Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Trailers: New Batman Begins.

The Pending Death Of The Star Trek Franchise: Everybody's stressing Enterprise going off the air, and how it means the "Death" of the Star Trek franchise.

Yes, it's a sad, sad thing. Like how the Charlie's Angels franchise died when they took it off the air . . . no wait, they brought that back.

Well, it's like when Dukes of Hazzard went off the--no, that's coming back, too . . .

It's like when Brady Bunch went--dang, no. Um, Starsky & Hutch?

Come on, folks. Do you really think that a franchise with that can hold a convention in any city and draw more people than ever saw the Acadamy Award winning Halle Barry in Catwoman will just flip over and die?

Not a chance. Trek will be back again. And again. And again.

More power to it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Well, stylistically, things seem to be okay now, with only the "wrap around"
issue being a problem. We'll see if I can get that fixed in my email

So what am I going to say, using my fancy, new, working posting method?

Just that my brother just bought a digital video camera, and I just
downloaded screenwriting software.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Trying Out The New Posting Feature

I’m trying out my ability to post via email.  This is strictly an experiment, so if it fails, I hope you will forgive me.


Of course, if it succeeds, I hope you will think of me as one of those |337 guys who can make a computer do tricks and stuff.


All of this fancy new posting stuff is meant to be a way to make my life easier as I try to spend more of it writing fiction and similar things.  Hopefully not only the posting method works, but the final goal of the easier posing method works as well, and you will all have fun new fiction to read by me, as well as lots of fun new entires.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

(Former) Kids Say . . .: Over at, there's a pretty entertaining thread about misconceptions people had about Star Wars when they were kids.

There's all the stuff you'd expect (storm troopers were really robots, light sabers were life savers, why was it episode IV?) but there's a few real gems in there.

I remember thinking that Luke could only use the froce when he was upside down.

The cave on Hoth.

The chair on Endor

THe rocks on Dagobah.

I first saw the movies when I was 3 or so, and I had a terrible problem with the accents and figures of speech. When you think that Ben felt that "millions of oysters suddenly cried out in terror," or that Darth instructed Piett to "prepare the bowling party," well, it becomes clear that there was something else of interest beyond the dialogue.

Here's one I just remembered: When the droids are in the escape pod in ANH,I thought C-3PO said "I hope there's a bathroom in here" instead of "The damage isn't as bad as it is out there."

I used to think the pilots in the space battles really died. I knew they were actors, but I figured they were just really devoted to their craft. Also, when a friend's dad told me Chewie growled using a voice box, I thought that Peter Mayhew actually had a voice box surgically implanted into his throat. And finally, after I saw ROTJ, my dad told me that the special effects were done using computers, and all I could picture was a bunch of Gamorean guards standing at computer terminals controlling the monsters in Jabba's palace.

When Luke's ship was going down on Dagobah, he says "All the scopes are down, I can't see a thing!"
When I was younger, I thought he said, 'All this giltergan, I can't see a thing!" I, of course, assumed giltergan was the fancy Star Wars word for fog, and called fog giltergan all throughout my childhood.

Guy: i didn't understand about the ep IV thing either, and when i asked my parents they told me that GL must have been on drugs or something because a lot of people did drugs during the time they were made, so for a long time i thought he just numbered them wrong because he was on drugs and forgot how to count, and i thought it was very sad.

Other guy: GL on drugs, LOL!

Guy:well, that's what they told me! how was i supposed to know?

i now realize, though, that my parents think everyone is on drugs....

When I finally saw all three Star Wars movies, all of the Star Wars references on the cartoon "Muppett Babies" suddenly made sense!

Yeah, I'm a geek. What of it?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Book Review: Special Deliverance by Clifford D. Simak

I'm trying to read a new author each month now, in order to broaden the range of authors I have to draw from when looking for a new book to read or making suggestions for what to read.

This month, my new author was Clifford D. Simak, a SF grand master, most noted for his classic book Way Station, dearly loved by many as a masterpiece of the genre.

Of course, I didn't know this when I was at the library. I'd picked Simak for this month based solely on a favorable Tom Easton review in Analog of another Simak book, Project Pope.

Of course, I didn't get that book either.

What I ended up getting was a thin little volume called Special Deliverance. It's about a university professor who's suspicious of a student who turned in a paper that seems suspiciously good, and which seems to have entirely fictitious references. When he confronts the student about the paper, the student says he got it from one of the slot machines the government has set up all over the nation to raise extra money to feed the poor. A slot machine in the basement of the student union apparently spat him this paper, which the student suspects came from another dimension.

The student is right, of course. When the professor goes to investigate, he finds three machines working. One tells him a dirty joke, one gives him gold, and one whisks him away to another world.

On this other world, he meets up with a group of stereotypes. Okay, okay, I guess that technically they're characters, but when one character is a war-monger from a war-world, one is a head-in-the-clouds creative type from a creative world, one is a religious "bigot" from a religious world--you get the picture.

The most interesting of all the characters is an android, who comes from a world where most humans have fled the planet, and the robots take special care of the ones who remain--a duty which this robot seems to resent. Back on his world, he spent much of his time creating tiny biological puppet recreations of crazy humans from literature.

The story is structured as a puzzle--Who brought this strange assembly to this world, and how can they get off?--but the solution to the puzzle is ridiculous and simple. In the end, the book ends up feeling like a strange mix of red herrings, pointless wandering, and--what I think is the real point of the book--thinly veiled allegory.

This is obviously Simak's Pilgrim's Progress, with his professor and engineer--the ones embodying Simak's ideal "virtues"--getting to stare down their noses at the antics and blunders of those around them.

And because the book fails as fiction, I think it also fails as polemic. Because the "solution" to the puzzle does not end up requiring much wit, a book that wants to be a tract for the virtue of knowledge feels more like a finger-pointed accusation that those without formal education lack common sense.

I'm interested to hear from anybody who has read more Simak to know if, given my fairly strong feelings about this book, there are any of his you think I might enjoy more, or if there was something to this book I'm missing. Feel free to comment or email.

Update: Actually, in terms of plot, puzzle, and character, this is a lot like one of those early 80's text adventures. You know the kind:

You are standing in a field. There is a giant cube sitting in the middle of the field, surrounded by white sand. There are a few bushes here.
There is a cube here.
There is sand here.
There is a bush here.

And you'd type something like:

Go cube.

And then you'd read:

A monster comes out of the sand and knocks you away from the cube.
You are standing in a field. There is a giant cube sitting in the middle of the field, surrounded by white sand. There are a few bushes here.
There is a cube here.
There is sand here.
There is a bush here.

And of course there's an Inn, and the innkeeper insists you have to pay him money, even though you've been to the edges of the game on the north, south, east, and west, and the only person who seems to have even heard of money is the innkeeper, so you can't help but wonder why he would even need it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Life Is Different Now: Some lady from another country called my house yesterday doing a phone survey. Her only criteria was that she wanted to talk to somebody who'd been to the movie six times in the past 18 months.

So, like, why isn't anybody calling and asking how many "Disney Storytime" books I've read? Or how many Lil' Critters or Curious George books I've gone through? Or how many episodes of Dora The Explorer, Elmo's World, or Scooby-Doo I've seen?

Should have called me a decade ago.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Playlist: So what's the playlist on Doc's Windows Media Player? This is the current cycle:

New York City -- They Might Be Giants
Cake For Breakfast -- Greg Lee
Born To Be Wild -- Steppenwolf
Skank -- Pacato Cidadao
Spiraling Shape -- They Might Be Giants
It's The End Of The World As We Know It -- REM
'Til My Head Falls Off -- They Might Be Giants
Magic Carpet Ride -- Steppenwolf
The Ghosts That Haunt Me -- Crash Test Dummies
Most Precarious -- Blues Traveler
Dr. Worm -- They Might Be Giants
1985 -- Bowling For Soup
Ring Of Fire -- Social Distortion
Half A World Away -- Greg Lee
Love Is Eternity -- They Might Be Giants
Felicia -- Blues Traveler
Dude (Looks Like A Lady) -- Aerosmith
The Share A Story Song -- They Might Be Giants

Of course, I do still listen to my Yahoo! Launch station. But I have to have something to listen to when I'm not online. I'm still on dial-up for crying out loud, and my wife does like to get a call once in a while.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Boys: Unfortunately, I feel the book must be thrown at the 13-year-old boy who killed the 15-year-old.

Speaking as a former 13-year-old boy who often felt picked on, I daresay there are a number of 13-year-old boys who are watching these proceedings with great interest. The little 13-year-old cooped up inside me is watching with great interest.

It would be a great disservice to all of them if we lovingly patted this boy's head and told him it was okay, that we understood. It was not okay, and he knew that, and all the other 13-year-old boys know it, and it needs to be reiterated, no matter how tragic it was or how understanding we want to be.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Netflix: I finally got an explanation from somebody at Netflix about why there seem to be odd delays at times in when movies ship. I'm very glad to get this. I don't know why nobody explained this to be before. It was obvious there was some kind of policy they weren't cueing me in on, and this explanation helps a lot:

In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service. As a result, those members who receive the most movies may experience next-day shipping and receive movies lower in their Queue more often than our other members. By prioritizing in this way, we help assure a balanced experience for all our members. Those that rent a lot of movies get a great value and those with lighter viewing habits are able to count on our service to meet their limited needs.

I tend to send movies back fast, so it makes sense that I'm in a little "delay cue."

Mostly what was frustrating me was their denial of the existence of a problem. Now that they've explained to me what's going on, I'm perfectly content.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

They Might Be Hangin' With The Doc: Here's the photo I promised of me hanging out with They Might Be Giants. They were extremely nice, despite the hard time they gave me, pretending like all the directions I was giving my girls (Look at the camera! Now smile pretty!) were meant for the two of them.

I heartily reccomend their new DVD if you have any three year olds, any friends who are just picking up the alphabet, or if you just plain old like their music.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Congratulations: To my brother and weightlifting partner Greg, on being accepted to the Chapman School of Law. We never had any doubts, did we?

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fool's: I haven't played any jokes today. Haven't had to. Calling people up and telling them Mitch Hedberg had died and then letting them struggle over whether I was being serious or not was all the entertainment I needed.

(I honestly am sorry to see him go. His death was extremely pointless--he had so much left to give us, and he wasn't popular enough yet for his death to serve as Belushi-esque warning to this generation.)

Internet April Fool's jokes are becoming more and more popular. Wikipedia has a good comprehensive list of this year's jokes.