What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Memoirs of a Chinese Lady Speaking English

Memoirs of a Geisha

This is a beautifully filmed movie, first of all. It had to be. It wasn't going to have any cred otherwise. Sure the story is good and the acting is fine, but the problems with this film run very deep. It is a major Hollywood glamour film trying to pass itself off as cinematic wonder.

Memoirs of a Geisha tells the story of a young girl who is sold by her parents to a Geisha house when her father realizes that her mother is dying. The girl is raised at the Geisha house and trained to become one of the greatest Geisha ever. Geisha, which means "artist," is seen as a social tradition and respected in all societies. They do not consider themselves prostitutes, while a Geisha will, once they are older take bids for one man to pay to take her virginity. Further reading on Geisha reveals that this is not as correct or important to being a Geisha as the movie proclaims.

The look of the film is stunning and the visual awards it recieved were probably deserved. At times the viewer is left with visions reminiscant of the Asian beauty in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers But, then the actors open their mouths. You see, it's not obvious and many Americans won't catch it, but there is most definitely a difference between Japanese and Chinese. I don't even think that I noticed it right away or even knew why it was that I was feeling uneasy. The fact that the movie is in English did throw me off, however. I guess after seeing enough movies in subtitles, when watching an English movie about Japanes living in Japan things seem incongruent and fake. Then add to this that many of the leads are Chinese and that they look and sound like Chinese (although I'd have never been able to tell the difference unless given the opportunity to see one trying to pass as the other)and you are left with a movie that appears to be lying to you. I've never been one to worry about authenticity in film. I believe that one should watch a movie with an open mind and accept the film you are being shown on it's own merit and not what you think the movie should be like. For instance, judge the acting and the directing and story-telling on it's own and don't say that it didn't stay true to history or that it was telling the wrong story. If I'm making a movie I'm telling the story and creating the world and can fictionalize it how I see fit. On the other hand, film is not like theatre which can more easily take liberties. Theatre audiences will accept most anything because, after all, if you are sitting in a theatre watching My Fair Lady you've already had to suspend your believe that you are in a Houston/New York/L.A. theatre and not in London, England in 1901. In a movie, if the film says the actors are in Bagdad, Iraq, you better make the audience think they are really in Bagdad, Iraq. I'm not buying into a film that says it is in Japan during World War II and yet there are Chinese actors speaking English trying to pass themselves off as Japanese. Maybe you are wondering if it's really that obvious. To an ignorant American, perhaps not. Other than it being in English, I couldn't put my finger on it, but something wasn't right about the actress. When I read that she is, indeed, Chinese I had an epiphany. By golly, they don't all look the same. There is a difference. Aside from these blunders in casting and the choice to use English instead of subtitles, the film was good. The story, while furthering an incorrect stereotype of Geisha as prostitutes, was well told and compelling and the actors do a good job. My issues with the film won't bother many people, but it was enough of a distraction for me to keep it from being something great and made it okay.

2.5 Bulls

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kyle v. 27.0

I've been teaching for three years now. I moved back to Baytown three years ago. My nephew is three years old. I've been married almost four year and I'm having my five year college reunion this year. The seniors graduating high school this year were in jr. high when I graduated college and next year at this time I'll be going to my 10 year high school reunion. In three years I'll be 30 and when I take into account what's gone on in the last three I freak out a little. Not because I'm scared of growing old, but just because I never expected to feel the rush of time hit me so fast. I've always been a little bit of an enemy of time. I've written songs and plays about time and it has always seemed to play an integral role in major events of my life. Either not having enough time or being somewhere at the right time/wrong time, etc. I imagine that this is a common element in anyone's life who has a plate full of ambitions and dreams and not enough time to get it all done. A kid asked me today if I was one of those people who made a list of things I wanted to get done before I was 30. The answer to that is yes and no. No, I've never sat down and made a physical list. If I ever have, I certainly have not adhered to the list or worried whether any of those things have been accomplished. The student who asked the question astutely commented that in making such a list people are often setting themselves up for failure. I remarked that it depended on one's own attitude about the list. Are you going to be devistated if the list isn't accomplished or is the list more of a "wish list" of things that would be nice to have accomplished by 30. I told her that in a sense I have a list because I definitely have things that I wanted to accomplish by a certain time in my life. By 30 I wanted to be married, at some point I may have thought I would have wanted kids before then, as well, but right now I'm comfortable without that. By now I would have expected to have my degree and know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The degree part I've got down and sometimes I waver on the rest of my life part but I think I'm going in the right direction. The point is that what I wanted three years ago for 27 is not necessarily what I want now and what I want now is bound to change somewhat by the time I'm thirty. While time may fly it is certainly making layover stops in various places and the destination alters. Sometimes slightly and sometimes drastically. So, in three years, which will invaribly come as soon as I publish this post, what do I want to accomplish? The answer to that would be "whatever will make me happy." I'm happy now, or at least I can't complain. Rephrase: I shouldn't complain. My wife is happy. Maybe if nothing has changed in three years I'll be less happy, but things are on the horizon, I'm always moving and that's really what makes me happy. Thanks to all of you lovely people out there.

Now, I've got a meeting.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sordid Pictures

I just posted photos from Sordid Lives on my Flickr site. Click right here to be taken there and bask in their wonderfulness.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What a Cute Kid! Huh?!

Changed the old profile pic. Photo courtesy of one Mary Lou Martin, aka, Mama Lou, aka ML, aka my mom. Thank you mother.

The Apocalypse...I Mean, End of School is Nigh

The End* is near and there are signs all over the place. In an effort to help my readers better understand when their own end is near I've compiled a list of occurrences and observations of my own, and you can compare these items with what's going on in your life:

(*The end of school, not the apocalypse)

  • You accidentally hurt yourself and you secretly hope it requires immediate, medical attention.

  • After three o'clock is not for anything other than what I call "Summer Practice" as in practicing for summer, not practice that happens during the summer.

  • High gas prices notwithstanding, weekends are spent driving far distances.

  • Dinging bells send you into convulsions.

  • Time out is for you, not them.

  • Much of your time is spent meditating on a certain small central Texas town and the service which they provide.

  • More time is spent making use of said service

  • Work is a misnomer

  • You see the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse and just laugh (Again, still talking about the end of school.)

  • You find yourself saying things like, "Go tell your principal what I called you. See if I care."

  • You watch The Office and think, "Office jobs sound like fun."

  • Review week is more like two.

  • And last but not least

  • You reconsider your position on capital punishment.
  • Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Fraggled Rock

    Dance your cares away.
    Worries for another day.
    Let the music play
    Down at Fraggle Rock.

    Just another thinly veiled allusion to PCP brought to you by Jim Henson.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Oh, Yeah, This Goofball Makes Movies

    Mission: Impossible III

    While I was resistant to seeing Mission: Impossible III because I thought the last one lacked any kind of heart or interest in the least, I also dislike being the only person who hasn't seen a movie. Everytime I wait for too long to see a movie I over hear so many people talking about it that I lose any interest to see the movie. So, my brother and wife had the idea of seeing a movie and the only thing that appealed to any of us was M:I-III. I have been avoiding action movies as of late based on the the tendency for action movies to rely on a lot of stuff blowing and up and the use of cool gadgets and catch phrases to get audiences to say "Oooh!" and "Aaah!" Despite this many movie critics that I respect have been touting it's credibility and reliability on the character and motivations thereof. For instance, instead of a random love interest for Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) that may or may not be based on a previous relationship, the movie begins with the knowledge that Hunt has a fiance/wife. Okay, so now that we know that Hunt has a motivation that we can get on board with (save his new wife) now we can start to blow stuff up. Lucky, we forgo any cheesy catch phrases that might detract from any logical sane viewers enjoyment of the dialogue, and the gadgets in the movie are pretty cool. At the end of the day though, it was exactly what I expected it to be. It was flashy, expensive and at times hard to follow because of all the camera movement. The plot was based entirely on this non-discript "rabbit's foot" which we can only assume is a nuclear devise with the purpose of global domination. They never really explain because it's inconsequential. What's important is that the bad guy wants it and it's Ethan Hunt's job to make sure he doesn't get it. The bad guy in question being the amazing Phillip Seymor Hoffman. In my favorite part of the movie Ethan's character dons a disguise to make him look like the bad guy. The transformation that took place right in front of the camera was stunning enough but then the audience is given the pleasure of of watching Hoffman pull off a superb version of Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. This alone made the ticket price worth it. Granted, I went to the Hollywood movie theater on Beltway 8 and Pasadena Blvd. where the tickets are $3.00.

    All in all, most people will love this movie, and I liked it. It had been awhile since I made it out to a shoot 'em up picture and it may be awhile until my next one. I've had my fill.

    3 Bulls

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    I Ran Again

    New post over at Run, Fat Man! Run

    Run over and check it out!

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    More Colbert Stuff (because I just can't let some things go)

    This is more on the Colbert speech at the White House Corespondence Dinner by my predecessor here at Sterling.

    Colbert is a comedian, which in my book makes him an artist. That he unflinchingly went for the jugular in this way automatically makes him one of the great Real Artists of our time. I only hope I can bat in his league some day.

    I tend to agree with his sentiment even if I don't agree 100% with his view on Real Art, which can be read in full by clicking the link within the quote. Basically,(and I do agree with the most general aspects of this) art and artists in it's pure form shouldn't be censored or pull punches. Real art should also exsist to inspire change from a less desirable state to a more desirable state according to the artist. You can think of it as a persuasive essay, if you like. Don't forget to read my Shotgun blog, below. I have two today.


    From the Official Shotgun Rules Website:

    You must say the word "Shotgun" to stake your claim on Shotgun. This must be done clearly and loud enough so that at least one other to-be occupant of the vehicle can hear you. No variations of this word are acceptable. After you have rightfully called Shotgun, you have exclusive rights to Shotgun for that ride. However, if no one hears you call Shotgun it is still fair game for everyone.

    The website goes on to list the "official" rules as to when and where one can call shotgun and under which circumstances the rules do or don't apply. This little handbook (which can be purchased online in print form) would have been very helpful growing up. As a middle child in a family of three boys my mother often devised some fairly intricate systems for determining shotgun. The most memorable being a magnet letter of each of our initials that she would rotate on the metallic dash. I think that her methods were often fair, however easily disputable. Calling shotgun came into fashion in my teenage years (at least to my knowledge). This preferrable method, ensuring that, at any time, anyone could get the covetted position, was not without problems. When it is equatable to call shotgun, how to settle disputes, when is shotgun relinquished: all of these issues are discussed on the website linked above.

    The primary place this would have been helpful would have been in high school. Luckily I was always the driver, as I had my own car and my two best friends, Eric and Brad, did not. The three of us would often travel places together and the position of shotgun, while officially determined by calling shotgun, was constantly in dispute and would result in Brad and Eric participating in a multitude of red-faced pushing matches. I can't deny that I usually enjoyed watching the two equally matched guys come close to blowing and o-ring over who sat in the front we were often late to things because of it. This website could have been very useful. Someday when I have kids I highly intend to get the glovebox version of the rules and abide by them. I encourage everyone else to do the same, thus spreading the universality of these rules and making car riding safe again. Well, as safe as you can be with a teenager behind the wheel of a car.

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Baseball vs. American Idol

    Last night the American Idol contestants spent 28 minutes standing or sitting on a stage in front of a few hundred people, TV cameras, pseudo celebrity judges, and through TV, a few million people. This thirty minute episode of American Idol makes these poor saps sit through several commercial breaks worth of Ryan "The Girl-Boy" Seacrest teasing with "This week the contestant going home will be....announced after the break." Ahhh! You fooled us! As if we really thought you were going to blow it in the first 10 minutes of the show when you so clearly have to fill another 20 minutes worth of stale, faux entertainment. Don't get me wrong. I get pulled into the whole thing as much as your average person. I watch the beginning of the season so that I can laugh at the idiots who think they can sing and then I pay attention at the end and make my predictions. But, this extra episode is so ridiculously pointless that the sheer inane nature of it makes it unwatchable for me. So, last night, as my wife is asking me to spend time with her, I say, "Amanda, I love you. I would love to spend all my time with you. Please come join me as I watch the Astros play the Cardinals in their first meeting since the NLCS last year." To which my lovely wife replies, "But I want to see who gets kicked off this week." See, here's the problem. To forgo an Astros game to watch some pointless thirty minutes of corporate shlock, existing soley to hauk whatever Ford model the American Idol contestants are climbing out of this week while singing some god-awful pop song would be detrimental to my sanity. I can't imagine a universe where this would be a reasonable move.

    BTW, the Astros beat the Cards, 5-4. I actually enjoy watching Pujols crank long balls as long as it doesn't produce wins. It's very satisfying.

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006


    Could Stephen Colbert be the best thing that ever happened to America? At least the American press? It must have been really hard to come up with a show and persona that lives up to his "The Daily Show" predasessor. While I generally don't enjoy "The Colbert Report" as much as "The Daily Show", these videos may prove that no one, not even Stewart himself has a brass set like this man. Watch the whole thing. You'll be glad you did. And if you're not then you're unAmerican.