Welcome to the Sound and Light Show

Sort of a diary for myself ... but you can read it too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Films of the future

Ugh ... five (5) days of eating Turkey leftovers, a couple of dinners with friends (some visiting from out of town), one (1) or two (2) hangovers plus three (3) 70 mile round trip drives to and from Beaver County (Quiptown Beatdown) and Pittsburgh (Eastside) which included two (2) family dinners and two (2) days of picking up 'new to me' furniture from my grandmothers house ... this is how I spent the T-Day extended holiday weekend.

But before all of that ... I recently went and saw Beowulf IMAX 3-D. Yup, the hype got me. I usually don't go to the movies. Well ... I venture out occasionally for classic films, re releases, indie or foreign flicks but I rarely go see the latest studio film while it is still in the 'cinaplex'. I just don't like seeing films at these big stadium seating, Dolby-loud-as-hell, usually attached to some mall-type-theaters which are typically crawling with distracting teens who will watch anything and eventually get on my nerves (I was there once). Don't get me wrong, I love film ... I just like to watch film in a controlled environment, like my living room, where I can control the viewing setting and experience the film in it's fullest.

And again, normally, Beowulf would be the last type of film that I would go see on the big screen. I'd get to it on my Netflix queue ... someday ... but a friend of mine and I agreed that we wanted to experience all the hype regarding the IMAX 3-D ... and man, we were not disappointed. The phenomenal 3-D effects were absolutely incredible and put a smile on my face for almost the entire length of the movie ... but it was not the only thing that got us. Surprisingly, the acting, animation and over the top action sequences were all top notch. As for the motion capture work, it was really good. The characters looked extremely real sometimes, and other times they looked hilariously fake, but in the end the filmmakers have come a long way since the 'dead eyes' animation of the Polar Express days.

Of course, at the beginning, there were plenty of gasps and giggles from the audience, mostly coming from the younger crowd in the theater ... mostly due to a few campy 3-D effects (spears and swords thrust out into the audience) and the half Danish and half 'old English-ness' of the dialogue and story, but, after a short while, I think everyone began to calm down and take notice that the film was actually pretty good.

Overall the film was one hell of an experience. It has the thrills for both the action/fantasy fan and the cinemaphile trying to follow the modern progressions in film making. (Is this the future of cinema?) The depth of field that the 3-D gave, drawing the audience 'into' the film itself, was breathtaking at times. On a beastly IMAX screen it feels like you are in the same room as these people on screen. (I caught myself ducking and blinking a few times thinking I was about to get hit by something coming out of the screen) ... but I have to say that the film was also good because of the great direction of Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) and solid script adapation from Roger Avery, Hollywood’s go to man for pulpy comic-book stories (Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Killing Zoe) and Neil Gaimen, our modern representative of fantasy intellectualism (Sandman comics, Mirromask, Stardust). In the end, my friend and I agreed that the film would play okay in 2-D, but we would strongly suggest seeing it in it's big 3-D format if you can.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Light Up Night

I headed downtown last Friday to attend a 'Green Drinks' happy hour at the Bossa Nova club. I was supposed to meet up with my friend and 'business partner' whom I work with in this Environmental Production Company but he was a no show. Not all was lost though since 'Clover', ' Uncle Cracker' and 'the Jones'' joined me down there. (It was definitely more fun this way anyway). 'The Anderson's' and our friend 'Gibb' joined us too. We spent way too much money on drinks and food ... but what the heck ... it was light up night downtown and the city was buzzing with people and we hardly ever party downtown. We even headed over to the Cigar Bar and the Market Square Ale House before the night was over.

Along the way I ran into 3 old friends in each of the 3 bars we went to. Friends I haven't seen in months and years; guys from the old days of DJing. (This is the one good thing I can say I got from working and DJing in a popular nightclub here in the city ... I met and got to know hundreds of people over the years.) The one friend was now married, one friend was supposed to move back home to Turkey but decided not to and the other guy was still doing his own thing, not DJing but still an architect here in the city. It was surreal ... like who was I going to run into around the next corner?

A great night with close friends and good night of catching up.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Polyphonic Spree

I went and saw the Polyphonic Spree last night. The show, albeit brief, was pretty awesome. The Poly. Spree are an energetic band to say the least ... with 23 members including a 10 piece choir, a pair of keyboardists, as well as a percussionist, drummer, bassist, guitarist, flautist, trumpeter, trombonist, violinist/violist, harpist, French horn player, and an electronic effects person.

My only complaints about the show were that 1) it was an all ages show so if you wanted to drink you had to stay in a roped off section out in main the lobby of the venue and 2) since it was all ages, the show had to end at 11pm because of some all ages curfew law.

I can deal with #1. I don't have to drink while watching the band.

and #2 wouldn't bother me so much either ... if only the two opening bands, who I didn't watch, didn't play so long leaving the Poly Spree only an hour to perform before the magic hour of 11pm was upon us.

Seriously, The Poly. Spree didn't go on stage until close to 10pm leaving them 1 hour to perform. They ran through 4 or 5 songs (it's sometimes hard to tell because they play medleys of some songs together) and then they said goodbye and left the stage. They came back onstage for a brief encore that consisted of 1 medley and 1 song ... and that was it ... they were off the stage, house lights came on and it was only 10:58pm.

a one hour concert?!?!

oh wait ... there is a number 3.

3) There was a $5.40 ticketmaster charge on top of the ticket price. The show cost $15 and then Ticketmaster charges 1/3 of that price on top for services. A third of the ticket price in fees!?! I'd definitely rather give it to the artists!

Anyway ... the show was still good even though it was short. They started out big, doing the whole cutting out the heart from the red curtain thing ... and they had these cannons that shot confetti into the audience during the first song ... the energy from the band and the crowd was intense ... too bad it all couldn't have kept going on into the night ... here is set list from what I can remember:

Running Away

Hanging Around / Get Up and Go

Live or Let Die

It's the Sun

Light and Day / Ride Captain Ride + one other song

... and I was definitely disappointed that they didn't play their cover of Lithium by Nirvana.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Film, friends and beers.

Finally made it to one of the films during the 3 Rivers Film Festival last night. My friend '$hell' suggested that we see the movie 'Irina Palm'. Crazy movie about a grandmother working in a porn shop in order to raise money for her ailing grandson. (and by working I mean working) Dark and funny. '$hell' had free passes to the theater so it made it all the better. She and I also grabbed a Hoegardden over at D's before the flick. (best place in town for hot dogs)

A few other friends joined us for the movie. It was a nice night to be out in Regent Square (a residential area town about 5 miles from my house) ... nice to be in an area that has a movie theater and pub that you can walk between. It reminded me of what it was like to live near shops/restaurants/entertainment venues that you can walk to (especially since 3 of our other friends who joined us all live withing a few blocks of the theater and they all either walked or biked over). I miss that about living in Morningside - there is really no where I can walk to to get a bite to eat, grab a coffee or see a movie. I have to drive to everything.

Anyway, my friend 'Soy Sos' was at the film with us last night and after the movie he and I got to talk some more about me remixing a song of his band's latest album, Telomere. We've been talking about it since the Art's Festival this summer. He actually sent over the entire album to me this morning so I could listen to the songs and pick which one I want to work on. Cool deal ... I just need to get off my butt and try to be creative.

I also stopped in at Kelly's for one last drink after the movie last night. Sat with my friends 'Meg F.', 'Selecta' and 'SMI' to do some much needed catching up regarding the DJ music scene in Pittsburgh. I've been out of the loop it seems.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

I set aside the rest of my Saturday afternoon to watch the premiere of the new 2007 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "Running Down a Dream" documentary on the Sundance Channel.

Covering nearly 40 years of his musical history, the film has Petty navigating every pop sea change that came along in his life ... following him from his days as a hippie kid (in his first band, Mudcrutch) to his period passing as a "new wave" star in the late '70s, to his canny transformation into an MTV video star, then networking himself with the grand likes of George Harrison and Bob Dylan and, finally, to his current role as elder statesman.

The film is 4 hours long (yeah ... that's a lot of Petty) but the length is bearable, feeling like there is not a wasted minute as all of the tension, history and inspiration of the band's life unfolds.
... and they had it all ... typical Rock and Roll BS; corporate chicanery, legal showdowns and a long string of musical mutinies, plus personal stuff ranging from divorce and child abuse to drug addiction and even arson.

A very decent documentary even if you are not a fan.

Cleaning out the attic

My friend Jwan invited me to the Pitt Football game on Saturday afternoon. Awesome invite but I declined because I needed to use the day off to get some things done around the house.

My main objective was to get up into the attic crawl space since I haven't been up there in over a year. The last time I was up there was during the inspection when I was buying the house and I remembered that we saw some boxes up there during this time, something the previous owner was storing up there ... I was hoping that they were still there. But I was basically also just getting up there to do an inspection of the insulation and ceiling of the roof.

Why has it taken me over a year to get up there? ... well ... because it isn't an easy process. I had to take everything out of the closet. Then I had to unscrew the hanging clothes rod and remove the shelves ... then I had to get a ladder and lift and squeeze myself up through the terribly small 16" x 16" hole pictured below. It's your typical attic crawl space entrance, I guess.
... it's just I would rather have one of those nifty pull handles where a set of stairs neatly unfolds when you open the door.

Anyway ... I made it up into the attic. Nothing special to see. I walked around, carefully balancing on the beams between the sections of insulation, checking things out - everything seemed to be in a suitable, okay condition.

... but I was excited to see over in the corner a small pile of various sized boxes, about 10 in total ... the items I saw when I was up there during the inspection last year.

It took me some time to move all the items to the attic hole (door?) and down into the house. It was a tedious and dirty process since the boxes were covered in dust and practically falling apart from age when picked up and moved. And it would have been a lot easier if I had someone there to hand everything to instead of me going up and down the step ladder, squeezing myself and the various sized boxes through the small hole over and over again.

Finally, after getting everything down, I was able to dig into the boxes. Here is what I found; mostly x-mas decorations, which is a little disappointing, but still a neat find none the less:

A couple of boxes of old Christmas lights. I dig the primary colors but I'm afraid to actually use them since they are so old. (crusty wiring and two prong plug)

A box of 'Glita-lites' ...

'they glitter like jewels!' ... now these are pretty cool ... but they come in a string of 6. That's awesome if you only want to light about about two feet of something.

There was also a box of extra Glita-lights called 'Lighted Ice' ...

A box full of cardboard paper Christmas houses

Another box full of die cast Christmas figurines; Santa, Figure Skaters, People riding Toboggans ... and a couple of Double Decker buses.

Plus these two old cool, plastic 'matchbox' type cars were in the box.

There were also two old Samsonite suitcases sitting up in the attic ... the date on the boxes they were in said "shipped on 4/11/1953". Pretty neat.

now this was the coolest find ... because, you know, what could be in a suitcase stored away in the dark corner of my attic? Clothes? Money? Scandal? okay ... I was letting my imagination get away ...

But I got nothing ...

just a business card for a hotel in Ohio. Maybe there is a tale to be told there.

Oh well ... it was a fun afternoon cleaning out the attic.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Back in Pgh ... what to do?

Not much has happened since my return from Atlanta. Mostly because, upon my return, I caught a nasty cold and missed out on all the Halloween festivities.

I did meet up with my father and friends to start this year's batch of our homemade wine. We started the process last Saturday ... it took us roughly two hours to get the 210 gallons of different grape juice ready for 'fermenting' ... we will work with it every 7 weeks until next July when we finally bottle ... with an end production of roughly 850 bottles of wine. I'm sure I'll have more to talk about it as the process goes on.

I also finally made it out on Tuesday night to catch up with my friend Ray Lugo, front man to the internationally known afrobeat band Kokolo. It's always a trip to hang out with Ray ... talking about everything ... mainly music and touring the world.

and last night, I had dinner with 'Mr. and Mrs. Jones' to do .. what else? to keep up with them, of course. After dinner we made a quick stop at a local art gallery for the official release party of the new Pittsburgh Bike map produced by the folks over at Bike Pittsburgh. We then made an even quicker stop at the Brillobox for one more beer before calling it a night.