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Dazeem

Posted on March 3rd, 2014

Dave!There's some irony that my copy of the Kickstarter-backed book project I wonder what it's like to be dyslexic shows up the day after John Travolta transformed "Idina Menzel" into "Adele Dazeem" while introducing the singer at the Oscars.

I, for one, don't know whether or not John Travolta has dyslexia. It doesn't show up in his Wikipedia profile, and a cursory Google search doesn't reveal an interview where he discusses it. When people talk about John Travolta having dyslexia, I think they are confusing him with fellow Scientologist Tom Cruise, who has stated that Scientology helped him to overcome his dyslexia. Honest mistake, I guess.

However... as somebody who lives with a mild form of dyslexia, I can say that mangling "Idina Menzel" into "Adele Dazeem" certainly feels like something which can be attributed to dyslexia. But not everybody with dyslexia experiences it the same way, so the only person who can say for sure whether it was a factor is... John Travolta.

All I can do is speculate based on my experience, which would go something like this...

For the most part, seeing words as being made up of letters is not how I read. The Roman alphabet upon which English writing is based has letterforms that easily transform or flipped around when viewed individually. Thus my mind can play havoc with "p" and "q" and "d" and "b"... all of which can be mistaken for each other. And that's just the beginning. English has numerous complexities that make understanding words from letters no easy chore.

Nope. How I seem to read is to recognize words by their shape... as most people do, to a certain extent. But since I ignore the letters, which can be confusing, the shape alone is critical to comprehension. Which is why there are many factors that lead to how easily and how quickly I can absorb something. The contrast between letter color and the background color... the size of the text... how far apart the letters are... how wide the letters are... how tired I am... etc. etc. etc. But the biggest factor by far? The typeface (or font) used. If things get too fancy or deviate too far from the standard letterforms I read 96% of the time, my reading speed takes a dive and things get a bit difficult...

Dyslexic Shape

As illustrated above, cursive fonts are the worst. Unlike "standard" serif and sans-serif fonts which maintain a distinct shape... cursive writing just degenerate into a mess of lines to me. There's no "form" for me to pull out of the words, so I have to struggle through the actual letters to try and figure out what I'm reading. As you can imagine, things like wedding invitations, fancy poetry journals, and the like can be a real bitch.

Which brings us to Adele Dazeem.

Reading by shape pretty much requires that most of the words you're reading are words you're familiar with and can recognize.

"Idina" and "Menzel" are not such words. Beautiful as it is, John Smith it ain't. Enter the dyslexic swapity-do, where syllables get shuffled in your head as you strugle to make sense of the letters and what they're spelling to you...

Dyslexic Shuffle

Now, I'm not making excuses here. I don't even know for sure if Travolta is dyslexic. If he is though... the pressure of presenting an unfamiliar and difficult name live in front of a bazillion Oscar viewers is going to be rough-going no matter how much you've prepared. Even if he memorized the intro, it's not a guarantee of success when words are a struggle for you. All I can say for sure is this: If John Travolta is dyslexic, I very much admire the guts it takes to put yourself in a high-pressure situation (like live television) where words are involved.

And while I think it's a bit harsh to make fun of someone who is challenged with something as fundamental as reading... having a sense of humor over stuff like this is kinda essential.

Thus I, Dawid Shunter, give you... The Adele Dazeem Name Generator!

Here's hoping your Monday was better than John Travolta's.

Unless you ARE John Travolta, in which case... I LOVED YOU IN PULP FICTION!

   

Oscars

Posted on February 22nd, 2013

Dave! The Oscars are on Sunday. Here are my picks.

BEST PICTURE: My pick is Django Unchained, which I enjoyed more than all the other films combined (excluding Beasts of the Southern Wild and Les Misérables, neither of which I wanted to see). It won't win, of course, but it completely deserves to (like Inglourious Basterds before it).

BEST ANIMATED PICTURE: Heaven only knows that I wanted Pixar's Brave to blow me away... but, while it was jaw-dropping beautiful to look at, the story just didn't measure up. ParaNorman, Wreck-It Ralph, and The Pirates! Band of Misfits were all good films, but it's Frankenweenie that was my favorite.

BEST SHORT FILM: John Kahrs' Paperman is haunting and beautiful and has Disney magic all over it. The other nominations are great, sure, but Paperman is genius.

BEST DIRECTOR: Ang Lee's absolutely masterful handling of Life of Pi makes him my clear favorite. But who doesn't think Spielberg will take it for Lincoln? But the bigger question... how in the heck did Quentin Tarantino get overlooked for Django Unchained?

BEST ACTOR: While I thought Bradley Coooper gave a winning performance, it's pretty hard not to pick Daniel Day-Lewis for his amazing turn as Lincoln.

BEST ACTRESS: This was a toughie, but I give the nod to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook. She just seemed more necessary to the success of her film.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Yeah, Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln with Christoph Waltz a close second for Django Unchained.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Hated The Master so Amy Adams is out. Didn't think Sally Field disappeared into her role enough in Lincoln. Refused to watch Les Misérables for Anne Hathaway. Thought Helen Hunt was "okay" in The Sessions, but not remarkable. So I guess that leaves Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook... although Anne Hathaway is almost certain to take it.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: The easy choice would be Life of Pi, but I think too much of what made it cinematically amazing was the special effects. Django Unchained would be a solid choice, but I'm going to have to go with Roger Deakins for Skyfall. A big part of what made it such a good film was the stunning cinematography, and the film is definitely Oscar-worthy.

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: For all the reasons I think Life of Pi should not get "Best Cinematography," I think it probably deserves the Oscar for "Best Special Effects." That being said, the incredible visuals of The Battle for New York in The Avengers (not to mention the hundreds of other effects plus Hulk and Iron Man) make me wish a tie could happen here.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: I'm not a fan of Adele's music, but have always liked her as a person in interviews and stuff. And yet... Skyfall was about as good a theme as James Bond movies get, and Adele blew the doors off it.

BEST WRITING, ORIGINAL: I have gone round and round on this, trying to decide between Django Unchained and Moonrise Kingdom, and can't decide. I would be equally thrilled if either won, though Zero Dark Thirty probably has the edge.

BEST WRITING, ADAPTED: Just about everyone (including me) thought that Life of Pi was unfilmable... and yet, here it is. It would be hard not to reward that ingenuity.

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Bullet Sunday 270

Posted on February 26th, 2012

Dave!Don't touch that mouse, Bullet Sunday starts... now.

   
• Higgs Boson. For science geeks like myself, Saturday was kind of a special day, as we were granted an audience with Professor Peter Higgs via a rare interview in The Scotsman. Fresh off of winning the Edinburgh Award, he made the bold prediction that the stupidly nicknamed "God Particle" that bears his name will finally be found this summer after 48 years. Bring on the Nobel Prize.

   
• Joke. Really? Attacking President Kennedy now? I gotta hand it to Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum, he's got balls the size of watermelons to be trash-talking one of this country's most beloved presidents. Especially when Santorum is so petty and insignificant in the grand scheme of things...

Tiny Insignificant Santorum Flea
Santorum's tiny, insignificant, flea-like body from Ambro

How embarrassing. At some point even the craziest of crazies who are supporting this moron are going to wake up and say "What the fuck?!?"

   
• Astronomical. Apparently there was a spectacular alignment of planets happening in the heavens this weekend. Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon are all lining up to some kind of cool visual. I wouldn't know, of course, as the sky was totally overcast...

Planetary Alignment

I swear, no astronomical events ever happen here. I get screwed by the weather every time.

   
• Finally. One of my favorite actors ever, James Earl Jones, was finally given his due with a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award...

James Earl Jones and Oscar
Photo from Luke Macgregor/Reuters

Can you imagine any of his movie appearances with somebody else in the role? Field of Dreams? The Lion King? Sneakers? The voice of CNN? THE VOICE OF DARTH VADER?!? No. No you can't. He's and incredible talent, and seeing him get an Oscar makes the award almost relevant again.

   
• Oscar. I am not a fan of the Academy Awards. They so rarely get it right when it comes to those deserving of a win. Case in point?

Captain America: The First Avenger — Best Picture.
Robert Downey Jr — Best Actor for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
David Fincher — Best Director for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Stanley Tucci — Best Supporting Actor for Captain America: The First Avenger.
Meryl Streep — Best Actress for The Iron Lady.
Jennifer Aniston — Best Supporting Actress for Horrible Bosses.

And how many of those trophies were correctly awarded? One. Congratulations Meryl. You're amazing as always.

   
And now... I've got to pack a suitcase...

   

Bullet Sunday 221

Posted on February 27th, 2011

Dave!Welcome to a fabulous OSCARS EDITION of Bullet Sunday!

   
• Intro! This new tradition of inserting Oscar hosts into scenes from the nominated films just keeps getting better and better. Using technology from Inception, James Franco and Anne Hathaway go into the mind of former Oscar host Alec Baldwin to learn the secrets of hosting the show. The fact that they managed to work in Back to the Future at the end was just the icing on the cake...

Oscars 2011 Intro Montage
Oscar telecast ©2011 by ABC Television

   
• The Winners! Not surprisingly, there were a few awards passed out that I felt could have gone elsewhere, but overall I was happy with the winners. Here's my break-down...

  • Art Direction.
    Who won? Alice in Wonderland — Who should have won? Inception
    Come on. Alice in Wonderland was beautiful to look at, but it was a wacky invention that you couldn't really get wrong. Inception was practically the opposite, having to take the fantastical and make it appear very real, obviously the more difficult of the two... and a good part of what made Inception such a success.
  • Cinematography.
    Who won? Inception — Who should have won? True Grit
    Don't get me wrong... the cinematography in Inception was beautiful, but a lot of the most arresting visuals in the film were computer-generated. True Grit, on the other hand, was a stunning return to the classic grandeur of the Old West, beautifully captured by Roger Deakins.
  • Best Supporting Actress.
    Who won? Melissa Leo, The Fighter
    Who should have won? Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
    First of all, I love Kirk Douglas' contribution to film more than anybody, but this drug-out presentation was just awful. Almost as awful as Melissa Leo's profanity-laden, overly-long acceptance. This was a close call, but I gave the edge to Helena Bonham Carter because I felt her contribution to the film had the biggest impact of the performances I liked best.
  • Best Animated Short Film.
    Who won? The Lost Thing — Who should have won? The Lost Thing
    I admit that I didn't see two of these films, but I'd have a hard time believing anything could have topped The Lost Thing, which was fantastic.
  • Best Animated Feature Film.
    Who won? Toy Story 3 — Who should have won? Toy Story 3
    This was such a difficult choice, as I loved all three films. A part of me was secretly hoping that the beautiful "traditional" animation in Illusionist would pull off a surprise win... but this was truly Toy Story 3's award. Flawlessly animated and hauntingly touching, it was about as perfect as you could hope for in any film, animated or not.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay.
    Who won? The Social Network — Who should have won? The Social Network
    This was the story of a boring-ass legal battle somehow made fascinating by Aaron Sorkin. I'm not the least bit surprised. It's what Sorkin does.
  • Best Original Screenplay.
    Who won? The King's Speech — Who should have won? The King's Speech
    I wanted The King's Speech to win just so I could hear the speech by the guy who wrote The King's Speech! It was a great movie... my pick for best film... but I also wanted The Kids Are All Right to win because it was such a witty and special story that really should be getting more recognition.
  • Best Supporting Actor.
    Who won? Christian Bale, The Fighter
    Who should have won? Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
    I am a massively huge fan of Christian Bale, and truly believe he gives Oscar-worthy performances in just about every single role he takes. On top of it all, his acceptance speech tonight was perfect, making me appreciate him all the more. The problem is that I just wasn't a big fan of The Fighter. Yes, he was wonderful in it, but Geoffrey Rush was equally wonderful in a film I liked a lot better. Still, congratulations, Christian.
  • Best Original Score.
    Who won? The Social Network — Who should have won? The Social Network
    Seriously. Trent. Reznor. It seems like only yesterday he was screaming "I WANT TO FUCK YOU LIKE AN ANIMAL!" and here he is accepting a well-deserved Oscar with Attcus Ross for their absolutely wonderful work on the music for The Social Network. Out of all the awards handed out tonight, this is the only one which would have caused me to go insane if The Academy got it wrong.
  • Best Visual Effects.
    Who won? Inception — Who should have won? Iron Man 2
    Look, the special effects in Inception were nothing short of amazing. Seriously mind-bendingly wonderful stuff in there. But I gotta give it up for Iron Man 2's team who managed to not only create the title character in a totally believable way, but an entire array of bad guys for him to fight as well. The entire film depended on it, and the effects team delivered. But that wasn't even what made the visual effects so incredible. The best part was that the effects team showed incredible restraint in not burying Robert Downey Jr.'s flawless performance. In every case the effects accented the film instead of standing out in a way that distracted from it.
  • Best Film Editing.
    Who won? The Social Network — Who should have won? The Social Network
    The flow of this story could have been completely sabotaged by shitty editing, but that didn't happen. The way they cut in some subtle (yet very effective) edits to keep even static moments moving really worked for the film.
  • Best Director.
    Who won? Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
    Who should have won? David Fincher, The Social Network
    I'm not complaining that Tom Hooper won. Truly The King's Speech was a beautifully directed film and his efforts are well-deserving. I certainly enjoyed his acceptance speech. But I thought Fincher's job on The Social Network was probably the more challenging of the two, and should have got the shiny gold statue.
  • Best Actress.
    Who won? Natalie Portman, Black Swan
    Who should have won? Natalie Portman, Black Swan
    I really didn't like Black Swan, but there's no denying Natalie Portman's performance in it was brilliant. She had to have put a lot of hard work into that role, and it paid off in spades. I never saw Blue Valentine, but if Michelle William's performance was anywhere near the others, she deserved her nomination.
  • Best Actor.
    Who won? Colin Firth, The King's Speech
    Who should have won? Colin Firth, The King's Speech
    Colin Firth's performance was staggering, and his Oscar win was both expected and deserved. But, man, did Jesse Eisenberg make The Social Network worth watching. I was truly torn in my pick this year, but ultimately thought Mr. Firth had the more challenging role.
  • Best Picture.
    Who won? The King's Speech — Who should have won? The King's Speech
    By having a narrative from The King's Speech run through the roll of all ten films that were nominated, it's pretty obvious who was projected to win. And while I was a bit torn between that film, Toy Story 3, True Grit, The Social Network, and Inception for my favorite movie (DISCLOSURE: I haven't seen Winter's Bone yet), The King's Speech was my pick for best picture. I might have went with Toy Story 3 if it weren't a lock for best animated picture... or The Social Network if it held up a little better on second-viewing... but the right film won the Oscar.

   
• Wrap-Up! Though James Franco faltered a bit at times, overall he and Anne Hathaway did a surprisingly good job hosting the show. The musical performances were mercifully short and half-way decent (including Gwyneth Paltrow, who I thought did a pretty good job considering she's not a professional singer... it was crazy seeing all the online haters unload on her while she performed). I also thought the presentations went very well. It will be interesting to see who hosts next year.

   
Annnnd... I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, so I guess that's all she wrote. See you at the movies.

   

Crasher

Posted on March 8th, 2010

Dave!I can't help myself. I love Crasher Squirrel!

Crasher Squirrel in The Hurt Locker

Crasher Squirrel in Avatar

Crasher Squirrel in District 9

Crasher Squirrel in Inglourious Basterds

Crasher Squirrel in Precious

   

I don't understand why somebody hasn't him to a picture development deal... he's Oscar gold!

   

Bullet Sunday 173

Posted on March 7th, 2010

Dave!Blergh. Muh head is assploding on Buwett Swunday! Sinus infections suck.

   
• Oscar.
Look, I liked The Hurt Locker as much as anybody (I saw it twice in theaters and bought the Blu-Ray), but winning Best Original Screenplay over Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds? What the hell? I can see The Hurt Locker taking Best Picture over Basterds, I'm right there with that... but Screenplay?? Seriously? It's things like this that makes me want to swear off ever watching the Academy Awards each year.

   
• Can't. I have had at least a dozen people tell me that I need to see The Cove which just won Best Documentary. I love films of all kinds and am a huge fan of documentaries, but I cannot watch anything where dolphins are slaughtered. That's a weakness I'm perfectly willing to live with...

Swimming with Dolphins

   
• Strange. Katheryn Bigelow was well-known to me long before she directed The Hurt Locker. Mostly because of this poster which has hung on my bedroom wall for the past 13 years...

Strange Days Poster

Her movie Strange Days is one of my all-time favorite films. Written by (her then husband?) James Cameron, it's just cool entertainment. It has a great cast (I fell hopelessly in love with Angela Bassett after this performance), a really good story, an intriguing premise, and most everything else I love about the movies. The fact that it was so beautifully directed was just icing on the cake. All I can do is hope that the Oscar win for Kathryn Bigelow will mean we finally get a release of Strange Days on Blu-Ray.

As an added bonus, Kathryn Bigelow also directed a movie in 2000 called The Weight of Water starring the incomparable Elizabeth Hurley... TOPLESS!! I owe Kathryn Bigelow a massive debt for that astounding moment of brilliance in cinematic history, so congratulations on your Academy Awards!

   
• Teaser. The stupid-ass "teasers" that television news shows do during commercial breaks are getting more and more asinine. Shows like "Entertainment Tonight" always waste time before taking a break telling you what's coming up after the break. It's stupid, but nobody cares because it's not like you'll die if you miss anything on "Entertainment Tonight." You can, however, die from missing something on the news...

"And this just in... another big auto-maker launching a recall. We'll show you what cars pose a risk for your safety this time! It's eleven minutes of uninterrupted news at 11:00 on KIRO 7... tonight!"

Yes, let's not just come out and say which cars might kill you as a public service in the name of safety... instead let's keep it a secret so we can whore out our shitty local news program. Whatever.

   
And now my sinuses are smooshing into my brain, so I should probably go to bed.

   

Oscars

Posted on March 6th, 2010

Dave!My head-cold only lasted 24 hours, but the resulting sinus infection is ongoing. Yesterday the pain was so bad that I had to leave work early, which meant that my planned half-day of work today turned into a full-day of work. I wouldn't have minded so much, except the weather outside was so beautiful. It makes me miss my motorcycle.

Of course, right now what I really miss is having the energy to stay out of bed all day. The antibiotics really wipe me out, so pretty much all I can do is work and sleep. This is a darn shame, because I've got a to-do list a mile long before I start traveling again in two weeks.

Hopefully I'll have the energy to make it through The Oscars tomorrow night...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Hosts The Oscars

In general, I find The Oscars to be a load of crap, but it still makes for an interesting evening of television.

My "best movie" last year was Star Trek. For sheer entertainment value, I just can't seem to get enough of it. But it wasn't nominated for Best Picture, so I'd probably have to go with Inglourious Basterds, followed closely by District 9 and The Hurt Locker which were all amazing films. So was Moon but it wasn't nominated either. The odds of Inglourious Basterds winning Best Picture are slim, but I think it's a lock for Best Original Screenplay (and deservedly so).

As far as Best Director, I think that Kathryn Bigelow nailed it with Hurt Locker, but I wouldn't be unhappy if James Cameron got it, because his fingerprints are on every frame of Avatar, which is a magnificient achievement in filmmaking. And, of course, I'm not going to have any complaints if Quentin Tarantino wins. Ever.

I don't care about any of the actor categories except Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz. His incredible performance in Inglourious Basterds is about as Oscar-worthy a role as you will ever see.

Speaking of Inglourious Basterds, it's my pick for Best Editing. Quentin's films are always paced impeccably, and the way the various storylines are so perfectly woven together in the editing room is a testament to Tarantino's vision.

The Best Animated Feature Film I saw last year was probably Up, which had a really good story behind it (though I thought the actual "traditional" animation on either Ponyo or The Secret of Kells was the best of the lot). That being said, I also enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, and Princess and the Frog so I'd be happy with any of them winning. As for Best Animated Short, that clearly has to go to Nick Park for his Wallace & Gromit short A Matter of Loaf and Death.

Art Direction and Visual Effects are clearly Avatar's to win. This is the future of filmmaking, and has opened entirely new worlds in movies.

I'd give Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Makeup to Star Trek on principle.

The other categories I don't have enough information to make an opinion on.

Of course, this is The Oscars, so I'll be lucky if even one of my picks is actually a winner. But there you have it.

   

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