Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Avatar: C


Avatar Creature (not from the movie), originally uploaded by Adriano Muraca.

Scott complains that I rate nearly every movie a "C" -- except Star Trek. That may be true, but five days later, I can't say Avatar left much of an impression on me. It wasn't awful, but wasn't outstanding either.

The uninteresting soldier-infiltrates-the-primitive-natives story reminded me of Dances With Wolves. The heartless corporate militia bad guys seemed too inhumane and one dimensional. District 9 had many similar themes and storyline, but was more convincing and interesting.

The 3D and CGI were interesting gimmicks. But like the last three Star Wars movies, too much CGI just isn't convincing when it is overused. The avatar characters didn't seem real to me and many of the planet scenes seemed like trippy black light posters. Overall, the movie seemed more like a video game.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2012: D


2012 movie poster, originally uploaded by heavenivk.

Wow, it's been nearly three months since I've seen a movie (in a theater). And yet there still wasn't anything I really wanted to see. Scott, ma, and I decided to see 2012 this afternoon. It lived up to our expectations as a big, CGI, disaster movie with a silly story and numerous plot holes. Worse, it was very long and boring at times. A couple seated behind us even louded complained about how long it was.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

house's first xmas decoration

After three weeks on crutches, this was my first productive weekend.

2009 Christmas Tree

We invited mom and Sheena to come over and decorate our GE Christmas tree on Saturday. Gordon loves the return of her tree.

2009 Christmas Lights

Scott and I splurged on our first Christmas lights for the house. We chose twinkling cool white LEDs. The LEDs go well with the house's blue-grey color. The eave and gutter clip system we found worked very well.

kitchen wall cabinets up

We also re-started our kitchen remodel and opened the IKEA boxes we ordered just before my knee accident. We installed a set of wall cabinets. It was a lot of work, but we got them up this evening. Next we'll work demolitioning the base cabinets and coordinating with our plumber.

Monday, November 23, 2009

patella week 3

kneecap week 3

Woo-hoo! I finally got into the knee clinic and have been freed from the crutches and full-leg brace. I'm now staggering around.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

new trees planted!

New Persian Ironwood

Trees from Friends of Trees

We love the two Persian Ironwoods Friends of Trees planted today. Scott volunteered with the group and planted 15 trees in another neighborhood while I watched another group plant our two trees with my crippled leg.

Monday, November 9, 2009

funny: variations of Poker Face

From last night's Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show (via ohnotheydidnt). Yes, it's very immature and offensive, but still funny:


Christopher Walken also covered Poker Face last week:


And here is the original:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

dislocated patella = bad

I thought I would be little healthier by walking to the bank instead of driving last night. Instead I tripped on an A-board, twisted my leg, and dislocated my patella (kneecap) resulting in drama: screaming... yelling... sobbing... strangers... tenants... paramedics... firemen... ambulance... drugs... ER... "the Michael Jackson drug"... wake-up... Scott... Walgreens... crutches... home.

Fortunately, I understand that a dislocated kneecap is not as bad as other knee injuries -- although at the time I couldn't imagine anything more torturous.

1104091212.jpg

Monday, October 26, 2009

kitchen remodel: phase 5 of 31

Scott and I both took a four-day weekend to paint the kitchen. We've watched too many one-day home improvement shows on HGTV and DIY Network because we completely underestimated how long it would take to paint the room. We spent Friday removing the wall cabinets, patching the walls, taping the room, and going to IKEA. We spent Saturday priming and Sunday painting the ceiling. We finally painted the walls today and met with the IKEA contractor and our plumber friend. Now we just need to paint the trim, order the new cabinets, build, install, have pluming and electrical work down, etc., etc., not to mention the flooring. So, we've merely started the kitchen remodel.

Scott taping kitchen new kitchen paint
Scott documenting kitchen new kitchen paint

Monday, October 19, 2009

Afternoon at Lewis River Falls -or- Day We Almost Lost Mom

Lower Lewis Falls

Lower Lewis Falls

Yesterday, Scott, Sheena, Ma, and I took what we thought would be a short drive to the Lower Lewis Falls at Gifford Pinchot National Forest. However, we didn't realize 40 miles from I-5 would take hours on winding forest roads. We finally got to the falls about an hour before dusk. Scott scrambled to take pictures (which I hope to post).

At some point, Scott, Sheena and I took the stairs down to the falls. I thought mom saw us from the viewing area overlooking the falls, but apparently she thought we headed back to the car. Worse, mom took a different path to another parking area. When we came back up and didn't find mom at the car, we all became worried. We were basically in the middle of nowhere in a vacant park, out of cellphone range, looking for mom in a dark, densely wooded area with poorly marked trails. Of course, we then started to assume the worse like she fell down the canyon into the river or some horrible Blaire Witch scenario (the only soul we saw in the last miles into the forest was a suspicious-looking hunter). Fortunately, Sheena found mom after twenty minutes of worry. In hindsight, the area between the river and parking lot was relatively small, but still it was creepy not being able to find mom right away.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

French drain AKA ditch

Before we could do a more visually satisfying home improvement project like paint the kitchen, Scott forced us to do the responsible thing and install a boring French drain before the fall rains. Its fancy European name is misleading as a French drain is basically a type of drainage ditch with pipe.

Scott, ditch digger gravel mountain
French Drain aka Ditch All Done!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Flavel House

Scott's wonderful pictures:


, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Flavel House - Eastern Exposure-Vertical, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Flavel House Sitting Room, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Flavel House Family Room, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Flavel House Music Room 2, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

On Sunday, ma, Sheena, Scott and I took a day trip to Astoria. In addition to seeing The Goonies house and Lewis & Clark's Fort Clatsop (boring), we saw the Flavel House Museum. The 1885 house was very impressive - especially considering that it was completed merely 79 years after Lewis & Clark left Fort Clatsop. It was interesting to learn that the Victorian style house also maintained Victorian etiquette in what still had to have been a young pioneer town. As new homeowners, Scott and I learned that we really should set a day each week to accept callers and keep a silver platter out to collect calling cards.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Julie & Julia: B


Meryl Streep as Julia Child, originally uploaded by eatwellguide.

Scott, ma, and I saw Julie & Julia on Saturday at the Moreland Theatre in Sellwood. The Moreland is the first movie theater I remember going to. Mom took me there to see Bambi and Snow White. All I remember of the theater then was that it had red heart-shaped love seats at the back of the theater. The love seats are gone now, but the little theater still has the painted ceilings and fixtures.

Anyways, I finally got to see Meryl Streep as Julia Child. She was terrific! Stanley Tucci returns as Streep's sidekick and Jane Lynch continues her scene stealing (as Newsweek notes). The Julia Child portion of the movie was great, but the Amy Adams / Julie Powell portion of the movie was annoyingly long. Let's be honest, Streep as Child is the major draw of the movie and no one really wants to see a movie about blogging. That said, the Powell portion does make a point about its overly idealized portrayal of Julia Child that no person could live-up to (Joe.My.God. reminds us that Child has been accused of being very homophobic).

Overall, a good movie with great performances, but it was a little long and the less interesting Powell story should have been edited-down. Sheena, who refused to see the movie, summed it up well as a chick-flick about a woman who finds meaning in cooking.

BTW, for a movie about people who cook, I was surprised that the movie didn't make me hungry. The duck scene was the only appetizing scene (Scott actually "Oooooh"ed the cooked duck). The irrelevant way the movie handled food, the movie could have been about auto repair, woodworking, or knitting. It seems the movie missed an opportunity to use food to entice viewers and could have taken cinematography lessons from any Food Network cooking show.

Monday, August 31, 2009

fierce kitty Gordon

Scott's camera captured Gordon in action:


IMG_4869, originally uploaded by sweber4507.


IMG_4843, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Until our recent move to the house, Gordon was an apartment-only kitty with few opportunities to go outside. With the house, we hoped she would enjoy going outside more. We tried to coax her out by leaving the doors open. I even carried her out to which she replied with a worried yowl and ran back inside. So, we figured she was just afraid of the outdoors.

Then last month, she suddenly found courage and went outside. We think she became jealous of the numerous neighborhood cats she would watch roam through our yard. Now Gordon is obsessed about going outside and has become an outside monster. Scott and I still have to supervise her outings because she doesn't have all of her vaccinations yet. We are also concerned that she doesn't realize that she is clawless as she seems to be fearless in approaching other cats and even dogs. Her only defense now is that she crouches on our front steps as if she blends in with the concrete.

(09/09/2009 revised.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Inglourious Basterds: B


Inglourious-basterds-members, originally uploaded by ashleyashhh.

[WARNING: MINOR SPOILER BELOW]

Scott and I saw Inglourious Basterds last weekend. I can't claim to be the most devoted Quentin Tarantino fan because I still have not gotten around to seeing Death Proof/Grindhouse or Jackie Brown, but Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favorites and I loved both Kill Bills.

Besides the over-the-top visual gimmicks and music references, Tarantino's signature filmmaking style are long, two-person conversation scenes. Basterds' first chapter is a long scene of a Nazi officer's conversation with a little-spoken French farmer. It's a great opening scene with so much suspense as to what direction Tarantino is going to take the scene.

Basterds is surprising linear in its storytelling with only a couple of flashbacks and fewer tricks to keep the audience off-guard. The movie is still Tarantino but more conventional and less suspenseful carnival ride than his other movies. Since the movie counts each chapter, I sighed a little at each new chapter as I wondered if the title card was a warning of another long scene.

Like his other movies, Basterds is about criminals and gangsters who operate with some type of moral character or philosophy -- just instead of gangsters or assassins, this movie has a band of Army/OSS insurgents and a holocaust survivor versus Nazi war criminals. [WARNING: MINOR SPOILER ALREADY DISCLOSED IN MANY OTHER REVIEWS.] Tarantino took some far-fetched liberties in his historical recreation and made a revenge fantasy. Although I prefer movies to be historically accurate, this movie does have a satisfying ending.

Overall, a good movie with fun performances, but probably not the best Tarantino movie. Brad Pitt's accent grew on me. Mike Myers' over-the-top cameo made what would have otherwise been a uninteresting scene watchable. But it's the relatively unknown actors (at least to US audiences) like Christoph Waltz and Mélanie Laurent that stood-out to me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Hurt Locker: A


The Hurt Locker (2009), originally uploaded by LAS AVENTURAS DE ANTOINE DOINEL.

Last night, I watched The Hurt Locker while Scott went to Jurassic Park.

The movie literally spells-out its point at the very beginning, "War Is A Drug". The movie follows a trio composing a US Army explosives unit as they count-down their final days of deployment. The three men each cope differently with the enormous stress of the highly dangerous task of disarming IEDs, car bombs, and suicide bombers in the midst of the Iraq war.

For a movie about a current, controversial war, the movie and its characters don't seem to express an opinion about the war itself. The story could have been set in nearly any war. There is no overt message about the senselessness of war -- other than the obvious cruelty of hidden bombs. It's just three guys who struggle to do their job and then struggle to live without the intensity of the job.

This seems like a nearly perfect war movie and not overly gory or intense as I expected. My only annoyance was that there were a few M*A*S*H stereotypes such as an overly-calm Sidney Freedman type of Army psychiatrist.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

District 9: B


District 9, originally uploaded by MyCine.

Scott and I saw the much anticipated District 9 last weekend. Like many sci-fi premises, this story was a heavy-handed examination of humanity at its worse.

The movie dives-in with many what if scenarios:

  • What if, instead of landing on the White House lawn, the UN, or a socially/economically stable continent, aliens landed in a troubled location like Johannesburg, South Africa?
  • What if, after 20 years, humanity was not inspired by first contact, but merely viewed aliens as another complicated, messy, unwanted refugee problem?
  • What if the governments of the world outsourced extraterrestrial diplomacy to a for-profit, exploitative, multinational corporation -- which, needless to say, is inherently without morals or ethics?
  • What if technologically-advanced aliens lacked humans' conniving, lying ways?
  • What if a spineless, uninspired, corporate middle manager was placed in charge of human-alien relations?
  • And what if someone made a documentary about it with the usual talking head, expert commentators?

Obviously, this movie portrays us at our worst with, at best, stereotypically irrelevant "human rights" activists in the background and an anti hero who only finds courage and morals when it serves his self-interests. Is humanity really that bad? Sure, other sci-fi like Star Trek are unrealistic in their overly optimistic portrayal of humanity, but nihilistic fantasy is no more realistic. The filmmakers made so much effort to make this movie seem like reality, but only portrayed the worst of humanity's indifference. I will credit the movie for implying that black and white post-apartheid South Africans somehow united to reimpose apartheid against the stranded aliens.

Overall, good sci-fi movie with more of a story than the similarly styled Cloverfield. The graphic vomiting and continually shaky camera work did make me a little nauseous, so small screen viewing is probably preferable. And the movie did annoyingly set things up for a sequel, so we'll probably get to revisit the story - especially since it had a great weekend opening.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

small world: Tel Aviv gay center shootings

I saw the news about the shootings at Tel Aviv gay center on Saturday from the various gay news RSS I subscribe to. I have to admit that I was not as shocked to hear about violence against a gay community center in the Middle East as I would be if the attack had taken place in North America or Europe. However, I only learned recently that Tel Aviv has significant LGBT community and the city is considered a much more secular, Western urban city. Last month, a former tenant who moved to Israel years ago called and mailed photos he took of Tel Aviv's gay pride parade to our office. Judging from the racy pictures, Tel Aviv's gay pride is probably as big and outrageous as any other large city's gay pride, so I assume many LGBT folks probably feel relatively safe in Tel Aviv.

Anyways, I was a little surprised to hear from this tenant yesterday. He would probably agree that he and I don't see eye-to-eye on many issues and are probably as unalike as two people could be. When he lived in Portland, he was a notoriously loud, outspoken activist that opposed anti-war demonstrations. Even now, he forwards anti-Obama news articles to our e-mail -- just to remind us that Obama is not loved in Israel. So it took me a moment to realize what he was referring to yesterday when he called the office to express to me how shocked and saddened he was about the shootings. He said he was familiar with the area where the shootings took place.

He wanted to know if the news of the shooting had reached Portland. I told him that I don't usually watch local news, but I did hear of the shooting from websites. I was surprised to suddenly discuss such a far-off news event. I suppose if a tragic event happened in my region, I would also wonder if the folks on the other side of the world had heard it too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Up: B


up, originally uploaded by cybermelli.

up, originally uploaded by cybermelli.

Scott and I saw Up the weekend before last. It was great! Cute story.

Friday, June 19, 2009

stuck in my head: The Killers' Romeo And Juliet

Here's the latest song stuck in my head The Killers:

Apparently, it's a cover of Dire Straits' original:

The Killers are playing the Memorial Coliseum (which has some how been spared from being demolished) in September.

Star Trek opening

Here's the bold, bombastic, title to the new and improved Star Trek movie which gives me little geeky Trek chills:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

classic supervision

Supervising

Scott and I saw these two guys while driving to the hardware store. The guy in the chair was smoking a cigar.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek: A


Bridge Crew, originally uploaded by Fortyseven.

Scott, Greg, Jay, Grant, and I saw the first Star Trek (IMDB.com) showing on Thursday at 7.

Wow! J. J. Abrams' new take on Star Trek is terrific. The biggest challenge had to have been casting, but they got it right. Chris Pine's Kirk is cocky with a little swagger, but also a little goofy. Zachary Quinto's Spock was just as perfect as Leonard Nimoy's.

McCoy was always my favorite original series character and Karl Urban's portrayal was terrific. Of all the portrayals, Urban's was the closest to nearly mimicking DeForrest Kelley's McCoy, but it still seemed natural and authentic.

Greg mentioned that the movie reminded him of Starship Troopers. I'll reluctantly admit that there are some similarities. Both movies have similar quick pacing and are about young crews leaving boot camp/academy on their first mission. However, Trek is its own movie and style and not quite as cartoonish.

Like any movie, there are some unexplained plot holes. How can two people just happen to separately crash land within walking distance of each other on a planet? Why is the Enterprise the only ship available? Why is everyone on Earth, Vulcan, and other planets completely helpless and Kirk & crew are the only heroes around? But who cares? The movie was fun.

The movie's overall tone and pace has changed the Trek franchise. The movie is so faced paced and flashy that I do want to go see again -- and I haven't wanted to re-watch a movie in years.

Monsters vs Aliens: B


President Hathaway, originally uploaded by wintan29.

I forgot to blog about Monsters vs Aliens which we saw last month. The kid's movie was cute. I really liked Stephen Colbert's "President Hathaway". However, weeks later, I can't say anything else stands out in my mind.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine: C


HQ Wolverine Promo #1, originally uploaded by X-Men Origins : Wolverine.

We saw the first big summer movie, Wolverine, on Saturday. It wasn't a bad movie, but like any prequel, the story felt like it was being steered to complete certain tasks to establish Wolverine. The story ended abrubtly with obvious loose ends for future storylines. Overall, good comic book movie.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Leach Botanical Garden

Wow. Scott and I "discovered" Leach Botanical Garden just off SE 122nd & Foster. It's amazing to still discover new amazing places in the city.

I followed the sound of the frogs to this little pond at the back of the garden. They stopped when I got too close, but they soon started-up again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Woo-hoo! "Probably Not A Tumor"*

Just got back from the specialist. He took an x-ray and doesn't believe it is a tumor or growth*. He doesn't know what it is, but it may be an infection damaging the nerve that could take months to clear-up.

* (Although he did insert a disclaimer that if it was a growth, the treatment would be the same today as it would be in six months.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rick Warren: Reverend, Liar

Rick Warren Then:

". . . Let me say this very clearly. We support Proposition 8. And if you believe what the bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues I come out very clear. . . ."

Rick Warren Now:

". . . During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never -- never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going. . . ."

Like megachurch pastor Rick Warren's prior controversies, his latest controversy seems to be about, at best, articulating what he means and, at worst, diliberately lying. However, it seems just like an outright lie though. He seems to want to want to project a modern-sounding, progressive, and inclusive view to the public (via Larry King), while still maintaining the fringe, fundamentalist, and exclusive theology for his conservative Christian supporters (via, apparently, a less public video).

I suspect many conservative Christians struggle just as much as Warren. This is probably an unfair characterization, but I think many conservative Christians truly want to sound progressive, inclusive and friendly toward gays and lesbians, but privately seek the security of their exclusive fundamentalist faith. And conservative Christian churches (especially megachurches) strive to project a slick, glossy and modern image, but at the end of the day their doctrines are still ultimately about archiac theology and damning outsiders to hell. In essence, it seems Warren and others attempt the impossible: inclusive, but exclusive; tolerant, but intolerant; open-minded, but close-minded.

At least with the late Jerry Falwell, there was no confusion about what Falwell's politics and position were.

Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one.
- Matthew 5:37 (NAB)

Monday, April 6, 2009

awwwwwwwwwww


IMG_6570, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

The squirrels were crazy yesterday at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. This one came right up to Scott while he was taking flower pictures.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Coraline: B


Coraline LAIKA, originally uploaded by krisish.

We saw Coraline a couple of weeks ago. Admittedly, I'm not a fantasy movie fan, but I did enjoy Coraline. After a slow, dull start, the movie did pick-up its pace and became a more interesting to me.

Also, the 3-D effect was great. We can't wait to see more 3-D movies.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wicked


wicked, keller auditorium, portland, oregon, originally uploaded by PDX Pipeline.

Scott and I saw Wicked Thursday night at The Keller. I finally got to see what Scott was raving about and the songs finally make sense to me. The story was great and the music was, uh, very musical. (Okay, I admit, most musicals sound like variations of the same song to me.) But I'm glad I was finally able to see Wicked.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?

0306092040.jpg

I dragged Scott to the Whad'Ya Know? taping in Salem on Friday night at the beautiful Elsinore. The show was great! I don't mean this in a negative way, but the show was just what I expected. Just like Wait, Wait, I'm glad I was finally able to see a show live that I've listened so often.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kathy Griffin: Inappropriate Touching

downsized_0304092055.jpg

Scott and I saw Kathy Griffin last night at The Schnitz. Her act had some of the same material from her Seattle show last November, but she had a lot of new material too such as octoplet mom Nadya Suleman.

We went to the 9:00 PM show which wasn't quite sold-out (sorry, Kathy -- but a Wednesday night show?). The gays certainly tried to fill the concert hall. Bravo was also taping the show, so The Schnitz was lighted the best way I've ever seen it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Religulous: A


religulous, originally uploaded by machu picchu.

I just Netflixed Religulous (IMDB.com). Comedian Bill Maher's rant against religion is heavy handed, rude, and purposely disrespectful to people's faith, but it's also honest, thoughtful and funny.

I agree with much of Maher's criticism -- especially of Christianity and Christians -- but I'm not as pessimistic about faith in general. Sure, the specific religious stories are silly, but I suspect more has been accomplished based on stupid blind faith than smarmy faithlessness. Right?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Man on Wire: C


Man on Wire, originally uploaded by monkeyiron.

I Netflixed the documentary Man On Wire last week. The documentary was good, but didn't do much more than re-tell an event that happened 30+ years ago. Philippe Petit is an interesting real-life character, but it would have been a little interesting to me to hear what this guy has been up to since his stunt.