July 26, 2005

Ambitious Projects [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at July 26, 2005 5:34 PM

I totally intended to post the rest of the Italy pictures this weekend, but... well, the reason I didn't is really lame. I may not have an opportunity until this coming weekend, as this week is slightly busier than usual. (But I won't be one of those bloggers who promises to post something and then never does. Despite my doing this in the past.)

Batman Begins: A pretty cool retelling of the Batman origin story, with lots of ninjas as an added bonus. However, I suspect this is redundant information, as it's been out for quite some time and you all have already seen it. The climactic fight scene is ripped from an episode of Buffy, but at least they picked a good one. Also: Free Katie.

Knights of the Old Republic: And you thought I was late with a review of Batman Begins. I finally got around to playing this, and it's not bad. Although I'm playing it on an Xbox it's more of a PC-style RPG, with a streamlined version of the d20 system. There's a good mix of combat and role-playing, and the Star Wars setting is nicely implemented, with decent voice acting (including Simon Templeman of the Legacy of Kain series playing some Sith troopers—although, somewhat distractingly, he frequently sounds like Kain wearing a Sith helmet). Unfortunately, all this just made me want to play Fallout 2. Friday night I finally gave in, dug out my old Fallout 2 disc and install it, figuring I'd get tired of it somewhere in the introductory quests. And suddenly it was Monday morning. (Fallout 2 is addictive for me in a way that no other game has ever been. I have no idea how I passed Ph 12 the term it came out, because I distinctly remember being totally unable to do the homework sets when that game was waiting for me.)

Sufjan Stevens: Illinois: This is the second installment (following Michigan) in Stevens' project to record an album for each of the 50 states, which at the current rate will be finished well after his 100th birthday. The music is predominantly indie-folk in the vein of Iron and Wine (I see that Amazon is packaging the two artists together), although he is often sillier and lighter than Sam Beam. (Just peruse the list of track names for a sense of this.) There's lots to like here, as Stevens manages to fill the CD with 74 minutes of Illinois-themed songs, some of which reflect vast amounts of historical research and some of which are more fanciful (the song about Decatur is pretty much a catalog of rhymes for the city's name). I particularly like "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!", and not just for the title; its instrumentation and pop quality are reminiscent of Architecture In Helsinki.

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I fear my Buffy knowledge is fading in its years disuse- such that I don't recall how it fits in. Or maybe that's just because I saw Batman Begins when it came out and you waited too long to fill me in. You should refresh my memory. Liam is king of the ninjas.
Sufjan Stevens is a favorite of my dear friend bratling. I remember it being quite peaceful, and that he seems very timid. One of his songs makes me bust into tears, however (Vito's Ordination Song). Wait, I listened to indie folk? I feel sullied! =d

Posted by: Vanessa | July 26, 2005 5:48 PM

I'm thinking about the fight on the train between Batman and the Liam Neeson character, which bore a number of similarities to Spike's fight with a Slayer in a NYC subway car in "Fool for Love". The positions of the fighters at the end are almost identical: Neeson on top of Bale attempting to strangle him, and then a reversal of this position, happened the same way in the Buffy episode. (Although Nikki was probably trying to behead Spike rather than strangle him, I don't remember exactly.)

I wouldn't describe Stevens as "timid" on this album (I haven't heard his other work) but he does have that soft way of singing. And yes, listening to indie-folk is one step closer to the dark side... or the hipster side, anyway.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | July 26, 2005 6:19 PM

Heh, I like some folk stuff quite a bit (e.g., Suzanne Vega, Dar Williams, Loreena McKennitt), although there are lots of different folk, so this can be kind of a catch-all category. :)

As for how long it will take to finish all 50 states, surely Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and several others can all be combined into one album?

Posted by: Mason | July 26, 2005 7:00 PM

Not to turn a blind eye to possible homages, but in defense, or possibly condemnation, of both Batman Begins and Buffy, when shooting a high-paced action sequence on a subway railcar, there's really very limited options on how you can film it, both angle-wise and choreography-wise. The space is so small and cramped, plus with seats in the way on either side, that the manner of fight choreography repertoire is frighteningly small. Though there's probably some new genius way to film it lying in wait, we were not privy to it in either circumstance.

Though like I say, I'm not about to say Christopher Nolan doesn't like to nod to certain movies or TV shows when he films. Batman's first appearance in the docks was very Alien-esque.

Posted by: Josh | July 27, 2005 11:59 PM

I'm partial to Loreena McKennitt too, Mason.

Since this is an open thread, I've got a question for all Arcane Gazebo readers:

Who other than myself thinks AG ought to update the photo of himself that he has on display?

All in favor say "aye." Opposed, "nay."

Posted by: Dad | July 28, 2005 11:58 AM

Usually I don't notice that it's there, but sometimes I consider replacing the photo.

Arguments pro:
*It's at least two and a half years old, maybe more. I look slightly different now.
*It was taken on a low-res webcam, and a better quality photo is in order.
*Variety is the spice of life.

Arguments con:
*It's a sidebar institution at this point.
*I don't have a suitable replacement photo (debatable, and I could try to take one).

Third alternative: Just remove the photo?
*Enhances the emphasis on the textual elements
*But the page becomes less visually interesting
*Removes the sense that I am watching you read the blog

Maybe I'll put together a selection of possible replacements, and run a poll...

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | July 28, 2005 1:01 PM

The poll idea sounds good.

You need to come up with a paradigm like my series of Unabomber photos. :)

Posted by: Mason | July 28, 2005 5:03 PM
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