Monday, January 30, 2006

Phantom Nais Pt Deux

Inside the wrapper...
A very nice recast of a long unavailable kit. I hope to start work on this puppy soon..which will keep the blog going for some time as these are very time consuming builds..

Major pieces, where I will insert wire skeleton.

These are the pieces I will kneel on the carpet looking for.

Who cropped that picture?

Friday, January 27, 2006

What A Day That Was

Quick cuts from news items today: from
"Hamas scores stunning win - but what happens now?"-Is the headline by By Donald Macintyre.
So it has been widely reported that the militant, organized terrorist faction in a state who's very existence is wreathed in blood has won a so-called (insert hyperbole)"landslide" victory. Elections are of course a clear step towards freedom (so say we all) and this vote by the people of Palestine unveils the Sparta hidden in the desert--or are they Fremen on the cusp of the re-release of "Dune"?
From the article: " "The state of Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian administration if even part of it is an armed terrorist organization calling for the destruction of the state of Israel," he said, in a statement released last night after a three-hour emergency cabinet meeting with senior ministers." This will not end pretty.
from PC Mechanic Newsletter #124
Mark under: Do as I Say, Not as I Do-
"The MPAA is at it again, but this week, they were the ones who got caught making unauthorized copies of an unreleased film for review, under the strict direction by the copyright holder not to make any copies of the film."
The bastard child of Capitalism--you know, the Lawyer Caste--has changed Capitalism's clothes from the engine of progress to the third press oil of the fallen fruit of innovation. This bitter oil is not a suitable replacement for black gold.
Same source:
Either way, Google set a precedent with their refusal, which is quickly becoming quite political with the words "unconstitutional", "Patriot Act", and "Bush Administration" being tossed around left and right.
How many Romans saw their Empire crumbling?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Underworld Evolution

-a short note about niche films, reviews, reviewing, redundancy and then finally a word or two about this "R rated" tale of black latex and UV bullets. Ok, maybe I'll slip in a mention of "UltraViolet" the movie too!
Reviews + Redundancy: here is my example, which is of course time sensitive, as the virtual landscape will change some when the Dvd is actually released: "Dune, Extended Edition". I am interested in buying this, as "Dune" the book was not a minor part of my teen years. I can remember seeing the film when it first came out, and I was, of course, already a Lynch(director) fan. My recollection of my feeling about the movie is that I did not envy the task of bringing a world 8000 years in the future to life.
This was long before Peter Jackson actually captured an entire universe with "Lord of the Rings". I'm not sure Lynch has the interest to attempt a story this big for a second time. The new TV version(s) underline the complexity factor with their truly lesser efforts.
I have strayed some; I went online to get details about the Jan 31 2006 release of the film. 20 links or so paraphrased a short press release. Many of the "reviews" were not. In the absence of real knowledge speculation ruled the sites that did not just quote the press release. At the end of the day I learned nothing more substantial than the specs listed at every site preselling the Dvd within a dollar or so of the other site.
As for reviews of "Underworld Evolution"? Well, no press screening meant we got 20 sites mentioning that and cutting n' pasting in the usual "no screening = dog" mantra. I will suggest that press screenings of "niche" films is a waste of money. In order for measurement to be fair it is apparently important to use the same ruler. That methodology serves no one well here. Niche films like this have a built in fanbase rabid to see their hopes fulfilled, their imaginations fed. The real message of no press screenings is: "this movie isn't for you, mainstream", so stay home. It takes a budget like "King Kong" to tear the mainstream away from milk fed junior high comedy and spark a sense of wonder in an audience.
But I digress.
"Underworld Evolution" is the bigger, louder, sexier--and better--sequel to "Underworld". Doesn't make it a great film. It is more of a "film" than the extended TV episode "Serenity", but not nearly as well written or crafted. Its palette of dark blue, black, and shadow is a stylistic move in a movie packed end to end with style. This movie will convert no one. What it is one knows before (in a general sense) the trailers have finished promising "X-Men 3" this summer.
I will see this one again, its style worked pretty well for me. Maybe more Matrix-fu, but this fine piece of gloss was replete with action scenes, bombast and double dealing supernatual beings. It may hold me over until "UltraViolet" get's here.
+++++SPOILER ALERT+++++++++++
The very end of the film sees Kate and her twice resurrected wolfboy turning vaguely human in skin tone..has she gone mortal? Only the next installment will let us know for sure.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Scanner Lately

Word from the PKD trust here. Their post was written before the latest marketing schedule change. It appears audiences enjoyed the test screening so much we ALL get to wait.
The truly funny thing is Hollywood has not made the causal link between their outrageously inept and singleminded pursuit of our money and piracy. I know I am not the only one who wondered how "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers" were released so close together.
As a moviegoer and movielover I am allowed to endure trailers that reveal the entire movie--"Cast Away" comes to mind immediately--Oscar baiting and release loading and let's not forget the anti-piracy film before the film you paid to watch.
This post was not meant to dissect Hollywood, but to vent my rage at yet another delay on this movie.
See you at the movies in ...July. Grrrr

Pork Mole Night

Pork Loin Pre-Op
Rub It On
Bowl o'Stock
Just Add Wrapper, Cheese n'Heat

Just a few shots of Mole prep..
Pork Loin Prep
Loin marinating
Chicken Stock
Chicken seasoned for Flauta

Food went well, no small thanks to a batch of Frontera margarita's, a fine Rioja wine and good company.
Stay tuned for better documentation and write up for future meals!!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha

Going in to this movie a conversation kept going through my head. It was during an interview with Morgan Freeman by Terry Gross on NPR discussing his directing of "Bopha!". "Bopha!" is about South Africa and Apartheid. Terry asked him why he wasn't acting in the movie. Morgan's reply was, "my skin isn't dark enough." Terry's reply was to the effect of "skin tone doesn't matter to anyone", and Morgan said: "it matters to me."
Much ado has been made about Ziyi Zhang being Chinese --Michelle Yeoh as well-- in a movie about Japanese Geisha. It is the magic of the Gemini mind that allows me to enjoy a flawed movie and respect Morgan Freeman.
To the movie proper then: a tale of another culture, told in classic Hollywood Christmas style: big costumes, big sets with a liberal dose of heart rending drama. Sorta like "King Kong" without the scale. A period costume piece if you will.
I did not get the same sense of shame from this film that I did "Last Samurai", or "Shogun". It was an enjoyable enough story, great costumes and a cool cloth dyeing scene. I would watch a documentary on kimonos!
Not a lot of gratuitious bare flesh, befitting perhaps the Geisha code of aloof beauty and women as unattainable posession. Great acting from all the leads as well as very good english. What Japanese was heard was intentionally unsubbed.
I am one to look for politics in films and art but this was a story with an historical setting, not an imperial feel good movie or a shocking expose. "Geisha" is a love story, and a whole lot easier on the sensibility than say..."the Notebook"--for example. See this one with both eyes open without shame, it could have been much worse.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

RIP Cox Bros BBQ

Best BBQ in Manhattan succumbs to market pressure and another great resource leaves the city. First to leave was "Say Cheese", the cheese vendor/italian bistro in the center of Aggieville. Now the only two places to buy anything better than Kraft is the gourmet shop...
The Cox Bros brought not only a terrific menu and great attitude to Manhattan they hosted live music nearly every month. Never saw a bad band there either. Must be that $3.00 cover!
How good was the BBQ? Well, the BBQ was the third restaurant in Manhattan whose menu is filled with their recipes. The "Texas Star/Hibachi Hut" and "Coco Bolos" are both Cox Bros menus. "Coco Bolos" is foo foo Tex-Mex with great atmosphere and a spirit of invention to the specials. Looks like rather than compete against the encroaching chains littering the new sprawl here they will open another "Coco Bolos" in KC or Lawrence.
Good Luck with their new venture!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Here is the official site.
"Munich" does what few films do: it keeps you thinking days after you have left the theatre. It is not a single horrifying image like Normandy Beach in "Saving Private Ryan", nor a puzzle like "Mulholland Dr.". This dramatization of current world history--yes, the '70's are still current, undigested history--brings to mind questions of policy(s) that are in motion today.
My brother does not have to be in Iraq for me to get the stakes of our pre-emptive war. Spielberg adds the "Israeli twist"--they are a people that fights every day for the sand they live in. The borders are fluid, treaties signed and violated, violations beget retaliation, escalation not a theoretical model but a practical reality.
Spielberg asks us to think about this. Our government tells us to keep shopping.
Here are some links to early thoughtful discussion of this film.
Jack Engelhard on Chomsky.
Alan Dershowitz on Israel/history/Munich.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Dvd's Under the Radar 2005

Let me start, as usual, with the disclaimer: These Dvds did not necessarily come out in 2005, 2005 is when I got them! This post is not a cumulative list, but a nice sampling of some little seen films...

"Natural City" Dubbed "the Korean Bladerunner" this is a movie about the nature of humanity/man machine interface and an all around cool meditation in the vein of "Ghost in the Shell". While not as lyrical as that movie, "Natural City" is a thought provoking blast for the entire ride.
"Casshern the Robot Hunter"Casshern" is a green screen success story, yet another Distopia populated by mutants, robots and creatures bent on becoming "neo-sapiens". It looks like Speilberg has picked this movie up for a possible release later this year. Pick up your copy from Ebay!Inventory of story elements: zombies, lightning bolts, mad scientists, ethnic cleansing, robots, mutants, nukes, trains, dictators and dreamers. Oh, and a blind botanist!

"Elektra Special Edition"Both Daredevil and Elektra got "Director's Cut" extended versions. Elektra became unrated and marginally more watchable. I do like the idea of the director going back and doing it his way, with less studio interference. The other side of the coin is of course the double dipping. Jennifer Garner works nearly as hard as her asian counterparts in the film industry, and much harder than most of our American-bred heroines.
"Sin City Recut, Extended, Unrated"Well, probably the best set of extras this year. Everything from Bruce Willis' band performing at the "wrap party" to cooking school...Also includes (ala Criterion) a full length Frank Miller comic!
"Immortel"Immortel is a French Green Screen/CGI hybrid. It was written and directed by Enki Bilal, a multimedia artist usually seen creating magic in Heavy Metal magazine. Charlotte Rampling is a doctor studying the habits af a blue teared alien. Throw in a candy apple red hammerhead shark/human, a flying pyramid and a horny creator of mankind looking for a human to inhabit for a short time.
"Burden of Dreams" Reviewed elsewhere in this blog.
"Tom-Yum-Goong"Tony Jaa is the heir apparent to Jet Li (now filming his last martial arts film) and Jackie Chan--who is currently working with Jaa on a new film. He is Thai, and his fighting style incorporates various styles with an emphasis on Nuai Thai. While this movie is not actually much better than Ong Bak--neither is more than a terrific action film--it is always a treat to see Jaa do his thing.
"Pictoplasma" This Dvd is a selection/documentation of the Pictoplasma Exhibit. It is all new animations, and comes with a hardback book of character studies from the various shorts.
"Fragile Machine"This one is an all CGI 40 minute movie from Japan. It is a tragedy, told in several parts accompanied by music. Human/machine meld is the vehicle for a meditation on loss and existence.
"Wattstax"This link provides a terrific overview of this historic Dvd. The footage of now defunct funk bands is absolutely priceless, as are the Richard Pryor interludes. A feel good bitter pill of a Dvd. The highlight for me was the Staple Singers performance..
"Talamanam Sound Clash: Further Adventures in Hypercussion"Zakir Hussain, Bill Laswell and Karsh Kale document an outstanding world music adventure in this two disc set.
"Suicide Girls First Tour"Those notorious faux punks faux feminists(feminist is not a derogatory term unmodded) continue to spread their undeniable fresh softcore across the nation with their live burlesque tour. This Dvd documents that first year. I can tell you the show is terrific, but the FBI pre-emptive appeasement left me cold enough to quit the site.
"B13 Banlieue 13"This movie anticipated the unrest that rocked the suburbs of France this year. The French government has cordoned off a suburb a la "Escape from New York", and lawlessness takes over. Drugs are omnipresent and socially corrosive. Gangs control the streets...and this is the story of the man "who fights back". Fantastic Parkour and Soundtrack!