Saturday, February 18, 2006

Here's something I'm excited about.

It's a Phillip K. Dick novel adapted for the screen by a guy named Richard Linklater, a filmmaker who lives and works in this place called Austin, Texas. Linklater has been around for awhile and has an impressive resume of moderately successful and quirky films. This one uses the rotoscoping animation technique that Linklater introduced in 2001's Waking Life, and his Detour Filmproduction company in association with Flat Black Films have completed the film using the technology pioneered by software guru Bob Sabiston. It should be in theaters this summer. No date has been set for the release, but I'll be keeping my eyes peeled.

Click on the banner at the top to see the newest trailer for A Scanner Darkly, and yeah, I know it's got Keanu in it, but I'm excited about it anyway.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Us and Hem

I wasn't as enthusiastic as Jamye about going to last night's Hem show at Exit/In. In fact, I teased her about going home to watch the Olympics right up until the moment we walked into the venue. It was a small crowd, but as the handful of tables were all occupied, we headed for the end of the bar closest to the stage.

After suffering through a Tom Waits/Robert Earl Keene/John Prine knockoff from Minnesota named Ben Weaver, the four piece band we had paid to see ambled onto the stage. After two songs, the band's frontwoman, Sally Elyson (who sounds like Joan Baez without the corncob) implored the crowd to pull their tables and chairs closer to the stage as there was a ridiculous (although typical for the Exit/In) gulf between the stage and the first landing where the tables had been set up. With the kind of quick efficiency that should be reserved for fire drills, most of the crowd complied.

I must say, it was an excellent set that had the crowd rapt. Despite the one or two moronic girls shouting requests at the stage, our failure to get out of another concert without someone yelling "Freebird," and making us wait until the encore to hear our favorite songs, we left the Exit/In satisfied that we had heard a show where the band had enough faith in their talents to not comprimise their sound for more popularity. Actually, it was quite a shame that a band that so effortlessly fuses folk, country and pop stylings couldn't draw a larger crowd here in Music City, U.S.A. It just shows to go ya.

Postscript: Before I log off here, I do need to mention their cover of a classic old tune that I believe is still in the pantheon of my Dad's favorite songs. He (and anybody else) can download a live version of it by clicking here. Also, you can check out their albums and a brief bio on iTunes. Just figured out how to make those links. Cool, huh?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Nashville Favorites: In Memoriam II

Granite Falls

Jamye and I had our first date there. Six years later, my parents hosted our rehearsal dinner in the room pictured on the left. Obviously, Granite Falls was a special place for us. Now, according to their website, they are closed for business after 19 years.

We should have known that trouble was afoot weeks ago when we caught wind that the restaurant was only going to be open during the dinner hours for private events. The place put a positive spin on the change by trumpeting previously non-existent breakfast hours on a large banner hanging from the side of the building. Lunch would still be served too, but the scene had been set for eventual failure. The Midtown breakfast crowd had already been cornered by the likes of Pancake Pantry, Noshville, Le Peep, Provence and Jackson's, and even with the staggering amount of gentrification in Nashville, I guess the management of Granite Falls began to see the writing on the wall very soon after their last ditch effort to keep the venerable restaurant alive.

It's funny. With more and more urban living projects in the pipeline, the Nashville restaurant scene should be booming, and perhaps it is for some, but from our vantage point, the locally owned places seem to be disappearing. From what little I've experienced of it through our friends Tracy and Jody, the restaurant industry is a fickle business that can turn on a dime, and sentimental spots of our past are easily ground to rubble by the wheels of corporate expansion.

Granite Falls wasn't a place we visited often, but it was a special treat when we did. As with Blue Moon, we'll always have our memories of Herb Lemon Chicken, Rattlesnake Pasta and Maryland Crabcakes, but more importantly, Jamye and I will remember the place we met for lunch that sunny April day in 1996. Ten years later, we're still going strong. We wish we could say the same for Granite Falls.

Ever get the Mean Reds??

Yeah, well, I do too. I've never resorted to shoplifting, but a good rant-fest is never beyond me. (Poor Jon!) Right now, it's the annoying Kindergarten teacher from none-other-than-Nashville on the Bachelor that's giving me the fidgets...I know, I know! Could it get any more pathetic?? I think I'm just getting fed up, feeling some issues are way overdue. Definitely becoming impatient, restless, and I'm most assuredly giving up on the news.

When Arthur March only gets 18 months in prison, and a Metro officer only gets 30 days and some community service for hitting and critically wounding a college student while driving under the influence--I just want to pull my hair out. Not to mention a VP with bad aim, riotous fundamentalists (I mean, c'mon! Isn't everyone just sick and tired of being offended already??!?), kids dying from some stupid choking game that I remember idiots performing in the Girl's restroom by the cafeteria in high school, and enough about Hillary! Stop it! Just... stop it.

Who knows, maybe a more conservative outlook is in my future. Maybe Ann Coulter and I will one day see eye-to-eye. Um, HA. Maybe it's because I've been out of the job-hunt for too long and no longer know what to expect. Perhaps it's all of the recent snow and ass-chapping weather. (Although we've just had the most relaxing weekend I can remember in months). Or maybe it's because I'm breathing down 30's neck. (By the way, I feel old. The undergrad volunteer in our lab, Michael, told Marty and I today that he had never heard of The Police. Imagine our surprise when Michael gasped, "Sting? He was in The Police?") Whatever it might be, I'm having a hard time shrugging off this cabin-fever.

Well at least the Olympics are on and my inner, neglected athlete is getting motivated. I'm off to the gym.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Oscar Wieners

No, that isn't a Brokeback Mountain joke. It's a slam on the 5,800+ members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Oscars are bestowed on the important pictures that Hollywood usually releases during the final month of the year after they've spoon fed us pap for the previous 11 months. "These are the Oscar-worthy films," they say. "This is the good stuff. All that other stuff was just to sell popcorn and pad our accounts so we can make great cinema. Yes, many of you will get a chance to see these movies in your hometown weeks after they have been released in New York and Los Angeles and after the critics in those two cities have told the rest of the country what we already knew: These films are the cream of the crop. Now, we will nominate ourselves for awards to confirm what the critics said about what we already knew."

I watched Million Dollar Baby on HBO recently. You may remember that it won the Oscar for Best Picture last year because everyone in Hollywood thinks that Clint Eastwood can do no wrong. If you recall, this is a man who made his career out of 1. playing gunslingers in Spaghetti Westerns, 2. toting around a hand cannon as a guy named Dirty something-or-other, 3. acting as second banana to a precocious orangutan named Clyde, and 4. singing that they called the wind Mariah. Now, I'm not going to say the movie was terrible, because it wasn't, but man, it was a bummer. I guess the new measure of a movie's worth is if you leave the theater wringing your hands and crying, "Woe is me!" while simultaneously rending your garments and gnashing your teeth.

Sadly, I'm still a sucker for the stuff (stuff=Oscars). When the final act in the Lord of the Rings trilogy swept the Oscars two years ago. It was a reward for a staggering achievement in film that will probably not be duplicated in my lifetime: Three features filmed back to back on location in New Zealand and recreating, down to the finest detail, a completely engrossing fantasy world. A movie I actually loved (although not as much as the previous two installments) had won for being accessible, crowd-pleasing entertainment. To each his own, but give me movies that aspire to be rousing entertainment over movies about cowboy lovers, Truman Capote, racial tensions in Los Angeles, a 50-year old witch hunt, and a 30-year old act of terrorism.

In all honesty, I haven't seen this year's nominated films. Every year, Jamye and I plan to see each one, but we never make it. I think there's something to that. After a long day at work, it makes more sense to go see a big gorilla scale the Empire State Building or a Caped Crusader take down ninjas rather than watch two ranch hands stare at each other longingly across a campfire. Maybe we just resent being told what is good and/or important by the very people who make sequels to movies called Big Momma's House.

"The Weighing Is the Hardest Part"

Or, "What I've Been Doing Since My Last Post"

I've needed to lose some weight for awhile, and by "some weight" I mean about 50-60 pounds... roughly 1/4 of myself. I had tried the Atkins approach before and had some success (losing roughly 20 lbs in six weeks), but once I fell off the no carb wagon, I rapidly put the 20 lbs. back on after a few helpings of potatoes. If man cannot live on bread alone, what makes Dr. Atkins (may he rest in peace) think man can live on bacon and rabbit food alone.

So here I was on January 22, 2006, back from a week of gorging myself on queso in Austin and looking for a sensible way to change my eating habits without being forced to give up the lifeblood of any self-respecting Irishman or adopt the eating habits of primitive man.

I decided to return to a site of a former failure. I had attempted to keep track of calories in the past, but had been unsuccessful sticking with it. I would get tired of toting around my little book made from office-supplied materials and jotting down my caloric intake day after day. This time, I downloaded their trial software, so I could keep track of what I was doing in the comfort of my little Macintosh world. Plus, it gives me fat, carb, protein, and fiber content in addition to caloric information. The database of foods included is truly stupefying, so I can usually find what I need and simply drag the item into my daily intake window. After two and a half weeks, I can see that I tend to like things that have fat in them. Imagine that. I am routinely close to or slightly above my daily allotted fat intake while I usually lag behind in the protein department. The whole exercise has been very eye-opening, and speaking of exercise, it'll keep track of that too.

Anyway, if I can trust our little bathroom scale (and that's a big IF), I have managed to shed eight pounds in two and a half weeks. At that rate, I should find myself getting to where I need to be in another.... oh, four months. I suppose it would help if I ramped up the exercise regiment a little, and by "ramped up" I mean started, of course.

I realize that some of our loyal handful of readers will be taken aback by the confessional nature of this post, but as somebody once said, "Confession is good for the soul." Now, let's see if it does anything for love handles.