Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Ah, where to begin...?

The company is changing some of our equipment over. They will soon be issuing specially outfitted blackberries which will perform most of the functions of the laptop. While this posed no immediate danger of them asking for the laptop back, it would be problematic if I needed to get it serviced, as they might not see reason to give it back to me.

Well, the laptop had been getting increasingly more and more twitchy over the past couple of weeks, with a few crashes occuring for no discernable reason.¹ This morning, it crossed the line and became completely unusable. This in and of itself might seem disasterous, but the hard drive is okay. I've given it over to Raz to extract all of the files and whatnot I want from it, and took the plunge and bought my own laptop today (which is what I am using to post this now). This was something that I really had needed to do for a while, and I am quite pleased with the purchase I made. While not a Toughbook, it is still a Toshiba, so there are a lot of very familiar elements to it.

I use the laptop entirely for networking, doing all of my audio and video work on the desktop computer. This strict separation of function made searching for a new laptop fairly easy, as I wasn't looking for a gaming powerhouse. I never even watch DVDs on the thing (though I expect to be taking full advantage the dual layer DVD burner). All I cared about was networking, and this is perfect for this. On top of that, it is extremely small... roughly the same width, but since it is a widescreen monitor, it is not quite as tall, and it folds up tiny, which I really like. I'm going to miss the touch screen, but the models with one available were just too damn expensive.

But wait! There's more! The keypad on my phone died today to, neccesitating and emergency visit to the Sprint store! That issue was also resolved in a very decent manner, with my old, thick phone being replaced by an extremely slim one that is also, thankfully enough, Bluetooth enabled. I had bought a Bluetooth adaptor for the old phone as it didn't have one built in, so I already had the headset. I didn't have the instructions for the headset, though, but luckily enough, my brother is a wireless wizard and was able to walk me through the pairing process successfully. While I am still getting used to the new phone, I have to say that the Bluetooth made using the phone today incredibly easy... and like the laptop, it is also conveniently smaller than its predecessor.

On my previous phone, I had the sub LCD display an analog clock there is that function available on the new one as well, but it is a grandfather clock face with Roman numerals instead. Tres snazzy.

So some of you got a text from me today asking whether or not LiveJournal had changed the voice post numbers for the New York area as I wanted to make a post explaining that I might not be online for a few days. Obviously, this became moot after a certain point, but just for the record, LJ now has national toll-free numbers for the United States, (888) 840-6189 or (888) LJ-VPOST (558-7678) (the complete list of numbers). Bloody nice of them.

And, in yet another example of better living through technology, my phone book from the older phone was retained and interred safely on the new one, so I didn't lose any information in that arena.

"Can You Dig It, My Brothers!?!"

Dave and jailnurse dropped by last night for gyros and movies. I finally got a chance to see a movie that I'd heard about for a long time but had never seen: Walter Hill's retelling of Xenophon's Anabasis as a Kurosawa-esque New York street gang fable, The Warriors (it is actually apparently closer to the original source than the Sol Yurick novel the film is ostensibly based upon).

This film is often derided for being cheesy, but while the milieu, costumes, music and especially hairstyles have dated significantly (and the racial diversity of the protagonist gang is certainly eyebrow-arching), this is one of those films where the concept is the story. As a result, it is extremely tight, keeping a consistently mounting tension level. I have to say that of the Walter Hill films I've seen, this is the one that I think works the best, as his Sergio Leone wannabe macho bullshit works perfectly with the concept. The tribal world these characters inhabit has its own internal logic, even if it doesn't jibe with how the gangs of the era really worked. Nevertheless, their predicament seems relatively insurmountable, and the fight scenes are very well staged and executed (okay, there are a few noticable stunt doubles from time to time, but they didn't impede the excitment level for me, anyway).

They do play fast and lose with the geography of New York City, but it really does capture the feeling of the streets at night in the more questionable neighborhoods. It was also a real kick to see the old school subway maps, before they became anatomically accurate (the old ones weren't literally maps, per se, simply geometric lines with the subway stops placed periodically along the way. And I always get a kick out of seeing those old yellow and blue license plates.

The version of the film I saw is what I assume was the original theatrical release; it was definitely not the director's cut, which I have read adds comic book panels as a transitional device. No thanks, I'll stick with the Kurosawa wipes.

"My brother was the big egg, I was the little egg."

CGI has developed to the point where a character can be voiced by Jeff Bridges in a sporadic, disorganized manner a la The Dude, and the animation can take that and run with it. This doesn't sound like much, but it does add a level of versimilitude to a movie about talking penguins. It forces one to concentrate on the character, not the artificiality of the figures... though the environment - including the breathtaking images of the sun shining through rolling waves - is completely photorealistic. In fact, the surfing footage in this film is particularly interesting because the use of CGI allowed for the creation of shots that would be completely impossible in the physical world.

Surf's Up is light and breezy, as befits its subject matter. In fact, it really does manage to present a decent amount of stoner humor pitched in such a manner as so to go completely over the kids' heads while giving their parents a nice chuckle. The movie is actually extremely witty, based around a faux documentary style that also works well to generate a large amount of humor, not only because of ironic comments by the characters in interviews, but because the "film crew" (who, in a postmodern twist, are voiced by the film's actual directors, Ash Brannon and Chris Buck) is omnipresent, even in the most awkward of situations. It cheats a little bit in order to tell a linear story, but the shifts from documentary to dramatic/comedic material are subtle enough to not be too jarring.

The cast is extremely engaging, headed up by Shia LeBouf, but also featuring Zooey Deschannel (in a fairly underwritten role), Jon Heder (stealing every scene his character is in) and James Woods (clearly having a great time). But it is Bridges who is the most inspired casting, and his adaptation of the broken, diffuse persona he perfected in The Big Lebowski finds a new and very funny incarnation here.

No, the film is not going to change your world, but it is a very entertaining hour and a half. The familiarity of the story actually works in its favor, as the twists that it puts on it are actually rather amusing. There are numerous references to previous surfing movies (there is even a cheerful reference to the film-within-a-film in Big Wednesday).

¹ The trouble really began when I flippantly placed an Apple sticker on the front of the laptop; I wondered if the logo would start to smoke the way that the swastika stamped on the crate containing the Ark of the Covenant did in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Apparently it did...
Tags: 420, cinema, new york, reviews, subway, work
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