Temple of Doom & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I will say this without hesitation or reservation: Temple of Doom is my favorite Indiana Jones movie. Take a look at Indy, when there he is, fortune and glory in his hands, freedom down the next passage, but what does he do? He goes ass-kicking among the Thuggee to save a bunch of slave children in a most altruistic — and unneccessary — gesture and nowhere in any of the series’ films does Indiana Jones look as badass as when the mine cart’s lights illuminate him just before he introduces that Thuggee guard to Indy Left and Indy Right.

I also don’t get the complete worship people show to Last Crusade: in plot, much closer to Raiders, and it’s hard to declare that the film doesn’t have its moments, but it also turns Marcus Brody (in Raiders, an adventurous go-getter) into a clueless fool, and Sallah, who in Raiders was a full-fledged sidekick, into a whining tour guide overly concerned with camels.

When you talk to people about the original Star Wars Trilogy, or the Indiana Jones films, you’ll notice this: Empire is the most popular Star Wars flick because it is so dark in tone. Temple, on the other hand, is so unpopular because it is so dark. I guess I’m just unique: Empire is not my favorite of the Star Wars films.

And from this point on, you’ll want to be wary of any spoilers for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which I saw for the second time today.

The truth of the matter is, I was disappointed by this film. I expected better. The film seems … off … almost like it’s a frankenstein of assorted films stuck together. From what I’d understood of the previous Indy flicks, the plots have essentially been structured around action segments. Here, it’s almost like they worked out the action segments, then forgot what the plot was, or scattered the pieces and didn’t put them back together in quite the same way they’d originally had it.

The film works best when Indy’s in his getup: the hat, the whip, the jacket. The years really drop off him, especially compared to the scenes set in the college where he’s wearing his bowtie and really looking his years. There are some nice moments between him and Mutt, and Marion, but, especially with Marion, some of the interaction seems very forced. Actually, it reminds me of that Futurama episode where the heads of the Star Trek cast have to put on a fan-fic script written by that energy creature. There is one moment between them that struck me as really genuine and had both actors back to their Raiders interaction, and that’s the moment when they’re discussing their lives since they parted and which ends when Indy says: “None of them were you, honey.”

As far as the plot goes … I’m not opposed to Indiana Jones & The Saucer People From The Space Between Spaces (although that was, for me anyway, a cringe moment) … but that doesn’t mean I like how the story was played out. Especially in the last twenty minutes or so of the film, Jones becomes less of an active participant, and more of an audience member: he just stands back and lets shit happen. I guess to a certain extent he does that often: he didn’t lower the bazooka because Belloq made a persuasive argument, he lowered it because Belloq said he would open the Ark, and Indy knew that’d be his undoing; he didn’t stop Donovan from drinking from the wrong Grail because, again, he knew it’d have unpleasant consequences. And how did he know this stuff? Right: because, in addition to being kick-ass with a whip, he’s also got at least one doctorate — as motherfuckers go, this one’s pretty intelligent, and he knows this stuff because he reads and deduces. In this case, however, apparently communing with the Skull was enough to figure out that he didn’t want to be the one recieving the “power” of these aliens. He must’ve been thrilled when Spalko showed up: “Sweet, I get to watch her head blow up!” One wonders what he would’ve done if she hadn’t shown up, and also, why he trusted Mac again, and then again, why he tried to save the guy’s life. Dr. Jones must be getting soft in his old age. Remember in Temple when he slugs that cocktail waitress right in the jaw? Betcha Old Jones would never do that! (Seriously, what’s with Spalko’s monkey surviving being thrown off the cliff? Guess he’s trying to make ammends for the monkey surprise dish).

At the end of the film, when the doors to the chapel blow open, and the fedora rolls to Mutt’s feet, I really had my fingers crossed that Short Round would walk in, slug him, and say, “You call him Dr. Jones, greaser!” Short Round was far cooler as a sidekick and had a lot more spunk. I felt a bit of regret that while Indy’s actions for the past nineteen years were mentioned — at least briefly — and the fate of many past characters brought up (Brody, Henry Jones Sr., his past conquests), no mention was made of Mr. Round. This, though, is a relatively minor complaint.

I also want to add that I really disliked the extensive use of CGI. I wish more of an effort had been made to capture the cinematographic feel of the original films: matte paintings, minitures, and real honest to god stunts. While I know that wouldn’t always be the easy way, here’s a question: how would you have done that mushroom cloud if you’d made this film in 1991 instead of 2007, Mr. Spielberg? I’m sure you could’ve come up with something, so why not go completely old school for this film? Also: I really really really detested the Tarzan scene: although, I probably wouldn’t have quite as much if they’d actually, y’know, done it. There’s an immediacy about the way the original films were filmed that seems to be missing from this return to the series.

Second showing through, I also have many questions: like, okay, what’s the deal with the guys guarding the temple and the cemetary? Are they alive? Are they dead? I ask because they just sort of get spit out of the walls. Do they just hide up there forever and ever?

This review sounds overly negative, I know. The film has its moments: it references the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, captures the paranoia of 1950s America, but for all that, features way too little of the whip. I’d put this on the bottom of the Indy film series: nowhere as good as Temple, not quite on the level of Last Crusade.

Surprisingly …

… those Master Replica light-up lightsabers are pretty sturdy in a duel.

There’s a whole bunch of them down in the Media section at my part-time job. They just sit in a corner and collect dust because the idiots at corporate don’t understand that if they’d just bargain-table them they might actually bring in some green. There’s a Darth Vader saber that’s been opened and just sits against the wall. In the back of the store, there’s a Luke Skywalker saber that was supposed to have been returned to the manufacturer as “defective”, but never actually got returned.

I’ve been talking with this guy at work, B., about how we should have a lightsaber duel sometime. I worked at the Media Info desk my last couple hours yesterday, and while he was doing recovery near that section, he ran to the back, grabbed the Skywalker saber, and we dueled it out for about ten minutes.

There was only one customer in the section: he was wearing a Federal cavalry cap and kept complaining that we didn’t segregate our Emo music books from our hard rock music books and seemed not to understand that I don’t make filing decisions for the company, but I think of all of our patrons, he probably was the one to mind the least our saber-fighting.

$4.00 a gallon by summer

In less than six weeks, articles like this really won’t bother me anymore. Heck, after June 14th, I’m barely going to be driving for those last two weeks, so there! If, however, these types of articles are a concern to you, maybe it’s time you consider relocating to an area with a great public transportation system … or get used to walking long distances.

Even with gas prices this high, I think we Americans are still by and large very attached to our automobiles. Enough talk of higher MPG standards and alternative fuel sources. We need to shed this country of its addiction to automobiles, be they big or tiny, gas or solar powered. Stop building new highways: the future is our past — trains, and legs.

I don’t know exactly how this all might go about occuring, but that doesn’t mean I’m not right.

An Early Draft

connor_macleod

So I was doing some packing today, and I had the commentary playing on my director’s cut DVD of Highlander. Great movie. Anyway, it was mentioned that one of the early drafts of the film had the final battle playing out on the Statue of Liberty. I was curious about what other changes may have occurred from the early draft, so my google search turned up this version: this very early version, assuming it’s authentic. The big change? It’s set in Washington, D.C.: and Connor wins the Prize in the Jefferson Memorial.

Now, a.) I don’t know if this is authentic, and b.) It’s clearly a very early rough sketch, and the final product — not without its flaws — is so far superior to be almost unbelievable.

Good Fortune & Other Funnies

“All of your present plans will be successful.”

Chinese fortune cookie today: too bad my present plans don’t involve an illegal scheme to net me millions of dollars, however.

“I told him to put it away.”

Customer entering the store, to the service manager at the part-time job, who was jaw agape at a drunk who had just walked out with his penis completely exposed.

“I want to tie him up to the chair!”

One of my part-time coworkers, expressing regret that I was leaving work for the night Friday night. My response: “I like where this conversation is going!” Alas, she is moving back west this week.

“Why is there a stripper pole in your cube?”

“[Snay] gave it to me! And it’s a lamp. And also? It’s not big enough to be a stripper pole.” (See, I’ve been giving away my excess IKEA NOT lamps…)

Twenty Minute Flu

Saturdays kind of suck, especially right now, since I’m still living in Timonium and working a part-time job in DC. Thankfully, traffic is fairly light these days, but it’s still about an hour and a half commute: later, when I’m leaving, and the Metro isn’t running as frequently, it can be much longer. I’ve been working nine hour shifts on Saturday: it’s what I want, that is, I’d hate to drive all the way and leave after five hours. Nine hours with an hour for lunch (unpaid, of course): taken at this great little bar called Mackey’s which has (woohoo!) hard cider and some really good chickenstrips.

Anyway, I left yesterday about seven. The job itself involves a lot of walking and standing and my feet were just killing me, but I felt otherwise fine as I boarded the Metro. The car itself was packed, but about half the folks departed on the next stop, and I sat down on a bench. Here’s where everything went bad: I started to feel very warm, and a little nauseous (I was a little worried that I was going to vomit), and even though the car was actually fairly cool, I started sweating horribly. I leaned against the car’s bulkhead and slept intermittently.

I park out in the burbs, on one of the open-to-air stations on the Red Line. When the train arrived, I walked out of the car and decided to lay down on one of the benches there. Maybe it was just being outside in fresh air, but I felt well enough to stagger out of the station and to my car. Rolled down the window, reclined the seat, and napped for about twenty minutes, at which point I felt back to being myself: I looked in the rear-view mirror, and my hair was all damn and matted down. Eep! Threw a Queen CD in the player, and got home in forty-five minutes (sweet).

So, as best as I can tell, I literally got the twenty minute flu bug.

Sure beats the twenty-four hour version!

Indiana Jones And The …

Nice thing about being busy and occupied with apartment hunting and two jobs and a lousy commute and, y’know, I really hate performances at Strathmore because everyone parks at the Metro garage and it shouldn’t take twenty minutes to get out of there (OTOH, Metro just opened the gates and started letting people out, so I didn’t have to pay $5 for parking), but, really, the point I’m trying to get made here, is that it completely snuck up on me that Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is being released to theaters in less than a week.

This might not, however, be the last time I get excited about a forthcoming Indiana Jones film, sayeth this article:

“I haven’t even told Steven or Harrison this,” he said. “But I have an idea to make Shia [LeBeouf] the lead character next time and have Harrison [Ford] come back like Sean Connery did in the last movie. I can see it working out.

“And it’s not like Harrison is even old. I mean, he’s 65 and he did everything in this movie. The old chemistry is there, and it’s not like he’s an old man. He’s incredibly agile; he looks even better than he did 20 years ago, if you ask me.”

Lucas says he’s not concerned about early mixed buzz on “Crystal Skull.”

“This movie is the exact same experience as the other three were. The difference is, the novelty of discovery is gone. I get worried when I hear fans say they’re expecting something different that will change their lives. This is ‘Indiana Jones’ just as you remember him.”

But that’s exactly the gamble Spielberg and Lucas took with reviving their icon. Expectation grows into a frenzy and then no one in that frame of mind can be satisfied.

I don’t know about the Shia LeBeouf angle … be cool if he and Short Round (Tall Round, now?) had to team up to save Indy or something … maybe …

Oh, Right …

Signed the lease yesterday: the place is mine. I have less than a month until I will be, for the first time in my life, a resident of a place other than Maryland. I won’t, of course, be a citizen of said location until I drag my lazy self to the DC DMV and get a new driver’s license …

… why a driver’s license when I’m planning on selling my car? Because at some point in my life I might wish to buy a car, and I’d rather not have to retake a driver’s test …

… anyway, so move in day is June 14th. I’ve decided to rent a cargo van and do the best I can to get as much stuff out of my apartment in one day as I can, especially the big stuff: bookshelves, chests, futon, couch, etcetra. I’ll still have two weeks to move the smaller stuff either into the new place, or into storage.

I can’t wait to see the view from the apartment’s roof deck.

Generally Speaking, Don’t Admit To The Lebanese That You Confused Their Embassy For A “Cute little Apartment building.”

… they tend not to view that as a compliment. Go figure.

apartment

That was a little later on Wednesday, after I’d looked at a few places, including one I went back to Thursday to leave a deposit check and fill out an application form (which was incomplete, which led to phone calls and fun on Friday, but everything was in on time). I expect to know Monday whether it’s mine or not, but I think it’s more a formality now more than anything else.

It’s a nice place, just past a block north of the Woodley Park Metro stop, but equally convenient to the Cleveland Park Metro. Judging from Wikipedia’s pages on those neighborhoods, I will be a resident of Cleveland Park. The building itself has a vague “wedge of cheese with a notch” shape, with this apartment forming a rough “L” at the western cut. DC doesn’t have quite as nice of a neighborhood information page as Live Baltimore (which is to say “nowhere near”), but here’s some info on Woodley Park, and Cleveland Park.

It’s a studio apartment: the living room windows face roughly north and overlook the National Zoo. There’s a fairly decent sized walk-in closet, and the main living space — which, in a studio, is living room + dining room + bedroom — is decently sized. I saw the apartment last week, and it’s still occupied: they fit a queen sized bed, two 4×4 Ikea Expedit units, an entertainment center, and a table into the space: my futon, couch, 2×4 and 4×4 Expedit, and two other Ikea shelving units (the names for which escape me) should fit quite nicely. Also accessible from this space is a walk-in closet: it looks decently sized, although it was packed full of clothes (one of the current occupants is a huge Boston Red Sox fan: stacks of shirts, and hats).

Here’s the really cool thing about this apartment — I mean … besides the view, and besides the location — it has a foyer. A studio with a foyer? Awesome! I mean, it isn’t a huge space, but it’s enough for a small bookshelf or two, and space to hang a poster, and maybe a coat rack … or a sword rack. From this space is accessible a full bathroom and a full kitchen.

The kitchen is actually smaller than the one I have now, and it has the narrowest oven I’ve ever seen: it looks like an easy bake! The apartment also has a dishwasher (yay!) and room for a kitchen cart: someplace to store to the toaster, the microwave, and the George with a butcher-board top for preparing grilled cheese sandwhiches. There’s space past all the appliances — with an east facing window — for a small table (I actually hope I can fit the dining room table I have now: it’s an old and much loved family heirloom).

(Did I mention the apartment building has a roof deck?)

Yes, the apartment is expensive. I had sticker shock: quite a bit of it, actually. But, when you take into account that I’m spending at least $800 a month on my car* — payment, insurance, gas — and plan on selling my car once I’m completely out of my Timonium apartment, I’ll actually be saving money: and enjoying a healthier lifestyle, both for myself and for the environment: Hoorah, walking! Hoorah, mass transit!

Now, here’s what sucks: I’m stuck in my Timonium lease until Monday, June 30th. The latest that my hopefully-new landlords can keep this apartment for me is Sunday, June 15th: not only Father’s Day, but also the day a friend of mine from waaaay back is tying the knot in Annapolis. What this means is not only that I’ll be paying two rents for two weeks, but that I’m also going to have a quick move-in on the 14th: just enough stuff to make the place liveable for that first week (I’ll be alternating between apartments, staying in DC on the nights I work at the p/t job and driving back to Baltimore the nights I don’t), then trying to get all of my moving done the following weekend. I’m really really really not looking forward to bringing the cats down: they hate the cages and will meow constantly for the whole trip. And not just “meow, meow”, but these really long, drawn out “Why are you torturing us?” meows. Hey: it’ll be worth it.

I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to be taking with me, what’ll be going with my sister to Colorado, what’ll be stored in the basement of my parents’ house, and what I’m going to need to sell … or give away. If you’re looking for bookcases, wall shelves, folding tables, computer monitors, televisions, handguns**, kitchenware, or fans and lamps, keep your eyes on this blog: first chance for all of my “need to be rid of” stuff will be here.

*And I noticed that gas yesterday was about .05 cents higher than it was Thursday.

**Done legally through a licensed gun shop.

cell phone woes

My cell phone didn’t die — it still works, erm, well, not in my apartment — but the screen is blank now. Anyone have

a.) advice on how to persuade AT&T to let me out of my contract without charging me an arm and a leg?

b.) an old cell phone lying around that I can borrow until the end of my contract? All I gotsa do is pop my sim card in …

On The Housing Front

Got two of something? Fingers? Hands? Arms? Legs? Feet? Eyes? Genitals? Keep ‘em crossed for about eighteen hours, ‘cuz I’m hoping for a view of the Zoo.

UPDATE: Keep ‘em crossed … still waiting to hear yay or nay …