Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
My take was that over time, quality prevails, so in order to take it to the test, I tried applying the SLJ-factor to two female actors I consider to be absolutely top-notch, and compared the resulting SLJ-factors with what I obtained for two vacuous bags of plastic, make-up and hair-extensions.
Meryl Streep: Not the most prolific actress, and known for the quality of her work. I've seen 8 of her movies, and liked 6, yielding an SLJ-factor of 0.75.
Jodie Foster: 6 out of 9; SLJ = 0.67
Angelina Jolie: I've suffered through four miserable movies in which she appears (none of them had the words "tomb" or "raider" in the title) - SLJ = 0.
Sarah Jessica Parker: This merchant of HBO-level risque crap has appeared in five movies I've seen. I thought they all sucked. SLJ = 0.
So yeah; the system works, at least for me. Notice that none of my examples utilized "naked teenager number seven" from ___(insert random movie title here)___.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Spiderman 3: Surprisingly, I didn't really like it. Surprisingly cause I kind of liked the first two but this one is particularly long and uninteresting. Why so many vilains (bad guy in comic, nerdy, language) (3) since only one would have been enough (like in the first two features). Moreover (we're on the m-factor blog, dudes) the sand man sucks !!!! The special effects during his "birth" are great but I couldn't stop thinking that it was special effects and not an actor playing and it's not so good I guess if you can remark the technique instead of being in the movie.
Babel: Damn a Brad Pitt movie. But Let's not forget that he has some some fantastic movies in the past (Seven, Fight Club). Ok some were crappy (Meet Joe Black is probably in the top 10 of the worst movies ever made). So, Babel: That's a fantastic movie. I will not say more cause i didn't know anything about the movie before seeing it and it's like that that good movies should be seen (F.....g trailers where you can see all the storyline of the movie). So trust me and rent that one. If you don't like it; you're an idiot.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
The Pick Of Destiny (2006)
Dammit - I've lost all faith in Jack Black by now. Even though this is partly based on the HBO show, and even though they play all original songs in this one, I just don't find Jables and Kage funny anymore. Dio has a cameo in this one, as does Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller, but it just doesn't happen. Even the songs are much, much weaker than what you'll find on the debut CD - no "Tribute" or "Wonderboy" to be found here. The best part of the movie is the fact that Kage uses BC Rich guitars for his tricked-out electric rig.
The Departed (2007)
Ok - I admit it - DiCaprio did a good job in this one. Still, I'm probably one of about three people to see this movie and find it quite boring. The actors are there - Nicholson, Wahlberg, Damon, Martin Sheen, even DiCaprio, so that's not the problem. The story is cool, the movie is well-made....but it drags on for too damn long. After about an hour I found myself thinking "DAMN - it's still almost an hour and a half left". Which isn't a good thing, I guess. Moreover - this did not happen when I saw Godfather (I and II), Contact or even LOTR part I, all of which are longer movies. Movie of the year? I really hope not...
Clerks II (2006)
Dante and Randall are back, dammit. More importantly, Kevin Smith is back! This movie was surprisingly good - on par with the original Clerks and Mallrats. You might have to be a KS fan, though, which goes for all the NJ movies. It's hard to believe now, but I remember back in the late 90's, I turned down watching Clerks at least once (sorry Anders, Rene and Øyvind - youse guys totally knew what youse was talkin' about all along), mostly due to the movie being a) lower than low budget, b) it totally rocked the film festivals (which in my book is a bad omen - the critics' choice typically ends up being a french movie about Polish mine workers in Hungary in the 19th century), and c) the storyline doesn't quite sound appealing - two clerks at a convenience store in New Jersey - whassupwi'that?
Anyhoo - if you like Kevin Smith, Jay or Silent Bob, this is the movie for you.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Freakonomics - A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2005)
I picked up this total gem of a book at Arlanda airport, Stockholm, in the Fall of 2006 on the way back from a spectroscopy seminar which turned out to be no more than a glorified beer-run.
The book started out as a NY Times profile on the brilliant young economist Steven D. Levitt, before they discovered that there was plenty of material for a book. The resulting masterpiece includes chapters titled "How Is Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents", "Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live With Their Moms" and "Where Have All The Criminals Gone".
If you want to know exactly how real-estate agents are screwing you, why insurance suddenly became less expensive in the late 90's or why the value of a new car drops with as much as 25% the minute the car is driven out of the dealership, this is the book for you.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The Norwegian Confederation of Sports (NIF) has just recently elected a new president, which is basically the head of all sports here in Norway. Before the election, it was a great deal of fuzz around the election and the candidates.
One of the candidates really caught my attention. Barbro Lill Hætta-Jacobsen is a young woman from the northern parts of our country, which was suggested as a candidate. So far so good, getting a young woman in among those old men doesn't sound as a bad idea after all. And, the only(?) formal requirement for the presidency is that the candidate has to be a member of confederation and has been a member at least one month. And everybody that place soccer, handball, etc here in this country is a member. However, Mrs. Hætta-Jacobsen had trouble meeting that requirement. The only sports experience she has, is a month of amateur sports for her company ("bedriftsidrett").
Not much, eh? She basically got no experience or special knowledge of sports or sports politics. So what else does she have going for her? Well, in an interview she claims that her background as a physician makes her qualified for the job. I couldn't really see why practice medicine should give her extra competence as an administrative leader, but I guess that if she has background as a sports physician, I could see the benefit. So I check. She is actually a district physician in Harstad. How is that relevant at all? According her, because "her job as a physician has made her realize that activity is important". Did she have to go 18 years at school and practice medicine a couple of years before realizing that?
So what do I think? That her background as Miss Kautokeino is equally important, since that learned her a lot about making speeches and meeting other people. And war and peace and politics and stuff...
Monday, May 14, 2007
Read the "shock-bracketed" sentence with a Comic Book Guy from Simpsons voice for effect.
This is a movie based on a comic wherein the basic premise is that if you somehow get exposed to radioactivity by acident, you're somehow endowed with superpowers, and these freaks of nature are concerned with contacts being visible? That's actually pretty funny. I wonder if watching movies for the sake of finding technical faults is an effect - I mean superpower - acquired from years and years of having your lunch money stolen.
Gym teachers have had a bad rep for as long as I can remember, but the emerging trend is very well conserved in the following saying: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, teach high school science." So I wasn't too enthusiastic about giving a presentation to high school students today.....
I have to say it went pretty well, though. The 10 or so students and their teacher were cool enough, asked questions and stayed awake, despite the fact that I was the last post on their program. The teacher was laid-back, and not at all the questions-guy I anticipated based on previous experiences. You know the type - the kind of guy who sits up all night the day before the visit, leafing through a whole year's worth of Scientific American and Illustrert Vitenskap with a shit-eating grin, looking for material to ask about for him to appear smart. This dude was cool - a bit too much of the obsessive picture-taking kind for my taste, but cool nonetheless.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
This is a hostile take-over of the m-factor blog!
Seriously, mr Wilhelm as graciously let me contribute to his blog, so I though I would just I would give it a go.
Since was just surfing some good ol' guitar porn (try www.vintagenationals.com for a start), and I do love some of those guitars that are now know as "vintage". Which is basically an old guitar that some people thinks have superior sound or other qualities compare to their modern counter-parts? Hence, you have a distinction between "old/used/crap" and "vintage". For people that are into collection vintage instrument, the condition of the guitar is essential for determine the value of the instrument, "mint" being the highest grad and bringing the premium prices. I can understand this, as you will be more for an instrument that looks new. Just like you would pay less for a used car with worn paint and long mileage on it.
So far, so good. But, then you get to the so called "reissues". Let's use the Gibson Les Paul as an example. The Gibson custom shop* produces reissues from the 50's Les Paul, which will cost you from 20 000 NOK and up. A 50's Gibson Les Paul is considered the most collectible guitar in the world, and mint species are going for up to 2 000 000 NOK, so I can clearly see the marked for a reissue at an affordable price.
But this is the part I don't get: If you get some dude to take a Les Paul reissue guitar, scratch the paint with a razor, put the metal parts in acid, file down through the paint in some places and generally just give the guitar a good beating, the price of the guitar is doubled or tippled. Because it is now "aged", i.e. looks like it has been played a lot. Why? A 50's Les Paul drops in value as it gets worn. And a reissue guitar that has gotten its wear from playing also drops in value. Why is that? It doesn't make any sense at all.
And, here is the great part; I once saw I guy selling a used "aged" Les Paul reissue. And the condition? "This guitar has a little playing wear, apart from the aging done at the factory..." Does that increase or decrease the value?
*Can you call it a "custom” model when the mass produce it? But that's another discussion
Friday, May 11, 2007
Fantastic book, but as far as I know, it's only available in Norwegian......
Like Iceland's contribution this year - Valentine Lost, performed by Eirikur Hauksson - the singer for 80's Norwegian metal act Artch. Dude is an excellent singer, and the song had the classic "Mr. Crowley" (or I Will Survive) chord progression. Eirikur even threw in some major Dio poses during his performance for good measure. I would've liked this song even outside of the ESC context (i.e. if placed next to other credible artists). So did he get to the finals? Hell no. Did they vote through a bunch of songs which seemed to serve no other purpose than to provide microphone-wielding strippers with a background track? That's a big 10-4. They even voted through a Turkish guy who looked like the embodiment of an STD infomercial.
So I guess I'm screwed. Still, watching the finals is going to be a lot of fun, when combined with a party, a wager and a few iced teas from this place called Long Island.
Monday, May 7, 2007
So does it work? Are the newer generations more computer savvy than the rest of us?
- Do they read at an earlier age and write with a more expansive vocabulary at their demand? Not in the slightest - at least as far as I can observe. As a matter of fact, it appears that the traditional vocabulary (i.e. based on words you'll find in a dictionary) is increasingly eschewed in favor of abbreviated, MSN-optimized language. Cool if you're on MSN, not so useful if you're writing a term paper, report, exam, application or other real-life applications.
- Language skills? For sure, the command of the English language has improved over the generations, but how much of this is caused by internet and how much is caused by general influence of foreign (particularly American) culture is hard to know.
- Logic and problem solving? Not at the university level - courses based around formulating a problem into sets of equations are perceived as harder by the newer generations of students.
- Programming? So not true at the university level - because of the increasingly user-friendly interfaces, programming skills are down.
- Hand-eye coordination? Probably, but only with respect to application in computer games - this is a very specialized skill after all....
- General computer skills (i.e. Office): Can't really say I've noticed a difference. The standard settings in Excel and PowerPoint generally prevail......
..I'm sure they rule at owning people on the internet, though
Friday, May 4, 2007
Since Norway has about half the population of Sweden, shouldn't we by sheer force of statistics have produced half the number of great lead guitar players Sweden has?
- Star Wars (all of them) - Duh.....
- Titanic - "Near, Far, Where-eeeeeeeeever you Are.."... not a favorite, but I sure know where it's from
- 8 Mile - Rockin' movie and a kick-ass soundtrack. The version of Sweet Home Alabama is priceless...
- Shine - Rachmaninoff and
- Immortal Beloved - Gary Oldman as Beethoven - fantastic incorporation of music. One of my favorite movies as well
- Rock Star - Sometimes this reminds me of the gigs we used to play - awesome music in this movie
- This Is Spinal Tap - ..other times, this is how I remember gigging :-(
- School Of Rock - ...but this is probably closer to how it really was
- Top Gun - Not a big fan of Tom Cruise, but it's impossible to think about this movie without hearing some of the accompanying music
- Rocky (all of them) - Survivor, James Brown and Vince DiCola......
- Bill & Ted's movies - ..Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey, respectively. Keanu Reeves playing himself...but dude used Steve Vai for the soundtrack, so I remember...
- Wayne's World I and II - Totally resuscitated Bohemian Rhapsody, Foxy Lady etc. Excellent, Party Time
- Sleepwalkers - I only include this because they used "It's A Monster" by Extreme in the soundtrack..
- Crossroads - Never mind that this movie is about the Robert Johnson legend - it's got Steve Vai!!! And Eugene's Trick Bag sent thousands of aspiring guitarists back to their bedrooms...
- Last Action Hero - AC/DC is included, but the main attraction for me is "Angry Again" - one of my favorite Megadeth songs of all time, and a great crowd pleaser
- Shocker - Crappy flick with soundtrack from Megadeth - "No More Mr. Nice Guy"
- Karate Kid Part 2 - I can't even think about this movie without hearing "Glory Of Love" with Peter Cetera. This movie was hyooge when I was in the 6th/7th grade.
- The Adventures of Ford Fairlane - Dice doing "Ain't Got You"...
- Flashdance - Hey; I never said nothin' about having to like the movie...
- Fame - The TV series was infinitely better than the movie.
- Friday The 13th - ....yeah, I know......
- Terminator - You know what I'm talkin' about
- Deer Hunter - Cavatina was also the theme song for some demented Norwegian television program for children
- So I Married An Axe Murderer - Totally 90's, with "There She Goes" and Spin Doctors. Also with Mike Myers' Scottish thang and beat poetry. Party On...
- Doors - Jim Morrison is probably the most overrated lyricist and frontman this side of Cobain.
- The Bodyguard - Haven't even seen the movie, but boy do I ever know what the main song from the soundtrack is..
- Grease - Duh again
- Ghostbusters - Someone ought to pay Huey Lewis and the News every dime of royalty from this theme song...
- Neverending Story - Again, I haven't seen the movie, but Limahl has made a living out of this one song.
- Pulp Fiction - ...the horrible "Twin Peaks" music......
- James Bond - ..i suppose these atrocities should be mentioned...
- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly - Spaghetti Western movies in general
- 2001: A Space Odyssey - Also Sprach Zarathustra
- Pretty Woman - not a favorite, but...
- Dirty Dancing - Patrick Swayze extravaganza
- Notting Hill - Good stuff............
Revised and expanded edition, now including:
- Blues Brothers - memorable stuff for sure. Why on earth didn't they include their version of the Tammy Wynette classic "Stand By Your Man" on teh soundtrack?
- The Godfather - How could I overlook this one.......
- Days Of Thunder - Anyone remember the hit "Show Me Heaven" with Mariah McKee from way back in 1990?
- Beverly Hills Cop - Throwback to when Eddie Murphy had teh ratings
- The Way We Were - Annoying, but true
- Walk The Line - How could I forget?
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
His main point is that instead of applying the standard, subjective criteria of (essentially) "do I like this", the quality of art should be judged by how well the artist achieves his or her objectives, whatever they might be. Thus, when art achieves its goal, it must be considered great. The primary example he mentions is the comic strip "Garfield" by Jim Davis, who set out to create a massively popular comic strip. Seeing as how he has realized this goal, "Garfield" is great art (if you consider comic strips as art, that is) regardless of its content or how many people actually find it amusing.
Although I do not necessarily agree that this is a good way of measuring anything but the artist's fragile grasp of reality, it certainly opens up for different interpretations of books, movies, music, paintings and whatnot than the ones you've already applied. It also requires the goals of the artist to be clearly stated as the project is released, so as to avoid situations wherein for example Jack Black would be able to say "Yeah; I was tired of being funny, so I made Nacho Libre just to get out of the media and lose momentum for a while" after the fact. Ditto Eddie Murphy post 1988.
Still, the method does not provide you with any criteria by which to estimate your potential interest for the product prior to e.g. watching/renting/buying a movie. Although if I had known ahead of time that George Lucas set out to emulate the massive success of Teletubbies by incorporating a similar character in his prequels, it would certainly have affected the odds of me seeing Episode 1 - The Merchandising Misanthrope....
Anyway; in the simple view that the quality of a movie is affected by the components (i.e. the script/story, the choice of actors, the director, etc.), it should be possible to get a decent estimation of whether or not the movie sucks by evaluating parameters independently, such as:
- Storyline/script: Here, you often don't have much to go on, even if it's based on a book you've read several times, or a historical event. Even movies based on excellent novels can suck (e.g. "The Man in the Iron Mask"), and if you're assuming historical accuracy from movies based on actual events, I've got some prime office space in WTC2 you can rent real cheap. What you can safely assume, however, is that any movie based on a computer game probably won't have much in the way of what one traditionally refers to as a "plot".
- Actors/Actresses: Parameter wherein the quality is proportional to [presence of (Gary Oldman + DeNiro + Ed Norton + Nicholas Cage + Allison Janney + Meryl Streep + Glenn Close +..) plus absence of (Tom Cruise + Leonardo DiCaprio + Keanu Reeves + Antonio Banderas + Samuel L. Jackson + Angelina Jolie + Mary-Louise Parker +...)]
- Director: ...what I like to call the "Absence of Michael Moore and whomever made The Blair Witch project"-factor
- Title/taglines: Phrases/words to avoid: "Snakes on a ...", "Frat", "ex-marine", "ex-black ops", "...this time, ...", "Revenge Of The........", "James Bond"
- Budget: Sometimes, small, independent films can be absolutely great, i.e. "Clerks". However, if a movie comes with the label "as seen at the Sundance film festival" or something to that effect, odds are it's more akin to "The Blair Witch project". And that's not a good thing..