Sunday, November 27, 2005

Blog name change

So I've changed the name of the blog -- the URL is still the same, but I felt like I wanted something different, something not so lame and boring. Maybe what I've titled it is just as lame and boring, but at least it's something different.

I'm tired and worn out right now, which isn't good for a Sunday night before a full work week, but I'm sure I'll make it through. Feeling very listless and adrift these days--not sure what that's all about. Time, I'm sure, will tell.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Diana Krall -- Christmas Songs

Well, it's that time of year again, and I've purchased my first Christmas CD of the season. It's Diana Krall's Christmas Songs. I've kind of been itching for Diana to do a full length Christmas CD--the teasers from the Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas EP a few years back were good enough. And besides, it was only a matter of time until someone of her vocal caliber recorded the Christmas standards.

This CD is a pretty decent one -- all the usual suspects are here. "Let It Snow!", "I'll Be Home For Christmas," "Sleigh Ride," and "Jingle Bells" (two versions of "Jingle Bells" on the iTunes version.) She also pulls out some unexpected ones, like "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" and "Christmastime Is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas. The arrangements, unfortunately, are a little bit more in the vein of The Look Of Love, that is to say, snoozy and orchestral, although she does cut loose one several of the tracks and gives us some good upbeat jazzy Christmas music. But Christmas music is, by definition a little bit on the snoozy side, so the arrangements actually work out all right.

Probably my biggest disappointment is that "Christmastime Is Here" appears to be exactly the same version that was previously on the Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas EP. That being said, I'm not really sure what else she'd do with it other than what she's done, but it does smack a bit of laziness--kind of like Whitney Houston recycling Christmas songs from The Preacher's Wife soundtrack for her Christmas CD a couple years ago.

So it'll get a lot of play this year, although it'll be neck in neck to see what gets more play, Diana or Casey Stratton's Winter Fields.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

And speaking of zombies...

This real life shot (gakked from planetdan) could possibly pass as a shot of zombies out of control.

After looking at that picture, I think I'm glad that I'll be working tomorrow and not out at the mall or any other place like Target or, heaven help us, Wal-Mart. Although I wouldn't mind getting my hands on a copy of Meet The Fockers for 5 bucks at Best Buy. We'll see how that works out.

Land of the Dead

The (relatively few) people that read me regularly (when I'm blogging at all) know that I adore zombie movies. It's really really hard to screw up a zombie movie in my estimation, and I recently Netflixed the latest in Romero's Dead series, Land of the Dead. I missed it in theaters last summer, mostly because I was lazy and didn't get myself out to the dollar theater when it was there ever so briefly, but I don't think I missed out on much watching it on DVD.

The thing that's cool about Romero's Dead series is that even though they are kind of their own stories, they are related to each other. And this is a perfect progression for the zombies. The zombies in Land of the Dead are starting to organize, communicate and are forming the beginnings of an undead society, so to speak. Which is not to say there isn't a great deal of flesh-eating going on in the meantime.

Perhaps the best part of the whole movie comes early on in the movie. While Dawn of the Dead may have had the zombie pie fight (never seen in any zombie movie since), Land of the Dead had the zombie brass band, and I only wish I had a picture of it to post (believe me, I tried to find it--too bad I sent the movie back to Netflix or I'd screen capture it.) Apart from that, we have the story of a Donald Trumpish guy that has boarded up an unnamed American city from the marauding undead hordes, saving the inside of a ritzy skyscraper for the best of society, leaving the rest of the city to get by on its own. Well, you know from the outset that the zombies are going to find a way in and even though you know it's bound to happen, it's still fun watching how it plays out.

It was good to see some classic slow-moving and intestines-chomping zombies after being treated to 28 Days Later (oh, sorry, not zombies, just infected) and the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Both movies were very capable and I own both of them, but there's something about Romero's zombies that you can't compare. And believe me, there was plenty of guts being eaten in this movie. It got to even me at times.

Another plus for the movie--the use of digital effects and blue screen was apparently prevalent according to some of the special features on the DVD, but these effects were not apparent during the movie. It's always good when the effects don't draw attention to themselves and announce their presence as if they're wearing a "look at me! I'm a digital effect!" sign around their neck.

Even though Ryan saw it and wondered what happened to Romero, I still thought it was a capable entry into the series, probably on par or slightly inferior to Dawn of the Dead and definitely superior to Day of the Dead. *sigh* If only they'd called it Dusk of the Dead.

Now's about the time that Heidi would be saying "just how many ...of the Dead movies does the world actually need?" To that, I say (in the immortal words of our ridiculous leader,) bring 'em on.

Turkey Day 2005

I feel as if I'm about to slip into a diabetic coma from all the food I ate today, but oddly enough, I really don't feel as if I've overeaten. I just totally OD'd on sweets, as per usual. God help me, but I just can't get enough of the sweet potatoes! They're definitely my favorite.

It wasn't an overdone holiday this year, just the three of us + Wendy and my mom and dad, but it was fun. Ryan called in the middle of the afternoon and talked to everyone so that was pretty fun. We all settled in after the big meal (and the even bigger clean up which was performed by none other than yours truly) with a viewing of X2: X-Men United which I haven't seen in forever.

So now it's 6:30 and I'm pooped out + I have to work tomorrow and Saturday (but not Sunday.) That's not so bad, I guess. I can't expect to have a 4 day Thanksgiving weekend every year.

Truth be told, I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Our house in Washington is sold (finally), we're probably going to be taking a trip to Europe this spring, and things are mostly on an even keel.

Oh, and it's been the best fall ever for music. But that's another entry altogether.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I'm still here...

...just not blogging. Haven't felt much like blogging, even though there sure has been a lot to blog about. I guess I'm just not feeling the best right now. Never fear, I'll try to write more later.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fall is in the air

Not just in the air, I guess. It's pretty much everywhere. The maple tree on the side of the house, which is always the last to turn and lose its leaves did so seemingly overnight. The leaves are coming down in droves now. It's a gorgeous bright yellow. One day I'd love to get one of those maples that turn red. Maybe when we cut down the dying ash in our backyard. Whenever that might happen.

I swear, fall would be my favorite time of the year if it weren't for SAD. It makes it so I barely even notice fall anymore. That and the fact that "fall weather" is such a non-descript term. I mean, it's November 1st here in Iowa, and it's going to be 70 degrees before it's all said and done. Craziness. The day Anna was born (mid-November) it was 80+ degrees! So who knows. To be honest though, fall probably is my favorite time of the year though, in spite of SAD.

But like I've been saying, it's been the best fall ever for music, so in that respect, it's been great. And then I find out that Casey Stratton is going to be releasing 100+ songs for digital download on his web site! How great is that? All those CDs of his that go for astronomical prices on eBay are now available to regular Joes like me who don't have unlimited funds. It's really exciting. I just hope he tours close to here when he goes out on the road again. It was so fun seeing him at the M-shop last April. I'd love another shot at seeing him live. So new Casey, plus his latest CD Divide is shipping next week as well. I'm in heaven.

Well, it's getting close to time to go to work. I'm a bit on the sick side today, so we'll see how it goes. I'm sure I'll make it through.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Amityville Horror

In addition to taking Anna trick-or-treating, Wendy and I watched the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror. The Amityville Horror was one of the first grown-up books I remember reading. I read it in the 3rd grade--I begged my mom to let me check it out from the library even though I knew it would probably scare me. It goes a long way toward explaining my obsession with things scary. She caved, and sure enough the first night I was too scared to sleep. My friend Kelly remembers me reading it very vividly--she says it's one of her first memories of me--me reading that book and all the flies on it.

While the story was billed as a "true story" at the time, it's pretty much common knowledge that the whole thing was a hoax, a money making scheme by George & Kathy Lutz, the owners of the house for those 28 days. As near as I can tell, the only thing that's true is that Ronald DeFeo, Jr. did kill his family in the house. Everything beyond that, pure fiction. Well, that fiction still scared the hell out of me as a kid. It was made into a movie in 1979 with James Brolin (a/k/a Mr. Barbra Streisand) and Margot Kidder. It wasn't very good, and, to be honest neither is this one, but it was still freaky and had more than a few good scares.

To say that this remake is based on a true story is akin to saying that the movie was based on my life. Even if you take the novel as gospel truth, this film takes a lot of liberties with its source material. First thing, it demonizes George Lutz much more than the house. In the novel, the house is the evil thing. And while it affects all the members of the family, at no point does George go as far over the deep end as he does in this movie. Another disappointment, NO RED ROOM!! Yeah, there's other stuff, but I was really wanting to see the red room again. And it left out all the black gunk in the toilets, the marching band in the living room, the hooded figure that tried to keep them from escaping that final night.

For all the liberties it took with the story, I was shocked to see how well-shot the movie was. It was atmospheric and very "horror-movie-ish" so that worked in it's favor. We enjoyed it enough--not enough for us to wish we had our hour and 29 minutes back, but I'm not sure I ever need to watch it again.

I'll stick to the book. In the meantime, I wonder if Jim and Babs watched the original on Halloween, or if they dug out his other horror flick--The Car.

Another Halloween behind us

So last night was Halloween and I took Anna out trick or treating--actually I did the first part and Heidi did the second part. After much discussion and changing of minds about what she was going to dress as this year (first it was Cher, then it was Wonder Woman) she finally settled on Sleeping Beauty. Although the wig is very Sandy from Grease. Maybe we'll keep the wig around and let her go as that some year. *hehe*

She had a lot of fun--we're lucky because we live in a neighborhood where you can still go door-to-door without fear. People in the neighborhood know each other so it's a real fun time for both kids and parents. Anna was still scared of a lot of the scary costumes, which doesn't surprise me. She's still pretty nervous around scary things--at least things that are scary to her. The most tense moment came when we went to a house where the guy giving out candy was wearing one of those headless costumes. That really freaked her out. So to Anna, guys wearing a headless costume are scary, alien chestburster not so much. She's even named my plush chestburster Durtle and refers to it as her sister. Crazy stuff.

So she got the expected haul of candy and now we'll have enough chocolate in the house to kill a small horse for weeks to come. I'm already sugar overloaded--I think it's pretty much an inevitability come Halloween. I remember so many Halloweens as kids where I ate so much candy that I was sick, but not as bad as the Easters where I ate so much candy prior to the 6AM church service I wanted to be sick. That's put me off Easter candy to this day (except for jellybeans which are still yummy.)

One more picture--here's Anna with her loot. She's looking a little more disheveled here and was about 15 minutes from unconsciousness.