frakkin' A.

I don't know if this is an appropriate thing to talk about on Memorial Day, but I love Battlestar Galactica. I haven't watched hardly any of Season 3, either. I was just watching Season 2 on DVD today, and rediscovering how great it is.

I love the allegories for everything. I love the tough-guy dialogues. ("Go go go!") I love Mary McDonnell as the sick stoned prophet president. I love that people are always dying and coming back to life. I love the zero-g Viper maneuvers in space. I love that Starbuck looks and acts kind of like the line producer on my movie. I love the battle between monotheism and polytheism. I love the political references to everything from Jack Ruby to the War on Terror. I love Grace Park for excelling in the most ridiculously complicated actor role ever written. (She's a human. She's an alien. She's in love. She's a spy. She's a prisoner of war. She's in a love triangle. She has Ethernet ports in her arm. She's happy, she's sad, she gets killed, and reincarnated, and pregnant, and gives birth to a messiah? And you thought you had issues?) I love it for exploring a militaristic culture without jingoistically championing it. I love that Baltar is basically motivated by sex. I love that they used the original "Battlestar" theme in the episode with the reality show made by Xena. I love how everyone's hair remains perfect. And, all pretensions aside, I love Big Things in Space Blowing Up.

Also, I readily admit to loving how much some people do not love it. But AFAIK it is the only good show on TV.

The Culture of Fear...

...that we're currently living in is nowhere more evident, I feel, than in the telephone customer service from major banks.

Those people, in India or Omaha or whathaveyou, are so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they can't do ANYTHING. They recite nonsense dutifully off the script, do not listen to anything you have to say, and are always weirdly tense, probably because the conversation is being recorded to insure that they can be fired at any moment. Yesterday one of them asked me how the weather was, in California. I wanted to say:

"The WEATHER? The weather is freaking awesome in California, even when it's cold it's AWESOME. Could you please attend to my problem and not a) give me the wrong information b) connect me to someone else with the wrong information or c) attempt to connect me to someone else that ends with my line going completely dead so I have no option but to start this whole futile process again for the fifth time??!!??"

...but I didn't. Why? Because at heart, I'm a capitalist pig.

overheard at my friend's wedding

This is the DJ, complaining about a change in the program order:

"That was COMPLETELY unexpected! We didn't have the song ready! No more changes like that! You HAVE to keep us in the loop!"

Other than that, it was nice for once spending the weekend with some Asian people who are not pathological gamblers.

Also, someone brought McDonald's to the after-party, which I haven't had in like six months.


Now and then I get a friend request on MySpace from somebody who is not obviously a fake/pornbot/pyramid marketer, but rather has a profile like this:

"HI. My name is Sarah-Nicole. I love to smell flowers before I see them. I heart watching silent black and white films from a projector. I watch the discovery health cannel (sic) at 3 in the morning, when I can’t sleep. When I am sick I like to watch my favorite family films, like Ghostbusters, The Labyrinth, Ninja Turtles, The Never Ending Story, and Disney movies. I like the smell of new clothes. My heart belongs to classic horror movies. I love to finger paint on walls. I fancy anything dealing with outdurrr space. I love Greek and Roman history, like the Persian Wars. I love to sing show tunes, like Wicked. I love the way a camera feels on you’re eye, and how you can see your visions through the lens. Japan is amazing, I love Asians. I love the taste of coca cola in the glass bottle. Sunflowers are my favorite because they are like the sun, they bring warmth and joy. Comic books are amazing. I like full composition notebooks. I want to be a director. I want to go to Emerson."

In Theory, this could be a real person, but it's extremely unlikely. But how good is that algorithm they've got writing this shit? Or is it some wannabe screenwriter's side job? I really am curious. Because unlike the nonsense jabber that distinguishes most Spam, this one has a few little touches that are clearly aimed at me, or someone categorically like me. To wit:

- " 3 in the morning, when I can't sleep..." (They KNOW that I take Lunesta!)
- "I love Greek and Roman history, like the Persian Wars." (NO REAL GIRL likes the Persian Wars. But they know that I MIGHT like Frank Miller and '300'".)
- "I love Asians." (Good God, I'M Asian!)
- "I love the taste of coca cola in the glass bottle." (That's ALMOST something peculiar enough for a real person to say.)
- "Comic books are amazing." (Well, duh.)

Maybe I'm ignorant of all the recent advances in marketing technology, but I think this stuff is really amazing. And, of course, horrifying. Unless it is a real person, who just happens to be 12 and that's why they can't spell "outdoor." But that would mean a whole different kind of big problem.

How many penguin movies do we need, exactly?

There's another one coming out this year. Someone finally figured out that penguins = surefire box-office gold. And that's the last thing I'm going to say about movies for a while.

"No, Spider-Man, no!"

There might be something very wrong with me, because I kind of liked that "Spider-Man 3" flick. Critical opinion, both mainstream press and fanboy, seems to say that it sucks. There's no reason for it NOT to suck. It certainly gives off that sucky ambiance from the ad campaign. And yet, those same legit critics and fanboys mainly agreed that the first two movies ranged between "okay" and "pretty good," while I would not. Those first two movies BLEW, IMHO, ANITGW (And Not In That Good Way). So of course, with null expectation, I sorta like this one that everyone else has been complaining about.

Why Spider-Man 3 Was Sort Of Good
--a treatise of utter importance by me--

* There was more acting. It did resemble a Korean soap opera at times, but I like Korean soap operas. The first two flicks skated by on cute looks and a sort of vague hopefulness by the three main actors. In this one, we see Peter and Harry literally fighting over Mary Jane, and betraying each other, and feeling the impact of that, and that stuff, in Ye Olde Acting School, is GOOD. Mary Jane did NOTHING in the first two movies, I'm not sure if anyone noticed that. She had an ostensible action to play in the 2nd movie (finding out if Peter really wants her) but she walked through it like she was going shopping. In "3", she gets punked, she gets dissed, she has diva fits, she cries, she seduces, she even throws a brick at somebody. She was actually fun to watch, as opposed to just cutely dressed.

* The fight scenes were better. Although they were not as meticulously-animated, they were better-composed. The NewGoblin/Spidey chase through that narrow alleyway was exactly the kind of fight Spider-Man should be having. In the last fight with Venom, Spider-Man won with speed and ingenuity, which is, hello, How Spider-Man Wins Fights (as opposed to with brute force and mawkish displays of humanity). True, the fights with Dock Ock in "2" were more elegant, but I could never get over the problem that the superhumanly-strong Spidey couldn't beat Ock by simply punching him in the face one or twelve times. And don't get me started on those Spidey/Original Goblin bouts. Embarrassing.
....Also, there was a giant sand monster in this last fight. 'Nuff said.

* The dialogue, while not good, was not HORRIBLE. Let's recap, shall we, some of the gems from "1" and "2":

Goblin: You never know when some maniac is going to come along with a sadistic choice! (No one, no matter how evil, ever says this.)

Aunt May: People love heroes. Blah blah blah. They cheer for them. Etc etc. Heroes (n. pl.) are people who save people who, ad nauseum. (This has to be one of the worst speeches ever.)

MJ: You can't get off if you never got on! (What?)

"3" was at least lacking in cringing moments. There were even a few cute lines, like Spidey's "Where do all these guys come from...?" which at least hinted at the snappy wit that is Spider-Man's most endearing trait, and yet has been notably lacking from this whole movie adaptation business.

* Gwen Stacy was great. I'm not a big fan of the Director's Daughter Is Famous Now syndrome, but I'll concede that, within her limited role, Bryce Howard nailed it. Intriguing but not TOO intriguing. Beautiful but not SO beautiful. Exactly the kind of normal but dreamy girl that would end up in Peter Parker's life.

* It had one part that choked me up. Backstory: my thrills from the first two flicks derived almost entirely from the trailers. The inferences and the teasing shots of Spider-Man coming to save the day. Because, for pho's sake, all I really want out of a superhero movie, No Matter How Bad It Is, is to get choked up once. For one moment to be swept up in the fantasy of an alternate world where someone shows up to do something when the 9/11s and the Columbines of the real world happen (or even before they happen).
....This never happened in the first two flicks. Due to some clumsy handling of the stakes, the dialogue, and those pesky plot mechanics, it never seemed Important that Spider-Man showed up. It was Pretty, watching him swing in, but not Affecting. Maybe 'cause the Green Goblin was just not scary, and no one believed that crazy contraption of Ock's was going to work anyway.
....BUT, at the climax of "3", MJ's clearly in big trouble, the citizenry is afraid, and the bad guys hold extremely high ground. And then, there's about 10 seconds where, despite long odds, Spider-Man comes swinging in with no intention other than Handling It. Pretty dope. If it hadn't been for that tweaky faux-Brit reporter talking through the whole thing, it might even have been moving.

...That was a kind of long rant, and I guess someday I should devote equivalent time to some Subject That Really Matters, but whatever, I'm a geek. I just hope the next one has The Scorpion in it.

We win, we win, we win.

The Bay Area hasn't had a sports team with a big win since the 80's, when the Niners ruled the world. And back then, the Niners were kind of like the bullies on the playground, they kicked so much ass. As a sports fan I find it hard to root for a dynasty. I want to root for an underdog. But over the past two decades the Bay Area's had not so much underdogs, but good teams that choke in a big game. The Giants in the World Series, the Raiders in various playoff games....betraying perhaps a certain Northern Californian whatever-ness about winning, a lack of killer instinct. It's like, who cares about getting a championship when you're already eating the best fruit and cheese plate in the world?

So the Warriors beating the Mavericks is just impossibly great, because the Warriors were huge underdogs, they were up against the "best" team in the NBA, and they did not choke. I'm still amazed by it.

Steve Kerr wrote this, which gave my heart a tug:

"The Oracle Arena crowd was the best I have ever seen in the NBA. In 15 years of playing and four years as a commentator, I have never, ever seen 20,000 fans standing as one for an entire second half. That's what Golden State's fans did in Game 6, and it was amazing to witness. The Mavs seemed to be in good shape starting the third quarter, with Davis hurting and the pace of the game in their favor. But the Warriors' crowd was so rowdy, so loud, that Dallas never looked comfortable on the floor. The momentum swung Golden State's way as soon as Jackson started making threes, and the crowd took it from there."

How badly we wanted to win, for once, and for once, how sweet to fail at being disappointed.

ode to Chinese women who draw women with one eye

Because the Warriors, heartbreakingly, did not win, I was reduced to making bad conversation with the Chinese girl sitting next to me in the sports/oyster bar.

Now, I've spent a fair amount of time in "Chinese" bars, both here and in Taiwan. And I know there's a certain kind of girl who spends most of her time in the bar doodling freely, yet intently, on her placemat and/or napkin, while her boyfriend and his pals are busy talking. Or by herself, because for whatever reason no one is talking to her. The doodling usually takes the form of a) soul-searching Cure-esque poetry or b) slinky women with one eye. Invariably a large, double-eyelidded, Bette-Davis-type eye with huge peacock-feather eyelashes.

I get the poetry thing. I also get that many women have a repressed interest in fashion design and/or the world of couture that inclines them toward drawing slinky-looking women with long hair in evening gowns. But my question is, why only the one eye? This woman's doodlings strongly resembled a Marvel Comics femme fatale called Madame Hydra, who wore her hair draped over one eye because the other side of her face had been HORRIBLY SCARRED BY ACID. But she didn't look like much of a comics reader. So, in the moment where her boyfriend had gone to the bathroom, and the TV was recapping the Warriors' humiliating collapse at the hands of Aryan Officer Nowitski, I lunged up and asked her, "Why only the one eye?"

She said, "I don't know how to draw the other eye."

This was satisfactory to me, and I laughed. We made a little more clumsy convo in my bad Chinese and her bad-but-far-superior-English, and then her boyfriend came back from the bathroom, and I left the bar.