Friday, March 30, 2007

Skate or Die Mother Effer

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ryan Gosling is a really good actor

Recently, I have been hooked on Ryan Gosling. This weekend I watched Half Nelson which was fantastic. Last night I watched Stay which was even better. I was a little wary going in to the film because of the beating it took on Rotten Tomatoes. Luckily for me I didn't actually read any of the reviews because I didn't want to be completely tainted by bias before forming my own opinion.

I don't want to ruin anything with spoilers because I think this movie is best enjoyed by not knowing what is going to happen. I spent the entire movie trying to figure out what was going on and then when it all came together in the last five minutes the emotional payoff was fantastic. In addition to the nice personal emotional payoff, I found the scene transitions/editing and the sets/production design to be mesmerizing. They really add depth to the story. The last couple of minutes were literally beautiful.

Finally, the performances by Ewan McGregor and Ryan Gosling were fantastic. Naomi Watts was also quite solid. So Ryan Gosling is 2 for 2 the last couple of days which makes me excited for the upcoming theatrical release of Fracture.

One last thing after thinking about the movie a little more. I think I might have an idea why lots of people didn't like this movie. I think it is because it does not follow the traditional format for a movie with a linear story line. This forces people outside their comfort zone and may or may not require the viewer to think about what is happening and be actively engaged in the movie to not get lost. In general, I think that people prefer to be mindlessly entertained. I don't want to get to far into this idea right now because it is a good topic for another post.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

HP7 Book Jacket

It is time to break out your wands, capes, and non-prescription glasses. The release of the seventh Harry Potter book is fast approaching. The official jacket for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows was released today. If you don't already have your costume ready for the release party/waiting in line, don't worry. You still have time to put something together. Don't procrastinate though, I hear the Harry Potter glasses are becoming quite difficult to secure.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Heart Daniel Craig

Next to the patio at the Century City Mall Food Court is hanging this giant banner featuring Daniel Craig - Heart Throb. I can't think of a better way to pass the lunch hour than gazing into the piercing blue eyes of the coolest Brit alive while enjoying a smoothie and sandwich from Coral Tree Express. Thanks for making my day Sony.

Monday, March 26, 2007

My Lost Tour

On Friday I was able to tour the Lost post production facility on the Disney lot in Burbank. It was pretty much the most awesome two hours of my life. It was so cool talking with Lance the assistant editor about how the dailies are flown from Hawaii to LA on the same United flight every night, which directors are easiest to work with, and the importance of reviewing every scene to make sure that all evidence of civilization is removed from the scenes. We were even able to see a clip from a future episode where a house had not yet been removed from the scene. We were also able to see another future scene at the Miami airport where the digital effects had not yet been inserted so we could see the green screen in the picture.

The highlight of the visit was when we were able to watch some of the dailies from The Man From Tallahassee which had aired earlier in the week.


In the scene where Locke is pushed out the window, the first take didn't go as planned because the charge in the window pane was triggered too late. Because of this, the stunt man bounced off the window and collapsed in a heap. It was pretty hilarious. On the second take, after the window was replaced with the only back-up, the charge was triggered too early so the scene ended up requiring digital effects to make it look right. It was also pretty funny to see Locke prepping himself for the shot of him falling from the building as he was suspended by cables and a harness.

After having seen some of the behind the scenes work for Lost, I am even more of fan. I stand by my assessment that Lost is the best TV show ever made. Ever. I love every episode and I can't wait for the rest of the season. Based on the footage I have seen, it is going to be A-mazing.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Real Hibachi

If you are a fan of sports then Gilbert Arenas' blog post today is a must read. It is a rare glimpse into what makes Arenas tick. Reading about why he plays basketball and his perception of the the sport as entertainment fascinated me. I love him for his antics on and off the court but now I love him even more because of the perspective on the game and on life that he has. Gilbert Arenas is what I am looking for when watching sports. Seriously, his blog post today is must read material. Take 15 minutes and read the entire piece. It is worth your time.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Addiction

I wish that pictures could capture smell as well as images. This is a picture of the air freshener in the 6th floor men's room at the Fox Plaza. I am addicted to the pungent yet strangely intoxicating scent. I am still trying to determine the best way to describe the smell. What I have so far is that it is a wonderful mix of vanilla, with a hint of pina colada, coupled with a yet to be determined tropical fruit. The first thing I do every morning when I get to work is make a trip to the men's room while my computer is turning on just to make sure my day gets started with a little slice of heaven. The last thing I do every day after turning my computer off is to stop by the men's room to make sure that my day ends on a high note. Needless to say, I make many trips to the men's room throughout the day as well. Maybe there is a little heroin mixed in. That would explain my habit.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Commute

So I was cruising down Olympic on my motorcycle this morning on the way to work, enjoying the sun for the first time in what feels like a month, and happily weaving in and out of traffic. While weaving and enjoying the visor-filtered sun on my face, I was also trying to come up with an idea for today's blag post. And then it literally hit me, as I was splitting between a sweet Porsche on my left and a beater truck on my right, the dude in the truck rolls down his window and launches a giant loogie at me and proceeds to flip me off. I think he also yelled a few choice words but his angst-filled ramblings were drowned out by the angst-filled ramblings of Anti-Flag blasting from my iPod.

What would possess somebody to roll down their window, spit on somebody, yell, and shake their fist? does their life suck that bad? Do they not see the sun shining and feel the wonderful crisp morning air? How do they know that I don't suffer from similar anger management issues. They are running the risk that I launch myself off my motorcycle, through their open window, and punch them in the face a few times. That's a risk I don't think I would want to take. How do you explain to your wife and/or little children that some crazy guy on a motorcycle beat you up inside your truck after you spit on him?

Luckily for the jerk du jour, I was enjoying my ride to work this morning and just laughed at his lameness. Although I must admit, when I parked and then tried to wipe the spit off my jacket and found out that there was more snot than spit I did become a little irritated. But hey, the sun is shining today. I am happy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Mythical 4.3X 40 Time

A recurring topic of discussion that I have with my good friend Messr. Lybbert, of On Life and Lybberty fame, centers around the idea of finding value where other people do not and ultimately creating a competitive advantage. Our discussion often is sports oriented but this principle applies to all aspects of life. For the purposes of today's blag entry, the focus will once again be on the sports world due to the rapidly approaching NFL draft and the ongoing on-campus pro days.

Each year some relatively unknown defensive back and/or wide receiver runs a "sub 4.4" 40 time and jumps from anonymity to first round lock with all the guaranteed money that accompanies first round status. This has always confused me for multiple reasons. First of all, are 4.38 (supposedly) seconds more important than 3 to 4 years worth of game tape? Secondly, do NFL GMs and personnel directors really place that much emphasis on the 40 time? I find it hard to believe that they do because I can't imagine that owners would trust morons to make decisions that involve millions and millions of dollars for them. But what do I know, every year at least one guy makes the jump from what appears to be nothing more than their 40 time.

I know that speed kills but does straight ahead speed with no pads and no ball kill? If I was an NFL GM I would be paying much more attention to game tape. I would feel much more comfortable making an assessment based on multiple data points as opposed to a single data point in a uncontrolled environment. Especially a data point that is ridiculously flawed by human error.

The flawed data point that I am referring to is the mythical 4.3X 40 time that the media loves to hype. And maybe that is all it is. Media hype. Maybe the NFL is using it to create buzz and market itself. Maybe NFL GMs really aren't dumb. Regardless, there is an excellent article written by Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2005 in which the NFL 40 times are put into perspective by comparing them to the extrapolated 40 time of Ben Johnson's stanazolol fueled, record breaking 100 meters time in the 1988 Olympics. According to Mr. Zeigler and timing officials, Johnson went through 40 yards in 4.38 seconds. In spikes. On a warm afternoon. With a light tail wind. With years and years of training. In a stadium filled with 69,000 roaring fans. Against the fastest men in the world. Oh wait, they weren't really the fastest men in the world because the fastest men in the world were too busy playing football.

So if I was an NFL GM I would not believe the hype when it came to 40 times. I would definitely consider the results in my assessment, but it wouldn't carry much weight. I would pay much, much more attention to game tape. I would also take a look at the shuttle time which in my opinion is a much better indicator of football speed. I might also ask the potential draftee to suit up and run the 40 while carrying a football. This might actually show whether or not a running back has "break away" speed. That is just me though and I am not an NFL GM. They obviously know more than I do.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Nakatomi Plaza

Yippee Kay Yay mother$%&*@!. That is the first thing I think every morning as I stroll from the parking structure to the entrance of the Fox Plaza. Some of you older folks out there may recognize this building as the Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard. And yes, I now work on the 6th floor of the Nakatomi Plaza. Each morning, while my computer is booting up, I walk around with my socks and shoes off to ease the stress. I make sure to promptly put my shoes back on though just in case we are attacked by German Terrorists.

Working in the Nakatomi Plaza is great because the jokes are endless. Every time somebody asks me to go down a level to pick something up I say something along the lines of "Can I borrow your fire hose?" or "I would but I forgot my fire hose today." I have also requested that everybody refer to me as John McClane. Aaah yes, I am hilarious.

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Dinner in The Valley

In case you didn't already know, I like to eat at restaurants. A lot. I especially like trying new places I have never been. Last night, a friend and I enjoyed one of the best meals I have had in quite some time at a fantastic little Italian place in the valley called La Pergola. I know what you are thinking - But Morgan, why would you EVER want to go to the valley? Weren't you scared of stumbling into the middle of a porn shoot?

But in all seriousness, La Pergola is easily top 3 restaurants in LA for me now. I loved the atmosphere. The wood beams coupled with the pottery put me right at ease as soon as I walked through the door. We actually entered through the back door by the kitchen which made me feel like a regular right from the start. I think I am going to try to enter through the back door of restaurants from now on.

When we first sat down at our table it was actually freezing cold with a draft. We asked our waiter if we could change to a table that might not be quite as drafty. I thought his GIANT moustaches may have clogged his hearing though because he never really acknowledged our request. However, this was not the case. After a couple of minutes, I realized that the air conditioning had been turned off and it was no longer cold where we were sitting. That is what I call service.

When I looked at the menu, the first item that jumped out at me was the stuffed mushrooms. Because of my infatuation with the stuffed mushrooms at Mastro's I ordered them for comparison. This ended up being a great choice. While not quite as large and tasty as the stuffed mushrooms from Mastro's, they were still very tasty. Two thumbs up for sure. For the main course I decided on the handmade gnocchi and my friend chose the chicken breast in a lemony sauce topped with artichoke. I thought the chicken was excellent. Very tender and very flavorful. However, the chicken was dwarfed by the greatness of the gnocchi. It was like a party in my mouth. What really set the gnocchi apart was the fact that they were made with fresh vegetables grown in the the La Pergola private garden. It will be difficult for me to try something new on the menu next time I dine there.

So next time you are in the valley and have some down time between porn shoots, I recommend trying out La Pergola. You won't regret the decision.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Day the World Stands Still

The NCAA men's basketball tournament, affectionately known as March Madness, officially kicked off Tuesday night with the play in game where Niagara defeated Florida A&M by a score of 77 to 69. Today is when the true "madness" begins and the nation's workforce grinds to a halt. Thanks in large part to the geniuses of the world wide wob that created the technology to stream the games live to your computer while at work. Has alt + tab ever been so convenient?

As I sit in the queue waiting to be logged on (I am currently 76,600 in line - so much for the VIP Pass. What a joke.) I couldn't help but reflect on the misspent days of my youth. I remember waking up each Thursday and Friday morning while in high school when there were games and telling my Mom that I wasn't going to go to school that day. With no questions asked, she would call the school and say I would not be coming in. I also remember skipping class in college to watch games. That was great fun until I decided to get serious about school and study accounting. Even that ended up with some good memories. I remember convincing Dr. Christensen to pause our advanced financial accounting class to watch the last five minutes of the BYU - UConn game on the projector because it was close. Luckily me and half the class had been monitoring the progress of the game on the ESPN gametracker.

Yes, those were the good old days. Luckily for me, today I can return to Neverland thanks to the miracles of modern technology. It is like somebody invented a time machine. Isn't capitalism great. Victoryyy!!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mikey's the Big Winner

On Saturday night Mike, Andy, and I ventured out of the west side comfort zone for an evening in Hollywood. Much to Mike's chagrin, the designated travel route was a perilous one indeed. I mean who would think there would be traffic in LA on a Saturday night? Doesn't everybody just stay home and watch Deal or No Deal re-runs?

Upon arrival in Hollywood, we decided to dine at the world famous 101 Coffee Shop. And for you silver screen trivia nuts out there, yes, the 101 Coffee Shop is the diner made famous by the movie Swingers. Needless to say, quotable quotes were running through my mind the entire meal. Which, by the way, was delicious. I ordered my standard diner fare of french toast and it was FAN-tastic. Mike had the largest chicken sandwich I have ever seen. Andy had a turkey club or something. He said he liked it but it didn't look that hot to me. But that is neither here nor there.

In addition to the great food, the ambiance was perfect. I loved the dim lighting and the vinyl booths.

The stone covered wall with the recessed lighting was also a nice touch.

To cap off the meal I ordered the nut and honey shake. I was a little skeptical at first but Mike swore that it was one of the best shakes he has ever had. And I must admit, I was not disappointed. The consistency was flawless which means that I was able to easily drink though the straw without my cheeks getting sore. Also, who knew that vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, and honey would make such a great combo? Mike did.

So if you are ever looking for a good meal while in Hollywood, go to the 101 Coffee Shop. The price is reasonable, the food is excellent, and the ambiance is great. A word of warning, if you decide to go late at night, you will have to compete with the indie rocker crowd as they leave the clubs and finding a table may be difficult. Be sure to wear your indie rocker uniform and don't skimp on the buttons. More buttons equals higher rank in the club which equals preferential seating. Or at least that is what I have been told.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Life Imitates Art

So yesterday I was introduced to the Best. Comic Strip. Ever. courtesy of Dubious Brown via The Boxpilot. And yes, I spent a large chunk of yesterday clicking through the archives. Here are two of my favorites:

I could delve into the "deeper" meaning of this comic strip and why it resonated with me but I would feel a little weird baring my soul to the blagoverse.

This one made me laugh so hard I almost cried. It is only funny because it is true.

Yes, xkcd is my new favorite website. If you like Arrested Development then I guarantee you will enjoy these comics. That is all I have time to share for now. I have comic strips to read.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Ballet of Death

On this week's episode of The Mantourage the dudes met up at The Pacific Culver Theater for an evening of testosterone laced violence courtesy of Frank Miller's 300. As the faithful readers may recall, I was pretty excited about this movie a couple of months ago when I saw the trailer for the first time. Because of this initial excitement coupled with the huge marketing push, I actually went into the movie with a little trepidation. I didn't want high expectations to ruin the experience for me. Luckily for me they didn't.

300 was everything I expected. It was a comic book come to life which is exactly what I was looking for. But more importantly, the movie was beautiful which seems odd considering how violent it was. In last weeks issue of Entertainment Weekly, the wife of Director Zack Snyder described it as a ballet of death and that is the perfect description. The choreography of the battle scenes coupled with the CG effects and landscapes/lighting was mesmerizing. I never thought that I would consider a brutal decapitation flowing into a monster being stabbed with a spear followed by another monster being killed with a shield to be beautiful but I was wrong. 300 was beautiful and it truly was a ballet of death.

On the drive home I was discussing the film with Mr. Warner of The Boxpilot and one of the concepts that I found most interesting was how the invading Persians were portrayed as monsters in both verbal description and actual appearance. The Immortals with their chrome masks to cover their grotesque features and sharpened fangs were a-mazing. I also loved how Xerxes, who considered himself to be a god, was larger than life with a booming, god-like voice. What I am trying to say is that stylistically, the movie was fantastic.

As a side note, the Entertainment Weekly article mentioned that 300 was not tracking well in the European markets. According to the article, this is because of the hatred for the United States and the idea of fighting for freedom. I don't know how much stock to put in an article by Entertainment Weekly that makes mention of politics and cultural trends, but this caught me a little off guard. Where was I when freedom became a bad thing? Since when was the United States the only country that fought for freedom? I don't want my blog to devolve into a forum for political debate because that is just depressing. Plus there are much worthier blogs to address these types of issues. It just surprised me that Entertainment Weekly would say that Europeans hate freedom.
300 grossed over $78M world wide this weekend which shattered the previous March opening record held by Ice Age: The Meltdown. To give you a little contextual support, Gladiator grossed $35M opening weekend and Troy grossed $47M. Well played Warner Bros. Well played.

Friday, March 9, 2007

My First Book Club

Last night I attended my first ever book club meeting. I must admit, I was a little intimidated going in. I had no idea what to expect because I had never been to such an adult-like function. Attending a book club combined with eating dinner at 10:30 PM a few weeks ago has left me wondering what happened to my sonic youthful innocence. But that is a topic for another day.

The book of choice for this weeks meeting was A Mighty Heart by Mariane Pearl. The book chronicled the events surrounding the abduction and murder of the WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl by terrorists in Pakistan as seen through the eyes of his wife Mariane.

The discussion at book club centered more on terrorism and what motivates terrorists rather than the syntax, imagery, etc. employed by the author to convey her message. This made me happy because the conversation was much more interesting from my perspective. Arguing over why the author chose to use one word vs another does not do it for me.

One of the most interesting topics of discussion for me was when Eric wondered if he could love or be loved as passionately as Mariane and Daniel did. To me, this was the most compelling part of the book. Mariane really excelled at conveying her emotions to the reader and it really drew me into the story. By getting this glimpse into her emotions and feelings, the impact of losing her husband became so much more meaningful for me. I can't imagine suffering as she did and yet still having the overall positive perspective on life that she appears to maintain.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading A Mighty Heart and I really enjoyed attending book club. I like pretending like I am an adult and I look forward to the next meeting.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

My Friday Playlist

Last Friday, prior to thrashing down to The Promenade on my skateboard, I threw together a little playlist that ended up being a pleasant surprise for me. It was a nice walk down memory lane combined with a few new songs that I am currently hooked on. So here is what I was listening to Friday afternoon while screaming skate or die mother effer at the top of my lungs (but not really):

Don't Want to Hurt You - The Sounds
I'm the One - NOFX
99 Luftballons - Nena
Armageddon - Alkaline Trio
The Press Corpse - Anti-Flag
Hate it or Love it Remix - 50 Cent
1970 Somethin' - Notorious BIG
Stake Out - Freeze Pop
Under Pressure - Queen featuring David Bowie
Punks in Vegas - The Bouncing Souls
Here (In Your Arms) - HelloGoodbye
New Age - Madcap
Golden Years - David Bowie
Get Ready to Rokk - Freeze Pop
Hope You're Happy Now - The Sounds
Smash it to Pieces - Anti-Flag
I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
Arrested in Shanghai - Rancid
Corazon de Oro - NOFX
Lights - The Editors
Rank and File - Anti-Flag
Blind - Face to Face
Story of my Life (Live at KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas) - Social Distortion

Monday, March 5, 2007

Tailpipe Does Not Equal Appendix

This weekend I learned that tailpipes are not the equivalent of the appendix. Tailpipes do in fact serve a purpose and should not be removed prior to driving hundreds of miles at high speeds. Doing so will result in extremely high temperatures that may or may not melt kites stored on the inside of the vehicle and be the impetus for such comments as "that smell (of burning plastic) is definitely coming from our car" and "I think I now have the Nissan logo branded on my right cheek."

Removing the tailpipe may also force the passengers to live like homeless people outside an abandoned restaurant in Thousand Oaks until a generous friend commonly known as The Skanch saves the day.

Once again, tailpipes are not the equivalent of the appendix. Tailpipes do in fact serve a purpose and should not be removed. If extenuating circumstances dictate the removal of the tailpipe, ensure that a plastic kite is stored in the vehicle to serve as an indicator of extreme temperatures. If this advice is not heeded, the vehicle could spontaneously combust and ruin your day.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Once and Future King

My apologies to the faithful readers of this humble blog. Especially to those in Brazil, Western Europe, China, and the Philippines. Yes, I know who you are and I thank you for your support. To my readers in the US, I thank you as well. The blog has experienced a bit of a lull over the last couple of days due to the Succubus that is my job at this time of year. My creative energy has been drained but the return is eminent. I don't want to call it a comeback cause I've been here for years, but on Monday The Blog will be back with a vengeance - Leito style.