Watching Wil Wheaton (1986/2005)

Years ago my girlfriend Vickie showed me the excellent Rob Reiner movies Stand by Me and The Princess Bride. Stand by Me starring Wil Wheaton is still one my half-dozen favorite films. The Princess Bride is still a favorite source of humorous quotations. (I also like Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men.)

As a formerly geeky, lonely boy whose heroes were authors (C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien), I identified with Stand by Me's Gordie Lachance and wished I had had a friend like Chris Chambers. The sentiment of the song "Stand by Me" struck a chord in me.

Over the years I would see more television series and movies with Gordie Lachance and Chris Chambers, or rather Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, December) and River Phoenix (The Mosquito Coast, Little Nikita, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, My Own Private Idaho, Dogfight, Sneakers), respectively. The opposition between Allie Fox played by Harrison Ford (an unusual role for him) and Charlie Fox played by River Phoenix in The Mosquito Coast was amazing. The friendship between Scott Favor played by Keanu Reeves and Mike Waters played by River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho is poignant. (It was one of the few roles in which Keanu Reeve's wooden style worked.) Little Nikita was a movie with an excellent idea and inane execution, but River Phoenix's acting was not to blame. His early death from drugs was a shock.

I never understood why people thought Wil Wheaton's Wesley Crusher character in Star Trek: The Next Generation was so annoying. A boy genius saving the crew was close to my own daydreams. What irrational aversion leads to the formation of a Usenet newsgroup alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die? Perhaps people were jealous of a character that was cute and smart, and both made out with Ashley Judd and saved the universe.

Wil Wheaton also did well in December. December is a decent film, filled with dialogue. (I like listening to conversation; my enthusiasm for the Richard Linklater films Before Sunrise, Waking Life, and Before Sunset--which we saw at SIFF last year--is evidence of that.)

A few years ago I discovered that Wil Wheaton not only played a geek on television, he is a geek in real life. He even maintains his own website, WIL WHEATON dot NET. I mentioned this to my friend Andrew, who became a regular reader, referencing WWdN in our email correspondence. Now, thanks to Bloglines, I am a regular reader as well.

Listening to Earlimart at Crocodile Cafe (2004-10-05)

I tuned into The Beat on 94.9 KUOW Seattle's NPR News and Information Station and heard music that Elliot Smith might have made. I first noticed the music of Elliot Smith in the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, especially "Miss Misery." It wasn't Elliot Smith playing on KUOW, however.

On that edition of The Beat, the Music Review with Cheryl Waters was Treble and Tremble by Earlimart. I thought she said they were playing that night at Seattle's Tractor Tavern, but when I sent an email message to KUOW, the reply indicated the show was at the Crocodile Cafe. KUOW staff also sent this review:

Treble and Tremble
Palm Pictures

You almost don't have to know all the trivia surrounding Earlimart to intuit what Treble & Tremble is about. This time out, the Southern California band delivers a gorgeous love note to the late Elliott Smith. The cover art alone is an homage -- a simple sketch that suggests love, friendship, tears, holiness and a goodbye, its message underlined by Smith's representative "xo"s. And then there's album opener "Hold On Slow Down", which will be enough to bring Smith's legions of fans to tears...again. Over haunting piano chords, songwriter Aaron Espinoza speaks directly to Smith, his message a loving farewell that seems to cross the barriers of time and death. You don't have to know that Espinoza and Smith were friends. You don't even have to see the album dedication on the last page of the insert ("Treble & Tremble is dedicated to our friend Elliott Smith"); in every word and every chord, the album is for him. Still, marking Treble & Tremble as an album purely for Elliott Smith fans would be a mistake. Even without context, it's one of the best and most moving albums of the year. Bathed in warm melodies and sweet crescendos, it's the kind of record that grows on you with each spin, yielding a new favorite song with passing days. Your first favorite might be "Broke the Furniture"; its perfect slide guitar hook and Espinoza's gentle vocals make it capable of sustaining repeated listens in the double and triple digits. After you've accustomed yourself to the gentle textures of one song, though, more wonders await. In short, Treble & Tremble is anything but a hit-or-miss record. From start to finish, from sparse piano ballads to sunny California pop, Earlimart have produced an unfailingly satisfying album. Mood has much to do with Treble & Tremble's greatness. Espinoza has acknowledged that the record is fundamentally about love, and that intention comes across in eloquent soft-focus. Treble & Tremble is a must-have for anyone who shed a tear at Elliott Smith's untimely demise; it's just the kind of loving memorial his life and songs required, and Earlimart deserves thanks for that. However, to the band's credit, the album also transcends its memorial status. It might just as well have been dedicated to anyone who's loved and lost...and loved again.
The Earlimart show at the Crocodile was excellent. I'm glad I went. However, all I brought home from the show was a poster. Yesterday Ryan bought me the CD, so I'm enjoying the music again now.

Watching Tube (2005-05-13)

I'm a fan of foreign films, but I see that Korean action movies have plot devices similar to action movies made in the United States. (I can't quite reach. Give me your hand! My emotions give me a second wind for bezerk fighting. Something small stopped the bullet that appeared to kill.) Distressing chat interrupted my viewing, but Tube still seemed long at not quite 2 hours.


Listening to Garden State soundtrack (2004-07)

Ryan and I saw the film Garden State with dear friends and liked it, but I like its soundtrack even more (a sample is available). Ryan bought the CD for me. I especially like these songs:
  • Frou Frou, "Let Go"
  • Cary Brothers, "Blue Eyes"
  • Colin Hay "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You"
  • Remy Zero, "Fair"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "The Only Living Boy in New York"
We've heard "Blue Eyes" on Seattle's 103.7 The Mountain KMTT. While I very much like "Let Go" (despite not understanding its meaning), the other songs have more guitar, earning them a place in my current favorite folk rock guitar music:
  • Remy Zero, "Fair"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "The Sound of Silence"
  • Indigo Girls, "Least Complicated"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "The Only Living Boy in New York"
  • Cary Brothers, "Blue Eyes"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "Song for the Asking"
  • Cat Stevens, "Morning Has Broken"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "For Emily, Whenever I may Find Her"
  • Colin Hay, "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "Kathy's Song"
  • Indigo Girls, "Power of Two"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "America"
  • Cat Stevens, "The Wind"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "Homeward Bound"
  • James Taylor, "Fire and Rain"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "Mrs. Robinson"
  • Kings of Convenience, "Homesick"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "I Am a Rock"
  • Kings of Convenience, "Cayman Islands"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "The 59th Street Bridge Song"
  • Kings of Convenience, "Surprise Ice"
I'd love to learn to play these--or even the first (easiest) five of these--on the guitar. Later I would like to learn Eagles "Seven Bridges Road", Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing" or "Walk of Life", or songs from Afro Celt Soundsystem, CSNY, Fleetwood Mac, Gypsy Kings, Mark Knopfler, or Paul Simon.

While writing of the Kings of Convenience, I'll note that their "I'd Rather Dance with You" video is cute. It is available in several places.

Watching Clerks (2005-05-12)

Last night Ryan and I watched Clerks, the first full-length movie Kevin Smith (Silent Bob of the Jay-and-Silent-Bob duo) directed. It was funny; I especially liked the cat on the counter. The only other Kevin Smith movie I've seen is Dogma. (Alanis Morissette had a nice role.) I haven't seen Chasing Amy.

Watching Night of the Twisters

Jim mentions Night of the Twisters, the first of a series of low-rated movies I watched years ago to see Devon Sawa. Will someone give this pretty boy a role in a better movie than Robin of Locksley, The Boys Club, Wild America, SLC Punk!, Idle Hands, and Final Destination? (A Cool, Dry Place was an acceptable adaptation of the novel Dance Real Slow.)

Seeing Earthling? (2005-05-26)

One of our clients, GoTech, has invited Jim and me to celebrate its 9th Anniversary on Thursday, May 26, with the SIFF presentation of Earthling. After a 4-6 PM reception on GoTech's deck, we would walk to The Neptune to see the 7:15 PM showing. Keen observers will note this conflicts with the --05-26 19:00 screening of Adam & Steve. It might be possible to give my ticket to the latter to somone else, and perhaps see the --05-28 13:30 screening instead. I have until May 20 to RSVP.

At The Neptune (2005-05-22/06-12)

This year one of the new SIFF venues is The Neptune in the University District. Seventy-five different films will screen there. I plan to see the following films at this theater:

The location is convenient so I could be persuaded to see more. Layer Cake (--05-21 21:30) might be interesting, but I think it will get wider distribution.


Anticipating SIFF (2005-05-11)

Why see these films? I like parties, so I want to attend the Gala Presentations. The opening night is Me and You and Everyone We Know. See below on The Dying Gaul and Cote D'Azur. Red Dust is from Africa (though South Africa, not Kenya or Tanzania where I vacationed). I'm anticipating understanding the Spanish in Bombon, el Perro, part of a program from Argentina. I like Gus Van Sant (particularly My Own Private Idaho, To Die For, Good Will Hunting, and Finding Forrester, but I've also seen Mala Noche and Drugstore Cowboy). I imagine I'll like his closing night film Last Days.

The Secret Festival has been a nice opportunity to see films no longer available, films that "premiere" elsewhere, and films not yet finished. I've bought this membership regularly.

My childhood and boyhood drama involved dying and rejecting mothers. I like to see how other people might grow up. Saint Ralph might have had more reason to be bitter. My friends say I'm a geek--not a dork--so The Night of the Living Dorks could be entertaining. The teens in Mysterious Skin might have had more drama.

My teens and 20s didn't include "coming out" or sexual exploration, so Summer Storm and Last Full Show (part of the Seriously Gay short film package) might show me what I missed. No one expressed suspicions that I was gay (though if I must have a label I prefer "bisexual"), unlike the families in Rice Rhapsody and Cote d'Azur.

The youth in Rock School may have had opportunities I didn't. I like music, so I'm anticipating enjoying the Rock School Jam as well. The Jam is at Neumos. (I heard United State of Electronica there. Alas! The Kings of Convenience show there sold out before I bought a ticket.)

We saw The Dying Gaul as a play at Intiman Theatre a few years ago, so I'm interested to see how it is as a movie. We saw Daniel Brühl in Good Bye Lenin! and are excited to see him again in Ladies in Lavender.

"God made Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve," they said in the church of my boyhood. Ronda Nocturna is a gay drama from Spanish-speaking Argentina, Inlaws & Outlaws is a gay documentary from Seattle, Rice Rhapsody is a gay comedy from Hong Kong, and Tropical Malady is a gay drama from Thailand. That's variety!--if you're gay. Dreamship Surprise - Period 1 may be campy but I understand it entertained a large German audience.

Finally, the special archival presentation of The Circus had high recommendations at the SIFF preview. (The public preview was at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.)

At the SIFF Main Box Office (2005-05-07)

Last Saturday I bought Seattle Internation Film Festival passes: a Gala Pass, Secret Festival Membership, and Film Buff 20 Pack. I also bought individual tickets to matinee and midnight screenings that interested both Ryan and me. My spending spree resulted in the following insane screening schedule (in ISO 8601):