Tag Archives: movies 2009

Went to see Drag Me To Hell with Tess on Sunday. It was pure Sam Raimi fun. Possessed inanimate objects, gooey-gore, and great camera work. You do have to give Raimi that: even Evil Dead has some nice camera angles.

Yesterday’s “work”:
Obscure Media Monday: Television: “Carnivàle”

And today finished an updated look for:
Entangled Continua : Home
Well, mostly. Some excerpts need updating.

From the around the internet:
Rands In Repose: A Toxic Paradox

The Brain: Stop Paying Attention: Zoning Out Is a Crucial Mental State | Memory, Emotions, & Decisions | DISCOVER Magazine
Interesting though there might be some methodological problems with calling attention to the wandering mind. Also, executive control and default centers? There are better names for these, right?

Second suicide in Indian artifact theft case: Scientific American Blog
Dude shot himself twice…in the chest? That’s just odd.

May weather, More movies

After two full weeks of 100+ temperatures, we finally received a much needed reprieve on Wednesday.  I do believe 14 days in a row is a record for May.  On Monday night, there was some wind, dust, and lightning, but nothing came of it.  Wednesday started pleasant with clouds that lasted pretty much through Wednesday disc.  It cleared up a little in the afternoon, but it was too late to get uber hot.  Since yesterday morning it’s been cool and cloudy with occasional persistent sprinkles.  Would I appreciate these days as much if not for the 14 AC-inducing days that preceded it?

Eric and I have been having a hard time getting much work done.  He did quite well this past semester and we’ve been celebrating a bit.  We went to Efes, a Turkish restaurant, yesterday to cap it off.  Today, I really need to get a few things including a mountain of laundry I’ve been ignoring.

Movies watched:

American Gangster as part of a loose Ridley Scott double feature.  It was alright, though nothing special.  We’ve been spoiled by The Wire; the unsophisticated nature of 70s crime pales in comparison to the challenges of modern crime.  One thing that struck me while watching American Gangster and Body of Lies is that both movies suffer from some of the same problems that Blade Runner has.  Mainly, the occasional plot jump or a setting change that is disconcerting to the viewer.  The viewer has to spend a moment considering what they seem to have missed instead of paying attention to what is going on.  That’s a big problem in Blade Runner and that’s why the voice over is sometimes necessary. Scott’s gotten better though and it’s a shame that Blade Runner didn’t come along later in his career.

The Changeling (2008). For a Clint Eastwood film, it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be.  The acting was solid and the look of the fim was great, but the structure was somewhat disjointed.  I wonder if cuts had been made for the sake of run time, and it does run long with maybe one ending too many.  For me, this was a very difficult movie to watch, probably second only to Black Hawk Down.  Both have a certain quality to them, a feeling of dreadful inevitability.  You know that whatever steps a character is taking to make things better, it’s only going to make things worse.

Exercise, Movies, How much should an ebook cost?

Had a good workout this morning that left me energized instead of wiped out.  I also took my measurements again, for the first time in a few weeks.  I had noticed that about 2-3 months ago that I had gained some weight.  Nothing major, but instead of being at the low end of my +/- 2 weight range, I was staying at the high end.  My clothes weren’t fitting differently as far as I could tell and I wondered whether the extra couple pounds could be muscle.  Before league finals since about January, I had been doing more weight training.  Eric suggested I measure myself, though that was of limited value since I had no baseline.  Well, after a few weeks of doing little in the way of weights (or much else), I’m down to my base weight and I’ve lost some arm and leg circumference.  Now that my back is feeling pretty good, it’s back to rowing and weights for me.

Set up and started registration for women’s league over the past week. I’m considering playing if only to become familiar with all the new ladies that are signing up.  And I could really use the second game in my week.  I will miss two games due to our trip to Omaha that’s coming up in June.  I’ll probably hold off until the end of registration to see how numbers fall out.

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Recently watched a couple of movies of note:

Body of Lies
: A very overlooked film from last year.  A political thriller with Russel Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ridley Scott, directing.  Very well written and good looking too.

Next: Nicolas Cage is a man that can see two minutes into the future (based on a Philip K Dick story, obviously).  The movie is flawed in some areas, but I have to give the filmmakers credit for ambition.  Plus, it’s just a fun movie.

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How Much Should an E-Book Cost? – NYTimes.com
Fleshing out The Times’s ebook story of May 17 – The Shatzkin Files
Ebooks, Prices, Consumers, Choices. Again. | Booksquare

May tribbles eat your kibbles…

So, what has been going on lately in Katherine-land?  A bit of this, a bit of that.

Spent Monday whittling down Pas de Chat‘s synopsis to one page (and then shorter than one page to accommodate formatting), and by Tuesday afternoon sent her out to six more agents.  As usual, there was much moaning and fretting about guidelines. This was somewhat defused by serendipitously timed blog post by Nathan Bransford and by the longest, kindest form rejection letter I have ever received. (Three of my six submissions were by email; two of which I quickly received responses to.) The agent had obviously taken time and put forth effort in its crafting.  I try not to be grumpy at agents when all I get back is a three line email or a poorly photocopied half sheet of paper. It’s easy to forget there are people, busy people on the other end of my query letters. But it is nice to get a response (even a negative one) that acknowledges that there’s a busy person on this side of the query too.

Tuesday afternoon, we went to see Star Trek. (Over Wolverine, in fact.  I got curious.) I will confess, I am a Star Trek fan.  My mom was a big fan.  I’ve met William Shatner and I’ve accidentally tripped Walter Koenig.  I own a stuffed tribble and a small titanium insignia magnet.  I’m not a rabid fan, but fan, I am.  I had very low expectations for the movie.  A younger Star Trek.  A “reboot” of the franchise.  Directed by JJ Abrams of all people.  How could this manage to be good?  It does and doesn’t.

The science and the extension of technology from the present to future, is terrible.  Granted, if you’re staying true to the setting of Star Trek as put forth in the original series, the science and the extension of technology will be terrible.  Unfortunately, it didn’t seem particularly consistent with the original series level of technology either.  But really, I didn’t expect this aspect of the film to be any good.  The call backs and nods to the original series were somewhat poorly handled in my opinion. Those things were done for the fans, but should have been done much more subtly. There were also some joke-y aspects that I could have done without.  Often, it felt as though the writers were trying too hard to wink at and nudge the audience.  Also too many things that just struck me as incredulous.  Prime example: where exactly *is* the canyon in Iowa?

Ultimately and surprisingly, what I did appreciate the movie is the “reboot” quality.  Restarts happen often in comics, often in tabletop gaming.  I’ve even sort of done one between two novel drafts.  Essentially, you want to keep the things that are good, but tweak those things, shake them up, make relationships different. To pull this off, they had to be gutsy about it.  To the credit of Abrams and his writers, they were. They offer fans a way of excepting this new Star Trek and maybe even look forward to more stories being told in this universe.

Yesterday kind of devolved into a goof-off day.  We went out and played disc, grocery shopped, and finished watching The Wire.  If I were to be balanced, I would now go on for three paragraphs about how good this show is.  Alas, there’s usually less to say when something is good.  We watched all five seasons over the past couple of months.  I picked it from Netflix because it was an HBO show that I hadn’t heard much about.  It is very good.  It’s well written, well acted, well produced.  At its base is the crime in Baltimore, MD.  Over five seasons, the stories are told from the POV of the cops, the criminals, the lawyers, the politicians, the school system, and the media.  It gives an excellent view of the criminal organizations and the non-forensic procedural aspects.  It’s further proof that television at its best could be better than movies.

Other links of interest:

Whether ‘Terminator’ or ‘Angels and Demons,’ Films Feel the Call of Boycotters – NYTimes.com
My guess is that neither of those two films will be affected, though one might content that Angels and Demons is less reliant on the American market.

NeuroLogica Blog takes a look at something I’ve always found curious: Spontaneous Human Combustion

Amazon.com is becoming a reprint publisher.

Totally Addicted… reviews Wired passion fruit with calcium. Better known as the only palatable low-calorie “energy” drink I have left. It also mixes very well with UV Cherry vodka.

Cereal And Milk Is The New Sports Supplement
*After* exercise isn’t really what sports drinks were made for. Sports drinks are for during prolonged exercise when an athlete’s stomach wouldn’t really appreciate a bowl of cereal.

It’s about time…

Finished Book #1 for the year: The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes.

It’s about time, I suppose. I’ve started reading several books and flirted giving Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series a reread since the beginning of January. There’s a blogger on tor.com that’s going through Jordan’s books at a breakneck pace before the last one comes out this fall. I’m too slow of a reader so that quickly fell by the wayside. Anyway, The Somnambulist. I started reading it via Harper Collins website. They were offering it free in a sort of "streaming" manner. My occasionally slow and variable internet connection interrupted my reading so often that I checked it out from the library.

A mystery set in Victorian-ish London, it’s a book that should be right up my alley. Unfortunately, the novel has pretenses that wore thin for me. Every character is odd. There’s Edward Moon, a detective of supposedly supernatural ability who is also a magician and enjoys the occasional dalliance with bearded ladies. There’s the Somnambulist, a mute indestructible giant that guzzles milk. There’s Skimpole the albino with the crippled son, Cribb the time traveler, and (of course) Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The book’s narration is ornate as well, full of warnings and asides.  It just too much. Barnes has a light narrative style and creates an interesting version of London, but oddity is tiring when it’s the norm.

—###—

Watched Saw V.  Yeah, the series is wearing thin.  I was a bit bored during this one.  There wasn’t much to figure out and nothing was terribly inventive.  They’ve continued to use two characters that look way too much alike, and we’re not really given reason to care about any of the other characters.

Feeling creaky today, especially in my hands.  Baked banana bread.  It came out alright, though Eric finds it to be too much like spice bread to be to his taste.

January is getting away from me.

Saturday:
Spent some time dinking around with Zoho Notebook.  Meh, but thus far better than Evernote or UberNote.  Watched the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking while eating lunch. The acting was good and the story was serviceable, nothing extraordinary. Eric and I split a flautas meal and a gorditas meal from Guerrero’s.  Went for a walk, threw a frisbee a bit.  The latest issue of The Rifter arrived by mail, worse for wear.  Skimmed through it.  Finished skimming through an issue of Time.  Gamed.  Watched Wanted.

Sunday:
Bought the last part of my “NaNo prize.”  (A little treat at the completion of a draft is a nice thing.)  The first part was a new office chair.  I chose this model from Ikea.  It doesn’t look like much, but its back is in exactly the right place for me.  After trekking around Tempe last Wednesday, I decided I wanted a good backpack as the rest of my reward.  One that will hold a laptop as well as a disc and cleats.  Picked up what I hope will be a decent one from Target.  Gamed.  Ate one too many cookies.  Watched Tropic Thunder.

Both Wanted and Tropic Thunder are movies I was dubious of, but rented anyway.  I knew Wanted wouldn’t be good.  From the trailer, I knew the whole “curve the bullet” thing was going to annoy me.  Yet, it looked so pretty.  It was indeed pretty and it did have a few bits here and there that were interesting, but I probably feel this way because my expectations were low.  Tropic Thunder I figured could go either way.  Good comedy is hard, and much of it lately is crap.  In the end, I found it to be the best spoof I’ve seen in a long time.  Sort of the Airplane! of this era.

Weekend reading, which mostly occurred on Saturday:
A List Apart: Articles: Elevate Web Design at the University Level
A List Apart: Articles: Brighter Horizons for Web Education(skimmed)
Sculpting the Impossible: Solid Renditions of Visual Illusions: Scientific American Slideshow
Neuromarketing » Branding, Brains, and Google
Neuromarketing » Google and Your Brain, Part 2
How to read 462 books in one year | Jacket Copy | Los Angeles Times
Black Gate » Blog Archive » How to Read 462 Books a Year
Tor.com / Science fiction and fantasy / Blog posts / The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Eye of the World, Part 2 (full of spoilers)
24 ways: Making Modular Layout Systems
Too Many Words | Storytellersunplugged
FORENSICS 114: DEM BONES, DEM BONES, DEM DRY BONES | Storytellersunplugged

Today:
I’m working on a bugger of chapter in Fuel Eaters. I’m debating heading off to somewhere else to work, but I need to do laundry and other home related tasks.

Will I post this today? Yes!

I tried to post yesterday and LiveJournal was being uncooperative.

Watched In Bruges the other night.  It doesn’t quite meld its ridiculousness with its seriousness to be a seamless black comedy, but I found it funny enough at times to make up for how annoying Colin Farrell was at times. To sum up, there’s Hieronymous Bosch imagery, it’s set at Christmas, the word ‘fuck’ is used 126 times in its 107 minute runtime, and the city of Bruges is pretty much the third main character. It’s an odd little movie.

—###—

More on the sketchy caffeine/hallucination article:
Bad Science » Drink coffee, see dead people.
I didn’t bother pointing out its sketchiness, but I didn’t bother following through in any manner either. I’m not surprised to hear that it was nothing more than a survey, which is what it said in the article. I took the article at its face value, knowing that a self-reported survey isn’t a very good scientific research device. But Goldacre points out bigger problems like

putting a finding in the press release but not into the paper … People will read this coverage, they will be scared, and they will change their behaviour.

Which seems to be the point of half of mainstream “scientific” journalism. Not to educate, but to alarm.  I read the coverage, wondered if I fell into their high consumption category and took pride in the fact that I do.  My over-consumption might cause other problems, like headaches, but has never led to hallucinations.  There’s no reason why I’d become alarmed.

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It’s been said that writing is like everything else. In my estimation, this is both entirely correct and resoundingly wrong. (Kind of like the concept of writers never having a day off…and also having every day off.) But in this vein:
Rands In Repose: The Larry Test:

In the case of the Larry Test, your job is to find the precise moment to tell the team it’s time to be done. … Who likes to be told what they’ve done is flawed after six weeks of hard work?

Only with writing, who likes to be told that what they’ve done is flawed after a year of hard work? Or two years? And yeah, the trick is deciding when the project should be stamped done and shoved out the door. The even trickier part is excepting that my concept of done isn’t Eric’s concept of done.