John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China never fails to put a huge smile on my face, starting with Kurt Russell’s iconic performance as trucker Jack Burton, who finds himself in over his head while battling sorcerers, monsters, and kung fu masters straight out of Chinese myth and legend. I love how the movie is an obvious homage to kung fu and wuxia movies, and even stars a couple of martial arts movie legends like Carter Wong and Jeff Imada. I love how it plays with an Americanized (i.e., overly exoticized) version of Chinese culture even as it subverts that by making Russell’s swaggering, tough-talking, John Wayne-esque hero perpetually confused and out of his depth. (As Carpenter put it in his DVD commentary, Burton is a sidekick who thinks he’s the main character.) I love James Hong and Victor Wong’s performances as Lo Pan and Egg Shen, respectively. Basically, I love everything about this movie, from its beginning to its surprisingly bittersweet ending. May the wings of liberty never lose a feather, indeed.
The Cure were absolutely phenomenal. They played a pretty eclectic set with the usual hits (“A Forest,” “Lovesong,” “Pictures of You,” “Just Like Heaven”) as well as some deep cuts (“At Night,” “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep,” “Kyoto Song,” “Prayers for Rain”) and even a song from Wild Mood Swings (“Want”). They played 5 – 6 new songs, too, all of which were great and have me really excited for the new album (whenever Robert decides to release it). My favorite song of the evening, however, was “A Night Like This.” (I wish I would’ve recorded some video of it but I was too busy dancing and singing along.) We missed the first 2 – 3 songs from opening act The Twilight Sad because the venue took forever to get people in, but what we did see was phenomenal. I love their wall of sound mixed with a thicker-than-thick Scottish brogue, especially when they played my favorite song of theirs (“VTr”). All in all, a pretty perfect evening. I was afraid we’d get rained on because of the recent weather, but aside from a few sprinkles, the weather was great. Also, the crowd was a fun mix of goths (old and young), punks, Renaissance fair attendees, rivetheads, families, and middle-class suburbanites like ourselves. And we all sang along, at the top of our lungs, to “Friday I’m in Love.” I feel so fortunate and grateful to have been there.
Shortly after finishing Arrival, I started talking about Denis Villeneuve’s films with my oldest, who’s a huge fan of Dune. I mentioned that Villeneuve also directed Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to one of my favorite films of all time: Blade Runner. And so the night ended up being a sci-fi double feature as we pulled up Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece. Specifically, we watched 2007’s “Final Cut,” i.e., the definitive director’s edition. I have some minor quibbles with some of Scott’s choices for his director’s cut, but I have no such issues with the film’s visuals. Already iconic, the “Final Cut”’s digital remastering makes the film’s visuals all the more stunning. Modern visual effects, which rely so heavily on CGI, can never hope to contain the richness and depth that’s on display in every single one of Blade Runner’s scenes. Despite being released over forty years ago, Scott’s film looks more futuristic than any modern film, and I suspect that’ll be the case for more decades to come. We always talk about suspending disbelief when watching movies, especially genre titles, but that term — “suspension of disbelief” — doesn’t feel quite right when talking about Blade Runner. Thanks to its production design, practical effects, and haunting soundtrack (courtesy of Vangelis), I can’t help believing that Blade Runner’s noir-ish, rain-soaked world actually exists.
We watched this in preparation for Across the Spider-Verse. Into the Spider-Verse is perfect, and its perfection becomes clearer with each subsequent viewing. There is, of course, the stunningly vibrant artwork and animation, which pushes the medium forward by drawing inspiration from the classic styles of the past. (I love the climactic battle, in part, because it has Kirby Dots for days.) But that visual panache is also matched by the most heartfelt storytelling. As a father, the “spark” speech that Miles’ dad gives never fails to move because it’s precisely the sort of thing I always want my kids to hear from me. Miles’ “Uncle Ben” moment is appropriately heartbreaking; Stan Lee’s cameo is delightful as is the mentee/mentor dynamic between Miles and Peter B. Parker (voiced perfectly by New Girl’s Jake Johnson); I stan Spider-Man Noir; the moment when Miles finally comes into his own as Spider-Man is one of cinema’s most satisfying and triumphant scenes; the hip-hop soundtrack totally slaps… I could go on but you get the idea. Like I said, perfect.
To call Typeset in the Future “in-depth” is a gross understatement. Dave Addey’s book dives headfirst into that liminal space between typography and sci-fi, and specifically, how typography has often been used to help create futuristic fictional worlds. Addey reviews several classic sci-fi movies (e.g., 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner) to see how they used typefaces to lend their individual visions of the future detail and legitimacy. Along the way, he delves into the history of “futuristic” typefaces like the ominipresent Eurostile Bold Extended, discusses graphic design and sci-fi with legends like Mike Okuda (who designed many of the computer displays and user interfaces seen in Star Trek), and offers up all manner of behind-the-scenes trivia for the movies in question. (For example, did you know that some of the on-screen text that appears in Blade Runner was actually lifted from a Matrix Instruments ad that ran in the January 1980 issue of Datamation magazine?) In other words, Typeset in the Future is the sort of high-level super-niche ultra-nerdery that can only result from a fascination that borders on obsession, and it’s all the more enjoyable for it.
I’ve been wanting to visit this Lincoln landmark for awhile now, and it did not disappoint when we finally toured it as a family. It’s fascinating that such a place exists literally under our feet. Tour guide Joel Green shared many interesting stories from Lincoln’s past, all of them filled with colorful characters and sketchy details. (My favorite being that Lincoln was once home to a secret society called the Iron Sphinx that conducted their initiation ceremonies in the cave.)
One of the great Hollywood classics. Audrey Hepburn (in her first major role) is absolutely luminous as Princess Ann and Gregory Peck is effortlessly charming as Joe Bradley. However, Eddie Albert almost steals the show as Joe’s photographer buddy. As for the Rome backdrop, it gives the film both authenticity and stunning scenery. I was struck by the film’s bittersweetness during this most recent viewing, as the young princess and opportunistic reporter alike come to realize the weight of duty and obligation. Hepburn and Peck were approached in the 1970s with doing a sequel, which probably would’ve been terrible. Roman Holiday works so well precisely because it ends on such a bittersweet and melancholy note.
The best burgers in Lincoln, no question about it. I usually get their “Greatest Burger Ever” (an excellent bacon cheeseburger) but the “Porterhouse” was on the menu this time — and it was fantastic.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to the SAC Museum over the years, but every time I go, I’m still fascinated by the planes and the world history they represent. In addition to the planes, there are several excellent exhibits on topics ranging from the early days of the Space Age to the Berlin Airlift to the Holocaust.
One of the great action movies of all time. 3+ decades have done absolutely nothing to diminish its thrills. This time around, I was fascinated by the gorgeous set design and surprisingly (at times) lush cinematography. The themes of bureaucratic nonsense and police incompetence (e.g., when they storm the building) hit even harder in light of recent police-related controversies. But mostly, worth watching for Bruce Willis’ everyman panic, Alan Rickman’s effortless charm, and lots of awesome explosions.
These books just keep getting better and better. The invasion of Laconia was thrilling, there were several moments that practically had me cheering, and though some of the revelations could be seen coming from a mile away, they were no less enjoyable for that. I also loved the vivid imagery used to describe the various weird alien phenomena. Can’t wait to dive into the final book.
This 850-acre prairie grassland preserve is located just outside of Lincoln, and with its gorgeous scenery, is one of our favorite places for hiking and birding.
As a military aviation buff, I could spend hours here. IIRC, you could climb into some of the planes when I was a kid, but no longer. Still, I get chills every time I see the B-47 Stratojet up close.
You haven’t truly lived until you’ve had one of their caramel cinnamon rolls.
Arguably my favorite restaurant in Omaha. I was bummed to see that the Jujeh Kabob wasn’t available on their dinner menu, but not enough to not give them five stars. My wife had the Soltani Kabob and it was amazing.
There’s a reason why this is considered one of the world’s best zoos. Highlights include the aquarium and the “Asian Highlands” exhibit (complete with red pandas and snow leopard).
A top-notch Cold War thriller in every possible way. One of those movies that I could watch almost any time.