Monday, December 05, 2005

No Italy

Wellsir(s) (and Misses and Ma'ams), the proposed family Italy/Switzerland trip has been cancelled. The monkeys in Gnosca decided to raise rates dramatically so that my grandfather could no longer afford to foot the bill for the journey there. Bah! Bah to them all!

I found this out several Sundays ago as I was visiting the Agadoni grandparents for an early Thanksgiving. But, I did learn of many other new and interesting things as well. For one, there are apparently no more Agadonis in Gnosca! The last Agadoni guys on earth are my brothers, my cousin Max, my cousin Alex and me. We're it. I had thought previously that there may have been some left in Europe. My grandfather, beyond citing finances as a preventative reason, said that he was also nervous about the whole family being on one plane, given the unrest in many parts of Europe at the moment. I don't think it's some "the Agadoni name must endure" sort of thing. It's genuine concern for the members of his family. Now, I know my grandfather loves his family very much; there was never any doubt of that. But it was still oddly comforting to hear this sort of concern.

I also found out that my grandpa worked for a lense and camera company making top-secret spy-plane cameras for aerial reconnaissance during the Vietnam War! He even got pulled over by a cop in San Diego, and when the cop asked him where he worked, he had to say, "I can't tell you." I hope that, someday, I'll be able to tell somebody "I can't tell you" as well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bond Cake

"Ahh, what a clever title, Ryan!"

I know, I know.

So, in case my clever title didn't give it away, Daniel Craig has apparently landed the James Bond gig. I look forward to the next installment, if only to see whether a different sort of character is added to the Bond persona.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Public Enemy

Just finished my first James Cagney flick at lunch. Also my first 30s gangster flick.



I was surprised that it had such a dark tone. The violence is actually quite strong even by today's standards, though not much of it is shown. The execution of Putty Nose, in particular, is jarring. While not as hit-heavy as modern gangster epics, Tom is no slouch. (He even executes the horse responsible for a friend's death.) His final act of violence, exacting revenge for a hit that kills his life-long friend, is particularly powerful visually. Wielding two .38s, he charges into a building full of enemy mobsters to take down the boss. The audience is left guessing out in the rain, with only the sounds of gunfire to inform us of the action taking place inside. Seconds later, Tom stumbles out, severly wounded, and stumbles through the rain into the gutter. It's good heavy rain, the kind Kurosawa loved to use (Rashomon and Seven Samurai come to mind). Sam Mendes used it well in Road to Perdition also.

I'm still trying to figure out what purposes rain is used for in movies. In Public Enemy, it is used to isolate the main character, to frame him, to reveal the truth about his character. "I ain't so tough." He is truly alone for the first time in his life, and he realizes what he really is. In Rashomon, again, truth is revealed. It is a longer process, as the different stories are told, but ultimately the truth is outted and Takashi Shimura's farmer finds redemption and solace in new and untainted life, that of the child. In Seven Samurai, Kikuchiro redeems himself and proves to be made of samurai stuff after all. All in heavy, pounding, flooding rain. Rain that washes away pretense? Sin even? Seems so.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Boris the Spider

My dad sent me this story this morning. He cracks me up.

On another note, I had a nature encounter earlier this week that Mom has encouraged me to tell about. I was walking out the sunroom slider one morning looking for the dogs' red chewy toys when I walked right through a huge spider web that I didn't see. I must have gone right through the middle of it cause the threads were all tangled in my hair and face which I tried to brush away. I came inside the house, still trying to disentangle and I paused in front of the family room mirror, looking sideways at my reflection. And, there it was (sit down, Ben) -- the biggest spider I've seen in awhile was vigorously trying to scamper down the back of my shirt. I shrieked (not quite as girly as Ben), grabbed Boris and threw him to the floor immediately. I don't remember much after that - I think Mom escorted Boris outside where he belonged and the dogs were no help. That's my story and I'm sticking by it.


My brother Ben is terrified of spiders, FYI. One time there was a huge web with a gigantic hairy spider at the center (I'm guessing the same orange kind) that was set up right in front of our backyard light. You didn't see it until you came around the corner, and then it was right at your eye-level being illuminated by the light (this was at night). My dad discovered this one without walking into it, and decided to invite Ben out to see it without telling him what it was. Apparently Ben "shrieked like a girl" and jumped away when he saw the spider. I wish I could have been there.

**Update: found a picture of the species. It's a common Orb Weaving Spider, probably a Jewelled Araneus. They rarely bite, but I've read that their bites actually do some damage.**

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lightning storm

Monday night a freak storm moved in and put on quite a spectacular lightning show. My brother, a sophomore at Biola with photography interests, was inspired to take these shots. These were taken from McNally field, overlooking the baseball diamond and Hope Hall, for those that know Biola's geography.

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Image hosted by Photobucket.com

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At 2:30am that night, I was awoken by the LOUDEST thunder I think I've ever heard. It sounded like lightning struck our backyard. I was sound asleep, then FLASHBOOOOOM. I popped my head off the pillow, terrified for several seconds before comprehension kicked in. Honestly, my first thoughts were "JESUS IS HERE! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" This may sound weird, but the feeling I got when I first awoke to this dazzling light and powerful booming sound was being in the presence of God. It's the closest thing in my experience that I can relate to the idea in the Bible of being terrified by the presence of God. Or even His angels for that matter. When I read of the shepherds falling down in terror, this is how I will imagine it in my head now.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The coolest technology ever

Found this article at IGN, which prompted me to explore the company's site further to learn more about this technology. It sounds almost too good to be true.



These are hydrogen powered motorbikes, called ENVs. They emit only water. The CORE technology that powers them has no moving parts, so it's nearly maintenance free. They go 100 miles before a recharge that takes 5 minutes. They are virtually silent.

Quick, someone point out a glaring flaw so I can come down off of this cloud.

Another biblical site found

I love these discoveries.

Here's the story:

Workers repairing a sewage pipe in the old city of Jerusalem have discovered the biblical Pool of Siloam, a freshwater reservoir that was a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city and the reputed site where Jesus cured a man blind from birth, the LOS ANGELES TIMES reports.

The pool was fed by the now famous Hezekiah's Tunnel and is ``a much grander affair'' than archeologists previously believed, with three tiers of stone stairs allowing easy access to the water, according to Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archeology Review, which reported the find Monday.

``Scholars have said that there wasn't a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit'' to illustrate a point, said New Testament scholar James H. Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary. ``Now we have found the Pool of Siloam ... exactly where John said it was.''

A gospel that was thought to be ``pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history,'' he said.

The discovery puts a new spotlight on what is called the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a trip that religious law required ancient Jews to make at least once a year, said archeologist Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa, who excavated the pool.

``Jesus was just another pilgrim coming to Jerusalem,'' he said. ``It would be natural to find him there.''

The newly discovered pool is less than 200 yards from another Pool of Siloam, this one a reconstruction built between A.D. 400 and 460 by the empress Eudocia of Byzantium, who oversaw the rebuilding of several Biblical sites.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Nicholson & Scorcese

This is actually the first I'd heard about Scorsese's latest, a gangster flick starring Jack Nicholson.

According to this article I found at Rotten Tomatoes, Nicholson was a bit of a character on the set. That's an understatement, actually. Nicholson would rewrite the script everyday and force Scorsese to shoot his rewrite first, and shut down the set if he caught anyone wearing Celtics clothing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Big-ass shark

Here's the story.

I don't really have much more to add. Good story, but why the FLIP aren't there 100 more pictures to accompany the article? News guys are retarded sometimes.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Kenyan economist says, "Aid sucks."

Very interesting article with James Shikwati who explains how international aid to Africa does more harm than good.

Hm. It makes sense that a country needs to have self-sufficiency in order to maintain a living and stable economy. At the same time, suddenly removing the nurse-maid's teat might kill the kid before he learns to walk (even if he should already know how).

Please, someone smarter than me say something. I'm easily convinced by a compelling argument.

Law of the Monkey

Read and laugh.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Recent movies - Appleseed, Sword of Doom, Return of the Joker, Fire in the Sky, Ronin Gai

I recently signed up with a rental service, and here is the first batch of movies I've received.

Appleseed (2004) - The CGI anime flick based on the graphic novel of the same name. SUCKED. The action sequences were good, and usually I will forgive a lot of other faults for good action, but the rest of this movie sucked so hard the back of its head caved in. Terrible voice acting, terrible facial animation, painful story-telling. This isn't even a poor-man's Ghost in the Shell, like I was expecting. Nothing thought-provoking, nothing interesting, nada. Avoid like AIDS.

Sword of Doom (1966) - The one with that awesome cover I posted a while back. Crazy samurai flick with Toshiro Mifune and the gun wielding samurai from Yojimbo. Some beautiful cinematography. Kind of a weird story about this guy who is possessed by his evil sword (or is it his soul that makes the sword evil? Mifune says YES!), and just goes around killing everyone. The story jumps around abruptly at different points, too. One scene, two characters are preparing for an early morning duel to settle all. Next scene, text transition saying "Incident at Sachikawa Pass," and you discover years have gone by and you have to figure out on your own that the duel never happened, and guess why. Then it ends. And you sort of have to guess that, ok, I guess the good guys ended up ok, maybe...? The build up at the end is a cool visual telling of the final descent into madness, but then these guys show up, I guess for Sword of Doom to kill, and then it ends. Hm. Ok.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker - Any episode of Batman: The Animated Series is better, but at least the right people were involved in this, and it does have one extensive flashback of BTAS. It's ok. Some good animation and voice-work, as could be expected.

(couldn't find any good pictures for this one)

Fire in the Sky - Interesting for a bit, but doesn't focus on the aliens that much, until the end with a very long and vivid flashback featuring pink aliens probing the poor guy. I'm just not feeling the aliens' motivation, y'know?

Ronin Gai (1990) - Just started it, but it's beautiful stuff so far.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Zombie Dogs!

The Dead Live!

The story by itself is strictly scientific and intriguing, but the picture they include with the article title is terrifying.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Joker Casting

There's not a lot I can add to this news that isn't in the article I sourced it from, so I'll just come out and say it:

Sean Penn is rumored to be the one Nolan is pursuing to play the Joker in the next Batman.

AICN makes good points about this interesting bit of casting. The first is that Penn was introduced as the penultimate joker in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The second is obviously that he has since lost his sense of humor so utterly that some believe he may function as a "black hole," actually drawing humor around him into his dark dense center where it collapses on itself.

The best example took place during the Oscars, at which host Chris Rock asked, "Why is Jude Law in every movie I go to see? He's playing gay, he's playing straight, he's British, he's American...!" To which Penn replied later, "Forgive my compromised sense of humour but I want to answer our host's question about who Jude Law is - he's one of our finest actors.."

It's a more interesting choice than more obvious choices like Mark Hamill or Crispin Glover, anyway. It's interesting the same way that Jack Nicholson must have been interesting, had I known who he was back when the first Batman was released.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Family Guy movie

This might be old news to some of you, but it was new to me.

The Family Guy movie about Stewie's true father is going to be released straight to DVD on September 27th.

It's always interesting to see if a normally 1/2 hour cartoon can sustain a premise for an entire 1.5 hours. What has happened with these sorts of attempts in the past? They pretty much just up the animation quality and write an "important" story, about cancer or losing your job or something, and introduce a lame new character. Why do that rather than three complete new episodes? Still, I'm curious to see it. It'll probably be a lot better than the Simpsons movie, anyway.

Thanks, AICN.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Batman Begins (2005)

Loved it! Very well done.

And it looks like they're completely recreating the Batman mythos on-screen. I wasn't sure if they would try to make them fit with the other Batmans (at least Burton's), but they've completely divorced themselves. And while they did alter a lot of Batman's back-story from the comics, it worked and I didn't mind.

I couldn't help but compare it to the Batman: Year One graphic novel by Frank Miller as I watched, and while that's still my favorite Batman story and characterization, Batman Begins stands solidly on its own two feet. (I would have liked to have seen Gordon as the bad ace he was in Year One, instead of the rattled and nervous Gordon of Begins. Oldman does a fine job with him, but his character didn't seem very strong. I'm sure he'll get stronger as the movies progress.)

Nolan gave a very good treatment of the villains. I can't wait to see what he does with The Joker. It will be interesting to see other reinterpretations as well, though I imagine he'll stay away from the more fanciful ones like the Penguin and Mr. Freeze. Villains more psychological in nature, like The Joker and Two-Face, will work well in this new universe.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Superman chucks a ball

Check out this video:

Sunset, Superman, baseball.

It's one of Bryan Singers' video diaries. Nice to see them using practical effects!

I made my own lemon cannon with the help of my physics teacher uncle, Jonathan. Mine runs on combustion and not compressed air, however. We use engine starter in a can. It's pretty dang fun, and my house in Carlsbad is ideal for it. We have a big canyon behind our house that we can fire into with impunity.

Mike probably remembers firing it. I remember that was the day he brought over his limited edition Ghost Obi-Wan, which is about as nerdy a memory as you can have. Do we balance out the nerdiness with our use of internal combustion cannons? You decide.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Coolest Toy Since Hulk Hands

Kong Arms!



Can you imagine an entire pre-school full of kids running around on their knuckles? That would be first class entertainment, my friend.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Troy, finally visited.

I finally watched Troy (2004) this week. I recently listened to a lecture by JMNMNR introducing Homer, and it got me all interested in reading The Iliad again and watching Troy.

Ok, the movie's not great. But I was impressed with what it did well. I was surprised that it stayed so faithful to most of the events in the poem, and that it didn't stretch the characters very far from their ancient source.

I also sought out Jon-Mark Olson's old blog posts on the movie, which can be found here, here, and here.

Especially useful was his Top Ten post which reminded me of events I'd completely forgotten.

I've only just started reading The Iliad again, but I'm still amazed at what a remarkable piece of literature it is. (That's a huge understatement, I know.) It's not something that was amazing for it's time but has since been surpassed; it's just under the Bible as the most important literature ever preserved.

I'm reading The Republic at the same time for a nice complement. I don't know how long that will last, but here goes!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Urines Libertad!

This is the sort of post that makes Matt's blog better than mine, but I have to post it anyway. It's alarming to think of how many blog posts have been devoted to this topic.

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_1261997.html?menu

A man trapped by an avalanche drank 60 bottles of beer and peed on the snow to free himself. The best part is the description of how the police found him.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Matt is beating me

Content and character. Hoo ah.

If I may continue my blogging trend of useless information, I'd like to point out that Donkey Konga is the greatest game since Half-Life 2, which is the greatest game ever.

Mike kindly bestowed upon me with a copy of the game for Christmas, after he brought over his Donkey Kongas and we had a friendly kongoff. Ian, Tiara, and brothers Ben and Josh were also present, and a good time was had by all. Ian ruled us all with an iron fist, of course, but it was a good-natured iron fist, as is his way. Mike and Tiara were also quite adept, tackling konga beats of 5 and even 6 drum-icons-of-difficulty! Ben and I were quite good at adding the unnecessary "Ah DANG it!" beat to any songs that we attempted.

I now aspire to acquire my own kongas, for I predict this game to be A Great Hit at parties and social gatherings. (Look, I pulled a Ryan!) Matt, you'll dig it, as will Amy and Lidia I'll betcha. Justin will like it too.

Speaking of Helmut, are you back from Oregon? How was your Christmas? Happy New Year!

Mike, how did the all-day Lord of the Rings marathon go? Was it mind-blowing? How went the snack eatery?