Friday, December 31, 2004

2004 Movie Archive

Films Watched in 2004 (beginning September 16th):

Each title will take to to my blog post where the film was mentioned. Within the blog post, the film's title is linked to the imdb entry for that particular film.

Shrek 2 (2004)
Meet The Fockers (2004)
High Noon (1952)
Duel (1971)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Christmas Vacation (1989)
City Lights (1931)
Top Gun (1986)
Christmas Vacation (1989)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Elf (2003)
It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Empire Of Dreams (2004)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Mystic River (2003)
Lady And The Tramp (1955)
Say Anything... (1989)
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
The Cooler (2003)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Miracle (2004)
Alice In Wonderland (1951)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Superman II (1980)
The Incredibles (2004)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Frankenstein (1931)
Charade (1963)
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936)
School of Rock (2003)
Fallen (1998)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
Somewhere in Time (1980)
Superman (1978)
Duel (1971)
The English Patient (1996)
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Aladdin (1992)
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
The Lady Eve (1941)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Stagecoach (1939)
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Paycheck (2003)
Schindler's List (1993)
Star Wars (1977)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Notorious (1946)
Jackass: The Movie (2002)
Brazil (1985)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

And now for a little game I like to call...


Click for a bigger version -- if it helps, the little paper reads, 'Be Safe, Not Sorry. Anti AIDS Drive 2004'

If you think you know, comment below.

I hope for this to be a recurring feature here at Once Upon A Time In The (mid) West.

Giving credit where credit is due - this post over at HTF inspired this blog entry (actually, this blog entry is simply a total ripoff of that post, but it's still funny).

Unrelated, but for those of you interested, I added some pictures to this post below of Hannah at her Christmas program.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

SUV's, Lies, and Radio Charts...

I heard this on NPR last night and thought it was interesting.

Apparently, some over-zealous fans of country singer, Chely [pronounced, "Shelly"] Wright have been using some unscrupulous methods in order to get her new single, "The Bumper of My S.U.V." onto radio around the country.

Grassroots campaigns (especially unsuccessful ones) aren't uncommon. Individual fans calling local radio stations asking them to play a particular song can make a difference. Even more effective though, is an organized effort by dedicated fans around the country. This type of endeavor is fine and is probably where this effort started (and was definitely beginning to work), but this one got out of hand.

One superfan posted these comments on the fan club message boards:

''tell 'em your husband is a marine — whatever it takes.''

He also made many calls himself under the pseudonym, "Sgt. Steve McKay."

''Sob stories and just telling how this song has affected u r going to work best. This song is what they call a reaction record and we need reaction.''

''You can also fib a little and say you are in the armed forces and how this song needs to be heard — u get the picture,''

Yes, we most definitely get the picture...

The Tennessean broke this story and Chely Wright has issued a statement saying that she has asked her fan club president to resign and that she was unaware that these methods were being employed on her behalf.

It's unfortunate. Unfortunate that even when it's discovered that such things are happening, that the end is often the same. The individual or group that was out to promote this song at all costs has accomplished what they set out to do. I guess there really is no such thing as bad press.

A little more jaded than I already was...

Films Recently Watched:

Top Gun (1986) dir. by Tony Scott
When I first got into DVDs, I remember thinking that this would be a great movie for home-theater. Fortunately, before I went out and bought the DVD that was available then, I learned that it wasn't "all that" so I waited for a special edition release. In addition to the full-length audio commentary featuring director, Tony Scott; producer, Jerry Bruckheimer and Navy experts and technical advisors, this new release also features a 6-part, 2 1/2 hour documentary covering about every aspect of the making of this film. Also on disc 2 are production stills, several music videos and 2 multi-angle featurettes comparing the director's storyboard concepts to the finished film (these can be played with or without director's commentary). Needless to say, THIS is the special edition for which I'd been waiting all these years. Kudos to Paramount Home Entertainment for making this a truly, Special Collector's Edition, and affordable to boot ($12.99 in-store at Circuit City this week)!

High-brow filmmaking Top Gun ain't, but it is 100% fun to watch. This movie was made for surround-sound so watching this at home with DTS sound was a treat.

City Lights (1931) starring; written by; directed by; produced by; edited by; and original music composed by Charlie Chaplin
I watched this for the first time several months ago. Definitely one of my "new" favorites.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Weekend, etc.

Christy and I had a good day together on her birthday. Had a nice, leisurely lunch together, did some shopping, etc. It was very nice to just have the day to spend together. My company's Christmas party was that same evening so we went to that and had a good time. Our friends who were watching Hannah at their house while we went to the party knew that it was Christy's birthday, so they had brownies and ice cream for us when we got back. Though it was already past Hannah's normal bedtime, Hannah didn't get left out of the festivities. She had ice cream and then didn't get to sleep until after 11:00pm. Also, while we were with our friends that evening they gave a Christmas gift for Hannah and I to share. It was a Playskool Millennium Falcon. I asked Hannah if she knew what it was and she said, "Star Wars." I pointed to one of the figures and asked her, "Who's that?" to which she correctly responded, "Chewbacca." I couldn't have been prouder!

The evening of the 15th was Hannah's Christmas program with her daycare. We got there in plenty of time to get Hannah where she was supposed to be but when we were ready to find a seat, much of the auditorium was full. We managed to find a decent seat in the front row of the balcony section. I was planning to take some pictures anyway (pictures added below - 12/22/04), so I figured I'd be in a good place to take all the pictures I wanted without being in the way of other people behind me. So, it's about an hour long program of which there was about one minute that we really wanted to see, right? So what happens during that one minute? That's right! You guessed it! Some idiot --> (this is the self-censored version) decides to stand right in front of us obstructing our only view of our only daughter in her first public performance. Christy's "excuse me" definitely had an edge, but was still more polite than my, "Hey! -- Buddy!" -- "Buddy" didn't take the hint. So I get up and explain to Buddy that there are people behind him that can't see with him standing there. He still doesn't move. Apparently, Buddy was searching for his idiot friends and, in a glorious stroke of genius, decided that he'd be better able to spot them from a balcony that extends over most of the floor below. So not only did we miss most of our daughter's performance, but the video that I was shooting is a mess due to Buddy's impeccable timing, so when we go back to watch it, we only see the very beginning and the very end of the performance with the middle consisting of jumpy video of the floor and ceiling of the auditorium and the brief exchange of words on the audio.

"It's too bad that stupidity isn't painful" - Anton LaVey

Over the weekend, Christy and I did our annual Christmas treats making and baking marathon. It's a lot of work, but we always have a good time doing it. Moreover, the people who receive the Christmas treats always have a good time consuming them.

For now, Hannah seems to be doing fine. She seems to be over her illnesses and hopefully, that will hold through the next couple of weeks.

I've got a three day work week this week, then I'm off until January 4th! WooHoo!!

Films Recently Watched:

Twelve Monkeys (1995) dir. by Terry Gilliam

Christmas Vacation (1989) dir. by Jeremiah S. Chechik. Written and Produced by John Hughes.

Click for bigger versionClick for bigger version

Friday, December 17, 2004

Still looking for that perfect present for ME???

The Criterion Collection Holiday 2004 Gift Set!!

Amazon Exclusive

241 films on 282 DVDs.

It's only $4,999.00!!

Films Recently Watched:
Elf (2003) dir. by Jon Favreau

We enjoyed this. It was cute. I found it interesting that the lead actress, Zooey Deschanel, did her own singing in this film. I still believe that it was looped and probably enhanced, but I thought for sure it was completely replaced. Regardless, she's got a nice voice - hints of Ella.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Happy Birthday For You...

I don't know why, but often, when Hannah wants to use the preposition "to," she replaces it with another perfectly good, though incorrect in context, preposition, "for." So, when she says or sings "Happy Birthday," she sings, "Happy Birthday for you." I'm sure someday we'll correct her about this, but for now, it's really cute, so we don't say a word.

Please feel free to insert any appropriate birthday greetings. Just click below where it says "Comment" and a box will pop up where you can identify yourself and type a message that Christy can read later.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Christy:

Monday, December 13, 2004

Speaking of Collector's items...

I recently read here that Pat Hannon possesses a "hot holiday seller."

"The Millennium Falcon and the Darth Vader Voice Changer mask have been hot holiday sellers. The hard-to-find mask retails for $35 but is selling on eBay for $150."
(From linked article at

Seems to me Pat sent me a Halloween picture a few years ago with said mask on said face with said wife in said cat costume. Should I post it??

Films Recently Watched:

A Muppet Family Christmas (1987) Produced by Jim Henson, etc. Dir. by Eric Till
Interesting conglomeration of Jim Henson's creations. The Muppets are traveling to Fozzie's mother's farmhouse for Christmas. While there, the entire Sesame Street gang shows up caroling. And, in the basement of the farmhouse, Kermit discovers a Fraggle hole and briefly visit with a few Fraggle Rock characters. Jim Henson himself even makes a cameo at the end of this holiday treat! Truly, a Muppet Family Christmas.

On a sad note, in need of a replacement for the Christmas Turkey, the Swedish Chef finds Big Bird, or in his words, "Gobbley Gobbley Humonga!" and, well....

Favorite Line [from Animal, of course]: "Peace on Earth; Give me presents!!"

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) dir. by Bill Melendez
Truly a Classic.

Favorite line [Lucy on what she REALLY wants for Christmas]: "Real Estate."

It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
Favorite Line [Sally, whose one line in the Christmas play is, simply, "Hark!"]: "Hockey Stick!"

Thursday, December 09, 2004

New Stryper???

Remember these guys??
(if not, feel free to expand your horizons by visiting their official website)

Could we BE any cooler??

Well, according to the Stryper Forum (YES, there is such a place and NO, I've never been there until today), they're in studio now recording a new album for 2005 to be followed by a World Tour.

I hear that instead of throwing those tiny little Gideon Bibles into the crowd, they've upgraded to the Thompson's Chain-Reference 15-pound Bible! So...who's goin'?

I'll admit that I liked these guys. I remember when To Hell With The Devil came out and my Mom bought the cassette for me and it had the "angel" artwork instead of the more common striped artwork...


Which would YOU rather have? I thought I was pretty special. I wondered if maybe it was one-of-a-kind since all the other copies I saw had the other artwork. At least, I figured that it'd be a collector's item someday, but now, I couldn't tell you where my copy is.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Hannah only made it to daycare one day out of five last week. On Monday, she was diagnosed with an eye infection and we were told that she would be contagious until Thursday. Thursday, she went back to daycare and was OK, but that evening, she started complaining that her ear hurt. So Friday, I took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with an ear infection. After being on her medicine for a couple of days and taking a 4+ hour nap yesterday, she seemed well enough to go back to daycare today. Here's hoping that she does better this week than last. Also hoping that she'll stay well through the holidays.

Since Hannah wasn't quite herself, we stayed in all day Saturday. ALL DAY. Actually, none of us even changed out of our pajamas on Saturday! I love days like that! I know, I know it's pathetic, but every once in a while, I just need a lazy day. Don't you?

In spite of Hannah not being 100%, we made it to church on Sunday. Hannah did OK, but was a little fussy. I couldn't help laughing when Christy told me that she tried to take money out of the offering plate in her classroom! The choir was singing a song that I really liked (it had a great part for we Basses). Sunday evening we started straightening Hannah's room in preparation for family coming for Christmas.

Films Recently Watched:

Empire of Dreams (2004) dir. by Kevin Burns and Edith Becker
If you remember, I picked up the Star Wars Trilogy DVDs on the day they were released. I watched all three films one day and listened to the cast & crew commentary the next day. I dabbled into the bonus material on the 4th disc, but never found time to watch the crown jewel of the supplementaries, the 2 1/2 hour documentary, Empire of Dreams, until now. Christy and I both watched this and found it quite interesting. There were a few items on this that I'd seen before, but the lion's share was new to me. It really describes how these films (especially the first one) were a labor of love for the young filmmaker, George Lucas. Sometimes it's difficult to remember that Lucas wasn't always a multi-millionaire and a media mogul. Lucas' humble beginnings as a film student at USC and the construction of his facilities at Skywalker Ranch (including Lucasfilm, Ltd.; Industrial Light & Magic; Skywalker Sound; LucasArts; THX, Ltd.; and the computer graphics company that ultimately became the mighty Pixar) are touched on in Empire of Dreams, but most of it focuses on the creation of the films themselves. Story, casting, filming, post-production, release...every aspect is given at least some attention. Though many fanboys were begging for an exhaustive "Encyclopedia Starwarsica" to be included with this set, I think this doc. does an excellent job for the more casual fan/enthusiast. Another thing that this doc. shows is that there is definitely the potential for an exhaustive set of bonus features at some time in the future. Some of the footage in Empire of Dreams is obscure and shows that the long-believed rumor is true, "Lucas kept everything."

A Christmas Story (1983) dir. by Bob Clark
First time this year for this classic. Get out your tally sheets!

Mystic River (2003) dir. by Clint Eastwood
Three childhood friends grow up together and, as adults, still live in the same Boston neighborhood. Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), an ex-con, has retired from his former, crooked life and now runs a legitimate business in his neighborhood. He's a family man, father of three daughters, one of whom ends up dead - murdered. Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon) is the homicide detective assigned to the case. Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), a victim of sexual abuse as a child, is suspect in the murder. Will the police solve the case before Markum's gang takes matters into their own hands?
Wow, the performances in this film by Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins (and the rest of the cast) are terrific! It's no wonder that Penn won the Oscar for his leading role and that Robbins won for his supporting role. Eastwood's pacing on this is right on and helps to create the tension in this suspense/mystery.

Lady And The Tramp (1955) produced by Walt Disney; dir. by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Crazy Dragon Illusion!!

For those of you who are interested, I found another toy on the internet that I thought was cool enough to pass along.

This one is a do-it-yourself project. You print this out, cut, fold and tape as directed, and you get this:

Here is a page that contains a Windows Media video showing the illusion at work.

3 hints from my experience:
1.) Being careful about where to fold, cut, tape does make a difference. Use a well-lit area and a hard surface for best results. (A hard drink probably wouldn't hurt either -- just kidding!)
2.) Print out two copies of the .pdf file. Cut one out for making your dragon and use the other sheet as a reference of where to make the folds/cuts, etc. Don't forget to cut along his bottom jaw to the white dot at his neck -- I missed this detail on my first try.
3.) Once you're done, the best results come from looking at the dragon with one eye closed. It says that on the instruction sheet, but who reads instruction sheet?

FYI, the illusion works whether the dragon is printed in color or in black & white.

Films Recently Watched:

Sleeping Beauty (1959) produced by Walt Disney; Supervising director: Clyde Geronimi
I'm sure I'd seen this before, but it certainly had been a while. Love the use of the widescreen framing on this. A stark contrast stylistically from the previous Disney full-length animated pictures.

The Cooler (2003) dir. by Wayne Kramer
I like William H. Macy in general, and he excels in this one (his character was written with Macy in mind). Parts of the story were weak - I could have done without the Father/Son sub-plot, but pretty good overall.

Moulin Rouge! (2001) dir. by Baz Luhrmann
I can't say that this is a "guilty" pleasure for me because I don't feel guilty about loving it. It's probably one of my favorite musicals ever on film. The vivid colors, the quick editing, the pop music soundtrack, Ewan and Nichole doing their own singing...the entire package just works for me. I was happy to sit down with this one again. Also looking forward to Joel Schumacher's film adaptation of the ever-popular, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera, which releases later this month (limited release 12/22). I've never seen the Broadway show (on or off), but the music from the show was quite popular among my group of friends from High School. From the trailers, it looks as though it may have some similarities to Moulin Rouge.

Say Anything... (1989) dir. by Cameron Crowe
A desire to see this film again was driven by my recent purchase of Peter Gabriel's video collection on DVD, Play. Peter Gabriel's song "In Your Eyes" always makes me think of the iconic moment in this film with Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) holding up his boombox over his head playing this song. It had been a while since I'd seen it and Christy couldn't remember for sure whether she ever had, so we watched it last night. Cameron Crowe has a way of capturing time in a bottle. My High School experience was significantly different from what this film portrays, but some moments from this film still resonate, regardless.