Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Tale of Two Trailers

In the last few days, Warner Brothers has released two trailers for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie, which opens on July 13.

The first one, created and shown internationally, was a good trailer, full of plot development, scenery shots, special effects, and lots of dramatic action and dialogue. After watching it, I am very excited to see that this movie looks excellent.

Today, the second trailer, intended for the United States audience was released. It was the second U.S. HP:OotP trailer but, like the international trailer, it is full of drama, excitement, effects, and gives a good taste of what promises to be the best, most thoughtfully-crafted HP movie yet.

However, there are some interesting differences between these two trailers and I thought, since I've got this forum and everything, I would point out some bits to you, the disinterested reader.

First, you should watch the trailers. Both are the same length--2 minutes and 12 seconds. I have thoughtfully loaded the International Trailer over on WWYG?! Omnimedia.

. . .

Got it? Looks good, right?

Now, remember what you have seen and watch the American trailer. It has also been loaded onto WWYG? Omnimedia for your viewing pleasure.

. . .

Pretty similar, yeah?

In fact, the first minutes of each trailer is almost entirely identical. (I can't claim that to be true, since I haven't done an exhaustive comparison, but they are darned close, no matter what.)

But it's in the second minute that thing diverge in an interesting way. The dominant theme of the International Trailer is Harry and his friends rising up to challenge the repressive regime of Umbridge, who has taken over control of Hogwarts and is issuing decrees to make everyone and everything satisfy her desire for Ministry of Magic -approved Order. This theme is reinforced by the intercutting of Filch pounding a nail into the wall to hang one of Umbridge's many Decrees at the entrance to the Great Hall.

This hammering is nowhere evident in the American trailer. While you do get a view of the wall full of proclamations, the American trailer focuses on more dialogue with Harry teaching his classmates to resist, reinforcing Harry's acceptance as a leader and a more publicly-visible hero. It also emphasizes the slight romance between Harry and Cho Chang and makes Hermione a bit more prominent. (She has more dialogue and is more visually singled out in the American version.)

It seems to me that the International trailer is playing on a history of repression and struggle against an unfeeling government that has a much more resonant history in other parts of the world that is true in the U.S. Similarly, the U.S. trailer relies on the myth of the individual hero, standing up to lead others to The Truth.

Both are valid themes that are found in the books and have equal place in the telling of the OotP story. I just thought it was interesting how that difference was evident in the trailers themselves.

(Big thanks to The Leaky Cauldron for the original links to both movie trailers.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Best and Worst

Lists are always reliable sources of controversy and blogging, since everyone can have an opinion on the content of the list, the order of the list, whatever.

So, in the spirit of needing something to write about that doesn't devolve into complaints about work . . . I present to you two lists.

A while back Premiere website put together a list of the best movie poster images. You can go here to read their opinions on the pictures, or you can see the images here and read my own interpretations.

(I mean, who are you gonna trust?)

What can you say about #25, Gun Crazy? I don't really know, but I surely wouldn't mess with this gun totin' dame. If the gun didn't kill me, she'd strangle me with her insanely tight skirt, puncture my eyes with her torpedo bra, or crack my skull open with her big heeled shoes.

I like to eat Girl Scout "All Abouts" cookies, so I guess I can't say anything too negative about this poster for All About Eve. But I don't see why this image is all that special. I think Premiere is trying to educate us a bit more than necessary. This choice can't be all about pure image quality.

This poster for The Hitch-Hiker is undeniably dramatic. The red, the gun-carrier's POV. But, again, it's for a movie I've never heard of. So, it must be suspect.

Number 22, The Seven Year Itch is definitely iconographic. And so, that makes it noteworthy, certainly listworthy. But, other than almost seeing Marilyn's naughty bits, there's not much going on here is there? I do like the multi-colored title jumping off of the black background.

Yes! There is an image that is definitely interesting and thought provoking. Rosemary's Baby is a spooky movie (so I've been told) and I think the set up of this one is very effective.

Yellow Submarine comes in at #20. Here is a good example of the art of the time coming through in the movie and the movie poster. And talk about multi-colored.

Here is another movie that I've never seen, but I am familiar with Veronica Lake and there is no denying the fact that this poster captures her look with creativity and dramatic strokes. But, it doesn't say much about the movie . . . but I guess the idea is that you are going to the movie to see Veronica Lake, no matter the subject matter. (Kind of like Bruce Willis and the "Die Hard" movies!)

This poster for Breakfast at Tiffany's is certainly dramatic and eye-catching. Hepburn's exaggerated figure really makes you pay attention to her and then her glance to the right (and the extremely long cigarette holder point you to the smaller couple on the right. Nicely done.

Veronica Lake must have been big stuff back in the day, huh? (And I'm talking Will Smith big, since her presence in a movie apparently demanded that her big ole head and wave of hair must dominate any movie poster that she is in. But, does she play a dame with gams that just wouldn't quit?

I was introduced to this movie poster image when my sister was reading the book after the movie came out. While I certainly know that the images in this poster are quite relevant to the plot of a good (Oscar winning!) movie, I have always wanted to see someone else's take on this one . . . but NO Hannibal Lecter, please! There are so many interesting images in Silence of the Lambs, I just can't help but think something better might have been done.

Another example of Premiere trying to make us smarter rather than picking truly special movie art.

At #14, we've got The Man with the Golden Arm, a movie showing Frank Sinatra struggling with drug addiction. I like the cut paper style of this poster. It makes me think of Henri Matisse, who started making large paper collages in the late 1940s.

This looks more like a paperback book cover. But it's Chaplin and The Little Tramp, so I'm bound not to criticize.

Straw Dogs, #12 on the list is a good image. It does a good job of hinting at the plot, a man pushed to the limit by a series of unfortunate events that happened to him and his family. I remember watching this movie in college and I liked it okay. The picture doesn't really look like Dustin Hoffman, though.

I'm not a King Kong fan, either of this version or of the more recent Peter Jackson movie. So, I'm not really a fan of this poster either. It just looks juvenile.

Ahh, yes. 2001: A Space Odyssey. I first saw this movie at my neighbor's house. Either we didn't have a VCR yet, our VCR was broken, or I don't remember what I was doing there, but this movie WAS a trip, to be sure. This poster sort of conveys the plot--such as it was, right? But it also gets into the zeitgeist of the 1060s also. I wouldn't call 2001 "groovy," but someone probably got high while watching it and proclaimed it to be "a gas."

The only thing The Thief of Baghdad successfully stole was the #9 spot on this list from some other, more deserving movie.

Can't complain about #8--Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. An awesome image for an awesomely bad movie . . . or so I surmise, never having had the pleasure of inviting the 50 ft. Woman into my home. My personal memory of this movie has to do with it being a birthday gift to Paul Buchman, from Paul Buchman on an episode of Mad About You. The poster is about 50 ft. tall in that episode and Jamie (Helen Hunt) isn't too jazzed about it.

We're sticking with numbers, as #7 is 42nd Street. It is an arresting image, all legs and leather. Plus that angle!

Rita Hayworth as Gilda reminds me of the Veronica Lake images we saw earlier (waterfalls of hair and all that) plus the Audrey Hepburn image for "Breakfast at Tiffany's." (Cigarettes and such.)

That's all I've got to say about that.

Amazing? My own personal jury is out on that, but I have always found it odd that the sinister robot in Forbidden Planet reappeared (at least in form if not in personality programming) as the milquetoast Robot in "Lost in Space."

I actually like #4's imagery for Downhill Racer. The contours of the noses, lips, and chins suggest a mountainside for the minuscule skier (Robert Redford, is that you?) to slip on down.

Vertigo is a pretty successful image for the movie it represents. Successful for #3, I guess. The font style and the cut-out style remind me of "The Man With The Golden Arm."

It's pretty inexcusable that the #2 movie on this list is obviously a result of T & A preferences. I've never heard of The Sin of Nora Moran; I'll never watch it; but it's supposed to be represented by the second best movie poster of all time?

Well, #1 had better be awesome, right?


Color me underwhelmed.

It's okay, I suppose and it gives me the Matisse vibe yet again, but I just don't think it should be #1.


So, those were supposed to be the best movie posters of all time. But my post title promised the worst also, right? Well, maybe not worst, but I can give you "Strangest." And, as with the Premiere list, these are some else's opinions.

There isn't as much commentary to go with these, mostly because I'm tired. But I will provide you the link here. (I'll also provide the warning that some inappropriate language appears in the beginning. Just be forewarned, and avoid the text if you want. Seriously! After reading the whole three pages, I am warning you.)

I'll give you a visual taste, here, but then I'm done with this post.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Suicide Food IS a Laughing Matter

I know that suicide isn't funny and I'm not here to celebrate it.

But, I am here to point you towards a very funny website that psychoanalyzes the animal mascots of restaurants around the country, animals that are happy--maybe TOO happy--to serve themselves up for your dinerly satisfaction.

So, in the satirical tradition of James Lilek's Gallery of Regrettable Foods, I offer you Suicide Foods.

It might not be for the tender-minded or for children. Be warned.

But, you might not want to learn about fictional foods.

You might want to know about the horrible reality of actual food that people eat all the time.

This link will get you there, but you'll be sorry once you arrive. The reality of fast food as compared to the commercial imagery is shocking and definitely NOT for the faint of heart.

(Some of the language here is a bit off-color, so if you don't want to confront that, then don't read the words, just scan the pictures and promise yourself that you'll never eat there again.)


(Thanks to Adfreak for the links.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

An ode to Perk

Doing this might cause ill feelings, because if you do it for one person, you should do it for everyone, right?

You are likely correct, but nothing feels right these days and I can't claim to be consistent in my work, home, thoughts, actions, or anything these days. The work keeps mounting, the time grows shorter, my patience and stamina flag . . . but you've heard all of this before.

I come here to praise Perk, not bury him . . . or something like that.

While I know he wasn't the first person that I met when we moved to Ohio, he was definitely the only one of that early group of people that I have maintained contact and interaction with since 1998. We were both entering graduate school at OSU--he in the Master program; I in the Ph.D. His was ancient history; mine was 20th century business. He from Kentucky, by way of BYU; I from Georgia, by way of Georgia Southern. We were assigned to the same grad school office in Dulles Hall and we got down to the business of being grad students--taking classes, assisting professors, grading essays, holding "office hours," sitting around and shooting the breeze during time off.

Turns out he was a Tolkien fan and a Star Wars nut (he even had a LARGE collection of action figures and ships in his house). (And, truth be told, he was mostly responsible for getting me into J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter. Many's the twenty minutes Perk and I have debated book theories and criticized the discrepancies between the books and movies.)

So, we got along pretty well. Not only were both of us attending OSU, but our wives were both working at the same place--that very same place that Perk and I eventually came to work at as well. So, there were many commonalities between us.

Let's see, are there any good stories I can tell? My memory being not so reliable, I'm sure that I'll forget some, but the best one occurred when Star War: The Phantom Menace came out. Perk and I both wanted to see it badly, so Lynda and I drove over to their place on a Wednesday night (this was before Perk or I had any kids) and we walked to the theater over by campus. We were both disappointed by what the movie really was . . . though Perk tried harder to defend it than I did. But there were two big news events that night that were only slightly related to the content of the movie.

First, while we were waiting for the movie to begin--in a big line, we heard rumors that George Takei (Sulu of Star Trek fame) was at the bookstore around the corner, trying (I think) to steal some thunder from George Lucas' (then still strong) mojo. Perk wanted badly to go and see Takei, but the rest of us didn't want to lose our place in line. So, we got in the theater and sat down. With just a few minutes to spare before the lights dimmed, it became apparent that Sulu was in the theater with us. After some hemming and hawing, Perk decided to go up to him and talk. (I stayed firmly in my seat.) I don't know if Perk got a chance to actually say anything to Takei, but he did speak to his bodyguard sitting beside him.

Then the movie cranked up and we were all introduced to Jar Jar Binks and Jake Lloyd. I didn't hear Takei laughing out loud, but maybe he fell asleep during the opening crawl about trade regulations and space embargoes.

ANYWAY, once the movie was over, I had to go to the bathroom and who should I pass going out just as I was going in? George Takei himself! We didn't acknowledge one another (not that he would) as men shouldn't when in a bathroom, but that's as close as I got.

Later that night, Lynda and I drove home, I went to bed and when I woke up the next day to go teach my class, I discovered that my car had been stolen from the apartment parking lot.

These are some of the things I think of when I think of you, Perk.

God speed in your travels back to Utah. Have a good time at your new job.

We'll miss you around here.

Strange Things to Think About at Work

1. When you work on the top floor of a building, you only get one option when you are selecting an elevator--up button when you arrive in the morning and down button when you leave at night. That's why it was mildly jarring earlier when I elected to ride the elevator from the second floor and saw that there were TWO buttons for me to choose from.

2. Sometimes, walking between cubicle rows, you get to a hard right (or left) turn. Our building has decided to put curved mirrors or half domes in these areas to give the pedestrian office worker information about what/who is coming around the blind corner. But, due to the nature of these curved mirrors, you see what you are heading towards rather than where you have come from.

In these instances, I pretend that I am a vampire that casts no reflection.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"Australia" by The Shins

This is my first favorite song from The Shins new album Wincing the Night Away. But as I watched the video that you may enjoy below, a few things kept nagging at me.

1. I don't know if he's the lead singer (and I don't want to know and probably don't want to remember his name or all semblance of indie cred will be gone), but the Lead Shin with the binoculars kept reminding me of Kevin Spacey, kind of like he's Kevin Spacey's less famous brother.

2. When the Heavyset Shin (wearing the bush outfit) was running back into the van, I couldn't prevent the image of Captain Caveman from leaping into my brain.

3. Why do Indie Bands insist on wearing clothes that are thirty years out of date? I guess I'm equally "out of date."

4. Were you, like me, expecting the balloons to form into some recognizable shape when they were floating away . . . and were you also thinking about this impressive technicolor stunt with bouncy balls?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The home and other stuff

It's been another busy time of home renewal around the WWYG?! manse lately.

We finally got our radon mitigated (and I'm sure you know what THAT is all about). While that was being done, we also decided to upgrade some of our electrical systems. Unfortunately, that sounds like we are putting in dedicated AV wire or installing some sort of fancy home theater down in the basement. No such luck . . . we're just upgrading some our our outlets around the sink and correcting some "creative" wiring" and extension cording that the previous owners had utilized in the garage. These are things we've been meaning to do since we moved in, but the grind of living and the drain of money made it less likely until now.

So, were living high on the hog with fancy ground fault interruptor sockets. Somebody call MTV "Cribs" quick.

But, more momentous home news is still to follow! Colleague and all around good person Sven Golly lent me a hand (and a truck) yesterday to get our old stove out of the garage and over to the Habitat for Humanity "Build it Again Center." The truckload also included some old spare doors, staircase spindles, and random shutters from some unknown past.

I am glad to have that corner of my garage free now and will soon be ready to cram it full of other stuff--probably kids bikes, or the new lawnmower, or something else. And once our second winter decides to go away, I'll be able to get the many bags of mulch out of my driveway and park the red car back in the garage again.

So, things are looking up in that area of life.

Work is, of course, maddening and stressful and worrsome. I spent a few hours at the office today--which I am VERY loathe to ever do--but I am doing something fun this evening with friends from church and so I knew that if I didn't do it then, I'd never get enough done later tonight. (I didn't get to work much last night as we were babysitting for the neighbors--which is good, since we'll need to cash in on that once Spiderman 3 comes out in a few weeks.)

Spiderman 3! I have YET to begin sending email reminders to my friends about a theatrical viewing event, which is a shameful oversight on my part. This is something I have done for many years at work and my responsibilities as a breadwinner and productive editor have seriously impacted my ability to be frivolous this year. I've got to get some of my childish mojo back and reinvigorate my inner love for Tobey and all things Spidey!

I think I'll head out into the garage now and begin straightening while Lynda is taking Sarah to get her dance photos made. (Don't worry, I'll post them when they are available . . . as long as her dance studio-approved makeup scheme doesn't make her look like a backup singer for that Robert Palmer video . . . "shudder".

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Logan's Run

Netflix delivered this sci-fi classic to my doorstep last night and so, I took a few hours break from my work and watched it with Lynda.
My quick, vague, not-helpful review?
Better than Barbarella but not nearly as good as Tron. (Though, to be fair, Tron came a few years later and benefited--somewhat--from better production values.)
Still, Logan's Run is a classic that is referenced by a lot of other things and it is clear that some of the design of Syndrome's island in The Incredibles is influenced by The City in this movie. But, I must point out that the makers of LR need to sue Michael Bay for ripping off their ideas when Bay made The Island a few years ago. Shameless, really, though much more visually appealing.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrell . . . and then Resurrecting the Fish

It's an Easter-themed post today on WWYG?!

As you may know, when people where I grew up (in Georgia) think of Easter, they think of dogwood trees white with flowers, azalea bushes blooming, the fine film of pollen dust coating everything.

But, not in Ohio and not this week.

There is snow on the ground right now (though not much, I grant) and the forecast calls for more light flurries today and into tomorrow. Almost all of the young flowers have wilted, their blooms shriveled. I just hope the trees hold on and don't skip straight ahead to boring green leaves. It would be a shame to have so little time for the beauty of spring blooms.

But, the season must go on, regardless of the weather. (Do you think Jesus wouldn't have resurrected if the wind chill had been below freezing?) Our church had planned an Easter Egg "hunt" (I'll explain the quotation marks in a minute.) yesterday morning for church children and for the community at large. People worked very hard to prepare what seemed to be thousands (I heard someone say 3,000!!) of eggs for enterprising young hunters to find.

We knew that with the temperatures being in the 30s and intermittent snow blowing, the turnout might not reach the preparations, but there were a good number of families and kids there to take part.

Even so, I'm glad that the girls brought their wide-mouth Easter baskets, since they easily gathered over 100 eggs each.

I saw kids filling garbage bags and dragging them around, since they were too heavy to lift. And it wasn't about greed, each kid NEEDED to gather their own weight in eggs or the lawn would still be dotted with the technicolor eggs even today.

The problem, though nothing could be done about it, was that our church building, being little more than two years old, doesn't have a great deal of landscaping as of yet. The grass was just put in within the past year. So, when we turned the corner to drive into the parking lot, it became clear that this wouldn't be so much an Easter Egg Hunt as an Easter Egg Gathering. (It really was like shooting fish in a barrel.)

But everyone had fun anyway.

When we got home we realized that so much candy had been gathered, it was almost clear that the Easter Bunny should skip our house and give his candy to someone else. This didn't stop the girls from preparing their Easter baskets for his arrival, alongside the plate of lettuce and carrots.

But, Sarah did write a note, asking the E.B. to cut back on the candy . . .

So, in the end, everyone has a good weekend and we even managed to squeeze some religion into the entire proceeding.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm tired

Work, work, work for now and likely for at least another month steadily. Sometime in June it should lighten up, but it's hard chargin' and full steam ahead, don't think about it, just do it, go as long as you can, get it done, don't bother with small things, just get it finished . . .

Sometimes I feel like I'm a surfer trapped on top of a wave and I'm simply resigned to my fate--for good or for ill. I'm just along for the ride now and I can't do much to change course, make it better, make it worse.

It simply is and that all that there is.

sigh . . .

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

And . . . we're back!

Everything isn't complete, obviously . . .

. . . as the multi-headed hydra of a header attests to, but I'm ready to soldier on in the new Blogger environment.

I'll sort out the header imagery soon and finish labelling archive posts 1-298, but it's all good enough for you to keep reading here from now on.

Reconfigure your bookmarks to link to this site, and I'll see you back here next time.