Archive for May, 2010

Many the times have I witnessed Ranger at her most foolishly adorable only wishing I had my camera with which to capture the display of her rolling on her ball in the dirt. Today that wish became reality:

A few days ago I made public my frustration with the mistitling of the upcoming remake of “The Karate Kid,” and wouldn’t you know in today’s LA Times, way too much front page Calendar section play is given to what amounts to soft -‘n-puffy feature about the backstory of the production of That Movie Which I Shall Not See.

Of course I took issue with a couple points:

I guess most of your readers (“Comeback Kid,” Calendar, May 30) will just surrender to Hollywood’s incredible ability to rationalize, but not me. When Overbrook’s self-serving James Lassiter explains that the power and authority rests with the actual Chinese “people” when it comes to location shoots there, I’d like to see him apply that logic to events such as Tiananmen Square and the Sichuan earthquake. Apparently from his strange “That’s why it’s called the People’s Republic of China,” point of view  those same “people” didn’t want democracy and used their “authority” to violently massacre those who did? And I guess all those school children killed in the 2008 quake came about because the “people” didn’t want their kids getting educated in buildings that wouldn’t fall down?

The second, third and fourth letters in Lassiter’s name pretty much sum up what such a statement makes him look like.

And speaking of asses, blame for the lame title gets attributed to the original “The Karate Kid” producer Jerry Weintraub who allegedly objected to Sony’s plan to correctly title the film “The Kung Fu Kid.” I’m curious to know who said that exactly and why such a statement was run without getting a response or no comment from Weintraub.

I already wasn’t going to lay eyes on this film for the stupid title alone, but now this puff-piece on its production will leave me avoiding anything Overbrook puts its hands on — and anything under John Horn’s byline.

Will Campbell
Silver Lake

I should have known right away that something was up when I came outside for lunch and first saw Ranger in the backyard standing still and looking down at the dirt. But it wasn’t until a couple minutes later and Ranger was still in the same spot still looking down that it dawned on me a critter might be the object of her attentions.

My first thought was that it was one of the bushtit chicks in our backyard nest who’d fledged and fallen, but when I arrived, I’d found a tightly curled alligator lizard. Dead? Seemed like it. Legs all akimbo, and there was a bit of blood on the scales under the tail when I lifted it up with a twig as Ranger stood guard close by. In addition, it had already regrown (or was regrowing) its tail, lost probably in a previous cat encounter.

Ranger stood beside me seeming far more like she was protectively watching over the reptile rather than toying with it, leading me to believe one of the cats had caught it and brought it out in the open.

When I picked it up though it moved slightly – yay! So I brought it in and set it on my desk while I sought a shoebox to put it, and sure enough when I returned it had disappeared — which was good to see, providing that I could reacquire it.

A short search later revealed its refuge behind one of the computer speakers and I was able to stow it in the shoebox to de-stress while I registered it with the LA County Museum of Natural History’s Lost Lizards of Los Angeles project.

Later on I transferred it to the tortoise pen (as pictured), where it’s been exploring and resting. Hopefully the wound under its tail is not indicative of any more severe internal injuries and it’ll recover enough to find its way out and be more successfully keeping away from the cats. Fingers crossed.

UPDATE (4:02 p.m.): Just went outside to check and the lizard either can make itself disappear, or was well enough to escape through a gap between the top of the pen and the wall. Good luck little fella!

My good man Jason DeFillippo, Metblogs cofounder and most decidedly one who does not mince words harshly took me to task after I tweeted who won “Survivor” following the finale’s conclusion a couple Sundays ago:

“Posting spoilers is like fucking someone’s kitten. You just don’t do it.”

And he was right to do so.

In my defense, I did the deed after the result was aired on the west coast, but still. It was an important reminder that beyond timezone differences we’re in an age of DVRs and delayed viewing. And it’s simply good and considerate practice to keep the beans unspilled. For how long? I don’t know that answer. I don’t care about that answer.

Fast forward to last night and I’m watching “American Idol.” Early on in the typically interminable finale, shortly after the Bee Gees sang “How Deep Is Your Love” with a couple of this season’s Top-10 finishers, I tweeted how seeing the surviving Brothers Gibb perform, made me smile. Sincerely so.

Not long thereafter came a response from a bike-minded enthusiast I follow whose Twitter name is cyclingnirvana:

“Yes, me too! But the power grab from Janet Jackson made me sick.”

Wondering what he was talking about, I tweeted back:

“Hmmmmm, I think I missed that… Or it hasn’t happened yet?”

And he came back with:

Sorry, it happens late in the show.

Ah, so now the two of us realize two things. I know he’s in a timezone east of me (turns out  way ahead of me in Florida), and he knows I’m in one behind him somewhere. I fleetingly toy with the idea of requesting that he keep any news of the winner to himself but give him the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn’t do such a silly thing.

Not more than a few minutes later while I’m transfixed by Christina Aguilera’s performance, he does:

“Really would have liked to see Crystal Bowersox win. She has an awesome voice and style. But I’m sure she’ll do well.”

I toyed with several harsh replies, such as a replay of Jason’s aforementioned reality check and  “Really would have liked to see you STFU,” but instead because I’m sure he’s a decent fellow who was just tweeting what happening around him I just admonished him with an entirely expletive- and animalporn-free:

“Dood. Way to spoil it for those of us who aren’t in your timezone.”

Which the guy completely ignored. Nirvana? More like some nerve.

UPDATE (11:52 a.m.): Strike that part about him ignoring me. I got a direct message from him this morning apologizing.

There’s a movie whose arrival is imminent that you may have heard of called The Karate Kid. It features an elderly man who happens to be a secret martial arts master who teaches a young punk transplanted far from home how to protect himself from big bad bullies at school who aren’t really down with him — and especially with him getting all  smitten with a pretty young classmate. Life lessons ensue,  a cross-generational friendship is forged, skills get honed, and it all ends up at a competition where the kid kicks ass.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. Who hasn’t seen the wonderful original from 1984 with Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio (or its sequels — yes even that last silly one with Hilary Swank).

But here’s the thing, and by “thing” I mean Idiocy That Pisses Me Off.  This version of the film should not be called The Karate Kid. It should be called The Kung Fu Kid since it takes place in China where that is the indigenous martial art — and indeed according to the film’s summary on IMDB is what the elderly gent (played this time by Jackie Chan) teaches the punk (played by Wil Smith’s kid Jaden).

But  everyone who made the movie seemed less intent on basic factual truth in titling and instead more desperately intent on greedily making bank by piggybacking on the franchise, which at a quarter century in age is old enough to engender nostalgia in those 30-somethings who were kids and teens during its originally release. Sure, the filmmakers could argue that they didn’t want any confusion/connection between this film and the far more recent Kung Fu Panda, but that’s just a buncha silly sauce. You want silly? I’ll argue that there should be a statute of limitations invoked prohibiting remakes of any kind — properly titled or not — from being made for a minimum of 40 years after the original’s theatrical release.

But since that day will never come, and nothing’s sacred, I’ve decided instead to offer up the following  list of films the studios should consider remaking (or in some cases re-remaking) under their original titles while also brainlessly changing crucial elements — the more the better:

Waterworld — The earth is covered by water sand. The remaining people travel the oceans deserts, in search of survival led over endless dunes by a uselessly gilled guy called Mariner for no reason.

Lawrence of Arabia — T.E. Lawrence Balthazar blazes his way to glory in the Arabian desert post-Katrina New Orleans.

Gone With The Wind — The epic tale of a woman’s life before, during and after the Civil War Woodstock, which she didn’t attend but said she did.

Goodfellas — The lowly, violent blue-collar side of New York’s Elvis Presley’s Italian Memphis mafia.

Nightmare on Elm Street — On Elm Street Maple Drive, a group of teens aging boy band members are tormented in their dreams during lunch by a clawed six-fingered killer nursing home janitor named Freddy Krueger Skippy Gunderson.

Jaws — A shark marmot makes a resort coal-mining town its private public feeding breeding grounds.

Towering Inferno — A skyscraper jumbo jet catches fire lands safely due to poor wiring an uneventful flight and competent pilots.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! — Three wild women congressmen in fast cars on Segways take time off from stripping in clubs budget negotiations to go on a murder tax-and-spend rampage.

3:10 To Yuma — A rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who’s awaiting the 4:25 train to go to court in Yuma Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The Matrix — A computer phonebook hacker deliveryman learns about ignores the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against the controllers of it.

Citizen Kane — Following the death of an aged publishing tycoon astronomer, reporters colleagues scramble to discover hide the meaning proper spelling of his final utterance, “Beetlegeuse.” Or is it “Beetlejuice?” Or is it “Beetleguese?” “Beetlegoose,” maybe? No, Beetlegeese!”

Memento — A man, suffering from unaware of his short-term memory loss, uses notes smoke signals and tattoos disappearing ink to hunt for never find the man he thinks killed his wife his wallet, which is in his back pocket the whole fucking time.

Or as told in the film’s unique reverse timeline:

To hunt for never find the man he thinks killed his wife his wallet, which is in his back pocket the whole fucking time, a man uses notes smoke signals and tattoos disappearing ink  while suffering from unaware of his short term memory loss.

It’s A Wonderful Life — An angel out-of-work Angels Stadium groundskeeper prevents a compassionate heartless but despairingly frustrated and sociopathically fraudulent mortgage company executive from seeing what how much better everything would have been if he never existed.

The Man Who Knew Too Much — An American doctor idiot savant vacationing in Morocco accidentally stumbles onto an assassination plot.

The Poseidon Adventure — A group of passengers chefs struggle to survive serve dinner when their ocean liner Gordon Ramsay capsizes berates them at sea Ocean, a new eatery having its soft-open in Culver City with rumors that food writer Jonathon Gold is coming.

Plenty more where those come from, but I’d better quit while I’m behind.

Or make your own Madlib style:

Armageddon: When a giant asteroid [adjective] [noun] the size of  Texas [celebrity’s name; possessive] [thing or things] is discovered headed for Earth [place], hope for survival rests on the success of a misfit [adjective] team of deep-core drillers [specialized group of people or animals] sent to space [place] on a suicide mission [adjective] [noun] to nuke [verb] it.

Coming home from a 70-mile bike ride Saturday afternoon  I saw the smoke and my heart leapt into my throat as it seemed  pretty much aligned with where our house is located on the other side of the ridge rising up between my location heading west on Sunset Boulevard approaching Benton Way and our street. What I couldn’t be sure of is if the flames generating the plume were on the east side of Silver Lake Boulevard or beyond it to the west.

A hipster in front of me in the bike lane reflexively and entirely non-ironically yelled out “Cool!” when he saw the smoke and I passed him suggesting with a snarl that “cool” was about the worst way to react to anything burning down unless you’re an arsonist or an asshole. “And I’m guessing you’re not an arsonist,” I yelled before cranking hard past him.

I didn’t wait around for him to tell me to fuck off as traffic was clear giving me the opportunity to get across the westbound lanes and in the center of the street between the double yellows to make my left turn. It was about then there when I saw the smoke was well beyond our house and street and I cruised home to find Susan up in the guest bedroom with her binoculars watching the firefighters on-scene battle the blaze. My relief was tempered by the sight of someone’s home being destroyed. And as I watched the firefighters on a neighboring roof battle the flames that seemed to surround them, I hoped no one was or would get hurt. Then the top of a tall pine nearby erupted in orange but quick action snuffed that fright out almost as quickly as it ignited.

I set up my camera on timelapse at 4:30 p.m., approximately 40 minutes after LAFD personnel reportedly arrived at the home that I later found out was located on Descanso Drive. As I understand it the fire was extinguished about 20 minutes into this timelapse. One firefighter sustained burns to his neck during the ordeal, but is expected to recover. None of the neighboring structures sustained any fire damage. The loss is valued at $1.5 million for the structure and $500,000 for the contents.

My respect and appreciation goes to the firefighters for tackling what proved to be a difficult assignment made even moreso by gusting winds and limited access afforded by the winding narrowness of Descanso and its rough and rugged condition. And my heart goes out to the property owner with condolences for what was lost and hopes for what can be rebuilt.

After riding from Silver Lake to Seal Beach and back to downtown, before pedaling the last five miles home, I was able to catch the last remaining competitors in the Tour of California Time Trials taking place on a course stretching between Bunker Hill and the Memorial Coliseum.

I was entirely blown away by the amazing display of speed, including that of past champion Levi Leipheimer, who I was barely able to keep in frame as he whizzed past me into the turn from 1st Street north onto Main Street (click for the bigger picture):

UPDATED (5.24): For a sense of the speed involved, here’s a brief video clip of the cyclist who followed Levi. I changed street corners for more of a coming-at-ya vantage point: