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Archive for April 2012

Desert island movies

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Inspired by Jim Emerson and Matt Zoller Seitz, I’ve done some thinking which ten movies I’d want with me on a desert island, plus one short and one season of a t.v. series. “Part of the fun of this exercise,” MZS writes, “is figuring out what you think you can watch over and over, and what you can live without.” Not just favorite films, but films that can stand up to repeated viewing (meaning you won’t grow tired of them) and movies you can watch in solitude, since you’ll be all alone on the island.

My first thought is that I wouldn’t want movies that made me depressed or put me in a rotten mood. So nothing overly dramatic or violent. I’d probably want movies that inspire happiness, or at least peaceful contemplation. Off the top of my head I can name three films that meet this emotional requirement: “Wings of Desire”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Shawshank Redemption”.

I’d also take “2001: A Space Odyssey” with me. I’d want something around that reminds me of the enormity of the world/universe. And I always find some new detail of marvel at every time I watch it. And despite having been made nearly a half-century ago, the special effects to not appear dated any more than a recent CGI blockbuster. “2001” is truly a film that never “gets old”.

Despite the restriction MZS placed on combining multiple films into one selection, I’m going to mash “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” into one pick. Technically I could choose “The Godfather 1902-1959: The Complete Epic” as this is the version I believe I rented from Blockbuster back in high school. There is also “The Godfather Trilogy: 1901-1980” but this includes the third film in the series and I don’t remember seeing that one in the VHS copy I rented.

Since I would miss my friends, I’d take “Sideways” with me. A number of my friends’ crazy personality traits can be found in the two lead characters.

I’ve seen “UHF” a thousand times since I was 9 years old. That’s not meant as hyperbole… I may have seen it more times than that. The movie goes great in the background when I’m writing or reading or washing dishes or doing whatever around the apartment. I can almost recite the dialogue word-for-word. So it may seem strange to take along a movie I know by heart, but I can’t imagine going more than a few months without it.

Ebert recently wrote: “Sometimes the way you consider a film depends on when and why you saw it, and what it meant to you at that time.” I made a deep connection to “Lost in Translation” when I saw it during my semester of student teaching in the fall of 2003. The connection was one I have never made with a movie before or since. It was only possible because of the timing of the film’s release. Bill Murray’s character reflected my life at that moment, and I felt as though I was watching myself on the screen. Had the film been released in any other year, I probably would still have enjoyed it, but would not care so passionately for it as I do.

It’s not the most uplifting film, but “No Country for Old Men” is the best movie I’ve ever seen in a movie theater. It’s filmmaking perfection. It’s captivating. It goes on the list.

I would want to take “The Evil Dead”. No need to remind me it’s a horror movie loaded with blood & guts. I haven’t forgotten. But it’s just so damn fun to watch. I couldn’t imagine going the rest of my life without seeing it again.

I’ll go with those ten. I’ve made up my mind for today. Presented with the same challenge tomorrow or any other day and I’d likely replace at least a few of these films with other possibilities: “The Blues Brothers”, “Dr. Strangelove”, “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back”, “The Rules of Attraction”, “My Own Private Idaho”, “Shaun of the Dead”, “Aguirre, The Wrath of God”, “Ghost World”, “Waking Life”, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Whitnail and I”…

For the short, no contest: “Why Man Creates”, with Disney’s “The Line and the Dot: A Romance in Lower Mathematics” as a worthy runner-up.

For the single-season t.v. series I’m going with season 2 of “The X-Files”. It’s really a tossup between seasons 2 and 3, but I love the cliffhanger in the season 2 finale. I couldn’t decide which of the first four seasons of “The West Wing” would be a good alternative. And then there’s the single (only) season of “Freaks and Geeks”… but I’m sticking with Mulder and Scully.

I’d love to know what others would select, so feel free to share your ten (+ 1 + 1) choices in the comments.


Tim & Eric Chrimbus Special

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It’s the lifetime season of the year!

Written by camcarlson

April 26, 2012 at 9:12 PM

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There’s a first time for everything…..

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Today is the 10th anniversary of the day I began blogging. I found Diaryland while searching for email addresses for ALPHA alumni I intended to invite to Damfest in 2002. I believe it was a blog for Adam Malgren, or possibly Ozzie, that inspired me to set up one of my own.

My first blog existed as a venue for my random thoughts and writings about my daily routines. It was updated on a near-daily basis for over eight years — 2,463 entries over 3,072 days. While I am rather proud of myself for maintaining the discipline needed to write on such a consistent basis, I concede I lost interest in the final years as my life fell into a comfortable routine that did not always make for interesting journaling. I wasn’t alone in that regard: time passes, people graduated from college, got married, move around the country, found full-time employment and entered the funk of day-in, day-out repetition.

Due to a technical limitation regarding how I archived my entries, I officially gave up on my first blog in September 2010. I took a month off to assess whether I still had the drive to write on any kind of regular basis. I found that I did, but I didn’t want to make a chore out of writing every day. I decided to write whenever the mood struck, whether it be daily or once a week, just so long as I was writing something more substantial than a “I’m still alive” post. With a few exceptions, I’ve succeeded in that regard with this new blog.

I moved to this site as my previous blog lacked entry-specific comments and had no easy way to post pictures or videos. I can’t say anything substantial on Facebook so I try to limit “status updates”, and I don’t have the interest to set up an account on Twitter or another social media site.

Back in mid 2004 I undertook the arduous task of backing up every entry from my first blog. Each month’s entries were saved into a separate word file. After failing to keep up with the offline archive for far too long, I rolled up my sleeves earlier this year and began where I left off. Copy/pasting a month’s worth of writing takes about 15 minutes. I debated whether the backup effort was worth my time, if I really needed an offline copy of eight-plus years’ worth of daily writing that is almost never re-read or referenced in any way. I decided to archive them anyway and worry about their potential use on a later date.

I have considered deleting the first blog after the offline archive is complete. Even though I haven’t updated it in over a year, I will probably feel some sense of loss, having finally, formally given up on a site that I visited and maintained faithfully for the good part of a decade. A site that served as my first social network, before the days of Friendster or Myspace or Facebook. A site through which several of my friends set up similar blogs, including BCF, who began his on the same day I began mine, and Blake, who regularly updated the blog I set up for him during his semester in Japan in 2003. A site through which I met Leah, the lady I met on my road trip during the summer of 2003 and briefly lived with during the first half of 2004.

But nothing lasts forever. That’s the internet for you – constantly in flux.

I’d love to write a now-&-then bit comparing my life at the end of my junior year at UNI with life today, but the daily grind has left me exhausted tonight. I’ll work on something for later this week.

Written by camcarlson

April 24, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Student Loans Ctd

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I’ve been very good this year about devoting discretionary income towards my outstanding student loan balance. The entirety of my federal and state tax refunds as well as the year-end bonus I received at work were all sent off to fill the government coffers. I’m still on track to pay off the loans this year, but my original deadline has been pushed back a few months. I think I was overly optimistic when I did my budgeting last year. Two flat tires (one patched, another replaced) and a faulty oil sensor on the Intrepid were unwelcomed expenses earlier this year.

My resolve, however, remains intact. It may mean (yet again) putting off travel plans for the year, but I feel that’s a worthy sacrifice for being debt-free. But once the loans are behind me, I’ll try to finance a mini vacation somewhere. Nothing too exotic… I’ll probably stay stateside.

The remainder of the year will be spent saving up for a new car. The Intrepid has had a good long run but it is developing rust holes around the rear wheel wells (I like to refer to them as my car’s “liver spots”) and repairs are unfortunately becoming more common and more costly. I would like to get it over the 200K threshold and then put it down mercifully.

Written by camcarlson

April 21, 2012 at 12:06 AM

Prometheus Bound

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Right now, “Prometheus” is the film I’m most looking forward to seeing this summer, if for no other reason than some superbly-acted A.I.

Written by camcarlson

April 18, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Springtime Miscellany

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Before Saturday night’s Black Hawks game vs. Cedar Rapids (which we won, 6-4) I met Ben and some coworkers for dinner & drinks at Steamboat Gardens. A bottle of Schlitz set me back one dollar, the onion rings were delectable and I was served with the largest tenderloin this side of Newton’s Café. In fact, in comparison, I preferred this meal, only because to the superior quality of the fries, thought I heartily recommend either of the tasty loins to hungry diners.

The Barge + $1 bottle of Schlitz... mmm mmm good!

Newton's competitor: the Iowa Pork Loin (c. Nov 2011)

I felt the urge to watch “Drag Me To Hell” during yesterday morning’s 5K along the riverside trail. Good thing it was in stock at Family Video; during the afternoon my interest shifted to “WarGames” but they don’t have that on their shelves. This morning the flavor in my mouth was the director’s cut of “Blade Runner” but now I’m feeling more for “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse”.

But I’m actually holding out on movies until I finish reading Ready Player One tonight. It’s a pretty good novelized mash-up between 80s pop culture, “The Matrix” and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo… which reminds me, I need to read the final book in that series.

On top of all that, I spent part of the weekend converting a number of Katya’s school performances from VHS to digital video (courtesy Micah’s EyeTV) and am currently embarking on another maddening archival project. Let the good times roll!

A who's who of CFHS theater c. 1998(?)

Mona Lisa Prado

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A fascinating comparison between the original and the Prado copy, courtesy the NYT. Click the link to play with a combined image of the two paintings.

Written by camcarlson

April 13, 2012 at 11:00 PM