So many words, so little time....

Monday, July 31, 2006

Good Linkage....

It's summer vacation. This afternoon the kids are watching Naruto and dredging around on the computer. I know about Naruto because of the ear-splitting "Believe it!" that I got over the phone when the girls called and told me they were headed off to work. I know about the internet usage because they send me links to stuff.

They do this all year 'round, but in the summer there's a new breed. It's slow season for a lot of online media. All the webcomic-guys are at various conventions so their update schedules go straight into the toilet. Not a lot of new game releases. We're between seasons on RedvsBlue. This winter's movie releases are on DVD and bad summer flicks are on at the theaters. At times like this they get a little off the beaten path.

It's a fine line. Looming over all this is the horror known only as the Foamy Incident. That was a time last winter when they sent me a link off of that involved the resident over-medicated squirrel babysitting and the predictably bad results. If you're an afficianado, it was the "Medicated Baby-heads" one. A co-worker came by while I was watching it in stunned dismay and she about went up with the windowshade. Needless to say we introduced the concept of "Not Safe For Work" quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Today's links have been sheer genius so far.

Bet you can guess which one of the kids this one came from. Armor-piercing Nerf Gun. 'Nuff said on that one. But the QC guy is going down the next time he starts some smack.

YouTube links are de rigeur this year, and they found one of my favorite things ever. The Yep-Yep aliens from Sesame Street. This is the classic with the book and the phone. Jim Henson himself does the blue one.

I saved the best for last. Tatsuya Ishida over at Sinfest had a little thought go under the radar last month or so ago in his Resistance blog:
I'm thinking about starting a religion which is the exact same as Christianity, same book, same story, same rituals. Heaven, hell, sin, salvation, all that good stuff. The only difference would be that instead of the name "Jesus" I would insert the word "Dude." And instead of God it would be "Voltron." Otherwise everything else is intact. So you got Dude of Nazareth and Voltron Our Father in Heaven. Has a certain ring to it, don't it? I can imagine a Sunday sermon about Dude in the desert being tempted by Satan. What did Dude do? He resisted! Yay! Way to go, Dude! And Genesis would read: In the beginning there was Voltron. Voltron made the earth and the heavens and on the sixth day the Lord Our Voltron created man in his own image. When he saw that it was good, Voltron rested. Moses, of course, would be known as "Beavis." I think it has potential. The Church of Dude. And Voltron. We could play team basketball against the Subgenius people and the Flying Spaghetti Monster Cult. We could form our own league. Winner gets dominion over all existence.

LordGnu, what say we do a little half-court challenge against the winner of that game. I know physical exertion really isn't in the Articles of the Semi-Faithful. But I figure the Dude guys will be even more baked than our guys, and those Spagetti Monster guys are pretty much all hairy, ill-built Unix geeks. Even with me on the team we should totally pwn. And then the Great God Gnu will hold sway. Might be worth a little non-dogmatic exertion. ;)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mountains and Molehills....

I saw my first real molehills today. I've heard that old saying about "turning a mountain into a molehill", and the opposite. I always just assumed it made a charming alliteration. I mean, the critter isn't that much bigger than a mouse or a shrew. How big a deal can this be?

Well, looks like about two cubic feet of big deal. Wow. Last night that was a manicured expanse of green lawn. This morning as I walked around the corner of the building, it looked like someone dumped a wheelbarrow-load of dirt out on the lawn in four piles. At first I figured it was the lawn guys chasing the wily but elusive sprinkler system again. It seems to get around a surprising amount and they're forever digging up something trying to deal with it. That's a whole nother story, though. Not so. I ran into the little old gal who works up on the fourth floor who was smoking by the door and when we exchanged our morning hellos she pointed them out and told me a story about the ones that are re-arranging her lawn at home, too. I guess her husband has been sprinkling something gross on the lawn trying to drive them away but this morning he called no joy on that.

I wanted to go over there and look and see if I can see a real live mole, but they're really sensitive to vibrations and stuff and I don't want to scare them. Silly of me, I know, but it's true. I can't stand spiders, but I feel awful if I don't kill them in one smush. That's making them suffer. I walked into the building shaking my head.

A couple hours later me and one of my coworkers went back down to geek out someplace where we won't frighten the normals and so she can smoke. The piles have since mysteriously sprouted these black metal contraptions at their base that I'm pretty sure are traps. Some of them are live cage-traps, and some of them are obviously some sort of jaw-trap.

This is fascinating to me. There are people around here protesting all sorts of trapping and what have you. They say it's inhumane. I was under the impression this wasn't allowed in Washington state. I looked it up and apparently if you pay someone else to do your dirty work, it's ok. I got the name of the service and tried to find their website. I mean, the jaw trap I was looking at was about three inches across. That's a heck of a lot of trap for something the size of my hand. Even without setting one off to see how it works I think it's safe to assume that whatever you catch in it isn't going to care anymore about what you do. But those live traps bother me. I want to find out what they do with the animals they catch in the cages.

Now I've got a referent for yet another old saying that my upbringing didn't give me a handle on. I understand the metaphorical meaning, but I think it's not as accurate as it could be. Mountains are much bigger. That's true. And the change of scale is important. But unlike mountains which are usually kept at arms reach, these things are right there where they're in the way. The actual effect of the problem is considerably bigger from the little animal vole-forming your lawn than it is from the big rock-pile so far away it looks blue.

So, I guess I've learned my one thing for the day. And may all your molehill problems become far-away mountains. ;)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Superman Returns; forgot to bring back Clark and the rest....

We saw it last night, and well, this is going to take a while. You all can write me off as an obsessive geek right here if you want. It won't hurt my feelings at all.

I first want to give some kudos. My hat's off to the film's title designer. Great evocation of the old films but with enough wow to bring it up to date. Actually, all the design work was excellent. They evoked those Silver Age times without loosing today. Ditto to all the special effects guys - I saw some very minor matte effects when he was flying (a couple times where he goes right to the edge of the black they drag the black into the blue when he goes back down). But overall it was beautiful work. The DVD transfer should smooth those out quite nicely and we'll be sitting pretty for my living room.

Casting was great. Kitty and that dog really stole the show. I liked Frank Langella as Perry White. And I hope poor Mr. Marsden doesn't get stuck with playing a brownish non-entity who gets left for the hero-guy for his entire career. This is getting a little ridiculous. Spacey as Luthor was amazing. He really brought out the brains as well as the crazy. The museum heist in particular was great. They cast Martha Kent perfectly. Hearing the ghost of Marlon Brando added a beautiful touch. Wasn't over-fond of the new Jimmy. I know they were trying to show that time passes with the beer but then he needs to get better at his job and learn, too.

It was better than I was afraid of, but I wasn't dazzled by Mr. Routh. I've been grumbling since those first promo pics in the new costume came out, but now that I've seen it I have some specifics to point to. It was the opposite of what I was afraid of. He handled Superman fairly well, but his portrayal of Clark Kent really repelled me. He's not supposed to be an incompetent idiot - he's supposed to be Harry Hairshirt. He needs to have enough reporter's chops to be able to keep up with Lois. That's nowhere here. His main claim to investigative skills was guessing Lois's lame-o password. Which if either him or Richard had a single braincell on speaking terms with another between them all they would have had to do was get ahold of the Daily Planet's IT department to get. I wouldn't send him to cover a high-school cotillion. He's still a scrawny git. 225 pounds my arse. Not enough Lycra and balloons in the world to deal with that. And speaking of fabric, the cape looked like one of those plastic tablecloths they get for wedding receptions - what the HECK was that all about?

I must give credit where it is due, though. For all his issues with Clark and the costume, he did handle super-ness fairly well. He had a bit of dash in the whole thing. And he carried off that kiss-curl and the cleft chin and that says a lot.

Didn't much like Lois, either, for a lot of the same reasons. They shorted her investigative skills and her headstrong ways. She seemed so weak and whiny. Lois should have taken Perry's orders and then done exactly as she pleased from the moment she walked out his office door, just like she always has. And who the HECK brings their kid to an investigation of a strange place!? Especially something serious like those blackouts. "Just gonna ask a couple questions" should go right up there with "I'm from the government and I'm here to help". They did have a flash of the right stuff with the fax thing, but using the boy as a distraction like that really didn't sit well with me. If the bad guy had enough brains to see lightning and hear thunder after he unplugged the machine he would have gone for the kid rather than dragging her across that desk by her hair and that's not a risk I'd have been willing to take without any weapons to protect him. Oh, and ditto to Richard for going back into the storm with the kid on the plane!

My biggest problem was the addition of the tawdrier elements. I'm sorry, but him stalking her to her house and the pulling that Peeping Tom on her and her family creeped me out. And him scamming on her on the roof totally took the shine off their flying scene for me. I mean, they made sure to show the engagement ring, for crying out loud. I was so angry I cried. The scene was absolutely beautiful, well played by both of them, and completely cut off at the knees before she took her shoes off. Superman is not supposed to be the sort of skeeze who would do those things.

Not to mention the entire concept of the boy. Who even if he is Superman's son (I won't bore you with several thousand words of geeking on the improbablity of that) and his powers are active then he wouldn't be able to be taking the blood tests that would be going on with his list of medical issues - the asthma and allergies in particular - because they wouldn't be able to pierce his skin. Someone would have noticed she'd been keeping a bard in the closet on that one PDQ. Can't have it both ways, guys. Either he waits for puberty like the comics, or the Kryptonian powers and characteristics are there from the cradle like the other films and you've got to ride that horse. Especially since you showed the whole IV thing in the hospital scene. Looks like they tried to pull the "he's half human so we can do whatever the heck we want" card. Which is cheap.

I do need to get up on a high-horse here. I am sick to death of everyone saying that they're making all these comic movies for comic geeks. If they were, they would not be doing this to them. X-men, Spiderman, Daredevil, Elecktra, the Hulk, what they're doing to Ghost Rider. I'm not even touching the Fantastic Four. You name the IP, and I'll show you signifigant departures from the core materials that affect the story. No, these aren't for geeks. They're making them for the masses and hoping like hell they've waited long enough that the average Joe doesn't remember from his own childhood reading under the covers what it was supposed to be.

I'll do my level best to keep it separate from the other materials in my own mind and just try to enjoy it on it's own merits. Which are considerable. The kids liked it a great deal more than I did. We'll be buying it on DVD. But I'll mourn a bit for what it came so close to being. Maybe a bonfire effigy of Jon Peters is in order.....