Dec. 27, 2008, 1:29 a.m. by Lew
I learned two things recently. The first is that blu-ray is totally worth it and that if you are making a documentary you either need to have someone who speaks English with an accent or you need James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman. There are no other Americans who can narrate for a damn. I got a blu-ray player for Christmas and the planet earth bbc discs. The difference is amazing. I did not think the vhs to dvd jump was a big deal, the picture is comparable. Watching a wolf take down a caribou in hd is amazing. I like nature films and this is the best non-Jacques Cousteau series I have seen. Cousteau may lack hd but the weird places he went and the drama he brings more than makes up for it. Now if they could do his movies on blu-ray I would probably sell a testicle to see them. This tangents to my other point. David Attenborough narrates planet earth. I watched a (regular def) documentary by Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques) and it was good. But it was narrated by just regular American dude. Why the hell didn’t Jean-Michel narrate? He is franco-american he was born to narrate. Documentaries either need the authenticity and exotic quality of accented English or the gravity of james earl jones, otherwise it just footage of outside with dudes chattering.
Oct. 30, 2008, 12:38 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
Last night I had the great pleasure of watching a stage production of [Sweeney Todd](http://www.sweeneyontour.com/). My dance partner, Natalie, was kind enough to join me for what was an amazing performance—as well as an amazing interpretation of the musical. The entire cast was on stage for the whole show, and on top of singing and arranging the stage props, they were playing. All the actors were quite competent on at least one of the many instruments found on stage: Violin, Cello, Contrabass, Guitar, Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Baritone, Accordion, Piano, and a battery of percussion instruments (including a well used Triangle).
The company used a black wooden coffin as their primary prop, arranging it in every imaginable way to set scenes throughout the show. Chairs, and a ladder were used to allow the actors to elevate themselves over the stage as necessary. As cast members were killed off, they (being a vital part of the musical ensemble) couldn’t leave the stage, instead they donned bloodstained barber shirts and haunted the stage. The cast also made clever use of flashlights to indicate important movements, like that of the key to Johanna’s room moving from Judge Terpin to Anthony. There were some technical blunders in the show, a few microphone wires out of place (and Sweeney’s guitar mic fell off), but ultimately a grand performance.
The one shortcoming—for me at least—was the actor’s dancing. Briefly, during one of the numbers, Sweeney and Ms. Lovett waltz on stage, granted that the song was rather quick, and the footwear was less than desirable for the conditions; the waltzing was abysmal. I was entirely drawn into Johanna’s performance, when she was “offstage” (not at the forefront of a scene) she would affix her eyes to a point in the audience and wail on her cello, it was really creepy. Toby’s performance was also quite good, he was very Gollum-like in the way he would slink around the stage and reach out to the other characters.
If you think you are having déjà vu, relax, I have made [a post about Sweeney Todd](http://www.thismatters.net/ramblings/comment.php?post_id=42) before (bitching about Johnny Depp’s ignorance of barbering procedure).
a few things that matter
Aug. 20, 2008, 11:26 a.m. by Lew
Into the wild is a terrible movie. If you are not familiar with it already let me bring you up to speed. It is based on a true story about a guy who gave up all his money and possessions and lived in the wild. Eventually making his way up to Alaska, where he died after eating poisonous berries. I am all behind people living in nature, doing without modern comforts. It is a beautiful and romantic idea. I was really excited to see the movie. However the movie’s portrayal of this guy’s adventure is awful. The dialog is at a middle school level (or apparently sean penn level), the acting is not very good (it has vince Vaughn in it for some reason). So nothing against the real guy, I am pretty sure this movie is not doing his story justice. It is the first movie that I rented and could not sit through. I turned it off twice trying to trudge my way though it. I can usually sit through a movie even it is bad, this was painful.
This morning my cat was screaming at me to wake up and feed her. I wasn’t ready to get up yet a rolled over back to sleep. I dreamt that my cat was angry at me and decided to ally herself to the Russians. In the dream the Russians were my rabbits.
I am sad that the frozen bigfoot was (of course) a hoax. I wanted to believe!!!
I am extra sad about the 1 month old humpback whale baby in Australia. It got separated from its mother somehow and has been cuddling up to a boat it mistakes for a momma whale. It tries to nurse off the boat. They will probably euthanize the poor thing before it starves to death unless another momma whale happens by and adopts the baby whale.
I need to stop reading the news so much.
July 14, 2008, 11:23 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
I went and saw Hancock the other night. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t what I expected; I was really hoping to see some more character development from Hancock himself (Will Smith), but instead they tried to sell us some half cocked love story bullcrap. Also I was really hoping that it would be funnier, the beginning was pretty great but the second half was almost laugh-free.
B±, wouldn’t watch again.
Only at NASA
June 22, 2008, 11:44 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
Last night I watched _Star Wars_ (Eps. 4 et 5) with four other people. This in-and-of-itself isn’t too strange, I’ve watched _Star Wars_ in groups before, what was strange is that I was the only guy in the room. That’s right, there are an abundance of girls here, and they are the types of girls that like _Star Wars_.
FakeEdit: Upon review of this statement I realize that I know lots of girls who like _Star Wars_, but scarcely have I seen four girls in one room watching it. Also, these aren’t the weird sorts of girls who play D&D and claim to be pagan… but they are into science and shit, which is cool. I think [Rachel](http://ta73.com) would fit right in here.
The Hulk, Incredible
June 14, 2008, 1:47 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
Last night I went with some folks to see _The Incredible Hulk_, it was really pretty good. Of course, I’ve been a long time fan of Ed Norton, he is a tremendous actor, and Liv Tyler made a good supporting actress. I really liked that Marvel just disregarded the previous movie by the same title, sort of a redo, but this time they got it right.
A guy—Ben—who is spending the summer with Google is staying in the dorms here, he suggested we go see it, and mentioned that he had ticket vouchers (which Google gives their employees apparently) so we could see it for free. While standing in line to cash in the vouchers a guy approached us and asked if we wanted free tickets. I cautiously said yes, expecting to have to sign up for a credit card or some nonsense, but was just handed a free ticket (actually four, one for everybody) by a dude who said the theater wouldn’t give him a refund. Despite the fact that I was going to get a free ticket anyway I was still stoked.
How I learned to stop worrying and love my cast (or Civil Disobedience)
March 30, 2008, 7:04 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
Background: I was the director of the Rocky Horror Picture Show for Aggiecon 39. Every year there are two shows during the convention, Friday and Saturday Night. We do a shadow cast, which is where we act out the movie as it plays behind us.
About a month ago I was told that a member of my cast (the character ‘Frank’) was banned from the convention, and that I needed to find a new one. It would have been quite difficult to replace Frank because she had been performing as that character as long I have been associated with the show. But the story goes deeper than that, we (as a cast) had spent a long time working together to make the show possible, and we became good friends in the process. For me to have told Frank that we were replacing her with some Johnny-come-lately would have gone against everything I stand for. Loyalty is something I take very seriously, and further I don’t feel obligated to follow rules that are unjustified. So, I kept her in the show knowing full well that we could get cancelled once the jig was up. The first night’s show went well, but the poopie hit the ol’ fan on Saturday afternoon. Originally they were going to kick us all out and just play the movie in the background, but by the strategic use of leverage and group solidarity we were able to save the show with just the replacement of the Frank character. The cast was banned from performing next year, and I was banned from performing or directing indefinitely. This bannination turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because we didn’t have anything to lose and we put on the best performance I’ve ever seen. I’m upset that I won’t be able to perform next year, but what a way to go out.
March 27, 2008, 10:25 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
I was getting ready to shave this morning and I thought back to the movie _Sweeny Todd_ (not the play, the movie). There are a few scenes in there where the character Sweeny Todd is preparing a razor to give a shave. This process involves stropping—running the blade of the razor along a leather strap—which refines the edge. Stropping is done in such a manner that the edge of the razor is being dragged along the leather, opposite the cutting direction. In the movie, however, Sweeny runs the blade the other way (in the cutting direction), such an action would cause the razor to slice right through the strop (this is generally considered ‘bad’). Had Mr. Depp been using sharp razors, or ever visited a barber shop for a shave, he would have noticed his folly (which I’m sure he has since been informed of). This error really took me out of my ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ mode. It is upsetting that a major studio production wouldn’t do the cursory research required to ensure the activities portrayed were realistic.
(Edit: The character Pirelli stropped in the correct direction.)
Aug. 5, 2007, 11:17 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
So I was enjoying some wine (Barking Mad Shiraz) and cheese (Asiago) tonight and I cut the ever-loving hell outta my thumb, but don’t fret, I threw a band-aid on there and finished up the wine and cheese while watching **The Breakfast Club** on USA. To make a long story short, I really like the way band-aids smell. Cheers.