07 December 2008
24 November 2008
Friday (21 November 2008) I kept my appointment with my GI clinic at U of L Hospital. They were typically overbooked, so I was delegated to one Dr. Lauren Briley. She spent the first two minutes apologizing for shuttling me around doctors and explaining the whole thing, to which I kept responding, "I'm fine with it." The truth is, when you visit a clinic and not a doctor's private practice, you really shouldn't get too excited about seeing different doctors at different times. It's part of the nature of the thing, and to be honest, I had only met the guy that passed me on to her once, anyway.
16 November 2008
Directed by Marc Forster
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini with Jeffrey Wright and Judi Dench as "M"
Theatrical Release Date: 14 November 2008
Date of Screening: 15 November 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For Intense Sequences of Violence and Action, and Some Sexual Content)
Daniel Craig returns as Ian Fleming's James Bond in Quantum of Solace, a direct sequel to 2006's Casino Royale. And when they said it was a sequel, they meant it--the film starts roughly ten minutes after the end of its predecessor. Bond works his way up the food chain of Quantum, the SPECTRE-like organization behind the events of Casino Royale. Along the way, he uncovers a plot by faux environmentalist Dominic Greene to engineer a coup for a military general in Bolivia in exchange for a seemingly worthless chunk of land. Everyone speculates that Greene is after oil, and no one bothers to consider that he is instead working to dam up water.
Daniel Craig has spoken the classic line, "Bond...James Bond" once in his two films--it was the final line of dialogue in Casino Royale. Nor has his Bond continuity included a Miss Moneypenny or Q. For that matter, if they ever reintroduce the latter, they ought to consider calling him (or her) "S" instead, because the only technology present have been items commercially produced by Sony. What matters, though, is that Quantum of Solace manages something that too many moviegoers may not appreciate: the 22nd film in the series proves that James Bond is not defined by the Bond formula.
Quantum of Solace's run time of 106 minutes makes it the briefest 007 outing to date (previously, the shortest was Tomorrow Never Dies at 119 minutes), and saying that it moves quickly is like saying Michael Phelps can swim. When the end credits began to roll, my freinds and I were able to count three scenes in the entire film that we thought may have lingered for perhaps as many as five or ten seconds. Was this an example of catering to an increasingly short attention span, or was it simply the style of storytelling favored by director Marc Forster? Ian Fleming's original novels rarely reached 200 paperback pages in length and were meant to be read on a train. That being the case, then, Quantum of Solace does perhaps the best job of the entire cinematic series of conveying that sense of working quickly while disbelief is suspended.
12 November 2008
After waiting all year for anything official from the forthcoming James Bond film Quantum of Solace, Sony has finally complied and put up the first trailer on Moviefone.com today. I've watched it thrice already, and it appears to me that it's less Casino Royale II and more Casino Royale Again. We all knew that QoS was going to be a direct continuation of CR; there is a sense from the trailer, though, that we're going to get much the same film this time, however. M chastises Bond about setting out for revenge; laments, "I thought I could trust you" and orders him grounded.... It's fine for M and Bond to not be on great terms all the time, but it seems that ever since Robert Brown took over the role in The Living Daylights there's been an increasing amount of almost hostility between the characters and a lot less mutual respect. Fleming's M and Bond got on fairly well; Bond found his boss a bit of a social bore, yes, but would have gladly gone to hell and back for the guy. For his part, Fleming's M had nothing but respect for Bond's talents and abilities and made sure not to waste them, or to risk Bond unnecessarily. This cinematic trend of a lack of any kind of relationship between them has gotten tiresome, and it's sad to think that Tomorrow Never Dies is the only entry in the Bond series since 1987 in which the relationship is pretty consistent with Fleming's world.
Having said all that...the rest of the trailer appears to be about what we had in mind for this picture. It opens with Mr. White (the guy Bond tracked down just before the credits rolled at the end of CR) being interrogated, baiting Bond. The rest of the clip is a quick montage of Bond-on-the-run-again set to the aforementioned M-doesn't-trust-Bond-and-wants-him-restricted voiceover and ends with a shot of Bond hoisting an assault rifle as he walks across what appears to be the desert. Looks fun, looks intense, looks...like the last movie.
I know I sound disappointed with this trailer, and the only reason I actually am disappointed with it is because of the emphasis on the Bond/M tension about which you've already grown tired of reading me complain. I am greatly relieved that, from the trailer at least, they've kept the tone of this film consistent with its predecessor and haven't gone Roger Moore on us. No outrageous gimmicks, no slapstick humor, just good ol' fashioned gritty spy stuff. It remains to be seen, of course, how Fleming-esque the film actually is, but it appears to be a candidate for Bond "best" lists.
Annual medical expenses for Crohn's disease patients were $18,963 versus $5,300 for a matched comparison group. Ulcerative colitis patients' annual medical expenses were $15,020 versus $4,982 for the matched comparison group.That's just for having Crohn's or colitis. Now, add in surgery and those figures become unimpressive altogether.
Annual medical costs for patients with a gastrointestinal surgery were $60,147 for patients with Crohn's disease and $72,415 for patients with ulcerative colitis.
04 November 2008
31 October 2008
27 October 2008
- Jeff Smith's Bone series of graphic novel collections (all nine volumes, plus the prequel Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails: The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone, Frontier Hero)
- Stan Lee & Jack Kirby's The Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 1
- John le Carre's Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality
- Burt Ward's autobiography Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights
- Kanye West's Graduation [CD]
- Mrs. Henderson Presents [DVD]
- Drive-through dropoff and pickup window
- Walking trail through property (which sprawls across 8.49 acres)
- Reading terrace
- Bridge over on-site existing stream
- Floor-to-ceiling windows to take maximum advantage of sunlight
- Rainwater collected for use in toilet flushing and landscape watering
- A central, double-sided fireplace surrounded by small groupings of chairs and tables
18 September 2008
04 August 2008
Atlanta Braves. TBS. Skip Caray. The only other triumvirate of baseball team, network and announcer in the same league would have been the Chicago Cubs, WGN and Skip's dad, Harry Caray. An entire generation was born, came of age and begat a new generation while Skip called the Braves's games. I never met the guy, and I don't have any more connection to him than any other viewer.
16 June 2008
Directed by Warren Beatty
Screenplay by Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr.
Starring: Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Madonna
Theatrical Release Date: 15 June 1990
Screening Date: 15 June 2008
Firstly, thanks to Baxter Avenue Theaters for screening Dick Tracy as part of their "Revenge of the Return of the Summer 'Splodin' Series" last night. Kudos also to Beau Kaelin for bathing the lobby in vintage Tracy materials from lobby cards to masks, from stand-up displays to posters. Walking through the front door was like stepping back in time eighteen years, and it couldn't have been any cooler. Seeing the film on a big screen for the first time was especially rewarding, because I finally got to read the billboard signs, and really appreciated the cinematography. I was already in love with the production design, the sets, the costumes and the music.
10 June 2008
Perhaps because there was never any doubt about his potential. Junior has always had the single sweetest swing in all of baseball; watching him is more than watching a well-oiled machine, more than watching an artist. Many predict that it won't matter how many homeruns anyone hits in a few years, that Alex Rodriguez is destined to become the all-time homerun hitting champion. That may be, and yet one cannot help but wonder...if A-Rod should reach 600 and we doubt his health and ability to keep going much farther, will that milestone, too, be hollow?
Incidentally, Dusty Baker has managed three of the six members of the 600 Homerun club: Junior, Sosa and Barry Bonds. Baker also managed Bonds in 2002, when he set the single-season record. Surely, that will earn him a spot in a trivia game somewhere.
05 June 2008
Every generation has its heroes and villians, its legends and myths. For baseball fans of the last twenty years, it would be difficult not to include John Smoltz on a list of heroes (unless, of course, you couldn't stand the Braves, in which case he probably makes your villians list). Forget the stats (only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves, 3000 strikeouts, most post-season wins ever, 1996 Cy Young award winner, etc.). Unless someone exposes something about the guy that hasn't surfaced in his lengthy career to cast a dark shadow over him (which can happen; ask Roger Clemens), it's a foregone conclusion that they'll cover up some wall space in Cooperstown with a John Smoltz plaque in a few years.
On the field, Smoltz has always been a team leader, and in this day of prima donna athletes, it has always been refreshing to hear and read his comments about his teammates (protecting those who were struggling, encouraging young players) and to see a guy who was willing to say, "I can't be a starter anymore, but I can help from the bullpen." Then, when the Braves' starting rotation was dismal, it was Smoltz who again spoke up and said, "I can be more help to this team as a starter, and I know I can handle it now." This year, when he went on the disabled list, he again spoke up, recognizing that his ability to help the team as a starter was diminished, but hoped he could help from the bullpen. Unfortunately, that has not worked out and he is out for the season with his fourth career arm surgery.
Off the field, Smoltz has long been recognized for his humanitarian work; he probably has more Home Depot Humanitarian awards than he has MLB awards. Simply put, this is a guy who has demonstrated time and again a willingness to work hard, to put the team first, and to offer a helping hand when he could. Maybe that's what caused all the inflammation that is now plaguing him. In any event, much like Cal Ripken, Jr.'s consecutive games played streak, John Smoltz has been a model of athlete we may not see again.
Will John Smoltz return to baseball next year? If he does, will it be as a starter or closer? We won't know for some time yet, and I for one sincerely hope that he is able to return. If, however, his playing days are finished, one hopes that at least one of the thirty ballclubs is smart enough to recruit him as a pitching or bullpen coach. Don't forget: not only does he know a thing or two about starting and closing, but he knows how to hit and he knows his way around the bases, too, having been called on from time to time to pinch hit and pinch run. These are little things that American League pitchers aren't required to know, but a National League staff can benefit greatly from honing. The bottom line: John Smoltz has given baseball quite a lot of himself over twenty years, and it would be a shame for that not to continue next year.
01 June 2008
01 May 2008
16 April 2008
24 January 2008
Alan Alda has six Emmy Awards, but to date no Grammy. Alda's Things is more than a continuation of his memoirs; it is a collection of reflections from a man of considerable experience trying to gain perspective on his life and the world around him. Subjects of aging, births of children and September 11 are themes that should resonate easily with listeners. Grammy voters may find his message more accessible, and that could give his '06 Emmy for The West Wing some help standing up to the five Emmy's on his mantle from M*A*S*H.
Angelou has the strongest track record with the Grammy's of the five nominees, having won thrice already. Her wins include The Pulse of Morning (1993), Phenominal Woman (1995) and A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002). Interestingly enough, Celebrations includes "The Pulse of Morning," the poem Angelou composed for, and read during, President Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1993. Angelou's subjects are more similar to Alan Alda's than to the rest of the nominees, but her different medium may be the key to her collecting her fourth Grammy award.
President Carter is the defending champion of Category 79, for Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis. The fact that he has won so recently could cut either way; some voters will feel he's on a roll and give him another nod, while others will consider his '06 trophy a reason to eliminate him from the pack. Grammy voters like to let their politics be known, and it's difficult to imagine them not awarding this to either our potential next president or our potential first-ever First Gentleman.
The other president in the running, Bill Clinton has already won two Grammy Awards. His abridged reading of his autobiography, My Life, won in 2004. President Clinton also won the year before in the Childrens categor as a participant in the Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf with Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia Loren the year before. Like Carter, Clinton's subject material is one in which he is established as an authority, working through his Clinton Foundation since leaving office. Hillary Clinton's name may be absent on the Grammy ballot, but voters may consider expressing their support for her candidacy by awarding Mr. Clinton his third Grammy.
Senator Obama's previous work, Dreams from My Father, won him his first Grammy in 2005. I'm not sure how Audacity qualified for this year's Grammy awards, since its publication date was November 6, 2007 (September 30 is the cutoff date). The fact that Senator Obama is running for the highest office in the country may encourage Grammy voters to endorse his candidacy by giving him the nod for Best Spoken Album; then again, they may feel they've heard this speech by Obama too many times and reserve their vote for the ballot booth in November and award the Grammy to someone else.