miscellaneous commentary

Archive for September 2012

All that glitters is not gold

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I’m glad I bought the iPhone 4S last year instead of holding out for the iPhone 5.


Written by camcarlson

September 22, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Posted in Apple

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What’s Good vs. What Gets Butts in the Seats

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Today I lament yet again on the current state of cinema offerings. In the Family may be one of the best-reviewed film of 2012, but sadly it isn’t selling a lot of tickets at movie theaters:

Film director Patrick Wang made two huge mistakes with his debut movie, “In the Family,” which screened for four days last month at the Fox Event Center in downtown Redlands.

First, in the film’s entire two hours and 49 minutes of running time, not a single explosion occurs, and, second, not a single person gets shot. Instead, people resolve their conflicts by talking, and that’s apparently a tough sell in today’s world of mega-hit, multi-screen blockbusters.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, only 12 other people were there that night to see Wang’s powerful film and talk to the director, while opening night there were only six, and the other two nights the theater was empty.

Meanwhile, over at the Krikorian, they’re “packin’ ’em in,” with many of their movies based on either comic books or video games, which I call IQ-17 films. These are the movies which do have all those scenes of mayhem, explosions and multiple people getting blown away on a fairly regular basis […]

I then asked Thurman a question I’ve been wondering about for some time. Why it is that these mega-theater complexes, with 15-plus screens, don’t devote at least one of their theaters to “art” and foreign films? He told me that it all comes down to money at the concession stands.

“People who go to those films don’t buy popcorn and other junk food,” he answered with a sigh and a shrug. “And that’s where they make most of their money.”

It should be noted though that audiences are not complete suckers, as Boxofficemojo recently pointed out in their end-of-summer review:

Rock of Ages, That’s My Boy and The Watch: Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler are two of the biggest box office draws of the past two decades, and Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn are no slouches either. The fact that their three Summer 2012 movies earned less combined than Magic Mike indicates that star power really doesn’t go that far if your movie looks terrible.

Summer 2012 offered three movies I enjoyed: The Avengers, Prometheus and Moonrise Kindgom. I acknowledge the first two were an adaptation and a prequel, respectively, the types of movies I usually try to ignore. In these two rare cases, I’m glad I didn’t.




Written by camcarlson

September 16, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Carte figurative

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Last week saw the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino, the bloodiest day of fighting of the Napoleonic Wars — 250,000 French and Russian troops fought, resulting in 70,000 casualties. Below is a pretty swank chart made by Charles Joseph Minard showing the movement and change in size of Napoleon’s forces.


Written by camcarlson

September 13, 2012 at 11:12 PM

Transition Vacation

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On the last Friday of August I drafted a long list of things I could keep myself busy with during the first week of September, my third and final week-long vacation from work for 2012. Random chores and to-dos that I had either been putting off for a while or had just recently reminded myself needed to be done.

As expected, I took a vacation from such tasks. My priorities for the week, in order: sleeping, watching movies, bicycling, eating out at least once each day, napping, reading, and more napping. I did take care of a few of the errands I had committed to the list, namely a visit to Hancock Fabrics for a button to fix my shorts and a zipper tab to fix my winter coat, and I donated a box of books to the Book Nook.

I like taking the first week of September off as I only need to use four days of PTO (as I automatically get Labor Day off) and the weather is usually going through a transition between summer and autumn. I intended to get in at least 100 miles of bicycling, but on a few days I found myself more in the mood to go jogging in the morning. I still managed about 73 miles, which isn’t too shabby.

I finished reading Film Magic by David Hutchison and read The Kon-Tiki Expidition, Thor Heyerdahl’s account of his South Pacific voyage in 1947 from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands via a balsa log raft of vintage Polynesian design. Both were good reads. I recommend the former to anyone interested in pre-CGI special effects and various film formats, and the latter to lovers of travel/adventure stories.

Though confined to the Cedar Valley, I managed to satisfy my various cravings with a mix of cheap in-&-out meals (Jimmy Johns, Pita Pit, Hy-Vee Chinese) and quality please-be-seated meals. Tuesday I feasted at Steamboat Gardens, enjoying two 99¢ Tugboats and a cool draw of PBR (!!!), all for $3.72. Can’t beat that!

Tuesday felt like summer: hot and windy. I nearly fried myself reading out on the beach at George Wyth. I considered finishing Film Magic with a couple pours of Millstream on the deck at the Cypress but when I bicycled by there was a sign on the door stating they were closed for that day only for renovations. I resigned to the old stand-by, the Panther Lounge, for the rest of that evening.

Wednesday I joined Sharina at Wasabi, the 1st St Hibachi restaurant, where we enjoyed scrumptious crunchy roles, red snapper and (types of sushi) for the criminally low price of $13. Thursday I dined at Rudy’s Tacos and kicked back with a couple cocktails in the Lava Lounge. Friday felt like autumn; nice and cool thanks to an overnight storm.

I finally subscribed to an online movie site – Hulu Plus, which offered a free one-month trial service. I went with Hulu over Netflix (for now) as Hulu has a bevy of Criterion films in their catalog, many of which I have wanted to see for years. Over my nine days off I watched Picnic at Hanging Rock, L’Atalante, Pandora’s Box, The Match Factory Girl, The Earrings of Madam de…, An Autumn Afternoon, Floating Weeds and The Only Son. All are great movies! The last three were made by Yasujiro Ozu, who also made Tokyo Story and Late Spring, which I’ve already seen and love both.

Saturday I joined Swestka at Highland Park for a revival of the old-time block parties they used to have each year. Joyce organized it and Dan manned the grills. Checker and the Bluetones provided quality live music. Joyce had asked Ben and I to man the beer kegs from 8:30-9:30pm but they had both been tapped out before our shift began. We helped tear down and spent the rest of the evening at the Ankrum’s, polishing off the remaining beer and burger patties and wrestling with their dogs.