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Month: October 2006

transformers, product placement in disguise

transformers, product placement in disguise

I was laying in bed last night thinking (thinking seems to be a problem lately – specifically the abundance of). As you may or may not know (and I’m guessing you may not) there is a live-action Transformers movie being released by Michael Bay (a chill runs down our collective spines) on July 4th 2007. If you already knew that then what you probably didn’t know is the list of classic transformers characters that are going to appear in the film. And on top of that – I bet you didn’t know that they changed Bumblebee from a yellow VW bug (get it…bumblebee …Bug…) to the 2009 Chevy Camaro concept. Oh, the Camaro is yellow…so I guess it is okay (rolling my eyes). Oh, and I’m sure this was in no way an example of product placement (rolling my eyes so much they fly out of my skull) with the new Camaro being released around the same time as the movie..

So, I was thinking… (and hoping Mike Bay doesn’t read my blog)… why don’t we apply this great concept to the other transformers characters. Even if they aren’t in the first film – Bay is planning on making this a franchise so we’ll see some of these guys at some point.

So..

Optimus Prime would take the form of a Kia Optima! Awesome!

Starscream would take the form of a Ford Freestar! Great!

Jetfire could take the form of a Chrysler Crossfire! Fantastic!

Landmine could take the form of a Land Rover! Sweet!

Repugnus could take the form of a Pontiac Aztek! (get it?)

Metroplex could take the form of a (giant) Chevy Metro! Yay!

Primus could take the form of a Toyota Prius! Totally Tubular (dude)!

Sky Shadow would take the form of a Saturn Sky! Insane!

Wing Saber would take the form of a Buick Le Sabre! Wow!

Thundercracker would take the form of a Ford Thunderbird! Exemplary!

Crosswise could take the form of an Isuzu Vehicross! Yes! (which wouldn’t be the vehicross’s first cameo…if anyone remembers 2000’s Mission to Mars)

Excellion could take the form of a Toyota Celica! Hooray!

Astrotrain could take the form of a Chevy Astrovan! Cantankerous!

Charger could take the form of a Dodge Charger! Simple!

Hydrocruiser could be a P.T. Cruiser! Splendid!

Laserbeak could be a Plymouth Laser! Fupa!

Lightspeed could be a Ford F-150 Lightning! Woof Woof!

Mirage would be a Mitsubishi Mirage! Uncalledfor!

Prowl would be a Plymouth Prowler! Splendiferous!

Ramjet would be a Dodge Ram! Poof!

Seaspray could be a Chrysler Sebring! Unk!

Shadowpanther would be a Dodge Shadow! Terrible!

Tempest would be a Pontiac Tempest! Rad!

See, if Mr. Bay would just hire a smart guy like me he wouldn’t have to find funding for his movies – there is enough product placement there to last for two or three sequels!

What happens there needs to stay there

What happens there needs to stay there

On Wednesday and Thursday of this past week I was located in Las Vegas. The annual American Dental Association meeting was held at the south Mandalay Bay exhibit hall. The meeting was held during the week because the hotels forbid the ADA from having a weekend meeting because at the last one there weren’t many gambling dentists (hmm…could propensity for gambling be linked to intelligence somehow?…oh, but that wouldn’t be PC of me to say, so I better keep it quiet!). Las Vegas has a certain stench to it, and I’m not just saying that because it held so much value to a certain crazy person I used to know. That certain stench is the mix of sand in the dry desert air and copious amount of cigarette smoke in the recycled air.

Each hotel doubles as a casino. Each casino has thousands of slot machines and card tables. No casino has a clock anywhere on the ground floor. Exits are NOT clearly marked (save emergency ones). After eating dinner at Trattoria Del Lupo Wednesday night inside Mandalay Bay with Jenn (from Dental Marketers) and Chris (from Perio Protect) I wanted to see the Bodies exhibit in the Tropicana exhibit hall. The Tropicana is located diagonally across the street from the Luxor. The Luxor is adjacent to Mandalay bay and is interconnected on the interior (and also by tram on the exterior). Because of the “we don’t want you to leave” maze within the casinos it took me 45 minutes to get across the street. I tried to go outside at first, but was turned away when seeing that one could go several blocks before coming to a crosswalk to cross Las Vegas Blvd. The middle of the street features palm trees, sand, and a five foot high fence to prevent jaywalking.

45 minutes later I came to the Tropicana. After finding the box office I was instructed to “go straight down and up the escalator” to get to the exhibition hall. This turned into down the hall, up the escalator, a walk to the left, down the hall past the trinket kiosks (oooh, an Ohio State mug!), down the hall past the karaoke bar and buffet, down the stairs, through the stark looking access door with an arrow, down a long empty hallway, choosing the right elevator to the ground floor (which was not labeled with a “1”, “0”, or “G”, but only “pool and health club”), down another hallway, a set of stairs, through the line, and into the exhibit – which ironically was also laid out partly like a maze.

For those who don’t know, Bodies is a scientific exhibit about the human body – made up entirely of manipulated preserved cadavers. It was very interesting. As some of you know, I can be a bit squeamish at times so I figured this might be a good test for me. I was okay with the show until I got to the middle of the exhibit, which featured a full room of fetuses in various stages of development. Now, keep in mind everything in the show was a real human cadaver, and they were splayed out like the illustrations in textbooks (we are talking cross-sections, holes, whole bodies without skin, organs splayed outside the body, musculature cut and extended from tendons, etc.). When the fetuses appeared I started to feel a little light headed. The rest of the rooms I basically jogged through.

I capped the night in my room watching the question and answer series at the University of Nebraska with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. It was the most interesting thing I did all day.

Thursday was uneventful. After the show ended I high-tailed it to the airport via Dan’s SUV. I was able to get stand-by on an earlier flight. I made it on the 6pm out. My 60 pound metal cube of appliances did not. The southwest baggage claim at Burbank is located (oddly) outside the terminal. (i.e. where smoking is allowed). So, I had to wait outside (thought I’d be home in time for a late dinner, but now I was stranded outside the terminal) for a few hours waiting for my cube. We’ve all been there – waiting and waiting for the baggage mover to start up and then for our particular piece to plop out. Now imagine doing that and not even knowing if your luggage was on that flight. Oh –and imagine everyone around you is sucking down a cancer stick.

There is a silver lining to this cloud though. Waiting on my doorstep was a small box. Upon opening the box I discovered a cool (read: professional design aesthetics instead of “just slap the logo in the middle, Earl”) gray buckeyes sweatshirt/pullover and a box of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Thanks, mom, and happy birthday!

DeTour

DeTour

Saturday I had to leave the sports bar after half-time of the Buckeyes game. Why would I ever leave in the middle of a game? Because I was trying to make it downtown in time to see Of Montreal’s set at the LA Weekly DeTour festival. Aaron called me at halftime to let me know the band would come on at 3:45. LA Weekly had been lax for months about putting the set list information online. So finally, hours before the show, they released that vital information.

After hearing this I hopped in the car and sat in the parking lot AKA 101 South. There were not one but two accidents in the short five mile stretch that took me a half hour. So, I took the nearest exit and sped down Burbank blvd. I received a phone call on my way stating that I should take the red metro line to downtown instead of driving. I made it to the metro station in time to take the next subway after Garen and Aaron left.

When I started walking towards the gated off area of downtown I could hear Of Montreal already playing. I ran towards the fence only to be stopped by a security guard telling me I had to go three blocks up and around the perimeter and enter on the other side of the festival area. Thus effectively missing most of the Of Montreal set.

The festival was an interesting use of downtown. It was all set up adjacent to the lawn in front of the town hall between 1st and 2nd streets on Main. There were two large stages, a smaller stage, and a church with techno/electronic acts. The whole thing was obviously sponsored by Heineken and Monster (energy drinks) as their products were everywhere. Every vendor also had water though – at not too hefty a price tag ($2 per bottle – keep in mind we were paying $4 a bottle at Woodstock seven years ago). Blonde Redhead played an uninspired set of (what we all agreed) was not their best songs. We were mostly unfamiliar with Basement Jaxx and after listening for a few minutes it became obvious that at some point the group had transitioned into making techno music for chicks and gay men. We exited and headed towards the smaller stage which was featuring Nortec Collective (put that in the search bar if you want to review my other Nortec show – also from downtown Los Angeles). Aaron and Caleb were put in a trance and Caleb stated later that Nortec was the best band of the day. I was quickly bored though and began to wander – playing around with the varying shutter speeds in manual mode on my camera (a few results of this can be seen in the zip file).

We eventually wandered back over to the main stage to watch Beck. Beck’s gimmick this time was to have a box on stage with marionettes of the entire band duplicating exactly what they were doing on the stage. The video screen behind them would show the marionettes playing 90% of the time and not the real band. He played a mix of old and new (as in brand new from the album that isn’t out yet) songs, but before long we knew we had to start the trek to the other main stage if we were to get good spots for Queens of the Stone Age. As we walked away Beck launched into a solo acoustic version of Golden Age.

I had a fantastic spot for Queens of the Stone Age. The rest of the crew did not as they decided to go to the car for awhile (I’ll leave it at that and you can use your own jump-to-conclusions-mat to determine what they were doing). I’ve seen QOTSA three times now and they’ve always put on a good show. They played their “radio hits” (even saying “okay, now that’s out of the way” after one) but also a lot of old songs that I wasn’t even familiar with. Perhaps this was Kyuss material. As the night stretched past 11pm a police presence was visible on the side of the stage. Eventually Josh Homme was summoned to the side and when he returned announced that they could only play one more song. The song was a barn-burner with many trick spots that sounded like endings…but kept going. By the time the song was really over there were three police officers on stage seconds away from pulling the plug. I’m not sure what the big deal was, the whole event was blocks away from any residential areas, but perhaps Los Angeles has a downtown noise curfew.

As with every large show there was the usual assortment of bohemian wannabes and ubernerds (a few examples are in the zip). I’m not sure when poor hygiene and $200 jeans designed to look like thrift store rejects became fashionable – but the sooner this trend blows over the better. At one point before Blonde Redhead a girl wandered by with pants and a t-shirt that looked borrowed from her mother – but a big Louis Vuitton purse. Of course every girl was also sporting the 1970s Paris Hilton bug-eye oversized lens sunglasses. What runs through these women’s minds when they look at themselves in the mirror before leaving the house?

The whole experience was only $35 before Ticketmaster’s usual 40% markup “convenience” charges (convenient for them obviously, not for us), which is about what I paid last December to see QOTSA alone.

For photo documentation click here.

four day weekend

four day weekend

A long weekend started for me on Thursday night. I went (alone because some people flaked at the last minute) to the first West Coast audience showing of Julie Taymor’s new film Across the Universe. Although I am a fan of the Beatles, and the cast of the film could sing and sing quite well – I despised the use (or misuse as the case may be) of the songs. One wonders if the story would hold up as its own movie without the gimmick of being told through a mishmash of Beatles lyrics (with characters named Jude, Prudence, Sadie, etc. you know what is coming…).

There were many interesting cameos such as Eddie Izzard playing Mr. Kite, Salma Hayek, Joe Cocker (this time NOT singing the opening tune from The Wonder Years), and Bono as Dr. Roberts (AKA The Walrus). For the duration of the film I was convinced that the character Sadie (as in Sexy) who plays an oversexed New York blues singer (getting as close to sounding like Janis Joplin as humanly possible, so if you ever wondered what Janis coving the Beatles might sound like – this is the film for you) was played by Joan Osborne. This made me happy, as Joan has been out of the public eye for quite some time, and “her” performance in the film both from a musical and acting standpoint was very strong. Imagine my dismay to discover that Sadie was not played by Joan Osborne, but an apparent twin or doppelganger (although younger and better looking) by the name of Dana Fuchs.

Julie Taymor seems to suffer from a problem most directors face when coming in from a similar but different entertainment medium to film. Lack of focus on making a film. Across the Universe is an elaborate musical production with a great sense of color and extensive use of collages to convey content. These things work great in a musical, but get tiring in film. Perhaps the most overblown example comes late in the film where the “artist” Jude envisions a bowl of strawberries (that seems to be bottomless as time goes on) as bombs dropping in Vietnam (the time period of the movie was the turbulent 1960’s). On the other hand, Julie’s use of color and framing throughout the film was spectacular. This is another movie where 90% of the film stills could be hung in a photo gallery.

By the time we get to hour number two (and certainly by hour number three) I heard the first lyrics (or guitar riffs) of a familiar song and would groan knowing the next five minutes would be wasted on elaborate ways to visually convey LSD influenced Beatles lyrics. At two hours and twenty minutes, Julie crams in enough Beatles to cover most of the major songs from their entire catalogue, and misinterpret all of them.

To return to my main criticism of the film only being strung together by the Beatles gimmick – most of the comments overheard in the men’s room afterwards were along the lines of “boy, takes you back, doesn’t it?” and “some good old songs” The audience that would find this movie the most enjoyable is probably the largest segment of the American populous that never sets foot in a multiplex.

After the film I was on my way to a short appearance at a party in Pasadena.

I awoke at 6am the next morning to catch a ride to Bob Hope Airport. My two flights Friday were fairly uneventful. Upon meeting up with my parents in Columbus we ate dinner at Mark Pi’s Express before shopping for Buckeye apparel.

Saturday morning/afternoon I attended the wedding of my cousin Andrea and her husband Justin. I haven’t been to a wedding in years, but this one seemed overly religious, with much more attention given to scripture than marriage. Several members of the grooms’ family were on their knees praying during a majority of the ceremony, and the Eucharist was even given out at one point which the majority of the groom’s family (and the minority of mine) imbibed.

During the ceremony I kept thinking: “I could never do this.” While I’m a fan of traditional pair-bonding and monogamy (unlike most males my age), I just can’t see myself doing the church wedding with bridesmaids, groomsmen, priests, pomp and circumstance. I felt very out of place even being in that environment. Not necessarily uncomfortable (although if I were ten years younger I probably would have been), but distanced and confused by what was happening and sure that this was not in any way part of who I am. However, for what it was intended to be – the wedding worked beautifully.

The reception was held in the atrium of a large downtown Columbus office building. The main course had nuts in it of course so I had to single myself out to the wait staff as the one weirdo that they’d have to cater to. This time however my brother’s girlfriend who also has a nut allergy was there – so we were weirdoes together.

The next morning I awoke at 5am (my time) and walked with my parents to Max and Erma’s for their breakfast buffet. The buffet was a far cry from even cafeteria food. It featured: four bland cereal choices, a platter of cooked eggs, bacon, sausage links, mangled hard waffle bits, and a mile-long line to get a fresh omelet. Needless to say we didn’t stay long. We went shopping for Buckeye apparel again and I found something I liked – but of course they didn’t have my size – so I left Ohio empty-handed. We ate at Mark Pi’s Express once more before heading off to the airport – where my long day was only just beginning. After hopping from Columbus to Chicago I (and my fellow Californians) were forced to wait ten minutes to catch a cramped bus to the proper terminal for our flight to San Francisco (my second time in two weeks at SFO). Once on our giant bird (flight attendants said about 350 people were on board) we waited. And waited. And waited before taking off. About two hours into the four hour flight an old man four rows in front of me had a stroke (or something – it was unclear). Much commotion was made while we were in the air and upon landing we were forced to wait for paramedics to come on and escort the man off before deplaning. I was sitting at the back.

After barely making it to my connecting gate at SFO on time I discovered that my flight was delayed by two hours. I finally touched down in Burbank around 11pm and made it into my bed around midnight after setting my alarm to get up at 6:30am.

Oh – and apparently I’m getting my usual airplane cold. Just in time for the much anticipated Detour Festival this weekend….