Sunday, December 30, 2007

another scary movie day

Scott and I joined his friend, Paula, to spend another day watching scary movies.

halloween rob zombie
Originally uploaded by vizyonmax1

Halloween (2007): D

The first movie was heavy metal musician Rob Zombie's 2007 remake Halloween. I never saw John Carpenter's 1978 original version, so I didn't have much to compare it to. Scott and Paula seemed to enjoy it though. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of the horror genre, but I also thought the long set-up was unnecessary and few, if any, of the characters were sympathetic or believable.

La cosecha
Originally uploaded by pedrotbm

The Reaping: D

Even if I were a horror movie fan, I don't see how The Reaping would qualify as an enjoyable or fun movie. The worse aspect was the over-the-top stereotypes of rural Louisiana and fundamentalist Christians.

Bug ( Drama )
Originally uploaded by see_movie

Bug: B

Wow, the pleasant surprise of the day was the 2006 movie Bug starring Ashley Judd. Apparently Scott and Paula didn't read the DVD cover closely because we all assumed it would be a horror/sci-fi thriller about, well, bugs. Needless to say, there were not swarms of bugs or giant, radioactive monster insects.

The first act was slow and we began to wonder why the horror movie's set-up was taking so long. We even began to doubt the Roger Ebert review calling the movie "searingly intense". However, we did a little research and realized the movie was based on a play which prepared us the rest of movie being set in a three-room motel room.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Juno: A


Scott, Heather, Isabell, and I watched Juno ( this afternoon. Going in, I was a little concerned the movie wouldn't live up to its hype. However, this is probably one of the best movies I've seen this year. The characters were believeable and great performances. Ellen Page is great as the title character. Allison Janney was great in her supporting role and JK Simmons is is terrific as the gruff, but loving dad/grandfather.

Not sure what else to say. The movie did briefly deal with abortion, but I can't see how a pro-lifers or pro-choicers could see their depictions as good. The point of the movie seemed to be folks trying to do the right thing in a simultaneously bizarre and normal situation.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day snow (updated)

IMG_3973, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Although it's not visible in the camera phone photo, it really did snow this Christmas Day. As seen in Scott's photo, it really did snow on Christmas Day. KGW reports it has been 17 years since Portland has had snow on Christmas Day. Fortunately, the snow didn't stick in the Portland-Vancouver area we traveled, but it was nice to see.

I was a really tired today. Last night, Scott and I decided to skip Christmas eve services so we could go to sleep early. However, at 11:45 PM, Tammam called and guilted me into upholding our annual tradition. I got dressed and met him at St. Mary's Cathedral just a couple blocks from the building. St. Mary's has a beautiful service, but the novelty of high church has worn thin. By 1:30, the Hallelulah Chorus grand finale was the only obstacle between me and bed.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I Am Legend: B

I Am Legend

Last night, Scott and I joined Jay and Jay's brother to watch the new Will Smith movie I Am Legend ( Like the 28 Days series and Children of Men, Legend creates an impressive prediction of near-present day post apocalyptic setting. The Fresh Prince did a great job carrying most of the movie solo. Fortunately, he was able to talk to his dog and he had flashbacks. The flashback scenes were a little frustrating in that they didn't really explain much beyond the obvious.

The movie's last act is unexpected and, openly admittedly by the movie to be unlikely. The movie's ending pretty much resolves everything, but leaves some parts of the calamity's origins unexplained. I suspect there is more stories to the flashbacks that may have been saved for the DVD version.

Overall, it's a good movie, but a little long. It's only 141 minutes, but I became a little restless toward the end. Probably some of the slow, atmosphere-setting scenes in the first half could have been shortened.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Charlie Wilson's War: C

Charlie Wilson's War

I dragged Scott to Charlie Wilson's War ( last night. I had a hard time convincing anyone else to see a movie starring Tom Hanks, but Scott relented since I go to his movie pics too.

I have mixed feelings about Charlie. I can understand how Director Mike Nichols and screenplay writer Aaron Sorkin would have thought this would have been good story for a movie. Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julia Roberts certainly seemed to maximize their characters' interesting flaws. Although I thought Roberts had a significantly smaller and less interesting role compared to Hoffman's more entertaining disheveled fat guy shtick.

The movie does a good job portraying Afghans as sympathetic victims of the Soviet Union. The movie also points out the US' mistake for not supporting Afghanistan's post-war reconstruction. And it delicately mentions the indirect aftermath that led to 9/11 and our current fiasco.

Charlie is advertised as a farce and yet its hard to see any humor in the situation. The idea that the US would throw money and weapons for its own self-serving purposes is sad and disturbing. Maybe it's just too soon to see the humor of war or it's too uncomfortable to see what our government can do when everyone responsible turns a blind eye.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

white elephant 2007

Angela Lansbury's Positive Moves

Last night, Scott and I attended K&K's annual white elephant Christmas party. While we panicked to find suitable odd gifts, we did enjoy the party once we were there. Some of the white elephant highlights included: peeing boy brandy dispenser, 1 yard yule log "manufactured" in Tennessee, personal rape alarm, snowman lamp, and a snowman doll that now graces our lobby.

After we traded gifts, Kevin got out one of last year's white elephant presents: Angela Lansbury's 1988 exercise video Positive Moves. I'm pretty sure we're going to hell for poking fun at the video. I suppose any exercise video is ridiculous, but seeing some of Ms. Lansbury's exercise moves, personal philosophy (just "cancel it" to counter negative thoughts), napping, and intimate bathtub scenes were just too much. Admittedly though, she probably leads a more active life than I do.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fremont Bridge

Fremont Bridge over the Willamette River, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

I drove Scott to the waterfront on a spur of the moment photo expedition during the last moments of Saturday's day light. It was a little eerie. A cold windy gray day under a noisy, massive structure, on a vacant stretch of waterfront walkway, next to an abandoned corporate "park".

I was surprised Scott wanted to photograph this bridge instead of his favorite bridge, the St. Johns. However, I think the day's not quite stormy, not quite sunny atmosphere matched my feelings of the Fremont.

According to Portland lore, the massive Fremont was built at a time when city leaders had planned to have multiple freeways crisscrossing the metro area. Its bold white arch and stylish design make it appear to be an optimistic prediction of freeway life -- at least from the distance most people downtown see the bridge. However, at a closer look, drivers can see the fading, cracking paint; ramps to forgotten, never-built freeways; and odd nut-and-bolt joints which seem unlikely on any modern structure. It's unimaginable today's Portlander's would support the construction of any huge, expensive bridge without bike lanes, pedestrian walkways, and transit lines.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Santas invade Downtown

Santas Invade Stark Street

I've seen some hilarious naughty Santas and Mrs. Clauses all day downtown. Apparently it is part of Santacon.

(Hat Tip: Metroblogging Portland)

Friday, December 7, 2007

For The Bible Tells Me So: C

I dragged Scott to the documentary For The Bible Tells Me So ( last weekend.

The documentary is a good primer on gay Christians. The movie started off not by profiling gay Christians, but introducing the religious backgrounds of the parents of gay Christians. It was interesting to hear the perspective of Bishop Gene Robinson's parents, Imogene & Victor Robinson. Several other parents were introduced including an African-American couple who were also conservative pastors who refused to accept their daughter's lesbian identity. I was surprised that even the daughter of former Democrat presidential candidate Dick Gephardt struggled to tell her parents. Robinson's and Chrissy Gephardt's coming out have been widely covered in the media and yet they offered many new details from their first-person accounts. I even got a little teary-eyed watching Robinson's installation as bishop.

As expected, the film included footage of the numerous outspoken, anti-gay Christian leaders. The always reliably offensive soundbites of the Fred Phelps clan were shown along side an old Anita Bryant pie-in-the-face clip and more recent Jimmy Swaggart, James Dobson, and President Bush Jr. anti-gay statements. The notorious clobber verses were covered and refuted by Christian scholars on the liberal end of the theological spectrum.

My main criticism of the documentary is that it seemed to be repetitive at times and the last third of the film seemed to wander. This was very much a Michael Moore-ish film in that it seemed like a one-sided advocacy piece instead of an objective observer. There was even a Moore-like corporate office confrontation at the Focus on the Family headquarters in which a young gay Christian man and his parents were arrested for trespassing (apparently, part of Soulforce's protest shtick). I recall only one conservative Christian scholar interview and apparently the filmmakers could not find any gay conservative Christians who live celibate or "ex-gay".

I know this may sound snotty and know-it-all, but I can't say I really learned anything new outside of the personal accounts. The movie covered parts of my personal theological journey of the last ten years. So, the documentary had the disadvantage of covering the same old territory for me. I wish this movie was available when I first came-out, but I'm glad it's is available for conservative Christians who are struggling with their sexuality.

(12/07/2007 10:30 AM PST: Reworded and revised my first draft.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Mist: A

(Admittedly, I'm behind on my movie blogging. The single-click, five star rating system on Netflix is much easier, so I'll probably only post movies I see in theaters here.)

(WARNING: Minor plot spoilers.)


Last month, Scott and Sheena dragged me to The Mist ( I assumed it would be a silly horror movie, which is not my favorite genre. So, I went in open mind, but with low expectations. The reviews I read, which mentioned the movie had a depressing ending, were also discouraging

The movie started-off slow with the stereotypical, white, well-off, heterosexual family seemingly not having a care in the world. After an overnight storm cuts the remote town's power, a father, his son, and disgrunted minority neighbor head to the local supermarket for supplies. While shopping, the mist arrives trapping everyone in the store.

The supermarket is a microcosm of suburban American life. Stephen King shamelessly contrasts all the cultural groups as they try to understand what the mist is. The sensible, heroic father (Thomas Jane) and amateur socialogist/Radar-esque store manager Ollie (Toby Jones) plot a rescue plan while being confronted by blue collar thugs, doubting African-Americans, and religious fanatics. As fear and hopelessness intensify, the town's resident crazy lady takes charge as a Christian fundamentalist prophet. The story turns into the fundamentalist antagonist versus the sensible, educated, liberal, lesbian and athiest groups.

[SPOILER:] I'm not sure I share Stephen King's stereotypes or dire assessment of humanity. I hoped humanity would be a little more functional and rational. However, my hope was undermined in the theater when the downtown Portland audience cheered and clapped the violent death of the Christian fundamentalist who pretty much represents every stereotypical right-wing, Bush-supporting, anti-gay, anti-abortion, religious conservative we liberals/progressives believe those people truly are. (. . . or maybe I read too much into it the audience's reaction.)

Without giving away the ending, I will say that it is depressing and bleak. There is a trick ending which is predictable, but still powerful and thought-provoking. My coworker told me the short story's ending is more mysterious and vague. However, I do appreciate the fulfilling Hollywood ending which tied-up all the loose ends.

(Th 12/06/2007 11:40 AM: Revised and reworded, because it's my blog and I can do whatever I want.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Season's Greetings - Love, Gordon

Gordon and her new seven-foot cat toy, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

It took all night, but Scott finally got Gordon to sit still for a long exposure. She loves her tree. Poor indoor cat. She thinks the tree is real.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Man Vs. Wild: West Hollywood

Funny spoof of Scott's psuedo-boyfriend: (probably NSFW)

(Hat Tip:

BTW, apparently the Bear Grylls fans are very defensive. The last time I posted criticism of Grylls, I received my first hate letter via a blog comment.