I just realized that "Maximum Overdrive" and Zack Snyder's version of "Dawn of the Dead" have essentially the same ending. I like to imagine that the guys from "Dawn" pull up on the island to find an aging Emilio Estevez asking them if the trucks have stopped killing people yet.
"The good news is that the trucks are no longer killing people. The bad news is that all the dead people ARE."
Speaking of Stephen King adaptations: know how I like to gush about Frank Darabont being a genius? Well I just learned that he once wrote "Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors." That movie pushed the "quick, let's all go to sleep and end up in the same dream" plot gimmick to the limit, included Freddy Kruger with a Nintendo PowerGlove, and included the phrase "put on your 3-D glasses now."
Frank Darabont has made three pretty dang good Stephen King movies, but he's still got some atonement to do for Freddy 3.
Remember how in "Terminator 3" the Terminatrix could control electronics, enabling her to use them as an extension of herself? Remember how when it came to vehicles they'd do the David Fincher zoom-through down to the circuit level, showing that she's taking control of it only to zoom back out and show the shift knob move by itself, the gas pedal depress to the floor and the steering wheel turn by itself? That bugged the crap out of me. For me it was exactly like in "The Never-ending Story" when Sebastian got to the part in the book where Sebastian got to the part in the book. ("That's IMPOSSIBLE!" Both his response and mine. Luckily he was all alone in his school's attic; I was in a crowded theater and got simultaneously 'shhhhh'd and snickered at.)
Compare with the film "Maximum Overdrive." Shift knobs move by themselves, steering wheels turn without assistance, and gas pedals depress to the floor, seemingly without any cause. This was perfectly acceptable. AWESOME, in fact. I'm not entirely sure what the difference between these two examples is, but I suspect it to be the explanation of how it is working. In "Maximum Overdrive," there really is no explanation. For all we know, there are invisible beings sitting at the wheels of the vehicles. We know that an alien race is using Earth's machinery to "sweep out all the roaches," (those roaches are us) but there's absolutely no attempt to explain it. In "Terminator 3," on the other hand, they go out of their way to explain it, even using flashy graphics of electrons following circuitry. The problem, though, is that electronics don't work that way. I could buy the steering wheel, since most modern cars have "power steering," but the shift knob? There's no machinery for the electronics to activate to get them to move. To me that was just plain stupid and it spoiled the whole movie.
Do these types of things bother other people, or is it just me? None of the other unrealistic things in the film -- time-travel, cybernetic organisms, Claire Danes -- bothered me in the slightest, while such an inconsequential thing completely ruined it? Is that a normal human response?
VERY much enjoyed Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's "The Mist." That story has been my favorite of King's since I first read it at like 12y/o or so, and I always longed for it to be a movie -- but not a crappy movie like they always make out of Stephen King stories. I was mightily worried that I was going to be disappointed, but needn't have been, for it was AWESOME. Everything looked just like it did in my 12y/o old brain, and I felt almost exactly the same as I did upon first reading it. Frank Darabont for the win!
I think that story really nails what society is all about, and I fear that it perhaps warped my fragile little mind upon my first reading. People really do form little power hierarchies, willfully giving up power to others when it's too scary not to. At the first hint of crazy, people are willing to overlook a WHOLE LOT of crazy in the people to whom they decide to give power, and don't even seem to realize it. Sure, stuff in the titular mist IS scary, but the really frightening things in the story are the ones the people do. Because their leader tells them to. Scary because it's TRUE.
Film gets bonus points for Dark Tower inclusion, a nice reference to John Carpenter's "The Thing," some thought-evoking Jesus symbolism, leaving out the only thing that really made me feel skeevy in the story, and lastly: for including something new that skeeved me the crap right out, yet played right into the underlying theme of humanity's fatal flaws. Best non-Shawshank Stephen King movie ever. I have a lot more to say on the subject of this film, but I'm going to wait for a while so as not to spoil anything for anyone who wants to see it.
VERY much disappointed by the wonderfully titled "Flight of the Living Dead." The only thing good about it is the title. I'd much appreciate it if things would stop happening "on a Plane" now. Thanks.
I've been following the One Laptop Per Child project for a couple years now, and have anxiously awaited the day I'd be able to own one myself. A couple of days ago they started taking orders for their Give One Get One promotion, wherein you can spend $399 to get an OLPC computer for yourself, one for a child in a developing country, and also year's worth of T-Mobile HotSpot WiFi usage to boot. (The latter is a $350 value in and of itself.) Also, $199 of the total cost is tax-deductable, seeing's how you spent it to help fund a non-profit.
Aside from the coolness of having a tiny, rugged, green, Linux PC that uses 1/10th the energy consumption of an ordinary laptop, it also serves as a WiFi router and its swivel screen allows it to be configured as a laptop, an eBook reader, or a hand-held gaming system. It also has a built-in camera and microphone, and a huge multi-use touchpad that allows you to not only move the mouse cursor, but also draw and write as well.
The user interface on it has been designed from the ground up to be intuitively operated by those with zero computer experience, and it comes with software to do all sorts of fun things that I'd have killed to be able to do as a child. Animation, video editing, web browsing, creative writing, drawing, games, etc. All of the included apps are written in Python, and there's even a dedicated keyboard key to display (and edit) the source code of any currently running program. (How cool is that?) There are a bunch more applications currently in development specifically for the OLPC system, but I don't see why you couldn't run any old Linux/X11/GTK apps on it with very minimal hassle.
If, like me, you want to do something to help make the world a better place -- and are also an insufferable nerd who feels compelled to own gadgets and make them do things which they mightn't have been entirely intended -- the "Give One Get One" deal is a pretty darn good choice. Orders can be placed until November 26th.
Without getting too into my feelings on the WGA strike, I'd like to say that you, the networks, could be handling the lack of writers much better than you are. You appear to be taking the "hold our breath and hope it all works out" tack, whereas you could be doing all sorts of pro-active things to keep viewers tuning in and shows in production.
I spent the morning thinking about it, and I've come up with the following list that I'm sharing in the hopes that one of you will listen to me. Any one of these things can fill a time-slot; a combination can fill your whole line-up. The problem is that without writers, you have nothing to produce, right? That's where you're wrong -- you have TONS of things to produce:
1) Spec scripts. Pretty much everyone who wants to break into writing television starts cranking out these free scripts for existing shows in the hopes that producers will like them and pay them to write more. There are undoubtedly thousands of these things of varying quality for nearly any show currently airing. One would only have to grab the stack and produce episodes that fans probably wouldn't even notice are of even lesser quality than the normal scripts. Hell, some of them might even be better.
2) Repurpose old scripts. Know how NBC advertised the hell out of the "Scrubs Musical," touting it as an "event" ? This same type of advertising could be used to promote, um, "different" episodes of currently running shows. For instance, take the script for a first-season episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard," run a find-and-replace on it, swapping out "Bo" with "Earl" and "Luke" with "Randy" and you've got a two-parter KICK-ASS "My Name is Earl" special event. I think that might actually be better than the real "My Name is Earl."
3) Fan fiction. There are BILLIONS of scripts out there written by fans of the show. You don't have to pay them because they were foolhardy enough to use your trademarks without asking permission first -- and are damn lucky you're not suing their asses off. Most of these are rubbish, but some of them are pretty good. They don't have to be GREAT, because half your viewers are already so busy complaining that your writing has gone downhill that they won't notice when it actually DOES.
4) Re-runs. The plan now is to air repeats of the current line-up of shows, right?. The thing is, people who watch those shows have already SEEN those episodes, why would they want to watch them again? I think you'd be better off running re-runs of older shows people have forgotten about. What are Balky and Cousin-Larry-Applay-ton up to? I HAVE NO IDEA, I better tune in! Bonus points for running shows youngins today have heard OF but not seen; run "Twin Peaks" in prime time and I can guarantee you ratings.
5) Un-aired canceled eps. Remember all those shows you canceled at mid-season last year? The ones that still had produced episodes yet to air? Show those. All those shows had people who liked them who would love the chance to see a few more episodes now that it's gone forever. Who knows, maybe the ratings will be good and you can bring them back, "Family Guy"-style. Lord knows THAT show is terrible and people have been watching it for years post-cancellation.
6) Pilots. Every network makes dozens of pilots for potential new series, only a small fraction of which ever get picked up -- let alone aired. I say advertise a block of time-slots giving viewers the opportunity to see shows they wouldn't otherwise get to. Why show episodes you're pretty sure everyone has already seen when you can show episodes NO ONE has ever seen, and will never be able to see again. I'd tune in for that, hells yes. As a bonus, you already PAID for them, so it's essentially free money.
7) CELEBRITY DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. Know all those boring shows showing celebrities playing boring games like poker? People WATCH those. Know those terrible "funny" shows about fake nerds? People WATCH those too. Now imagine if you took some REAL nerds, who are actually FUNNY, and make them play an exciting game like Dungeons & Dragons, and you have an instant hit on your hands. Call Wil Wheaton to make this happen, as he's tried to get this off the ground before, but you losers weren't interested. Also call Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn.
There you have it: practical functional ideas that require no writers. Implementing any one of these will keep people working, and keep people viewing -- while keeping my complaining down to a minimum.
I want to have things to watch. You want me to watch them.
It's been quite a while, but with the 1.0 release I decided it was time to give Flock - The Social Web Browser a spin again. I loooove it. The new media streams toolbar is really awesome; on a flickr or youtube page, for instance, if you click the orange media stream button a little bar will appear with thumbnails of all videos or photos for you to browse through. Then if you drag one into the blog editor window, this happens:
Also, it auto-detected my crazy non-standard blog format. That's always a plus. These new features on top of the old ones I liked have me hooked, and probably for good.
This morning we had breakfast in an establishment at which we'd previously not had breakfast before, where I was confronted with a glorious sight: plastic opaque Heinz ketchup bottles where once there were ganky glass previously refilled ones.
This reminded me of my saga some time back trying to do something about those refilled bottles once and for all. This seems like a perfect time to shamelessly crank up the Wayback Machine and send all you newcomers back to those glorious days.
"I was the biggest skeptic in the world," Dr. Rubin said."“And I sit here and say, 'This can’t possibly be happening.' I feel like the credibility of my scientific career is sitting on a razor's edge between 'Wow, this is really cool,' and 'These people are nuts.'"
Other scientists are understandably hesitant to buy into this, citing that "correlation does not equal causation." Just because the fat levels are decreasing while the bones get denser doesn't necessarily mean that the fat is turning INTO bone. I think further study will probably bear out that there is some other cause for the fat decrease -- like maybe the fact that the mice are forced to stand rather than lie down, thus expending more energy, or maybe that the vibrations excite them sexually and thus increase the metabolism -- but the bone density findings are pretty cool. Imagine osteoporosis sufferers simply standing on a vibrating plate to strengthen their bones a few times a week, no longer worrying about going ballroom dancing or tying eachother up in the backroom of the bingo parlor.
If the findings are proven conclusive, however, it will be finally possible to say with utmost truthfulness that you're not fat -- just big-boned.