Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Darth Sidious addresses the Republic Senate in 'Revenge of the Sith'.

2005 BOX OFFICE WRAP-UP... With all of its contenders for the box office crown either in release or now gone, ranging from this summer's War of the Worlds with $234 million to Hairy Pothead and the Goblet of Fire and The Chronicles of Narnia currently at $262 and $165 million each, respectively, it’s safe to say that this year was indeed the Year of the Sith. Revenge of the Sith made an overall $380.3 million at the domestic box office alone, with potential threat King Kong not being potential at all. In its 13th day of release, Kong has made $121 million in the domestic B.O., while Sith made $275 million within the same amount of days. Sith is currently #1 in opening day grosses, top 4 and 5-day grosses, and the fastest film to reach the $100 and $300 million marks, while King Kong is number one in the, um, err...let me check—nothing? Sorry, just expressing some pre-Academy Awards bias against Kong before it takes the Best Visual FX Oscar away from Sith this March, haha. Just kidding. I mentioned this to point out the fact that Sith is the fifth Star Wars film to be the box office king for the year it came out. Attack of the Clones is the only exception...with Spider-Man and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers both taking the spotlight away from it in 2002.

Commander Bacara and his troops turn on Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi in 'Revenge of the Sith'.

It’ll be interesting to see if Sith gets more Oscar nominations (in the technical categories such as Costume Design and Sound Editing, that is) than the two previous prequels. If not, then oh well. As long as it doesn’t get any Razzie nominations, that's for sure! And it doesn’t deserve any, unlike Clones and The Phantom Menace (Natalie Portman was the weakest link in Episode III, but not to the point where she deserves a Raspberry Award. Hmm... Actually, let me think about that). Other than that, bring on 2006!! There are absolutely NO films coming out next year that I am as eager to see as Sith, but whatever. Let’s see how much Superman Returns, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, The Da Vinci Code and X-Men 3 make in the box office... Don’t get me wrong, I definitely want to see those films. But it's not like I'm gonna buy their soundtracks or any related merchandise (Da Vinci Code action figures? Haha) before they come out. Anyway... I called Harry Potter Hairy Pothead on purpose. I’ve been doing that ever since The Sorceror’s Stoned came out in 2001. ‘Nuff said.

Yoda impales a clonetrooper with his lightsaber.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Sam and Dean Winchester try to ward off Bloody Mary in 'Supernatural'.

SUPERNATURAL... I began watching the WB hit a few weeks ago, and needless to say, it is one cool and at times scary TV show...even scarier than The X-Files (though I don’t think The X-Files wasn’t necessarily suppose to be scary, but just deal with Area 51 and the paranormal, haha). In case you don’t watch the show, it revolves around two brothers who are out to find their dad, who went missing after a hunting trip. The dad just so happens to be a ghost hunter, and he left behind a book with all the notes he took on dealing with different supernatural occurrences and evil spirits. The brothers use that book to fight these demons as they go about searching for their dad.

I only watched two episodes of the show so far, but these episodes were definitely fascinating. The first episode I watched dealt with the Wendigo—a half man/half beast who in Indian myth preys on human beings in the forest. The other episode I watched dealt with (should I even type this? Haha) Bloody Mary. Even though this episode borrowed an element or two from the film The Ring (especially at the end of this episode... The pic above is from the climax), the story was still interesting. I think what makes Supernatural so appealing, other than the fact the two brothers ride in a sleek '67 Chevy Impala (just being facetious), is that the show borrows from actual ghost legends... The X-Files did too—and so did other shows that copied the Chris Carter hit—but mostly during the “monster” episodes (The X-Files had two kinds of episodes... The ‘mythology episodes’, which is the overall storyline of Fox Mulder trying to find his sister amidst a government conspiracy, and the ‘monster episodes’, where Mulder and Scully literally dealt with creatures like the Chupacabra. Sorry for veering off-topic). Supernatural is gonna be aired everyday this week, so I definitely need to watch it and catch up on all the episodes I missed. It’s at 9 PM (Pacific Standard Time)...which means I’ll miss the special episode of FOX’s House tonight. Oh well... Tonight’s House episode is a rerun anyway, haha. Unless Supernatural airs at 8 PM, the same time slot as the new episode of Arrested Development, then I'm screwed.

EDIT: Nope, Supernatural aired at 9 PM. And tonight's episode was about Sam and Dean (the two brothers) trying to stop a demon who possessed air travelers and caused them to crash the planes. Cool.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!! Hope you and yours are having a safe and tubular holiday... Tubular, haha... Yes, this is the same thing I typed for my Xmas entry last year...except for the ‘tubular’ part. Anyways, to bring up news that I was too lazy to type more than a week earlier, on December 14, I worked the very last taping of the TV sitcom, Yes, Dear (in case you don’t know yet, this is the CBS show’s final season). This was the first and last time I ever worked on that show. Oh well. The next day, I attended the annual Christmas party at Paramount Studios (where Yes, Dear was filmed). Par bought off Dreamworks just a few weeks ago...which obviously gives Par employees something to cheer about for the holidays, and hopefully next year’s holidays...when the studio store on the Par lot will presumably be able to sell Dreamworks DVD titles like Gladiator and Saving Private Ryan. Once again, I reiterate the word presumably. Oh, and Par is what Variety magazine calls Paramount in its articles (Variety calls TV shows "skeins", or something like that...the ABC channel the "Alphabet", NBC the "Peacock", filming a movie is "lensing" a movie, and film directors are called “helmers”...as in James Cameron was Titanic's helmer. Or I may be wrong. That's showbiz jargon for ya, haha).

The main cast of 'Yes, Dear'.

This week, I watched Munich, King Kong and Fun With Dick and Jane—all in that particular order. I’m too lazy to write full reviews on them, so I’ll just say Munich was serious, King Kong was less serious, and Fun wasn't serious at all (well obviously). Going back to King Kong, the special effects were a lot better than I thought (I still say WETA isn’t up there with ILM yet). In fact, I think King Kong might take next spring’s Best Visual FX Oscar...even though I’m rooting for Revenge of the Sith to do that. Kong should also be nominated for Best Make-up, since the face prosthetics on those Skull Island natives looked pretty freaky. Naomi Watts, unsurprisingly, looked hot in this pic, though I think, um, helmer Peter Jackson could’ve deleted some of her close-ups at the end. It was a tad bit too many. Her character has feelings for Kong, we get the picture!! Though Watts is pretty darn talented— She juggles, and she does somersaults! Haha. Up next, I want to see Syriana and Memoirs of a Geisha. C’mon now, gotta show that Asian pride!! Oh, and the cinematography on Geisha looks great...from what I saw in the trailers.

Munich poster.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The New Horizons spacecraft lies atop its Boeing third stage rocket motor at Kennedy Space Center.
Click here to view the live webcam feed from Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station in Florida
( RealOne Player is required for viewing),
or view the
snapshots if your computer does not support RealOne.

New Horizons will be the world's first ever mission to Pluto, and just the fifth spacecraft to be sent on an escape route out of the solar system, never to return but to wander the galaxy for millions of years.

29 DAYS, 4 HOURS, 27 MINUTES AND 59, 58, 57, 56, 55 SECONDS REMAINING... Less than a month from now, the New Horizons spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a 9-year voyage to the distant world of Pluto. Over the next few weeks, you’ll probably see this Blog constantly being updated with news on this historic flight. New Horizons is now installed on the Atlas V rocket that will launch it into space and onto its route towards the outer solar system. New Horizons will be the fastest space probe ever flown (I think... The two Voyager space probes may be faster); being the size of a grand piano, weighing a mere 1,054 pounds when fully fueled at launch and flying at a speed of 36,000 mph...which will allow it to fly past the Moon within 9 hours (it took the Apollo astronauts 3 days to get to the Moon) and reach Jupiter in February of 2007, a brisk 13 months after Horizons’ launch (it took the now defunct Galileo spacecraft 6 years to get to Jupiter). And if all goes well, the craft will arrive at the 9th rock from the Sun (make that the 5th rock... gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Your Anu—err, Uranus and Neptune don’t count. And neither do the Asteroid Field nor the gas giants' hundreds of moons) in July of 2015. Below is the list of things to do before next month’s launch [the schedule can obviously change (and it has)]:

(Warning: LOTS of geek talk below... But I think you can pretty much guess that after reading what I typed above)

Last Tuesday, December 13
The installation of the New Horizons/Boeing third stage rocket motor stack (shown in the photo above) inside the nose cone fairing of the Atlas V-551 rocket (provided by Lockheed Martin) that will launch Horizons into space. The process is known as “encapsulation”. I’m sure you wanted to know that...

Last Friday, December 16
Transportation of the encapsulated New Horizons stack to the launch pad (Launch Complex 41, or LC-41) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Last Saturday, December 17
Mating of the New Horizons stack to the Atlas V rocket inside LC-41’s vehicle assembly building (also known as the Vertical Integration Facility, or VIF in nerd jargon).

Wednesday, December 21
An "Integrated Systems Test" will be conducted to ensure good wiring connections between the Atlas V vehicle and New Horizons payload.

Tuesday, January 3
Launch preps resume after the holiday break. Technicians will begin conducting inspections on the Atlas V's first stage fuel tank that has delayed New Horizons' launch to January 17. Liftoff was originally suppose to take place on January 11.

Around January 13 - 14
The installation of the plutonium power source (also known as the, um, err, Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator...or RTG) onto New Horizons. Solar panels are effectively useless beyond Mars’ orbit, which is why Horizons needs to use nuclear fuel to run its electrical systems. The plutonium used is non-weapons-grade.

Monday, January 16
The transportation of the fully-assembled Atlas V rocket from the VIF to the launch pad.

Liftoff is scheduled for 1:24 PM, Eastern Standard Time. Once New Horizons is in space, it will be roughly 47-51 minutes before flight controllers on the ground make radio contact with the spacecraft. Horizons has till Saturday, January 28, to launch on a trajectory that will still take it past Jupiter in 2007 and arrive at Pluto in 2015.

Schedule courtesy of SpaceflightNow.com

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Reggie Bush receives the Heisman Trophy award.

Bush for President in ’08!! No, not that Bush. I meant Reggie Bush...who is the third USC player in four years to win the Heisman Trophy (behind his boy Leinart and Carson Palmer), and the seventh Trojan overall to win this honor, tying Notre Dame for most wins of college sports’ most prestigious individual award. This oughta motivate the tailback to really haul ass and make more highlight reels during the Rose Bowl next month. Of course, this will also motivate Vince Young to get revenge when the Longhorns face Bush and Company on January 4. Oh well. Can’t wait!!

Reggie Bush leaps over a UCLA defender for the touchdown.

EDIT: Rest in peace, Mr. Pryor (1940-2005).

Comedian Richard Pryor.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Peter Jackson's KING KONG... Don't know how good the movie is gonna be (since I haven't read up on any of the reviews yet), though visually it looks like a cross between Jurassic Park and Titanic (don't get me wrong I like Park. And, um—cough, coughTitanic), but the posters sure are awesome. I think these two are the best ones:

King King movie poster 1.

King King movie poster 2.

EDIT: King Kong is currently at 95% on RottenTomatoes.com. As usual, Slant Magazine is the lone dissenter in giving the film a negative review.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

USC: 66, UCLA: 19... The game obviously wasn’t as exciting as the Fresno one, what with the Bulldogs actually showing up for that game and all, but at least the Trojans were decisive in playing their way into a showdown with the Longhorns on January 4. So much for that cross-town rivalry, eh? Reminded me of the days when the Clippers were still the biatches of the Lakers...which was as recent as, um, 2003. Don’t worry, though— The Bruins will one day get revenge on the Trojans and make it to the BCS title game (assuming the BCS system isn’t completely abandoned by the time UCLA makes its way to the #1 spot in the nation), the same way the Clippers are 11-5 in the NBA right now (currently giving this team the second best record in the Western Conference behind that of, surprise, surprise, the Spurs) and the Lakers are— Well, let’s just say it’s pretty clear Phil Jackson is probably not thinking about a 10th title right now. Then again, it’s still too early in the season to make that comment, right? Or was this question even more ridiculous than the comment that preceded it? Err, what was I talking about again? Oh yea... I smell Roses.

LenDale White scores a touchdown.