My own personal opinions, analyzations, and interpretations of pop culture. If I'm lucky, some if it might even be insightful. Also, I am kind of a nerd.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

12 Days Later...

... I actually update. Sorry. I've got about four posts worth of material floating around in my head, I just haven't had the wherewithal to update for one reason or another. As it is, I'm feeling a little more together now, so I think I can make an honest go at making this blog regular.

As promised, here are some stories from my time in San Francisco thus far.

I Can't Believe No One Else Saw That, Pt. 1:
I'm walking down Market St., trying to find a job, when I hear angry yelling. I look over to see a homeless man verbally accosting a sign informing pedestrians not to litter. The homeless man is holding a piece of paper trash (looked like maybe the paper a sandwich place wraps your sandwich in) and screaming things along the lines of "You can't tell me what to do!" and "Stop trying to control my life!". He angrily storms off after about thirty seconds. It's at this point I notice that the sign is actually attached to a trashcan. Yes, that's right, there was a trashcan there the whole time. I then realize that not one other person on the street seemed to notice this at all. The fact that this sort of thing happens often enough that the population of the city has become desensitized to it is hilarious to me.

Parties At Isotope:
Are pretty neat. I've been to two since I arrived here, and enjoyed myself at both of them. According to Ian, I missed Marv Wolfman by about 20 minutes at the first one. Bollocks. You can see a video of myself, Ian, and my friend and roommate Jennie attending one of these parties, at Ian's blog Brill Building. (Okay guys, I am computer stupid. How the hell do I insert a link into these posts?)

I Can't Believe No One Else Saw That, Pt. 2:
Another time in the general vicinity Market St., I saw a guy jog hurriedly out of an alley holding a wallet in hand. He slowed to a walk and began sifting through the wallet, pulling out the cash and credit cards. He then dumped the wallet in the trash. Mildly horrified at the possibilities this implied, I took a look down the alley, but saw nothing.

Totally Awesome Restaurants:
I found a place on Market ("found" is used loosely, as it is prominently featured on one of the largest streets in the city) called Opi's that's got pretty decent food at extremely reasonable prices, especially for Market St. You can get a burger and fries for a little less than six bucks, that's on the cheap side even by small-town Ventura standards. There is also a good, affordable sushi place called KiKi that Jennie brought be to yesterday. It is Hayao Miyazaki themed, thus making it the best restaurant that has ever existed.

Fisherman's Wharf:
Is kind of horrible. It's absolutely flooded with far too many people (most of them tourists) and the best thing I've found about it thus far is an In 'N Out. Don't go there.

If You Live On Treasure Island, No One Cares About You:
So, last night we almost ended up stranded in the city because, without warning, it was decided that the East Bay Bridge was going to undergo "nighttime construction" until 5 a.m. Fortunately we found out that there was still bus service, it was just at extremely lengthy intervals instead of the regular schedule. Crisis averted, but a very unpleasant experience. Also, twice now, they've decided to have a big freight boat come right up alongside the shore our house is on and start shooting huge, county fair-type fireworks practically right over the top of us. It's enough to rattle the windows in the house and feel the concussive force blow against your face. It's actually kind of a neat show, but if I was ever woken up by it (they do it at night) I would probably be moderately irate. We can handle it, though. Being residents of Treasure Island we are, by default, pirates and pirates are the toughest things that ever lived. Ha ha. "Irate". "Pirate". Hah.

Canvas: The Number One Watering Hole For Professional Douchebags:
Jennie brought me to this place yesterday. I haven't seen so many hipsters in one spot since I saw Elliott Smith in concert. Add to that the fact that this place is a coffee shop but the cheapest thing on the menu was about seven dollars, and I can guarantee you I probably won't set foot in there again.

Places That Are Pretty Nice:
I'll wrap this up with a couple recommendations. So far, I've liked the Sunset area of San Francisco the best. Lots of neat stores and excellent restaurants. Hayes Street is also nice, as it's got a good video store and both Isotope and a good pizza place are located in the general area. On market there's a great Italian coffee place, the name of which escapes me at the moment. The guy who founded it was apparently a good friend of Francis Ford Coppola, and helped him out with the script for The Godfather. Cool, huh?

Okay, I'm sure there are a couple things I'm forgetting about here, but there's always future posts for them. Next post will likely cover the excellent experience I had at the early showing of Snakes On A Plane.

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Would you like to help the Democrats take back congress?"

Yes. I was actually asked that question today. My response was a polite "No, thanks". I fail to understand how my signing his piece of paper on a clipboard will somehow magically transform the Democratic Party into a more capable political force. I mean, I know that I am totally awesome, but I don't think that even I could compensate for that level of impotence.

Anyways, that's about enough about politics. It's a subject I avoid whenever possible.

So far that's been the only complaint I have about San Francisco (or at least Market St.). There are forty billion (that's an exaggeration, kids) people trying to get you to sign something. Oh, and the worst so far have been the "Save the Kids" people. First of all, if you're so concerned about the goddamn kids, then why are you coming at me with a hard sales pitch? I worked a year for Block Buster, a large corporate entity. I know what a hard sell is, I've done them myself (and I'm not bad at it either). In all honesty, I've considered sponsoring a kid before, seems like a pretty okay thing to do. But as of right now I've just moved out for the first time and I'm in "scraping by" mode until I get a job. So I asked them for their website, and they said they had one, but wouldn't give it to me because I should just sign up now if I really cared about the kids. Way to go, ass. See, if I really had no interest at all, then you weren't getting me anyways, but if I did then I'd do it myself on the website, so why risk irritating me to the point that I'm not even going to do that just to spite you guys fore being a bunch of pushy jerks? I don't know how coherent those last couple sentences were, but I get ornery just thinking about this so I apologize.

The guy said "Dude, I moved here from Arkansas and was living in my car, but my first day in the city I started sponsoring a kid." I should have responded "Congratulations, you made a stupid decision and you don't deserve the obvious luck you received to prevent it from biting you in the ass", but I'm just too nice. Come to think of it, he probably pulled it off because he just started working for them after he signed up. I would never do that, though, because at least when I'm working customer service the people have to make a conscious choice to be irritated by me.

Anyways, it's been just about a week since I got here and I must say I'm enjoying myself a vast majority of the time. Finding a job has been a little bit more difficult than I planned on, but that's not really anything to worry about. I've seen a couple weird/awesome/hilarious things since I got here, and I should have a post about all of those tomorrow. For now I'm going to do a brief little blurb on the music I've been listening to since I got here, which interestingly has been a radical change from what I was listening to prior (it's all stuff I've had in my CD collection, my rotation has just changed quite a bit).

The Rentals - Return of The Rentals: Anybody who thinks Matt Sharp's departure from Weezer was not one of the integral factors in devastating drop in the band's quality post-Pinkerton should listen to this album because I guarantee you it will change your mind. Pretty much all of the good, distorted rock from the first two Weezer albums with an extra shot of fun, plus pretty lady vocals which, for me, always improves the quality of any music.

Queen - Best of: Red and Best of: Blue: I was actually starting in on my most recent Queen phase a little bit before I came up here, but now I've been listening to them quite a bit at night while reading or playing video games. I shouldn't have to explain to anyone why Queen is good, so on to the next one.

Stars - Heart: This band is just flat-out nice to listen to. Pretty keyboard-centric rock with wonderful vocals by lead singer Amy Millan (I have an unapologetic bias towards female singers, accept it). It's probably the most pleasant and relaxing music I have. Great for reading or as just nice background music. Also, Amy Millan is a member of Broken Social Scene for those of you who like to be in-the-know.

I've also been listening to a smattering of Sleater-Kinney, but that doesn't need to be mentioned because when am I not? I only bring it up because today I bought a used copy of Call The Doctor to finally complete my collection of their studio albums.

Okay, that's it for now. Tomorrow you get Slightly Interesting Stories From San Francisco.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Transmission Interrupted: Are You Jewish?"

I sleep easier at night knowing that people with the perfect kind of crazy, such as Gene Ray, exist in the world. Who says the only kind of entertainment on the internet is porn?

So, big surprise, moving is a lot more hectic than I expected. That's why there haven't been any updates for the past four or so days. Thing will probably be pretty sketchy for the next week or so as I don't have a computer up here so I'll have to find a decent internet cafe before I can get my desired regular daily updates going. I'm typing this entry on my friend's laptop while sitting in a very uncomfortable position, so I'm not taking the time to really spell check this, so if there are any egregious offenses to the English language in here, I apologize.

I have to say that I am really enjoying 52. It's a clever gimmick, sure, but they've backed it up with solid plot and a nice selection of characters to spotlight. I'm particularly interested in the new character of Isis as her primary function appears to be keeping Black Adam leaning towards the "good guy" camp, and I find his role as a foil to Captain Marvel more interesting when he's being considered a "good guy". However, her recent character development has smacked of a "will turn evil" or "will make a bad decision in a moment of weakness and suffer a tragic fall from grace" and I would really rather that not be the case. I feel she has the potential to bring a lot to the dynamics of the Marvel family.

Ok, that little blurb is about all I've got energy for right now. I will quickly recommend that you go see Talladega Nights, as it delivers a pretty solid laugh.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Update + Bonus Content.

Didn't get around to making a post yesterday, so I'm going to tack something extra on to the end of this one to make up for it. I'm sure that you all will enjoy it.

I leave for San Francisco on Saturday. It's really weird, packing up your whole life into boxes. Even more so with the boxes I may not open for years to come, though I somehow get the feeling my reaction will be less "Oh, how nostalgic" and more "I can't believe I didn't want to just throw this crap away".

I'm moving into a house on Treasure Island, San Francisco. It is a mostly artificial island roughly equidistant between San Francisco and Oakland, though it is legally part of San Francisco. The island is serviced by San Francisco's public transit system, and it is a mere 10-minute bus ride from the island to the city via the trans-bay bridge.

The island was originally constructed to host the World's Fair, and then converted to a naval base during World War II. A portion of the enlisted men and officer's housing has been converted into a residential neighborhood, and the rest of the island is littered with countless abandoned hangars, administrative buildings, and other military facilities. Cost of living on the island is low relative to the rest of the city as it is considered a largely undesirable location and this, combined with the house being split six ways, results in my dirt-cheap rent of $450 a month.

I will be the only person living in the house that does not go to the San Francisco Art Institute. One my roommates is my best friend, and the rest are all classmates of hers I met when I took a trip up to visit about a month and a half ago. I'm going to attend San Francisco City College and eventually apply for transfer to San Francisco State and Berkeley. I am going to need a job, and I'm gunning for something in the area of music, movie, comic, or book store. I've never worked at a music or book store, but I do have experience working in a video store and a comic shop.

Speaking of work, tomorrow is my last day of it at my current job. I work at Ralph's Comic Corner in Ventura, CA and it's more or less the job I've always wanted since I was 10. It's pretty much the greatest comics shop ever. Go there and buy lots of things (end shameless plug).

There's likely a lot more I could say about the experience of moving, but I'm exhausted right now and that's all that will come to my head at the moment. More as I actually go through the process. Tomorrow I think I might list some good comics to look into for any of you reading this that don't read them (which is, come to think of it, probably very few).

Anyways, here's the bonus material: A hilarious little video brought to you by Comrade Mike, one of my very good friends. It's not really inappropriate... but not exactly appropriate, either.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Andy Lau Is A Complete Badass.

If you don’t believe the above statement, then just treat yourselves to two of the three Movies That Are Pretty Awesome featured here, for you convenience.

Infernal Affairs: Lau Kin Ming (Andy Lau) is a Triad mole inserted into the police force at a young age by a powerful crime boss. Chan Wing Yan (Tony Leung, who some of you may recognize from Hero) is seemingly thrown out of the police academy only to be inserted into organized crime as a mole in order to make use of his impressive cognitive abilities. Ten years later, Ming has risen to success in the police force, working under Police Superintendent Wong, the only person who can identify Yan for who he truly is. Superintendent Wong has begun gunning for the same crime boss that both controls Ming and is Yan’s newest assignment. The two moles become locked in a bizarre circle of trying to uncover the other’s identity, while preserving the secrecy of their own. This movie is the master of dramatic tension. Andy Lau is excellent as usual, and Tony Leung receives much more of a chance to showcase his considerable talent than he did in Hero, which was relatively lukewarm on plot. There’s an American remake in the works, titled The Departed, and it’s going to be a bit of a big deal. They’ve landed Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg.

Fulltime Killer: This film is very similar to Infernal Affairs in that it centers around two professionals trying to beat each other at their own game. This movie is much more action-oriented, however, and focuses on the exploits of two career assassins. O, a young Japanese man, is the master assassin in the underworld. Not a particularly cruel man, he views killing as nothing other than work and charges top dollar for a quick, efficient, professional job. Tok, a charismatic Chinese man, is the opposite of O in every way: loud, inelegant, flashy, and lacking in the raw natural talent possessed by O. He makes up for this through sheer tenacity and a willingness to take any job offered him. Tok, showman that he is, has decided that it is time for him to be number one, and openly challenges O. There is, of course, also a woman involved. It’s not what you think, but to explain any more would spoil the truly wonderful character and what she brings to the film. Action fans will appreciate the realistic, authentic Hong Kong-style action scenes, and film snobs will appreciate the rather ingenious third act narrative shift that provides a wonderful last-minute mystery. This movie is proof positive that good action and exceptional writing are not mutually exclusive.

The Rules Of The Game: The last two movies were very similar, so here is a bit of a curveball for you. A French comedy/drama from 1939, The Rules Of The Game more or less defined the “love triangle” mechanic in modern film. French pilot André Jurieux is in love with an attractive young socialite (I honestly cannot remember all of the names for this, so you’ll have to bear with me. I’m bad with French names and too lazy to IMDB it right now) who happens to be married to a very wealthy man. The object of André’s affection convinces her husband to invite him out to his hunting chateau for the yearly get-together he holds there. There are even more love triangles present among the staff and guests, and everyone’s personal agendas and actions all pile up on everyone else’s. The movie is hilarious, and much of it feels fresh by today’s standards. The film, despite being a satire of the self-destructive nature of French high society, does an excellent job of making you sympathize with the characters which makes it all the more jarring when they completely sacrifice their integrity for selfish reasons. The camera work is also fantastic, most of it quite wonderful by today’s standards, and mind-boggling when put in the context of the late 30’s.

Well, there you have it, three movies that I personally think are pretty neat. All are available at most video stores and on Netflix. Infernal Affairs has two sequels, though I’ve never seen them personally.

More info about the actual move tomorrow.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

We Are Go For Launch.

Welcome to the very first post here at "Tales From Treasure Island", the very first attempt at serious (hah) blogging by me, Nathan Williams.

This, like most blogs, is mostly going to be used for my musings on popular (and not so popular) culture. However, I would also like to use it to occasionally chronicle the stories of my move to Treasure Island, San Francisco and whatever adventures find me there. In six days I leave the home I have lived nearly my entire life in for the only decent city in California.

Yes, that's right. The first "Tale From Treasure Island" isn't actually from Treasure Island. So shoot me.

Over the next couple of posts, I'll be recording the experience of moving in and also give a general rundown of the rather bizarre mid-bay island I'm going to be calling home.

First, however, I'm going to give a few quick blurbs on one of my all-time favorite subjects: Really Awful Movies.

Vampire Wars: Battle For The Universe: Okay, seriously. The secondary title is "Battle For The Universe". Immediately upon reading that, my friends and I knew we had a gem. The opening line for this sci-fi tale of space-faring vampire hunters is "There is intelligent life out there: most of it vampiric". Being a low-budget Canadian monster flick, the universe of course consists of about six sound stages and a small forest probably located near a roadside campground. They spared no expense, however, when it came to landing Michael Ironside as the evil vampire leader, Muco. The vampires have different species, by the way, and are given classifications based on slasher movie antagonists. Expect a lot of lines like "We have to outrun these Leatherfaces!". This movie truly has to be seen to be believed.

The Wickeds: Ron Jeremy is a grave robber. That, alone, makes this worth a rent. Don't get me wrong, this movie is supremely awful in every way, but it's got Ron Jeremy as a freakin' grave robber. Mr. Jeremy and his grave-robbing partner join a passel of teenagers locked up in an old house trying to survive a zombie attack. Also, despite being a zombie movie, a girl is killed by a ghost for some reason.

Final Destination 3: This movie, like its predecessors, would not be worth mentioning if it wasn't for the perverse sense of brilliance that manages to permeate a few scenes. The movie only clocks in at about an hour and a half, so it's actually pretty worth it wading through the crap to get to the good stuff. I rented it due to the much-hyped "choose your own outcome" option toted on the DVD, but that turned out to be mostly a dud as there are not many opportunities and the changes are very inconsequential. But regardless, if waiting in suspense to see how the lead actress from Noggin's Instant Star is going to be killed isn't entertainment, then I don't know what is.

Ok. That's all I've got for now. I think I'll follow this up with a Movies That Are Pretty Awesome.