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Archive for January, 2010

Progress and reflection

January 27th, 2010 No comments

I just realized the title kind of sounds poetic. That was unintentional.

Progress is I (soft of) found a (sort of) job. The first sort of is my temp agency actually found me the job, and the second sort of is it’s temp to hire, so I can blow it and not get hired. At which point I might be pretty well fucked. But I have several reasons to feel good about this opportunity.

I have experience and training in the field. The job itself is easy, it’s changing light bulbs, plunging toilets, futzing with the occasional door. Although the two people I interviewed with dropped hints that if I work out there might be more in store for me. The people seem pretty chill, no one sticks out as an obvious dick and most of the people seemed to be reaching out to make me feel comfortable. It’s a fairly large crew, there’s 8 including me. One of the sources of conflict at my last job, in the Pearl, was there were only three maintainers, one of who was the chief. So it was just me and Numbertwo day after day after day. Numbertwo and I get along, I’d even venture to say we’re pretty good friends. But there would be flareups occasionally, mostly because we would get sick of looking at each other. I like this situation better.

The last reason is the reflection part and it’s about blogging. I never got into diaries or journaling, I only started blogging to keep my IM friends up to date. But occasionally I’d get bored and look through old entries. That’s how I discovered that I, in fact, do NOT have a strong immune system. And it also identified a pattern with jobs. I walk in excited, I become intoxicated with the place, then I turn against it with the type of savageness normally reserved for mama bears and bored cops. All due to overwrought expectations. So this time I’m going to keep my head about me. It’s a job, in fact, it’s an audition for a job. It’s not going to change my life. Other than the paychecks and time sink.

It’s a commercial property management company downtown with one big and several smaller buildings. Details? Ask me IRL.

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James Cameron, perp or vic?

January 7th, 2010 No comments

Spoilers in the last paragraph.

After leaving Avatar last night a thought occurred to me. I’m no movie geek so this question might cause great pains to some out there, but it seemed reasonable to me.

Why is James Cameron so well regarded when Michael Bay isn’t? They both tell pretty bad stories buoyed by visual effects, so why is Bay in the dirt and Cameron in the clouds? Is it the technical innovations that Cameron’s movies seem to drive? Because, really Avatar’s blue cat people really don’t look THAT much better than JarJar Binks. Especially when sharing the frame with real people. They have convincing facial expressions, but so do the living sock puppets of 9 and the Wild Things. The bioluminescent flora of Pandora could have been high quality blacklight paint. Does this give Cameron respectabilty over Bay’s towering fireballs? The answer my girlfriend and I came up with is Cameron’s characters feel more human than Bay’s. We weren’t satisfied with it, but it worked.

I admit that I haven’t seen all of Cameron’s movies. In particular I haven’t seen The Abyss which seems to be held in high esteem by most people I know that have. I, of course avoided Titanic like a second circumcision. I’m seemingly alone on the planet in my hatred for T2. Really, Jimmy? A Terminator swearing it won’t kill anyone. To a kid? What the…?

Anyway.

Avatar is NOT a good movie. Specifically it’s not a good story. I’m not talking about the premise or plot, but the story the movie tells. Star Wars proves you can tell a simple story well. But Avatar isn’t simple, it’s simplistic and heavy handed (like the Prequels). This is what I’d expect a kid to make, not a supposed grand master of movie making. The hero wins over his angry boss, saves the pretty jungle and scores the hot chick. Awesome! Where’s the guitar solo? Even the specific item he uses as inspiration is a 14yo’s wet dream.

Then I read about an early treatment of Avatar on chud.com (worth a read if you have strong feelings about the movie one way or another. Even with CHUD’s terrible white text/black background. The treatment itself can be found here I can’t find where I d/l’d it from. I have the PDF if you want it.). The closing line of the article is telling, that in a big budget (although I’d call the cost of this movie monstrous rather than big, but for categorization…) the story goes out before the CGI.

I must admit the viewing public is swayed by what computers can do, even when they fail to be truly engaged emotionally by the spectacle (witness 2012, or ID4 for the earliest case I can recall). However, bringing up the budget, CGI is expensive while the story comes with a good script. So why not buy some blacklight paint?

But to the point. Judging from the early treatment Cameron can conceive a good story, even though it doesn’t appear in Avatar. But is he the perpetrator of this schlocky expensive nonsense, or the victim of his price tag? I honestly don’t know. Either way, Avatar: not good. I’m hoping there’s a lot of integrated deleted scenes on the DVD.

Spoilers below.
There were only three moments I can recall being impressed. The biggest was Grace dying. I fully expected the soul transfer to work. The second is not showing Jake catching the dragon. We’d seen him catching the bird, one avian rodeo was enough, WTG, JC. Third, and this is WAY HELLA GEEKY, showing Pandora not to be a single climate. I’m sick to death of desert planets and ice planets and jungle planets and city planets. Bleagh.

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