In making the announcement, [WB President Alan] Horn stated, â€œOur reasons for shifting â€˜Half-Blood Princeâ€™ to summer are twofold: we know the summer season is an ideal window for a family tent pole release, as proven by the success of our last Harry Potter film, which is the second-highest grossing film in the franchise, behind only the first installment. Additionally, like every other studio, we are still feeling the repercussions of the writersâ€™ strike, which impacted the readiness of scripts for other filmsâ€”changing the competitive landscape for 2009 and offering new windows of opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of. We agreed the best strategy was to move â€˜Half-Blood Princeâ€™ to July, where it perfectly fills the gap for a major tent pole release for mid-summer.â€
OK, I lied: The most disappointing bit of this release is the news â€” not new, but still, it hurts â€” that David Yates will also direct the two-part Deathly Hallows. Yates directed the last HP film, Order of the Phoenix, and to my mind stripped it of a very key point: In the film's climactic sequence, the kids hardly did any fighting. They weren't in the battle; they were in trouble, then they were rescued by adults. That's not what happens; what happens is they become really aware of the seriousness of the fight they're in â€” not just because of a certain death, but because they're casting spells and fighting for their lives in a way that only Harry has experienced before.
In Yates' film, though, the older generation saves the day. There were other changes, of course, and the film was too Cliffs-Notesy, lacking emotional heft, but that was the most egregious mistake of the lot.
Sad. Sad, sad, sad. Bring Alfonso CuarÃ³n back, damn you!
Anyway. None of this makes the first trailer for Half-Blood Prince any less awesome:
It's a bad sign when I haven't got a single post in the recent blog posts column. I've got no excuse, really, except that I got blogged out â€” in the reading sense â€” during Comic-Con (which I really do prefer calling Nerd Prom). News! Trailers that stayed up for less than 24 hours! (Why is Emma Frost in Wolverine: Origins? Do I care? I love Emma Frost.) Twitter updates from attending friends! Emailing other friends to beg them to nab stuff for me! ACK!
There was just too much excitement. TOO MUCH, I tell you. And in roughly the same timeframe, the internet was exploding over two things:
1. The apparently unbelievable crappiness of Stephenie Meyer's fourth book about the OMG PERFECT vampire Edward and basically OMG PERFECT â€” but clumsy! â€” teenage girl who falls in love with him. (That link isn't quite as mean as some but it's a) funny and b) a very good illustration of what precisely the fuss is about.) For a good take on that fat book you might see everywhere that isn't by J.K. Rowling, see Salon's "Touched By a Vampire."
2. Some people didn't like The Dark Knight! And these people were immediately met with insane outpourings of fanboy rage, which then turned half the TDK discussion into a frothing meta-mess of Why Critics/Fanboys Are Idiots/Smarter. Because we needed another one of these navel-gazing conversations, clearly. Also worth a good (if slightly bitter) chuckle: George Bush is Batman (or is it the other way around?). I've meant for, what, weeks? now to post a much longer and much more spoiler-involving commentary about TDK, but I seem to have lost some momentum. Maybe next week.
In totally unrelated news, I heart Sherman Alexie. The linked article, "Sixty-one Things I Learned During the Sonics Trial," includes the following gems:
"15. In writing, thinking, and talking about the Sonics' possible relocation to Oklahoma City, I shuffle like an iPod through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and Hall & Oates."
"21. Yeah, I cuss a lot. Get over it. In writing about basketball, it would be utterly hypocritical to abstain from cursing. Did you catch the last four minutes of the Boston Celtics game six tap-out of the Los Angeles Lakers? As they danced together on the sidelines and celebrated their world championship, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce danced and sang so many "motherfuckers" that the bleeped-over broadcast turned into a John Cage sound collage."
And many more. Is it basketball season yet?
And that's it for now. So much else out there. Let's see if I can't blog at least twice next week.
Another bicyclist has been struck by a car, this time he survived.
According to a police press release, Thea Peck, 36, was cited by police Monday, July 21 after she struck cyclist Daniel Rasmussen, 22, in a crosswalk near the 30th Ave. Albertsons, sending the biker to the hospital. EPD ticketed Peck for allegedly committing the violations of "Careless Driving" and "Passing a Stopped Vehicle at a Crosswalk."
Here's the EPD description of the 10:42 am accident:
"Investigating officers found that the bicyclist, Daniel Rasmussen, was crossing 30th Avenue southbound in a marked crosswalk on the west side of the intersection. Two drivers (one heading south on Alder Street, one heading east on 30th Avenue) stopped their vehicles to allow Rasmussen to cross. A third driver, Thea Peck, was eastbound on 30th Avenue in her silver Honda Odyssey, accelerating in the right-hand lane. She passed the stopped car in the left-hand lane, entered the crosswalk, and struck Rasmussen in the intersection."
Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert and columnist Richard Roeper are cutting ties with the TV franchise that Disney-ABC Domestic Television has syndicated nationally for 22 years.
Each cited major changes they say Disney plans to make to the movie-review program that for three decades has forced filmmakers and studio executives on both coasts and beyond to pay heed to judgments of their work in Chicago, the heart of flyover country.
I never manage to remember when the show is on, and so I rarely watch it on purpose â€” but that isn't the point. The point is that whatever Disney's doing, it's so unpleasant that both men are leaving. The other point is that while sometimes I've been utterly perplexed by Ebert, at others â€” and especially recently â€” I've found his gentle touch and strong personality completely absorbing. (You just have to read him online, not in the seemingly chopped up versions that appear in some print outlets.)
Ebert's statement is here; Roeper is quoted at length here. I don't even like Roeper, not one whit, and I'm still sad.
And ineloquent, too. Why does it have to be a Tuesday today?
So Hellboy II: The Golden Army was entertaining, but not quite the rapturous comic-book movie experience I was hoping for. It just ... missed a few turns on the narrative turnpike. But you know what was rapturously cool about it? The creatures. Which really should come as no surprise to anyone who saw Pan's Labyrinth. Here, director Guillermo del Toro talks with The New York Times, about the notebook in which he conceived some of the creatures, and here, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola talks about how he worked with del Toro and artists to bring his and del Toro's visions to life onscreen. Both stories are absolutely worth your time. As is the movie, provided you don't have the expectations I did.
(Speaking of expectations, OMG ONLY A FEW DAYS until The Dark Knight.)
The boyfriend and I wandered into the Bier Stein tonight on a whim, which is usually how we wind up there: "I think I'm hungry." "OK, what do you want to eat?" "Um, I dunno ... Bier Stein?" We have a thing for their sandwiches, though the pizzanini is still missed.
But anyway. I digress. The point is, we heard from Chip Hardy, who owns the beertastic place with his wife, Kristina, that today was the third anniversary of the Stein's existence. And we applaud that heartily. We applaud the variety of ever-changing taps; the ability to buy a bottle of regional microbrew at a price that splits the different between the grocery store and most bars; the beers we might never pick up anywhere else; the beers we might not find anywhere else; the availability of both Fullers ESB (which reminds me of post-collegiate drinking and is delicious) and Toohey's (Australian Budweiser equivalent that I still drink every so often just for the memories, because I'm nostalgic that way); the super-awesome, super-friendly staff; those sandwiches; and did I mention the beer?
(Thinking happy thoughts for the Stein makes up for thinking sad thoughts at Roger Federer earlier. Boo. Also hiss. I would much rather watch Federer remove his curly locks from his forehead before every damn serve than watch the other guy remove his undergarments from the snug parts of his derriere.)
You might think I wouldn't care about the fact that Seattle's basketball team is leaving. Seattle's a long drive, for one thing, and for another, my heart belongs to the Pistons (and then to the Suns. Gotta love hippie Canadian NBA stars). But for some reason it still pisses me off that the Sonics (though they won't be called that anymore) are ditching Seattle. Courtesy of The Stranger's Slog comes this beautifully concise response to the team's owner.
Wave goodbye to Luke Ridnour, kids. Go Ducks and all that.
(Speaking of NBA basketball, which I really only do during the playoffs and draft, I'm still cranky that Portland picked up Kansas' Brandon Rush and them immediately traded him ... for Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu? Seriously? OK, then. At least my favorite Duck, Maarty Leunen, got picked up by the Houston Rockets, even if in this story they're saying he'll go play overseas first. And, for those who weren't paying attention the other week during the draft, Phoenix picked up Malik Hairston, then traded rights to him to San Antonio. Much as I like Tim Duncan, I'm can't possibly be a Spurs fan until Bruce Bowen is elsewhere.)
On McCain's "Blog Interact" page, where the candidate's supporters can find recommended blogs of all ideological stripes, the campaign is actually awarding points for trolling.
Here's the text from said page:
Help spread the word about John McCain on news and blog sites. Your efforts to help get the message out about John McCain's policies and plan for the future is one of the most valuable things you can do for this campaign. You know why John McCain should be the next President of the United States and we need you to tell others why.
Select from the numerous web, blog and news sites listed here, go there, and make your opinions supporting John McCain known. Once youâ€™ve commented on a post, video or news story, report the details of your comment by clicking the button below. After your comments are verified, you will be awarded points through the McCain Online Action Center.
McCain's site helpfully points out a few sites his supporters might go troll, and lists talking points that are decidedly lacking in "points," i.e. the insipidly generic "John McCain will put the national interest ahead of partisanship, he will work with anyone who sincerely wants to get this country moving again."
This, my friends, is trolling. Running around posting your agenda without any intent of actually joining in the conversation? Purposefully posting to sites with a contradictory point of view without, again, any interest in discussion? Trolling. Which is unacceptable on several levels â€”Â not least because it suggests something deeply unpleasant about how McCain wants to engage with those who disagree with him: with blanket statements and talking points, without any regard for the conversational topics at hand or any interest in listening. Just pour it on until it sticks.
So, yeah, I'm a little late with this one. If I don't blog about something the same night, it can be a while. But today I walked (about) a mile in four-inch (I think) heels to pick up my copy of Frightened Rabbit's The Midnight Organ Fight from House of Records, and that seems to call for a blog post. Right? Though I have so many good things to say about this night that I'm not sure where to begin. Perhaps bullet points are in order:
â€¢ Holocene: Gorgeous. Lately, every time I go to a new venue in Portland, I love it better than the last new venue â€” though the Wonder Ballroom may still own my heart. I fell for Hawthorne Theater's layout, where the drinking oldies and the kids are on the same floor with the bar in the middle, and now for Holocene's several-room setup. Cement floors, new white walls, the bar in a different room than the stage, a fantastic old-fashioned in hand: brilliance (though for the record, no one should ever make a Sazerac with Ten High. I'm just sayin').
â€¢Â Ulterior motive: I had one. An old friend I hadn't seen in five years is the bassist for the Rabbit's tourmates, Oxford Collapse, and somehow I'd never seen this band of his play before. It's always funny to see people you know on stage. As my companion aptly put it, "In a band of crazies, he's the craziest." Yes. And "Please Visit Your National Parks" is still the best Collapse song, so go find an MP3. I believe there's one here. While you're there, grab the Rabbit's "Heads Roll Off" and "The Modern Leper," mmmkay?
â€¢ Listening to people in the know: A good idea. Years ago, I learned a valuable lesson: When Chris Newmyer is really into a band, pay attention. Even if he tells you, say, that Les Savy Fav's name means "the tight pant wearers." It was my loss that I didn't see Les Savy Fav sooner, and when he started hitting his mailing list with all kinds of Frightened Rabbit stuff, my ears, um â€” while speaking (in a way) of bunnies, this is so lame â€” perked up.
Another FR fan is Pitchfork Senior News Editor Amy Phillips, whom I suspect is the coolest person at Pitchfork. About FR, she wrote, "I can't explain why this band's jangly, anthemic indie pop hits me harder than everybody else's jangly, anthemic indie pop, or why such terrible-on-paper lyrics as 'you're the shit and I'm knee-deep in it' and 'it takes more than fucking someone you don't know to keep warm,' sung by a guy who sounds like the twee Scottish version of Adam Duritz, come across as so profound. I just don't know. But it works. I can't stop listening to this album." Exactly.
â€¢ Oh, right. About the show. Four unassuming Scottish men, at least two of them in plaid shirts (and one with Jack White's hair), take the stage. Portland, or this tiny slice of it (though the show is well-attended), greets them happily. They proceed to be awesome. It really is sort of hard to explain, but it is anthemic indie pop with lyrics that waver all over the damn place; I'm a big fan of the phrase, "I'll make tiny changes to earth," but not so much of that fucking line quoted above (though it is followed by "I'm drunk / and I'm drunk, and you're probably on pills / and if we've both got the same diseases / it's irrelevant, girl!" which is better, in a bleak sort of way). My companion and I yell back and forth: "They're kind of like Snow Patrol, if Snow Patrol was actually indie rock." "Yeah, Snow Patrol of the streets." Um.
But there's something about these guys. Really. The drummer's constant motion is hypnotic; the singer has his eyes closed a lot; the wall of distortion has just the right density, and it builds in all the right place. It takes half a dozen songs for us to realize there's no bass. Nothing is missing. Someone requests "The Twist" and it's beautiful and it all feels like a scene in a movie when someone's making a really bad decision but you know they're going to enjoy it â€” at least for a little while. It's a soundtrack to falling in love with the wrong person, sometimes, and other times it's a blanket of yearning settling heavily on your shoulders. And sometimes it's the charm of the moderately tough looking drummer singing the funny little "woo-oot-woot" in "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms." Every so often, I get goosebumps, for no reason whatsoever. And some Portlanders actually sort of move around a little. Fancy that.
They should be your new favorite band. They really should. Here's the disarmingly charming video for "Heads Fall Off" to help convince you (I'd say this is their most Snow Patrolly song):
But wait! This isn't the only awesomesauce on the Whedon front. There's also the internet-only Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which, frankly, I can't decide whether to italicize, put in quotes or leave alone (oh, the trials of the editor-brain. I went with italics because Suzi said so). Dr. Horrible stars Doogie Howser Neil Patrick Harris, Captain Tightpants Nathan Fillion and potential slayer Vi "The Guild" creator Felicia Day, which makes it several different kinds of exciting. As you can see, there's very little on Dr. Horrible's website â€” yet. However, the good horrible doctor does have a Facebook page and â€” even better! â€” a preview:
Since I was a bitter teenager in Elmira, I've been seeing movies at the Bijou (well, apart from that nine-year break where I didn't live here), and for that long I've also had a soft spot for the theater's resident cat, Boo*. Boo is 23, according to her MySpace profile (I could swear she was only 19!), and for as long as I've been petting her she's been, well, kinda big. But she's a sweetie of a cat who purrs if you scratch her ears just right and who always has a "mrrowp?" for a cat-loving critic who can't seem to see a movie there without petting her first.
But Boo, it turns out, might need a new home. She gets lonely when no one's around. She's quite old for a cat, and she'll need a lot of attention and probably ring up some vet bills as she gets older. But maybe you work at home, or otherwise have a lot of time and love to give to a sweet older cat. If you do, call the Bijou folks at 686-3229. It sounds like at the moment, there's still a chance she'll get to stay, but she might need you.
(That sound you hear? Is me sniffling at the the thought of the Bijou without Boo.)
* March 11, 2009: I'm informed that the cat at the Bijou when I was a wee teen may have been a cat other than Boo. Perhaps I'm mixing up my years; she was there for 11 years, meaning since 1998 â€” waaaay after I was done with high school. In my mind, though, it'll always be the same cat!
The Register-Guard plans to reduce its workforce by about 12 percent, or 30 positions.
In a statement on the R-G website, the paper's publisher Tony Baker blamed a downturn in the local economy and an increase in newsprint prices for the cuts.
R-G Newspaper Guild Co-President Randi Bjornstad, a reporter at the paper, said that Baker told a general staff meeting today that the paper would cut about 30 workers due to soft sales and circulation in the economic downturn.
Itâ€™s unclear if the R-Gâ€™s newsroom will be impacted by the reduction. The newsroom is already â€œleanâ€ with a few vacant positions left unfilled, Bjornstad said. â€œWe donâ€™t know.â€
Management expects about half the reduction will come from not filling vacant positions and buyouts and about half from actual layoffs, according to Bjornstad.
The R-G has about 20 news reporters, not including sports, and the Newspaper Guild represents about half of the about 260 employees at the newspaper, according to Bjornstad. The Guild contract specifies that involuntary layoffs are done by seniority, she said.
Bjornstad said Baker mentioned the recent 10 percent workforce cut at the McClatchy chain of 28 dailies in his announcement.
Many of the nationâ€™s newspapers, including the New York Times and Washington Post, have recently announced workforce cuts due to a decline in profits from the down economy and lost advertising to the internet.
â€œItâ€™s pretty much like everywhere else,â€ Bjornstad said.
Baker â€œexpects things to bounce back,â€ Bjornstad said. The paper has suffered similar cuts in the past, but not in at least a decade, she said. â€œItâ€™s been a long time.â€