Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wrestlemania 26

Yes! A Wrestlemania post!

I'm not sure how it happened, but at some point in my life, I watched professional wrestling and ended up on the side of those grown-up dudes who still think it is awesome.

Two years ago, I watched Wrestlemania 24 at Billy Joe's Pitcher Show in Des Moines. The theater was filled with screaming kids, old men in WWE shirts, and countless tables of people downing pitchers of beer and emptying pack after pack of cigarettes. We sat in the very front corner and had a hard time seeing. In the final match that year, HBK sweet chin music-ed Ric Flair and pinned him to end Flair's career in the WWE (he has now joined TNA, from what I understand).

This year, HBK finally got what was coming to him.

In an amazing match where Undertaker put his 17-0 Wrestlemania record on the line against HBK's career in the WWE, the tables turned on Shawn Michaels, and the Heartbreak Kid was ultimately broken, and forced to say goodbye to the sport (okay, entertainment franchise) that held him in such high regard for so many years. He walked that entrance ramp for the last time as a professional wrestler, and the white-walled living room of a small house in Boone where I watched this year's event saw a few adult eyes well up with tears. I was happy to see him go, but many of the people I was watching this year's Wrestlemania with had been nearly lifelong HBK fans and one even stated that "If HBK loses, that's like my entire childhood is gone".

Despite how laughable professional wrestling can be, it is quotes like that and the professional wrestling experiences I have had in the past few years that keep me hooked. For me, it is just as interesting to watch the 30-year-old lifelong fans as it is to watch the wrestlers themselves.

I don't know where I will be for Wrestlemania 27. I may not even get the chance to watch it, but no matter what happens, I will know that living rooms and movie theaters alike across the country will be filled both adults and kids that can watch and believe that every move is real, every injury is serious, and every match is determined by the best man, not the most profitable.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Iowa and Oregon

Spring has finally probably arrived.

Jon and I have begun our mission to make the backyard a paradise, but it will probably just end up looking really nice because we don't know that much about gardening. I've already broken one rake and we ripped up all this plastic that the landlords probably put down to prevent weeds from growing... so that could turn out kind of bad.

As it turns out, you can get nearly 100 tomato seeds for only 1 dollar!

I heard back from the Fairfield dudes and it sounds like they want Trista and I to have some songs done for a split tape by the middle of April, which should be do-able. I'll let you know as I finish them.

I'm going to Portland tomorrow for a few days. Trent and my parents will be attending business meetings all day while I explore the city and buy records and see the Japanese Garden. AND THEN, at night I get to eat with them at their business dinners and I don't even have to dress up. What a scam! There is also a very small probability that I may leave Portland with an apartment and a job, though its doubtful. I'll probably just end up with a few leads and places to look when I return in a few months.

I'll take lots of pictures for everyone to see when I get back.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards

If I got anything out of last night's 82nd Annual Academy Awards, I learned that I did not see enough movies in 2009. This made me wonder if that was entirely my fault, or if the culturally-lacking city of Ames, well, lacked film culture.

Recently, the once prominent Varsity Theater closed its doors. The Varsity was once the spitting image of what I felt a college theater should be--midnight showings of classic and cult films, art-house films, documentaries, and cheap tickets. But by the end of it, it was trying to hold onto student attention by showing more popular movies, offering nothing more than the big Hollywood blockbusters. At this point, the only advantage it had over the more popular Movies 12 theater was its proximity to campus. But when you are competing with the clean, option-filled Movies 12, by offering only 2 or 3 movies at a time at a closer distance in an already small city, you are bound to fail. So, the question remains, did the Varsity theater close because it abandoned the small, art-house following it had? Or did it close because its student following abandoned it in favor of a larger theater with more, popular blockbuster options?

The only Campustown option that remains now for student movie-goers is the Student Union Board films every week. Let's take a look at the Fall 2009 schedule:

Angels & Demons
The Proposal
Star Trek
Public Enemies
The Hangover
Transformers 2
Harry Potter
Funny People
The Ugly Truth
GI Joe
Inglorious Basterds

and the Spring 2010 schedule:

Paranormal Activity
The Invention of Lying
Where the Wild Things Are
Twilight: New Moon
Couples Retreat
Law Abiding Citizen
The Blind Side
Up in the Air
Youth in Revolt
Sherlock Holmes

Needless to say, the whole SUB film program seems to be lacking any real film merit. Mostly run-of-the-mill comedies and action movies, sprinkled with a few of the necessary Hollywood hits that did appear on the Best Picture list (due, perhaps, only to the extension of the that list from 5 to 10 films). They were, however, very well attended on the occasions that I went, so there certainly is a student audience for these kind of films.

It is also important to mention the ol' North Grand 5 (aka the dollar theater). Unfortunately, this theater is nothing more than a 2-3 month late, cheaper version of the popular Movies 12.

And then, in the wake of all these theater changes over the past years, both Hollywood Video and Hastings (which had a wonderful, cheap selection of movie rentals) closed their doors, leaving only Family Video and Redbox for movie rentals. But both of these tend to offer, once again, only those large Hollywood blockbusters.

Considering all of this, it isn't difficult to see why I was hearing of some of the Academy Award winning films for the first time last night, when they were winning their awards. Because of this, I found that the only category I could really justify caring about was (surprisingly) the Best Supporting Actor award. And Christoph Waltz won for his tense-as-hell, animated performance as Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds.

I did, however, add a lot of titles to my already long "to-watch" list, which I hope will continue to grow at a faster rate than my ability to view its contents, although, at the rate that Hollywood keeps kicking out crappy College comedies, copycat romances, and crime dramas, I foresee fewer and fewer new films making that list. We'll see!

(Sidenote: The Academy's tribute to horror movies - Cool. The tribute's complete lack of a Romero movie - Not cool.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dunston Checks In 2: Dunston Checks Out

The Iowa State University radio station, KURE, held their annual Kaleidoquiz this weekend. I think 23 teams competed in all in a huge trivia and random-as-hell activity 26-hour marathon in the town of Ames.

Our team was Dunston Checks In 2: Dunston Checks Out. I heard we ended up in 11th place, but we missed the final awards ceremony because we showed up half an hour late. I'm pretty satisfied considering we rarely had more than 7 or 8 people to cover answering trivia questions every 6 minutes, solving trivia montages, performing scavenger hunts, traveling to Minneapolis, and making movies to fulfill random requirements.

We made a How to Make paper video which involved picking up branches and bark, ingesting it, excreting it, chewing it, and flattening it out into paper. Half of the scenes spontaneously disappeared in the footage import process and I had to completely explain the holes left by their disappearance in my narration of the whole thing which I did in one take because the video was due half an hour before I even started the audio part of it. Maybe I'll upload it to this here blog if I can find it. Other members of our team made a music video for Britney Spears - Toxic while I was at work. I'll upload that too, if I can find it.

There were a lot of High Fidelity and Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons questions which we often got wrong because we answered the questions too correctly and the person taking our answer didn't know anything more than the answer written on the sheet in front of them. Such is the annoyance of KQ.

What I have learned from Kaleidoquiz 2010:

1. Don't ever listen to John Hodgeman's 700 Molemen comedy bit.

2. Just because something started an hour late before, doesn't mean it will start an hour late again.

3. Star Wars knowledge will always continue to come in handy at some point.

4. Morse Code is nearly impossible to decipher without pauses between letters.

5. Boring video is always more entertaining with music playing.

6. Twenty-three different people trying to call a single phone line to answer a question is a broken method of doing trivia.

7. Everything is on the internet if you look hard enough.

8. It is nearly impossible to sit down and watch a movie without falling asleep after you've been awake for 26 hours.

9. College radio is filled with dorks (I have still not figured out why, though).

Here is our video we made from last year, which is still awesome.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Sunny Day in Glasgow Show

Trista and I played with Wolves in the Attic and A Sunny Day in Glasgow tonight at the Vaudeville Mews. It went very well. We actually had a couple of songs to play so we didn't just improvise everything and make noise between half-finished pieces of songs. It was probably the most well attended VM show I have ever played.

On the way in, we stole Wolves in the Attic's parking spot, and then later they announced that it might be their last show as a band, which was kind of sad. I have seen that band play in all sorts of basements and spaces, and they are one of maybe 5 bands that exist in Ames that I care about (which is also sad).

A Sunny Day in Glasgow was...okay. I hate to spit out the whole "they-sound-better-on-the-album" thing, but it is kind of true.

Live music is kind of like headphones for your entire body. So, I was excited for this show because listening to their album, Ashes Grammar, this whole week on my way to work at 7 in the morning made my head swim around in some pond made up of the frozen trees lining the sidewalks on campus, the sun failing to break through the Iowa winter cloud cover, and the wonderful, sky-filled sounds of A Sunny Day in Glasgow flowing between my ears.

Unfortunately, their live drums and guitars tended to drown out the reverbed singing and sunny guitar and synth parts that made their album as good as it was (all 22 songs of it). Either that, or they primarily played new stuff and it is much more guitar-and-drum based, which is entirely possible too.

I don't think I have any more shows scheduled. I'm going to try and finish some of these sample-based songs I have in the works, and I might make a split tape with Trista for SWEAT POWER RECORDS if and when that is created.

Vivian Girls in Grinnell next Saturday, and then I'm going to Portland at the end of the month (which I'm still trying to get work off for).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I went to my first masquerade this weekend. Denise made us cool cat masks. It took place in the Brunnier Art Museum on campus, and the whole place was filled with cool prints of Japanese landscapes and Iowa birds. Everyone seemed kind of confused about what they were supposed to be doing at a masquerade, but we had fun.

On Sunday, Trista and I lugged all of our equipment home to record some songs in an attempt to get accepted to play at VEISHEA. We only recorded one song far enough to be satisfied with turning it in (though we may add drums to it later). So, we put one of the songs I just made with my sampler and one of Trista's older songs on a CD with it and turned it in. It could be interesting making gospel-like noise between college rock bands if the opportunity to do so at VEISHEA arises.

If you want to listen to it, you can on Trista's myspace. It's called Dad Hat.
The song I did is called Wet Kids.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Crazies

So, I saw The Crazies this weekend.

The film was a remake of a 1973 film written and directed by George Romero, who I continue to like more and more, despite his dive in making quality films as of recently.

You can see the difference in movie posters. They just don't make them like they used to. I think I want to start collecting George Romero movie posters.

The Crazies takes place in a little town of about 1200 people called Ogden Marsh, Iowa. Being from a town of about 3000 people called Ogden, Iowa, I was naturally drawn to this film. The interesting thing is that, apparently, the small-town-Iowa thing drew a whole crowd for this film that I would have never expected. I see horror movies. I love them and I would like to some day write horror movie screenplays. That being said, I have been in the theater for movies like this since I was old enough to buy tickets for them (or clever enough to figure out how to sneak in).

I have never seen a theater this full for a movie like this in all my experiences of seeing zombie-infection films of this type. I'm pretty sure a showing of Cop Out was playing at the same time that The Crazies was and it felt like the general audience of this movie would have been much more at home laughing at the laugh-out-loud, police brutality humor of that film, rather than loving the ridiculous details of a quarantined infection in a small Iowa town gone wrong. I mention this with no elitist tone. I simply use it to question whether or not the name-dropping of Cedar Rapids and the Iowa Hawkeyes in a film is enough to make the casual viewer want to see it.

Overall, I liked the film. I'm not sure if this is because my horror movie standards have been lowered after years of bad horror or if because this was one of the rare cases when a horror remake is done pretty well (Rob Zombie, please stop making movies).

As the story goes, a plane carrying some toxic substance crashes into a small body of water that the town of Ogden Marsh gets its water from. Slowly, members of the town start to go crazy as they use the water, and the American government steps in to quarantine the area to prevent the spread of this "crazy" infection. Surprisingly, the Iowa setting allowed for some pretty nice landscape shots, which made Iowa look as beautiful as it does during its best summer nights, throughout the whole film. Ironically, the majority of the film was shot in Georgia, because, apparently, the filmmakers wanted the state to look prettier than they actually thought it was.

I liked it enough to want to see the original (sometimes known as Code Name: Trixie), but because every good movie rental place in Ames is tanking, I decided I finally need to open my own Netflix account to get access to the kinds of films that the shelves of Family Video do not offer.