Tag Archive: opinion


Strange Legacy


I finally got around to watching Tron  and  Tron:Legacy the other day. I know the original movie is fairly old (it came out the same year I was born) but I had never really gotten around to seeing it.

Enter the wonder of Netflix! I popped both movies into my queue and promptly forgot about them for a few months. (I have a very long queue.) They arrived after a while and I sat down and watched them back-to-back. To get the whole “Tron experience” as it were.

Sad to say, I wasn’t terribly impressed.

First – the original.

For a thirty year old movie, the effects were very good. Not what you are used to these days, but impressive for the time period. The story was not the greatest. The biggest sticking point for me was the games. The Master Control Program, in its quest for world domination, decided to behave like a Roman dictator and make the captive programs perform for the amusement of … Who? The MCP? The users playing the games? I just didn’t think it was clearly explained why these captured programs were being forced to do this. The MCP was trying to absorb as many programs as possible, destroying a few thousand in an arcade game just seems counter-productive.

And while I am by no means the most computer-literate person in the world, I didn’t think programs worked that way. If, say, an actuarial program suddenly vanished then someone would notice. The very pissed off insurance salesman would contact whatever the equivalent of the IT department was back then and get someone to either find out where the program went, or reinstall it from a back-up disk. And why, exactly, were arcade games wired into the mainframe computer of a computer software development company? This was back in the Eighties, before everything from coffeemakers to cars were Wi-Fi accessible and Bluetooth compatible. Each one of those games would have had to have a hard-wired modem and a phone connection and there were dozens of games in Flynn’s arcade alone. You would think the arcade owner would notice all the extra equipment and phone lines that all of that would have required.

And now – the sequel.

Story-wise there was an improvement. After stewing for thirty years I would hope so. There was still no explanation as to why the programs were still being forced to play games, but I’ve already covered that. The effects were top-notch, the lightcycle race was spectacular. Much better than the original, but thirty years will do that to technology.

Speaking of technology -there’s Clu.

I remember there was some sort of fuss back when the movie first came out, that Jeff Bridges was actually going to play a younger version of himself.

For those out there who are curious, here’s a photo from Wikipedia with Old Jeff and Digital jeff staring at each other.

Kinda creepy

It’s very close to the way Jeff Bridges used to look, but Clu’s face looks too smooth, the jaw is too square, and the forehead looks odd. Like a plastic action figure. The range of expression was not what a real face would be able to perform, but it was supposed to be the face of a computer program. I’m still impressed that Disney got it as close as they did. According to the IMDB, he had to wear a helmet fitted with four cameras to capture his facial movements. That seems like it would be a bit awkward. (Another fun fact – the lightsuits were actually practical effects. Each one was fitted with luminescent wires and a battery (that lasted twelve minutes at the time), the wiring was so fragile the actors couldn’t sit down in them but had to lean against boards when they took a break. They were also stifling hot and air conditioning tubes had to be trained on each actor to cool them off between takes. You too can own a sweltering rubber lightsuit – only $60000. Batteries and air conditioner not included.)

As a long-time animation freak, I’m all about the voice. Jeff Bridges has a very distinct voice that has gotten deeper, richer, and raspier as he has aged. I don’t know if there was some post-production audio tweaking or if Bridges’ simply pitched his voice higher while performing Clu’s voice, but since every so often some of Old Jeff crept in to Digital Jeff’s voice I think it was probably the latter. It’s most noticeable during Clu’s speech to his army; at one point in particular his voice drops noticeably in pitch and tone. It could have been a stylistic choice though.

If it is in fact pure Jeff Bridges, then I’m glad – Jeff Bridges’ voice is one of the best things in the world. Sure, he’s the same age as GhostDad, but that voice …

:shivers:

Mmmmm...

Advertisements

I Fear For Humanity


Today’s post is about this little darling.

thingy

What fresh slice of hell is this?

Meet the Derma Microneedle Roller.

Notice how the second word it its name contains the word “needle”? I noticed that too.

Here’s how this thing is supposed to work – You press that wheel o’ pain against your skin and then roll it back and forth so that the tiny little needles puncture your skin and you resemble a Looney Tunes character after they’ve been shot.

This is to make you “beautiful”.

Because poking tiny holes in yourself and possibly inserting some of the millions of  bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live on your skin into them is very attractive to some people.

I can think of one.

Sellers claim it will make your skin smooth and reduce wrinkles and all the usual anti-aging rigmarole. I guess once the scars heal they would be fairly smooth, but just looking at this thing makes me go “What. The HELL?”

pokey thing

It comes in a clear plastic coffin. Like a vampire.


Since my last review of a product went so well, I thought I’d give it another try.

Judging solely by eBay listings, Asian people have an unnatural obsession with their ears.

Which brings us to today’s item up for review – the Flashlight Earpick!

100_3461.JPG

Ta-da!

While it may sound like a terrific band name, this is in fact a tiny flashlight that comes with three different clear plastic tip attachments that you are supposed to stick in your ear.

100_3462.JPG

Hey, my flash works!

There are dozens and dozens of these things on eBay, some are slightly different colors but it’s basically the same thing; a little flashlight with plastic bits you stick in your ear. There are three bits, a small scoop, a larger scoop, and what are suppose to be tweezers.  You are supposed to use these high quality tools to remove wax and debris from your ear.

And the occasional earwig.

Since I don’t have many insects crawling into my ear to lay their eggs in my brain, I have used the little scoop on occasion to remove wax. It works about as you would expect, the flashlight portion really doesn’t help when it’s your own ear. Mother Dearest did use it to take a look at my ear to see it it looked inflamed during my last ear infection. It’s a good little tool if you need a tiny handheld light that you can get into tiny spaces. The light is pretty bright, the only real downside is I can’t figure out how to change the batteries but at $0.99 with free shipping it would be just as cheap to get a new one.

They also make nifty miniature light sabers.

100_3463.JPG

Don't tell me you weren't thinking about it.


As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I’m not much of a gamer.

But I do love me some Farmville.

Damn Zynga and their adorable animals!

Zynga, the company that runs the game and numerous others, started the game as a clone of another popular farming simulator, Farm Town. According to Wikipedia, ten percent of Facebook users play the game. The other ninety percent curse the game and spent a significant portion of their time deleting the countless spams from players.

Every time you do anything in Farmville, you get a little feel-good message; “Share your accomplishment with your friends!” which is Farmville talk for “Spam all your friends!’

Most of my Facebook friends are players, so they don’t mind getting the messages. Thank goodness.

I went a long time where I didn’t play at all, but I’ve gotten more into it in the past few weeks.

Damn you, pretty sheep! Damn you and your ability to eat my time!

I’m savvy enough to know that the whole thing, the accomplishments, the “quests” the added “features” that don’t really change anything, that all that is just a way to get you to play. To get you hooked until you fork over some real cash or they get enough revenue from the advertisers in the sidebar.

It’s a waste of time, but I’m not drowning puppies in my toilet so it doesn’t hurt anyone. I find Zynga’s business practices to be only slightly above a used car salesman, but look!

I found a kitty!


I love Netflix.

I especially love the streaming video offered by Netflix, although I still get discs as well.

Next on the Netflix agenda...

Lately I have been watching the original The Twilight Zone series, with the eventual goal of watching all one hundred-thirty eight episodes. So far I’ve seen fifty and I’m moving at a fair clip. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any of them and I’ve noticed a few things. Besides the rockin’ theme music.

Do-di-doo-doo-do-di-doo-doo

Production values – typical for the time period (the series began in 1959) and if you watch enough episodes you see some very obvious recycling of props and scenery. That’s to be expected, shows do that even now. I did spot a “rocketman” wearing what appeared to be an old-fashioned (by today’s standards) leather football helmet that had been painted what I assume was silver. It is in black and white, after all. All the settings, even those that are supposed to be in the future, look very Sixties. In the second season there were about a half-dozen episodes that look very odd because they were shot using videotape instead of film in an effort to cut the budget. The lack of freedom and the quality of the picture put an end to that. Similar budget concerns regarding the number of actors involved in the series led to one of my favorite episodes, The Nervous Man in the Four Dollar Room which has exactly three roles and two are played by the same actor.

A classic of dramatic self-exploration brought to you because of budget cuts.

Story – Ah, the stories. Classics now and rightfully so in my opinion. Wonderfully written and amazingly creative even by today’s standards. The very first season has many of the episodes that would go on to become classics. The second season, so far, is good but not quite as good as the first.

Many of the story elements used by other series originated with Twilight Zone. Rod Sterling used the vehicle of science fiction and fantasy as a way to sneak social commentary past the censors of the day. Aside from the few minor anachronisms, mostly regarding the prices of various items, the progress of technology, and the omnipresent smoking, the episodes stay pretty relevant. My very favorite episode is, of course, Time Enough at Last.

The look on his face ... it breaks my heart every time.

I am an old-school reader.

Give me a book and I’m happy. I could, and have, read for days on end.

I also wear glasses, big thick glasses that I would be nearly blind without.

Stylish, ain't they?

If I somehow survived a nuclear holocaust, I would probably do exactly what Burgess Meredith does; secure enough reading material to last me until the day I die. I would line the walls of my bunker with paperbacks.If I ran out of food I would eat the books I didn’t want to read anymore.

Low in nutrition but high in fiber.

All in all, if you have Netflix and can watch the streaming video, I recommend the original The Twilight Zone. It’s a wonderful series, masterfully written and timeless.

Watch it.

Now.

The H Word


I love hipsters.

It is my dearest wish in life to sit in a coffee shop in my flannel footie pajamas, drinking fair trade soy lattes that I borrowed money from friends to buy and use a Mac laptop to post poorly worded comments about how mainstream various things are.

:snerk:

:snergle:

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Oh, I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t keep a straight face.

Hoo, boy.

For those of you who have no idea what a hipster is; welcome to the Internet!

I hope you aren't having trouble reading this on your Commodore 64, Captain Time Travel.

Hipsters are everywhere on the Internet and are almost universally despised. It would seem that the only person who can tolerate a hipster is another hipster. Hipster culture seems to be nothing more than an incredibly elaborate metaphorical penis measuring contest over who is the least concerned with popular culture.

Like this, but ...different.

This is achieved by a near-obsessive following of popular culture just so you can keep track of what you don’t like this week.

For some reason that escapes me, an entire subculture has grown up around buying expensive yet ugly clothes, poor personal grooming habits, and embracing things “ironically” while trying your damnedest to look as if you care less than anyone else. I’m puzzled that this has happened, when hipsters seem to to inspire an intense hatred in anyone who isn’t another hipster. But even non-hipsters are starting to dress in part like hipsters do.

Hell, even I have a pair of hipster-ish “geeky” glasses.

They make me look smart AND keep me from running into things!

Why?

Why are tight sweaters, hoodies, epic mustaches and beards, and Converse sneakers suddenly so popular?

These people look as if their mothers dressed them.

Your parents are now fashionable. Feel free to begin screaming at any time.

These people, these so-called hipsters, claim to loathe the mainstream.

They are the mainstream.

Hipsters are everywhere. In magazines, on the Internet, even on TV.

Okay... That's kinda creepy.

It’s trendy, a fad; it’s popular for people to dress like hobos, drink PBR and complain about how no one understands how indie they are.

We understand, Twinkie. We just don’t care.

I had boots like that but now they're so mainstream.

If these “hipsters” truly believed in what they claim to, they wouldn’t care what they looked like or who saw them on their fixie listening to whatever gods-awful band no one has heard of this week.

My advice – Grow up, stop acting like pretentious asshats, and maybe develop an opinion of your own.


There is a double standard in the world.

I am, of course, talking about the wild world of panty shopping.

These things, in case you aren't familar with them.

Not long ago I was in Wal-Mart with my parents (because I’m cool like that) And was looking through the various underthings available when I thought of something.

I’m a grown woman, looking through bras, fingering the cups and such.

If I were a pervert or some kind of fetishist, no one would ever know.

Because I’m a woman.

And it’s not because I was where the women’s underbits were; I could have been in the men’s section, or the children’s section, and people would assume I’m shopping for a husband or child. I browsed in the men’s section and there was some pretty neat underwear over there, I wouldn’t mind having a pair of Batman undies. You just don’t find that sort of thing in the women’s section.

I could make these look GOOD.

They would never know if I was some sort of social deviant, but would assume I was on a perfectly normal errand.

My father, a somewhat scruffy man with a beard and large glasses, would be labeled a pervert if he had been alone in the lingerie section, even if he was on a perfectly legitimate errand.

Ditto for the children’s section. With no actual child present, a lone man browsing through the Tinkerbelle panties would be labeled some sort of child molester, even if only in the minds of those who saw them.

A woman = “Ah, that’s normal, nothing to see there.”

A man = “Pervert. I’m gonna do a search of the sex offenders registry when I get home.”

It just doesn’t seem fair.


I can’t seem to think of anything interesting to write today.

I can think of plenty of things, but nothing I could coherently form into sentences and put into something resembling an interesting post. Here’s what I’m thinking of right now;

Skeletal trees, ghost trees, the white glowing bark.

Bark.

Bark.

Bark.

That’s a weird word – Bark. 

Dogs bark.

Dogs like trees.

Trees have bark. 

Cats sharpen their claws on tree bark.

Cats don’t like dogs. Or is it that dogs don’t like cats?

We take tree bark and pile it around other plants, but it’s the skin of a larger plant. That’s strange. 

Our skin is like leather.

You can tan leather and dye it all different colors.

It would be awesome if you could dye your skin different colors. Like a tattoo but different.

You can’t tan your skin, it would probably kill you.

I bet Sharpie could make skin dye markers. That would be awesome.

I’d like to be purple. Or maybe turquoise.

Can trees be ghosts? Does Home Depot hold the fractured spirits of millions of vanished lives?

Do carrots feel pain? 

Can you coerce a vegetable?

What does strawberry brandy taste like?

White chocolate doesn’t have any chocolate in it, it’s just cocoa butter, sugar, and vanilla.

I like vanilla.

I wish there was a vanilla-flavored melon. I bet that would taste good.

Nails are weird. What purpose do your nails serve other than to have something to scratch with?

I bet strawberry brandy would be good on vanilla ice cream.

Pudding.

Pudding.

 Pooh-“ding!”

Pudding’s a weird food. It’s not a solid but it’s not a liquid.

I wonder if you could make pudding into a non-Newtonian solid. That would be interesting.

Non-Newtonian Pudding.

I wonder if you could make a non-Newtonian cheese.

More foods should be available in aerosol form. Like ham. Or salsa. Maybe peanut butter, but not the chunky kind.

Chunk.

Chunk.

Chunk a bunk.

Chunky bunky Bunk-Bunk-Bunk.

Bunco.

Bunny comb.

Bunny combovers.

Cockscomb.

My ears are ringing.

Raspberry brandy would probably be better on vanilla ice cream.

Or chocolate.

 But not white chocolate, that would be too sweet.

Hey look – I wrote a blog post!

Thinking with portals


I’m not a gamer.

I barely have the hand-eye coordination to feed myself, let along kill aliens and Nazi zombies.

But I love video games.

It’s a bit of a paradox, I know. It confuses the hell out of me sometimes as well.

Old-school games like Pac-Man or Tetris I can handle with some success, but modern games … Not so much. But I love ’em.

What I love about games, like Half-life  or Portal, is the story behind the game. Designers now spend a great deal of time working on the back story, the reasons behind the why and how of the game-world. It’s that part of the game, the boring, non-explody bits, that I adore.

In any other age I would have no alternatives I could either play the games and do abysmally, or find friends who  would let me what them play.

Thank the Internet gods for YouTube.

For the uninitiated, players will post videos of gameplay, sometimes with commentary and tips, sometimes without, and other gamers watch to pick up these tips and tricks. This is wonderful for the gaming impaired, like me. I can watch hours upon hours of games without actually having to play anything myself.

Since you might be wondering where I’m going with this, I’ll tell you.

I spent most of yesterday watching game play from the newly released Portal 2, and it was wonderful. I thought I would give my impressions as a non-gamer.

I’ve watched the walk-through for Portal and found it highly entertaining. Seeing the player solve the puzzles and hearing the dry, sarcastic wit of GLaDOS as she becomes increasingly insane makes for an enjoyable experience.

She might be crazy, but her cake is so delicious and moist!

The original Portal game has built up a large and incredibly devoted fan base and spawned several internet memes that I will not repeat here. Portal 2 is somehow even better.

The storyline is much more complex than that of the original. In the original Portal, the silent protagonist navigated a series of test chambers before reaching the central computer, GLaDOS, and disabling her. It’s revealed in the beginning on the second game that the protagonist, Chell, has been placed in “cryo-sleep” for an unspecified but extended length of time.

When Chell wakes up, her room, once a bland hotel-like room, has aged and decayed. I even noticed a depression on the bed in the shape of a body, as if someone had lain in one place for a very long time. It’s those attention to details that makes the game good. If you look for them, there are quite a few little jokes added in. For example, when opening a several stories tall door, the massive door rolls back to reveal … an ordinary door with a couple of folding chairs beside it.

The addition of another AI, the grossly incompetent Wheatley, and the recorded messages of the mercury-poisoned founder of Aperture Science in the lowest levels make for a rich and wonderful experience.

The entire game seems more … alive. The rooms move and shake, you can hear sounds of distant machinery or dripping water, and it just feels quite real. The first game had, for the most part, sterile testing chambers that were almost tomb-like. In the sequel you can really feel the decay of this place that has been neglected for decades.

As I’ve said, I didn’t play the game. I only watched the walk-throughs on YouTube, so I didn’t have to do the same over and over again. I got to do the easy part, enjoy someone else’s labors. It looked absolutely kick-ass, though. I definitely plan on watching it again.

Braaaaainssss…


Last night I watched Resident Evil, something I have never seen before, right before bed. I know better than that, but I was curious as to what the big deal was with the whole series and I had some time left on my Farmville farm, so I figured “What the hell.”

Such a big mistake.

It’s not that it was scary, I found the makeup and effects to be a bit pedestrian, but it was the inherent flaws in the story that left me pondering in the darkness. And before I get some snippy cinefreak jumping all over me about suspension of disbelief and all that filmtastic junk, let me just say; I don’t care. I love movies and I’m willing to accept a degree of impractical psuedo-science, but this was just too much. It was a bad movie.

Case in point – the T-virus. This is the thing that makes everything else happen. It’s because of the virus’ release that the place is put on lockdown and so forth and so on. As the Red Queen helpfully exposits, the virus works on the idea that the body keeps going after death, that nails and hair continue to grow.

This is an old wives’ tale; the body doesn’t continue to function after death. That’s why you’re dead – you stopped functioning.

In my misguided efforts to try to rationalize the thought processes behind this, all I could come up – it’s for organ harvesting purposes.

Not everyone has an access panel in their tummy.

That kinda makes sense, in the sense that if the body is kept alive through this mojo-magic science, then it would be easier to harvest the organs when you needed them.

But… the organs would be filled with a virulent disease that would turn the recipient into a brainless, ravening monster.

Clearly this wasn’t a well thought out plan. Unless there is an untapped market for corpse-hair and corpse-fingernails that I’m  not aware of.

A good zombie plague could do wonders for the weave industry

This seems counterintuitive, since the Umbrella Corp has stasis devices that could keep their corpsesicles fresh and freezer-burn free for years. The tongue-creature was in such a stasis unit and seemed quite sprightly.

Speaking of the tongue-creature, the Red Queen states that it is the result of the T-virus being injected directly into living tissue. Rain was chock-full of living tissue when she was bitten numerous times. These bites would have injected the virus into her living tissue, and yet it takes two thirds of the movie for her to go zombie. And yet Disposable Male Romantic Interest #2 is only scratched by the tongue-creature and within minutes starts mutating.

I don’t think the writers of Resident Evil have ever heard of science.

And even though there were several scenes of these “monsters” feeding, the bodies were surprisingly intact. This could be because the zombies, while ravenous, lacked the muscle control to bite and swallow their food, or it was simply a dumb-ass movie.

I started thinking, as I so often do, that there seems to be a lot of zombies in the media lately. Zombies and vampires.

This is not a vampire. This is an insult to your brain.

There’s probably some deep psychological reason for this, perhaps tapping into the fear of dead bodies nearly everyone has, or the use of blood-drinking to simulate sexual congress. I’m sure there are many scholarly works on the phenomenon out there. This being the Internet, there’s probably a site devoted to vampire/zombie slashfic, but I ain’t gonna look for it.

HELL. NO.

It kind of sad that with all the advances in effects and CGI that there are so many bad monster movies being made. I love monster movies, but I haven’t seen a really good new one in years. (I’m not including Hostel or Saw, those are slasher flicks.) I added some of the later Resident Evil movies to my Netflix queue, but I might remove them. I just wasn’t impressed.