Monday, June 23, 2014

Update on the Titans Blanket

This is part of the "NS" of "TITANS" as it appears on the bottom of the blanket.

Tim Burton's Batman At 25

It surprised me today to read that Tim Burton’s Batman is now 25 years old. How can that be? I remember that moving coming out when I was in high school, back in 1989, and just falling in love with it for so many reasons. That makes me 25 years older. That’s not even possible!

Batman wasn't just a movie, it was a machine of anticipation, hype, and preordained success. Its release followed an unprecedented wave of cross-promotional marketing saturation unlike the industry had ever seen…Those old enough to remember will recall the copious merchandise…” I remember Batman actually was the “victim” of a lot of counterfeit products, especially t-shirts because they were easily manufactured and sold. I had one beautiful Batman-comic styled t-shirt that I wore the shit out of. I was actually a little disappointed when I checked the manufacture’s tag on it and realized it was legit. Somehow, the idea of having something counterfeit seemed somehow more desirable to me. I don’t know why.

“Further free publicity came from the controversial casting of Michael Keaton in the title role, which caused “fan” outrage and arguably…the birth of angry film nerd that now seemingly dominates online film discussions. “ Oh God yes, I love Tim Burton for this aspect of his movie casting. I, for one, looked forward to Michael Keaton donning the cape and cowl. I was a fan of his, mostly for his comedies, but I knew he could do drama (well, Tim Burton’s style of drama and darkness) and do Bob Kane proud. He was the perfect choice for Bruce Wayne…he could be Batman. Before Batman, he was in Clean and Sober, The Dream Team (while not really drama, he did play a mental patient), and before he did Batman Returns, Michael was also in Pacific Heights and One Good Cop. He definitely had the chops for drama and serious acting. I think Robin Williams had a saying at one time about comedy not being that far off from being pain or drama, so that's why comedic actors were so good at drama, or something like that. I always thought of that when I’d read about people bitching about Michael Keaton being cast as Batman. Maybe those people bitching lacked imagination.

I remember one scene in particular that just really cemented Michael as Batman for me:

Interior: Axis Chemicals
Jack Napier was sent to rob the place with his thugs, make it look like industrial espionage. They find a safe that’s already been picked and gutted. “We’ve been ratted out, boys,” he says, “Watch yourselves.”

The scene continues, and at one point, we see the Batman on a catwalk. He’s just accidentally/didn’t care dropped Napier into the vat of chemicals. He dodges to one side to leave the scene. No good. The police are closing in around him. He dodges to the other side. Police coming up that way too, so he slams down a smoke pellet from his utility belt and escapes vertically with the bat grapling gun through the skylights, his black boots and the tips of his cape trailing through the smoke as he flies away.

The way Michael moved…it was perfect. Not a lot of wasted movements. Even though Michael couldn’t really turn his head or hear very well inside the cowl, it didn’t look like it. He was a seasoned vigilante crime fighter. He was a badass. Were we watching Batman’s physique or were we seeing his secret identity wearing a muscled suit? You just didn’t know, because we don’t get to see it, even though we can assume, as moviegoers, it was all suit and Michael didn’t have to do any kind of work out regime like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. But check out Desperate Measures, from 1998, to get a glimpse of what he could have looked like. Dude had it going on! But then again, Batman is, and has never been, all about the brawn. He’s about the brains too.

Batman was allowed to be a little bit of a wise-ass, with Vicky Vale (“You weigh a little more than 108 pounds.”) and with The Joker (“Excuse me, you ever dance with the devil by the pale moonlight?”) and then he just nails the shit out of him. It seemed to allow some of Michael’s own personality as an actor to come through. The actor wasn't lost behind the cowl.

And speaking of the cowl, I think the design of Michael’s cowl is beautiful and angular. It’s iconic, just by itself, with those longer bat ears on top . Christian Bale’s cowl was more utilitarian out of necessity for the character, but Michael’s was like a piece of art. My husband actually bought me a cowl one year for Christmas (he bought it before Halloween at a costume store) that I keep on my desk, on a glass head, just for looks.

With Michael’s batsuits, I felt like the costume designers were going with a “less is more” kind of look, and it definitely worked. Christian Bale’s batsuits look too busy and complicated. There’s too much detail in his batsuits to try and see when Batman is shown in the dark. With Burton’s batsuits, what you saw was what you got. Your eye was attracted to that bright yellow oval with the black bat silhouette. It was stark.

And let’s be honest…for a character where you really only see his mouth, didn’t Michael have the perfect lips for Batman? I think the only other actor that could pull that look off today would be Chris Pine (I never cared for Christian Bale). And as Bruce Wayne, he was so expressive. Those eyebrows could probably act without him!

Bruce Wayne was quirky and eccentric and would have been completely lost without Alfred, probably that way because well, the poor soul saw his parents murdered. That would fuck up anyone, wouldn’t it?

I don’t remember hearing people bitch about Jack Nicholson being cast as The Joker. I loved it…thought it was absolutely inspired! You take someone who is known as a serious, dramatic, no holds barred, no shit ACTOR and you cast him as a maniacal, probably mentally impaired, disfigured criminal with a face like a Halloween mask…and it just worked (at least for me). It was just such a great casting choice that I could overlook the blatant raping of The Joker’s original (non-movie) origin. (But I have to give props to whoever convinced Marlon Brando to be Jor-El in the original Superman movies…even as a kid, that always struck me as kind of a coup.) After watching Heath Ledger as The Joker, I just feel like Jack Nicholson made more dangerous version in that character, but more dangerous in a small picture kind of way: he killed or maimed individuals. He wasn’t going out, trying to kill large numbers of people at once. It seemed a little more believable to me.

“The picture’s stunning German expressionism meets film noir art direction (Anton Furst won an Oscar for the film), its iconic performances from Keaton and Nicholson, Danny Elfman’s iconic score, and the superb special effects separated the rousing adventure from the pack no matter what you thought of it relatively plot-less script. It was arguably style over substance, but good lord what style!” It was a beautiful movie to watch! Even if you didn’t want to listen to the score or the plot, just turn the volume down and LOOK at it, the way you’d study art hanging in a museum. It was dark and brooding, with larger than life sets (even though they were actually miniatures, in some cases), which to me, hearkened back to the days of movies like Cleopatra or Gone with the Wind. It was a large scale picture, without using painted glass panes or heavy CGI. This was art deco in nature, and seemed to be a precursor to Fox’s Batman: The Animated Series that came along in the 90’s.

I thought Danny Elfman’s score was just stunning as the visuals. Before hearing his score, I hadn’t really ever listened to a movie’s sound track before. Sure, I had soundtracks from Footloose and the like, but they were the soundtracks of popular pop or rock music. I started listening to his Batman score and realized how beautiful, moving and large his soundtracks were, without words or without constant radio play. I went and bought his Batman scores. I even bough them for other movies, first on cassettes, and then on CD’s. His musical scores seemed to perfectly compliment Tim Burton’s version of Gotham City. Danny Elfman was the new John Williams. Emotions were conveyed through music in a way I had never experienced before.

I've always been a geek for this kind of stuff. My favorite toys when I was a wee little geek, even before becoming a Jedi geek, were my DC Comics action figures. But I think once you become exposed to something a new way, it really opens up your eyes to new facets of that same topic. For me, it was Batman in movie form, and then later on, it was all things Doctor Who for science fiction, it was all things Stephen King for horror goodness. You keep your geek or pop culture favorites, but you see new aspects of them. Me, I’ll always be a Tim Burton fan, but I do credit him for making me watch movies in a new light.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Kind Of An Addition to the Bucket List

The top item on my bucket list is to tour a Navy sub. I would love to see how big (or small) they are on the inside. That probably won't happen, but I did get to do something could be kind of a bucket list thing.

I got to actually walk under a ship today that's in dry dock for normal maintenance, and then I got to walk almost all the way up to the top of the mast. I was actually up above the yardarms and I didn't have to wear a harness to do it, because the mast (and various parts of the ship) are surrounded by scaffolding and tarps.

It was an incredible view from up there. I wished I'd taken my own camera. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing, but my husband did have his phone so we do have some pictures.
  • I'd like to take a tour of a Navy sub, but my husband and I don't know anyone that works on board a sub.
  • I'd like to take a tour of a Navy ship that most people will never get to go on.
  • I'd love to go for a ride in a fighter jet of some kind.
  • I want to go jet skiing in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • I want to go scuba diving or snorkeling in the Caribbean.
  • I want to go to the top of the Washington Monument. 
  • I want to go to NYC, and see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers, and go to a show of some sort. We went there in 2000 and saw The Late Show with David Letterman.
  • I want to go to the Saint Louis Arch. We did this in 1999.
  • I want to go to Niagara Falls.. We did this in 2000.
  • I want to go to Universal Studios Florida.. We did this in 2001 and I'd love to do it again!
  • I want to go to the Poconos and stay in one of their themed suites. We did this in 2006 and stayed at Caesar's in the champagne glass suite.
  • I want to stay in a themed suit at the HoJo in Florence, KY.
  • I want to get a memorial tattoo in honor of my mom and my mother-in-law.
  • I want to write a bad sci-fi horror script and present it to the Sy-Fy Channel and to The Asylum to see if they'd be willing to make it into an actual movie.--I'm actually writing a screenplay right now!
  • I want to finally order the "Hell's Admin Assistant" patch for my motorcycle jacket that I've been thinking about for years.--I figure it's a funny alternative to a Hell's Angel patch, which I'm cleanly not a member of Hell's Angels. I ordered one from Star City Stitchery
  • I'd like to cuddle a baby gorilla. I really don't know where this one comes from, but aren't baby gorillas the cutest babies EVER??!
  • I want to take a painting class, a la Bob Ross.
  • I want to go hang gliding in Kill Devil Hills, NC.
  • I want to see the archaeological dig at the Jamestown Settlement.
  • I want to go charter boat fishing in the Atlantic Ocean: I tried doing this in 2012, but the water was really rough that day. I didn't catch anything but I sure made a lot of chum!
  • I want to go to the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • I want to see KISS in concert, in the make-up. 
  • I will get a job at some kind of animal shelter, and I'm going to be damn good at whatever I end up doing there. 
  • I will get at least one old, beat up piece of wood furniture, save it from going to the landfill, and refinish it. I've got another piece to start. :)
  • I'd like to go on an LCAC ride with my husband before he transfers to his new command. I had to cross this one off finally, because Shane left this command already. This bummed me out. I never got a ride on an LCAC out on the bay. Some of his family members did, and even though I offered to take any number of half days off from work, I never got to ride. 
  • I will go to see the Booth Trail in 2013. 
  • I will go to Natural Bridge, VA and the Shenandoah Valley and stay in a cabin in the woods
  • I will go to Hiddenite Gems, an emerald mine open to the public, in NC. 
  • I will go to the Richmond Zoo and the Virginia Zoo (they have done a lot of remodeling and I haven't been there for a several years). 
  • I can't drive a clutch and have no desire to learn, but I'd like to go for a ride in a 1957 Chevy BelAire and a mid-80's Lamborghini Countach.
  • I'd like to sit in any of the Batmobiles, ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters, KITT from Knight Rider, and the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • I will go to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. 
  • I want to go to Rhode Island, Boston and Seattle, just for the sake of going.
  • I want to go to Tokyo some day.--I've been to Hanoi and Hue, Vietnam, but it wasn't close enough.
  • I want to see the pyramids and sphinx in Egypt. 
  • I'd love to see the Mona Lisa (she's in the Louvre in Paris) and The Scream (there are a couple, two of them are in Munich). 
  • I want to go to London, and maybe look for the TARDIS and the Doctor. 
  • I want to go to San Diego to see my best friend, go to Comic Con, wear a costume, take lots of photos, find an awesome looking Spider-Man so I can give him a hug for just being Spidey, and then walk a beach on the Pacific Ocean, looking for shells. 
  • I'd like to go to a taping of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" if we ever go to California. 
  • I want to have at least one great, wildly creative crochet pattern published in a real book somewhere. 
  • I'd like to have our yard be featured for our Halloween decorations with a local tv station, so people might understand you don't have to spend big bucks on decorations and still put together a great display (I say this because we don't go as crazy for Christmas decorations). 
  • I'd like to win a challenge on Craftster. 
  • I'd like to compete on Craft Wars on TLC. I had to cross this one off too, because I'm pretty sure it's no longer on the air. I can't find any updated information on it. 
  • I will finish the Jedi costume finally and I will join the Rebel Legion
  • I will finish the doll house I started several years ago. 
  • I want to go to Ohio and see Ralphie Harper's house from The Christmas Story. 
  • I want to see Weird Al Yankovic in concert, and maybe even the Bangles if I ever get to California. 
  • I want to see the Barenaked Ladies again, the next time they come to Hampton Roads.
  • I want to take my friends to the Virginia Safari drive through park in Stanton, VA.--We are going on July 19, 2014! Going to rent a car so no animals can chew up my car.