Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Office Pranks Are Good For the Soul

I'm just a crazy posting fool today. I can't help it, though. This has got to be one of the best compilations on YouTube. For those of you that don't know about the television show, The Office, shame on you. Dwight is the office dweeb/jerk. Jim is his foil. What you see here are a few of the pranks Jim has played on Dwight over the years. Look for comedic gold at 0:47.

You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry, You Better Not Try to Visit Santa

We're all ready for Christmas here. The house is decorated, the presents wrapped, the kids excited. We tried to take the girls to see Santa yesterday.

That was a mistake.

We knew the mall would be busy, but we figured going at 4:00 would be tolerable. We were wrong. The place was already packed. The line to see Santa went past the queue and into the mall corridor. The people past the end of the queue were going to be left out until 6:00, since that was when Santa would get back from his dinner break.

We bagged it.

We took the girls to pick something out for themselves from the Disney Store instead. All told, we spent the same amount of money that we would have at Santa. The worst was yet to come, though. We hurried out to our van in the blustery cold. We had parked on the top level of the garage because we knew we'd be able to find a spot there. That was a mistake. Halfway down to the next level, we hit a jam. Every aisle of the garage was filled with people trying to leave. Most people were nice enough to shuffle fellow cars in fairly, though a few people were jerks about it. The biggest problem was the exit from the garage dumped out onto a street that connected to the main drag. The traffic light on that street was really short, so not only did we have multiple exits from the garage dumping out on the same street, but the light would only let a few cars off the street at a time.

It took us a full hour to leave the garage.

We decided not to head to the temple to see the Christmas lights like we had planned. Next year we'll plan a little better.

As for the holiday, our spirits still aren't dampened. We love Christmas in the Hawks home. I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

The Thundercats That Could Have Been

Not much to say about this trailer that hasn't already been said elsewhere. It is awesome on many levels. Thanks to Topless Robot for the drop and WormyTV for the video.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spiders, Why Did it Have to Be Spiders?

This morning, I caught sight of a spider hanging out in the corner of the shower. It was waving it's little forelegs as if to say, "Yeah, I'm a spider. So what? You wanna fight about it?"

I hate spiders in the shower.

About 14 years ago, I was minding my own business, taking a shower. I had just finished rinsing the shampoo out of my hair and had opened my eyes. I saw spots in my vision. Things are a little blurry without my glasses, so I didn't really make anything out of the spots. I figured I had rubbed my eyes too vigorously to get the water out.

That was, until I noticed the spots were moving down slowly. One was right in front of my face. I took a closer look and noticed that it was a tiny little baby spider. That meant, you guessed it, that all the other spots were the same thing. They were all around me.

I freaked out.

I hopped out of the shower as fast as I could and sprayed those suckers down the drain. Yeah, they were just baby spiders, probably couldn't even hurt a fly, yet, but they were all over. I had been well-taught of the dangers of spiders from a particularly horrible scene in Something Wicked This Way Comes and the entire movie Arachnaphobia. Them spiders had to die.

And so did this morning's shower visitor. I accepted his challenge, and promptly washed him down the drain. Of course, I'm sure his spidery family will get revenge on me by crawling into my mouth while I'm sleeping.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Post! A Post? Yes! A Post!

Bleh. I feel so behind in posting. Much has happened in the past month and I have little time to post about it. Let's see if I can remember the highlights.

Stacy's belly has stretched to amazing proportions with our unborn son. We have settled on the name, Tristram Scott Hawks. The name was inspired by a favorite author of mine, Neil Gaiman, whom I have mentioned a few times before. My initial attempts at getting a Scott Jr. were shot down. On other fronts, Stacy is constantly busy with church, PTO, and HOA responsibilities. Inbetween all of this, she still manages to be a wonderful mother, wife, and friend.

Vicki is in girl scouts and 2nd grade. She's constantly amazing us with how mature and caring she is. I don't remember being anywhere near as conscientious at 7 years old. Zoe seems to be come out of her shell a bit more lately. She interacts with her fellow students and teachers in preschool, and did so faster this year than with her other class last year. It's my hope that she won't grow up being as painfully shy as I was. Scarlett is still a big personality in a tiny package. She just turned 3 and is queen of all she surveys. She's got a real soft, sweet side that many people don't see. We are still learning how to coax it out of her.

Had a fantastic Thanksgiving at the McCoards' house. We cracked our laptops afterwards and threw down on some Diablo 2 multiplayer goodness. It's an old game, but we had so much fun playing it that we've gotten together two more times since then to play some more. I'm looking forward to Diablo 3.

Saw Madagascar 2 and didn't hate it. Some of the jokes were pretty good. King Julian and Moto Moto stole the show.

Saw Suantom of Quolace and enjoyed it thoroughly. Still no gadgets or Q, but Bond was in top form. It was interesting to see the first true Bond sequel, which picked up directly after the last one, rather than a separate adventure to add to the series.

The new phone I want came out, the HTC Fuze. It's a slick piece of technology that may elude me, considering its hefty pricetag. Stacy is determined to get it for my Christmas present, but I'm not sure if that will, or should, happen.

My good friend Jon and I have been watching Riff Trax every week. While I thoroughly enjoy the experience, there are some movies we've seen that were not meant for mortal eyes. To whit, Battlefield Earth, Batman and Robin, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Star Wars Holiday Special, and especially Troll 2 should be cremated and rocketed into the cold recesses of space, never to be seen again.

Participated in a parade mostly by accident. Vicki was in the Manassas holiday parade with her girl scout troop. After they passed by our vantage point, I had to get to the end of the route to pick her up. A couple of groups ahead of her was Karen, a good friend of ours. When I caught up with her, she asked me to walk with their group to the end. As the sidewalks were effectively clogged, the only direct path to the end was with the parade, and good company along the way didn't hurt, I took her up on her offer. Incidentally, her group represented her church. So if anyone from my ward saw me walking with them, no, I have not converted.

Speaking of which, I received a new calling at church. I am now the Ward Mission Leader. That means I get to make sure the missionaries in our ward are taken care of and I coordinate ward member missionary activities. It is a daunting task, one that I'm not sure I'm up to, but also one that I'm going to dive into and do my best.

I recently finished the first phase of a project at work that is going to dominate my working life for the next few months. I'm not especially looking forward to the rest of it, but that's the lot I have for now. My company has yet to be purchased. There have been no rumors of layoffs. It looks like I'll be safe for this holiday season. I'm done with classes for my bachelors degree in IT. I now just have 8 elective credit hours to finish. I will be submitting technical certifications as credit and will hopefully have all that done before too long.

I hope everyone is having a pleasant holiday season. It may be a while before I really get any more meaningful posts here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Welcome to December

Was that a tumbleweed that just rolled by? Yup, this place feels deserted. It's not though, just in hibernation. Here's December's demotivational message to tide you over.

You Aren't Being Paid to Believe in the Power of your Dreams.

Yes sir, poster sir! Getting to work!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Little Bit of Awesome

I know, it's been a while. I'm afraid I don't have time for a proper entry today, either. I just wanted to drop this bit of awesome on your eyeballs, courtesy of Topless Robot. Geek out and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Something of Boris

For those of you that know me, you probably know that I really dig James Bond. That's why I'm fairly excited for The Quantum of Solace coming out this Friday. Here is a sneak peek at the unofficial Quantum of Solace theme song.

Thanks to Clay and Ain't It Cool News.

In case you miss any of the lines:

Lyrics to Quantum Of Solace :
He's got a gun and great big man-tits
He's got jug-ears and tiny trunks
Dame Judi Dench is FURIOUS with him!
He's gone completely out to lunch

The Quantum of Solace! (The Quantum of Solace!)
I don't know what that means! (What does it mean?)

He's having flash-backs in black and white
No more raised eyebrows, no more quips
He's got the stunt team from the Bourne films
and lots of product sponsorship

The Suantum of Quolace! (The Suantum of Quolace!)
Did I get it confused? (I got it mixed-up!)

He's nearly dead or really nearly
It's much more gritty than before
No silly gadgets, just lots more fighting
with that French bloke that does parkour

The Thingy of Whatsit! (The Something of Boris!)
I forgot what it's called! (Is that what it was?)

Sometimes I wish Roger Moore would come back
with an underwater car or some kind of jetpack
or a hover-gondola and a Union Jack
Forget it, mate, it's not the '80s!
He'd rather kick you in the face!
We've got a new Bond for the naughties
because the world's a TERRIBLE place!

The Quantum of Solace! (The Quantum of Solace!)
I've written it down! (I'll remember it now!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Me No Remember to Post November

I took this back on the third, then promptly forgot to post it. Welcome to November! My favorite part of this one how the picture so aptly enforces the caption.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween Pictures (Finally!)

Finally got around to transferring, editing, and uploading the photos from the different Halloween activities this year.

First up, we have the trunk or treat at our church. We joined up with a friend of ours and her family and came as the characters from Clue. Those of us that weren't characters from the game wore a weapon on the front and a room on the back. It was a lot of fun building the costumes. The payoff was a little more disappointing. The group costume competition at our church is generally pretty fierce, especially between the Waltons (our allies this year) and the Beatty's. However, for the double whammy this year, the Beatty's couldn't make it, and there was no group category. Ah well, the kids had fun anyway.

Next up, we have the 8th Annual Hawks Halloween Party. We had a really good turnout this year with four other families attending. The Waltons were coming, so we all donned our Clue outfits, only to find that there was a little miscommunication and they had decided to come in individual costumes. With less than half of the Clue board represented, our costumes needed quite a bit of explanation. We really slacked off on the pictures this year. I didn't even get a good one of the food spread. The funnest part was using dry ice on our blood and eyeball punch. What I didn't realize is that putting more dry ice in after the bubbles died down would eventually freeze the punch. We had punch-encased chunks of dry ice fused to the bottom of the bowl by the time I was done. Good times. Anyway, the bulk of the pictures were of the apple bobbing, a mainstay of our annual festivities.

Here we have Zoe's costume for her preschool's Bible-themed costume party.

And last we have the girls all dressed up before attacking the neighborhood in some good old fashioned candy extortion.

I was very disappointed in our neighborhood this year. About half of the houses with exterior lights on, the traditional "I'm-giving-out-candy" symbol, didn't answer the door or didn't have candy. Even those were few and far between. The only reason the girls filled their buckets was because everyone was handing out handfuls of candy. They seemed to pick up on the other disappointing trend, a marked decrease in the amount of trick-or-treaters. Last year we had almost 200 kids raid our candy. This year we didn't even get a fourth of that. I'm wondering if it's a cultural thing. One of the houses we stopped at had their lights on, but there was a nice hispanic lady leaving. She nodded to us and directed us to the door, so we figured candy awaited. After waiting for a few moments, a hispanic gentleman came around the corner of the townhouse complex bearing fast food. It looked like he just made a food run. He stuttered out, "Ah! Halloween! Uh, no, uh, candy! Wait, wait, wait!" as he started rooting around in his pockets. I was about to usher the girls away, wanting no part of whatever candy he had stashed there, when I saw what he retrieved. He had a wad of $1 bills, off of which he peeled three notes for my girls. I told him he didn't have to do it, but he insisted. Whether or not the candy was a cultural thing, I'll say this, that was a durn nice thing for him to do.

Anyway, I'm going to get these up on Facebook, too. You should be able to get to larger versions of the pictures by clicking somewhere in the slideshows if you want copies for yourself (I'm looking your way, Mom.) If any of you want originals, let me know in email.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Save The Pie Maker

I don't make impassioned pleas to my extremely limited readership often, except for those begging you not to waste an hour and a half of your life on a worthless movie, but this is different. I'm asking you to spend an hour of your life on a worthwhile TV program.

If you haven't seen it yet, let me tell you about Pushing Daisies. It is whimsical, fun, charming, and unique. The sets, props, and costumes are straight out of the storybooks. The plots are ingenious mysteries that serve to develop and showcase the fantastic characters.

The facts are these...
From Bryan Fuller (Heroes, Wonderfalls) and Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) comes a critically acclaimed series with an unprecedented blend of romance, fantasy and mystery, Pushing Daisies, a forensic fairytale about Ned, a young man with a very special gift.

As a young boy Ned discovers that he can return the dead briefly to life with just one touch. But his random gift isn't without deadly consequences& as he soon finds out. He discovers the rules of his gift early: First touch - alive; second touch - dead again, forever; Keep something alive for more than a minute and something else has to die in its place.

Grown up Ned (Lee Pace) puts his talent to good use by touching dead fruit and making it ripe with everlasting flavor. He opens a pie shop. But his life as a pie maker gets more complicated when private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) discovers Ned's secret. Emerson convinces the cash-strapped Ned to help him solve murder cases (and collect a hefty reward fee) by raising the dead and getting them to name their killers.

Then Ned is handed the case that changes his life forever. His childhood sweetheart, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (Anna Friel), is murdered on a cruise ship under strange circumstances. Her death brings him back to his hometown of Coeur d' Coeur to bring Chuck back to life, albeit briefly, and to solve the crime. But once reunited with Chuck, Ned can't bring himself to touch her again.

Chuck becomes the third partner in Ned and Emerson's PI enterprise, but she encourages them to use their skills for good, not just for profit. Ned is overjoyed to be reunited with Chuck, the only girl he's ever loved. Life would be perfect, except for one cruel twist: If Ned ever touches her again, she'll go back to being dead, this time for good.

This season Ned and Chuck's relationship begins to change as Chuck yearns for more independence and moves out of Ned's apartment - without Ned's support. Lovelorn waitress Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth) cracks under the pressure of keeping Aunt Lily's (Swoosie Kurtz) deep dark secret -- that Lily is Chuck's mother -- and runs off to a nunnery. Digby gets a new friend when Pigby, a hog with special talents, moves in. And the sudden appearance of mysterious Dwight Dixon (recurring guest star Stephen Root), supposedly an old friend of both Ned's and Chuck's father's, spells trouble for everyone.

Pushing Daisies was nominated for 12 Emmy Awards in its first season. Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Ellen Greene, Swoosie Kurtz and Kristin Chenoweth star in the visually stunning series from Living Dead Guy Productions, The Jinks/Cohen Company, in association with Warner Bros. Television. Tony winner Jim Dale, reader of the Harry Potter series of audio books, is the narrator. In addition to Fuller and Sonnenfeld, Dan Jinks & Bruce Cohen (Academy Award winning producers of American Beauty) and Peter Ocko (Boston Legal) serve as executive producers.

From ABC's Pushing Daisies Site

Go, click the link and watch an episode or two online. Once you do, go here (http://www.savethepiemaker.com/) and sign the petition to save the show, maybe even send ABC a message via the link under #5. This is the third of Bryan Fuller's series that I has completely absorbed me for an hour every week. I would really love to see this one last.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh So Payneful

Stacy and I went on a long-deserved date last week. We had both been interested by the trailers for the latest video-game-turned-movie, Max Payne. Full of action and valkyries, it looked exciting. Valkyries, for those of you that don't know, are the mythical warrior-maidens from Norse mythology that escort fallen warriors off to Valhalla after they die in battle. Valhalla is an eternal battle during the day and endless feasting at night, just what any warrior would relish in the afterlife. Valkyries are traditionally depicted as big, bold, tough, blonde Scandanavians wearing armor and bearing swords (no, the fat opera lady is not what I'm talking about.)

Like This, NOT


Like This.

While the valkyries in the trailer for the movie looked decidedly un-warrior-maidenlike, I was interested enough to see their variation.

It was a mistake.

I'm going to spoil it for you right now, so you don't get suckered like we did. There are no valkyries. It's all just a stupid hallucination brought on by drugs. Knowing that much and the fact that this movie had a hackneyed plot and you can probably figure out exactly what happens in the movie.

No? Well I'm going to spoil it even further for you now. Only, I'm going to give you the facts straight, unlike the convuluted, nonsensical plot in the movie.

Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is a detective relegated to a desk job in cold case after the brutal murder of his wife and baby. Turns out he was just in time to kill two of the three assailants that invaded his home. He has led a secret life pursuing the last killer. He has few friends, an ex-partner (Donal "I'm Awesome But Keep Playing Stupid Parts Like This" Logue) that gets killed by the shady psuedo-organization behind the death of Max's family and his ex-cop, present-exec-at-a-pharmacuetical-company friend (Beau "Dear Lord What Have I Sunk To" Bridges.)

Wait a sec, one of his friends is an exec at a pharmacuetical company? Why, that's questionable right there! There's more! His wife worked at the company. Is it all coming together yet?


Well, allow me to confuse matters a bit. Every time Max gets close to figuring something out about the murder, people get killed. We're led to believe that it's the valkyries doing the killing. The special effects for the valkyries is pretty cool, but ultimately lame by extension of their explanation. No, turns out it's a crazy ex-marine (Amaury "I Hope No One Watches This" Nalasco) hopped up on the drug that exec-friend is shelling out. Highly addictive and a hallucigen, it also makes the user nigh-invincible. Drawback? The hallucinations are always of the valkyries, and terrifying. I've got a few problems with that. Why would it be a popular street drug (and thus motive for the shady goings on I'm about to illuminate) AND why would the hallucinations always be of the same thing? The answer to the first question is simple, because the writer, director, producer, and everyone involved in the creative process of this movie are stupid. The answer to the second is even simpler. They wouldn't be, drugs and hallucinations don't work that way.

On to the stupid conspiracy that you should already see coming from a mile away. Max's wife was about to blow the whistle on the company. Max's exec-friend decided the only way to silence her was to kill her. He's the missing killer Max has been searching for...for...we don't know how long.

We don't know this because the director has no concept of time. We are led to believe that it's been "a long time," yet the house is still cordoned off with police tape, there is no vandalism, and no squatters. Unlikely alone, however, we get the impression from other conversations that Max hasn't been in cold case for long, as well as in his apartment. I think we can guess that for the director, "a long time," is about a month.

Sooooo, Marky Mark Payne doesn't actually figure this out. He is dense enough that when his exec-friend preposterously shows up in the middle of the retarded fight scene with the ex-marine and shoots him cold dead, he still has to be knocked out and explained the entire plot right before he gets "killed" in the frozen river.

Does he die? Oh, you wish. No, he conveniently has a couple of vials of the wunder drug planted in his pocket by his erstwhile killer. Oh yeah, and a B(%^h of an undead wife that won't let him die in peace. "Not yet," my arse, by the time the retarded creative team lets Max finally die, he's not going to want one thing to do with you. Anyway, hopped up on the macguffin, Max single-handedly wades through corrupt and rent-a-cops at the company to reach the exec-friend. Guess what he does there? You got it, the movie is so predictable, Max talks it out with exec-friend rationally and convinces him to turn himself in to the authorities. Roll credits.


He kills him, of course. Big whoop.

One other (did I say one? One in a loooong string of many, maybe) beef I have with the movie was Mila "You-Can-Tell-I'm-Tough-Because-I-Glare-In-All-My-Scenes" Kunis. Her character is introduced as the sister of a soon-to-be-dead hot chick (Olga "Way-Too-Hot-To-Have-A-Major-Role" Kurylenko) that can't keep her hands off of Max. Soon-to-be-dead hot chick, that is, not Mila. Naturally, she's pissed that her sister is dead and blames Max. That soon changes after a lazy plot device and she's suddenly eager to help him. Why? Some lukewarm vengeance for her sister or something. Mila kinda sleepwalks through this film, so it's hard to tell. Mila is a badass, though. You know this because she walks around everywhere with a machine gun. I mean everywhere. I'm sure there is a scene on the cutting room floor of her at the laundromat folding her baby-doll Tees with the gun strapped to her side. The problem is that not only is her motive oddly suspect, but her appearances are as well. Midway through the obligatory one-man assault on the evil corporation, she shows up to bail a hallucinating Max out of the hole he's dug himself. Why? What reason would she have to be there? She doesn't know anything about the company or Max's assault. She had no way of knowing where he would be. "I can hold them off for a while, but if you're going to finish this, you have to get up, blabbity-blah." WHY? Oh yeah, Ludacris, Nelly Furtado, and Chris O'Donnell, because, why not?

And that, my friends, is what this movie left Stacy and I saying at the end. WHY? Why did we pay good money to see this piece O hud? Why did anyone finance this stinker? Why did half the things in the movie even happen? Why didn't we walk out? Why is this post so stinking long?

That's it. I could complain about so many more things about this movie, but I won't. Just don't, whatever you do, see this movie. It's not as bad as Babylon A.D., but it's close, real close. I give this half of a hallucinatory valkyrie out of fifteen hallucinatory valkyries on a scale that I just made up that doesn't mean anything.

To the John Moore, Beau Thorne, and Sam Lake. Next time, more supernatural valkyrie, less hackneyed drug-fueled conspiracy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ITIL Will Drive You Crazy!

Boy, it's been a while. I'm still around. I just finished ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) Foundation training today. It was pretty brutal. I'm also enrolled in my final class at University of Phoenix. It's been pretty intense. I was hoping it would be an easy class with how hard the last few have been, but no luck. Almost done, though. After this class, I've got 8 elective credits I have to try to get through work/life experience. Every certification I get is good for that, thus the ITIL Foundation training. I won't know if I passed the test for another few days. I'm just glad the class is over. One of the entertaining things about the class was the instructor. He kept reminding me of a slightly goofy version of Malcolm McDowell. Is it just me, or does Malcolm McDowell look like he would drive you to the brink of madness after a long quiet conversation?

Let me tell you a little something about Information Technology...that will drive you MAD!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ah, I Love the Smell of Napalm (Hair Dye) in the Morning!

This Thursday Stacy and I finally sat down to truly mark the season, we dyed her hair napalm orange. I'm running out of battery, so I'll post the pics quick.

Check out how much pink is left after a full hour of bleaching. Yeah, we didn't even touch that color.

It made some interesting effects with the roots and tips being blonde, though.

And here it is, napalm orange hair.

We plan on really finishing the job this coming week. I'll be dying vertical stripes of her hair black. Pumpkinhead, anyone?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Code Monkeys Get All the Fun

A friend of mine is a Code Monkey at ThinkGeek. This is what she gets to do in her spare time.


In case you want to be a zombie killer too:

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Harper Collins Audiobook Widget

Behold its mighty slickness, the new The Graveyard Book widget! Thanks, Jon!

Welcome to October, er, Three Days Ago

Blurry caption reads: If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

Semi-Related Side Note Dept.
As you can see by the widget to the right, this month brings us The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It's a charming all-ages story about a child that grows up in a graveyard a la Mowgli in Kipling's The Jungle Book. If you've read any of Neil Gaiman's stuff and liked it, you shouldn't hesitate to buy it. If you've never read Gaiman's stuff, then start with this one. It's a light and entertaining read.

Tangental Side Note Dept.
It's already been shared elsewhere, but Stacy, Jon, the girls, and I had a great time at the National Book Fair in DC last Saturday. We got to buy The Graveyard Book a few days early, hear Gaiman read an excerpt and answer some questions, and meet him personally to have our books signed. The last time he came to town, Stacy was pregnant with Scarlett and had long purple hair. This time, she's pregnant with our son and has short pink hair. When we got to the front of the line, I mentioned the fact that my wife was pregnant last time he was at the festival and signed our books. His reply was along the lines of, "Good lord, and she's still pregnant!?" He signed my book by drawing a little gravestone with the inscription, "Scott, she's still pregnant?" Neil Gaiman rocks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Inexplicably Bruised/Broken Rib - or Gall Stones! Yay!

My right bottom rib has been giving me some pain in the last few weeks. I finally went to the doctor today to figure out what's going wrong. He said that if I bruised it, it could take weeks and weeks to heal. Just in case I fractured it, he ordered x-rays, which were surprisingly fast and convenient to take. He says if it doesn't get better over time or gets worse after big meals or eating fatty foods, I could have gall stones. Yay! So here I am, with an inexplicably pained rib area that could be nothing to worry about, a broken bone, or a sharp, pointy stone that wants to pass through my innards.

My bet is on bruised rib. We have been camping a lot lately and I think the constant tossing and turning on the hard ground may have caused me some damage. I'm all for the air mattress that we picked up this week. We're going again on Saturday, so I guess I'll know then.

Wish me luck!

Unrelated Side Note Dept.
Iron Man came out on DVD today. If you remember, I was just a little fond of the movie. If you haven't seen it yet, now is your chance to get it on the small screen.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

If Lovin' Spore Is Wrong, I Don' Wanna Be Right

I've been playing a lot of Spore during the late hours of the night. Who needs sleep? Anyway, to see some of my creations, page down to the new widget I installed at the bottom of the page.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pot Pie Win

Since it turned out so good today, I thought I would post a follow-up to yesterday's fail pic.

Thank you.

Thing You Shouldn't Do #7

Thing You Shouldn't Do #7:
Drive 65 MPH in pouring rain with bald tires.

Why? Because as thrilling as it is, hydroplaning can be hazardous to your health.

I'm not kidding, hundreds die while engaging in this xtreme sport. Thankfully, ever since the formation of the AXHEAD (Assocation of Xtreme Hydroplaners, Equestrians, and Dieters, they're an eclectic bunch,) the sport has become less dangerous. With safety measures such as Nerf guardrails, soft horseshoes, and calorie-free water, AXHEADs have cut annual hydroplaning-equestrian-diet-related fatalities by 5%! So remember, if you're insist on hydroplaning, get an AXHEAD license first!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pot Pie Fail

I've been visiting the Failblog quite a bit recently. It's good stuff. In the spirit of failure, I'd like to present to you, my lunch.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Birthday Wishes, OR, Oh Crap!

Ah, the joys of a child's birthday party. Well, I enjoyed it, not sure about Stacy. Judging from the photo I took of her at a friend's party at "Pump It Up," she's just about had enough joy for the evening. To be fair, she seemed to have a blast as well. Most of the other parents were entertained by watching the pregnant lady with pink hair goe up and down the slide over and over again with Scarlett. It was definitely good times. Happy Birthday, Kylee!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yar, Me Mateys!

As many of you know, Friday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I truly enjoy this day of the year, probably a lot more than is healthy. The next day, we were invited to a pirate party for a friend of our daughters. Since his parents, Karen and Paul, are good friends of mine and he asked so nicely, Stacy and I dug out our pirate costumes from Halloween a couple of years ago and came dressed for the occasion. We decided to go all out this year and embellished my beard a bit. This is the final result.

We even gave the girls some pirate braids in their hair. Great fun was had by all. I think I enjoyed the treasure hunt and pin the flag on the pirate map the most. The cake was a crazy affair. They managed to get a full pirate ship, about 24" X 12" that reached probably about 10" at its poop deck (I said poop deck.) Delicious cake, but the real entertainment was watching poor Karen try to cut and serve it. The poop deck (I said it again,) pieces toppled as soon as they were cut, so some of the cake may have had an extra fingerprint or two. I don't think anyone minded.

Anyway, it was a very piratey weekend. I hope everyone had a chance to celebrate in their own way.

Unrelated Side Note Dept.
I finally received a response from my facilitator on the plagiarism accusation. She says, considering my contribution to the class, that she's inclined to believe that I'm not plagiarizing, but needs proof. So now I'm inserting date/time stamps in random places in my code in an attempt to prove innocence. We'll see how it pans out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Birthday Thanks and Post-Birthday Infuriation

First off, I want to thank everyone for their birthday wishes and gifts. I had a great birthday. It started off nice and easy with a late morning courtesy of Stacy, thank you! We headed to the mall to enjoy a tasty lunch at the Cheesecake Factory with some friends, one of whom shares my birthday, happy birthday, Suzanna! That evening we dined at Not Your Average Joes with some more friends. It was a fantastic day.

The haul was excellent as well. I got a nice new wireless laser mouse for my laptop and cash from Stacy and the girls; a sweet Emma Frost figure from Jon; a bunch of Iron Man comics and an Iron Fist graphic novel, all signed by the writer, Matt Fraction, plus an iTunes gift card from Casey and Jamie; movies from my dad; cash from many other thoughtful gifters; and a lot of well-wishing. Thanks everyone!

Now, for one of the reasons I've been too distracted to blog. I'm in .NET II, a programming course, for school. It's kicking my @$$. Not the programming, I don't mind that at all. It's the facilitator. I have had abrasive facilitators before. I can handle that. They take a bit more work, but it's tolerable. I have never, however, been accused of plagiarism before. This is my second-to-last course to finish my degree. I have had nothing but As and A minuses throughout my courses. To be accused of cheating off other people's work at this point is not only insulting, but ridiculous. Why would I jeopardize my degree at this point, especially with work that I can do in my sleep? It's infuriating. I was furious as soon as I read the comments on my first assignment.

I wrote her an email, perhaps too hastily, but very respectfully. I am still waiting for the response. Just writing about it infuriates me more. I think I'm going to draw this to a close.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

At Least It's Better than Battlefield Earth

I recently wrote a review of The Land of the Lost, er, I mean, Journey to the Center of the Earth after going out to see it with my oldest daughter, Vicki, on a daddy-daughter date. What I failed to mention is that I went on another daddy-daughter date with my middle daughter, Zoe, the next day. She decided she'd rather see Star Wars: The Clone Wars than go mini-golfing. I will admit I groaned inwardly at the thought. I had read a few reviews about Lucas's latest offering and really had no desire to shell out for the big screen to see it.

Keep in mind that this movie should not be confused with "Star Wars: Clone Wars," the phenomenal Cartoon Network micro-series produced by Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of the equally awesome "Samurai Jack" and "Dexter's Laboratory." Which is out on DVD, you really should go pick it up. Especially if you plan on seeing THE Clone Wars any time soon. You'll need something to cleanse your palate.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Here's your plot summed up: Anakin (Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan (James Arnold Taylor) are tasked by Yoda (Tom Kane) and Mace (Samuel M-Fing Jackson) to find Jabba the Hutt's (Kevin Michael Richardson) huttnapped son. To add a little needed female flare, Anakin is saddled with a new padawan learner, Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) who apparently is really young, whatever. On their mission they face such dastardly villains as Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and his sith apprentice Ventress (Nika Futterman), though never as spectacularly or thrillingly as in "Clone Wars" (put it in your to do list.)

I don't have a problem with this. Even though it explores the same retreaded story of the reluctant teacher who learns a lesson while the learner learns learning from the learnee, blah, blah, blah. The same old jokes are trotted out to amuse the kiddies. It helps to keep in mind that this show is geared to them. The battle scenes, while not as good as those in "Clone Wars" (seriously, you need to check it out,) are entertaining enough, with plenty of clone (Dee Bradley Baker) on droid carnage.

The movie is watchable up until the subplot/plot twist, wherein Padme (Catherine Taber) and C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) encounter Jabba's uncle, Zero the Hutt (Corey Burton) back on Coruscant. Zero, in case you haven't read about the furor surrounding the character, is so obviously gay in every stereotypical way Lucas could jam into your eye and ear holes during his scenes. He is painted bright purple with day-glo pink tattoos, a couple of pretty feathers on his head, and a grating southern belle-wannabe gay accent. Oh yes, Zero speaks English just fine, unfortunately. The voice itself is a horrible caricature that makes me wince just thinking about. He gives other gay stereotypes a bad name. It's horrible, just horrible.

Had they left Zero's completely unnecessary presence out of the movie altogether, I would probably rate this movie higher. As it is, I give it four out of twenty-one baby huttlets that are better left unmentioned on a scale I just made up that doesn't mean anything. Oh, I can't wait for this to become a regular series on Cartoon Network, yipee!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

And Then There Were Two

We just found out the gender of the baby today. Ima have me a son! Stacy and I are a bit shell-shocked from the news. We both expected it to be another girl. We should have known better, though. Stacy's grandmother, who has never been wrong yet, predicted a boy. Plus, our house is completely geared towards girls, so naturally, the funniest thing the Universe could do would be to give us a boy.

I'm excited, though. I never expected to have a son to pass my line down to. It's going to be great. Now the estrogen will be balanced just a little bit by some testosterone.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Land of the Lost - er - I Mean - Journey to the Center of the Earth - IN 3D!

I took Vicki out on a daddy-daughter date last night. Since the Summer Blockbuster season is waning, we decided to go see a movie that's been in the theaters for a few weeks, Journey to the Center of the Earth IN 3D!

It was brought to us by Eric Brevig, director of - um - an episode or two of Xena (seriously.) He's pretty heavy on the special effects and second unit directing on some past blockbusters, though. I suppose that made him a good choice for directing a 3D action film. The movie is pretty effects-heavy, with lava, floating rocks, glow-in-the-dark hummingbirds, and plenty of the in-your-face pop-outs that 3D productions are required to have by federal mandate.

Journey stars Brendan Fraser (number 1 on my wife's drool list, just thought I'd throw that out there,) as the milquetoast professor, Trevor Anderson, that follows in his dead brother's footsteps to - well - you know - journey to the center of the Earth. Josh Hutcherson plays his nephew, Sean Anderson. He's the usual Hollywood teenage cliche, the troubled youth that just needs a positive influence in his life along with some near-death experiences to become a good man, you know the type. Newcomer Anita Briem plays the female lead, Hannah Asgeirsson, a mountain guide that gets roped (at times, literally,) into helping them - er - you know - journey to the center of the Earth. I'll be honest, I wouldn't mind seeing her in more roles. She's easy on the eyes and ears and plays the Strong Female Character What Can Take Care Of Herself But Still Can Be Soft For The Menfolk really well.

After a bit of set up and characterization, the intrepid journeyers end up - um - you know - at the center of the Earth. Okay, so more than a healthy amount of disbelief is required to enjoy this movie. Less than what you'd need for Babylon A.D., though. Scientifically, we know that it's not possible to have a thriving ecosystem in the crushing pressure of the depths under the Earth's mantle. There's no way dinosaurs, carnivorous flying fish, glowing hummingbirds, man-sized venus fly traps, enormous calcified mushrooms, and everything else in the movie could exist miles below the surface of the Earth, but it's sure fun watching what it would be like if they did.

The movie was rather enjoyable besides a couple of problems I had with some of the conceits, such as how a mild mannered professor becomes able to fight hand-to-hand a 'la Rick O'Connell. Or why Trevor and Hannah eventually hook up, other than the fact that they're the male and female leads of the movie and are thus legally required to make kissy-face somewhere in the movie.

I just hope they can manage to bring this one to video with the 3D intact, unlike Beowulf (you bastids.) Since "3D" is in the title of the movie, I would imagine that it'd be a pretty easy decision. But I imagine a lot of weird things, like that little guy on my shoulder with the funny tail. No, I will not insult their mama and laugh maniacally as I hit the post button! Go away!

I give Journey to the Center of the Earth IN 3D! twenty-three out of thirty floating magnetic rocks on a scale I just made up that doesn't mean anything. I have to admit, I kept hearing Peter Griffin's Land of the Lost recitation floating through my head through the whole movie.

Thing You Shouldn't Do #6

Today we have a cinematic installment of Things You Shouldn't Do.

Thing You Shouldn't Do #6:
Watch Babylon A.D.

Why? Because there are much more useful things to do with 90 minutes of your life, like watch paint dry.

That's the short of it. For those of you that want some background on the finer points of why you shouldn't watch Babylon A.D., read on.

Vin, Vin, Vin. Why do you keep doing it? Furthermore, why do I keep watching you do it? Maybe it's because you are a self-admitted geek, so I give you chance after chance, but you continue to disappoint.

Babylon A.D., directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, the visionary director that brought us such blockbusters as Café au lait and Gothika - OK, I can't do it. This guy was the frakking mugger on The Fifth Element for crying out loud. He managed to cobble together a bunch of disjointed, badly shot, horribly scripted, poorly acted, lamely choreographed scenes from actors such as Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Gerard Depardieu, and Lambert Wilson, all of whom should disavow themselves of this hackfest as vehemently as possible.

While "Guide escorts helpless client to safety" movies can be done well, this one was not. Way too much focus was given on showing what a badass Diesel is, only to ruin the characterization with one giddy bonding scene with the female protagonists. Tell you what, I'm not even going to give you further details on why this movie sucks as bad as it does. I have three words for you,

Canadian Killer Drones

Just let that sink in for a bit. No amount of suspension of disbelief could allow me to enjoy this movie, and I have a lot of it. Having said all of this, I now know that Jon will be looking forward to this on cable. He's as much a glutton for punishment as I am.

I give Babylon A.D. zero out of two hundred fifty-five badass mercenary guides with hearts of gold on a scale I just made up that doesn't mean anything. Except that you shouldn't watch this movie. Yeah, don't.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Loud September Greetings

With Focus, Dedication and Steroids, Men Can Achieve Impossible Dreams.
Like Breaking a World Record. Or Growing Their Own Breasts

My how isn't this year flying by? As can be seen by the crappy cell phone camera picture above, it is time for another month of demotivation! Yay September! Month that starts off Fall, my favorite season, my birth month, and school. That's a triple threat I can support!

Stay tuned for my abysmal review of an ill-advised movie!

I love question marks today!

They're great!

I can't stop shouting!

For the love of all that's holy, someone take away this keyboard!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thing You Shouldn't Do #5

This installment of Things You Shouldn't Do is brought to you by the letter D as in Doofus.

Thing You Shouldn't Do #5:
Go camping in the summer with no sunblock.

Why? Because the top of your head shouldn't look like a Red Delicious apple.

My Head

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thing You Shouldn't Do #4

For this installment of Things You Shouldn't Do, we have a guest subject, Stacy.

Thing You Shouldn't Do #4:
Leave the front door open when you go out to move cars to different parking spots.

Why? Because it earns you the Mother of the Year Award

Friday, August 29, 2008

Things You Shouldn't Do #1, #2, and #3

Hello! Welcome to Things You Shouldn't Do, a completely irregular new feature here on My Inanity. I will do things you shouldn't do and share them here with you in the faint hope that others will learn from my bonehead moves and avoid similar fates.

Thing You Shouldn't Do #1:
Pierce your thumb with a staple then peel an orange

Why? Because it hurts, dammit!

Thing You Shouldn't Do #2:
Clip your iPod Nano Video to your belt and go to a Redskins game even though you know the seats are so narrow that your big ass will brush the sides every time you sit down.

Why? Because you won't have an iPod anymore!

Thing You Shouldn't Do #3:
Temporarily store a full bucket of paint 2 1/2 feet off the carpeted floor just behind your home office chair.

Why? Because this:

I hope this has been educational. Remember, kids, don't do what I do!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Mummy: Curse of the Dragon...er....whatever

I'm going to make this a quick one. Stacy and I went to see the latest Mummy movie with a couple of good friends this Friday.


It had its moments, to be sure. The action was good. The plot was solid. The storyline was good, even though it had a few holes. I loved the Yeti. However, the dialog felt very forced. We're supposed to buy into these characters, Evelyn (Maria Bello) and Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser,) our intrepid heroes from the first two movies, fifteen or so years after the second movie. Their son has grown and is now estranged while the two try to enjoy their golden(?) years in retirement. This relationship is not the focus of the movie, and perhaps that is one reason it fails so miserably. I had no investment in the conflict between them. We came in during the middle of it with only vague reasons behind the split. The eventual reconciliation suffered for the lack of characterization. I could even have taken Rachel Weisz's almost criminal absence from the movie if Bello was better written. She lacked the chemistry that Weisz and Fraser steamed up the big screen with in the first two movies. Shes' pretty, not a bad actress, but she was set up to fail.

Relationships make up a large portion of the movie: the relationship between the O'Connells with Evy's brother, Jonathan (John Hannah,) thrown in for comic relief, the relationship between the Dragon Emperor (Jet Li,) his lieutenant (Russell Wong,) and the witch (Michelle Yeoh,) the relationship between the witch and her daughter (Isabella Leong,) the relationship between the O'Connell lad, Alex (Luke Ford,) and the witch's daughter. It was a bit much, especially with the trite lines and weak dialog. I was very disappointed with that aspect of the movie.

Other inconsistencies sprinkled throughout the movie were all the more glaring with the failings in the characterization and script. As far as summer movie eye candy, it fits the bill. As far as the Mummy series goes, I'd call this the weakest of the bunch, and that's including The Scorpion King. It's the tail end of the blockbuster season. If you want your eye candy before it ends (and don't intend to see the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars,) then I'd recommend this movie. Otherwise, wait for video, you won't be as disappointed.

I give The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor five out of eleven bat-imposter corpse freakouts on a scale that I just made up that doesn't mean anything.

Okay, maybe the movie suffered in my estimation for being the first movie I've seen since watching The Dark Knight in friggin' IMAX. Not much could stack up well to that experience.

Scott: 1 1/2, !@#$% Wasps: 0

I hate stinging insects. Flying ones, whether they're bees, wasps, or whatever, are even worse for me. I wouldn't say that I have a phobia, but it's pretty close. It's bad enough that I flinch any time one flies near me. Let's just say that the few times I was stung as a lad gave more than a healthy paranoia for anything with a stinger.

That brings us to yesterday. Remember those charming cicada killer wasps I wrote about last summer? Well, they're back. No, I take that back, they're not just back, they're BACK. It seems that my yard was so popular last year that some enterprising wasp opened up a time share and invited all of the extended family over for the Summer. Last year, I think I counted five or six burrows, mostly around the shed. This year there's at least three times that many, probably more.

I had to mow the lawn yesterday. It's been three or four weeks. When it's been three or four weeks in a wet Virginia summer, lawns become feral. They are full of wild beasts and foul insects lurking under the man-sized vegetation. I geared up and set forth to reclaim my lawn with my electric implements. I failed to take into account the inquisitive nature of the non-stinging male wasp and was freaked the hell out when a few kept dive-bombing me and the lawn mower. After about an hour of enduring the wasps doing fly-bys and barrel rolls past my ears, I had to take a break.

I headed back out after refueling and continued my reign of terror on the land-bound insects while their air force wreaked havoc above. With the density of the jungle undergrowth, it took me some time to finish the mowing. At one point, I found that I had actually rolled over one of the wasps before it could get off the runway. It was floundering near a burrow. I didn't know whether it was a male of female, but I knew if it found its wings and was vindictive, then I might as well be a big round target. I put it out of its (and my) misery (Scott: 1.) After I finished clearing out all of the vegetation, I found a ridiculous number of wasp burrows. They were hard to count since some had burrowed near each other.

Finally, it was my turn to terrorize the giant wasps. I broke out the weed eater. Every time one would start zooming in my direction, I'd brandish my whirling plastic spline of doom. They'd generally take one or two angles of approach before breaking off the attack and retreating over the fence for a short time. I'm pretty sure I gave one a little insect heart attack. It just wouldn't stop zooming near me, so I mulched the air around it with the weed eater until it limped off. I didn't hit it, but it didn't look healthy afterwards (Scott: 1/2.) That'll learn ya ta invade my territory, !@#$% wasps!

By the time I was done, my nerves were shot. I headed in with my legs covered in green and brown, disintegrated weeds and dust. I found that Stacy had fought her own battle with the kids and was convalescing in bed, so I headed into the bathroom to wage another battle, this one on the dander, dirt, and stink encasing our dog.

But that's a story for another day.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Tradition! AND! Why You No Post?

Welcome to August! Where have I been? What have I been doing? Well, besides having viewed The Dark Knight a total of three times now, one being in IMAX (yes, it was awesome,) I've been hanging out with my brother, David, and niece, Shelby.

They flew in a the beginning of last week and we've been going nonstop since then. We hit the major local points, the Manassas Battlegrounds, the Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum, Hershey's World of Chocolate, The National Mall (including the Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam Veterans, and WWII monuments,) The National Natural History Museum, and King's Dominion. We also took some time out to go swimming, attend church, and play some DND, Magic, and Boom Blox.

On top of all that, I've been keeping up with my coursework for my bachelor's degree. It's been a crazy week. We've loved having them here, though. I'm really sad to see David go home today. It's the first time he's been out and the first time he and I have spent that much quality time together since I left for my mission back in 1995. Fortunately, Shelby is spending a few more weeks with us, so we'll get to have more good times with her.

As for the coursework for school, it's become considerably heavier since I got into a class that I can't coast through on existing experience and knowledge. I'm learning a whole new programming language and it's taking a bit to get into. Expect the sporadic updates to continue until I'm done with this class and the next. Sorry folks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight? More Like The Dork Knight, Am I Right Guys? Guys? Nuthin? Ah Well


Yes, The Dark Knight is all these things and much more. First, let me get the details out of the way for those of you living under a rock that don't pay attention to movies. This is straight from the front page of IMDB, because I got less than four hours of sleep last night and there's no way I can be this succinct this morning.

The Dark Knight reunites director Christopher Nolan with star Christian Bale, who returns to continue Batman's war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. The triumvirate proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as The Joker (Heath Ledger), who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces the Dark Knight ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.
Not listed are Maggie Gyllenhaal playing the absent Katie Holmes character Rachel Dawes, more on her later. Morgan Freeman as Wayne's tech man and head of Wayne Industries (or whatever they call the company in the movies,) Lucius Fox. And of course, Michael Caine as Bruce's butler and confidant, Alfred Pennyworth.

Before I get any further, allow me to confirm the hype, or add to it more, depending on your point of view, about Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker. Like others, I thought that much of the praise built around Ledger's role was influenced by the tragic circumstances of his death. I was wrong. I also have some inkling of the dark places Ledger had to go to get into the character on the screen. He was creepy, dangerous, insane, funny, and deadly. To put it into perspective, Heath Ledger's Joker is to Jack Nicholson's Joker as Christian Bale's Batman is to Adam West's Batman. I have never seen a more chilling portrayal of the character, nor do I ever expect to again. Hollywood can never bring The Joker back, because no one can follow Ledger's performance without unfavorable comparison. A posthumous Oscar is the least Ledger should receive.

And that's part of what was so exhausting about the movie. Ledger's performance was so in-depth and emotional, that I couldn't help but be drawn in emotionally as well. Not to mention watching new life breathed into this old character was so exhilarating that coming down from that couldn't help but be draining.

I did not expect the extent of the Harvey Dent/Two-Face story that we got as well. Eckhart was good. Not as good as Ledger, but who could be here? Not only was he good, but the special effects made him Two-Face. I'm not talking about cheesy latex prosthetics a la Joel CRAPmacher's Tommy Lee Jones Two-Face. I'm talking, "Good lord! You can see his cheek muscles! His eye is totally exposed! His teeth are completely visible! Is that a jawbone! Gross! Awesome!" You can tell Eckhart understood Two-Face's insanity and captured the character's particular unhinged dichotomy.

He's another reason this movie was exhausting. That is especially true considering his climactic scene, of which I will give nothing away, nothing, I tell you!

Unfortunately, I don't have all good to say about the latest Batman installment. Maggie Gyllenhaal? Really, Nolan? Really? You can't get Holmes so Gyllenhaal is your choice? Seriously? She looks horrible through the entire movie. There's a scene, part of which is in the previews, wherein The Joker encounters Gyllenhaal's Rachel at a benefit at Wayne's penthouse. He reacts to her as if she is the most beautiful woman in the room. Only she's so not. It's not that she's ugly. She's not really. But attractive? No way. She looks old and tired. Her hair is a limp mess through the entire movie. She can't fill out a dress half as well as the extras in the same scene. It was sad, really it was. She doesn't have any chemistry with either Bale or Eckhart, the latter of which plays her current beau in the movie. She's an average actress to boot. I really don't understand this casting decision.

Bale does a great job as Wayne/Batman yet again. Stacy and Jamie both mentioned that he looked really skinny. Can't say that it bothered me. His costume was a little odd. In order to make the turning of his head easier, presumably, they cut the cowl inward very close to the chin. The effect was to make his head look more round. I suppose I'm used to the cowl going straight into the cape, so it was a little jarring. Hardly much of a complaint considering past Hollywood interpretations of the character. The only real complaint I had about Bale's Batman was his final conversation with The Joker (the previous ones were all entertaining, oh and exhausting,) Bale doesn't so well with the voice change to Bats. He tries a little too hard to make it gravelly. This isn't a problem unless he's shouting, then he sounds a little silly. Still not much of a complaint, but it was a little jarring.

My final comment about the movie was the message it delivered, sometimes subtly, sometimes in your face; people are inherently good. While I generally don't like people, the message of hope still appealed to me. It was one of the scenes that delivered this statement that was extremely dark and exhausting, but ultimately satisfying and a relief. I hate being so cryptic, but I'm really trying to avoid being spoilerific. I think you'll know the scene when you see it. It's not the only one with the message, but the one where it is most clearly delivered.

The plot was chilling and twisty, the action was intense, the comedy was dark, the acting was superb (except where noted,) and the cinematography was excellent. Oh, and the Bat-bike was cool. I give The Dark Knight thirteen out of fifteen cat-proof batsuits on a scale that I just made up that doesn't mean anything.

Did I mention that I'm watching it again tonight? Jon and I discussed it after last night's advance viewing. Can we watch it two nights in a row, as emotionally exhausting as it was? Of course we can, because it was awesome.

P.S. Damn them for making a Watchmen trailer that actually makes me want to see the movie.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hancock and Hellboy, It Was a Good Week and a Half

Within the past couple of weeks, I've been to see both Hancock and Hellboy II. Here are my (un)timely reviews.

Why So Bitter, Critic?

Hancock has received a pretty miserable 37% at Rotten Tomatoes for reasons unknown (read: I'm too lazy to read through their reviews.) All I can figure is that as children, the reviewers were thrown bodily into the upper atmosphere by a scruffy super-powered wino. I'm sure each of them stumbled off to cry to momma and vowed to pan any movie based on their experience when they became a big powerful

Yeah, you ain't so big, critic. Plus, you're mother dresses you funny.

Will Smith, Charlize Theron, and Jason Bateman star in this superhero story surprisingly not based on a comic book. It was directed by Peter Berg, currently directing Dune (another one?) Smith plays Hancock, a perpetually drunk, bitter, amnesiac super "hero" that is known for causing more damage than good when he tries to help people. One would wonder why he bothers if that particular point was not covered briefly in the movie.

While it is a super hero movie, replete with the trappings that come with the genre, Hancock is also one of the best examples of High Concept Done Right (TM) that I've ever seen. I can't really boil down the concept without giving away key plot points that would truly spoil the movie. The action scenes were good. We get some nice enjoyable Superman Amongst the Mortals moments as well as a little brawling between supers.

Bateman, as always, plays a great straight man, although this is not a comedy. In Bateman we get to see the everyman interacting with the superman. He's the audience's proxy, almost. He reacts with much more heart and compassion than I would attribute to your average movie going population, though.

Theron is sexy, no denying it. She even gets to try on different sexies throughout the movie. What? You say "sexies" isn't a word? Hey, if Justin Timberlame can bring sexy back, then I can treat the darn thing as a noun, too! I had my suspicions about Theron from the trailers that were confirmed as the movie progressed, though not nearly in the way I expected. What I liked about her character was how devoted she was to her husband, played by Bateman, and his son.

Smith's Hancock progresses dramatically through the course of the movie, which at heart, is more a tale of one (super)man's struggle to find his place in the world. I can dig that. Since this is the Fresh Prince we're talking about here, that progression treats us to some comedic gold as well as the usual tugging at the heart-strings. If there is one thing Smith has proved as one of Hollywood's leading men over the past thirteen or so years, it's that he can play both sides of that line.

Hancock was a lot more entertaining than it had any right to be, satisfying both my need for super powered badassery (I suppose you're going to tell me that's not a word either, eh, smartypants?) and emotional depth. I give it fifteen out of eighteen eagles inexplicably soaring through downtown New York on a scale that I just made up that doesn't mean anything.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
About Time! Now Where's Hellboy III?

I had high expectations for this movie well before it even reached production. Those were escalated even more by early reports of its exceptional quality. Since seeing the movie (88% on Rotten Tomatoes, in case you were wondering,) I have talked to people that rate the movie as good or better than the original, but none below that. I think this speaks highly of director/writer Guillermo del Toro and creator/writer Mike Mignola's obvious love of the material.

What contributes even more is the cast's immersion into the characters. Almost all of the old cast returned for the sequel, thankfully. Joining them is a new "face" as well. We have Ron Perlman reprising his role as the titular Hellboy, Selma Blair as the pyrokinetic Liz Sherman, Doug Jones as the enigmatic Abe Sapien (this time with speaking part as well!) Jeffrey Tambor as the blustery, but somewhat diminished Tom Manning, and John Hurt as Hellboy's adoptive dad Professor Trevor 'Broom' Bruttenholm via a flashback.

What is there to say about Perlman? Once you see him in the role of Hellboy, there is no doubt that it was meant to be. Few people are as well-suited for a role as Perlman for Hellboy. Blair is one of those odd actresses that can come off extremely well or tragically horrible. Jon and I discussed that briefly. We're not sure what it is about her that causes that. Another actress that suffers from the same problem is Dina Meyer, at least for my money. Blair brought her A game this time, though. The moments of pure relationship between her and Hellboy are entertaining not just for the novelty of a demon and a human having everyday couple issues but also because of how dead-on they were.

It was not jarring at all to hear Jones' voice coming from Abe's mouth. That is probably because he voiced Abe in the two animated Hellboy movies that came out on DVD after the first movie. With David Hyde Pierce not reprising his voice over work, Jones was the natural choice. He is the actor underneath the mask, after all.

Tambor is a pleasure. I have never seen him in a role that I did not like, from his slimy Vance Crasswell in Life Stinks to his harmless sidekickery in "The Larry Sanders Show" and all his voice work between. However, his character seemed a bit less authoritative in this one. I had thought his relationship with Hellboy would have improved after their moment of bonding in Rasputin's tomb at the end of the first movie. Perhaps his castration was to open up the way for the newest member of the BPRD.

In an odd move, at least it seemed to me before watching the movie, Del Toro cast Seth MacFarlane as the gasbag Johann Krauss. Johann is a great character with a great concept behind him. He is a cloud of sentient ectoplasmic vapor, contained in a modified dry diving suit. Let that high concept soak in for a bit. His form gives him some pretty entertaining and useful abilities, the least of which is beating up on Hellboy with a bank of lockers. While the cinematic character differs a bit from the comic's, I still enjoyed Johann's presence.

That brings me to the movie itself. Hellboy stories are about good versus evil in a primal, beatdown sense with a large dose of matter-of-fact humor thrown in for good measure. Del Toro and Mignola deliver it like a sizzling fastball pitch right over the plate and into your face. The creature effects are fantastic, especially the tumor. The story is solid. The plot pacing is impeccable. The character development begs your investment. Hellboy II is all good. Well, all good except for one thing. It was over well before I was ready for it to be.

I do agree with Jon, though. Not nearly enough of those damn robot nazi gorillas! Seriously, though, what wasn't in this movie, I can only hope will be in a sequel. I really want a sequel. I give Hellboy II: The Golden Army ten out of ten robot nazi gorillas on a scale I just made up that doesn't mean anything.

You Buy Now!

Jon already posted this, but for maximum exposure, (hah! As if I can contribute towards that!)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

WALL-E's World

On a spur-of-the-moment whim yesterday, we joined the Postmas and McCoards at the movie theater to catch a viewing of Pixar's latest digital masterpiece, WALL-E. Before I got into this review, you should know that I've been looking forward to this movie since I heard about it from the teaser interviews they released around the time Ratatouille came out. While it was cute, Ratatouille really didn't thrill me. Tease me with a sci-fi movie featuring a quirky Waste Allocation Load Lifter: Earth class robot and I'm there!

The plot of the movie is a bit more sophisticated than Pixar has dealt with in the past. I really don't know how much of it I should mention, considering that revealing anything past the most basic elements will ruin the plot twists for anyone that hasn't seen it.

WALL-E is a robot left on Earth to repair the damage humanity has wrought in the form of endless mounds of waste. Our little square friend does this by scooping waste into his compression cavity, hunkering down, and popping out a fresh steaming square of crushed garbage. We are treated to a panoramic sweep of Earth at the beginning with immense skyscrapers of these cubes towering over the rest of the buildings in the nameless town WALL-E lives in.

We find out early on that WALL-E is presumably the last of his line still working. Perhaps his survival has something to do with his progression beyond his original programming. WALL-E collects keepsakes from the garbage occasionally. We find that his home, the abandoned shell of a WALL-E unit transport, is decorated with strings of holiday lights, knick-knacks, and other random bits of trash that have become his treasures. Nestled in the midst of the trash are WALL-E's spare parts, scavenged from the rest of his rusting compatriots that lay motionless, in mid waste disposal.

One fateful day, a ship lands on Earth, much to WALL-E's surprise. It's obvious he doesn't know what it is or what to do about it. However, after it deposits its payload, a sleek ovoid robot that is years beyond WALL-E's design, the ship departs. This leaves WALL-E to tentatively establish a relationship with the only other living thing around besides his pet cockroach, the new robot EVE.

What is EVE there for? Will she fall for WALL-E's bumbling attempts to ape the human romance that he's watched on his ancient video iPod for the last few hundred years? What will happen when the ship comes back for EVE?

If you've seen some of the previews for the movie, you can probably guess at some of the answers, but I'm not going to give any more away. The voice cast for WALL-E is mostly unimportant. We get some entertaining glances at Fred Willard as Shelby Forthright, BnL CEO. Buy 'N Large seems to be the corporation that took over Earth before the exodus, more on that later. Only a few humans have more than a couple of lines further into the movie, including John Ratzenberger, naturally. I don't think there has been a Pixar movie without his voice yet. Kathy Najimy also makes a vocal appearance, she's got a good voice. Surprisingly, if only because I really wasn't paying attention, Sigourney Weaver supplied her voice to the movie as well. Jeff Garlin rounds out the human voice cast. And I do mean rounds out. Hah hah. What, you don't get it? Nevermind.

The reason I say the voice cast is largely unimportant is because they have few lines. Most of the lines are left to WALL-E, EVE, and the other robots. And they speak to me, deep down, with synthesized voices. It's that Commodore 128 geek in me. I've always had a soft spot for the old-school synthesized voices from computers. I know that human voices were actually modified to sound like the synthesized voices for many of the robots, but it's close enough. Apparently you can't get a full range of aural emotion from the computer voices. Whodathunkit?

As for the political commentary that the movie makes, I'm not as inflamed about it as some of the movie's critics. Yes, the humans in the movie destroyed the Earth with rampant consumerism and unbridled waste. Yes, their short-sightedness resulted in the entire population fleeing in a mass vacation-like exodus. Yes, the solution they came up with crashed down around their ears. So what? The way I see it, the situation depicted in the movie is plausible. Even down to what would happen to humanity if it came to rely on computers and robots for even the most basic tasks. However, the creators of the movie didn't try to shove any political message down the audience's throats, like Happy Feet, wherein we are told quite firmly that we are destroying the penguins' habitats. It was presented as a framework to tell the story of WALL-E, EVE, and their affects on the future of humanity.

I believe that movies are a perfectly acceptable medium for delivering socio-political messages, even children's movies. If you don't like the message presented, then it's up to you to avoid the movie or explain the situation to your children and indoctrinate them into your world view. Me, I'm a proponent of conservation. We recycle more waste than we throw away every week. We try to minimize our power and gas consumption as much as we can. We teach our children to respect the Earth and preserve it where we can. Having a movie deliver that message softly and gently isn't going to hurt me or my children any.

Wait, wha? How'd I get up here on this soapbox? I didn't know they even made these crates anymore! Hang on, let me get down. There we are. Where was I? Ah yes, WALL-E. I give Pixar's excellent sci-fi outing fifteen out of fifteen reduced-bone-mass fatties. They done good.

Happy Belated Greetings

Because I'm a lazy jackhole, I failed to wish the appropriate greetings to the appropriate people this week.

Everyone, Happy Qwanza!

Tammy, Happy New Year!

David, Happy Thanksgiving!

Wait, that's not right.

Everyone, Happy Independence Day!

Tammy, Happy Birthday!

David, Happy Birthday!

I'd blame my forgetfulness on the dazzling firework display yesterday. We managed to put on a full hour spectacle for the McCoard's neighborhood with all the fountains and sparklers we bought. I'd blame that, except Tammy and David's birthdays were on the 2nd and 3rd respectively. Nah, I just suck. Maybe I'll do better next year.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy July!

Happy July, everyone! And to get this month started off right, here's your latest demotivational message from those happy folks at Despair Inc.!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Family Coming to Visit

W00t! I'm really excited. My brother David and his daughter Shelby are coming out to visit us for a few weeks at the end of the month. David and I always have a good time whether we're discussing computers, movies, Magic (yes, The Gathering,) Dungeons or Dragons, or whatever. Shelby is a great kid, very artistic and deep. I'm going to take a week off to spend some time with them and show them the sites with the girls. After David goes home in a week, Shelby will stay with us for another two. That's going to give her and our girls plenty of time to bond, which is very important to me.

The thing I miss most about living away from Utah is my family. It wasn't until after I got off my mission in 1997 that I really started forming and repairing bonds with my siblings. Stacy and I met that year and were married the next. As happens naturally in a new marriage, relationships outside are neglected a little bit. I may have been guilty of neglecting them more than I should have, I'll admit, but we still got together and had good times while we lived there.

When Stacy and I moved away in late 2000, she was four months pregnant with our first child, Vicki. I felt guilty taking her and our unborn child away from the nest. We have both realized after the fact that it was very good for our family and our relationship with each other. However, our relationships with our extended families have waxed and waned more than they would have if we still lived there. I'm more worried about the affect it has on my daughters and their relationships with their cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.

We visit Utah as often as possible. Less now, we have rising airline ticket and gasoline prices to thank for that. Whenever we're out there, we try to split our time fairly between all of the family and friends we left behind. Some get more than others, especially those that seek us out, but we still make the effort to see everyone. That's one reason why we usually need a vacation from the "vacation" back to Utah.

We feel very blessed when family comes to visit us here. There is time to really develop relationships and enjoy each others' company in a way that's just not possible when we go to Utah. While we understand that it's sometimes just as hard, if not harder, for some of our family to come visit us here than it is for us to visit there, Stacy and I wish everyone would do it at least once. The invitation is always open.

In case you can't tell, I'm really looking forward to David and Shelby's visit this month. I'm also looking forward to Stacy's grandparents visiting in September. They've become my grandparents over the years, too. They even tried to coincide their visit with my birthday. How sweet is that?

Family is important. You've only got one, so treat it with care and love.