Archive for December, 2007

Winter day trips in VA
December 31, 2007

Virginia is a state with a lot of diversity:

Hot Springs and Warm Springs: Some small towns with natural hot springs founded by Thomas Jefferson and a nice resort called the homestead which has activities in the winter and summer

Shenandoah/Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley

Williamsburg, Va

Monticello/Charlottesville, VA-See historic UVA, Monticello, the mountains are very beautiful there. Also, Wintergreen

Fredericksburg, Va-A nice town an hour south of Washington with a lot of little things to see, a couple battlefields, a restored inn

Harper’s Ferry, WV/Va/Md (on the border of all three states)-A really cool vacation spot and day trip. The town doubles as a national park, with great hiking trails, views, and in the summer: whitewater rafting

Couldn’t get into Into the Wild the other night
December 29, 2007

You know what? If this will keep me out of being in the upper echelons of film critics so be it, but I have a nasty habit: I usually won’t watch a film just because it’s important, or because i should see it or because I’ll only be in a position to comment on the Oscar race if i watch it, and it’s tempting to watch that film just so i can participate in Oscar discussions and have respectable opinions, if a film doesn’t appeal to me, it jsut doesn’t appeal to me, and that’s 2 hours and 11 dollars wasted in an otherwise busy life. That’s why i haven’t seen Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Brokeback Mountain, History of Violence, The Hours, Into the Bedroom, The Pianist, The Quiet American, Cinderella Man, or Frida.

Currently, there are a lot of films that I have yet to see and the other night at my hotel I had an opportunity to watch something at the hotel through pay-per-view. I sized up the choices: Into the Wild, Ocean’s 13, Mr. Brooks, Waitress, Ratatouille, and 3:10 to Yuma again (because it’s so great). I really felt an obligation to watch Into the Wild: a film about a guy about my age who comes to a revelation that he shouldn’t be living a materialistic life so he donates all his money to charity, hitchhikes to Canada, and dies shortly thereafter.

I really felt like watching Mr. Brooks or Ocean’s 13, but the film critic conscience inside me told me it was wrong to watch these films that had no chance of being nominated and therefore couldn’t have possibly entered the national pop culture discussion in the upcoming weeks and therefore I should watch Into the Wild, but i just couldn’t bring myself to watch Into the Wild even though it was my duty as someone commenting on the best films of the year to know what I’m talking about.

So for a while, I didn’t watch anything because i couldn’t bring myself to select either. Ultimately, Dreamgirls came on HBO, one of the few big films from last year I hadn’t seen, and I decided I’d watch that instead. It was a great film, and I’ve now revised my top 10 list of 2006 to: 1. Little Miss Sunshine, Dayton & Harris 2. Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood 3. Departed, Martin Scorsesee 4. Babel, Alejandro Inarritu Gonzalu 5. Blood Diamond, Ed Zwick 6. Prairie Home Companion, Rob Altman 7. Hollywoodland, Allan Coulter 8. Dreamgirls, Bill Condon 9. Bobby, Emilio Estevez 10. Cars, John Lasseter

I did have one other thought, however: I think the problem with Into the Wild is that it’s marketed as a movie about a guy who goes off and dies. Why don’t they just market it as a movie about a guy who goes off and does incredible things and donates his money to charity. The advantages:
1. It would sound less depressing
2. It wouldn’t give away any spoilers
3. The film is made by Sean Penn which makes reason #1 even more relevant when you consider that Penn (despite playing fun-loving surferboy Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) is known for his extreme seriousness at all times and lack of humor, so it’s not far-fetched to think that his artistic sensibilities have nothing to do with entertainment, and they might draw him to a depressing film about a guy who goes off and dies instead.

Bars in Arlington being cleaned out
December 24, 2007

It’s somewhat sad for me that Dr. Dremo’s is closing it’s doors in about a month. I’m not too much of a bar hopper but I used to work across the street from Dr. Dremo’s at the movie theater and they have always been a great place to come to when I get off from work. The staff has been friendly (which I don’t see at a lot of places), and I usually bump into people i’ve known from high school or any other which way. There’s a big local fight to keep Dremo’s afloat and so far it’s been a losing battle.

It’s been somewhat of a local institution to many young people in the area.

I will probably write more on this on the site when time affords.

Morning report in front of the TV
December 20, 2007

This morning I turned on the Today show and there was a 10-year old prodigy playing the piano and singing. She was incredibly good, but I was kind of expecting that. They’re not gonna book a mediocre talent on the Today Show. In fact, I think 10 is pushing it if you want to be one of those “musical progidies” that they always seem to feature on the talk show circuit to mix things up between celebrities who come on to plug their new book or movie. For one thing, at 10 you’re actually not really a prodigy but you’ve had considerable time to develop your craft and actually get good. I mean, Mozart started playing the piano at the age of 3 and started writing symphonies at the age of 5. Considering I’ve seen 6 and 7 year old prodigies do stuff of equal caliber on Ellen, The Tonight Show and the game show “America’s Got Talent” I look at her and think, she had 3 more years to practice.

But at the same time I think 10 is not a bad age to be with that talent. If she’s still that talented six years down the road, than the media will follow her everywhere, want to know who she’s dating, and bombard her with accusations that she either put on weight or is annorexic. At 10, she’s free of all of that and sounds just as good.

A couple minutes later as the Today show hit one of it’s last commercial breaks there was a commercial that sounded like this, “Coming up on NBC4 news: There’s a fire in the White House” (ok i’m beating the hand that feeds me just a little here). Isn’t that a humongous reason to panic, and even possibly interrupt the Today Show? I was picturing something like a scene from the movie backdraft, where firefighters are heroically jumping in and trying to save the president and the presidential artifacts, and everything, but it turns out it was a small fire in the building next door, that’s part of the White House offices or something. But NBC 4 did a very good job at hooking me onto the screen and convincing me to stay a little longer in front of the TV so i could see what was going on over there.

Still rooting for Frank Calliendo
December 5, 2007

So one of the biggest interviews I’ve ever had in reporting was Frank Calliendo. I interviewed hiim for the DC Scene. (In case you’re curious, the other famous poeple I’ve interviewed include the other people someone who the 1988 movie Stand and Deliver was based off of, Wynton Marsalis, and the No. 14 pick of the 2004 NBA draft).

I was a fan of Frank Calliendo from the show MadTV, and I interviewed him when he came to this comedy club, and it’s been interesting to see the guy grow. Now when I’m like “I interviewed Frank” from Frank TV everyone knows who that is.

The thing is this guy was also a relative B-lister of a comic back when I interviewed him around June. I remember I asked him what he was doing on his visit to my city and he said his life is constant work, he’s spending all his time promoting his new show or new projects and he got flooded with interview requests.

Now he’s definitely been overpromoted to the point where he’s like a punchline on Best Week Ever. But I think that’s what he should’ve done. I know you guys are critiquing him as a public figure, I’m kind of critiquing him as this comic I once got to interview who tried his best to be successful at this project of his. It’s kind of interesting to see it from that perspective.

The actual show itself is a little below what I was expecting, he’s slacking a little on the impressions, I find. He played Pacino a little effeminately. At the same time, I think he has a lot of creative ieas, and despite mixed reviews on this, I think it’s very cool to ask a memebr fo the audience to come up. I think it’s about as good as a one-man sketch show could be, the problem is it is a one-man sketch show and you can’t do that much with a one-man sketch show, which is the cardinal sin in producing TV shows: Don’t do something with a very limited idea.

So, the show might not be able to last long under it’s current format, but at least when his original number of episodes runs out, he has 5 episodes in the can and how many broadcast journalism majors from Milwaulkee can say they’ve produced even one episode of their own TV show. In the end, whatever happens, I admire Frank Calliendo for his goals.