makes in this film is surrounding Orlando Bloom with talent like Irons, Green, Thewlis and Brendan Gleeson as the nearly insane Reynald. Balian is a bit of a cipher. As with many epic movies, the lead is also the Hero, and at times Bloom seems to collapse under that. Still, he acquits himself well here, and doesn’t look too much out of place with this veteran cast. As always, he is an excellent physical actor. You can really see his grace, even when he is hesitant during his early training as a knight. By the end of the film he moves with a true sense of command. One quibble: his version of the “they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom” speech is laughably bad, both in Bloom’s trying too hard delivery and the awful text.

With any movie about European aggression, especially in these difficult times, it becomes very easy for filmmakers to glorify the non-western culture involved. Scott avoids this trap for the most part. While he doesn’t shy away from the bloodthirsty aspect of the Crusades, neither does he revel in it. The point is made a couple times of the brutality of the early Crusaders, and it should be: the massacre in Jerusalem (every Muslim within the city walls was hacked to pieces) is an act of utter barbarity. Scott doesn’t let the Arabs get off completely either. While his Saladin is basically a noble warrior, he is also capable of cruelty, such as his personal execution of Reynald.

Scott also wisely shies away from making this film about more than it is. With the current, and seemingly neverending trouble in the Middle East, it would have been easy to make this movie a parable about US aggression or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict or a million other things. He doesn’t do this. He makes a fine film about a few extraordinary men in an extraordinary place. Only once does this movie touch on the bigger picture. At the very end, when Balian and Saladin meet on the battlefield, Belian asks, “What is Jerusalem worth?” As he walks away Saladin says, with a very sad grin, “Nothing…. everything”.

Kingdom of Heaven is a good –not great- film. It’s noticeably clunky at times and falls flat in others, but it has heart and class.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:20 PM | Comments (1)

May 04, 2005

Quote of the Day

[A]ny question that produces the answer "Tony Womack is our left fielder" needs to be rephrased.

-King Kaufman

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2005

A great big batch of Frinklin-hatin’

Yes, it does happen. Yesterday in fact. On the way home from work the Missus and I decided to stop to pick up her prescriptions. Now, if you’ve ever stopped at the pharmacy on the way home from work, you know it can be a nightmarish mass of people. We got lucky. We waited in line for about 2 minutes and when we got to the front of the line there was only 2 other people behind us. I decided this would be the perfect time for me to update my insurance. Now that I’m at Comhugeco instead of the Sinking Ship I’m on Ensie’s health plan. You may remember that Comhugeco is a well, huge globe-spanning insurance company. It is. A huge health insurance company that gives its employees really lousy health insurance. So I switched to being a dependant of the Missus. This is also through Comhugeco.

But I digress.

I requested that the blank-faced, presumably high-school educated girl behind the counter to change my information. I’m sure her name was Brittany or Wendi or Tiffani or some other name with too many “eee” sounds. First she proceeded to misspell my name several times. I have a very easily spellable last name, but I do sneakily add a silent “e” in my name. That’s easy to miss.

Meanwhile, the line was growing.

Now that we have found me in the computer, Brittany or Wendi or Tiffani then proceeds to tell me that I am listed as having insurance in their computer. Through Cigna… only she pronounces it with a “K” sound… Kigna. I’m now beginning to doubt that this girl has a high school diploma. I tell her no, that’s my old information. I’m now on my wife’s policy with Comhugeco. The girl’s nervous eyes dart between me and Ensie. I feel the need to reassure this girl that yes, I pick up my prescriptions with my wife. The mistress only comes with me when I pick up the dry cleaning.

Meanwhile, the line was growing.

I hand over my insurance card to Brittany or Wendi or Tiffani, who takes it, furrows her brow in a charmingly frustrated way and proceeds to tap away at her computer. I take a furtive glance back, and realize that the line –just two people a few minutes ago- is now about 16. Ensie and I exchange nervous glances and wait. Brittany or Wendi or Tiffani has now stopped clicking away on her computer and is now concentrating so hard and has her brow furrowed so much we’re beginning to wonder when her brain starts getting squeezed out her ears.

Meanwhile, the line was growing.

She looks up from her screen and asks if she can keep my insurance card overnight and I can pick it up tomorrow.


She bites her lip and thinks hard for a second, then asks me brightly, like she’s coming up with a startlingly original idea. “Can I take a copy of it?”

Absolutely you can. This was a miscalculation on my part. See, I thought there would be a copy machine behind the desk with her. No… The Missus and I watch Brittany or Wendi or Tiffani come out from behind the counter, walk all the way across the store and out through the back entrance. This is when I realize that the line behind us now seems to be comprised of about half the population of San Diego County.

And they’re glaring at me. I try to pull the Missus close, either to protect her or use her as a human shield, but I notice she’s edged away from me. She’s just far enough to be the first to point at me and scream “Get him!” should it come to that. Such loyalty from my human shield. I try to look casual, mutter something about Brittany or Wendi or Tiffani being slow, but they continue to glare and mumble curses under their breath. I turn back toward the pharmacy desk, wondering how hard it would be just to get a new card –and a new pharmacy- if it becomes necessary for me to scatter Tic-Tacs across the floor and escape in the commotion.

Meanwhile, the line looks less like a line and more like a mob complete with torches and pitchforks and rifles they gained while serving in the Austro-Hungarian Army.

Magically, Brittany or Wendi or Tiffani reappears behind the counter. She’s got that blank smile on her face again. She tells us that she’ll put this in tonight, and we need to verify the phone number they have for me. In case there is a problem. Don’t even ask: Of COURSE they have the wrong phone number.

Meanwhile, the line-turned-angry mob has now begun chanting “Kill the bastard! Kill the bastard!” They’re beginning to march towards us.

Brittany or Wendi or Tiffani looks at us expectantly, like she deserves congratulations for all this. “Ummm… can I have my insurance card back?” I ask her.


“My insurance card? Can I have it back?” The Missus is now pulling farther away from me, but she has grabbed a hold of my shirt.

“Oh yeah here you go”. Brittany or Wendy or Tiffani hands me the card back. Ensie and I sprint to the back of the store and hide amongst the dog food while the mob disperses. We end up staying the night there. We finally busted through a window and climbed out the back at around 2AM.

Brittany or Wendy or Tiffani had only called us three times. Turns out her name is Renee.

Just isn’t the same.

Posted by Frinklin at 05:07 PM | Comments (1)

Amateur Music Review: Brendan Benson - Mardo

Brendan Benson – The Alternative to Love

Boiled down to its essence, power pop is the never-ending quest to duplicate the three-minute magic of the first few Beatles’ tunes. It began in the 60’s with bands like the Beau Brummels and Badfinger, then on to the 70’s with the Raspberries, Big Star and Cheap Trick. The 80’s were a goldmine thanks to the invention of college radio, where the Replacements ruled. The torch was carried in the 90’s by Matthew Sweet and Teenage Fanclub. Power pop has a very definitive formula: smart guys, chiming guitars and an essential romantic longing. The genre has always been very influential; bands from the New Wave 80’s to modern-day emo have mined old Big Star albums. It’s never been particularly lucrative though. It’s no accident that one of Paul Westerberg’s best songs told the story of “Alex Chilton” the idol of millions.

The latest in this line is Brendan Benson with his snappy and pleasing The Alternative to Love. Like most power-pop albums, there is no new ground broken here. That isn’t the point. The point is 12 shiny, radio-friendly pop songs. And this album practically begs to be bursting out of car radios. Both the title track, with its Faces-like guitar intro and shimmering organ break, and the Phil Spector-ish “The Pledge” are just too damned perfect for today’s modern Balkanized radio formats. The first single, the new-wavish “Spit it Out”, with it’s charming alarm clock sound effects is already fading away without notice.

And that’s the really awful thing. None of the great power-pop acts have ever made any real impact, save for the slight but brilliant moment when Cheap Trick’s “Live at Budokan” was released. Maybe someday…

Mardo – Mardo


Do you yearn for the halcyon days of the early-70’s? Do you agree with Jim Carey when he demanded MTV play some more Foghat? Do you need a new tape for your 1974 Chevy Camaro? Do you think it’s a damned shame more people haven’t experienced the psychedelic roar of bands like Vanilla Fudge and Blue Cheer? Do you need, I mean really need a cover of “I Want a New Drug” featuring decidedly non-Huey Lewis lyrics about wanting to “huff paint and sniff glue”? Most important: Do you want your rock, (excuse me, RAWK) served in thick, meaty slabs?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions Mardo is for you. The band, a power-trio led by brothers Aron and Robert Mardo, serve up a heaping helping of old-school metal. This is an undeniable throwback album. And it’s good too, for what it is. The “I Want a New Drug” cover is pretty pointless, but that is overshadowed by originals like the sneering “Anyone but Me” and the ZZ Top-style boogie of “Cold Creepin’”. The brothers also show some interest in expanding past the style they’ve established: the vocal harmonies of “Poor Paul” are surprisingly intricate, and “Broken Bones” contains just a smidgen of thrash. The best thing that Mardo has going for it is brevity. Unlike the real early-70’s metal bands, they keep things short and punchy. No extended solos here save for the mostly instrumental “Catch a Thief”, a track that lays down a nice Sabbath-like groove but never really goes anywhere.

This album is a must-own only if you’re a big proto-metal fan, an interesting diversion if not.

If it only came on 8-track, then it would be perfect.

Posted by Frinklin at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2005

Just a hint

Just a touch of advice to male strippers: When entertaining for women, it may help highten the illusion if you don't wear a shirt bearing the name and logo of a gay bar.

Just think about it.

Posted by Frinklin at 03:27 AM | Comments (2)