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Thursday, October 24, 2002

New Yorker Cartoons

Check out the Cartoon Channel at The New Yorker. Kind of a pain in the ass, but interesting if you're on a boring call and can't really concentrate on anything else. Beats solitaire, for a while at least.
posted by lee on 10/24/02 at 08:52 PM

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Saturday, October 19, 2002

we saw “the ring”:  2.5 stars

Elvis Mitchell, writing in the New York Times, panned it in Don't Touch 'Play'! It Could Be Fatal. Robert Ebert gave it two stars: "Rarely has a more serious effort produced a less serious result than in "The Ring," the kind of dread dark horror film where you better hope nobody in the audience snickers, because the film teeters right on the edge of the ridiculous." However, real people rate it much higher: it gets 4.5 stars on and 8 out of 10 in the Internet Movie Database

The RingLast night, right after the movie, I would've rated it three out of four stars. It really creeped me out - the way a good ghost story should. Today, maybe 2.5 stars. There were a lot of things that just didn't work in this movie. I don't think it is as bad as Mitchell's as-usual-pretentious review makes it out to be, or as without redeeming features as Ebert says it is, but it's not anywhere near as good as The Others or The Devil's Backbone, or The Sixth Sense, three other ghost stories that I rate four (out of four) stars each.

There's one scene in The Ring in particular, a spectacular scene of a horse run amok on a ferry, that was ruined for me because what led up to it was stupid -- Rachel, the "heroine," tries to pet a horse. The horse tries to bite her. She tries again. The horse gets even more agitated and dangerous. Does she walk away? Of course not, she tries AGAIN AND AGAIN ... very stupid scene.

Our Heroine's um, sidekick? Name of Noah, father of her child Aidan, video geek ... lousy, lousy actor. Just awful. Played by Martin Henderson, of no particular claim to fame.

Which leads to another implausible scene: the records office at the loony bin. There is no way a hospital, public or private, is going to store patient records that haphazardly, especially records that are not even 25 years old. Doesn't happen.

But the movie is dark and scary and interesting to look at. Ebert and Mitchell claim the characters are cold, particularly Our Heroine. They are, but why would this detract from the movie when the characters are not at all atypical of the current crop of self-absorbed 20-somethings? I didn't care if Rachel, or her son, or Noah died or not since I didn't particularly like them as people (not even the son, who is a creepy as the ghost, in his own way). I just didn't want anyone to die until the mystery was solved. This movie doesn't cheat - it's billed as a horror flick and it is - though more horrifying than horror. No cliche ending, either. Nope, it's all set up for Ring 2 and maybe even Ring 3. Just like the Japanese version.

The best, very best, ghost story/horror story I ever saw, one that terrified me without showing an ounce of blood or a glimpse of gore, is still The Woman in Black. That's my gold standard. I keep waiting for one as good to come along. Any suggestions?
posted by lee on 10/19/02 at 10:26 AM

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Tuesday, October 08, 2002

CSI Miami

A rabid fan of CSI, I had high hopes for CSI: Miami. We (Stanley and I) watched the pilot and decided to give it a chance.

The first episode, the downed plane in the Everglades, was stupid beyond belief. The CSI taking over the investigation of a crash site? As if. The writers tried to shove so many things into what they hoped would be a whammy of an opener all it did was induce a tendency to hurl. Especially the sappy closing bit, reading the BS letter from the deceased whistleblower-to-be.

Even the implausible story line could be forgiven if it were not for the addition of Kim Delaney to the cast. To the detriment of Emily Proctor, who was the reason we decided to give CSI: Miami a chance in the first place (it sure as hell wasn't David Caruso -- he's just retreading his NYPD Blue role). Delaney's acting (if it can even be called that) is about as one-dimensional as one can get without being a black hole. (Watch five minutes of her in any of her series and I defy you to tell me which was which.)

But, okay, we'll give it a chance, we decided.

I don't even remember what last week's episode was about.

Monday's episode was another trip through gag-me land. Not enough science. No point to Megan's role, and she wasn't called on the carpet for usurping Horatio's role as she would have been in the real world. Unbelievable portrayal of the Miami Cuban immigrant community (let's create a phony stereotype of them, just as we did for Chinese immigrant communities). And another stupidly sappy ending sequence.

I don't care if I see it again or not. Depends on what else in on at the time.
posted by lee on 10/08/02 at 12:40 PM

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Friday, October 04, 2002

on the other hand, there’s this museum website ...

MONPA. The Museum of Non-Primate Art. Done by New Zealand firm Catch-22. Well done and clever -- check out Bird Art.
posted by lee on 10/04/02 at 09:07 AM

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Matisse - Picasso exhibit

Matisse|Picasso is a site backing the exhibits that were/will be on display in London (it's gone), Paris, and New York. It's a beautiful site, but very hard to navigate. Once one does figure out that the way to enter is by selecting a city, it's hard to READ the text as the font is unchangeable and set way too small. The sponsor box on the bottom takes up too much real estate and distracts greatly from the content. There are gratuitous scroll buttons -- at least, I couldn't tell if they worked or if they were broken since I had no way of knowing where the content ended (not that I could actually read it ... )

This site was created by Mosquito.Web, which explains a lot of its hostility as Mosquito.Web is a French company. The company's sites are beautiful, user unfriendly, and basically, all look the same. Too bad, because the content -- mostly European museum exhibits -- is worthy of more thought and human-centered design than Mosquito.Net provides.
posted by lee on 10/04/02 at 09:03 AM

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Friday, September 20, 2002

Quickie Review: One Hour Photo

Stanley and I finally got a chance to see One Hour Photo. It was excellent. I read a few of the reviews afterwards - most of the reviewers missed the point of the movie, complaining that the "other" characters were "cardboard" or not as fully developed onehour_8.jpgas Robin William's Seymour Parrish (Sy - the one hour photo guy). The movie wasn't about the other characters, the family that obesessed Sy (if had been about them, the director would have probably used more well-known actors than the relatively obscure ones who played the family). The movie was about Sy. The story was told visually more than any other movie I've seen in quite a while - with the cinematography and sets and costumes. You could probably understand the movie and what was going on without any dialogue - the dialogue enhanced the movie, but wasn't essential to it. Williams played this character exquisitely well. It was a really creepy movie, about lonliness and desperation and how sterile life can be when it's not shared with people who care about you. Listen carefully to Sy's observations as he tells the detective why he did what he did. Eriq La Salle was quietly and solidly good as the detective and Gary Cole was as good as the store manager as he was as the department manager in Office Space (essentially the same role - but Cole does it well.) Definitely worth paying full price to see it (with expensive popcorn to boot).

It also gave me some design ideas for a couple of new websites we're building.
posted by lee on 09/20/02 at 09:15 PM

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Monday, February 11, 2002

web techniques gone amok

It's amazing how ugly you can make something if you try just a little. Oh, and let's see - let's make navigation as confusing as possible and, while we're at it, rehash news that's already featured in a zillion places - oh, that's leveraging content, I get it [yawn]. Way not to go, CMP!
posted by lee on 02/11/02 at 08:20 AM

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Saturday, February 09, 2002


Thursday night went to hear The Jeremiah Long Band again at Caffeine in South Norwalk. They're good! Not a huge crowd, so they were relaxed and obviously enjoying playing.
posted by lee on 02/09/02 at 07:10 PM

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Monday, January 28, 2002

Well, I don’t quite know how to describe this site

All I can say is check it out. I forget how I stumbled upon it ... blogsnob maybe? The home page is just the tip of the iceberg. Damn Hell Ass Kings
posted by lee on 01/28/02 at 09:25 AM

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Saturday, January 19, 2002

LOTR - Finally!

We finally got a chance to see it last night. I must admit, Lord of the Rings was better than I expected it to be. I had a lot of trouble believing all the hype - what was real and what was just this nation of sheep bleating in unison.

That said, it was TOO LONG. A good 45 minutes could've been trimmed with no loss. Stanley thinks it was good as it is - he said it could've been longer and he would've been happy. I think trimming a minute or two here and there would've made it a more bearable movie since some scenes were interminable (the Ringwraiths chasing Liv Ullman, the canoe trip, the slogging through the snow, the length of time it took to get across the stone bridge in the tomb of the dwarves, the fight scenes -- all could've been trimmed significantly without ruining anything).

I listened as parents and other people explained what was going on to those (kids and others) who'd never read the books - the movie does not stand alone. It is very confusing unless the viewer is one of the initiated (no matter how long ago. In my case, I read the books about 30 years ago).


It would've been better, too, if the movie weren't so patronizing of the Hobbits and treated them as the central, most important characters - the way they are treated in the books. It rests on Frodo's shoulders to save Middle Earth from The Shadow - no one else, not human, not elf, not dwarf, not wizard. That really bugged me.


But the special effects were great - I loved, especially, the river attacking the Ringwraiths. I'd like to watch it again to see all the details I missed the first time around - the rock creatures embedded in the scenery, more of the background details, the stuff that lent all the texture to the movie in an almost subliminal way.
posted by lee on 01/19/02 at 10:30 AM

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