Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Except in YouTube.
Thanks to the power of a lot of people with video cameras and free time, you can take a look back in time and relive some of your favorite childhood rides. Rides like
World of Motion
Kitchen Kabaret (go to the mipoint for my favorite part: Veggie Fruit Fruit!)
There are more on there--a veritable cornucopia of Disney delight. I know it's silly, but watching some of those videos really brought back my childhood in a way few other things have been able to.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I couldn't get the newfangled controls to work.
That's right--I said newfangled. That's a lovely word, but I certainly never planned on using it to describe technology or video games any time soon. But that's how I felt. They've changed the game so much in two years. Suddenly I was trying to do something that I used to be pretty darn good at, only to discover I had totally forgotten how to do it. This was a disappointing feeling. All at once, I saw a vision of me ten years down the road, trying in vain to keep up with TRC as he clobbers me at [insert video game of the year here]. Thirty years down the road, when I completely lose touch with anything that's even remotely cool. Fifty years down the road, when I'm shaking my cyborg fist at all the young whippersnappers with their [insert obnoxious item here].
And it all starts with not figuring out how to play a lousy game.
Friday, July 24, 2009
So my question to you is--should I start playing again? I'd like arguments for and against, please. Because this is my life we're talking about here. :-)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Then, a few days ago, it was pouring. Really coming down. And I remembered that shingle, so I went up to the attic again, this time to find a steady stream of water coming in through the roof. In four places. Nice.
No problem, says I. I'll grab me a hammer, some spare shingles and a few nails, and I'll fix it myself. Not in the rain--that would have been stupid, and I don't like to get wet, anyway. No--I'd wait until the next sunny day, which happened to be two days later. DKC picked up some roofing nails, and I got home from work and embarked on my Chore.
Problem Number One: We don't have a ladder.
No problem, says I. I have a step ladder, and I'll just clamber on top of that and then . . . still not high enough. So I got inventive and found a wood pallet, climbing from the step ladder to the pallet to the roof. I was up. I got the shingles, the hammer, the nails and
Problem Number Two: I don't have a tool belt.
No problem, says I. I shall use a shopping bag. Feeling like MacGuyver, I had DKC go get me one (because I wasn't getting off the roof just yet--I didn't know how long that pallet would hold out). I stuck all the tools inside and started clambering up to the top of the first roof. (We have three sections to our house. The middle one is low enough to get onto fairly easily. The leak was in the highest one.)
Problem Number Three: My sneakers were too old. No traction.
No problem, says I. I shall have my trusty wife fetch me my boots. (Always wait to embark on a Chore of This Magnitude until you have a trusty wife nearby.) A bit later, my boots firmly affixed to my feet, I was climbing around with no trouble. Up up up to the top of that roof, and then--
Problem Number Four: I looked down.
This could be a problem, says I. Because this roof is much higher up than it looked from the ground, and the higher roof is, well . . . higher. But I'm this far up now, so I might as well keep going. I climb up to the next roof.
Problem Number Five: The pitch of the higher roof is steeper than the roof I was on.
My boots no longer have traction. Hmm . . . I have the trusty wife go get me my new sneakers, which have new soles, which should have better traction. Another shoe switch later, and--still no traction.
It's at this point that I look up at the hole, still far off, with a steep drop to a broken neck right below it. And then I look at my sneakers, my boots, the shopping bag, my tools, my other sneakers, the pallet, the step ladder and my trusty wife. And I come to a Decision.
There are things in life that are worth risking a broken neck for. A leaky roof is not one of them, and neither is my pride.
Anyone know of a good roof repairman? :-)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
And that's all the time I have for Profound today.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
It's also an excellent example of how not to handle fantasy. I remember back in one of my first writing groups, my friend Brandon Sanderson (Was it you, Brandon, or me? I can no longer remember)--anyway, it was pointed out that one of the writers had essentially pulled what we termed a Deus Ex Wrench. There's a literary term (Deus Ex Machina) which refers to when the resolution of a plot happens by divine intervention, or implausible luck, etc. The case in question, however, was when a conflict arose ex nihilo--divine misintervention, so to speak. A monkey wrench appears in the plot out of nowhere, and it exists only to make things worse for the protagonists. That's what happens in the last 15 minutes or so of this movie. The laws of this fantasy hero world have been established, everything seems groovy, and then at the last minute: WHAM! There's this rule to the fantasy that hadn't been clear before, and because of it, suddenly everything's more complicated. This is not a good way to create conflict. Trust me.
So what do I rate Hancock? In the end, I'll have to go with a middle of the road 2.5 stars. It wasn't awful by any means, but that's a very bitter 2.5 stars--it could have been somebody. It could have been a contender . . .
Monday, July 20, 2009
TRC had his first swimming lesson today, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. They just did the basics--worked on blowing bubbles, walking like alligators, kicking. I'm afraid he might have inherited some of my lack of coordination, but I think he'll be able to pull through just fine. :-) Here's a picture of the happy boy.
In other news, my bathroom is now officially painted. It took an entire Saturday, but I'm very pleased with the result. On the other hand, I also discovered a leak in my rook that night, and I have to fix it today. Should be an interesting experience--I'll try not to fall off. I'm allergic to large falls. :-)
Friday, July 17, 2009
But what about you? Will you like it? I suppose that depends. I haven't read the book since it came out, so I didn't have much to compare it to--just my fuzzy memories. If you're the sort of person who has reread the series multiple times--perhaps in anticipation of seeing this film in the theater--then you might be disappointed. It's not the book, folks, and I don't mean that in a good or bad way. (If you haven't read my blog long enough, I'll just tell you now--I really dislike it when people say something along the lines of "the book was better than the movie." Would you say that the apple was better than the orange because the orange didn't taste enough like an apple? Grumble.) I strongly discourage people from going into a Harry Potter movie with an expectation of 100% fidelity. Even 75% fidelity. The books are way too massive to be able to portray everything or even most everything. The director's job is to capture what he or she felt the book was "about", then transfer that to the screen. I felt like that happened in this movie. Yes, they made changes. But as far as Harry Potter films go, this was one of the best for me. The characters came across as characters, the threats were real, the acting was very well done, and the movie fit together well. Actually, my only quibbles with it were when the book intruded too much on the movie. (SPOILER! For example, when Snape says "I am the Half Blood Prince"--I was sort of like "Who cares?" That just wasn't that big of a part of the story that the film was telling, but I felt like they felt like they had to keep it in, mainly because that's what the book was titled. And the last little bit to the film felt like it was trying too hard to tie up a few last loose ends. But these are nitpicks--nothing major. END SPOILER!)
At any rate, there's a reason this film's getting such good reviews. FYI, here's a breakdown of the Rotten Tomato (and IMDB) ratings for each film.
Sorceror's Stone 78% (7.2 out of 114,000 votes)
Chamber of Secrets 82% (7.2 out of 104,000 votes)
Prisoner of Azkaban 89% (7.6 out of 94,000 votes)
Goblet of Fire 88% (7.7 out of 92,000 votes)
Order of the Phoenix 77% (7.4 out of 87,000 votes)
Half Blood Prince 85%(8.2 out of 12,000 votes--still needs a lot of input to be a solid number)
If I were to rank the Potter films, this would be my breakdown, from best to worst:
1. Half Blood Prince/Prisoner of Azkaban (tie)
3. Goblet of Fire
4. Order of the Phoenix/Chamber of Secrets (tie)
6. Sorceror's Stone
Thursday, July 16, 2009
And because I thought these were cool, here's an unreleased Michael Jackson/Freddie Mercury duet, which I find pretty much awesome:
And Michael doing the song solo:
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is another book in the series that I had to change my rating for. By memory, I had given it three stars, but now having read it again, I changed that to a four star review--really more of a four and a half star book for me. Why had I rated it three stars to begin with? Likely because it suffered from what I refer to as the I-State Syndrome. You know--Indiana, Illinois, Iowa. Everybody knows they're there, but unless you grew up there or drove through recently, all you know is that they're "somewhere in the middle" of the US, and you're not entirely sure what they look like in person. In books, this translates to "I can't remember what exactly happened in this one--it was in the middle somewhere," but that's too long to call a proper syndrome. I-State Syndrome is easier. Anyway. Any long fantasy series is going to start to suffer from this, as the events of different books sprawl together in your memory. But really, Lord of Chaos stands out for some very excellent reasons.
For starters, it has one of the best battle scenes in the series. Dumai's Wells is a scene that I could still remember vividly, even years after having read it. Great imagery, great climax--fantastic stuff. Things really seemed to ramp up in this volume--the stakes were raised, and key characters were in real danger. Rand's progressive communication with Lews Therin has always fascinated me, and his continued battle with insanity starts to come to the front here. The Black Tower development is fantastic, and I love seeing the Asha'man come into their own.
So why isn't the book a five star? Well, it's got some other sections that just bug me. I don't really care about Morgase, plain and simple. Her sections induce yawns from me, and I'm not sure why she suddenly deserved so much of her viewpoint. Plus, Nynaeve and Elayne continue to do stupid things, this time in Ebou Dar. That's always a downer. Those two things in conjunction are enough to bring the book down a half star. Such is life.
Still, I continue to really enjoy this series, and I have yet to read anything that would lead me to want to listen to any of the detractors of the series.
View all my reviews >>
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
One element of the film that stuck out like Pinocchio's nose at a lying festival was the plot line that involves the two main characters, Emilie and Nellie. They've only just met weeks before, but they're already madly in love. Everything's going great, until . . . she finds out he's already been married and his wife has died. This upsets her so much, that she refuses to see him anymore. Huh? That was my first reaction. Then I figured out the real reason--the one that I suppose would have been oh so apparent to me if I were back in 1958: he'd married a Polynesian woman. You know--someone NOT WHITE. Which made him unclean or something. I didn't live in the 50s--I don't get it.
The whole theme of racism is woven throughout the film, including some romance scenes between a white man and a Tonkinese woman which were supposedly quite shocking those days. The thing is, today, the conflict there was so dated that it took DKC and I a long time to figure out why the characters were behaving the way they were. Was the world really that closed minded only 50 years ago, that such a plot line was considered edgy? And where will we be 50 years from now? If I were in my 80s, would I still be shaking my head at the audacity of that South Pacific movie today? Is there something today that is considered totally taboo, but which my children just won't understand what the big deal was?
It makes one wonder . . .
Monday, July 13, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Just got back from Sesame Place, a theme park over by our mall here in PA. Why they chose to put it over here by the mall is beyond me, but we like it--some really fun water rides. TRC had a blast. It was also rather strange, since part of the climax of Pawn of the Dead (my latest book) takes place there. I'm happy to report that today's outing was completely zombie free. Of course, I also found out that they've redone a lot of the park, which invalidates a lot of my descriptions from that scene. Sigh. Oh well, I can always revise if I need to. For your viewing pleasure, I've attached some pics of the trip. Enjoy.
DKC and DC at the Count's Splash Tower--what used to be the Count's Fount.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Of course, we also went to the Philadelphia Zoo, and that was a total blast as well. (Bigger even than Chuck E. Cheese) The kids had a great time, and I even posted pictures over on my Facebook account. If you don't have Facebook, well then . . . maybe you ought to finally sign up so that you can see the pics. :-) I'm too lazy right now to post them again here on my blog. I got my hands on an old iPhone, and I've been loving every second of it. The ability to take a picture, then post it to Facebook immediately . . . that's pretty darn cool.
Anyway--just thought I'd drop in on you all to say the vacation was going great. Toodleoo!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Gran Turino is Clint Eastwood's latest drama, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Four stars (although I've talked to some people who really disliked the ending--it worked for me, is all I'll say). The movie's about an old Korean War vet living in an area of Detroit that's being taken over by Hmong immigrants. He's old, crotchety and a 100% bigot. Then he's forced to start seeing some of the Hmong as actual people. Drama ensues. It was very well filmed, and most of the acting was spot on--I loved Eastwood in it. Sort of made me think I was seeing what happened to Dirty Harry long after he retired. The film's rated R for rampant racially slurs and plenty of obscenity, but it's got a really good message at heart, too. For what it's worth.
Taken is a very different film. Liam Neeson plays a father whose daughter is kidnapped. But as opposed to the typical father who can only watch helplessly, Neeson has a chance to speak to the captors. This is what he says: "I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you." Bloodshed ensues. Lots of bloodshed (but not enough for an R rating--they kept it PG-13). I really liked the movie for what it was--a strong 3 stars, and an excellent example of how much you can have your protagonist get away with if you make sure he's up against even worse. Highly recommended.