I Am Legend was actually pretty darn good, despite all-but abandoning the very core -- dare I say 'point' -- of the story. In its place they wedged a peculiar new type of 'Legend:' namely the Bob Marley album of the same name. Perplexing and stupid. Still it was pretty awesome despite this and the many MANY things I found to complain about. (Seriously, why would he hunt from a Mustang GT? How would he haul the carcass home?) Lots of funny little "future" tidbits like the Batman vs. Superman movie billboard in Times Square. Bottom line: even taking into account the major deviations from the much-loved source, I really liked it.
Sweeney Todd: I need to preface my review with this: as a rule, I dislike Broadway musicals on principle; that goes double for Hollywoodified Broadway musicals. That said, I couldn't have loved Sweeney Todd any more than I did. Simply put: the story is great, the film is visually great, Depp, Rickmann, and Bonham-Carter are great, many of the songs are great -- and, most awesomely, the quantities of blood are VERY great. I don't have much knowledge of the source material, so I can't vouch for its faithfulness (all I knew about the musical I learned from Jersey Girl) but I can say that it was very engaging, and very enjoyable. This is my surprise hit of the year. Oh: this time around Depp apparently decided to pick David Bowie for his character inspiration. What's his deal with rock stars? My biggest complaint with the film? The titular character is a barber who is very handy with a straight-razor, but throughout the film he bangs and scrapes his various razors on the ground and objects, throws them around, etc. As one who actually shaves with a straight-razor, I know that they're very sensitive, fragile things, and that a true master shaver would NEVER treat his instruments even remotely as badly as Todd does.
Alien vs Predator: Colonated Title: The first AvP was so ludicrously bad, both in performance and in critical/internet review, that the mere emergence of a sequel suggested to me that someone had come up with a brilliant-enough concept to sell the fickle studio heads on it and get it green-lit. I was wrong. From the look of things they got 5 different writers to come up with ingenious-yet-different concepts, then smooshed all 5 together into one script. And then removed the ingenious altogether. What was left was a mish-mash of potential heroes, all with hinted-at complicated back-stories and demons for each to overcome. None of these ever goes anywhere. This movie sucked all manner of ass, but not in an even remotely good way.
Juno: I really, really, liked this movie. It has been touted as "this year's Little Miss Sunshine," and I have to say the comparison is somewhat apt. If I had to describe it, I'd say it's like Knocked Up with all of the Superbad sucked out of it. You know, in a good way. With characters out of a funnier, makes-sensier version of Garden State. A really refreshing and interesting look at teenage pregnancy and how it sometimes can go "right."
I have many socks. Many of said socks are the result of several years worth of different shapes and styles. This makes laundry an extra hassle, as matching socks ends up kind of a "Guess Who"-esque game for little kids. "Is this one with the grey toe and the red 'Hanes' logo a match for that one? Nope, grey toe and BLACK 'Hanes' logo." Unfortunately (fortunately), I don't have any kids to play this game for me.
That's why one of this year's Christmas presents was extra fantastic. I opened my drawer the other day to find this:
Along with new boy-band underwears, I found 50+ pairs of identical socks where once there was a mismatched jumble of mate-less ratty ones. D got the new ones that I liked (after she disliked the new pink-toed varity that she bought for herself I inherited them and fell in love with them. Hence the pink) and got rid of all the old ones. Now every sock I own matches every other one.
I find it hard to believe that a better gift exists. Top it in the comments if you're giving -- or have gotten -- an awesome gift. Don't worry about spoiling it before Christmas; nobody reads this stuff, let alone clicks into the COMMENTS.
It is very cute. Pics up on my flickr account. (flickr.com/photos/ jerwarren) (Too hard to type links on iPhone)
The "Sugar" user interface is incredibly slow and seriously makes me question the sanity of the developers. "OK, we have a machine with very limited resources... Let's write an entire desktop environment and suite of applications in python!"
Allegedly the UI is intuitive to those with no computer experience, but this very experienced user has had trouble figuring things out.
The OLPC folks were nice enough to enable sshd by default as well as having no password set on the root user, so all manner of things are possible.
Got firefox, pidgin and blackbox installed and am foregoing Sugar in favor a more traditional linux desktop.
Projects for the future: share iPhone's EDGE connection with the XO, video playback with mplayer, NES/Super NES emulation, and figuring out how the heck to get it to sleep.
The popularity of my recent reimagining of "Knight Rider," combined with AT&T's iPhone network problems has prompted me to share another TV idea while I would normally be reading blogs.
Imagine an ex-Army Major, dishonorably discharged over an issue he disagrees with, leaving him permanently disgruntled and with a
vendetta against authority.
Now imagine that his only career option is that of a private detective, where his crime-solving usually pits him against the police, the FBI and other such authorities. He is very abusive to his clients and the people he interrogates alike. He always manages to catch the culprit, but the motive he invents for the crime during his investigation usually hilariously revolves around some imagined military conspiracy that only he believes in, and doesn't actually have any bearing on the crimes at all. He never fails to get the guy, but it always makes him think he's getting closer to the "truth."
Few things have excited me as much recently as that of the OLPC project. Since last we talked about it, I've donated another to the efforts. This means that I'll have two of them to play with, which I figure is essential to seeing how the mesh networking functions. I also figure that when the nerds begin doing really awesome things with them, people who are kicking themselves for not having the foresight to have gotten in on the ground floor may suddenly be willing to pay considerably more for them than those of use who donated did. This, of course, comes after the joy of knowing that I've helped two kids get one.
Before I get into trying again to explain just how awesome the project is -- despite all the negative attention the press, Intel, Microsoft, John Dvorak, and Digg commenters have been lavishing upon it -- I've a couple links for you.
First up, from the BBC: A child's view of the $100 laptop. In that story a virtually computer-illiterate 9-year-old in the UK gets his hands on an OLPC and talks about all the things he was able to do with it WITHOUT HELP from an adult. And how fun and creativity-inspiring it is, despite the abundance of video gaming systems he owns. Now imagine a 9-year-old kid who has never had an electronic device before, and now suddenly has one that can help bolster creativity in many, many ways. Remember how cool it was when you first exchanged instant messages with people from all over the world via your computer? Now imagine being able to do that from your bug-laden tent, and being able to get skills and contacts that might be able to get you out of the dirt into a job in a more technological world at some point in the future. I just don't see how people can bad-mouth the amazing thing the OLPC people are doing.
Next: for those of you that've donated to the project and are anxiously awaiting the shipment of yours, I learned that the OLPC is maintaining a delivery estimate on their site without prominently linking to it. Click on over to Give One Get One Shipping Information to see when you can expect to get yours. (My first one is in batch two; my second is in batch 3.)
On to my excitement. Remember in Orson Scott Card's novel "Ender's Game," the futuristic space-school where the students' textbooks and assignments were all on digital tablet-thingies, with which they could communicate amongst their peers via text chat and email whilst working on said assignments from their living areas? And how they could play learning games to help them unlock what's inside themselves while having fun? I would have killed to have something like that when I was in grade school and actively wished for such a thing a little later in life. Now, thanks to the work of many individuals who came together under the OLPC initiative, kids in some of the worst parts of the world are going to have EXACTLY THAT -- minus the zero-gravity and attacking aliens, natch.
If you want to help one of these kids have something nice in their otherwise unpleasant-seeming (to this westerner, anyway) life, you can still donate to the project over at laptopgiving.org. If you donate before December 31st, you'll be able to get one yourself. This helps in two ways: the Give One portion puts one of these laptops into a kids hands, while the Get One part helps increase the production quantities. This helps makes things easier and cheaper for the manufacturer, which means it's good for everyone involved. $200 of the $399 cost is tax-deductable (here in America, anyway), and I'm confident that post-Dec. 31st you'll be able to recoup the rest by selling it to some other nerd -- assuming, of course, that you won't find a tiny, low-power, uber-portable eBook reader/word processor/email/drawing/web-surfing machine useful yourself. (If you're outside of America, you will require a US postal address to get one. If you're otherwise interested in participating but don't have such an address, drop me a line and I bet we could work something out.)
By now everyone knows there's a new "Knightrider" series coming, and most know that they've picked a Ford Mustang to 'play' KITT. Without getting too into detail, I think both of these ideas are terrible. Generally I'm against any remake on principle, but I'm willing to take a peek at your remake provided enough of the things that need to stay the same are, in fact, the same, and enough of the things that need to be different are, in fact, different.
If someone held a gun to my head and said that I have to create a new "Knightrider," as well as WATCH it when it's done, here's what I'd do:
KITT would not be different. In fact, I'd use one of the same '82 Trans-Ams. I wouldn't even wax it.
KITT would not be waxed up because he's been in storage for twenty years in a warehouse somewhere.
KITT would not be terribly happy about having been left alone in storage.
KITT would not be terribly SANE after having been left alone in storage.
Young upstart new 'driver' for KITT is a young Shia LeBouf-type
FLAG Industries has gone evil since KITT has been in storage, and has become a Blackwater-esque mercenary outfit helping the dictatorship government oppress/scare the masses into compliance, while fighting against terrorist attacks. (Did I mention this was set in the modern day?)
KITTs anger and craziness helps enable him to be used in attacks to bring down FLAG.
David Hasselhoff reprises his role as Michael Knight, except that Knight is now President. Evil President. He is not seen very much, usually on television. (So as to allow Hasselhoff's understandably busy touring schedule.)
Shia LeBouf's people are behind some of these so-called- terror attacks, and live largely off the grid so as to move about without dealing with the new inter-state travel cards all citizens must carry. They drive armored muscle cars. Running on biodiesel that they manufacture themselves.
Because life under this new regime is so bad, the economy has faltered considerably, meaning that much of the roadways around the country has fallen under disrepair, leaving only major through-ways maintained enough for travel. It is these roads that citizens use, presenting their ID cards so as to keep tabs on who is in what state at any given time. Our heroes do not use these roads.
There are other bands of less-civic-minded folk that just try to rob and pillage anyone daring enough to avoid the gov't roads. It is largely these people that our heroes concern themselves with from episode to episode; the A story is generally surrounding our heroes' efforts to help the little guy (like in the original show) while the B story often deals with the overall scheme of bringing down FLAG. Sometimes these bad guys have ties to FLAG which bring us closer to bringing them down.
KITT might actually be KARR, yet completely unaware of the fact.
At one point in the past my grandmother was getting postcards similar to those from a stranger sent from random places around the world. I don't think she ever found out who it was, but it sure makes for an awesome story. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better use of your money than bidding on that auction.
Snopes.com frequently irritates me with their liberal use of the blanket terms "True" and "False" to denote things they have no way of knowing about. What generally happens is they come up with a plausible explanation for something and decide that this had to be what happened. I feel that it is irresponsible of them to go around claiming things as true or false on a flimsy basis when the entire internet treats them as the be-all-end-all source for the truth about sketchy things. They need to be more honest and broaden up their determinations a bit.
The most recent example of this is Phallus in Bugs Bunny Cartoon. In it they do no more than suggest a POSSIBLE explanation for the mystery flesh, yet they outright claim that it is "False." Here's the picture in question for those that don't feel like clicking over:
Their claim is that a white area on Bugs Bunny's crotch (that's much more impressive in the video) is, in actuality, just the tub behind behind him, and that what looks like a penis is just the natural curvature of Bugs's legs. Never minding the fact that Bug's's's legs never, ever, extend up into his abdomen, this answer just doesn't hold water for me. I downloaded the video off YouTube, extracted the three frames in question and examined everything thoroughly, and -- guess what -- I have reached an entirely different conclusion than the one they did.
The first thing I did was look for other pictures of Bugs with legs extending into his abdomen. Go ahead and watch the video for yourself, where you can see Bugs in that same position several times without ever having his legs extend up that high:
It just doesn't happen... they stop below his abdomen. That said, his legs do seem a bit short in the 'penis' shot; if you WERE to extend Bugs' legs into his abdomen, the length would be about right.
The next thing I did was find a frame with that area of the tub unoccupied:
I then cut out Bugs and overlaid him atop the empty tub:
As you can see, the area that people are claiming to be a penis is now the same color as the tub -- much darker than the white area in the original shot. Clearly this means that Snopes is mistaken with their assessment of the situation. Rather than the tub, it's more likely that the white in question is supposed to be Bugs' towel draping around his backside.
Except for one little detail:
Bugs' towel can be clearly seen at several points in the episode tied ABOVE his tail, meaning that it could never be seen behind his legs in the first place:
So what's all this lead to? The 'penis' can only be one of two things: a) a penis snuck in by a feisty animator, or b) a result of a poorly-sketched-out Bugs with too short of legs that was quickly 'fixed' by extending his legs up into his abdomen. After all, there are only 3 frames affected by this problem, and who would ever know? It's not like nerds are obsessively going over these things with a fine-toothed comb, right?
In any case, without any way of ever knowing whether this was an animator goof or some animator shenanigans, we can't call the claim "True" or "False." I think the reasonable answer is the goof one, but it would be dishonest to say for certain one way or the other. Which is exactly what Snopes did, and does on a regular basis.
I recently learned that underground coal fires -- as depicted in the film "Silent Hill" -- release as much carbon into the atmosphere world-wide as do all the cars and light trucks in the United States. Since we know that all the cars and light trucks (SUVs) in the United States release DANGEROUS amounts into the atmosphere, threatening catastrophe like the one depicted in the film "The Day After Tomorrow," this is clearly a bad thing.
Firefighters in China recently put out one such coal fire (that had been burning for more than 50 years) at great expense and risk to the men involved, and several new ones have sprung up here in the States. This brings up an important issue: how much money, energy and manpower are we willing to commit to these efforts? Sure, we need to do whatever we can to stop Global Climate Change, but at what cost?
Like usual, I've come up with a solution to this problem. My plan will cost nothing, require no man-power, and will require literally no change in policy, behavior, or freedoms on the part of individuals. The plan is simple: we use water to put out the fires. The beauty of my plan is that as Earth's temperature increases the icecaps melt, raising sea levels, and thus bringing nearly endless supplies of saltwater to the coal fires where they'll be put out naturally. Then, because the fires are no longer emitting CO2, the water level will slowly raise back down, leaving us with mines containing both coal AND salt ripe for the taking.
A coworker asked me the other day if the film I've been calling "Will Smiff Is Legend" is based on something else. I explained that it was a book, which then spawned two different movie adaptations: "The Last Man on Earth" and "The Omega Man." This new version has an interesting pedigree, in that it was once going to be an Arnold Schwarzeneggar remake of "The Omega Man" until that fell through, and ALSO once an "I Am Legend" until THAT fell through as well. Then they got some of the people involved with both to kind of work together on this final version incorporating the good bits from each.
I'm not quite sure what to make of "Will Smiff Is Legend." On the one hand, all the shots I've seen of it look fantastic and I know Will is a great actor who -- provided the script calls for it -- will be able to pull off the 'grizzled, lonely, and angry' that encompasses the story. On the other hand, though, I keep picturing him with a sideways gun saying "aww HELL no" while bustin' caps into zompires from his motorcycle in slow motion. Call me equal parts excited and reluctant. (Also, is it even going to HAVE zompires? Remember in Jonathan Coulton's fantastic song RE: Your Brains, how the guy's zombified coworkers try to plead with him to come out because all they want to do is eat him? That's straight out of "I Am Legend," except the zombies in question were kind of a halfway-point between zombie and vampire; they rise from the grave and eat brains, but can be staked through the heart to kill them. Plus they're smart.)
On the subject of prior film adaptations, I highly, HIGHLY recommend the 1964 Vincent Price version entitled "The Last Man on Earth." It's a truly great film that I think does a good job of capturing the mood of the book while adding a few new things as well. The new ending they came up with is probably one of my favorite endings of all time, which leads me to believe "Will Smiff Is Legend" will not use it ;) On the plus side, the film is now in the Public Domain, meaning you can download it off the internet with impunity. If instantaneous blocky streaming flash video is your thing it can be found here on Google Video. If nicer quality -- and therefore a longer, more complicated download process -- is more your thing, it can be found here on The Pirate Bay without any fear of legal repercussions because this film was allowed to fall out of copyright like copyright law intended. Yay for properly functioning copyright law.
As one who loved Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, the noise Bill Donohue and the like were making over the film adaptation of "The Golden Compass" (far before they could ever have actually SEEN the film) really irritated me. This is a nice bit of satire, "turning the other cheek" -- if you will. I've not seen the film version of "Golden Compass" because I think it's not really a story well-suited to being a film, and that the liberties that'd have to be taken with the story could do nothing more than sadden me. Based on the film's terrible performance this weekend, I'd have to hazard a guess that I'm not the only one that felt that way. Or that Bill Donohue is more powerful than I'd prefer to give him credit for.
I can't vouch for the film, but Pullman's trilogy is really fantastic. Slightly "challenging," I suppose, if the idea of religion perpertrating evil offends thee, but I'm of the ilk that anything that causes one to think about what they believe is a good thing. I think the books are beautiful, and the hand-full of Christians that I know who've read them didn't seem to have any kind of problem with them. Despite how terrible the film looks, I urge anyone with even a passing interest in Young Adult Fiction to take a look at the novels.
I think that it's great that you're getting into both the hardware and eBook business, but do you really think it's such a good idea to hinge the success of both on each other? I mean, I have so many devices now that are capable of A) browsing the net, and B) reading eBooks that it would never even cross my mind to pay you $400 American to get another one so that I could purchase books electronically from you. (OK, so it crossed my mind, but I immediately said "no.") I'd love to be able to purchase your eBooks and read them on any number of my devices, but you make that impossible without buying a Kindle.
You keep making a big deal about how "Kindle is not a device, it's a SERVICE," which is a great way to look at it -- except for one little detail: you have to buy the device to access the service, so it's not really fair to say that. Please consider allowing people to download the Kindle files from amazon.com themselves, rather than requiring that they get sent over the EV-DO network to the Kindle that they probably don't even own.
How about an application people could install on their laptops to access the Kindle network from there? Or better yet: how about a web 2.0 version of Kindle, allowing people to log in and read their books from any browser-enabled computer?