Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The iPod shuffle... in color!

This is the neatest little gadget. I have a silver iPod shuffle and love it. The thing weighs nothing and clips to your clothes. And now, to top it all off, effective today it comes in all these great colors!! Okay, so I do apparently drink from the Apple Kool-Aid!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Zsa-Zsa or Eva Gabor dead

Listen to Doyle Redland's report from The Onion Radio News.

Monday, January 15, 2007

'Heartbreak' is witty and to be appreciated

My freelance review:
A greater appreciation for the works of George Bernard Shaw would have come in handy prior to seeing "Heartbreak House," a three-act play currently being performed at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre.

Written in 1919, Shaw's "Heartbreak" focuses on the social and cultural interactions of eight witty, refined characters that come together in a leisurely country house in Europe. And the dialog is correspondingly witty and refined.

Perhaps therein lay the challenge for me. While some in the audience were eating up the non-stop wit and high-culture, letting out sudden belly laughs with upmost pleasure of hearing certain lines, I struggled to appreciate the world I saw acting out in front of me.

There was opportunity to begin to appreciate what this different world had to offer. In the second act, in particular, Shaw's words -- through the character of the elderly and cantankerous Captain Shotover, played by Thomas Carson, to the character of the young Ellie Dunn, played by Ruth Eglsaer:
At your age I looked for hardship, danger, horror, and death, that I might feel the life in me more intensely. I did not let the fear of death govern my life; and my reward was, I had my life. You are going to let the fear of poverty govern your life; and your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not live.
That general theme -- of yearning to experience life more intensely -- resonated at other points, too, within the play. In particular, perhaps, in the third act, through the central character of Hesione Hushabye -- played with a consistent radiance and charm by Carole Healey. Presumably it's World War I just beginning, with bombers having passed through, lighting up the night sky outside the Heartbreak House. From there, it's Hesione's interpretation that borders on either obliviousness or an extreme yearning for intensity:
But what a glorious experience! I hope they'll come again tomorrow night.
"Heartbreak House" plays through Jan. 28 at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My top 10 films of 2006

#1 - The Queen. A royal treat. Go inside the British royale palace and find... real people! Sure, they are dignified and proper, but they also demonstrate some very human tendencies and concerns. This movie focuses on the week after Princess Diana's death with Queen Elizabeth II publicly silent as England and much of the world are grieving. The credits say that the queen is played by Helen Mirren -- but I'd swear it's the real queen! Could have fooled me. The rest of the cast is great, too -- especially Michael Sheen as Tony Blair. And it's really the great acting in this movie that overcomes the royal stereotypes and exposes the human characters underneath.

#2 - The King. A little-seen film -- but one well worth seeing! A troubled young man (Gael Garcia Bernal), recently discharged from the Navy, goes to Corpus Christi, Texas, to find the man he believes to be his father (the always top-notch William Hurt), a born-again evangelical minister. What's great about this movie is the story -- it's never clear where the story is heading, and when it does start heading in a certain direction, it's neither clear why nor how it can all possibly be worked out. Give this one a rent on DVD and enjoy some rich story-telling.

#3 - Match Point. Hitchcock is long gone, but who would have ever thought that Woody Allen could step into his shoes? Match Point is deliciously intricate and sinister with a story that builds more and more intrigue and suspense as it moves along. A charming, intelligent, down-on-his-luck young man (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is welcomed into a society family's perfect little world -- a world that doesn't stay perfect for long thanks for some dark turns and surprises.

#4 - Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. If laughter is good for the soul, then Borat is heaven-sent! The laughs are plentiful and long-lasting. The title alone is hilarious. It doesn't get more politically incorrect than this movie, folks. But settle in, leave all political correctness at the door, and enjoy. The very episodic adventures of Borat play out very well.

#5 - An Inconvenient Truth. Global warming on fire. The facts, the statistics, the explanations, the graphics, the editing, the story telling, the pacing... everything about this documentary is direct and purposeful. Al Gore is passionate in his pursuit of explaining global warming in a manner that can be understood and appreciated. This isn't the heavily-coached Al Gore we saw in the 2000 presidential elections -- this is a man with a clear message, and a quite important message at that. Must-see movie.

#6 - Thank You For Smoking. Satire played out oh-so-right. The main character (Aaron Eckhart) is the shady, lobbying voice of Big Tobacco -- he excels at spinning on behalf of cigarettes while trying to remain a role model for his 12-year-old son. He chews up the anti-smoking camp left-and-right, and his career seems to be running on all cylinders -- that is, until a welcomed "feel good" tone is interjected into the film. The supporting cast is great, too -- Robert Duvall, Sam Elliot and William H. Macy.

#7 - Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? The title is the literal question asked in this low-budget, quite-entertaining documentary that chronicles a 2004 primary of Jeff Smith running for Dick Gephardt's congressional seat in Missouri. It's an up-hill battle, though, as Smith is running against the party-favored Russ Carnahan. This fast-moving, entertaining documentary projects a tremendous amount of heart and soul from Smith and his fellow campaign workers -- and suggests a politician who may really possess fundamental qualities that are ever-so-lacking in today's political landscape. Still playing in small venues across the country -- watch for this one on DVD hopefully later in 2007.

#8 - The Lake House. I'm a sucker for well-made time travel flicks. Keanu Reaves and Sandra Bullock reteam in this love story that tugs at the heart via a mailbox through which the two send letters back-and-forth to each other -- through time. One lives in the lake house in 2006, the other lives in the lake house in 2004. Will they ever meet up? How can they? Soon they realize what's going on, and when the characters realize that all that separates them are two years, the audience starts rooting for them to connect. It's a lot of fun and enjoyable.

#9 - A Prairie Home Companion. Take the subdued, relaxing nature of Garrison Keillor's weekend radio show and project it onto the big screen, and you have this movie. There's much to like, especially in the performances of Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep as the singing Johnson sisters -- and sing they do! They are great. And once you see this movie, you'll want to pick up the soundtrack -- it's quite enjoyable and even touching in parts. Tomlin and Streep's "My Minnesota Home" and "Goodbye to My Mama" can bring a tear to your eyes. And there are plenty of laughs to be had, too, with Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly as the slightly off-color singing cowboy duo, Dusty & Lefty.

#10 - World Trade Center. The tragedy of 9/11 played out with dignity and respect on the big screen. Oliver Stone is reserved and respectful in telling the story of two actual Port Authority police officers who become trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center. They are among the last of the survivors to be rescued, and much of the film deals with their harrowing experiences to keep hope and faith. Nicholas Cage is outstanding. We don't actually see the planes hit the towers -- we only feel the sudden vibrations and sensations of the attacks, presumably like it was for most of those in New York at the time. The suspense is chilling.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Effort to find Mattie intensifies

The search for Mattie continues. The reward is now $25,000.

Ch. 5 news (and reporter Jeff Small) aired an interview with Alice Matthews on the Jan. 6 10 p.m. newscast. The video is attached to this posting; click it to watch.

In addition, the Post-Dispatch's Bill McClellan has said that he might write a column about the Matthews and the quest to find their missing dog.

If you have contacts in the media and can be of assistance, your help would be greatly appreciated. We've also compiled some general information on how to help. Also, we have new flyers to print and distribute.

Much more information at the Where in the world is Mattie? web site.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lost in translation

Some U.S. advertising campaigns aren't as effective in other countries, such as China. Well, I've found a great list of them from all-lies.com, "your source for lies, distortions, misinformation, bad advice, and the spreading of baseless rumors." Here are a just a few:

"Come alive with Pepsi!" translates to:
"Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead!"

American Express' "Don't leave home without it" translates to:
"Stay home with it"

"Intel inside" translates to:
"You have eaten Intel"

"Come to Marlboro Country" translates to:
"Leave China"

More here to enjoy.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Top box-office of 2006... how many did you see?

1. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," $423.3 million
2. "Cars," $244.1 million
3. "X-Men: The Last Stand," $234.4 million
4. "The Da Vinci Code," $217.5 million
5. "Superman Returns," $200.1 million
6. "Ice Age: The Meltdown," $195.3 million
7. "Happy Feet," $176.2 million
8. "Over the Hedge," $155.0 million
9. "Casino Royale," $153.4 million
10. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," $148.2 million

How many of them did you see?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Christmas for the Apple geeks: Jan. 9

Okay, I tend to become like a geeky kid at this time of the year. On Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 11 AM CST, Steve Jobs will introduce new products at Apple's annual "Macworld San Francisco" conference.

We should see more of a product that Jobs announced last fall -- a living room device code-named "iTV" -- you connect it to a TV and it lets you watch stuff from your computer -- photos, music, movies, TV shows.

Also rumored to be announced is an iPod that is also a cell phone. The rumor mill is all over the map on what this device would be like and how it would work.

Also expected: More new features in Leopard, the next version of the Mac operating system coming this spring... and iLife '07 -- the next version of Apple's digital media software -- iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb and GarageBand.

Who knows what else. Apple tends to surprise. And they are extremely tight-lipped about their new products.

And this year they are teasing us:

Unconditional satisfaction guaranteed

Happy New Year! Introducing Mark's new dog, Andy, shown below from a recent shopping trip to PetSmart and then hanging out at home with his brother, Chilly.

More pics of Chilly here. More pics of Andy coming soon.