Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Avatar Trailer

The second official trailer for the James Cameron sci-fi opus, Avatar, has been garnering more buzz over the past couple of days. You may remember me talking about this upcoming December-release a while back. If not, click here and also here for a refresher. Needless to say, I'm so ready to see this movie!

The new trailer is hard to come by, but I was able to find one up at Youtube.com for the time being (who knows how long that will stay up). Click on the video player below to watch:



Now I know a lot of people hear buzz over a movie and immediately turn into "buzz kill" just out of spite, so I'm not going to say anything about expectations or what-not. I'll just say that, from watching this trailer for like the 5th time now, and trying to analyze as much as I could from it . . . yeah, I think it might just rock my world! :)

From what I can see so far, it appears to have a pretty rockin story to go along with all the visuals. And that's what I care about the most.

I hope Cameron can spin lead into box office gold once more.

These 'Dos Equis' Spots Own My Funnybone!

The Dos Equis beer ads have been hitting the national airwaves as of late, although I've known about them for almost a year going now. They feature the fictional "Most Interesting Man in the World" and are damn HILARIOUS! The 30-second tv spots are made all the more interesting because they use vintage stock footage from random tv shows and movies the actor has starred in. Seriously, check one of them out:



Ha-ha! "Stay thirsty my friends." I love it!

(EDIT: I'm getting lots of google inquiries about this blog entry, with folks wondering about the name of the game being played at the beginning of the above clip. It's called "Jai Alai"---pronounced: hai a-lie---people, okay? Personally I think it's a ridiculous sport, but what do I know? If you want to find out more about it, click on this Wiki link.)

This guy just oozes cool. He's portrayed by one Jonathan Goldsmith who, according to his IMDB.com profile, is a C-list actor who's been a guest character on pretty much all the cool 80s shows back in the day. This must be why he looks and sounds so familiar to me, but couldn't quite place where I knew him from.

For those not in the know, these ads are done in the same humor as the wildly popular Chuck Norris joke meme that's been making the rounds in chain mails and message boards for several years now (some of which are gems, but most of which are not really humorous). These Dos Equis commercials are way funnier, in my opinion. I only wish I could find which movies and/or tv shows some of these scenes were taken from. They look mighty interesting, no?

Well here are a few more commercials to judge by. I'm going to be linking to them rather than embedding the full video since I don't want to freeze up my load bandwidth.

Click on each one. Trust me, you will laugh at the outrageousness of some of the claims attributed to this dude. :)

The Most Interesting Man In the World -- Prepositions

The Most Interesting Man In the World -- The Police

The Most Interesting Man In the World -- Cures Narcolepsy

The Most Interesting Man In the World -- Credit Cards

The Most Interesting Man In the World -- on Careers

The Most Interesting Man In the World -- on Rollerblading

The Most Interesting Man In the World -- on Pick-Up Lines

The Most Interesting Man In the World -- on Packages

I can't get enough of these, but I'll stop here. I even like the music being used. If only I could find out where it's from. Anyone know?

"I don't always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer 'Dos Equis'."

I think I'm going to have to try a bottle the next time I go out for drinks. Now that's good advertising, folks, if it can get me to drink beer!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Blog Added

A good friend of mine from college just joined the blog craze, and I wanted to pimp his site a little to all my friends. Peeps, Rodney Lopez. Rodney Lopez, peeps. You can find a link to his blog in my "Interesting Folks" sidebar on the right-hand side of this page. Or, you know, you can just click right here.

I met Rodney on my very first day at Middlebury College, a little over 15 years ago. We ended up being floormates our Freshmen year, and then dorm mates at another building the year after. Although we debated and argued over a lot of stuff during those 4 years, he's a cool dude and gets much respect from me. He's also heavily into all things speculative like yours truly, and is a gamer too! Yes, it's not hard to see how we became friends.

So welcome to this crazy world of blogging, Rod! Seems tailor-made for you. What kept ya?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Son Of A---!

So I'm still researching for my upcoming "pretend" novel, as first mentioned here, when lo and behold a new idea for a short story pops into my head. Great, just what I don't need! I had specifically told myself not to do this. Put all short stories aside for the time being, I said. We need all the brain cells we can spare for the BIG daddy of projects.

But apparently my subconscious didn't get the memo between me and myself. I had the weirdest dream this morning, full of confusing imagery and suggestive themes. So, of course, my dreaming self thought: Hey, wake up! This would make a great story! And when I woke up, the sane side of me had to actually agree.

And so here I am. Because I couldn't get the really cool idea out of my head while I showered, I quickly hopped on the PC and wrote out the very first scene before work. It turned out pretty good. I just finished writing the second scene a little while ago, and now I'm well on my way.

So, the bad news is that my novelization is put on hold momentarily. The good news is, I'm still writing. Since this is only a short story, it will be over shortly (heh, heh--get it?). And then I can get back to this business of writing my book.

I can think of worst ways to be interrupted.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Darn Movie Trailer Almost Made Me Cry!

We went to check out Where The Wild Things Are and Law Abiding Citizen at the Kip's Bay multiplex this morning, and this trailer for a new movie called The Blind Side was playing before the latter:



I mean, I know the movie is intentionally trying to pluck the heartstrings here . . . but I just can't help it! From the trailer alone I was so very moved, which of course makes me really want to see the whole movie. I love that it's based on a true story, too, and that Sandra Bullock is in a non-comedic role. Way to go!

The Blind Side is based on the book by the same name, and tells the real life story of Michael Oher, who was drafted into the Baltimore Ravens as the team's RT (right tackle) earlier this year.

My only fear is that this might turn out like last year's Will Smith starrer, Seven Pounds, which was also based on a true story but was way too saccharine for my tastes. I mean, I could actually feel myself as an audience member being emotionally manipulated. Never a good thing. Jamie Foxx's The Soloist was the same way, too.

So yeah, this is looking very good. But I hope it doesn't turn out like those two movies.

What's your opinion from watching the trailer?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Top Nintendo Games Of All Time!

IGN.com recently put out a list of the Top 100 NES Games Of All Time. Click on the link and see for yourself what was chosen. Mind you, these are just the 8-bit games, most of which were released between the mid 80s through the very early 90s. Eventually the "Super" Nintendo would come out in the summer of '91 and, of course, open a whole 'nother can of whoop-ass on the gaming world. But that's a whole other list best saved for the future, I guess.

It's surprising how many of these games I've played and beaten. Out of 100, I've logged in the hours (nay, WEEKS!) on 54 of them. Yes, I counted. Twice. I culled a list from the list of all the ones I've played. Most I've owned, some I borrowed, and the others I rented. But all of them would witness defeat at the hands of me and my younger brother back in the day.

FUN!!!

Ice Hockey
Rush'n Attack
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Astyanax
Mega Man 4
Kickle Cubicle
Mario Bros.
Duck Hunt
Spy Hunter
Chip'n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Tecmo World Wrestling
Little Nemo: The Dream Master
Kung Fu
Super C
Rygar
Rad Racer
Ghosts'n Goblins
Tecmo Super Bowl
Dr. Mario
Tetris
Fester's Quest
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
Battletoads
Gradius
Batman: The Video Game
Mega Man
Kirby's Adventure
Metal Gear
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Blades of Steel
Bubble Bobble
Blaster Master
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Kid Icarus
Castlevania
Super Mario Bros. 2
Ninja Gaiden
Mega Man 3
River City Ransom
Excitebike
R.C. Pro-Am
Contra
Final Fantasy
Duck Tales
Bionic Commando
Dragon Warrior
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!
Metroid
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Mega Man 2
Super Mario Bros.
The Legend of Zelda
Super Mario Bros. 3

Personally, Ninja Gaiden would be my No. 1. But I think you already knew that. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Random Thought

Just thought I should clarify a generalization that's been bothering me. No one recent incident sprung this train of thought, but it occurred to me just a second ago that I should mention it anyway.

When I say a particular professional and published author is a "bad writer," it should be implicit that I do not consider myself a better writer than said author. See, I'm super critical and demanding with my own work. I know my flaws when I see them, and I know that I'm not at the stage yet to be called "good." Passing, maybe, but not good. But the published writer *is* better than me simply by virtue of being published in a professional market and/or capacity.

That being said, I reserve the right to say an author's command of the written word needs work without it implying somehow that I, David Batista, am any better. For instance, I can say that Dan Brown's writing style is very simplistic and a little wonky at times, but that he's a masterful storyteller. A true genius at the craft, in fact.

See what I did there?

Dan Brown's actual writing is very low-brow and appealing to the lowest common denominator, but the way he spins a story is purely out of this world. A true writer has to balance the two. He has to be passable enough with the mechanics of writing so that a wide array of readers with various educational backgrounds and reading proficiencies can literally read what he's writing, but also has to know how to tell a good yarn to keep them turning the page. Just because you can do one does equate to expertise with the other.

Now, to be clear here: Dan Brown is a far better writer than I am. But even more importantly, he's a superbly gifted story teller. I can practice and practice and practice to improve the former, but the latter takes a special touch that really no one can teach you.

So, again: When I say a particular author or screenwriter can't write to save his ass, it does not necessarily mean that he can't tell a good story. Just look at George Lucas if you want any better proof of this. The man can spin a beautiful fantasy premise -- but for the love of god, don't let him near a typewriter!

And when I say a particular novel should have been better written, it does not mean that I can write it better.

Hope that clears the air some.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Trip To Corporate

I feel like a character from that NBC show, The Office. But yesterday I had to make a trip up to the Thomson Reuters headquarters in Times Square. The building I work at down in the Financial District is the old AT&T building. But for important company-wide meetings, we all head up to HQ on 42nd street.




Squeezed in there between the Chase bank building and the AT&T store is the entrance to Thomson Reuters. This used to be the Reuters building before they merged with us, Thomson Financial. I thought I took a clearer picture on my iPhone, but guess not. You can barely make out the corporate signage on the side of the entrance.

This was my first time in the building, and I have to say the interior is pretty sleek and modern, unlike our building downtown, which has a Greco-classical architectural theme replete with wide columns and vaulted ceilings. No, the inside of the Thomson Reuters building is like the interior of the Ugly Betty set--mirrors, lit glass panels, and large single-paned windows.

I didn't take any pictures of the interior, but I did take some of the breathtaking views from the 30th floor reception lounge:







All in all it was a mundane and superfluous meeting for managers. Since this is my first year in such capacity at my division, I took it very seriously. Too bad many others in attendance didn't seem to share the same respect. Honestly, WTF is up with all the Blackberry addiction running rampant? The guy sitting next to me would NOT stop texting during the entire meeting. Yes, it was a long 3 hours of sitting on hard chairs, but dayum! Put the crack-berry down, man!

Even worse was the way people started getting up and leaving near the tail end of the presentation. This is the period when the audience is allowed to ask questions. I'm sorry, but I think it's plain rude to just get up and walk out when your colleagues are in the middle of speaking. Luckily I wasn't one of the ones asking questions, or I would have stopped and told these people to sit the hell back down until I'm done. I felt bad for the presenters, who didn't quite seem to know what to make of the ruckus of so many people shuffling past and down the aisles at once.

And I have no idea where these people were rushing off too since we still had to head back to our offices and put in a half-day's work anyway. It's not as if we were being allowed to go home. Sheesh!

Anyway, that was my brief trip to corporate. I learned a lot about being an effective manager, and how to supervise certain situations that can arise within the workplace.

When I left the building and went to the nearest PAX Wholesome Foods for a sandwich, the cashier asked me if I worked in the vicinity so that she could apply a discount. I caught myself before I said "no" when I realized that--hey, yeah, I guess technically I *do* work around here. (heh, heh) Little did she know I would be heading straight for the subway after purchasing my sandwich and going downtown.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goings-On In The City

I took a walk during lunch this afternoon down Broadway towards Trinity Church here in lower Manhattan, and came across a street fair going on. I have no idea what this was about. It doesn't seem Columbus Day-related, and there was more than just food stalls here. It stretched down Broadway between Cedar St. and Wall St. Took some pics with my iPhone. Does anybody have an idea what this could be for? As you can see, they closed down the street to traffic. Which, especially in this part of the city, is a BIG deal.











Loved The Book, Can't Wait To See The Movie

I don't know of any little kid in my generation who did NOT grow up reading the book, Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. It really took my imagination to far away places, which for me growing up in the South Bronx was very important.

Anyway, the film is being released this week. And, WOW, does it look good! I get such a warm and fuzzy feeling from looking at the trailers. Part of it is the nostalgia, but the other part is the fact that the creatures are not completely CGI, but rather a blend of it mixed with traditional animatronics by the Jim Henson Creature Shop folks. Rad!

Check out this cool video in which the author discusses his book and how much fun it was to find a kindred spirit in director Spike Jonze:



I know I'm an adult, but honestly I'll brave the hordes of screaming little kids and their annoying parents to catch this in theaters.

What a perfect Fall season treat!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Good Hair


Saw Good Hair over the weekend, a documentary with comedian Chris Rock exploring the previously (and to some, still) taboo subject of African American hair.

I went in to the film with the notion that a black woman's choice to relax her hair or wear a weave is no different than a white woman's choice to bleach, dye, or style her hair--both are cosmetic choices made by the individual and influenced by cultural norms. Black women use harmful chemicals to adhere to an image of beauty held by society, just as white women use chemicals to do the same. Some claim that the harm in black women doing this is present because they are trying to be something they're not. Or to prescribe to a standard of beauty not set by themselves.

But guess what? This is not a black thing. This is true of all women's fashion and beauty standards, regardless of color.

I felt going in to this film that a black woman's decision to do anything to her own hair is something that she cannot and should not be judged on. And especially not by men. For all women, in a fashion, utilize chemicals in some form to enhance their appearance. Relaxer is made up of harmful and dangerous chemicals. But so are all standard cosmetics -- makeup, gloss, bleach, dyes, nail polish/removal. This is the state of feminine beauty. Hell, male beauty too, if you're too be honest. Unless you don't wear cologne, deodorant, after-shave, skin lotion, or use toothpaste, mouthwash, contact lenses, etc.

So, yes, I went in holding these opinions. And I left the movie . . . feeling EXACTLY the same way!

Watching Bad Hair did not give me any new insight into black women's hair I didn't already know. I live with a black woman, after all. If anything, it only reinforced what I strongly believed: that what a woman does with her own body is her own decision.

It's a knee-jerk reaction--and not just by black men, but some black women as well--that women who relax their hair or wear weaves are doing so to "look white." But this is unfair and over simplifying the situation. After all, if black women are making their hair straight to adhere to a Caucasian sense of what is beautiful, then in turn white women are wearing eye-liner and blush to adhere to an ancient Egyptian standard of beauty.

I mean, how far back do you want to go? Feminine beauty has NEVER been about being natural. From the dawn of time it's been about enhancing what you have, and then taking it a step further and trying to look like something you're not. Something idealized.

This is the key word here: ideal.

Black women in America have developed a standard unique to themselves. Like it or not, this has been decided. It's a purely egotistical and chauvinistic slant held by men that women pretty themselves up to look good for men. Oh puleeeze! Black woman do not torture themselves under 5 hours of intense scalp burn just to compete with white women over black men. They do it to compete with themselves! Just as women's fashion has grown up around the concept of the "other" woman, and not men at all. Women are not stupid. They know they don't have to do much to attract a man's attention. That part is rather easy.

I say this because I've been reading a lot of opinionated male blogs in the week leading up to this film's release concerning the "woeful state" of black women and self identity. As if. Black women are stronger and more independent then ever. They don't need a man to tell them how to feel about themselves. They have that all under control, thank you very much.

The black hair industry is a booming, multi-billion dollar juggernaut. It's not going anywhere. The key, then, if you are a black man (or a white man such as myself), is to just accept it. Black women are not trying to look like white women. Has white fashion *influenced* black beauty? Sure it has. But so has Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian fashion influenced women's beauty in general. Who are we kidding?

If you really want to get a debate about what Black Hair truly reveals, it's this disturbing revelation that the industry is being dominated by Asian entrepreneurs. How's that for a slap to the face? In the documentary, some of the black women and men Rock interviews express dismay that black people are not even "allowed" to run their own beauty supplies. This opens up a whole other can of worms I won't get into right now (that's probably another blog entry). Suffice to say my views are not what you might think, and that I lay full blame on black people themselves.

Anyway, I think this film was an amazing insight into a part of American culture not too many people are aware of. And not only among the white population, but within the African American community itself. And judging by the reaction of those in the audience with me, this film was received well by people of all backgrounds. I found just as many Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian women discussing the film with their friends afterwards as black women. It's that type of production, and it was done extremely well.

Check it out for yourself some time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Must Be Like French-Kissing A Duracell


Chuck this in the "cool advances in biotechnology" folder for sure!

A device, called the BrainPort, allows blind people to detect light waves by the transmission of electrical signals to the tongue. A digital camera is mounted in a pair of shades, which captures light and sends it to a portable handheld device for processing. The info is then converted into an electrical signal and sent via wire to a device placed on the tongue, called a "lollipop." Users take up to two weeks to train themselves to detect different electrical impulses representing various shades and intensities of light. After acclimating themselves, some are able to "see" enough to detect objects like doors and buttons, and even read certain signs.

This is probably the coolest thing I've ever read! You can find out more by clicking on this link to the article in this month's issue of Scientific American.

Isn't it amazing what the brain can do?

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Genius Performance With A Genius Conducter Of A Genius Piece Written By A Genius

Behold, what I consider the finest symphonic movement of all time:



An epic rendition performed masterfully by the Berliner Philharmoniker, and conducted by the incomparable Herbert von Karajan. I own this recording of Beethoven's 7th, as well as his other 8 symphonies recorded by the same production.

So sublime!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

And The Post-Apocalyptica Love Affair Continues . . .

The Book of Eli movie trailer:



Okay, I gotta see this! I mean Denzel. Gary freakin Oldman. And this girl, Mila Kunis, who I actually don't think is all that bad in the few movies I've seen her in.

But more importantly--and you know me--this is yet another down and dirty, post-apocalyptic America, movie. Although this sub-genre has risen quickly to be one of my favorites, I'm starting to get worried that it's being overdone to death by Hollywood. The entertainment industry does this . . . it takes a good thing and then beats the dead horse bloody with it.

But you know what? I don't care! Keep on making 'em and I'll keep on watching 'em.

Check out the trailer for this one. It looks *really* good. I'm bummed that it's coming out in January, though. Makes me think the movie might have some problems that we don't know about. Because, let's face it, big movies of this ilk rarely come out in January and are successful. Except for Cloverfield.

Hmm, maybe that's the strategy?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Winter Is Coming


That's the Stark family motto from George R. R. Martin's fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. But I think it's rather appropriate to describe the beautifully moody and overcast day we're having today here in the Bronx. I'm so excited that Fall is upon us! This picture taken outside my living room window displays, for me, the quintessential October weekend in NYC. True, we're not yet far enough along to have proper autumn foliage here in the tri-state area . . . but we're getting there. And it's days like today that hit the message home:

Summer is OVAR, people!

*does happy dance*

Ahem. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program . . .

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