Friday, July 29, 2005

Free to a good home

A mama kitty in our neighborhood recently gave birth to some kittens. They're about six weeks old and looking for a good home. Here are some pictures:

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

RIP: James Doohan

In not unexpected though nonetheless sad news, one of my boyhood heroes passed away today: James "Scotty" Doohan.

Link to CNN obituary

I won't get into what Star Trek meant to me as a kid. Like many things in my life that I've obsessed over to varying degrees-- movies, the Grateful Dead, Phish, Kate Winslet-- you either get Star Trek, or you don't. I long ago gave up watching the new stuff. Voyager, Enterprise and that ilk just made my feet itch and my underwear ride up. But my DNA is infused with the original series, and Scotty was far and away my favorite member of the Enterprise crew.

So in leiu of waxing philosophic, here's a little story about my personal encounter with James Doohan. This must have been in 1983 or so. Somewhere around the time between The Wrath of Kahn and The Voyage Home. My little preschool buddies and I learned that Doohan was going to be signing autographs at a local video store, so off we went.

Our moms drop us off at the store, and there we find a huge snaking line of geeks waiting to get in to see Scotty up close. We're looking at a two-hour wait. But hey, it's a nice day out, we have our sippy cups filled with apple juice, and besides, it's fucking Scotty, man. He's worth the wait.

So we get in line. We are entertained by a bagpipe player in full Starfleet uniform blowing out "Amazing Grace" to the delighted crowd. Hours go by. Finally, we are literally set to be the next group let into the store when the manager comes out and announces that the show's over-- Scotty is done for the day.

Crushing disappointment. But when the chorus of groans and boos reaches Doohan's ears inside the store, he springs into action. He steps outside. A mighty cheer goes up. We all go weak in the knees. It's fucking Scotty, man! Doohan spends a good fifteen more minutes outside with us, posing for pictures and chatting with the fans before a limo pulls up to take him back to his shuttlecraft-- guess the transporter was on the blink that day. We trudged away, happy to have spent some time in the presence of Mr. Doohan.

There's no moral to this story other than James Doohan seemed like a righteous cat to me. Course, I was only four years old, so I was easily impressed.

I wish I had a picture of that day. If any of you old droogs reading this post have a picture, send it to me and I'll post it.

James Doohan: rocking the comb-over since 1966:

Rest in peace, Scotty.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Walk the Line

Here's my new favorite movie poster. I'm thinking of buying a copy for my office.

It's a teaser poster for Walk the Line, the new Johnny Cash biopic due this fall and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Man in Black and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter-Cash. What I love about this poster is how powerfully it sums up Cash's life and career-- about to walk into the fires of Hell, but looking back at a chance for salvation. Phoenix looks nothing like Cash, of course, but his image in this poster perfectly captures Cash's larger-than-life persona. The movie can always turn out to be a dud, but this poster shows that the marketing guys at Fox know what they're doing.

Here's my favorite picture of the man himself:

Monday, July 11, 2005

Movie review: Dark Water

Until Hollywood started remaking Japanese horror films, I never considered the subconscious dread that we all feel when we think about plumbing. Which is not very often; unless a pipe breaks or the toilet backs up, most of us are content to not know what goes on behind the walls of our houses and apartments. But unless you’re a plumber, plumbing is inherently mysterious and a little spooky. We send food, water, grease, excrement and God knows what else down our pipes, and we’re never sure what happens to it, or what might come back up through those moist portals to the netherworld. For all we know, the pipes might lead straight to Hell.

Read the full review.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

We are all Londoners now

My wife Meaux and I were in London just two weeks ago. We were only there for a day, which was much too short a time to indulge in the pleasures of that fair city. We stayed at the Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, just down the street from Harrod's. With only a day to kill, we ordered a few items from the appetizer menu: we took a walk around the perimeter of Hyde Park, where we saw the stage for Live8 being raised; we spent a few hours in the National Gallery, where we saw enough paintings of Christ on the Cross to last us a lifetime, but also saw dozens of exquisite portraits from Rembrandt and the other Dutch masters; had a pint at a gay bar in Picadilly; and had dinner at the Capital Hotel restaurant, where we were treated like royalty.

We rode the Tube twice that day. The next morning, we took the Gatwick Express from Victoria Station. You see, when you visit London, you have little choice but to use public transportation. There's simply no other way to get around, unless you want to cab it everywhere. Which I may do from now on.

The London bombings today hit home for me. It's not just because we were just there, and that there's no reason other than timing that we weren't on one of those subway cars or two of the 37 confirmed dead. I have a deep and abiding love for London, you see. I love New York, don't get me wrong. But London was the first world-class city I ever visited outside of my home town. I spend the summer there in college: my best buddy John and I living on Kensington Church Street, absorbing the city into our pores, spending the afternoons tracing Mrs. Dalloway's path through the city, visiting Keates' house, trying to find Muswell Hill because the Kinks wrote a song about it. We were Londoners, at least for that summer.

Later, I got to spend some time in New York, and fell in love with that crazy fucking town as well. But you never forget your first love.

So I take the attacks personally. I'm not going to get all political on you here. Whether you thought invading Iraq was essential to the War on Terror, or you don't, is immaterial. What we saw today was an act of pure, distilled, extra-virgin Evil.

But my city can take it. This may have been the worst attack on British soil since World War II, but Londoners survived the Blitz, and they will survive this. I saw a picture today which pretty much sums it up for me:

God save the Queen.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Movie Review: War of the Worlds

How much did I dig War of the Worlds? I've seen it twice already. Saw it on opening night, by myself, while my wife was out gallivanting with the girls; saw it again the next night, with the wife at my side. That's the first time this year I've seen a picture twice in the theater. I sure as hell wasn't interested in seeing Revenge of the Sith a second time; the moment I saw Darth Vader cavorting with M&Ms on TV, I was done with George Lucas. I didn't even see Batman Begins twice, and I dug that movie immensely. Haven't felt the urge to double-dip, actually, since Return of the King.

Read the full review.