Monday, December 24, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Three Pears

I've been pecking away on this post so long that my original opening was, "Ah the post-election relief, with only the warbling cries to secede echoing in the distance to encroach upon the relative calm."  And since, there's been another slaughter at a school, this time involving little children.  You can find the names of the innocents here.  I imagine most parents like myself have been thinking of their little souls since.  May they rest in peace and may their loved ones find solace.

I had tried to watch George Clooney's The Descendants a few times, but finally found the groove last week, and really enjoyed it.  It made me cry (thank God I was alone) when the father leans down and kisses his daughter, who as an adult has had an accident from which she won't recover so they've stopped life support, and says she was a good girl.  In context, that scene IS the movie.  That scene has meshed in my mind with the school tragedy; losing your babies is the worst thing that can happen in this life.

From there I went to see Life of Pi, though I had originally decided to pass as I had read the book, and at the time thought it to be one of those unfilmable books.  I don't like Ang Lee's films in general, as most are tedious.  But the reviewers I respect said that it's great, and beyond great in 3-D, and these guys don't like 3-D.  So I decided if a window opened up when it was cheap, I'd go.

I have to give Ang Lee credit in that he captured the novel perfectly, and dammit the 3-D was fucking spectacular, so I'm glad I was cajoled into it.  See it that way if you can.  If you can't, it'll still be awesome on a HDTV.  But if you've popped for a 3-D TV, definitely buy it in that format.

The thing about Life of Pi, besides the spectacle, is it's a meditation on God, nature, and the meaning of life, set in the rubric of modern thought and sensibility. The actors that play Pi in the various stages of life couldn't be more perfect.  If you need a feel-good movie, take out the financing for some popcorn and see this one.

Kevin Smith once said that Ben Affleck is the smartest man in Hollywood, and would eventually own the place on some level.  Argo makes a strong case for that.  His direction is gripping, flashy in the good way, and Oscar-worthy.  It's always an achievement to make an edge-of-your-seat movie from actual events where most of us know the ending.  The only time I was yanked out of the movie was one sequence where the camera dwells too long on Affleck, and then we're treated to a gratuitous shot of him shirtless, ala Galaxy Quest.  I suspect his lovely wife advised him to keep that shot in, since he was considered prime beefcake once, and we wouldn't want to disappoint those fans, would we?  See this flick.  Just put it on your list.  I have not heard one bad review from those who've seen it.  Stick for the credits to see the real people.

Wreck-it Ralph surprised me because the previews did not give me hope beyond a string of video game references laced with fart jokes.  While there's certainly that, there's also a surprisingly touching story that avoids the maudlin pitfalls of Finding Nemo (loathed by my entire family, save for the seagull's "Mine? Mine?" gag).

One thing movie makers seem to be rediscovering is how to maintain a character's identity with their personal dignity intact, making them believable in a context that should betray that.  For example, in The Avengers, you believed Captain America was still this wholesome WWII dude who is a believable leader to the smart-ass Iron Man and tragic Hulk.  In Wreck-it Ralph, Fix-it Felix is a believable "gee-wiz, gosh darnit" nice guy who suspends disbelief when he falls for and wins a Halo-esque soldier babe who's profanity  pushes the edge of a PG rating (adults mentally fill in the real curses). 

Skyfall was another Bond movie.  If you like them, this'll likely be one of your favs.  If you're ambivalent, like me, it's a decent way to waste 2 1/2 hours.  The villain in this one is my favorite bond villain so far.When he gropes the tied-up James Bond, all the guys including me visibly squirmed.

Saw Seeking a Friend for the End of the World which had some nice moments, but what really made me laugh is that the girl, who's a vinyl junkie, takes some of her treasured records when they run from a mob, and on top of the stack is Herb Alpert's Beat of the Brass, which is one of my mom's favorite albums that she played daily for years, so it's part of my synapses, and I play it regularly, too.  I wonder if the person responsible for choosing her favorite records included that as a joke or if they were sincere. 

Speaking of music, some great albums dropped.
The best, to me, is Dwight Yoakam's Three Pears, which is prolly the best post-Pete Anderson (his former lead guitarist and sometime producer) album of his.  Dwight has always released albums that are listenable all the way through, but more than most artists I'm aware of (outside of the Beatles and Billy Joel), he often makes albums that are mostly great songs.  It'd take less time to list those that had a few average songs than to list the ones that were solid all the way through.

Prince appeared on Jimmy Kimmel a while back and snorted out a fantastic nasty groove rock funk which achieved the proper response from me: hells yeah, I'm buying that!  (You can get it here.)

In the meantime, here's that performance (I love how he prefers lady drummers):

Donald Fagan put out Sunken Condos, which is prime Fagen.  I personally dig Morph the Cat a bit more, specifically because of the title cut and "Security Joan" which still makes me smile every time I hear it.  Fans should get this. Folks looking for some new Steely Dan music should, too.  

My daughter loves Green Day, and their recents Uno!, Dos!, Tre! doth rock, yea verily, they doth also have some delicious power pop. However, you may want to preview them on, and compile your favorite cuts for one great album.

That reminds me, I read a book that ended up being way more interesting than I thought it would be:
Still the Greatest: The Essential Songs of The Beatles' Solo Careers by Andrew Grant Jackson.

General Jackson spins a delightful book out of "what if the Beatles never broke up" and assembles the likely Beatles albums from the solo work of each Beatle by year since their breakup.  Each chapter is that year's album, which starts with the history of what each member did that year, and then he lists the songs and gives a brief history of their creation and context. He even concocts the resulting compilation albums, ala The Red Album and The Blue Album.

This is the precise sort of thing I love, and there is a lot to love here.  For example, whether or not Yoko had anything to do with the Beatles breaking up, she certainly stopped them from getting back together.  John was going to go join Paul in New Orleans where he was recording at the time (this was shortly after John's time with Harry Nilsson and while he was separated from Yoko), but Yoko got wind of it and demanded John join her in New York for a short time, claiming she had found a hypnotist to help him stop smoking.  John recalls the time as blurry and he vomited a lot - and never joined Paul.  It would be interesting to know what her fucking motivation was. 

Pounded through the wonderful bio of David Foster Wallace by D. T. Max, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story.  If you're a fan of DFW, you will love this book.  One of the more wonderful aspects is that Max is a damn good writer in his own right, which you'd almost have to be to tackle the bio of one of the best writers in a couple generations.  Bios typically pull you through because you want the details, which this one has, but I stopped a few times to admire a beautifully honed phrase.  I look forward to anything D. T. Max might do in the future. 

And that's what I have for you going into the holiday season.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Grand Festivus, and wondrous non-denominational winter solstice.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Scares You?

Let's get this clear quickly: this is NOT a political post, even though the title sets it up for that. No, the genesis of this post was the night I discovered that if I ever have a heart attack, it won't be induced by fear. More on that later.

A hilarious thread on the intertubes recently explored things that frightened the contributors as a child - specifically something that was either intended for children, were seemingly innocuous, or was readily available to a youthful audience. The Brave Little Toaster popped up a lot, Jaws, and various incarnations of the Wizard of Oz that were not the one we all know and love.  (In particular, the Disney sequel Return to Oz destroyed a lot of childhood psyches, and I recall at the time when working as a theater usher wondering what in the hell they were thinking when they made this little walk through nightmare planet.  Check it out when the kids aren't around.)

The things that really tweaked my bolts as a kid were the wolf man (1941 original), the mummy (1932 original) which probably wouldn't have even shown up on my radar if our school's weekly reader had not featured a story about x-raying a mummy (which is how the mummy is brought to life in that flick) and freakin' bigfoot.
However, hearkening back to the point of the thread, the thing that scared the ever-loving fuck out of me, and forever turned me into a nightlight junkie, was something that was meant as creepy, but it was an Outer Limits episode, which was just right there on the tube one night at 9 O'clock.  Outer Limits was supposed to be OK because it was supposed to be about freaky sci-fi  stuff, which never really bugged me.  But some bastard found a way to incorporate a ghost story into my sci-fi (and I'm sure there was "you got your chocolate in my peanut butter" commercial on during that episode).

It was called "Wolf 359" (da fak with that name?), where this scientist creates a mini-earth to learn something crucial about evolution or sociology or something, but then THIS FUCKER SHOWS UP:
And it walks on down the hall (figuratively):
And it finds him while he's sleeping:
His girlfriend shows up and saves him, but JUDAS CRISPIES!

I recall having a rather sleepless week.  At one point, I heard a single note in the house (a typical house noise) and the wind whipped up.  My parents room was on the diagonal across the hall from mine, and our stories are all the same: my foot hit the floor at the end of 10-foot span from my bed only to pivot and leap on their bed 12 feet away.  Who says white boys can't jump?

It was nightlights and wide eyes behind the pulled-up blankets for the weeks it took to wear off.
So, that was the childhood thang.

But, a few weeks ago, insomnia had crept down the hall and ... I just put that together ... anyway, there I was, on the 'puter, cruising.  Someone posted a link with some false info, like "check out the shock absorbers on this Chevy!" (but not the actual lure, of course), and I clicked on the link.

I had forgotten that I'd had the new wonderful monster speakers with the thunder-licious sub-woofer that I had cranked to 11 for the girls earlier in the night so they could dance right next to me on the floor. I also had the browser expanded to cover the whole screen (which I never do) so I could see all of some awesome "Astronomy Pic of the Day" thang. 

And this thing popped up. [UPDATE: alas, it's gone.]

BEFORE you click that link, a few provisos, a few quid pro quos....
This is what's known on the intertubes as a "screamer," which means the sound is worse than the image.  Also, please, no children in the immediate area.  Finally, have your sound down, and no headphones.  You can totally decide to not click this link, and maybe you shouldn't.  If you do, you've been warned.

When I clicked it, it came on at top volume at t 3 A.M. in the dark, jumping at me from the screen.  I didn't scream like a little girl, no.  I screamed like an adult male with his nuts caught in the worse part of a Soloflex as it works itself out when its victim has let go out of fatigue.  I lunged for the speaker's volume knob, but in the midst of completely spazzing out, I knocked the whole stack of speakers over.  I was reduced to finding the plug and yanking it out of the wall.  As I emerged from that, the screen was still flashing the BAD THING at me, so I had to locate the mouse, which I had thrown involuntarily, and close the browser.  As I was doing that, my wife - who can literally sleep through thunderstorms that sound like a full-on bombing raid - appeared at the landing and screamed "ARE YOU OK?'  Having shut it all down, I walked over and said, probably quite shakily, "I'm fine. Sorry for waking you."  She said, "*&%#$ the *&%$#@ are you doing?"  I gave a brief, less-damming, description, apologize profusely, and suggested she go back to bed, I'd be right up.  

Thankfully, she did.

I had to walk around for about 10 minutes before my pulse lowered and the goosebumps stopped snaking around my person.  I went and laid down, but stared at the ceiling for a while, happy the nightlight we keep "for the kids" was still on.

I spent the next two weeks hunting for the thing, wanting to see if it was as bad as I thought it was.  When I found it again, it was in broad daylight, but I still jumped and snorted. 

So, what scares you?
Happy Halloween!
Jebus Crispies!
Click to Enlarge

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Barbara

90 Days, 90 Reasons to Re-elect President Obama

I wasn't going to post anything political outside of a single link (the one above) this election season, because any and all subtlety or humor I try to bring to my posts here abandons me like passengers of the Hindenburg when I wax political.  Truly, a good half of the essays on that site are wonderful.

But Samuel Jackson keeps being awesome, and this - probably the best political ad ever - changed my mind:

So, in the spirit of waking the fuck up, I'd like to start with two things I've noticed (or had pointed out to me) about the Republican campaign:
1) The Karl Rove Academy of Projection (KRAP) is an often-used tactic of the Republicans where a Republican accuses a Democratic person, policy, platform, etc. of the very problem or weakness the Republican has.
2) Romney and company speak to all of us as if we were Fox pretend News devotees who will uncritically accept whatever is said, no matter how demonstrably false or batshit it is.

Whereas number 1 works for them a lot of the time, sadly - because it instantly confuses the easily confused - number 2 has proven disastrous for their campaign (yay!) because those of us who weigh the credibility of everything any politician says, or anything the media says about them, will fact check it. That's why Paul Ryan's mostly fraudulent speech at their convention was such a flop outside of Republican circles.

The main theme of their campaign is that the wealthy are the "makers" and everyone else, particularly the poor, are the "takers," which is theme that the right has been developing for a while now, but has finally surfaced in this election in its naked form.

Of all the ways that can be controverted, perhaps the best is to point out the sham of their favorite (and completely debunked) economic theory.  Let me use Robert X. Cringely's words here:
The fundamental error of trickle-down (Supply Side) economics is that it is dependent on rich people spending money which they structurally can’t do fast enough to matter, and philosophically won’t do because their role in the food chain is about growth through accumulation, not through new production.
- Source: Ticked off- How stock market decimalization killed IPOs and ruined our economy ~ I, Cringely
Then we have Romney's infamous accusation that 47% of the nation are lazy bums (those damn "takers").  I won't belabor the incredible, gob-smacking stupidity and brazen callousness of this, as many on the left and right(!) have done that so well. (I could rant over several posts about Romney's crack about people thinking they're entitled to food, but I'm going to spare us both that.)

What I didn't see addressed enough was the composition of that 47%, which you can see in the chart below, and the primary reasons why the low income portion is so large: Bush's tax cuts and people being cast into lower tax brackets (read: poverty for many of them) due to the recession.  There's much more good detail on this here and here.

Even though the Republicans claim they intend to help the middle class in the future (because they can't claim they have in the past), when you explore how they intend to do that, it falls apart. it's not through tax breaks (those will be only for the rich), it's through "growing the economy" through supply-side economics, which doesn't work (see above). So they're lying.  And they hope that, like a good Fox pretend News sucker, you'll buy the lie again.

The bottom line: they honestly believe the poor and even the middle class don't really matter.  And in their world, they don't.

So, I hope that come election day, this will be the look on the Republican ticket's faces:
Finally, I want to make sure you saw this wonderful moment where the token Republitard on "The View" tries to blame the economy on Obama to his face.

Please vote for Obama.  Thank you.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Stay Frosty

"[I'll post] Sooner than a month, at least" I wrote 5 months ago. So much for that goal, eh?

As usual, I've been grinding on a post about this summer's movies, and often didn't get past a list or a half-hearted comment on each.  The short version is my favorite movies this year were 21 Jump Street and The Cabin in the Woods.  The new kid flick (just barely), ParaNorman, had a couple good laughs, but I'd wait for the DVD.  The final witch ghost scene will likely scare the holy hell out of the more sensitive kids (I got goosebumps), so you may want to preview it and judge first. The one I was looking forward to the most, Prometheus (the Alien prequel), was a huge disappointment.  Like most, when two scientists encounter a penis cobra (not my coinage) and the first thing they think of is taking off their spacesuit glove and touching it with their bare hand, I wondered how long the rest of the movie was going to be. Of course, I'll see the sequel they set up at the end and grouse about it here.

The thing I really enjoyed the most though was a cancelled series by Joss Whedon called Dollhouse (and, btw, pronounce his first name ending with "s" as in snake, and not "sh" as in shit, because that's what you'll get if you mispronounce it to a fanboy).  The premise is that a technology exists that  removes your personality (including muscle memory and other goodies), stores it on a hard drive, and then installs another personality into you.  People whose lives have gotten sticky can sell five years to become a "doll" that rich people rent out for whatever, after which you get yourself back and you're a millionaire with no memory of any of the nasty things they made you do.  See if your local library has it; it's a trip.  The pilot starts slow, so soldier on to the end and likely you'll be hooked.

One of my favorite moments IRL in the last couple weeks was during a voyage to Target with my daughters. The eldest has bloomed into quite a teenage beauty, and it’s fun to watch the boys try to be subtle (and failing every time). The 7-year-old wanted to buy a toy with her allowance money, and so brought along her new little blue purse (she used to use a box with a handle meant for recipe cards, Lord knows why). When it came time to pay, I had to do the digging for the correct change because even though she understands currency somewhat, she still wants me to make sure the change is right. Among the contents was a single blue crayon. I held it up with a questioning look and she said that you never know when you’re going to need to color something.  I still smile at the memory.

Musically I've fallen hard for Ska recently.  I've always kinda dug it, but preferred it mixed in with other songs.  Now I can groove to 2 hours of the stuff.  I've always loved myself a good horn section, which is mandatory in Ska.  My most surprising discovery is the now-defunct band called The Dance Hall Crashers.  I've had their great song "Enough" on many mixCDs, but guessed incorrectly that I wouldn't like the rest of their songs (and back then there was no way to listen to other songs without financial commitment).  Well, after a trip to Grooveshark (more on that in a bit), I realized I like nearly everything they've done.  Other current favorites are Mayer Hawthorne's How Do You Do, Joan Osborne's (remember "what if God was one of us"?) Bring It On Home, and the single from the last Van Halen, "Stay Frosty" - another David Lee Roth classic.  Oh, and almost forgot Joe Walsh's Analog Man, produced by Jeff Lynne (of ELO) with members of The Beatles, The Eagles, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash in guest spots. (I don't know why the links take you away from my page. I've set it so it's supposed to spawn a new window, but apparently Amazon grabs the link and forces the page change.  Bad on them.)

I had a Macintosh as my main computer at home for about half a year now (the time I did little writing I now realize), but it's an old hand-me-down, and the video port suddenly forgot what the color red was, so I procured an old hand-me-down laptop with a huge display (but a battery as dead as Rush Limbaugh's conscience), and put Xubuntu on it.  Gad I love that freakin' OS.

However, with having a Mac for a while, and now a Linux box, I had to hunt for software so I could work and play regardless of the computer I happened to be sitting at.

Here's a rundown of the best free software and web sites I've run across in this voyage, with a strong bias towards software that has a package for the 3 main OS's (Vinders, Mork, Linus).

Music and Sound
Grooveshark is a website that allows you to find and que up about any song there is.  If you create a free login, you can save your songlists to replay later.  It also has a radio station feature like Pandora if you want someone else to throw songs atcha.

If you find yourself a good Stream Ripper for your OS (the one I use on Xubuntu is Audio Recorder), you can record the stream and chop out the individual songs if you'd like.  (Of course most of the artists would hate you for that, and typically I do it to test-drive a song, and if I like it, go nab a good copy from Amazon for a buck.)

Another place to grab free (and legally free) music, is the Gorilla vs. Bear site.  This link is a shortcut to their monthly mixes, so make sure you check out the website proper as well.  If you like anything in the mixes, the track listing shows the time the track starts so you can snip it out as a single.

To chop up or edit sound files, Audacity is awesome. Be sure to also grab the "lame" encoder if you're on Windows or Mac.

This, of course, implies that you'll listen to it on some portable device.  The iHome rechargeable mini speaker is the size of a single-serving tin can of veggies and sounds pretty amazing.  I got one for sitting outside and watching the little one play, but my teenager uses it when I'm not. (She just grooved through the room with it dialed to 11 as I was writing this.) It lasts about a week on one charge.  $20 at most Targets, office supplies, etc.

Finally, check out Amazon's MP3 best sellers list.  The one on the right is the freebies, and they have many sampler anthologies that almost always have a good song or two.

Word Processors
By accident, I found this wonderful word processor that's tailored for distraction-free writing: FocusWriter.  When you launch it, it takes up the whole screen and does not allow other apps or OS messages to popup at you and harsh your mellow.  So, if you're gonna have Grooveshark swimming in the background, get it going first.  You can set the screen colors, or even have a groovy picture as the background, and set the font color and size for optimum visibility.  It saves in RTF and ODT format, so all other word processors can open the files for final buffing for presentation, but you'll likely not even need that unless you have to include tables or pictures. I LOVE THIS THING!

AbiWord has finally fulfilled the promise of a nice, stand-alone, fully-featured word processor, and I recommend it if all you want is a solid word processor. It's peppy and does most of what you want.  If you need a page layout app, then there are many good free ones.

By now most folks know of the full-featured word processor in the LibreOffice free office suite, but it's a bit of a hog and takes a while to load, and you have to install just it if you don't want the rest of the office suite sucking up hard drive space better suited for music and pics. (In my experience, not a lot of folks use anything other than the word processor from an office suite at home.  Some use a spreadsheet, but typically at work if they do. If you do use one though, LibreOffice's is very good and I've never seen it have a problem with even complicated Excel spreadsheets.)

Graphic Editing
Only people who make a living at graphic design or photography need to pop for the blindingly expensive Photoshop.  Both Photofiltre and provide all of the things you need for typical home or web site editing.  I prefer Photofiltre because it's so simple and intuitive, but provides layers, which sometimes is a must.  (Here are two downloads for Photofiltre: the primary download site, the portable apps slice that's a slightly higher version.)  Sadly, both of these are Windows only.

If you need all the power of Photoshop, of course there's the free conteder, the GIMP, but it's really geeky and takes a while to learn how to use the complex features.  But if you want to do Dooce's wonderful "Glow Effect," you'll need the GIMP.  There are several web tutorials on how to use it, as well.  It also has a version for every OS.

Video Viewing
Don't bother with the bloated and bitchy video viewers that come with Windows and Mac.  They're hogs, they don't have half the video format docoders, and they try so hard to help you just watch a freakin video you have to click through much shite just to do that.  And they crash like teenage drivers.  Neither can open the formats used by most smart phones.

Get yourself VLC/VideoLan.  There is not yet a video format I've found it can't open.  It's solid.  It lets you navigate in the timeline easy, and you can tweak the video and audio to perfection.  It's the must-have video viewer.  I have no idea why their icon is a traffic cone, though.

As you can see, I've added some of the recommended sites and software to the menu on the right for easy reference.

You may have noticed that I didn't mention online applications like Google Office, online photo editors and the like.  "The cloud" has many fine offerings, and I use them once in a great while.  The problem is, if something's in the cloud, you have to think of it as postcard - anyone can see it if they try hard enough, and the hosting company certainly will, as will your internet provider because it goes through their network and servers on the way to its storage particle in the cloud. I used Google Office to write the posts for this blog until Google essentially replaced the editor on Blogger with the Google Office editor (which I use now).  Since all posts were destined to be posted online anyway, there was no problem with writing them there in the first place, and it allowed me to do so where-ever I had access to a computer.  Pretty cool.

But, that great novel you're working on, spicy pictures of your spouse - or even innocuous, sweet family photos, wills, financials, and anything that's essentially private should stay on your local computer, and be backed up regularly (once a month at least).  Post only photos you intend to on the web.  Storing all of your photos on a cloud service, like flickr, still makes them available to others. (Think of the creepy bastard neckbeard IT guy at work, because another version of him is managing the site your pictures are on.)  In addition, they've written algorithms to recognize certain content, like nudes.  If you have a pic of your kids in the tub out there, you may get a visit from a cop.  Also, most sites have buried in their terms of use that they essentially own the copy you've placed on their servers so that you can't sue them if they lose it.  Yeah, you still retain "rights" to it, but they have some too.

So, view the cloud as that friend you can't lend anything to that's valuable.  You only lend it to them if you're ok with them losing it, even in a public place, which they've managed by leaving it on the shelf on a store somewhere because they got a call while holding it, set it down then forgot.  Only lend the cloud things you can bear to lose or don't care if your boss sees it.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Ok, Fine

(Found on

So, a good friend who reads this blog said to me about a month ago, emphatically, that I needed to post. I was touched, and it obviously prompted me to write something. (Been working on this post for over a month now.)

I don't know if it's what you'd call writer's block, apathy, or what, but I just haven't been motivated to slide thoughts together.  Maybe it's the bad influence of, which has become my Twitter, since Twitter itself does not intrigue me.  (Standard warning, if you go there, while you'll see some pretty funny stuff, you'll also see - regularly - the worst of what the dark side of the web has to offer.  Talkin' nightmare fuel, here. But it can be funny as hell, too.)  

Anyway, here goes.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a movie I can recommend unreservedly as a grand ole time, as long as you're OK with R-rated gore and language.  This is a twist on all those "a group of kids go into the woods and suddenly start disappearing," but here the typical villains are the good guys.  Even better, they're not cliche cardboard standup Hollywood yokels, they're real characters.  I know these guys.  Hell, I am one of these guys at times. I spammed my entire contacts list to demand they watch the movie.  You, too, dammit.  Just watch.  This sucker should've been on of last year's hits.

Saw Drive and it reminded me a lot of Tarantino's True Romance: something a teenage boy with no actual experience with women (and who struggles with amorality) would view as wonderfully heroic and romantic.  Everyone else with a little experience under their belts, literally and figuratively, would see it for the sad anti-fantasy it is.  No one really acts this way, not even criminals.

Now, you may posit that both of these movies are floated as adolescent fantasies and are just that: nothing that's meant to be taken seriously.  I dunno.  The tone of these movies doesn't contain the "just kidding" bluster of The Fast and the Furious and do have realistic elements like children pining for their daddies, which - at least to me - make me think I'm supposed to take them as straight-up dramas, just the same way that sepia-toned sequences are supposed to invoke "this is the past as remembered fondly by our hero."

I thought it was kinda dull, too.  Actually driving a car is more engaging than the flick itself.  I'd say skip it.

This clever visual summary of Drive really hits the mark.
Finally saw Thor, too.  I had to give it two tries.  Didn't even get to Thor waking up on earth the first time.  Picked it up a couple weeks later writing off the first time to a bad mood or something (Harry of always includes his day's activities and mood because he's convinced that an objective review is not possible.)  This time I enjoyed it for what it was: a popcorn movie and setup for the franchise The Avengers, and much better than the sad adventure in cliche that was Captain America.

Saw 21 Jump Street and The Hunger Games in the theatre, a nice treat.  

I laughed hard at 21 Jump Street.  Like the fantastic Hot Fuzz, it's a send-up of the genre while being a legit entry at the same time. It's fun to see an artist hit his stride, and Oscar-nominated Jonah Hill conceptualized, wrote, produced, and starred here, proving he can do it all.  This is one of those that will work as well on DVD as the big screen, so see it at your convenience, but see it.

The Hunger Games was exactly what I thought it would be.  The ladies of the house all tore through the books, so I got enough of the setup to guess at the plot.  Being a sci-fi fan of several decades now, this plot has been done to death, so while I was engaged during the movie, I can't say I enjoyed it.  I had deja-vu, reliving the vague revulsion I felt watching the original Rollerball, which explored the same concept of a deathmatch staged by the powers that be. So, I can see why it's powerful for the young'uns.  

Another movie that was also exactly what I thought it would be was flick Real Steel.  Yup, Rocky meets the rock'em sock'em robot game.  I was assured by many that would not be the case.  Alas.  

A movie I'd love to see that will likely never be released is Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back.  (Via Topher Grace, the actor from "That 70's Show" and the recent movie Preditors, apparently came up with his own edit (for practice) of the Star Wars episodes 1 - 3, that clocks in at 85 minutes.  All attendees say it was great.

My knee-jerk reaction was George Lucas would be a fool to not allow this to be released.  It's free money, most of which he would get, of course.  If they released it as a digital projected movie only, distribution would be nothing.  

However, the mashup of a movie franchise of several full-length movies isn't really equivalent to a four-minute song mashup.  Where I can imagine Bowie or U2 smiling at a mashup of their tunes, I can't imagine George feeling wonderful about a re-edit that may "feel" superior to his films at first blush.

Oh well, maybe after Lucas rakes in another field of cash from the blu-ray releases, maybe he'll not be as concerned about undermining his profits with the release of a fanboy edit.  Yeah, it could happen.

A couple decades ago, someone at work gave me a teeny tiny .avi file of this, the inception of what became the "Tripping the Rift" TV series.  Since it's all on DVD now, I expected this to be included on the extras, as I've always wanted a clear copy, but it's not.  Come to find out it's now on youtube.  Still not in an archival quality version, but better than the old .avi I've kept for years.  By the way, this is NC-17 material.

Fun trivia, Stephen Root voiced the captain, who most of us know as Milton, he of the red stapler and big chunks of salt. 

Oh, and finally, Dooce found this.  

I plan to post again soon.  Sooner than a month, at least.