Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mandatory TV-viewing, baseball playoff picks

On Thursday, October 6th, U2 will be on Conan O'Brien. For the entire show.

Something like this has never been done on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," and it certainly hasn't been done on any of the major talk shows in recent memory. Regardless, watching arguably the world's best band going on the funniest and best-written late-night talk show can't be missed ("The Daily Show" is excellent but it's not in the same format as the other late nights).

Perhaps we can expect to see Bono do a segment of "In the Year 2000", with the Edge singing the "in the year two-thousaaaaaand" part?

U2 to cut moon in half to serve purposes of stage


The MLB playoffs are in full swing, and even though they're a day late, my picks are:

ALCS picks: New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox
pick: White Sox

NLCS picks: Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals
pick: Cardinals

World Series: Chicago White Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals
pick: St. Louis Cardinals

Monday, October 03, 2005

I Want to Own an Aviary - by Count Langenhoffen

An Aviary (capitalized because I would own it, and everything I own instantly accords pronoun status) is a large enclosure filled with trees and such for the purpose of enclosing birds. You've seen aviaries in such blockbuster classics as Jurassic Park 3 (dazzlingly directed by Joe Johnston, between October Sky and Hidalgo) and The Haunting (which features a pre-celebrity Owen Wilson decapitated by a haunted fireplace[seriously]).

So, essentially, the birds think they can fly through the webbed steel forming the aviary, but it turns out that steel reacts to birds the same way it does to everything else; they hit it, fall, and usually die. BUT, as Darwin taught us, the next generation of birds will know how the system works, and shall obey it unflaggingly, and so they become the living attraction of said Aviary.

Now, my Aviary will be fucking enormous; not because the birds need room to fly, but because I'm a big guy. In fact, my Aviary will be devoid of those dirty ornithological rats. If birds find a way into my Aviary, it's probably entirely coincidental. As soon as you walk into my Aviary you'll be confronted by some kind of spike or boulder trap; notice I use "you," since I would never fall for my own traps. If you make it past the trap(s?), you'll notice the air is pungent with a tenebrous pall, due in large part to the still black pond to your right and the cobwebbed man-sized iron cages squeaking longingly towards the floor which are numerous and hanging from the roof.

Spiders are rampant, though not so many so as to draw your attention too much from an omniaural moan permeating the wispy white fog. There's some wilting shrubbery that's not been clipped for years, but its plainly obvious they were shorn to resemble souls writhing in the fires of Hell. Twisted trunks of half-dead trees litter the place haphazardly; there's a pretty cherry blossom, too (for contrast by juxtaposition). This is obviously just to create the mood for my Aviary, so that the next door neighbor's kids feel compelled to breach my Aviary.

Then, once inside, they'd be forced to serve me (not sexually) until their premature death or embark as a group on a dangerous quest for a pirate ship full of gold hidden in a secret cave within the sewers of the town. If none of the kid's are Asian, then they won't have the quest option, since no one can convincingly yell, "Booby traps!"

Now, being a business-minded person, considering the logistics of maintaining a model aviary requires some serious rumination.

First, manpower. Simple. Pay some poor Polish countrymen to immigrate over and upkeep my aviary (I wouldn't use "Aviary" in the newspaper ad so as not to stir suspicion). Their rudimentary belief in the spirits of the Old Country would surely remain alight as they torment in my hellish Aviary. And while they toil and cry out at spirits nonexistent, they'd come to me begging to allow their indenture to end. I, of course, would grow to twice my size and cackle ghoulishly at their simple beliefs and hilarious terror. I might allow them put a bird in my Aviary if they agree to stop being fed, but the odds that they learn conversationl English are slim to none.

Another important logistic is always making sure the troops are officious in their duties, so once in awhile I'd release a pack of hounds or swarm of locusts into the Aviary. I might also release one of those badass string-tripped swinging log traps that did in the Predator, and I think also may have taken care of Benicio's character in the cinematic feast that is The Hunted.

If the INS or similar got too hot on my Aviary, I'd just cover it with a tarp whenever they came by looking for missing Poles. If they ask what's under the tarp I'd probably just make the whole damn thing send itself into another dimension, and then return when everyone's not looking.

What's most important for an Aviary is, of course, having a secret room where you crossbreed various hapless animals via torture. There'd be strungup bunny rabbits, kittens, otters, dolphins, parrots (since they can talk), chicken (in the form of buffalo wings in the freezer), and then a couple of random beating cows' hearts connected to more electrodes than seems necessary for good measure. I'd also pay Edgar Allen Poe's great grandson to sit in a tall black chair and read aloud The Telltale Heart and The Raven at odd temporal intervals. When the creatures I manifest are ready to unleash doom upon the world, I'd make sure they go straight for the places of worship, just to fuck with everyone's psyche.

One last item, let's throw in some gargantuan pterodactyls with lasers attached to their shoulders like those Dinobots.

I feel that building from this simple Aviary template, I'll have countless hours of entertainment to tide me over until my battleship is complete.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A History of Violence excellent, looking forward to Capote

As the Oscar season and the prerequisite onslaught of Best Picture candidates fast approaches, I've found that 2005 could prove to be a particularly good one for the movie scene.

Last evening I saw A History of Violence, David Cronenberg's latest movie, starring Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello. I came away quite impressed with the film. Not only was it well acted - Mortensen was convincing as a quiet family man with a troubled past - but the direction was superb. Cronenberg is to be lauded for creating an interesting pace which features intense barrages of violence breaking up a taught, albeit gradual, exposition. Playing Tom Stall, Mortensen is the highlight of the film. His quiet demeanor and acting skills juxtapose nicely with the grim and foreboding showdowns, as well as with ominous gangster Carl Fogerty, played with eerie confidence by Ed Harris. With the exception of an awkward sex scene in the second half, not one sequence nor exchange of dialogue is wasted. Every harsh development and the drastic consquences they have on the small, rural Indiana family are treated in a concise manner which contributes to the overall effect of the story. A History of Violence is a good start to the Oscar season, and necessary viewing for those who enjoy criminal dramas with mysterious characters.

(4 stars out of 5)

Fresh off the satisfaction from taking in Violence, I am looking forward to the next possible great movie of the season, Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. In what early buzz from festival screenings have as an Osacr-worthy and career-defining role for Hoffman, Capote is a period piece which delves into author Truman Capote's experiences in writing a non-fictional novel concerning the murders of well-known members of a Kansas family (with Catherine Keener playing his friend Harper Lee, the author of my favorite work of fiction, To Kill a Mockingbird). The official website can be found
here; it does a very nice job of presenting the plot and approach to the material with nice graphics, media, and other accoutrements one might expect at a site backed by a huge movie studio. Hopefully the movie will live up to the word of mouth preceeding it.

Coming on the heels of The Constant Gardener and Violence, movies like Capote, if indeed Oscar-caliber, could signal a strong year culminating in the Awards season.