Monday, April 30, 2007

Movie Review: Next

"Next" is another movie based on a Phillip K Dick story. I don't think I've read the original so I can't compare. But I can say that this seems to be more of a romance than the standard PK Dick story. The review here seems to make it clear that there's no actual relation between the story and the movie.

Nicholas Cage still isn't playing Superman, but he does get to play a guy with powers. Specifically, he has the ability to see two minutes into his own future. He uses this power in his Las Vegas stage show and for a bit of light gambling.
The FBI is aware that his tricks are real and want his help finding a nuclear bomb that has been stolen from the Russians.
The terrorists with the bomb must have a leak in the FBI because they know that the FBI is looking for Nick Cage. Thus, they're looking for him too because they figure the FBI thinks Cage can stop him.

The movie opens with his show, then to the casino. He stops a shooting, but security comes after him. There's a sequence of him navigating the crowded casino, stopping, going, ducking, changing clothes, and even walking right between two security guards because he can see what's going to happen well enough to dodge them all.
Cage has had a vision of several weeks in the future instead of a couple of minutes. This long term vision is of a girl he meets in a cafe. So twice a day he goes to this cafe and waits for the girl. When she finally shows he runs several scenarios where he gets rejected over and over again until one works.
Most of the first half of the movie is involved with him meeting this girl, travelling with her, and them falling in love. There's just the occasional aside about the FBI coming for him.
The second half of the movie is about him and the FBI trying to rescue the girl from the terrorists. Instead of running the scene over and over again you see dozens of possible Cages splitting off the main and searching the warehouse so he can find all the bombs and the girlfriend.
You're going to hate how they end the movie.

It was good for what it was but it needed another half hour or so. I know, usually I say they needed to end the movie 10-15 minutes earlier.

Not bad, but not great. Glad I saw it, wish I saw more. Not gonna get it on DVD.

Check the comments for the ending.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Murderous rampage

The impulse to mete out a little old west justice strikes us all from time to time. Maybe it's when your boss gives credit for the project you spent two years on to the mailboy. Maybe it's when the teacher gives everyone in class 100% because he's too lazy to bother grading the projects individually. Maybe it's when you returned to the DMV for the ninth time because there's always one piece of paper you need that they refused to tell you about before. Maybe it's that telemarketer that has called your for the fifth time in three days with the same offer each time.

My dream rampage right now involves ad-ware. Some little program slipped onto my PC that keeps giving my computer unwanted commands. Most of them involve opening Internet Explorer and going to websites I don't want to see. I could get behind some porn but these are just ads. Much of the time it doesn't open a website, but tried to put a shortcut on my Desktop, modify my Registry, or download programs. I got some programs to remove spy-ware and ad-ware, but the problem continues. I crippled Internet Explorer and that fixed the problem, but then Firefox stopped working.
What I want to do is spend a day sitting in front of the computer writing down every single company that places an ad with the ad-ware people. Then I find the Board of Directors for each of those companies, rent a car, and tour the country leaving a wake of blood soaked CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and marketing directors and torched office buildings. I'd leave a printout of their pop-up ads nailed to the door of each of their homes so everyone would know exactly what their crime was and hopefully to discourage other companies from repeating those mistakes.

What about you? What's going to make you snap and who is going to suffer for it?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cain and Abel

Sometimes I have a lot to post and a backlog of stuff for a week. At other times, like now, I don't. So instead you get more half baked religious allegory.

So Adam and Eve, the only two people on Earth, had a couple of kids. Two sons, Cain and Able. One kills the other, moves East, meets some mysterious woman who is never explained, and has a bunch of kids.

The part of me that causes grief to Sunday School teachers has to ask some questions. Where did the wife come from? Another rib? And their son, Enoch. Where'd his wife come from? And Irad after that. And Mehujael, and Methusael, and Lamech. Lamech got two wives. On and on and on. To believe the Bible they were very determined in ignoring God's command to go forth and multiply since there appears to be a dozen generations of only children.

Ok, take a step back.
Jesus had all sorts of siblings that are never mentioned in the Bible. Adam and Eve probably did the same. This would, of course, mean that Cain was sleeping with his sister. Still, it's a step up from his father who was sleeping with his own clone. Even so, genetic defects due to inbreeding is going to set in pretty fast with this lot. I do have an answer for that, however. God's supposed to be perfect and all that. It's a safe bet that he made Adam genetically perfect. No flaws or defects, no hereditary diseases, etc. So Adam can breed with his clone and Cain with his sister and their kids with their cousins. Mutations would come later so that prolonged inbreeding would become more problematic but in the beginning the untainted genes meant that there were no problems.

Another answer is that Cain met up with the spawn of Lilith, Adam's first wife. She was cut from the Bible, but versions of the Old Testament still used in other faiths still keep her in. At best she was pregnant when banished so Cain could still sleeping with his half sister. At worst he's sleeping with a demon/djinn (the spawn of Lilith and Satan).

Now, some religious scholars think that Enoch, Irad, and other descendants of Cain are the names of tribes, not people. As the population of the tribes grew beyond what the environment could sustain different groups would separate off and find new lands in which to settle. Enoch, Irad, etc. were just the patriarchs of those tribes.
This leads me to think that Cain and Abel could be interpreted as something other than two boys from the same mother. Look at the story with Cain as primitive Humans and Abel as Neanderthals. We'd be brothers from a genetic standpoint. And it's been theorized that Humans may have wiped out the Neanderthals. And their final extinction matches up with about the time humans developed to the point where some sort of history might have been kept (~24,000 years ago).

This is my preferred way of shoehorning some sort of real history into what's in the Bible. Just don't ask me to try to wedge Adam and Eve into my Cain and Abel story.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Free advertising

I was looking for a hardcover copy of Calculating God" by Robert J Sawyer and found It's a bookstore that gives a cut of your order to either an environmental charity or a literacy charity. They also offer CarbonFree Shipping which charges a bit more to pay for carbon offsets for the truck that brings you your books.

Since is run by the devil I'm going to encourage you to look at first when ordering books online.

OK, that was a short and lame post so I'm putting in niggling things now.

Gas just broke $3.00 a gallon in DC. What is it where you are?

My potato has been planted and has a shoot that reaches from my finger tip to my wrist. The other potato put out little roots and behaved like it would do something, but after sitting in the water for a couple of weeks and not putting out any real shoots I put it back on the shelf to either do it's thing or rot.

The mint I got from my brother's yard is sprouting.

It feels like wheat harvest here. There's so much pollen in the air that my body is shutting down. I saw people on the verge of passing out on the subway yesterday. All the damsels in distress kept trying to trigger my shining knight mode. Cars are turning yellow with all the pollen settling. And worst of all, I'M BREATHING TREE SPERM!!!

By the end of this summer the succulent I planted two summers ago should cover 75% of my yard.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Movie Review: Hot Fuzz

From the guys who wrote, directed, and acted in "Shawn of the Dead" (the movie that "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" should have been) comes "Hot Fuzz".

Sergeant Nicholas Angel is the best cop in the London PD. Top in all his classes, he's an expert in all manner of vehicle, and good with most any weapon whether gun, baton, or pencil. His arrest record is 400% that of the rest of the department. And he's making the other cops look bad. So they ship him off to some tiny backwater village where nothing ever happens.
Soon he realizes that this "Village of the Year" for several decades running has a secret. It has the lowest murder rate in all of England but the highest accident rate. Despite opposition from the rest of the force he begins investigating the accidents.

"Hot Fuzz" isn't as good as "Shawn of the Dead" and I've been trying to figure out why. Don't get me wrong, it's a good movie. It's funnier than the "Lethal Weapon", "48 Hours", or the "Police Squad" movies/shows. There's been just as much, if not more, thought put into the writing of "Hot Fuzz". The acting is just as good. The references to other movies in the genre still permeate the movie. But I'm not gonna get it on DVD while I've watched "Shawn..." several times.

I think it's because because "Shawn..." takes a zombie movie and puts in people we can identify with. Shawn and Ed were spot on for my friends Brian and Ben in so many ways. We can identify with the relationship problems, the issues with Shawn's stepfather, the shitty job, etc.
The characters in "Hot Fuzz" on the other hand are based on characters from other action movies. You don't watch "Die Hard" and think "my college roommate was just like John McClane" and you don't do that in this movie either. There's some relationship strife early in the movie, but it's for a few gags and then the movie moves on. The characters are just as two dimensional as in any other action movie.

Anyway, I recommend this movie, but I don't need to get it on DVD.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day. You didn't know did you? Neither did I. I was informed when reading the comics this morning. It's really kind of a pathetic holiday. I mean, good intentions and all, but there's no capitalist angle to it. There's no candy or gifts associated with it so we don't even know it happened until it's over.

I spent Earth Day wrapped in blankets, popping allergy meds like candy mints, and cursing the evil, evil trees that make my body turn against me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Robert J Sawyer

If you haven't figured out by now I am a fanboy. This would be a fanboy of the pale, skinny, goateed variety, not the obese, unshaven variety that you can ward off with a bar of soap.
I took half a day off work yesterday to go see Robert J. Sawyer speak at the Library of Congress. You don't seem impressed. Let me give you some idea how big a deal that was. Nearly every week there's a talk downtown, sometimes two or three, that I want to attend. It's at the Smithsonian or Library of Congress or somewhere like that and it's in the middle of the day. I've been to one other and that was only because government offices had been closed due to flooding or something. I should point out that I've been working in DC for five and a half years and this was the first time I've blown off work to go to one of these talks.

Robert J. Sawyer is a science fiction writer but he thinks of himself as more of a philosophical fiction writer. He lives in Canada and doesn't do the major book signing tours of the United States that other authors do. His last trip to DC was in 1998 and DC is a major tour site. This time he's going to Richmond, VA for a sci-fi convention and let the LOC know he was gonna be in the area. So they booked him for this talk. As a bonus he just had a new book come out so he'll be doing a signing on Sunday. Typically the signing would be enough. I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman but I'm happy with the little talk and Q&A before book signings. I wanted to hear what Sawyer planned to talk about.

The talk was on "Science Fiction as a Mirror for Reality" which was really an excuse for him to bash "Star Wars". Science fiction writers love to bash "Star Wars" and blame it for the decline of science fiction as a whole. Their reasons are good, too.

The first sci-fi book was "Frankenstein". Besides being the first story that really used a scientific idea as a basis for the story it also had a message to it. It's not just as simple as "don't play God". It's also studied from a feminist perspective. It's often said that when women can reproduce on their own they won't need men anymore. "Frankenstein" can also be said to say that when men can make life they won't need women anymore. Back in 1888 what power did women have other than having kids? The book sent the message that when men have the power to give life bad things will happen.

H.G Wells "Time Machine", "War of the Worlds", "The Invisible Man", "The Island of Doctor Moreau", and "The First Men in the Moon" are all prime examples of early sci-fi that lives on today. It's not the sci-fi that keeps them alive, but the reflection on the world that those stories give. The partitioning of society into upper and lower classes until they become just the worthless rich and the vicious poor. "War of the Worlds" is the tale of any conquering empire crushing another, but was based on the expanding British empire. Each story has something that makes it a commentary on modern society, often with a message that lasts.

Heinlein wrote about the folly of war. Asimov's robots were often about the nature of intelligence and when something goes from being a tool to being a slave. Most science fiction writers worked like that.
In the movies we had "2001", "Planet of the Apes", "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and others that tried to teach a lesson or make people think. "Star Trek" made social commentary that even an eight year old could comprehend.

Just as the genre was really starting to gain respect came "Star Wars". Six movies now and they all start with "Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away...". The first thing the movie did was to say "do NOT take this seriously. There's nothing here to be learned."
The heroes of the movie are a drug runner, a farm boy introduced while buying and restraining slave labor, and a wise old man, the model of what's good and right, who doesn't even think of defending the droids when they're tossed out of Mos Eisley Cantina. By the end of the movie the heroes are all getting medals, even the mumbling carpet creature, but the droids stand aside and clap. Honestly, I always thought that the droids deserved medals but I never noticed the rest. Not even the fact that C3-PO always calls Luke "Master".

After that sci-fi just stopped being taken seriously even by itself. Oh, sure, there have always been sci-fi books and movies that didn't hold itself to the higher standard but you rarely hear about them except in "Mystery Science Theater 3000" reruns. But the last Trek series to try to have a message was "Next Generation". Sci-fi used to be a platform to give social commentary that you couldn't give in other genres without a religious or political group coming down on you. That's almost gone now. You get some in the new "Battlestar Galactica" but even that is mostly soap opera these days.

It was a great talk that I'm not giving justice to. If you get a chance to hear it then do.

See also a recent interview at

The first book of his to pick up is "Calculating God". I bought a new copy for him to sign because Mom still has my original copy. All of his books are thought provoking and good material for a good old fashioned philosophical discussion just like you had while hanging out at one in the morning back in high school or college.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In the beginning...

In the beginning there was nothing, not even time
No planet, no stars, no hip-hop, no rhyme
Then there was a bang like the sound of my gat
The universe was born and the shit was phat

    - "The Big Bizang" by MC Hawking

The Bible is rubbish. It makes some excellent points and certain parts may have actual historical backing, but by and large it's a highly contradictory work written and edited by several committees. Even the Pope has finally admitted that much of it, especially the Old Testament stuff, is allegory and not literal truth.

So I'm going to start with the Creation and try to apply the six 24 hour period model to a history with a bit more backing.

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: 2 Cor. 4.6 and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

13.7 billion years ago, as we measure time, there was nothing. Nothing except the singularity. Contained in the singularity was the whole universe smashed into an area smaller than a pixel on this screen. Contrary to popular belief, even if there was air to carry the sound and someone to hear the sound, the sound it made was probably not a bang, not even a big one. But you can be sure that it would have been really loud.

9.2 billion years later one of the swirling clouds of debris from The Loud Noise collected into a very hot and radioactive lump that we call Earth. Over the next half billion years the planet cooled, rains came, oceans formed, and simple self-replicating nucleic acids began to form along vents in the ocean floor. The nucleic acids became cellular life. It took another billion years for these cells to develop photosynthesis so they could also get fuel from the sun. Another billion years and the cells were becoming complex enough to form something that we might start to recognize as algae. Yet another billion and the first multicellular life appeared as plants. Four hundred million years and the first animals appeared. One hundred thirty million years and the first arthropods appeared. Then more complex animals and fish.

Then 488 million years ago darkness fell upon the Earth. The ice came, the seas dried, and death took the plants and animals in great numbers. Thus endeth the first day.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

I'll grant you that I stuck the Biblical first and second day into one day. Just wait.

On the second day the life spread and changed, becoming more diverse and complex. Reefs were formed, sharks patrolled the seas. Plants moved onto the land as moss and lichen and fern.

Then 444 million years ago darkness fell upon the Earth. The ice came, the seas dried, and death took the plants and animals in great numbers. Thus endeth the second day.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

On the third day the life spread and changed, becoming more diverse and complex. Plants became grasses and began to bear seed.

Then 360 million years ago darkness fell upon the Earth. The ice came, the seas dried, and death took the plants and animals in great numbers. Thus endeth the third day.

See? Grass on the third day!

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Here we diverge again.

On the fourth day the life spread and changed, becoming more diverse and complex. Life began to crawl from the sea. For short periods at first but longer with each generation. Slowly they moved farther and farther from the seas. Amphibians and reptiles and things that were almost but not quite mammals walked the Earth.

Then 250 million years ago darkness fell upon the Earth. The ice came, the seas dried, and death took the plants and animals in great numbers. Thus endeth the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

On the fifth day the life spread and changed, becoming more diverse and complex. Reptiles grew to enormous size while tiny mammals hid between their toes. Things that were almost but not quite birds grew things that were almost but not quite feathers.

Then 65 million years ago darkness fell upon the Earth. The ice came, the seas dried, and death took the plants and animals in great numbers. Thus endeth the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, 1 Cor. 11.7 after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

On the sixth day the life spread and changed, becoming more diverse and complex. Mammals became dominant on the land. One hundred thousand years ago the first humans appeared. Sixty thousand years ago the common father to all modern humans lived.

Then came cars and industry, chemical waste and wars. The ice came, dried the seas, and death took the plants and animals in great numbers. Thus endeth the sixth day.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

On the seventh day God rested for there was nobody left to watch over.

There were five major extinction events (and one lesser event) in Earth history. I'm going to say that each of these would be a dark period, or night, for life on Earth. Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, and we're bringing Saturday night.

p.s. I know this is poorly written. It's just for my blog. Someday I'll flesh this out a more and try to make it not rubbish.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Tin Man

Few know of what happened after the events of the "Wizard of Oz". Sure, Dorothy got to go home, but she never knew of the ruin that followed her visit.

Shortly after getting his heart Tin Man got his first crush. As Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man worked their way back along Yellow Brick Road they found a young woman out working in a field. Her long dark hair was pulled back into a rough knot, her soft round features covered in tear streaked dirt, her plain dress stained and torn and outgrown a year or so back. His companions went on but Tin Man's heart caused him to empathize with the sad farm girl. He stopped to see if he could help.
She told him of her lazy father who whipped her and made her tend the fields so he could sit at home drinking. Tin Man decided to help this lovely dirt covered damsel in distress. He set to work next to her to help finish the fields faster. His fingers became a blur of motion, his powerful pistons and motors ripping up the stubborn turnips and tossing them casually into a pile on the basket sitting at the end of the row.
Having finished that the woman took Tin Man back to the house. She washed her face and brushed out her hair and set Tin Man to work milking the cattle. A smile and a little flash of leg and she set the Tin Man reshoeing the horses. The horses tried to warn Tin Man about the woman but he wouldn't believe a word against her.
When done with the horses he made her a colorful new dress which she wore when she ran away with a handsome young man from Emerald City leaving left Tin Man behind.
Tin Man continued doing chores around the farm waiting for the woman to come back until her father came out and mocked him for letting her play him for such a fool. The father mocked and mocked until Tin Man finally understood that the pretty girl had just used him to do her work and wasn't coming back for him ever.
Tin Man, his head bowed and his shouldered sagging, shuffled his way back to The Yellow Brick Road. He crept along the road for weeks, looking neither left nor right, his eyes focussed on a point a foot in front and two feet below his toes. Finally he returned to the woods where Dorothy had first found him. He tried cutting down a tree but couldn't find the strength to do more than put a knick in the bark.

Tin Man couldn't find the motivation to do anything else. His heart was broken, he'd returned to the closest place to a home he knew, even his primary function of cutting trees seemed pointless. His owner had left him rusting for so many years before Dorothy found him that it was clear they didn't even want him or care if he cut down any trees. Tin Man dropped his ax, let his knees give way, and slumped to the ground. There he sat, staring a hundred yards past the roots of an ancient oak. The rains came to do his crying for him and still he sat. Mushrooms grew around him, fires passed, and still he sat. If his joints are rusted even he doesn't know since he doesn't even bother to try them. He just sits there, year after year, with the heart of a human and the absolute, unfading memory of an android.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Game Review: Ratchet and Clank

This is a game about an insane asylum in Nazi Germany and the love affair between the cruel head nurse, Nurse Ratchet, and the imbecilic head of the asylum, Colonel Clank.

Ok, it's not but that could be fun, too.

Instead an evil corporation is building the ideal planet by stealing parts from other planets. Of course, the population of those planets has to die for this to work.
You're a talking fox thing and his robot sidekick/ignition system. Together you set off to win the big hoverboard race and become famous. And if you save the universe in the meantime so be it.

The game goes on much longer than it needs to. That's not a complaint. One judge of the quality of a game is the cost/hours ratio. Ideally a game should take $1 per hour to complete. This meets that qualification nicely.

As the game progresses you get a bunch of cool weapons and gadgets. Continual upgrades is also a good thing. One of the early weapons is the "Glove of DOOOOOOM!" which releases a pack of evilly cackling droids that chase down people who aren't you and blow them up. I think more games need that. Yes, they need robots that do your bidding instead of putting your character at risk, but what I really want is more excuses to say "DOOOOOOM!"

You're given a certain amount of freedom to move around. More than games like "Doom 3" which are in 3-D but still have you stuck on a pretty set path, but not as much as "Grand Theft Auto" which gives you a whole city. About like most games these days. Sometimes going back to places you've already been is a good thing.

It's a run around and shoot things game. Pretty good for that genre. I'm more into puzzle games though. I may get the sequel when I see it for under $20.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Enough of this

I'm so ready to retire. I know, Aren't we all? Just wanna give up on the whole 7 til 3 thing. But I've got another 30 years to go before I reach that point. That's just it. There's no break in this tedium for another 30 years. I like my job well enough. I could do a lot worse and I have. If I have to work it might as well be here. But I'd rather not even be here.

Remember school? Grade school, high school, college? We could struggle through semester after semester largely because we always knew that the semester would end. There was hope. Not sometime in the distant future, either. The semester would end sometime in a time period we could visualize. We'd get several weeks off around year end and a few months off in the summer. It was something to look forward to. It was a point where all the work and projects would end. Pass or fail it would be over. Sure you'd have to jump back in soon, but you'd get time to recover and then there'd be something new. Same coworkers but a new boss with different work.

We don't get that anymore. Sure, we take the occasional week off for vacation but it's not nearly the same. We go back in to the same people and the same projects. There's no end in sight except for the oh so distant promise of retirement once you live the span of your life over again except with mortgage payments this time.

What do we have to look forward to now? Unemployment.

When my friends get fired or quit their jobs we congratulate them. They finally have some real time off. Weeks or more likely months where they finally get to do all those things they've been wanting to do. They can catch up on their reading, learn a new programming language, work on that script they've had rattling around in their head. The constant beat down of work lifts long enough to give you the energy to do that thing you've been wanting to do. Sure, there's that job hunt stuff, too, but that's only a minor part in their new life and when they get that job it still won't be that old job.

You know it's been five and a half years since I've been unemployed? Think of that. Think of a semester of school that lasts 286 weeks instead of 18.
Some time it'll end and I'll get that break. Then I'll take three months off and land another job. I could quit and do it now but it's a safe bet that the new workplace would be worse and the pay would be less. I really do have it good here. I just need a sabbatical. Being stuck at home with a cold doesn't count.

Friday, April 13, 2007


So there's this girl that I've seen a couple of times. Relax. We're still working out what's going on with us. We went out to Dave and Busters a couple weeks ago and burned through a few of those free cards full of credits that you get with certain meals. Together we built up 432 tickets from various machines. Skee-Ball should really pay out more than it does. We blew 425 of those tickets on a Superman doll.

Here's the doll out doing the flat Stanley thing at the tidal basin with her and her mother.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Movie Review: The Reaping

I only kinda wanted to see this movie. It's an old story. Some bad ju-ju going on in some backwater town where you can hear the drumbeat of bibles being thumped all around. A priest whose faith has failed her is called in to disprove the supernatural nature of the happenings. One Biblical plague after another hits the town and they're ready to lynch some little girl over it. But the science fails and by plague 6 or 7 the ex-priest is convinced and is ready to kill the girl, too. Then there's a twist that almost makes the worn out old story so far worth it. Special effects spectacular. Another little twist. Roll credits.

It wasn't scary, I paid too much to see it and will not get it on DVD.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Movie Review: GrindHouse

A grindhouse, as I understand it, used to be a theatre where you'd go to see a double feature of rather cheaply made movies full of excessive violence, gore, and sex. They'd use whatever film they could find as cheaply as possible, some lame makeup, and dreadful dialog.
This movie is supposed to be a spoof on those movies. No, spoof is the wrong word. Comically intended homage, maybe?

The movie opens with a trailer for a made up movie called "Machete" about a bad ass Mexican hired to kill a senator and then get taken out so he couldn't talk. Instead he loads up on machetes and goes after the senator and the guys who hired him.
There's several real movies like this, but "Machete" is supposed to be low budget-high gore instead of high budget-medium gore.

Then we get into "Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror". A back street deal between some scientists and the military goes wrong and a deadly gas is released that causes horrible blisters and deformities while turning people into mindless cannibal zombies. The film is horribly scratched and melting in places. The color quality changes from scene to scene. A missing reel means we lose the best part of a sex scene the story jumps from the safety of the BBQ hut into the middle of a zombie raid. The dialog is written to mock the bad dialog from the real movies. The gore isn't as bad as in movies like "Dead Alive" where you spend the first 10 minutes choking back the gag reflex but it's pretty bad.
If you've seen the trailers then you already know about the go-go dancer who gets some military grade hardware as a replacement for the leg that gets devoured by zombies. Really, that line tells you everything you need about this movie.
It has Tom Savini as a police officer. That either means something to you or I can't explain it.

There's an intermission where some more fake trailers are shown. One by Rob Zombie ("musician" and writer/director of the gorefest "House of 1000 Corpses"), one by Eli Roth (writer/director/producer/actor of the gorefest "Hostel"), and one by Edgar Wright (writer of the comedy "Shaun of the Dead"). There's also an ad for the restaurant next door showing some rather unappetizing food.

Then we see "Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof". This isn't as gruesome as the first movie. It starts with a long stretch of Tarantino style banter between three girls heading out for a night on the town. We meet Stuntman Mike who explains what a "death proof" car is and why a stuntman needs these specially rigged cars. Then driving and death.
For the next part of this movie we see four more girls out for a good time. One of these actresses is primarily a stuntwoman and is here for a good reason. These girls are in town for a movie they're filming and have a few days off. After much more Tarantino dialog they find a car for sale which is a replica of one in their favorite car film. They take it for a test run so they can do some really stupid stuff with it. No, I can't tell you what. Stuntman Mike shows up again and there's a long car chase that is a lot more dangerous than the dangerous stuff they already had in mind.
After surviving Stuntman Mike these girls decide to turn the tables. They go back after him and the movie ends on a "girl power" note.

This movie must be watched with a whole bunch of people. The Easter sunday crowd was about right. Big theatre with a couple of dozen people well spaced out. It's really a theatre experience movie but I'll probably get it on DVD anyway. Eh... maybe not. Really, you need a mob of people.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Movie Review: Meet The Robinsons

I had doubts about this movie. From the trailers it seemed like the best part of the movie was a partially intelligent dinosaur complaining that it's arms were too small. Plus it was from Disney which hasn't done a good cartoon since "Aladdin". But then I remembered that Pixar just took over Disney. The first thing John Lasseter did was kill "Toy Story 3: Straight to DVD". Suddenly Disney has standards. So I went.

It starts with an old Mickey Mouse cartoon, which tells me that Lasseter had his hands in this movie even if only at the end. Pixar likes having short cartoons before their movies.

"Meet The Robinsons" is a brilliantly strange movie. Instead of cobbling together something to fill 90 minutes of animation time with pop culture references, celebrity voices, and action scenes set to remakes of once popular songs they found a good book and made it a cartoon. The jokes are well timed and fast paced and actually pretty funny.
The story is about a orphan (it's still Disney. Living mothers aren't permitted.) who is also a brilliant if unsuccessful inventor. A boy from the future shows up to tell him to beware a man in a bowler hat who wants to sabotage the science fair. To prove he's from the future the boy has to take our hero to his own time where they crash the time machine. Our hero tries to fix the time machine until he meets the boy's family who instantly treat him like one of their own. Having found the family he's always wanted he doesn't want to go home. This leads to a variation on the standard time traveler Grandfather Paradox.
The man in the bowler hat turns out to be an idiot in cohorts with a robotic bowler that is much more intelligent than the man.

I can't tell you much more than than other than the hero learns that failure is ok as long as he keeps trying, goes home, wins the science fair, and gets adopted.

It was a great movie but I doubt I'll get it on DVD.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Sorry I've not posted recently. I was down with the ick.

I would be remiss in my duties as head of the Church of Dougintology if I didn't take a swing at Easter. As usual Easter is one of those holidays that the Christians corrupted for their own uses.
The spelling varies depending on who you ask. Most common is Eastre, meaning spring, but I've also seen Eostre, Estre, Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos. All are names for the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Eastre was a week long fertility festival to encourage the crops to grow, celebrate getting out of that cramped house after a long winter, and to see which of the neighbors survived the harsh winter.

The holiday was associated with the Spring Equinox (when day and night are both 12 hours long). As with most holidays associated with the placement of the sun they weren't alone in their celebrations. People also had festivals for Aphrodite from ancient Cyprus, Ashtoreth from ancient Israel, Astarté from ancient Greece, Demeter from Mycenae, Hathor from ancient Egypt, Ishtar from Assyria, Kali from India, and Ostara a Norse Goddess of fertility.

Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess, had a consort who was believed to have been born via a virgin birth. He was Attis, who was believed to have died and been resurrected each year during the period 22 Mar to 25 Mar. Cybele's main cult was housed on Vatican Hill.
Many religious historians believe that the death and rebirth of Jesus was lifted from Attis to help convert pagans. Others claim that it was lifted from Hindu's Krishna or any one of dozens of other saviors and dieties that came before Jesus.
The position of the Christian Church was that Satan knew Jesus would come so he spent centuries scattering the story among other culture to throw doubt on the story of Jesus.

The eggs and the bunnies are, of course, symbols of birth and fertility that came with the adoption of Eastre. The cross is Christian addition. Alas, one tradition that was lost was building a fire on top of a mountain using new fire made from friction. I'm not much of a tradition guy, partially because I'd be the guy told to stand quietly on top of a cold mountain and watch them try to get a fire started, but I kind of like this tradition. Easter mountain, in Osterberg, was named for this ritual but any mountain will do.

I'm rather partial to the idea that Jesus is an adaptation of Krishna. Many of the events in Jesus' life parallel Krishna's as do many of his philosophies. Some Hindus accept Jesus as one of the many reincarnations of Vishnu. Some Christians believe that during the missing years of Jesus' life (from childhood until age thirty) were spent traveling including spending time in India.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Book Review: A Multitude of Monsters

This is the sequel to "A Malady of Magiks" which I'm pretty sure I reviewed before. You should really read the first book first.
What to say? In the first book a wizard became allergic to magic and he and his apprentice set off to save the world. The first book felt like a collection of short stories that were bound together in a book. This felt less like a collection of short stories and more like a planned book. Many of their travelling companions return for parts of the trip and new ones are introduced. By the end of the book they've reached the city they've spent two books looking for only to find the city missing.
And so on to book three.

Not brilliantly funny but amusing. Certainly more funny than this Kurt Vonnegut book I'm working my way through. If you don't see a review for "Hocus Pocus" in the next few months it's because I decided life is too short for lame books.