Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'm super, thanks for asking

Smallville, the sad excuse for a TV series currently polluting the airwaves, begins its new season on September 29th. The WB has released some new promotional posters, including one with images of Superboy wannabe Tom Welling and new recurring guest star James Marsters flanking the tagline "He's not the only one on Earth."

Well, duh.

After that Supergirl fake-out, I figured they couldn't resist doing an actual Super-family reunion sooner or later. Hey, when does the Bottle City of Kandor show up? And which vodka manufacturer will get the product placement deal?

As a cranky comics historian once said:

"Last Son of Krypton my ASS, the only Kryptonians who didn't escape that planet's destruction were ones who'd deliberately been tied down to the planet's core, and shot in the fucking face before the explosion."
-- Gone & Forgotten

Monday, August 29, 2005

And you're worried about earthquakes?

Every so often, I'll tell someone from out of state that I live in California, and they'll ask me if I'm concerned about the "Big One" that seismologists predict will hit sometime in the next few decades. I'm not. Because while it's pretty rare that a Category 5 like Katrina hits the United States-- the last was Andrew, in 1992-- there are parts of the country which have "hurricane season". Every. Damn. Year.

Given the choice between a regularly scheduled pummeling and the California lottery, I'll take the QuickPick any day of the week (and twice on Wednesdays and Saturdays).

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Index-Fu: HDTV

(with apologies to John Rogers)

Here's all the research I've done on HDTV over the past couple of years. Starred(*) entries are more informative:

I like snarky FAQs
How Much For Just The TV?*
The Death of Quality
Black Flag
I just want to watch TV, dammit
The Road to 720p*
HDTV: Wait for it.*

I'm currently the happy owner of an Optoma SV50XF, which gets a digital HD signal from an OPPO Digital OPDV971H via DVI-D.

Monday, August 22, 2005

And boy, are my arms tired

My team and I flew back from Seattle last night after playing in The Mooncurser's Handbook Game. This was the first Seattle-based Game we'd played in, and it was fun to see new locations and interact with a slightly different community.

As with any first-time GC, the organizers tried to distinguish themselves by incorporating new elements not traditionally part of The Game:
  • Friday night dinner and activities;
  • quarterly "pit stops" with food, drink, and activities;
  • a complicated, non-linear, point-based scoring system (final results not yet released);
  • a trading card side game which was intended to promote team interactions; and
  • explicit, forced skipping to keep all teams to a very tight schedule.
Some things worked well, and others, not so much. In any case, it was a commendable effort, and we definitely got our money's worth.

A more complete write-up will come after I've gotten some sleep. And yes, my biceps are pretty sore, after floating down the river in an inner tube to read a series of marine signal flags hanging from both banks. The good news is, I now know that I can, in fact, swim to save my life.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Leaving, on a jet plane

I'm headed up to Seattle to play in The Mooncurser's Handbook Game this weekend. I'm excited and curious, since it's being run out of the original Game community spawned by Joe Belfiore-- albeit not by Joe himself. One of the members of GC is Peter Sarrett, who wasn't shy with his criticisms of the last two bay area Games. Time to see if he and his cohorts can do better!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

It's a Gay World After All

WARNING: The following contains explicit language and graphic descriptions of sex. You can thank me later.

I've been having a real problem with these homosexuals. You see, just about wherever I go these days, one of them approaches me and starts sucking my cock.

Take last Sunday, for instance, when I casually struck up a conversation with this guy in the health-club locker room. Nothing fruity, just a couple of fellas talking about their workout routines while enjoying a nice hot shower. The guy looked like a real man's man, too—big biceps, meaty thighs, thick neck. He didn't seem the least bit gay. At least not until he started sucking my cock, that is...

Then there was the time I was hiking through the woods and came across a rugged-looking, blond-haired man in his early 30s. He seemed straight enough to me while we were bathing in that mountain stream, but, before you know it, he's sucking my cock!

-- "Why Do All These Homosexuals Keep Sucking My Cock?", The Onion, 06 Jul 2005 (reprinted from 2004)

To sum up my life, because I’m completely *lost* as to the simple truth of this fact:

... What’s this muscular decorated police officer doing sucking my cock three times a week? How does this happen? Did he suddenly decide at 40 that: ‘Man, being tough all the time is damn hard work… might as well take it up the ring for a while’. He takes off his wedding ring before we meet, it’s only after a few months of dating and fucking that he shows me his family photos in his wallet. Wife, two sons. He’s quite clear that he’s ‘not gay’.

I meet an army sergeant who plays on the local army base rugby team. Orders men around all day, been around the world, was in the Gulf. Medals. All that butchness must have switched his setting to ‘bitch’ because once again, it’s made clear that I’m the ‘gay’ one, even though he lets me tie his hands to the stair rail and begs me to fuck him like a bitch over it. I drop in unexpectedly one day and meet his very pregnant wife who suspects nothing, and I’m so horrified I never see him again...

I’m at the supermarket and walk past the plumber who sucked my cock not an hour ago, and he’s smiling with his wife… don’t acknowledge his presence. Shit, he’s kissing her cheek… if she only knew where his mouth had been...

-- "The Truth: Who Are You Calling Gay? (A RANT)",, August 10, 2005

Ah, chauvinism. I'm reminded of these immortal words from Chasing Amy:

What’d I tell you - she just needs the
right guy. All every woman really
wants - be it mother, senator, nun -
is some serious deep-dicking.

The Receptionist stops typing and looks at Banky,

(off her look)
Don’t give me that look - I heard Adam
Curry say worse.

The Secretary goes back to typing. Banky shrugs at

That’s why I can’t buy lesbians.
Everyone needs dick. See, I can buy
fags. Bunch of guys that need dick -
just plain need it? That I get.
Dykes? Bullshit posturing. But -
live and let live, I guess.

I’m sure the gay community appreciates
your support.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Happy Ending

This absolutely made my day. Really. I'm over the moon. I first blogged about this last October in "Lame Excuse of the Day", and though it took a while, reason has finally triumphed:
[The] Miami artist... much maligned for 11 misspellings that popped up in the educational mural she designed for the Livermore public library last year, spent today under the hot sun correcting her mistakes.

In addition to fixing the bard’s name, she changed “Eistein” to “Einstein,” “Gaugan” to “Gauguin” and more.

But [the artist], who at first claimed artistic license and said she wasn’t going to return to fix the faux pas because people were being too mean about it, was giving no media interviews as she worked under a broad-brimmed straw hat and blue tent. She sliced and diced the tiles with power tools, protected from the public by a barrier.

She wagged her finger at a television cameraman and threatened to throw a rock at a print photographer.

“No pictures of me!” she yelled. “If I’m in it, I’m going to sue you.”

-- "Artist corrects her infamous spelling mistakes in Livermore mural",

Wasn't it nice of her to remind us how childish she is? I actually would have given her a pass on "Shakespere" [sic], since the family itself spelled the name in at least 44 different ways; the now-accepted "official" spelling is merely historical consensus.

I would also have preferred it if the city had found some legal force majeure to compel her to make the modifications gratis, instead of having to pay "$6,000 plus travel expenses." But hey, overall, a resounding victory for actual correctness (instead of political correctness, for once)! I'll take what I can get.

dude, your paper is all wet

Man, how cool is this?
Nanotechnology start-up Ecology Coatings says it has developed a spray-on coating that, when properly dried, waterproofs materials--but still allows them to be written on...

[T]he coating... made the paper waterproof without making it waxy, brittle or changing its other characteristics. The original piece of paper has been submerged in water since June... It hasn't dissolved and [Chief Chemist Sally] Ramsey's original writing is still on it. She once even took it out of the water, wrote on it some more, and submerged it again.

"It was kind of a 'MacGyver-ish' sort of thing," she said, referring to the 1980s TV series about a scientifically resourceful secret agent. "It turns out also that the paper greatly slows down the growth of mildew."

-- "Making paper waterproof--and writable", CNET

Science rocks!

Primer: WTF?

"Here's a spoiler: YOU WILL DIE ALONE." -- Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

On Sunday, D and I watched Primer (2004), an ambitious but flawed time-travel story that's too clever for its own good. The first act is too long, it goes off the rails in the middle of act two, and never quite recovers from the subsequent tailspin; the third and final act should have been tension-filled instead of deflating. (I blame the clinical voiceover.) For me, it crosses a very fine line: Movies I want to see more than once are good. Movies I need to see more than once, simply to make sense of them, are annoying.

In hindsight, I should have realized what I was in for during the first five minutes of the movie. It starts with four characters sitting around a dining room table, talking shop. But they speak as if they're in an indie movie, which they are-- i.e., in dialogue that's supposed to sound "natural" but never quite does. (D picked up on it sooner than I did, saying: "This should sound like a GC conversation, but it doesn't.") They're trying too hard to appear as if they're not trying too hard.

And seriously, even more implausible than the time travel: two engineers wearing button-down shirts and neckties on their day off? Not in a million years.

I acknowledge that there's an audience for this type of thing-- hell, it won two awards at Sundance, ghod knows how-- and the premise is bold and innovative, but it wasn't supported by the story. Which is a shame, because the temporal mechanics actually work, after you get past the initial hand-waving. This could have been a great movie. Memento, a similar shattered-timeline narrative, held together much better and was fully comprehensible after a single viewing.

As a short story or novella, Primer would belong in Analog, but the way it was put together as a movie, it just doesn't work. It's probably still worth a viewing if you're a science fiction geek, if only for the Big Idea. Perhaps I just thought the characters should have been demonstrably smarter than they were; I have the same problem with a lot of shows. YMMV.

Monday, August 01, 2005

King Arthur needs Four Fantastic Interpreters

All you need to know about last year's King Arthur movie:

"Despite the claims made at the beginning of the film, factual and historical inaccuracies abound."

DeeAnn and I watched the DVD on Saturday night. Well, DeeAnn watched it; I fell asleep somewhere in act two and woke up during the final battle. Actually, I think DeeAnn also wandered off at one point to check her email or something. That's how exciting it was, folks. And knowing as much as we did about Roman and medieval history, quite a few of the liberties taken by the filmmakers were pretty exasperating.

On Sunday afternoon, we saw a slightly better movie starring Ioan Gruffudd: Fantastic Four, a big, dumb, action flick rather loosely based on the comic book. The characters are all there, but this is one of those "tell not show" movies-- we're told that Sue Storm is "head of genetic research" at a billion-dollar corporation, but never actually see her do any such research or interact with the staff she presumably commands at said corporation. And her brother Johnny gets tons of hammy goofball gags to play, but aside from the missile-chase scene-- which is thrilling but nonsensical-- displays no qualities or skills that would recommend him as a pilot, NASA or otherwise.

It was entertaining enough, but only as a shallow live-action cartoon; which is ironic, considering that The Incredibles mined the same territory so much more successfully-- and that actually was animated. No one seems to understand that when Pixar succeeds, it's not because of their technology, it's because of their stories.

Finally, we met some friends on Sunday night and saw The Interpreter, which was better than the previous two movies, but still not great. One of our friends complained that the internecine African politics were too confusing. Fair enough, but what else would one expect from a film about the United Nations? I, for one, was glad that the movie didn't sugar-coat or oversimplify those issues. Nicole Kidman's character has a dark past, as hinted in the trailer, though I would have been happier if she'd been a bit less skittish-- I mean, geez, you grew up in a war-torn African state, you now live in Brooklyn, and a guy in a mask makes you scream like a little girl? That's not any New Yorker I've ever met.

And is it just me, or did the third act seem very similar to the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (which, in turn, seemed very similar to The Package)?

I also didn't buy the final confrontation in the "safe room", but I can let it go because Zuwanie's quotation, which is the denouement of the scene, is so perfect. But they could really have used another rewrite or two to make the rest of the movie work better. As Joss Whedon said in a recent interview:

[A]s a script doctor I’ve been called in more than a few times, and the issue is always the same: “We want you to make the third act more exciting and cheaper.” And my response inevitably is, “The problem with the third act is the first two acts.” This response is never listened to.

-- "Serenity Now!", In Focus magazine