Movie Thoughts: Upgrade Is a $1 million Movie that Deserves $1 Billion in Ticket Sales

Yes, Upgrade is the kind of movie that should scare MoviePass (see because they pay full price for your tickets). You all saw Upgrade and remember who Leigh Wannell is right?

He’s the guy who wrote Saw. You remember Saw? No? It’s that Hitchcock-style thriller that didn’t actually show any gruesomeness and cost $1 million to make and went on to gross $100 million BECAUSE IT WAS EXCELLENT.

Welp Wannell’s done it again with Upgrade. Upgrade is just exquisite storytelling and you can tell this movie was made for [relative]pennies but comes out looking like a big budget film. I love Wannell’s work. It’s easy to follow, there are no plot holes, only justifiable ambiguities that persevere the suspension of disbelief, and Wannell’s endings are, unlike Shamylan’s sham twists, AWE-SOME. Don’t worry, no spoilers.

I also love that Upgrade, like Saw, didn’t rely at all on big name talent. Logan Marshall-Green, a very talented actor in his own right, but not a house-hold name (yet…), is the biggest star in the film, and it doesn’t matter because the story carries everyone (as does Wannell’s direction).

Seeing Upgrade makes me wonder what Wannell could do with a Disney tentpole budget, the possibilities abound, but I believe its fair to say that he deserves a spot next to James Cameron, if not for behavioral style, then at least chutzpah and energy in seeing his vision realized.

The ending though. Gosh what a great ending. No, no spoilers here.

Thing Thoughts: The Leopold FC660C Mechanical Keyboard on a Mac

When I committed myself to maintaining a regular blog I realized I’d need to find a keyboard that was meant for a ton of typing – enter the Leopold FC660C. It’s the next best (and very different) thing to the keyboard on my MacBook Pro which has its upsides and downsides.

Leopold FC660C

Before we continue, I want to take a moment to tip my hat to The Wirecutter. They have been my goto for reviews on just about anything useful. And sometimes, they may pick an item, and then when reading through the comments, I can find something that’s a better fit for my needs anyway. It’s a great site and also indicative of how I wound up with the Leopold – It was because of their pick for the Best Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard “for most people.” The Wirecutter’s [correct] choice for this item was the Logitech K380. It connected without a hitch and had switches to pair with three separate devices. It was also compact, which was very important to me as I work in a closeted sized space that only permits me a desk that’s three feet wide (also a WireCutter pick, the Fully Jarvis). The battery life on the K380 was fabulous, and its fit and finish was better than its $40 price tag suggested. There was just one problem: Continue reading “Thing Thoughts: The Leopold FC660C Mechanical Keyboard on a Mac”

Travel Thoughts: The Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria

The Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria saw its influence expand greatly back in 2009, interactivity and human appendages-as-input devices were all the rage, and people were actually working hard at realizing the future and making profoundly cool and interesting and unique experiences that revolved around gestural interaction with digital devices or within digital environments. This was largely an outgrowth of the first iPhone which had just been released (en-masse) about a year earlier.

CRW 8358 copy

It’s as if everyone wanted didn’t want to work hard until Apple did it first and then once Apple did it…everyone hopped on the multi-touch train and claimed it was easy. Even I did. And it wasn’t easy.


Remember where you were when this happened?

That’s right, I built a giant multitouch wall into a sun porch and it worked for all of one evening before my code crashed, but hey, I can say I did it, and I can also say it got me nowhere in my career. But at least I learned that I was capable of great things even if only I recognized that fact.

But I digress…

The Ars Electronica Center is a “Museum of the Future” based in Linz, Austria that had recently undergone a major renovation with a completely new building. It had always focused on the interactive art world but around 2007 it became an absolute Mecca for this sort of thing as iOS paved the way for a ton of development in the non-qualified interactive experiential space. Before I continue, what I mean by “non-qualified” is the notion of activated spaces or objects. These are/were things that required nothing more than your presence to activate, so there was no need to own a device to initiate an experience (like an iPhone for example).

And I loved that sort of thing, so I went there. Continue reading “Travel Thoughts: The Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria”

Rover Thoughts: Smog Check Update –> FAILED!

Well I certainly didn’t expect this lovely 2006 Range Rover Sport with 126,000 miles to fail its first smog check since I got it. It turns out it failed on a technicality: finicky cruise control that triggered a check-engine light. While the vehicle passed its emissions and leakage tests, unfortunately, I had experienced a check-engine light when, for some odd reason, the vehicle’s cruise control feature decided to go belly-up.

Range Rover sport smog check fail

The plot does thicken though…

I had noticed the cruise control acting up with an occasional message saying “Cruise Control Not Permitted” that popped up in the status display in the gauge cluster, but I never gave it much thought.

Range Rover sport l320 cruise control fault

My parents’ LR4 from time to time threw that message and also a “Normal Suspension Height Only” warning, and both were typically resolved by shutting it down and starting it back up. A later search of the weirdly-passionate Land Rover owner forums on the internets turned up several folks who had had my problem and attributed it to a dirty connection between the steering wheel controls and the steering column electronics.

Range Rover sport smog check fail cruise control

But what was unique to my situation was that it had actually triggered a check engine light, and that caused the smog fail. No, Bertram wasn’t making the air any worse (than any other equivalent vehicle) nor was Bertram poisoning the water table. Nope, Bertram was just being a cruise control diva. And the best part was…this happened on the way to the smog check station!

What I later discovered, is that what triggered the check-engine light, were my persistent attempts to use the cruise control despite it being “not permitted.” It would seem the car really wanted to put its foot down and get me to stop pushing its buttons…literally

And so, to that end, it was off to Euro West Rovers to diagnose the problem, and also get the one necessary repair done to the vehicle to make it usable day to day: The rear passenger door latches.

TO BE CONTINUED…

[Editor’s Note: You may have noticed that this is a new category – “Rover Thoughts.” As I will be chronicling my time as a weathered-Land Rover owner, I figured it deserved its own category, I’ll be adjusting previous posts accordingly]

Movie Thoughts: Solo – A Star Wars Story was GREAT!!

Ok I’m baffled at the bad press surrounding Solo: A Star Wars story. It was great. I absolutely loved it and I have to say that I’m really liking this whole Star Wars Anthology approach to things.

Now, as promised after seeing Deadpool 2, this was next on my list. Read on. Continue reading “Movie Thoughts: Solo – A Star Wars Story was GREAT!!”

20K Thoughts: I’ve given it some thought and…

Time for some morning thoughts! Okay, I’ve thoughtsed, I’m going to try to resurrect the content from my original 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fan site that I built as a teenager at this domain twenty years ago.

20k thoughts

I know, it’s hard to believe that logo was high resolution back in 1998.

It seems I still get a lot of web traffic to outdated links from that site, I still love the flick, and many of you do to, so in the coming weeks (maybe months…bear with me here), you should see a menu option at the top of the window allowing you to go back and look at that content, assuming I can still get those files from my days with the Macintosh PowerBook 5300cs to work.

Carry on 🙂

Movie Thoughts: Deadpool 2 was Meta-Fantastic

Mind you, I may be a little biased  toward Deadpool as I think all the X-movies have risen to the occasion and been better than I had expected they would be going in.

It’s rare to go see a movie that just tosses all the rules (except for Rule #2: Label everything in the refrigerator) to the four winds. What else really is there to say? A fair amount actually… Continue reading “Movie Thoughts: Deadpool 2 was Meta-Fantastic”

Coffee Thoughts: BLVD CAFECITO – My Other New Coffee Stop

BLVD Cafecito is my other coffee-go-to in Magnolia park, in addition to my recently discovered stop, The Palm. Also, we’re adding a new category: Coffee Thoughts…which means another category is inevitable: Beer Thoughts.

blvd cafecito

In upping my coffee game and morning routine to accommodate my personal policies on human interaction, Irecently-and-happily discovered the newly-opened Palm Coffee Bar, and also turned to BLVD Cafecito, a small coffee bar running by a gentleman of cuban descent, that serves up Intelligentsia coffee. Like The Palm, there was a discount if you bring a thermos and don’t use a paper cup.

Inside there’s intimate (cramped) seating for about four people, but if you can snag a seat, it’s a nice spot to sip coffee and read your kindle if you can read without being distracted by music and customer banter.

To be fair, the music isn’t loud, and the customers aren’t typically a bother either…unlike some other places.

One thing I’m looking forward to is the extension they’re building on the right, “BLVD Taco.”

Anything great thing about Blvd Cafecito is that they donate to local school programs. I live down the street from an elementary school (and also filming location for Doug Demuro when he’s in LA…more on Doug in posts to come) that proudly waves the Cafecito flag and I’m all for that. You may have noticed, but to the right of my posts is a banner for Donors Choose, a wonderful site for donating to and crowdfunding public school programs and classrooms specifically. Please check them out. $10 can do a lot.

But now, I must get back to sipping coffee…

Design Thoughts: The BMW Alpha Concept

The BMW Alpha is a rather interesting amalgamation of brilliant high tech conceptual design, old school manufacturing with vintage guts, and a blatant disregard for actual usability. It’s fantastic.

Currently on display at the Petersen, the BMW Alpha is the brainchild of Mehmet Doruk Erdem and sorta-but-also Mark Atkinson…and BMW if we’re crediting where the guts came from. Originally a purely computer-aided  design study with no real plans for production, Erdem’s design was all the rage on the internets back in 2016. It caught the eye of Mark Atkinson who in turn made it a reality.

The thing is, when it comes to riding it, well, it’s terrible. Atkinson refers to it as a lakebed racer (think: El Mirage in California, or Bonneville in Utah near Atkinson) but videos on the internet (if you can sift through all the cats) show that this thing is probably even too low to the ground to perform its intended purpose.BMW alpha

Intent is a loose term here though. I suppose its true intent was design for the sake of design, which effectively puts it into the realm of art. Some feel that art’s only purpose is to exist and to have no other function…than itself and I think that describes this perfectly. It’s ridiculously overpowered, totally unstable, and probably quite delicate. It’s meant to be parked and admired. It’s art.

 

BMW alpha

 

One thing that’s interesting to notice is that, under scrutiny, the signature ‘twin-kidney’ radiator grille that defines all BMWs (apart from the roundel) is rather asymmetrical, likely hand formed and quickly at that. The odd thing about that is that a 3D printer was used for much of the fabrication, so I’m puzzled as to how that one important element wound up with a human touch.

 

 

BMW alpha

 

Keep in mind that if you aren’t looking closely, you won’t notice this on what is otherwise an exquisite object to behold. I really wish it was truly ride-able though. Perhaps beneath that massive faring (when lie BMW K75 guts), there might be room for a compact compressor to add an air suspension of sorts, because this thing is way too cool to sit parked in museums and at shows forever. It needs to be ridden.

 

Photos are also available in the hi-res Gallery. Thanks for taking a look.