Sunday, October 19, 2014

Appreciate the things we don't get anymore

Last week my company held its second annual User Group conference, where we invited all of our clients and to come to Milwaukee for sessions, networking, and to meet our team.  This year it was held at the Pfister Hotel, a luxury hotel built in 1893.

Being in such an old building and experiencing the awesome architecture reminded me of my time in Europe with my college choir, seeing cathedrals, opera houses, and old churches.

Sitting at lunch last Tuesday, talking with one of my coworkers and a couple clients, I commented on how cool the ceiling was in the Imperial Ballroom.  Interestingly, my coworker really didn't care about it at all.  I love the level of detail, the work involved, and the fact that most of it was likely hand-carved.  I appreciate it because this level of decor and detail is pretty much extinct.  Everything nowadays is more function over form, mostly because of cost.

I appreciate functionality as much as the next guy, but late 1800s architecture really is special.

The Imperial Ballroom at the Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee, WI

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

LOST is 10 years old...and I remember it like it was yesterday

I've read a bunch of articles about LOST, but The Verge posted a great one about how with all its flaws and craziness, the thing that keeps you watching is the characters and their relationships.  I'll buy that.

Maybe a binge of LOST is in order....

Also, what are your thoughts on the show?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Raised by Penguins? Bat nipples? George Clooney?

I wasn't fan of its predecessor, but this sequel gets a couple of things right where Batman failed.  It certainly isn't a great film, and I'm rather impressed these films made enough money that they made four of them.  In any case, I think Batman Returns may be the best film in this series.

First things first, Tim Burton really toned down the "iconic shots" in this film and majorly increased the plot (i.e. it had a plot this time).  There are 2.5 villains: the Penguin...a monster played by Danny DeVito, Christopher Walken plays himself (actually he plays Max Shreck, a power monger business man), and waffling Catwoman...played with a lot of crazy by Michelle Pfeiffer.

Overall, I liked this one better than the first one, but the whole raised by penguins thing still bothers me. 7 ramheads out of 10.


The 3rd film, Batman Forever, has Val Kilmer, and he plays a weird, but not terrible Batman.  This has a very cartoon or video game feel, with a very enclosed world.  There are a handful of villains, all of them pretty boring.  3 ramheads out of 10.


The 4th film, Batman and Robin, is bad.  George Clooney is a terrible Batman.  He has no presence on the screen at all.  You don't care about him or even realize he's there most of the time.  This film has the worst, cheapest, feel to it.  There are a new handful of villains, including a pretty lame Bane. The only this that is interesting is the Batgirl story line, played strongly by Alicia Silverstone. 2 ramheads out of 10.

Interestingly, I liked the 2nd one best, but it is less memorable than the first one and the last one.  The 3rd is totally forgettable and also bad.

Here ends my blast from the past to the Batman films of my childhood.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Na na na na na na na na Batman! (1989 edition)

As a kid I remember watching the live action Batman (1989) and being very entertained.  It is probably because, as a kid, there wasn't much for me to think about or understand in the film.

It is a highly stylized (for 1989), almost cartoonish version of Batman, with very weak characters and plot.  Michael Keaton does fine, as a rather bored Bruce Wayne, with some pretty funny one-liners.  His portrayal of The Batman, however, is a bland, kind of lame superhero.  But you know, even a lame Batman is cool.  I think it is that suit.

The Batwing flying straight up....for no reason other than this shot.
Much of that is the fault of the writing/direction.  Burton seems to spend so much time getting some iconic shots of Batman, the Batmobile driving fast, the Batwing flying and posed in the moon, that he doesn't develop the characters at all.  They don't seem to have much common sense (making the audience not even root for them) and are generally very flat.

Aside from a couple Bruce Wayne quips, the only part that really entertained in this film was the psychotic, goofy portrayal of Joker by Jack Nicholson....sometimes.  Joker gets kind of annoying, though, when he's dancing to late 80s music with his thugs, who look totally out of place with the big boombox and lame moves.

Plotwise, for most of the movie the Joker doesn't seem to have much of a plan.  He really just wanders aimlessly, randomly killing or sparing people, with not much purpose.  Batman doesn't seem to have much urgency either, there was a scene where he basically flies in circles in the Batwing for no reason.  Much of the movie seems disjointed, and I think this was the sacrifice that Burton made in getting the right "look".

The right look is even better when you have solid depth to the characters and a great story.  Having seen how good Batman films can be in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, this one really disappoints.

Batman (1989) runs 126 minutes and is rated a [soft] PG-13.  I give it 6 ramheads out of 10.


Monday, March 3, 2014

New music from a new artist: MOTHERFOLK

Motherfolk is a brand new band who just released their first records. Great tunes:

Here was the Kickstarter video that got them their initial funding: