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Month: October 2006

Internet sensation

There’s a really funny painful video here in which one Brian Atene explains why Kubrick should cast him in Full Metal Jacket. The followup is here; someone claiming to be Brian does a great job of snarking at the original.

After watching ‘em both, through many winces, I’m making the unfounded bet that this is a publicity stunt of some kind. Some random Youtube guy who’s never posted a video before happened to get his hands on a 20 year old videotape, and took the time to digitize it? Maybe, but more likely not.


Dear Red:

Thank you for 1986; and all the others, but thank you for 1986. That was the year I learned to love basketball: packed around a little television in my dorm, watching the fuzzy images of Bird and Parish and McHale storm through the league. My dad scalping tickets for the playoffs. 36-6 in the third quarter. The Celtics.

Thank you.


Commentary on the Sony Reader (which you can get at Borders in the Cambridgeside Galleria right now, if you don’t feel like waiting till December for it to ship online):

It’s better than any e-book experience I’ve ever had. The form factor is superb; it’s a smidge larger than a normal paperback, and much thinner. There’s very little distraction from the screen. The screen is excellent — e-ink is way easier to read than an LCD screen. The only quibble I have is the flash when you turn a page. I think it’s just how e-ink works, and I think I’ll get used to it, but it’s a tad annoying right now.

It is not a magic bullet for reading PDFs. In particular, gaming book PDFs will probably be too big to read on the screen. World of Darkness was illegible, as was everything else I tried except Dogs in the Vineyard. That PDF is formatted for smaller pages, so it’s not awful on the Reader. But it’s not great, either. The best bet for publishers who care would be to release PDFs formatted for the screen size, which may be a problem for books with lots of tables and such.

Also be aware that a lot of game publishers don’t put a rational title and author in their PDF metadata. Most users never see this; the Sony Reader relies on it for the list of books on the device. This is sort of irritating — I want to be able to click on the title of a book in the Sony Connect software and edit it. However, PDF Info allows you to edit metadata on the PC side, which solves the problem. I haven’t found a free program that does it on the Mac, although I haven’t looked very hard yet, but since you have to use a PC to get files onto the Reader it’s sort of a null point.

Yes, the Reader plugs in with a USB cable but it doesn’t show up as a storage device on the Mac. That’s a shame. You could copy files over to a SD or CF card, and then move the card to the reader, but then you don’t get the nifty categorization functions. This may not actually be a big deal to me, though. We’ll see. In the meantime, that’s why my Mac dual boots.

Since Sony is being fairly relaxed about people hacking the Reader, I expect we’ll see Mac support from the community sooner or later. See also this forum.

All in all, me and S. are very happy with ours. Light, easy to read, not too much of a pain in the ass, and yeah. It’s a rocking device even though I want native Mac support and a couple of tweaks.

Faux pas

While I have done a number of fairly embarrassing things in my life, I have never…

No, I don’t think I can describe it. Go here. For another view, try this.

Perfectly work-safe. The words “forty million dollar elbow” are involved, but it’s not a sports story.


Just a kiss away

Questions came first.

Is it a pale shadow of Infernal Affairs? Will Scorsese have the guts to sail to the wind and let the bleakness blow through him? Will Nicholson be too much? Will DiCaprio be enough? Can Scorsese make it tight enough for us to feel the pain?

Is it Boston?

Yeah, it’s Boston.

The original was a tense, restrained exercise in suspense and pain. It was good, or better than good. The Departed takes the plot — the same lines, in places — and spills it out on a canvas made of Boston’s racial tensions and class divisions. It’s an equal to its predecessor through an alchemical transformation of mood, theme, and locale. William Monahan is from Boston. He was born ten years before me, which means he grew up watching South Boston riot when black kids showed up at their schools. That’s where the movie opens; that’s where it’s from.

Whitey Bulger came from that. You can’t paint with too wide a brush: you can’t say that South Boston was wholly shaped and driven by the fury of 1974. But Bulger built his organization in an environment full of people who thought that the government had abandoned them; that’s what made it easy. And Nicholson’s Frank Costello is Whitey Bulger, palpably and patently, from the opening footage of the riots to the revelations about his methods.

I’ve read criticisms of the 70s soundtrack. They’re missing the point. It’s a movie about the 70s — Costello is 70 years old, and he’s holding on to the glories he once had, and those glories rise inexorably from what happened then. It’s no mistake that one of the pivotal conversations between him and DiCaprio’s Billy Costigan is about who thinks he could take over for Costello. That conversation reflects Costello’s impending death, whether that death is by gunshot or natural causes. The question asked through both Costigan and Damon’s Sullivan is whether or not Costello’s shadow is long enough to corrupt the newest generation, but it’s not much of a question. Clearly it can.

Infernal Affairs is about duty versus duty. The Departed is about class and the ties that bind. S. drew this distinction between the movies for me: everyone in Infernal Affairs cares about being a cop. In The Departed, they care about getting ahead. Both Damon and DiCaprio are from the same place, and their different paths lead them back to the same place. South Boston, not the police department, is the axis of this movie.

DiCaprio’s the backbone. As far as I’m concerned, he’s gotten away from his glamor. He bulked up, and he plays Costigan with bursts of sudden unrestrained violence. You don’t doubt him. Damon’s merely good, but he’s just fine. He’s so natural in the role that it’s easy to forget that he’s too good-looking and boyish to be able to play a bad guy.

And man, they push against each other well. Rarely sharing screen space, always sharing head space. Ambition versus despair.

Answers. Scorsese had the guts. It was painful, gaudy, two and a half hours of damaged goods filmed with perfect technique. Nicholson was too much here and there, and there again, but if it hadn’t been for his facial expressions — yes, Jack, we know your grin — he’d have been perfect. The physical presence and the voice were what I wanted.

Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor (DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Wahlberg). Not a prediction, but they’re all of that caliber. Best Editing, of course.

The answers were good. Thanks.

It’s time for the Lost Badass List to reappear. We last examined the question of the island’s badassery after the seaon finale. This list categorizes badasses over time, but is heavily weighted towards the current storyarc. This year, since the Others are regulars and since I cannot deny the force of nature that is Benry (credit for neologism to S.), Others are eligible for the list.

Without further ado!

1. Benry (aka Ben Linus, aka Henry Gale)
2. Sayid
3. Jin
4. Sawyer
5. Juliette

Comments and spoilers after the jump.