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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

review of "rising son" dvd

I recently viewed the DVD of "Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi". (I had previously posted the press release here.) I knew absolutely nothing about Hosoi before watching this film, but I found the story riveting. At an easy running time of 98 minutes, it is able to tell a complete story without ever dragging.

I felt that I really got to know Hosoi, a half-Asian native of Hawaii whose family relocated to California, where he began to show promise at a very young age. It's interesting how the film shows the continuity between the already established Z-Boys (such as Jay Adams and Tony Alva) and the much younger, yet-unknown Hosoi, whose lives crossed during the late 70s.

Hosoi rose to fame concurrent with the rise of "vert" skating in the 80s, where the skaters would launch themselves straight into the air off of the half-pipe ramps, perform various tricks, turn around, then do it again on the other side. As his fame and fortune grew, Hosoi formed his own skateboard company, and it seemed he could do no wrong. Hosoi was a natural for the public eye, loving the attention as much as the fans loved him. Wild hair, wild clothes, and wild life, he helped define not only the vert style of skateboarding but also the skateboarding culture of the 1980s.

When the the vert style began to wane and the "street" style began to take over, he was able to adapt on a professional level and continue to compete effectively. However, it was clear that he was no longer the star he was, and as pressures mounted, both financially and emotionally, he turned to methamphetamine for escape. Without saying much more about the plot, the film chronicles his downward spiral into drugs, his incarceration, and his eventual redemption as he found Christ.

The film contains many on-screen interviews with his friends, fellow skateboarders and parents. It becomes clear that his Asian father, an interesting character in his own right, made some pretty bad choices which certainly didn't help Christian during his dark period. Skateboarder Tony Hawk, who rose to fame during the same period, provides a lot of interesting feedback and commentary during his screen time as well. He was able to weather his newfound fortune and fame much better than Hosoi, probably due in large part to a much stronger family support system.

The archival skateboarding footage is certainly a treat to watch, and the film does a great job of balancing this with the interviews and the narrative commentary (Dennis Hopper does the narration). It all comes together quite well, never drags, and will hold your interest throughout.

The soundtrack, mostly 80's punk, fits perfectly with the movie. Strangely, none of the songs on the soundtrack appear on the released CD soundtrack for the movie; those songs on the CD were recently recorded by current artists and were "inspired" by the movie. I will be reviewing that CD soundtrack in a separate post.

My only real complaints about this movie, minor as they are, relate to the audio and video quality. Neither of them were bad, but they could have benefited from an anamorphic transfer and 5.1 audio. On my HDTV widescreen TV, the picture appeared letter-boxed on all four sides. Although the picture quality was quite acceptable, I find this 4-sided letterboxing an annoying inconvenience.

I should also point out there are a few extras on this DVD, but I have not had a chance to view them yet. Once I do, I'll update this part of the review.

If you enjoyed the documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys", you will certainly enjoy this film as well, as it provides the next chapter in the history of skateboarding. If you haven't seen "Dogtown and Z-Boys", I recommend watching that first then watching "Rising Son" to complete your coursework for Skateboarding History 101.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

suburban chicagoans defend themselves with handguns

This 16 year old punk messed with the wrong 56 year old woman!
(ZION)-- A Zion woman fired two shots at a 16-year-old home invader Friday night, killing him, police said. The suspected robber, Gerrall N. Davis, had forced open the back door of the home on Jethro Ave., shattering the doorjamb. This according to a press release from Zion police.

Saffiyya A. Darr and her husband told police they heard knocking at their front door, yelled out to see who it was and shortly thereafter the back door of their home was forced open. Police say Mrs. Darr retrieved a 9mm handgun from her bedroom and fired two shots at the armed and masked invader.

Both shots hit Davis, who was on juvenile probation for aggravated battery at the time, the release said. When officers arrived at the home at 10:17 p.m., they found Davis lying on the kitchen floor of the home, wearing a black ski mask, black knit gloves and with a .22 caliber rifle next to him. He was taken to Victory Hospital in Waukegan, where he was pronounced dead. Police did not reveal if Mrs. Darr faces any charges for the shooting.
As reported in this Lake County News Sun story from a few days ago.

Isn't it funny how handguns are the great equalizer, giving a middle-aged woman a fighting chance against a 16 year old male hoodlum? I take no pleasure in anyone's death, but innocent life deserves to be defended, and that is clearly what happened here. If this couple had relied on the police to defend themselves they could very well have ended up dead, with the punk moving on to his next victim.

See also this Trib article for more details on the story.

And about a month ago, a comic book shopkeeper in Roselle defended himself and his store against an armed parolee from St. Louis, as reported here by WBBM 780:
ROSELLE, Ill. (WBBM) -- A 40-year-old parolee from St. Louis was shot dead during a gunfight with the owner of a Roselle collectibles store, who was wounded.

WBBM's Bob Roberts reports.

A digital surveillance video caught the shootout that occurred inside the Westlake Cards, Comics and Coins store, at 1234 W. Lake St., in Roselle. After reviewing the video, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett declined to press charges against the 49-year-old shopkeeper, a resident of Hanover Park, in the death of ex-convict Geoffrey Webb.

“The question is whether or not this store owner had the right to protect himself and to have a weapon,” Birkett said. “He does. He has a (Firearm Owners Identification) card. He's got that right under Illinois law.”

Roselle Police Chief James Kruger said the surveillance video shows Webb entering the store just before 10:30 a.m. Friday, placing a black bag on the horseshoe-shaped counter and speaking for several minutes with the shopkeeper, whom authorities refused to identify.

Kruger said Webb suddenly pulled a gun from the bag, in which duct tape and handcuffs were later found, and vaulted the counter.

“There was clearly an imminent threat to the store owner's life, and clearly the intruder was in the commission of a forcible felony,” Birkett said...
Of course, here in Chicago the mayor and the council long ago decided that residents of this great city have absolutely no right to defend themselves, as only cops can be trusted to keep handguns within the city limits. We can always count on them to be there in time, can't we? And they never abuse their power, either...

Monday, December 04, 2006

rising son: the legend of skateboarder christian hosoi

I like films about skateboarding. I think skateboarding, film and rock music combined can make for some ripping high-energy entertainment. In the past I posted a review of "Lords of Dogtown", and mentioned that I would post a review of the documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys" when I got around to it. In fact I did rent that DVD but never got around to posting a review, which is too bad because it really was a good film. I still plan to post a proper review of it later.

Both of those movies focused on the Venice Beach origins of modern skateboarding back in the early 70s, but now there is a documentary DVD out about 80's skateboarder Christian Hosoi called "Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi". The DVD was released a couple of weeks ago by Vision Films for Image Entertainment, Inc. The promotional company, M80, was kind enough to send me a copy of the DVD and the soundtrack for review, so check back for my reviews of both items in the near future. In the meantime, I leave you with the press release for the DVD and soundtrack:

Press Release

``Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi'' to Screen at Cannes Film Festival; Vision Films, Image Entertainment, QD3 Entertainment and Quiksilver Join Forces to Market and Sell Rights to Christian Hosoi Feature

Vision Films, an independent, worldwide distributor of youth-oriented and music-related feature films and documentaries, has just been awarded the exclusive sales agency rights to RISING SON: THE LEGEND OF SKATEBOARDER CHRISTIAN HOSOI by Image Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq:DISK), a leading independent licensee, producer and distributor of home entertainment programming in North America.

"Rising Son" was produced by QD3 Entertainment in association with consumer lifestyle brand Quiksilver. The film was directed by Cesario "Block" Montano and is narrated by acclaimed actor Dennis Hopper.

"Rising Son" is the true story of skateboard superstar Christian Hosoi. The film chronicles Hosoi's beginnings as an athletic renegade to his fall-from-grace stint in Federal prison for drug trafficking and finally his rebirth and miraculous recovery that has inspired millions of young adults. Using never-before-seen home movies of Hosoi, from childhood through his release from prison in 2004, the film features interviews from friends and family, including Tony Hawk, Tony Alva, Jay Adams, Jason Lee and others.

Image will handle North American broadcast, theatrical, video and soundtrack rights, and Vision Films will handle foreign rights and distribution. The film will be available to be released on home video in the international market on October 3, 2006, day and date with Image's domestic release.

Vision Films will be screening "Rising Son" at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. on both dates. Hosoi is expected to attend both screenings, as well as appear at the Quiksilver bus that will be located at the festival. Vision Films can be found at the Cannes Film Festival at the Palais Level 01, Stand 21.01.

"This film truly captures the spirit and determination of a person who has influenced millions of people to improve their lives," said Barry Gordon, senior vice president of worldwide programming of Image Entertainment. "We're pleased to be working with Christian, QD3, Quiksilver and Vision on this project, and are looking forward to a warm reception at Cannes ."

About Vision Films:
Founded in 1997, and based in Sherman Oaks, CA, Vision Films is an independent, worldwide distributor of Feature Films, Documentary Specials, Series, Music, and Reality Programming. Vision Films licenses all available television, video/DVD, and new media rights to both the international and domestic markets. Vision Films currently has a library of over 300 feature films, and over 300 documentaries. On the feature side, Vision represents top-of-the-line independent film and music producers and some prestigious Film Libraries such as The Kushner-Locke Company, World International Network, Xenon Pictures, CodeBlack Entertainment, Flashpoint UK Ltd., City Block Productions, EDI/Dastar, STS Media, Sinclair Institute and Istituto Geografico De Agostini. For more information of Vision Films, Inc., please go to

About Image Entertainment:

Image Entertainment, Inc. is a leading independent licensee, producer and distributor of home entertainment programming in North America , with approximately 3,000 exclusive DVD titles and over 200 exclusive CD titles in domestic release and approximately 300 programs internationally via sublicense agreements. For many of its titles, the Company has exclusive audio and broadcast rights and, through its subsidiary Egami Media, Inc., has digital download rights to more than 1,500 video programs and over 150 audio programs containing more than 2,000 tracks. The Company is headquartered in Chatsworth , California , and has a domestic distribution facility in Las Vegas , Nevada . The Company's subsidiary Image Entertainment (UK) maintains a content acquisition office in London , England . For more information about Image Entertainment, Inc., please go to

Forward-Looking Statements:

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 relating to, among other things, our goals, plans and projections regarding our financial position, results of operations, market position, product development and business strategy. These statements may be identified by the use of words such as "will," "may," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "plan," "believe," and other terms of similar meaning in connection with any discussion of future operating or financial performance. All forward-looking statements are based on management's current expectations and involve inherent risks and uncertainties, including factors that could delay, divert or change any of them, and could cause action outcomes and results to differ materially from current expectations.

These factors include, among other things, our inability to raise additional working capital, changes in debt and equity markets, increased competitive pressures, changes in our business plan, and changes in the retail DVD and entertainment industries. For further details and a discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties, see "Forward-Looking Statements" and "Risk Factors" in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K. Unless otherwise required by law, we undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

SOURCE: Image Entertainment, Inc. Rising Son / The Soundtrack

The soundtrack for RISING SON, THE LEGEND OF SKATEBOARDER CHRISTIAN HOSOI, boasts music from such artists as Queens of the Stone Age, Gnarls Barkley, Murs and The Gossip. The soundtrack also includes several unreleased tracks, such as Dave Grohl's "Vile", Slightly Stoopid's "Still Be You", and Fishbone's " Cheyenne ". The powerful musical lineup helps the film chronicle the colorful life and career of CHRISTIAN HOSOI, one of skateboarding's most talented and adored superstars, whose meteoric rise to superstardom was matched only by his spiraling descent into a federal prison sentence for drug trafficking. To accompany a film that emphasizes high-energy action sequences and dramatic turns, 21 cutting-edge artists from the hip-hop and rock genres have been selected to make for a non-stop, feel-good compilation.

1. "Vile" - Dave Grohl
2. "Transitions Of A Rider" - Murs
3. "Sedated" - Lexicon
4. "Standing In The Way Of Control" - The Gossip
5. "One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven" - The Transplants
6. "The Place Where We Dwell" - Wajeed & Invincible
7. "Cheyenne" - Fishbone
8. "America's Most Blunted" - Maddvillian featuring MF Doom
9. "Tainted Love" - The Peakshow
10. "Pot Of Rain" - Optimus
11. "No More Weapons" - Steel Pulse & Damian Marley
12. "Little People" - The Procussions
13. "Kuruption" - Kurupt featuring Everlast
14. "Mexican Radio" - Charlie Early
15. "Mexicola" - Queens Of The Stone Age
16. "Just A Thought" - Gnarls Barkley
17. "Still Be You" - Slightly Stoopid
18. "Antaraxia" - Team Sleep featuring Chino of the Deftones
19. "Revolution" - Mark Bell
20. "Dr. Aura" - Brant Bork and the Bros
21. "No Family" - Second Coming featuring Jay Adams (of Sucidan Tendencies)

monday morning weigh-in: week 3

Well, the good news is that I'm just about back on track, weighing in at 173 lbs. today (I should be at 172.5). The bad news is...

...I experienced a series of unfortunate events this weekend culminating with a trip to the ER early this morning. My 3 year old Sofia has had better weekends, too...

...On Saturday I brought her to the doctor because she started getting hives every night since a couple days before Thanksgiving. They mostly go away during the day, but Friday night they were particularly bad so I brought her to the doctor. The doc said there was no obvious cause, but it could be a symptom from an earlier viral infection. (We had elimated food as the likely cause). If viral, they would probably go away in another couple of weeks, but no matter the cause, they weren't anything to worry about. (I myself had a bad case of hives when I was about 12 years old. After slicing my finger with a pocket knife while whittling a stick, I was stitched up and given a shot of pennicillin. I soon broke out in hives all over and man did they itch! (That's when I found out I was allergic to pennicillin). It was really bad for several days. I went on antihistamines which kept them under control, and after a couple of years I never got them again. During those hive years, though, every time I got scratched my skin would puff up into an itchy welt.)

Then, Saturday afternoon Sofia got her big toenail mangled by a slamming door. I'm not sure if she slammed the door or her little sister Lucia did (she claims the latter), but in any event it bled quite a bit and the nail was traumatized enough that it looked like it might fall off. The doctor's office told us to just keep it well bandaged, but expect the nail to fall off, and give her foot baths twice daily with antibacterial soap. Eventually the toe should scab over and a new nail should grow in.

So last night, her hives were keeping the poor thing awake in the middle of the night and she was scratching at them like crazy. (I'm in charge of putting her to sleep,and keeping her asleep, while my wife handles daughter number 2). At Sofia's request, I let her watch television; I figured it would get her mind off the itching while we were waiting for the Zyrtec to kick in (which her doctor had given us). At that time, about 3:30 AM, I decided to bring some of the dirty glasses which had been collecting upstairs down to the kitchen. Somehow I slipped on the first step, with a glass in each hand, one of which broke on the way down. I slid all the way down, my butt making contact with each and every stair, and my slipper-clad feet violently knocking down the safety gate at the bottom of the stairs for the finale. My wife woke up in horror, but I assured her it was just me, not the kids (a relief to both of us!). I knew the gash on my left thumb would require stiches, and the gash on the right hand was questionable but worth looking into as well. With towels to stop the bleeding, I called 911 while my wife had the unenviable task of cleaning up the glass (and blood) while keep the kids at bay (our 17-month old had woken up by that time and was running around like crazy.)

Since my wife was quite busy I rode the ambulance to the hospital, got stiched up (6 sutures on the left hand and one on the right), then waited over an hour for a frickin' cab to show up at the hospital to take me home. (It was cold, and cabs were scarce). I've never seen a bruise like the one on my right buttock before. I'm going to take a picture of it for posterity (don't worry, I'm not intending to post it...)

The really ironic part is, we just spent big bucks to replace the carpeting in the place with hardwood, including the stairs, which seem to be about 10X more dangerous now with the hardwood. We were planning to put a carpet runner down the middle, now we may need to speed that bit of decorating up a bit.