Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Can't Stop the Music

I can't really put headphones on at work--as soon as I do, that's the moment somebody needs to ask me a question--and I'm no expert on music (or, really, anything else). But my work 'puter does have iTunes, and I have loaded my queue with a bunch of my favorite songs. Currently in rotation are:

Love Is a Losing Game - Amy Winehouse
Wouldn't It Be Nice - The Beach Boys
If I Fell - The Beatles
Slaughter - Billy Preston
Knockin' on Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen
Way Over Yonder - Carole King
Cat People (Puttin' Out Fire) - David Bowie
Atlantis - Donovan
Connection - Elastica
Rhapsody in Blue - George Gershwin
Drivin' South - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
There's No Disappointment in Heaven - Jimmy Scott
(Just Like) Starting Over - John Lennon
Love Me or Hate Me - Lady Sovereign
Big City After Dark - Link Wray and the Wray Men
Jealousy - Liz Phair
Papa Gene's Blues - The Monkees
Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth - Neko Case
Photograph - Ringo Starr
No Expectation - The Rolling Stones
You Really Got a Hold on Me - She & Him
My Ever-Changing Moods - The Style Council
Outside Chance - The Turtles

Every Picture Tells a Story: 8/28/09

Ornamentation on the ceiling of the Portage Theater, where this year's Silent Summer Film Festival will end tonight with a showing of Seventh Heaven.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Game Over, Man! Game Over!"

Last night, the Cubs were beaten--no, pounded--by the Washington Nationals, the team with the worst record in the Major Leagues, by a score of 15-6.

The Cubs' season? Over.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 8/26/09

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Miscellania 8/24/09

Another roundup of randomness:

Travel Reading: Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter. Stark (a.k.a. Donald Westlake) wrote a lengthy series of crime novels featuring his brutish but deadly smart thief, Parker (no first name) before he died last year at the age of 75. Before he died, however, he gave permission for comic book writer/artist Darwyn Cooke to adapt his first Parker Novel, The Hunter, as a graphic novel. (The Hunter had previously been adapted twice for the big screen--once as Point Blank with Lee Marvin, and again as Payback starring Mel Gibson.)

The world of The Hunter is pure pulp, populated by tough-taking guys adept at using their guns and fists, and women who are treated with little more than contempt--they're hookers or betrayers or objects of scorn to be used and nothing more. Cook obviously loves noir--anyone who's read his runs on Catwoman or The Spirit could see that--and is religiously faithful to Stark/Westlake's words, providing gorgeous images to illustrate this dark, disturbing, ruthless world without making any concessions to political correctness.

I love Cook's artwork--always have--but anyone with even a modicum of respect for women might want to approach Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter with appropriate caution.

Last Movie I Saw: Actually, I saw two movies over the weekend: Inglourious Basterds, and Post Grad.

The latter is a lighter-than-lightweight comedy starring Alexis Bledel (formerly of TV's Gilmore Girls and the two Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies) as a college graduate who has a hard time finding and keeping a job, despite the support of her wacky family (Michael Keaton as her dad, Jane Lynch as mom and Carol Burnett as grandma), and has romantic entanglements with her platonic male friend (Zach Gilford) and the hunky Brazilian across the street (Rodrigo Santoro). The movie is as unambitious as it sounds and features my new least-favorite movie trend, killing a pet off for "laughs" (it wasn't funny when I saw it happen in Drag Me to Hell and Easy Virtue, and it's not funny here). Talent gets wasted as well, especially Lynch and the usually great J.K. Simmons as Gilford's grouchy dad.

What makes Post Grad not only watchable but pleasantly amusing (pet death scene excepted) is Bledel, She's so smart, charming and heartbreakingly beautiful that it's damn near impossible not to like her. Post Grad may aim low, but it mostly hits its marks.

The same can't be said for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which aims considerably higher, but falls considerably short.

I've long since wearied of Tarantino's references to other movies, both overt (direct mentions of G.W. Pabst, Emil Jannings and Leni Riefenstahl, among other notables of German cinema) and covert (many songs lifted from other soundtracks, including at least four title themes, and this film's title itself, a bastardization, if you will, of a 1978 B-level World War 2 flick starring Fred Williamson).

What came off as a stylistic tic back in the heady days of Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown (two of my all-time favorite movies) now seems more like a creative crutch. I'd long hoped that Tarantino would stop winking at the film geeks in his audience and just tell his own story on his own terms. Now I realize he may not be capable of such.

That's not to say Inglourious Basterds is void of moments of greatness. The opening scene, with SS Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) hunting for Jews on a French dairy farm, is terrific--Landa is intelligent, charming and calm, and consequently all the more menacing. And the closing scene has arresting imagery, including a laughing woman's face projected onto the billowing smoke of a burning theater.

But in between? I did something I've never done in a Tarantino film: I glanced at my watch. Frequently.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 8/24/09

Friday, August 21, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story: 8/21/09

As requested by Superbadfriend, here's a picture of the "new" couch in the living room of La Casa del Terror--which is not, in fact, "new" at all, but was sold to me by a coworker who was moving to Minnesota and was taking very little with her. As you can see, Olivia approves.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story: 8/12/09

The sign from the first video store I ever went to when I got my VCR back in the late '80s. My first three rentals: George Romero's Day of the Dead, the least of the famed director's zombie films (you can read my review of it here); The Hidden, a much better action/horror film; and Sex Star, a porno starring Kimberly Carson, an actress who started out in low-budget teen sex comedies and subsequently moved on to, um, bigger things.

The store had been closed and vacant for years, but the sign was still there--until about a week after I took this picture, when it was finally removed. An Italian specialty food store now occupies the space.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story: 8/11/09

The "totem pole" on the campus of Lane Tech High School.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Miscellania 8/10/09

And now, debuting a new regular feature on Adoresixtyfour: Random thoughts and messages pretending to be a proper blog entry. Enjoy!

Travel Reading: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. This sounded like a lot of fun as a concept, but isn't proving to be so in execution. Once you get the joke--it's Jane Austen's novel, now with 100% more decapitations and gut-munching!--it gets pretty old pretty fast. Still, at least I'll be able to say that I've read Pride and Prejudice, now won't I?

Last Movie I Saw: 500 Days of Summer. I refuse to use the overly cute parentheses somebody threw around "500" in the title, but I embrace the movie itself. It's sweet. It's sad. It's pretty much what love is like (or, at least, what I remember love being like), down to the out-of-chronological-order narrative; when we think back on our relationships, we don't remember events/emotions in chronological order, so shuffling the story to match the way we remember even what we'd rather forget makes total sense and doesn't make the movie hard to follow at all. Also? Zooey Deschanel is cute as hell.

Watching: Ace of Cakes. I love this show. I love that these people get to be artistic all day long. I love that they like working with each other and seem to be having fun at work. I hope to work at such a place someday. For now? I'm just glad to have a job.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 8/10/09

Is that Neptune at the corner of Montrose and Clark? Or Poseidon? Or neither? Damn, I suck at mythology.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story: 8/9/09

Mushrooms along the sidewalk on Kenmore near Clybourn.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story: 8/7/09

This giant stone head sits in the display window of an antique shop under the CTA Brown Line on Western Avenue. Where did it come from? Where will it go?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kiddieland, Part 9

My favorite attraction at Kiddieland was the Little Dipper, the cutest little wooden rollercoaster you've ever seen. The ride has only 700 feet of track and lasts only a minute, but it's everything you'd want from a coaster--fast, bumpy and fun.

The ride is operated with ginormous brake levers. I mean, look at those things--they're taller than most of the riders!

The Little Dipper was also the attraction that made me the saddest about Kiddieland's closing--while most of the rides can (and will) be disassembled and sold, I can't see how anyone could take the Little Dipper down and reassemble it somewhere else. Most likely, it'll simply be demolished along with the other permanent structures of the park.

It's so difficult to create something--anything--that creates so many moments of happiness and enjoyment for decades. And so easy to tear it down.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kiddieland, Part 8

The Kiddieland Carousel is somewhere around half a century old and features a mix of vintage horses--most of the ones on the perimeter seemed to be fiberglass (one was even missing a hoof, poor guy!), while most of the ones on the interior seemed to be wood. All of them had signs of wear and tear from years of children going round and round, round and round, never wanting the ride to stop--as all rides, unfortunately, must.

Kiddieland, Part 7

More random shots of rides and attractions at Kiddieland.

Kiddieland, Part 6

Here are some shots of some stylin' space-themed attractions at Kiddieland.