Friday, June 4, 2010

Kyle's Blog

Kanye - "Hey Blogger, I'm real happy for you, and I'm gonna let you finish, but if you want to read Kyle's blog, go HERE."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dan...The Man

Made this over Fall Break using photoshop and illustrator. There are web sites with programs that will make similar images for you, but it was pretty exciting to do it from scratch.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

IKEA knows who you are and what you want

On my first visit to the Atlanta IKEA, I escaped having only bought a dish-drying rack and and a kitchen rail.

I've visited Atlanta, Ga, multiple times in the past 2 months and I've been fascinated with visiting all of the great tourist attractions, the Zoo, the World of Coke and the closest IKEA to Mississippi. I received a catalog for the Swedish housing stuff place and was fascinated by the tons of stuff for decorating and home outfitting as well as the ridiculously low prices (apparently off-set by having everything made in China, but advertising things as being designed and inspired in Scandinavia).
I noticed a few things:
-IKEA is popular. I mean seriously, and popular with everyone there were people of all types and backgrounds. Most had kids, and this is probably due to the natural appeal of the store to upper to middle class parents who want cool stuff in their house, but have kids and can't afford the same things from a place like say, Crate & Barrel.
-IKEA is packed (with people and stuff). From the minute we took the escalator to the main floor we were literally shoulder to shoulder with humans, shelves, and colorful clean sans-serif signs pointing where we should go.
-IKEA is smart (probably smarter than you or me). They've got a perfect system, which is basically the same that cattle stockyards use. The customers are corralled on a path of least resistance, while they stick to stuff on the way down the path. Sure, there are signs with shortcuts, but every single sign says "EXIT" on it. Using this, you can comfort these frugal shoppers that there is an easy escape, but it will only take them through more merchandise.
-IKEA is like Oz. Just like Dorothy in the book/movie "The Wizard of Oz" the customer is on a journey and you have to basically go through the entire store to get anywhere. If you're looking for an IKEA spatula ($4.99) you have to go through all the chairs and bedding and office furniture, etc. And finally once you've collected armloads of goods, the line bottleneck's into a huge warehouse where you pick up the boxes of furniture which they reassure you will keep the cost of them down. The line bottlenecks a second time where customers are urged it is their "last chance" and how they can always go back and get more. The environment encourages buyers to interact and fight for a seemingly short supply of goods (even thought in the warehouse there is a possibly limitless supply of checkered black and orange rugs).

The IKEA experience is almost more of a thrill-ride shopping adventure where the customers soak in the experience, like waiting in line at Disney World, except instead of entertainment, the goal is consumerism and oddly it is fun. It's surprisingly entertaining, but it's frustrating too knowing you're being herded around like a mindless buyer, and if anything this may be the reason neoliberal socialist Scandinavian countries are having the last laugh, they know that as Americans we're both competitive and hungry to buy stuff, and honestly despite knowing and seeing all of this, I'm already counting the minutes till I can go back.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Terminator Salvation Reviewed

Christian Bale, as John Connor, takes out his anger on an innocent unsuspecting robot.

So, last night I went to go see the much-hyped "Terminator Salvation", a sort of reboot, or more accurately a continuation to the Terminator trilogy. Admittedly, I'm not a complete scholar on the terminator-verse and my memory of the history of Skynet and the T-series of robots is not what it once was. I saw the first "Terminator", years ago and thought it was a great combination of science fiction and horror kind of the way "Alien" was. I'm more familiar with "T2: Judgment Day" where a young John Connor struggles with being a teenager with an insane mother who is protected by a robot sent by himself from the future, much the way he sent his own father to protect his mother. (This sort of confusion is why I'm a little foggy on the franchise. "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" is pretty rediculous, mostly because Arnold Schwarzanager returns yet again but is less tough and harder to believe, and the trilogy ends, surpisingly cleanly with world descruction and honestly by the end of T3, I'm satisfied with that, honestly I probably could have taken it about 2 hours earlier.
But, back to "Salvation," which felt more like a war movie than a machine horror/thriller. Its obvious that this is the intention of director McG ("We Are Marshall"). Because this is an action war movie it seems to get away from the heart of what makes the terminators so scary: How ruthless they are.
Along with action, there is no shortage of machienery in "Salvation" but this is not in the blowing people up way. For example, from the movie's outset an obvious conflict is put between the leaders of "The Resistance" and John Connor (Christian Bale), who everyone obviously knows is supposed to save the world, or at least send his father back to concieve him. But instead of Connor being some hardened hero who is a leader of men, he's kind of a self-serving weenie. Sure, he's supposed to be confused and conflicted, but the fact that he's lived through nuclear holocaust and giant machine-gun-toting robots at every corner should make him a little more of a tough guy, in one scene, even his pregnant wife appears to be more of a hard-ass than him.
But I don't mean to dog the movie, because it was a lot better than some of the reviews I'd read. I was afraid this was going to be one more decline into the sinking abyss that the Terminator franchise had been in ever since halfway through T2. This was not that. I think it escaped this by jumping into the future, which honestly I always thought was more interesting than the stuff that was supposed to have happened in the past. In the Terminator series 2018 is where the action is, not the time before. The first three movies I liken to making a movie about a Football game where you never show the actuall game just the hours and hours of practice, team meetings, and film room visits and then ending it at kickoff. Just when things are getting awesome in T3, everything stops. This is why when someone asked me walking out of the movie if I thought they should have just kept it at 3, because they made up a concise trilogy, I couldn't agree, I had to admit it added something, namely a reason for the first 3 movies at all.
Whe the tapes of Christian Bale's freak-outs came out I thought, this guy should be John Connor, I mean people criticized Bale, but the lead character of the Terminator movies is a screwed up man. Connor continuously made a big deal of his mistrust of the machines, how they'd killed his mother and betrayed him, but having seen T2 and 3, one would think the only decent male role-models this guy has had were robot governators, Maybe he forgot, because Connor seems genuinely betrayed when it is revealed (sort of) that Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) is actually a robot. I felt particularly frustrated by the fact the trailers had included the scene showing Worthington as a robot, becasue I couldn't help but think that would make a great suprise and wake up the second half of the movie, instead they revealed their hand too early in hopes of hype-building. It's a shame.
Worthington and Anton Yelchin (as Connor's beforementioned father Kyle Reese) both give great performances, which really carry the movie.
The third act of the movie has a little too much cheese for my taste, particularly the way it shows how heavy-handed the symbolism has been. Some of the symbols are just too obvious or overt, I mean yes, we get it Wright is a robot, but a man too. Or the final sort of revelation which I can only dismiss as farce since it's completely insane. But I guess in a movie about giant robots who randomly kill people (though some are very slow to do it for machines programed to kill). I mean, I guess my disbelief could be suspended enough but if it's going to be a hardcore war-action movie you cant drop too much cheese in here. Movies probably shouldn't have a napalm scene and a cuddle scene in the same film, and honestly that may be a great litmus test for a movie doing too much. Either way, the fact that "Terminator Salvation" exists reinforces my idea that this is an intersting world, and because it's in the future it's theoretically awesome. Because this is a continuation and not a remake of the original "Terminator" with someone like The Rock as the murderous robot I'm eternally thankful.
2 out of 4 stars.

Most out of place actor: Common (at least he wasn't the random black guy to die), but making a break into blockbusters with an action-war movie, make me wish Common would become this era's Carl Weathers.