Thursday, May 31, 2007

My Problems with 'Spider-Man 3'

We saw "Spider-Man 3" last week, and I guess I had low expectations going in after hearing mixed reviews. Well, it met those low expectations. The effects were cool and the story moved along nicely, but there were some major tone problems. Anyhoo, here's a list of my 10 problems with the movie (if you haven't seen the film yet, beware of spoilers -- also, this post won't be very interesting for you).

1. Since most of America already thinks Tobey Maguire and Topher Grace are the same actor, was it really wise to put them in the same movie? Thank God they gave Topher those blond highlights or it would have been a disaster. What's next for Spider-Man 4 -- Jake Gyllenhaal and Elijah Wood as villains?

2. Um, the scene where Peter tries to show off in front of Mary Jane by dancing at the nightclub -- totally out of place in the movie. "The Mask" called, it wants its scene back.

3. The little girl with the camera (in one of the final scenes) -- terrible actress. Even for a kid, just terrible. Turns out she's the director's daughter.

4. In a movie in which we already had three villains (Venom, Sandman and the New Goblin), we really had to have a scene with an out-of-control crane?? At first I thought the crane might tie into another plotline, but no, it's just an out-of-control crane. (The one redeeming part of this scene was that the crane destroys my brother's office building.)

5. Harry's amnesia serves no purpose! It allows him and Peter to get buddy-buddy for a while, maybe reminding the audience of the friendship they shared, but imagine if he had cozied up to Mary Jane while he was still enemies with Peter. Wouldn't that have been more dramatic? In the end, Harry does exactly the same stuff he would have done if he had never had amnesia.

6. I expected the movie to be bloated because of all the many villains and subplots, but that wasn't even the main source of bloat. It had a ton of minor characters that added no value. The maitre d' scene? What was up with that? Apparently the guy playing the maitre d' is Bruce Campbell, a longtime buddy of the director. But what was the point? It wasn't funny -- just more broad humor that didn't really fit in with the story (him mispronouncing "Parker"...yeah, that's hilarious). The scene could have been set up with two lines of dialogue: Peter shows him the ring, says it's a special night. The maitre d' nods knowingly and says he'll take care of it. Boom, you're out. Peter's landlord and landlord-daughter also didn't serve much of a purpose.

7. When Peter turns "bad," the only way they show it is with him hitting on ladies in the street (and the aforementioned nightclub scene). Here's a guy who fights crime -- it might have been more interesting to explore the temptation to be brutal while apprehending criminals. This is a real-life issue, and certainly one you could imagine Spider-Man grappling with -- especially under the sway of the Venom suit.

8. How come Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) has fangs even when the Venom suit isn't on his head? And yet, the only difference when Peter was wearing the Venom suit was that his hair was combed slightly differently?

9. I'm not usually part of that whole Kirsten Dunst-is-hideous crowd. But, yeah, she's not looking so good. I think there's a problem with her teeth -- too pointy? Maybe she could play Venom in the next movie.

10. Harry Osborn has Chubby Checker's "The Twist" on his iPod? That's what he likes to rock out to?

'On the Lot'

Hey, is anyone else watching "On the Lot," the reality show on Fox about aspiring filmmakers?

It's kind of a cool show, because you get to see the creative process and lots of personality clashes. Well, I should say it *was* a cool show — the first week. The second week, after they cut the contestants down to 18 finalists, they began taping the show in front of a live studio audience and added a cheesy (though foxy) host lady. Now it just seems like "American Idol," with movies.

Each week the filmmakers create short movies and then America votes on the ones it likes best. I found it amusing that the hick guy who made a movie clearly intended to ridicule people with Down syndrome was one of the highest vote-getters this week (even though the judges hated it, and one of the other contestants complained since apparently his brother is mentally retarded). You go, America.

But we may not get a chance to see what happens in the end. Apparently "On the Lot" is getting terrible ratings! Oh well...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cool!

Check it out. Now you can look down our street using Google Maps' new StreetView feature. Click on this for the view from Folsom. Or on this for the view from Harrison.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jew's in the News

Oh no. Being out of town, I've apparently missed a big flare-up in Supervisor Ed Jew's political scandal.

I was hoping the news would result in a bunch of potentially offensive headlines, but so far there haven't been too many. Here are some of my favorites:

"Jew releases statement pertaining to Federal investigation"

"Jew's Story Disputed"

(and my personal favorite:)

"Firm's employee says Jew offered to help -- for a fee"


Sounds like Shylock.

I haven't really been following the scandal itself too carefully, but it sounds like he accepted $40,000 to help the Quickly tapioca drink shop chain open up locations in the city. (He also apparently didn't even live in his district until recently and he used to be a Republican.) Hopefully this won't kill Quickly's chances in the city, because I was reading their menu online and some of their flavors sound pretty awesome.

On the Road

I'm on vacation this week, so I may not blog as regularly. We're taking a road trip to Santa Barbara.

Yesterday I saw Hearst Castle for the first time. Pretty cool -- although the best part was probably the old guy on the tour with us. He would point to everything and say, "That's the real deal."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tintin!

Holy crap, I don't know how I missed this story until now. Apparently Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are working on a Tintin trilogy -- with Spielberg and Jackson directing at least one of the films each.

Now, Spielberg has had the rights to Herge's works for some time -- and I've heard rumblings on this topic before -- but it finally seems like it's on the fast track. They're using "full digital 3-D using performance capture technology," which I think means it's going to look like that "Final Fantasy" movie.

"Herge's characters have been reborn as living beings, expressing emotion and a soul which goes far beyond anything we've seen to date with computer animated characters," Spielberg said. "We want Tintin's adventures to have the reality of a live-action film, and yet Peter and I felt that shooting them in a traditional live-action format would simply not honor the distinctive look of the characters and world that Herge created."


I used to stay up all night reading the Tintin books in order over and over again (well, except "Seven Crystal Balls" -- that could only be read during the day due to its extreme scariness).

It says they have the stories picked out already, but the article doesn't say which ones. I'm assuming we can rule out "Tintin in Congo," due to its offensive racial caricatures.

But it's weird that they're doing a trilogy, since none of the stories are written that way. He did several two-parters, but no trilogies. Oh well, I'm sure they know what they're doing.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a story on 3-D filmmaking that mentions the Tintin project. The story also says Tintin is "red-haired." Um, wasn't he blond?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rappers in Prison

Interesting! While doing the *extensive* research for my last post, I came upon a cool Wikipedia page that lists all the rappers currently in prison:

Big Lurch
Black Rob
City Spud
C-Nile
Cool C
Crazy Titch
Flesh-n-Bone
Chi Ali
Mac
Mystikal
Shyne
South Park Mexican
Steady B
Tray Deee
Turk
Twisted Black
X-Raided
Young Lay
Z-Ro


I didn't realize Black Rob was still in the clink. Like whoa. No wonder we haven't heard much from him lately!

And Mystikal too? He's serving a stint for "sexual battery and extortion." I don't know about you, but does it really seem likely that the man who sang "Pussy Crook" would be guilty of such a thing? I'm heading to the federal courthouse.

Guess Who's Back

I was walking home from work tonight when I suddenly came upon a sizable protest rally in front of the federal courthouse.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a rally to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Suddenly a wave of nostalgia flowed over me. Had I somehow been transported back to the 1990s? I wanted to tell the protesters to stay right there while I ran to get my Spin Doctors CD and some Zima.

Now, I don't want to get all political here, but who the heck is still protesting this stuff? They already changed his death sentence to a life sentence, so you can't really get the anti-death-penalty crowd. And I'm pretty sure no reasonable person thinks he's innocent. Right? I'd say the Wikipedia entry is pretty persuasive.

Shouldn't we be focused on more current political prisoners, like Paris Hilton or Shyne?


UPDATE: My bad. There was some Mumia news today. Apparently a federal court is hearing his appeal.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Don't Call Me Blogger

I sometimes read the Tablehopper "blog" because it talks about new restaurants that are opening up around town.

Anyway, so apparently the woman who does it is ticked off that she was referred to as a blogger in the Chronicle:
"...in regards to the small mistake in the photo caption referring to me as a food blogger....To clarify, tablehopper is actually an e-column, and a website, but not a blog. It’s not an online diary, and I don’t have comments on my site (you have to email me direct if you want to parlez). I love and admire and read a ton of blogs, but FYI, tablehopper isn’t one of ‘em."

Whoa, why is she working so hard to distance herself from the blogging community? Are blogs lame now? WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME??

From now on, I am an e-columnist and this site will be called "Buboe-columnist."

That Ain't My Bag, Man

Now that you're pretty much a pariah in this town if you don't bring reusable cloth bags to the supermarket, I've discovered an interesting phenomenon: Stores get mad if you're not using their approved type of cloth bag!

Tonight we were in a Harvest Urban Market, and the guy got upset when we pulled out our Whole Foods bag.

So now, in addition to remembering to bring a cloth bag, I'm going to have to remember to bring the specific cloth bag that goes with that store (be it Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, etc.).

They need to ease up on a brother!

Hmm...

Tonight we encountered a trash can in the Muni station that said "Trash Only."

I guess maybe they mean, "Don't put recycling here," but still...what could someone put in the "Trash Only" trash can that would not be considered trash (at least, to the person reading the sign): A new trumpet? Live rodents? A baby?

The sign BLEW MY MIND!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dance-Off Dangers

My book club still hasn't managed to get another book club to agree to a dance-off.

If it ever happens, I'll have to try to be careful and not die:
A man died after falling on his head during a Connecticut parking lot battle dance.

Police said the death of Robert Stitt, 48, appeared to be alcohol-related and accidental, the Hartford Courant reported.

"He was a pretty good dancer. Back in the day he used to do flips," John Boxley, a friend of Stitt's who witnessed Monday's accident, told the Courant.

"It was a bunch of older guys dancing who thought they were still young."

The newspaper said that in a battle dance, participants see who can complete the most difficult dance maneuvers, such as the flip that Stitt failed to accomplish.

Mystery Solved

I've always wondered why the Shell station near our place has insanely high gas prices -- especially since another Shell a block away has much lower rates. I even took this picture of the prices with my cell phone the other day since it's so unbelievable:


Well, it turns out the owner of the Shell is trying to "stick it to the man" (sort of).

Monday, May 07, 2007

Kelly Saves a Crazed Chihuahua

We were walking down Folsom Street tonight, coming home from the gym, when we noticed a Chihuahua dart out from an alleyway. At first I figured it belonged to someone nearby, but it wasn't on a leash, it didn't have tags and there was nobody around.

So we stopped and approached the dog. But before we could get to it, it bolted into the road! Now, Folsom isn't some quiet street -- it's four lanes of one-way traffic (plus a bike lane), and people drive fast.

In a terrifying sequence, the dog ran across all four lanes to the other side, speeding cars swerving around it, and then darted back into traffic. Amazingly, it wasn't hit. Kelly took off to try and save the dog, but it was lightning quick. In a flash, it ran down to the intersection of 4th and Folsom. This was not good. That intersection's dangerous enough for people, let alone diminutive Mexican canines.

As Kelly was running to save it, a Honda Civic partially ran over the dog -- fortunately, it stopped before it did too much damage. The injured animal was hidden under the stopped Honda when Kelly got to it (I was a little farther behind). A crowd gathered as the people in the Honda got out and tried to figure out what happened. A homeless guy also arrived to dispense advice.

Kelly was the only one able to coax the dog out from under the car and she carried it in her arms to safety. Its tiny feet were bloody, and one of its bulging eyes was scratched. There also appeared to be a little blood on his non-neutered private areas, and the homeless guy became concerned that the dog had "scratched up his dong."

On the whole, though, the dog looked like it was in OK shape considering. And it seemed very calm in Kelly's arms. I decided to call him "Frogger."

We then wandered around the neighborhood looking for Frogger's owner, but we couldn't find anyone. Finally we encountered someone who knew the number for animal control, so we called them. Let me tell you: Animal control in this town is a well-run operation. They arrived almost immediately. I feel like if there's a crime against humans in our neighborhood, the police take their sweet time, but God forbid an animal is involved -- they send out the cavalry.

We did have an "only-in-San-Francisco" moment as we were waiting for animal control. This hippie woman with a set of watercolor paints approached us and asked us how old the dog was, assuming it was ours. Kelly explained what happened and said that animal control was about to arrive. The woman became horrified, assuming that the dog was going to "the pound" and how could we let that happen since they were clearly going to kill the dog. I was pretty sure the woman was going to wrestle the dog away from Kelly if the lady from animal control hadn't arrived just that moment. (She explained that no, they don't put any animals to death in San Francisco. The hippie lady didn't seem entirely convinced, but she backed off.)

Anyway, the animal-control lady seemed nice and she said she'd take Frogger to the vet. So that's that. I was a little sad to see the little guy go -- even though I'm not a dog person, and especially not a little-dog person. But we're going to check in on Frogger in a day or two to make sure he's OK.

Friday, May 04, 2007

In the 'Cone Zone'


Excitement! Kelly was able to get tickets to today's taping of Conan O'Brien -- his last show in San Francisco.

We just got back from it now (they film the show between 4 and 5 p.m.). It was pretty cool, even though we had to wait in line starting at noon. Snoop Dogg was one of the guests and the Warriors' Baron Davis came on stage briefly to throw t-shirts at the crowd. Tom Waits also performed (we were surrounded by teenage girls, and they were less excited about that part of the show).

Conan even made fun of our neighborhood (sort of). He was saying that when people asked him how to get to the Orpheum Theater, he would tell them, "Go right down Market Street until you get really scared...then it's another four blocks."

UPDATE: Looks like some of the Conan videos are on YouTube now. Check out this one.

Also, here's a photo I took with my cell phone. As always, the resolution is excellent.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What the...

We live in a somewhat hardscrabble neighborhood, and I think our phone number must have belonged to a series of sketchy characters -- or maybe just one sketchy character who used lots of different aliases. We're always getting calls from bill collectors looking for various people we've never heard of. Sometimes callers are just trying to track someone down -- possibly to kick their ass.

I especially liked today's message:
Hi, I'm looking for Bill Worthington. I'm having a trouble with Paul Mattson hanging around a couple of people's houses late at night, engaging in illegal activity again and I don't know whether I can get his parole officer over at San Mateo County prison's name from you. I'll try to get a hold of you again tomorrow.

"Mainstream" = "Special"

I was reading this story in the New York Times about how it's harder to get into Harvard now (item!), when I was stopped short by something in the penultimate paragraph:
My wife’s two brothers struggled as students at mainstream colleges and both have made wonderful full lives, one as a salesman, the other as a builder. Each found his own best path. Each knows excellence.
"Mainstream colleges"?? Is that a new condescending way of describing non-Ivy League schools? Because it sounds like something that happens to retarded people.

Top Ten Signs Your Newspaper Is In Trouble

From last night's Letterman show. Some of these hit a little too close to home. (My favorites are No. 8 and No. 4.)
10. Covers all news that happens within one block of the office
9. Today's exclusive -- "Nixon Dead!"
8. Reporter sent to jail for refusing to divulge a source... Oh, and he also killed a dude
7. All horoscopes: "Now would be a good time to get out of the newspaper business"
6. Paper's motto: "Suck it"
5. Every "hot" gossip item is about Jack Klugman
4. Managing editor and guy who wheels around breakfast? Same guy
3. Under "Weather," it just reads "Yes"
2. Instead of "Garfield," has a comic strip called "Garfunkel"
1. You endorsed Dennis Kucinich

Conan Fever

Conan began his week-long stint in San Francisco last night. Sadly, no one at NBC has furnished me with tickets -- despite my numerous e-mails.

I watched the first episode on TV, and it was pretty funny. The crowd was a little too rowdy, though. It took them a long time to pipe down when he was doing his monologue.

I enjoyed the bit with the Transsexual Transamerica Tower. And the clip where he had Bob Saget recreate the opening sequence of Full House was pretty awesome. Hopefully it's on YouTube somewhere.