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Lame

Jordan | E-motions | Thursday, August 31st, 2006

08.31.2006
Remastering Star Trek: TOS FX, Music Enhanced

Star Trek journeys to the 21st century as the Original Series returns to broadcast syndication for the first time in 16 years with brand-new digitally remastered episodes to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
CBS Paramount Domestic Television has officially announced that they are releasing digitally remastered episodes of Star Trek, with all new special effects and music, to celebrate the groundbreaking series’ 40th anniversary, according to John Nogawski, president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television.

The Star Trek episodes will begin airing on the more than 200 stations that own the rights to the weekend broadcast syndication window starting September 16. (As always, please check your local listings for station and dates.) The plan is for all 79 episodes of the Original Series to be remastered, with the first batch of episodes chosen from a list of Star Trek fans’ favorite shows. With the running order to be determined, it’s unlikely to follow the classic air-date order or production order format familiar to fans.

“Star Trek redefined science-fiction and constantly pushed the envelope with concepts that were ahead of their time,” Nogawski said. “By giving the series a digital upgrade using the best technology available today, it will continue to be a leader in cutting-edge television programming as we introduce the series to a new generation of viewers.”

The most noticeable change will be redoing many of the special effects, created with 1960s technology, with 21st century computer-generated imagery (CGI). Upgrades include:

Space ship exteriors The Enterprise, as well as other starships, will be replaced with state of the art CGI-created ships. The new computer-generated Enterprise is based on the exact measurements of the original model, which now rests in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Show opening The Enterprise and planets seen in the main title sequence will be redone, giving them depth and dimension for the first time.
Galaxy shots All the graphics of the galaxy, so frequently seen through the viewscreen on the Enterprise’s bridge, will be redone.
Exteriors The battle scenes, planets and ships from other cultures (notably the Romulan Bird of Prey and Klingon Battle Cruisers) will be updated.
Background scenes Some of the iconic, yet flat, matte paintings used as backdrops for the strange, new worlds explored by the Enterprise crew will get a CGI face-lift, adding atmosphere and lighting.
The refurbished episodes also feature higher quality sound for the famous opening theme. The original score by Emmy Award-winning composer Alexander Courage, has been re-recorded in state-of-the-art digital stereo audio with an orchestra and a female singer belting out the famous vocals. A digitally remastered version of William Shatner’s classic original recording of the 38-word “Space, the final frontier…” monologue continues to open each episode.

The remastered episodes have been converted from the original film into a High-Definition format, which gives viewers a clearer, crisper, more vibrant picture than before, even when viewed in standard definition. Once stations upgrade and start broadcasting HD signals, the episodes will be all ready for viewers to enjoy in HD.

There is no confirmation as yet if, or when, these episodes will eventually appear on DVD, HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. More news as it breaks!

Grilled Yak

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Monday, August 28th, 2006

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Got an email from Adam Levbarg today. He’s still travelling in Asia (has been since Feb.) and he tells me he has eaten grilled yak. (He didn’t get into whether it was good or not.) Anyhow, he’s been as far north as Korea, as far west as Tibet and south along Thailand and Taiwan. This photo was taken in Cambodia, where he apparantly was abducted by a motorcycle gang. Maybe this is only funny if you know him.

My Favorite Spy (1951), Norman Z. McLeod, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, August 28th, 2006

Bob Hope is Peanuts White, a struggling vaudevillian who just happens to be the exact double of an international spy. The government recruits him to impersonate the spy in Morocco and, whaddya know, hilarity ensues. This starts off as an absolute scream and then, as is usually the case with these types of films, the laughs start to get fewer and fewer as the movie gets bogged down in plot. A fabulous ending, though, as Hope is injected with “truth syrum” which (for some reason) inspires him to break into song and deliver a loving ode to vaudeville. It is a full five minute avalanche of schtick as Hope manically delivers puns, pratfalls, impersonations, magic tricks and dopey dance moves. A marvelous, gleeful set piece. All told, McLeod knows how to keep this sort of picture moving (he directed some of Hope’s better ones, as well as some early Marx Bros films.) Anyone who doesn’t at least like the first half of this is a nincompoop.

California Split (1974), Robert Altman, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, August 28th, 2006

Elliot Gould & George Segal go nuts in a Casavettes-lite romp through the festering bowels of low-rent gambling. A hardy fuck you to the Oceans Eleven nonsense — these men are depraved and sick. But this is no after school special (just as “Sideways” was no advert for AA.) A somewhat stream of consciousness plot from poker room to race track to the crash pad of two prostitutes who are off somewhere living their own movie, finally on a seniors-filled bus to Reno. A fabulous, hilarious and grim film. The end doesn’t pack the punch it wants to (or the rest of the film deserves) but anyone who’s ever gone off and done anything stupid with their best friend will love this one.

Court Martial, TOS 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, August 28th, 2006

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I cannot tell a lie: this episode kinda blows. It has some good elements — seeing a little bit of life on the Starbase is pretty cool. And the lawyer (the guy from “The Killing”!) is entertaining. But this episode is just friggin’ predictable. And so slapped together at the end. Kirk actually gives voice-over (not a Captain’s log) to fill in for all the cut scenes. And characters just vanish. One actually says “I have to go” much like Poochie did. Yeeeesh. They musta been facing a serious deadline. And I hardly mentioned the “white noise remover” that McCoy waves over people’s hearts to shut them up (but does nothing about their breathing.) The prop — a plain microphone — is the lamest thing we’ve seen in a Trek episode since that bottle of Windex Kodos uses in “Conscious of the King.” Well. . .the beginning of this episode is cool.

Tomorrow Is Yesterday, TOS 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, August 28th, 2006

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This is kind’ve a dopey episode, I’ll admit, but it is great fun to watch. The Enterprise is whipped around by a “black star” (the term “black hole” did not exist in 1966!) and, whaddya know, they are back in time. And — oops! — spotted by a very Kirk-like Air Force captain. So now they gotta destroy the evidence *and* get home. And no matter what they do, they keep making matters worse. If you don’t mind seeing Kirk & co. acting like the Keystone Kops, this episode is for you. (And that the computer has been programmed to be “more like a woman” doesn’t help matters either.) Alas, the last segment ties all the lose ends waaaaay to quickly (basically Spock runs around giving everyone a Vulcan Nerve Pinch and Scotty “makes a calculation”) but don’t hold it against this episode too much. This was something of a mindfuck for its day.

Arena, TOS 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, August 28th, 2006

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One of the absolute all time bests. We open with nostop action: an ambush on land and on the ship. Redshirts are dropping left and right. Then a high-speed chase to hunt down and kill (Mr. Spock does not approve, Kirk bitchslaps him in the ready room.) And then — screech — a force stops everyone dead in their tracks. A psychedelic lightshow on the viewer straight out of the Fillmore (yet the reverses clearly show that someone is just wiggling their hand in front of a light.) “We are the Metrons!” a voice shouts. And they clearly say “MetRAHns,” yet Kirk, McCoy & Spock will all independently mispronounce this as “MetROWnes.” Anyway, Kirk must fight the captain of the other ship — a Gorn! — to the death on a barren rock. (But not so barren, as those of you who have seen it know.) The loser of the fight will have their ship destroyed. The winner will be granted the ability to take his ship and buzz the hell off. (I guess the Metrons are sleepy and don’t like all this high warp flying in their backyard.) From here on in, it is hand-to-hand combat with a giant lizard man. Sweet! Kirk’s cunning saves the day, his innate mercy impresses the fey little Metron boy, and the Enterprise crew gets to watch it all live. . .somehow miraculously edited all together. This was the second episode of Trek I ever saw. I may have been 11 or 12.

The Squire of Gothos, TOS 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, August 28th, 2006

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Kirk and the gang are held prisoner by a jaunty all-powerful being in a test run for the many episodes with “Q” that we’ll see in TNG. This time, however, there’s a twist ending straight out of Twilight Zone that will later be parodied everywhere from Futurama to an episode of Garfield. I specifically like when Sulu rolls his eyes each time The Squire addresses him as “honorable Sir.” A great deal of fun, all told.

The Last Movie (1971), Dennis Hopper, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, August 25th, 2006

Actual overheard conversation in the lobby of Anthology Film Archives at the end of this screening: “That wasn’t that nearly the pretentions mess I was hoping for.” And it isn’t a mess. Well, a minor mess. . .but a mess is sometimes okay. One must be fair and say that it is a tad over ambitious, but the movie is 100% enjoyable. A slap in the face to Hollywood, a hippie escapist dream (Laszlo Kovacs’ location photography from Peru is stunning), a Burroughs-esque “cut up,” Christ metaphor, revisionist Western, death trip, music video, Casavettes-esque relationship mindfuck (upper middleclass Americans getting on the wife-swap bandwagon is always good territory for some fabulous scenes) and, most importantly, a moment to remind us that, shit, Dennis Hopper is a really good actor. Anyway, this is the film that basically ended his directing career. I didn’t find it non-linear at all. Recommended (but not on a blown out pan-and-scan VHS.) Sam Fuller cameo a plus.

The Galileo Seven, TOS 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Friday, August 25th, 2006

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Poor Mr. Spock. His away team is stranded and while in command he pursues a course of perfect logic. Nevertheless hairy men with giant spears create much havoc and everybody else whines at him. Too bad “Shut up and do what I tell you!” isn’t part of the Vulcan lexicon. Yeah, you can expect some near mutinous backtalk from McCoy. . .but what about these measly redshirts? Questioning Spock’s orders left and right. You just know Scotty wants to slap some sense into them, but he’s too busy trying to transfuse the power from a collection of hand phasers into the shuttlecrafts engines. (How do you do that exactly? Is that, like, a Fire Wire thing?) Anyway, all is saved in the end. . .and Spock learns a little bit about life. Namely, logic doesn’t always work — mostly the fault of pesky humans.

Shore Leave, TOS 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Friday, August 25th, 2006

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Remembered by many as one of the goofier episodes. . .until they remember the one with Abraham Lincoln. The “amusement park” planet that sucks thoughts from your mind, allegedly for fun, has Sulu being chased by a samurai, the young woman recently widowed in “Balance of Terror” being raped by Don Juan, and Kirk running befoul of an Irishman. Woomph. Then McCoy dies and comes back with two hotties wearing only bits of a “Monsters Inc.” Halloween costume. Double woomph.

Summer Spins

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Here’s what I’ve been listening to this last week or so.

One of the all time best bestest best albums in the history of the Universe is Yo La Tengo’s masterpiece “Painful.” One of my student films was an effort to recreate the album cover. It was a modest success.

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Second to “Painful” is the slightly more agile double CD “President Yo La Tengo/New Wave Hot Dogs.” I sometimes listen to this CD and just can’t believe that this world that gives us such horrible things as Dick Cheney could also produce something as fantastic as this. I spent a night in college arguing if YLT’s cover of Dylan’s “I Threw It All Away” was post-modern or not. (If not mistaken, I argued that it wasn’t, but based on the fact that the source material, Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” period, was in itself post-modern. James? Bryan? Who won this fight?)

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Daniel Brodsky’s music is hard to describe. If I had to compare him to somebody, I’d say Bruce Hornsby. . .but not as good. An esoteric disc (don’t know how in the world it wound up in my hands — I certainly never bought it) but it isn’t half bad. . .I’ve dug it out of the vault on more than one occasion.

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The best track on “The Chess Years” is Koko + Muddy Waters’ duet on “Insane Asylum.” A classic. Fun to drive to. Hard to listen to all the way through, though, if not at a poker game or drinking whiskey.

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Who knew it at the time, but David Byrne’s untitled album will probably wind up being his “rockinest.” It’s baffling that a track like “You & I,” “Back in the Box” or “Buck Naked” wasn’t a massive hit. . .I strongly believe that, on whole, Byrne’s solo work is of the same level as his work with the Talking Heads. (“Angels” and “Strange Ritual” are two of his best songs ever period full stop.)

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Dug this one out when I was washing dishes and it has been on frequent repeat in the kitchen for a few days. I particularly like Pigpen on “Next Time You See Me.” Question for any Deadheads listening: How does a song like “Jack Straw” pass muster with leftist values? A lyric like “We can share the women/We can share the wine” objectifies women about as bad as any Sammy Hagar tune. Discuss.

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Balance of Terror, TOS 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, August 21st, 2006

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One of the more action-adventure episodes in all of Original Trek. Kirk and an evil Romulan engage in a cat & mouse battle on the edge of the Neutral Zone. When it is discovered that the Romulans racially resemble Vulcans some bigotry comes out of the mouth of Redshirt (kinda) Lt. Stiles. In the upper part of the frame sits Lt. Sulu as Kirk argues about the dangers of prejudice. Figuring this is about 20 years after WWII (and at the head of Vietnam), it may not have been such a subtle moment as it seems today. Anyhow, on watching this episode again, it strikes me that maybe the Romulan was on a Death Wish trip – he’d love to avoid another war, and letting Kirk blow him out of the water may be the only way to achieve this. The repeated special effects shot of phaser blasts around the Romulan ship (with outta control brass horns and swirling strings on the soundtrack) is one of the great over-the-top audio/visual moments in all of Trek.

The Conscience of the King, TOS 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, August 21st, 2006

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I love the little touches of this episode. We see a little of what normal life is like in the Star Trek Universe. We see the theater, we see a cocktail party (complete with a swingin’ lounge version of the Trek theme in the background) and we get our first glimpse of an Enterprise Observation Deck. There are also hints as to the history of Earth’s colonial expansion and its controversies. And I love that we see Lt. Reilly again. Too bad this will be his final appearance. On the other hand, the actress who plays the hot young thespian is just atrocious, and her big finish on stage is a disaster. Also of note: bad guy named “Kodos?” Where will we see that again? And Kirk’s murdered friend is named Thomas Leighton — you might remember him as a candidate for mayor on the Marijuana Reform Ticket!

Encounter At Farpoint, TNG 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, August 19th, 2006

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I have violated one of my own prime directives. But, you know what, sometimes you gotta do that when you are in command. I found myself getting a little ansty watching the Original Trek series in order, so I decided to watch the pilot episode of The Next Generation . . .something I have not seen since it first aired in 1987. And ya know what? It kinda blows. And, upon reflection, I thought it blew back then, too. I didn’t become a TNG fan until a little while in. The problem here is that we don’t know who the bad guy is. Is it Q? Is it this dude Groppler Zorn? Are we supposed to like Riker more than we like Picard? What’s with Picard, anyway? Why is he such a hard-ass? That’s not the Picard we’re used to. Also — what’s with this catchphrase “Now Here This!”? Is that gonna go away by the second episode? I hope so. (I much prefer “Make It So,” which I use in my daily vernacular constantly.) It’s always hard introducing new characters, but it isn’t done all that smoothly here. (Especially while there is a complex plot with two sets of bad guys running around.) Plus introducing all the new technology. The word I’m looking for is artless. That plus the horribly overdone music and the sledgehammer-like editing. Yeesh. TNG is going to get better, right? It just has to.

Korean BBQ

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Saturday, August 19th, 2006

Korean food will change your life. Get on the frickin’ 7 train and get off at Main St., or head over to 32nd St in Midtown. Either way, bring an expandable belt.

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To have a full understanding of what you are ordering is. . .not exactly paramount in my view. Your best bet is to find a menu with as little English on it as possible, then find a waiter or waitress you trust and let them figure it out for you.

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And then you wind up with a table that looks like this.

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Too bad there aren’t, like, a lot of little things to taste.

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This is the best soup ever made. We don’t know what it is called, we don’t know what’s in it (Ann thinks fermented bean curd is involved. I say “sure.”) Alas, we’ll probably never find it again. I’m sure we’ll even come back to this restaurant in a little while and it will just be an abandoned lot and a picture of a Korean Rod Serling announcing the closure of a restaurant that once stood there. . .TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO.

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Ann is wisely scared of the pepper looming in the soup.

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But she is not scared of the noodles.

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I like that the spoons came in a hat.

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Worth every penny.

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Fun In Queens

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Saturday, August 19th, 2006

Me and Ann in hats.

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The annual racing of the Dragon Boats in Flushing-Corona Park. Not too far from the Unisphere, but closer to the island of the Highway Overpasses.

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A man playing the Electric Cello in Flushing-Corona Park. Not bad.

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Me being interviewed on NY1.

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This marinated chicken and kimchee sandwich was as awesome as it looks.

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While driving through Queens, there are the occasional signs welcoming you to the Bland Houses. Very nice of them. And truthful!

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Morning at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways.

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Help! Sharks!

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A weed grows in Queens. Way off in the distance — a view of Midtown.

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A few hotels on Beach 116th St. in Rockaway. I say, “Hardcore.”

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Waterfront

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Saturday, August 19th, 2006

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Philip Lopate’s book about the seldom seen perimeter of New York reminds me a lot of the city itself. It is unfocused, navel-gazing, didactic, stuck in the past, obsessed with the future, revisionist just for the hell of it and chock full of fascinating moments at nearly every turn. Lopate is an obnoxious, even pedantic writer. Plus (and I think he probably knows this) he’s a little bit racist. He’s also something of an adventurer, so long as he can always fall back and hail a cab. For all these reasons and more, I name “Waterfront” the most enjoyable book on New York City I’ve ever read. It is also pretty informative — although mostly informative about the weird little things Lopate chooses to focus on. But hey — it’s his book. Anyone who lives here and considers themself something of an “urbanist” will be unable to put this thing down.

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