Thursday, August 31, 2006

I like smokin' lightnin'....Heavy Metal thunder...

I am now, sort of, a biker.
This afternoon I went and got my motorcycle learner's permit, thus authorizing me to ride a motorcycle on the streets during daylight hours (but not with a passenger or on the freeway).
Then tonight I went and bought a motorcycle. I got this '81 Yamaha Midnight Special 750 off a guy who posted it on Craigslist:

My buddy Nate, who is an experienced rider, took it for a test ride and gave it the thumbs up. After the money/title exchange was made, he rode it back to his place (as my place is much farther away from where I bought it) and will be bringing it down to me sometime soon.

It ain't pretty, and it ain't fancy, but it's a goer. It needs some love, but I'll have all winter to work on it so I can ride next season.

I am a very pleased Mattbear this evening.
Very pleased Mattbear, out.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's going to be an awkward Thanksgiving for Kyra Phillips...

This one made me laugh, because let's face it, I enjoy other people's pain. News anchor Kyra Phillips of CNN accidentally left her mic on while going to the bathroom, and broadcast over national TV that she has to "protect" her big brother because her sister-in-law is a "control freak". Youch.

At least she had flattering things to say about her husband.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

More politics

So, lately, there seems to be a rash of Republicans who have made stupid racist comments on camera lately. This may seem like a series of unrelated screw-ups by conservatives with a racist bent. But I am wondering if this actually maybe part of their strategy.

Let's face it: the majority of the white people who hold racist views are going to vote Republican. (This is not to say that most Republicans are racist!) Look at the immigration debate and vitriol there and I think you'll see some racist motive. So is it not possible that by making these slightly off-color, racist remarks - publicly and on camera - they might be pandering to that vote? Trying to motivate those people to go out and vote for them, the politician seen as holding the same views and values?

Racism, even the hint of it, is definitely taboo in today's overly-politically-correct society. One has to assume that beyond those that are openly or conciously racist, there are those who hold some biased or racist views that they keep hidden or repressed. By making these somewhat minor "slips" and then apologizing, might this on some level appeal to those who have similar feelings, but don't want to admit it - to others, and possibly to themselves?

One of my favorite theories, Occam's Razor, dictates that the simpler idea of them just being ethnocentrics idiots who perhaps didn't see anything wrong with what they were saying, would hold true. One or two moron politicians doing it - ok, I'd agree. Three in the span of a week? That's one of those things that makes me go "Hmmmm".

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A tall ship, and a star to steer her by...

On Sunday, we headed out with our son, along with Launchpad and his daughter, to see the Lady Washington. The Lady Washington is a replica of an 18th century boat (also the Lady Washington). The replica sails out of the Gray's Harbor Historical Seaport, crewed by volunteers, and gives dockside tours as well as cruises. The ship is best known these days as playing the part of the HMS Interceptor in Pirates of the Carribean.

We did not have reservations for the cruise (which costs money) but the dockside tour is free to all. The kids had a blast walking around the "pirate ship" and seeing where the crew slept and ate, and watching Kenmore Air's planes take off from the pier next door. Quite frankly, the adults had a blast too. I love boats and ships and the water. Were I a young bachelor without responsibilities to tie me down, I'd be volunteering to sail with the crew myself.

After wrapping up our time aboard the Lady Washington, we cruised to the Seattle Center, which proved mostly to be for the kids...they wanted to go on rides, so we bought them some tickets and let them take several rides. I think the biggest hits were the bumper cars and the pirate ship (the "boat" that swings back and forth like a pendulum).

By 7pm, the boy was so tired he fell sound asleep and wouldn't wake up the rest of the night for anything, including dinner. His "teacher" at Kindercare the next day said he was totally hyper and wound up. Heheheheh.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Lord may work in mysterious ways, but I doubt this one.

Yes, another "Virgin Mary in foodstuffs" sighting. This time, the supposed image of the mother of the supposed saviour has come about in chocolate drippings at a sweets factory.

I may piss off some of my readers when I speak of religion, because I tend to do so unflatteringly. But this trend of seeing Mary or Jesus in mold or food or what-have-you is just ridiculous. Can't the sane among us - even the religious believers - agree with that?

Anyway, all I can think of is my favorite Tom Waits song.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nothing pisses me off faster than politics.

The other day, there was a truck parked in my neighbor's drive across the street - not their truck, some visitor's - and it enraged me immediately. The truck had bumperstickers like "100% of terrorists agree...Anybody but Bush in '04" and such. At least 5 similar neo-con Republican, pro-war, anti-thought stickers were plastered to the back of this thing.

One pro-Bush bumpersticker makes me think about keying your car. Not actually do it, but think about it. This asshole had me wanting to throw a molotov cocktail at his vehicle.

I don't have a lot of love for Democrats, either. I hate both parties, and I hate politicians. Our government has been hijacked by an oligarchy beholden only to corporations and their own power. However, the new breed of so-called "neo-conservative" (an oxymoron of sorts, I might add) that has taken over the Republican party has proved themselves the worst of the worst.

Before the last election, I got very wound up and very mad. I was very worried about how the election would turn out, and all my worst fears came true. Now the same thing is happening again, over this year's "mid-term" Congressional elections. I fear another Republican-controlled Congress. I am hoping that the anti-war sentiment, Bush's low approval rating, and the various other bunglings of the Republican party will turn the tide. I don't think the Democrats will do a great job, but I don't think they can do a worse job.

So until the elections come and go, I am going to be just a little bit tense all the time, and seriously pissed off some of the time. I hate that.

Monday, August 14, 2006


I finally broke down and set up a YouTube account and uploaded some video, since I'm always filming stuff anyway. I've started off by uploading the video I took of Big Mike getting his 30th birthday beating. So not pretty.

More will come, and hopefully it will be more intelligent and interesting than this first one.

- Mattbear out

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This isn't Nam, Smokey; there are rules...

If you've never seen The Big Lebowski, go now and see it. Like right now. Tell the boss you feel sick, hit a video rental place and get it, go home and watch it. Of the Coen Brothers' stellar body of work, this is by far my favorite. It rocks. Go, now, go watch it; I'll still be here. Come back and read more when you're done.

Some other, more industrious, fans of Lebowski from Louisville, KY created an annual event called the Lebowskifest. This September will see the 5th such fest in Louisville. I have wanted to go since I first heard of this thing, but funds and time off never permitted such a trip. Fans gather, they drink, they bowl. They dress up as characters from the movie. Actors from the movie, and the real-life guy who inspired the character of The Dude, show up.

Other Achievers (as fans of the film are now known) who couldn't make the trip to Louisville wanted more locations, so the creators of the Lebowskifest took their show on the road. There have been Lebowskifests in LA, Austin, and Vegas. I didn't get to go to those, either.

But I'm on the mailing list, and get all the news on the fest. And in the most recent newsletter, near the bottom, it said:

"The next Lebowski Fest will be in the Spring of 2007. We're looking at the Northwest... More to come."

Oh yeah. I am sooooo there. I will be costumed as Walter. Launchpad has said he will go dressed as The Dude himself, not surprising as he embodies Dudeness. His wife intends to go as Bunny Lebowski, which should be interesting since she only appears in the movie in a bikini. My wife has said she would go dressed as Maude. Now we just have to find a Donny, and maybe a Jesus.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Movie review time: "Miami Vice"

So, being all my own tonight - no kid, no wife - I went to see a movie. I really want to see Clerks 2, but strangely just didn't feel like it tonight. Instead I went to see "Miami Vice". I'm still not really sure why.

I guess the Vice would be pretty much what one would expect - an slightly updated version of the show, put on the big screen, and taking advantage of the fact they can show nudity and more violence than on TV. Especially since this movie was directed by Michael Mann, who produced the TV show.

Mann's style is generally pretty flashy, and he carries that to the hilt in this one. Fast, expensive cars, fast boats, pretty planes, and lots and lots of beautiful people. And big guns. As with Mann's last work, Collateral (which I loved), most of the movie is shot with digital. Go Michael! Viva le revolucion! Screw those bastards who say film looks better. Digital is the way of the future.

Unfortunately, the flash overwhelms the movie. You never give a shit about the characters, or really what's going on. The script is pretty weak. The story never goes anywhere, and there are more loose ends than you can shake a stick at. In most big-budget movies, I'd say they were setting up a sequel; here I think they were just sloppy in the writing. This lack of a decent story takes what could have been a good movie and drags it down to truly sub-par. I can't emphasize this enough; this movie is all visual and sound with no reason.

On one episode of Dinner for Five, Faizon Love complained about his experience "acting" in the shitfest Torque, which was directed by a former music video director. He said of music video directors, "All they know is Bentleys, ass, cut! Bentleys, ass, cut!"
Mann comes dangerously close to "Bentleys, ass, cut!" in this movie (in fact, there is a Bentley near the beginning of the movie).

One feature of the show Miami Vice was the music. In the show, the contemporary, popular music they used was almost a character in the show. It had that same level of importance. Mann knows music, he knows how to drive a scene with it, and he knows how to pander to his audience with it. This movie is no different. Using a soundtrack powered mainly by Moby, Mogwai, and Audioslave, he manipulates the scenes with sound and keeps your senses overwhelmed. Mann is obviously a fan of Audioslave; he used them to great effect in Collateral (the scene with Cruise riding in the back of the taxi while "Shadow of the Sun" plays was awesome). I am pretty sure there were some new Audioslave songs in Miami Vice, featured on the movie soundtrack before their eventual album release. Mann arranged the same thing for Collateral. As I am a big fan of Audioslave, this made me happy. I am listening to Audioslave very, very loud as I type this.

One of the big, memorable song features from the TV show was Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight". When I sat down in the theater, I wondered to myself, "Am I going to hear In the Air Tonight somewhere in this movie?"
Got all the way through the movie, no In the Air Tonight. Oh well. That was 20+ years ago, one couldn't expect him to feature it in a current, multi-million dollar movie. But then as the screen went black and the credits started...what's that I hear? In the Air Tonight! Not the original, sure, but it was still the seminal Miami Vice song. I failed to catch who did the cover, though. Too bad he couldn't work in Glenn Fry's "Smuggler's Blues", a song pretty much custom-written for Miami Vice. I think only my buddy Nate and I still like that song, anyway.

So to sum up: beautiful, flashy cinematography; beautiful, flashy cars, people, and music. No story to speak of. Save your money.

Mattbear out.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Obscure Movies I Love, pt. 3: the Jason Priestley double-feature

Yeah, that's right, I said Jason "90210" Priestley.

It's easy to pick on Priestley. He was in one of the most over-rated, idiotic shows of our youth; and he's mostly done crappy TV stuff since then. However, he's been in a few good movies in the meantime. Most likely, you've seen Tombstone - one of the coolest westerns ever - but you may have forgotten that Jason got a small part in that (he was the gay guy). There were a couple of straight-to-video movies he was in that I rather liked, though:

Nowhere to Run

This coming-of-age/murder thiller movie starring Priestley and David "Kung-fu" Carradine is actually fairly well done. It does move a bit slow, and suffers from some plot schizophrenia, but the elements of a good '60s crime caper are all there. With some plot ideas and setting somewhat reminiscent of parts of Stand by Me, but with older kids, Nowhere to Run tells the story of high school kids dealing with impending graduation and the rest of their lives, until they run afoul of a violent and dangerous moonshiner (Carradine) who's back in town and stirring up trouble.

The director, Carl Franklin, went on to later make One False Move - a tight crime drama written by and featuring a then-unknown Billy Bob Thornton. Like he did in One False Move, Franklin is good at keeping the threat of impending violence alive even during slow parts of the movie, and maintaining some tension. Given "ok" performances by Priestley and Carradine, Franklin actually turned out quite a good movie - just not one popular enough to get wide release or attention.

Alas, this has not been released to DVD yet, so no Netflixing for this. But if you get a chance to watch it, give it a shot.


In a role that actually calls for flat, detached, almost robot acting, Jason Priestley is apparently your man. In Coldblooded, he plays a weirdly apathetic and detached bookie named Cosmo, working for the local mob boss at pretty much the bottom rung. When the boss dies and a new capo takes over, Cosmo is inexplicably "promoted" to being a hit man - whether he wants to or not.

Partnered up with an experienced killer played by the hilarious Peter Riegert, Cosmo has to learn the ropes of being a mob hit man. Until he falls in love, which complicates things. Hilarity ensues.

This black comedy is far better than "Jason Priestley as a reluctant hit man" has any right to be. I laughed out loud through much of the movie, even when watching it a second time. The scene with Michael J. Fox is particularly funny.

Unfortunately, this one hasn't been released on DVD either, but I give it a higher recommendation than Nowhere to Run - if you haven't seen this, and you have a VCR, go see if your local video store has this. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

R.I.P. Caroline

Well, it seems Caroline, my trusty '96 Saturn, has probably run her last mile. The radiator developed a nasty leak and the engine overheated severely as I tried to limp her home. The overheating seems to have taken out some other systems, like the power steering, ABS, and all the gauges. Lord only knows why. Given that the Blue Book on her would be something like $700 in "Fair" condition, I don't think it's going to be worth it to repair her.

Caroline gave me a good 10 years and nearly 200,000 miles, including over a year of pizza delivery that was very hard on her. But as they say, they just don't make 'em like they used to. I think she's gone for good.

I considered turning her into an electric car when the mechanicals gave out, but I think the cost and limited range (which won't help much living in the boonies) will prevent that, especially given the fact that every car I own is in need of repairs of one sort or another. Of course, I have to find the title before I can get rid of Caroline, so who knows how long she'll be sitting in the driveway before I dig that up. Maybe long enough to actually give her a second life as an eco-friendly-mobile.