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Sunday, July 18, 2010


I'm going to start by echoing's review by saying believe the hype. Inception was an extremely intense theatrical experience. This is by far Christopher Nolan's best work thus far. This movie is going to attract the non-Twilight crowd, the thinking movie goer. My mind had to be actively engaged the entire time. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll try and stay away from the actual story. As most people know, this story is about guys who go into dreams, but they are also go into dreams into dreams, making different levels. Essentially, there are four "stories" going on at any given moment for most the movie, and six characters to follow that are often seperated. It may not sound like a lot, but in the reality of the movie, that's a whole lot everything to follow. The editor of this movie deserves some massive awardage, especially to keep the level of intensity so high throughout. So much credit deserves to go the strong writing and direction of Nolan.

The fight scenes were amazing. At one point the gravity in one of the dreams shifts, causing the fight in the hallway to go Fred Astaire. The people are falling from wall to wall, floor to ceiling while continuing to kick the shit out of each other. Needless to say it is quite epic. Even the simplest car chase scene is awesome.

DiCaprio was quite good, as usual. I was very much surprised at the acting ability of former 3rd Rock child star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The last I saw of him he was attempting to be funny while hosting SNL a couple of months ago, he definitely was not. However, in this role, he did not need to be funny, he was simply a phenomenal fighter and co-star. Ken Watanabe is such a good egg as well. I also really enjoyed Cillian Murphy, performing beyond his Scarecrow and 21 Days Later characters. Nolan clearly has found some core actors to surround himself with and it is clearly working.

Go see this movie.

Contempt for UPS

I know I haven't blogged about UPS for a while, but this really grinds my gears:

For the last week or so our packages at the Wilderness have been delivered all over the place by UPS, surfacing days later in some obscure part of the resort. Our usual driver, Mark Honer, has been nowhere to be found. Now, the last time I saw Mark was going on vacation with his family about a month ago. Friday I finally asked the current driver where Mark was.

He slowly turned to me and stoically answered, " Mark was fired." This was the last thing I expected to hear. He continued on, telling me how a cyclist ran into the side of his truck the Friday he returned from vacation, the day before 4th of July weekend. No one was hurt and no damage was done to UPS property, yet when he got back that day the powers at be told him to clean out his locker. As I was, Mark is a card-toting teamster, so the union is trying to get his job back. The driver proceeded to tell me that UPS wanted to make an example of him, that if any UPS driver gets in accident with a cyclist/pedestrian it is automatically their fault and they will be terminated. So they have to go before a state panel to get his job back. Mark has been working for UPS for 22 years.

I've known Mark for the past 9 months or so. I first met him when I was still a preloader. I loaded his truck for almost a full month before I got moved again. During that time I also started at the Wilderness, so I would see those same packages and Mark later in the day as well. We got to know each other in this time and he had always treated me with respect and had a kind and open ear, even when I was a lowly preloader. When I heard this news I was thrown for your proverbial loop. It felt as though he had died, it was just that shocking. How does UPS decided to fire the one of the nicest drivers in the company when there are so many jackholes? To make an example of this man seems completely uncalled for. One accident, which I'm sure wasn't his fault, means a termination of a lifelong career.

I sincerely hope Mark gets his job back or goes to work at FedEx or something for an equal wage. I do think that if he keeps going through the right hoops that UPS has laid before him, the union will be able to get him his job. Thus, my contempt for UPS grows a little bit more.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Emotions of Futbol

In the close-minded world of United States sports, we seldom see any real emotions. Our culture is dead set on fighting unfair calls and overturning what has already happened. Even in the World Series or the Super Bowl, the victors are never really that insanely happy or saddened. Sure there are a few teary-eyed grown men, but I strongly suspect most of those tears are steroid related. Thus is the state of things.

Normally, I don’t care what emotions my athletic betters portray, but on the world’s stage, the FIFA World Cup, Americans are put to shame. Not because of our inability to play the game, but our lack of emotional response and national pride. After watching a nail-biter of a match betwixt Uruguay and South Korea, I see the errors of our ways. Korea tied the game late at 1-1, but Uruguay came in and scored another amazing goal. The desperate attempts of the Koreans to score in the last minute were valiant, to no avail. The game ended after three minutes of bonus time and nearly half of the Korean team collapsed to the ground. Not only from exhaustion, but more so embarrassment and failure. While Uruguay’s players were kissing the flags on their uniforms, the Koreans put their heads to the ground, clinging the blades of grass in their hands. It was truly sad.

Now, this could have something to do with representing one’s country, like the Olympics, but I believe it also a result of the nature of the sport. As Matt Damon said in Dogma, mass genocide is most exhausting activity one can take part in, next to soccer. There’s a strange truth in that statement. Ninety minutes of running, butting heads, slide tackling, pretending to be hurt, etc. That’s a lot of physical activity. It is only natural for emotions to take hold when you’ve poured so much of yourself into a game.

This leads me to my next point: singing of the national anthem (or lack thereof.) At our regular sporting events, there are very few spectators, let alone athletes who sing the Star Spangled Banner. I would venture that 90% of all World Cup competitors and fans proudly sang their respective anthems. It became more unusual to see someone not singing.

Athletes in America are taught to approach the paparazzi with composure and elegance. I say “shenanigans” to that. After a bone crunching game of American Football, they should be fired up and say things they’ll probably regret. But they probably get paid too much to show emotions like that. There are even bans on emotional responses to good plays and touchdowns. That’s crossing the line. Thank God that baseball managers still get thrown out of games for getting in shouting matching with the umpires defending their players (at least the good ones.) If it weren’t for those moments, I may lose all faith in American sport. Thank you FIFA for showing me how we should act after winning or losing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bromances are hard to come by

In a rather impulsive move, I bought the movie Reign Over Me For $6.99 this past weekend. It stars Adam Sandler and the always underappreciated Don Cheadle. Adam Sandler plays a guy whose family died in the second plane that went into the World Trade Center and Don Cheadle is his old college roommate trying to get him to come back to reality a few years after 9/11. I had no idea about the 9/11 thing when I bought it, but the emotions that Sandler displays literally put tears in my eyes. All in all a very quality flick and completely worth it.

However, one of the semi-minor plot points revolves around Don Cheadle's need for a male friend in his family dominated world. This is very striking to me, as I also love the movie I Love You Man. I literally have a handful of male friends that I consider very close, but are not necessarily close to me geographically. I wish to make it perfectly clear that I am ok with my number of close man-friends, but finding one in a new area is extremely difficult. I thought I had found one for a while, but he turned out to be a piece of shit. My other best male friend in Baraboo is 60. But it is completely true that is very hard for men to become friends outside of high school and/or college. It's just hard to find that "chemistry." This all sounds quite gay, but all men know of what I speak. I'm not sure why this is, but more men have this problem than you know. Now for whatever reason, this plot point makes the movie even more poignant for me.

All in all, good movie, and true emotions and situations. Boo-yah.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Predators and Crows

This has been bugging me for a few weeks now and I need to see if other people feel the same way. Next week Adrien Brody will star in another Predator movie, this time it's Predators. I will be the first to admit that I love the first Predator will AAAAAAHHHHNAALLLD, Carl Weathers, and Jesse The Body Ventura. However, I never watched any sequels and heard terrible things about all of them, especially Alien Vs. Predator. (Small confession: I have never seen all of any Alien movie.) Now, the new movie is coming out with the premise that elite humans/convicts/killers are placed on the Predator's home planet, "a game reserve" as Adrien Brody says in the trailer. Ok, Brody put on about 25 lbs of pure muscle for this role and he is no idiot, but I have issues with the plot we've been fed in trailer form. The main reason the first movie works for me is because it's one Predator vs. a group of commandos. He hunts several highly trained badasses by himself. One taking out many, awesome. Here, it seems as though it's another group of humans, not affiliated with each other in any way, are up against an entire planet of these superhuman dreadlock toting hunters. Not fair at all. If the humans end up winning and blowing up the planet or something, I will be extremely pissed. This movie should last about 2 minutes. I'll probably still see it, but I really have my doubts. There has to be one Predator damn it!

I'll stop with the movies for a second.

It's been hard to get new music with the loss of one of the greatest websites known to man, It's been over a month and I'm really feeling it. Every time I hear one song on the radio of a band I enjoy, or read a review of a new album, I yearn to venture to Lala and check the rest of it out for free. One listen to an entire album, makes iTunes look like a bunch of spoiled children who won't share their precious toys with the underprivileged kid next door. I truly am pissed with Apple for buying out Lala and not incorporating that simple premise to their money grubbing website. However, I did go and buy a Counting Crows album along with the Crazy Heart soundtrack.
The CD August and Everything After is supposedly their best and first successful album. It also contains a track which contains the lyric "between the buried and me," where one of my favorite bands of all time got it's name from. I figured if they were enough of an influence on BTBAM, they'd be worth a shot. Turns out I was right. I would have never dreamed of listening to this music even two years ago, but it has a place in my catalog now. Adam Duritz's vocal stylings occasionally start to all sound the same, but overall this is a good record to own.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Many Things to Report On...and then some

First and most recent in my mind is the viewing of the outstanding Toy Story 3. I believe I laughed harder at some of those bits than either of the previous movies. I could have done without the piercing sound of children's laughter in the theater, but a small price to pay. Some of my favorite moments are comprised of the tiniest details that most people probably don't care about. The first one that made me almost pee myself was the sight of Woody's flailing limbs when he was running in one the first scenes. It's possible that he flailed just as much in previous films, but I was cracking up each time. Similarly, each time Ken walks I can't not laugh. The attention to detail here is what makes it so funny. The stiff arms and legs are just to good. Not to mention, Michael Keaton was the voice of Ken, casting genius. And of course, the first time they show Chuckles' face I nearly died. Long and short of it, Toy Story 3 stays true to everything that came before and surpasses all expectations for a trilogy. Let's just hope they put this one to rest, unlike the Shrek franchise.

Next, A-Team. Another awesome flick. There was a great balance of comedy, action, and drama. The love interest of Jessica Biel is thankfully almost non-existence and unnecessary to the plot of the movie. Murdoc was absolutely hilarious. His dialogue was written very tastefully when it could have been like a bad steak, completely over done and without sauce. I wasn't sure how much I would like Liam Neeson (read: Qui Gon Jin or Rob Roy) as Hannibal, but he also surprised me. Overall the cast is superb, with only a few terrible lines thrown in. So good.

Alright alright, last movie of the week: Grown Ups. Another hit. This one is also made by the cast, of who I'm pretty sure was originally supposed to be Chris Farley instead of Kevin James. I'm not complaining, I love me some KJ, but with nearly 100% of the cast being from SNL, one has to ponder a little. Regardless, Chris Rock is subdued and not his loud, shrill self. Rob Schneider plays his usual weirdo. David Spade was quite good, washing away his Joe Dirtness. Kevin James was very good and had a fantastic beard. Sandler is discovering he doesn't need to be doing Billy Madison/Waterboy/Happy Gilmore voices to be funny and effective as an actor. This is the first film I've watched him in since Funny People and he continues going up in my eyes. The movie largely reacts to the video game/spoiled culture that kids are growing up with these days, and it's about damn time. And for the record, when I was a kid if I saw a rope and a lake, I would have indeed gone nuts.

I bought the Crazy Heart soundtrack a few weeks ago as well. It is pretty cool to hear the actors singing these songs as though they'd be performing them for years. On a larger scale, that movie and the soundtrack are making me realize that country/folk music is the only type of music that you can travel to 90% of the bars around the country and people will love you. Country will never die, and I'm slowly beginning to understand why. This realization first creeped into my mind last summer when I played in a pseudo-successful Irish band. We must have played in about two dozen bars and a few festivals in there (including Summerfest) and people loved us wherever we went, and it wasn't just because we were good, because some of us really weren't. It was because we were playing accessible music that spans over generations. There's a lot to be said for this phenomenon, but I will reflect and write more on this at a later date.

I know I had a lot more to touch on since my last post, but with spotty internet it's been hard to get a good post up. More to come though.