20 August 2008

casting aspersions

I've long had something of a mental list of actors whose movies I'd check out more or less just because they were in it, not on any other merit (or at least I'd look for no further motivation). Sometimes such an approach has worked out for me, and sometimes it hasn't*.

Recently, though, I think I'm starting to develop a second list of actors who I don't like, whose movies I check out despite starring or being prominent in them. Top of the list, now that I've watched Jumper would be Hayden Christensen. I have other objections to the movie, but his turn as the main character was definitely not something I liked.

But that's just one movie. It's not like I've watched others he's also starred in recently, right? Except for the otherwise quite good Shattered Glass, again in which I could not stand him. The only way to tell if it was his character or Hayden himself I despised would be to remake the film, but everybody else did so well in it that doing so would be a great disservice to all.

Speaking of disservice to all, a rant about the lackluster acting of Hayden Christensen would not be complete without at least a mention of his take on pre-Darth Vader Anakin Skywalker in the latter two prequels to the Star Wars trilogy, through which he broods, mumbles, smolders and whines, but is greatly overshadowed for awfulness by the films themselves.

So of the four movies mentioned here, a mere one of them was even worth seeing despite him, and then, only just so. So why do I even try?

* Take, for example, John Cusack. Stephen King's 1408 would not probably have been a movie I'd readily check out, other than John (and to an almost insignificant degree, Sam Jackson) is in it. But it was enjoyable enough. Not so, on the other hand, was Identity**, or the overrated Grifters. I'm in the middle of the road on Martian child, and will readily admit to only watching it for Cusack, not the premise. And I won't watch it again, I'd say.

** Which brings to mind another, less prolific (at least, as far as I have seen) actor whose work also would prompt addition to a list of actors I don't like: Pruitt Taylor Vince. Not long ago I watched The Legend of 1900 in which he figures quite prominently, and, well, there's no nice way to say it but to see the guys is distracting. He has a condition called nystagmus which means his eyes move involuntarily. Which means when they show his face in closeup, his eyes are darting all over while he's talking and acting and whatnot. I suppose that says something about my character, to let such an insignificant detail overshadow what could well be some fine acting, but that, and my less-than-great appreciation for jazz, sunk that movie for me. Vince has been in many a film I've seen, some passable (Constantine and Nurse Betty) and others not so great (S1m0ne), but the only other one in which he's at all memorable to me is Identity, in which his nystagmus doesn't really work against him - it's just a bad movie.

27 July 2008

five things to remember to bring camping next time

  1. A pillow
  2. A flashlight
  3. A chair
  4. Firewood and/or kindling
  5. Another pillow*

* Seriously, I went camping and didn't take any pillows.Or flashlights, chairs, or firewood. I've heard campers aren't really supposed to bring their own firewood anyway, but the pillows and flashlight would've been handy. Also, my 8' x 6' was supposedly able to fit three sleeping people. For that matter, it's only supposedly 8' wide - it seemed much smaller inside than that.

22 May 2008

stories that are short and tweet

Yesterday, on a tip from Scott, I checked out the first-ever Twitter-based fiction writing contest. Twitter, for the uninitiated, is a combination micro-blogging application and social-networking tool all rolled into one, but the significance is that all updates (dubbed 'tweets') are 140 characters or less. Thus the 140-character (no more, no less) story contest.

I'd written my entry fairly early, but having mulled the idea over some more, I wrote, well, some more*:

I found a time machine that only makes things younger. Spent the afternoon making burgers into veal. And then, well...now I need to grow up.

She was scared. Zombies attacking, and only with a lot of help were the houses made safe. But now mommy said that the neighbors were hungry.

She ran. He ran, pulled a gun, and sprayed bullets at her. She dove into the canal, and he swam after her. Was this a chase, or a triathlon?

Found a lamp in the antique store. Rubbed it, and a genie appeared. I wished I could understand what he was saying. It was "You get 1 wish".

I need to learn how to ride a motorcycle. I'd take lessons or talk to another owner, except the nearest one looks mad I'm stealing his bike.

* Only one entry per person, though. So the rest of these are just for fun. Then again, so's my "official" entry also, since I'm not going to win.

21 May 2008

walking in place

Two and a half months ago I started a new job. I work in a skyscraper downtown, and I was rather a bit surprised to find that any ascending or descending more than one or two floors' worth of stairs got me out of breath*.

That came as a bit of a shock, as I had never been that badly out of shape. I haven't been working physically-demanding jobs for a while, but even then I hadn't realized I'd let myself go that much. Either I hadn't noticed, or during my months of unemployment and contract work I'd atrophied considerably.

So I decided to do something about it. After a month (I didn't say I decided quickly) I started getting back on my treadmill every night I could. Since then I've burned over 11,000 calories and walked almost 60 miles, which would just about get me to Zanesville or so. My goal is to keep at it at least every other night, and better yet, every night. I've only skipped a few, but tonight's going to be one of them as right now Natalya's resting peacefully on my lap and shoulder. If I set her down, she screams. I'm hoping this is a one-night thing.

Anyway, I'm not posting this to complain about her. I'm trying to guilt myself into making sure that every night when I don't have that good of an excuse not to do it, that I get back on that treadmill. I've recently raised my average mileage (of course to keep myself interested I'm tracking all of this on a spreadsheet) and it would be a tremendous disservice to me to quit with such great momentum.

At least now I can take the stairs without taking a breather in between floors. And that's a pretty good start.

* Another surprise was that the stairwell door of the floor about five below mine that has the nearest convenience shop and snack bar is locked. Fortunately for me, just as I was discovering this, somebody came through the door into the stairwell.