Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Standing alone, head-and-shoulders above the rest
I have just finished watching the final episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. This was a made-for-TV reimagining of the popular 1995 movie, which was itself based on a manga series by Shirow Masamune. Stand Alone Complex (SAC) is just magnificent. Over the 26 episodes of the series, it delivers time and again on many levels: hard sci-fi buzz, exciting action sequences, an intriguing plot involving government corruption and the pharmaceutical industry, and even a touch of commentary on J.D. Salinger and the nature of the self and our conflicting desires to assert individuality at the same time that we want to be part of a group.
The producers of the show seem to understand that it is the small, personal touches that really sell the fantastical sci-fi stuff. Everyone uses their wireless connections to silently communicate and share information; a wooden floor cracks under the weight of an artificial body that appears to be that of a slender woman in her thirties; a cyborg man removes his beard before going to bed.
In fact, while I am on the subject, let me say that I have never seen the concept of bionics and of artificial bodies handled better cinematically. The writers just keep finding new and clever ways to showcase the fact that our heroes, however human they may look, have no more flesh and blood than their brains and spinal cords.
Watching this series come to a close, it just makes me sad to see that American film and television doesn't seem to be able to handle near-future science fiction in a convincing way. Most cyberpunk films have been horrible. Alex Proyas' I, Robot was only tolerable, and the last really good near-future movie I saw was Gattaca. I want to mention Network, Brazil, and the 1975 film Rollerball as well.
Friday, August 26, 2005
River scares me a little
River Tam, First Session
River Tam, Session 22
River Tam, Session 416
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Last Dance with Mary Jane
The Legal Overlords have determined that the folks doing this job must be unpolluted and pure as the exhaust from a Prius. Now, I am not a privacy Nazi. Drugs and my life simply don't intersect, so I am fine with getting tested any time. If you don't want employees using drugs, and you want to pay top dollar to test them, be my guest. But I am pretty certain, considering the extremely peon-like nature of this job, that testing me is overkill. I am half-convinced that the testing is just a deterrent to potheads, and that they harvest the piss with no intention of sending it to the lab.
A guy came in as I was finishing, and he seemed a little... off to me. He was swaying and mumbling something about how he didn't feel like going. The attendant encouraged him by saying that as long as he was here, he might as well drink some water, wait, and give it a try. I handed her my jug of golden espresso and asked her, "What drugs do you test for?"
"Oh, they don't tell us," she said. "Only the bad ones."
(*) This name is made up. Or is it?
Monday, August 22, 2005
Blue Team, Red Team
As promised, here is a pic of the little guy, doing what he does best.
Last night I flew (i.e. took the subway) to The Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center to watch a screening of Red Vs Blue The Blood Gulch Chronicles Season Three Director's Cut. It is weird watching Machinime blown up to the size of a movie screen. If you have never been to a film festival, I highly recommend that you find one and go. There is no better way to see a film than with an audience of fans around you. Watching Princess Mononoke at the New York Film Festival a few years ago was one of the high points of my movie-watching life.
The audience was younger than I'd thought it would be, mostly 12- to 16-year-olds, with a few artsy Midtown couples who are closet Halo fans. They probably hide the XBOX in the safe behind the Jasper Johns lithograph or in a secret drawer in the cupboard with the Hammacher Schlemmer and IKEA catalogs. I say that with love, however, because last night we were all feeding from the same geek trough.
Watching the third season of RvB, I have to say that there were times when it seemed to drag in the middle. Gus, Burnie, and Matt talked a little beforehand about cutting down the running length to ninety minutes, and I have to say that was a good call. At 90 minutes, season three was just right. They also showed the first episode of season four after a Q&A, which was hysterically funny. Watching the beginnings of season 3 and 4 right next to each other, it was great to see how their talent and experience have grown in the months between those two episodes.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Beginnings and Endings
Welcome to the first post of The Salvage Bar. I will be using this generic template until the site evolves into something better (i.e. until I learn HTML, and some basic principles of design, usability, composition, color...)
Until Thursday, I drove a 1993 Pontiac Grand Am. I donated my car to the AIDS Research Alliance of America, and you can, too. I will miss my Sexy Putt-Putt, my Four Cylinders of Doom, my First Car. But 'tis a far, far better thing she does now, than she has ever done before; a far, far better place she goes to than she has ever gone before.
My cousin Cisco and his girlfriend Kelly had a kid on Friday afternoon, a boy they named Adrian. Pictures are following later.