Month: June, 2005

Star Wars: Revolutions

by redshift

I just couldn’t resist posting about this. This rewritten, abridged Episode 3 script is for anyone who was less than thrilled with Lucas’ version. I’m not even a Star Wars nut and I nearly wet myself.

The Mystery of the Box Office Slump, Solved: Your Movies Are Crap

by blue midget

We’re all movie experts in our own right, aren’t we? We know what we like. It may not be what the next person likes, but what we do like, we are experts at. And in the past, there has always been a movie to suit our individual and collective tastes. Not this year. I have always been a big movie-goer. My parents used to take us to the old local theater downtown every Friday for a flick. I saw Indiana Jones forty times and loved it every time. But recently, with ticket and concession prices on the rise and movies that are becoming more miss than hit, I’ve stayed away. Let’s face it – even matinee prices are too high to make recent movies worth it.

There’s been much ado in the news lately about the slump at the box office. According to reports, ticket sales are down more than six percent compared to last year and movie executives fear that this will be the biggest slump in twenty years. High hopes had been pinned on Star Wars: Episode III and Batman Returns, but the two movies have failed to make up for the poor performance experienced so far. And for some reason, it’s a big mystery as to why moviegoers are staying away. Some blame it on higher ticket prices, while others point fingers at pirated movies being downloaded over the internet. Many other reasons have been suggested, but as the theories keep coming, no one seems to agree on any one of them. Well, let me help all of you multi-million dollar entertainment executives figure it out:

Your movies are crap.

Admittedly, I am a book nerd and prefer books over movies. A book can give you so much more depth that a movie can’t. When a movie is released that is based on a classic book (for example, The Count of Monte Cristo) I will avoid that movie like the plague, and for good reason. The book that the movie is based upon is a magnificent story; an elaborate, well written novel that a movie would not possibly do justice to within a two hour sitting. (Read my words carefully here because I didn’t say that they couldn’t do it justice, I said they wouldn’t.) The movie tends to not be even remotely similar to the original story and, nerdy as it sounds, I get angry that people think that what they saw in the movie was what you would read in the book. Because so many great books such as this one have been horribly disfigured on film, there is a general sentiment among movie-goers that the book is almost always better than the movie. Exceptions would be epics like The Lord of the Rings – but these are few and far between. Movies are focusing more and more on long, flashy, expensive scenes, at great sacrifice to the plot and character development.

This week I went to see Kingdom of Heaven. I had high hopes because it was directed by Ridley Scott. On the other hand, it was starring Orlando Bloom, who I really wasn’t sure could pull off a leading role. I stand corrected; Bloom wasn’t bad at all, it was the story that I hated. The fighting scenes were only okay – is it just me or are these epic battles getting old? I enjoyed the tactical fighting of the siege to Jerusalem very much, but the hand-to-hand combat is becoming old hat. Even so, this would have been forgivable except for the storyline. The main character leapfrogs from plot-point to plot-point, giving us very little time to think about why he’s doing anything, and the audience is left with a feeling akin to whiplash. By the end of the movie the audience has no emotional investment in the character, so as Balian rode off into the sunset with the princess, no one cared.

Read the rest of this entry »

The little letter next to your name, Or: You can’t help yourself, Darky. You’re too…dark!

by hulk

Howard Dean. This is pure genius. He gets the Democratic party noticed at a time when they are largely being relegated to the sidelines. In my personal view they’re merely the party of whining and then telling you to cough up more tax money for social programming, regardless of whether it’s actually helping or not. That is a very, very biased view and I apologize for it. Unless you’re a democrat yourself. Go jump.

Apparently all Republicans are white male christians who (and these are separate statements he made) never worked a day in their life. He later changed it to Republican leaders. He honestly believes that Democrats still represent the working class. Since when? Issue-grouping has killed that! The Democrats have to be the party of diversity, abortion rights, more social programs, more doormat behavior in foreign policy, and government regulation. The Republicans have to be the party of religion, morality, aggressive foreign policy, lower taxes (though that is rarely delivered), and less social programming and more spending on defense instead.

Issue-grouping is simply bad for America, but it’s really bad for the Democrats right now. They would jump at the chance to abandon abortion and therefore pick up a bunch of religious voters, or so they think. I doubt they’d pick up many votes by abandoning abortion, because I happen to believe it is a media-spun myth (since most people in ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the LA times are liberals) that most of the middle of America only voted for Bush because of abortion and gays. It just fits too well with their typical characterization of red states as full of complete morons. Yes, that college degree completely separates you from them because you know who Voltaire and Jack Kerouac are. (I don’t happen to know who those two are but I don’t really give a crap.) A bunch of over-education and half-hearted pothead analysis of the beauty of the tree symbolism isn’t exactly going to pay the bills. Excuse me, I’m being crass because I’m angry. I apologize. For your information I happened to enjoy the symbolism in Dante because he ruled. Moving on.

So, issue-grouping is bad for both parties, bad for our country, but really, really, really bad for Democrats right now. They simply can’t get their disparate groups together under one big umbrella. Sure they can throw the Pride whatever with the Afro-American Urban Action whatchamacallit, but the Afro-American Urban Action whatchamacallit doesn’t fit with the Abortion league and Local 5380 doesn’t fit with the Pride whatever. (If you’re wondering, I happen to support abortion rights.) I’m just saying they’ve got an uphill battle. Especially when the rhetoric gets nasty. I’m sorry, but “You’re a bunch of baby-killers” is a better line for whipping a crowd into a frenzy than “My body, my choice”. I’m not saying this is good, but you’ve got to face the fact that it will take years to convince people on this one.

It’s also not easy for the gays. I say you go ahead and have hot man-love with whomsoever you want to have hot man-love with. However, “we’re here and we’re queer” is downright obnoxious, especially when they sue some town to fly some pride day flags on a bridge the town maintains is reserved for historical flags. You know, like Veteran’s Day. Or the fourth of July. But then you get some weeping about the holocaust against gays and I’m sorry, but I can’t help but roll my eyes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Failures of the Self, Or: I F***ed up, Ted. That’s why your legs are missing.

by hulk

My mentor at work has been jokingly thanking me for training him in how to be political. He said, “See, I’ve learned my mistake. Before, I tried to do what’s right. You’ve shown me that we should just do what’s wrong and get the credit.” This is either a joke, or, as I suspect (though I am prone to paranoia due to social anxiety) it’s a rebuke. Either way, it’s shaming.

My main project at work is receiving more attention than needed, and possibly more than merited, due to the disturbing fact that we have used (deleted out of fear of what happened to that Delta Airlines stewardess) so well that our project will be used as the “model project”, meaning our tools will be shown as examples in training future green and black belts. We only did what was right for the project, ignoring the ephemereal certification guidelines. Now the project is progressing fairly well and we’ve got the sun shining on us.

We have done well on this project. Massive failures remain built into the system we constructed, and I feel inadequate for failing to solve them. At this point I don’t feel that the major problem of production has been solved though we will present data to the contrary. The scary thing is it doesn’t matter what we actually did. No one is watching. We could lie through our teeth and be hailed for it. The ones who will pay will be the tech reps in the field who will, yet again, be presented with a part that meets all design specs yet does not perform the job they need it to do.

I could make the argument that getting noticed is all that matters. I’m a young man and I need to think of my future and getting noticed by the right vice presidents and being obsequious without being obvious is where I should concentrate my efforts. The argument falls apart when I wonder where those vice presidents started out. Probably young people, like me, looking up to those at the top and figuring “hey, they lie to themselves and each other, so why shouldn’t I?”

I don’t mean to be simplistic. I’ve had a problem since starting in the working world, a problem with believing that people are idiots. I can’t believe people are idiots, since I am a person and to believe that everyone else is an idiot but me is… idiotic. People are prone to moments of idiocy. So how do I explain the consistent idiots? Can’t they see what they’re doing? Either they can and they don’t care, or they just don’t notice. That can be fairly easy. I wonder, perhaps too much, what the production workers think of me and the failures on my little production cell. Do they blame me? Do they think that I’m simply an ignorant fool, willingly ignorant or not? Of course I could deviate from this relativistic standpoint and just say that yes, the vice presidents are idiots but they don’t know it because they’re all living a lie, managing by numerical targets that have no basis in reality and without knowing or caring what the actual impact on the company is, as long as they meet their own targets on their perfomance evaluation and manage not to commit actual fraud on the budget in order to do so. If you were an english teacher, I apologize for that last sentence, since I am sure you are now dead.

Read the rest of this entry »