Soon To Be Classics

Friday, December 30, 2005

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To

We bought a lot of toys for the kids this year. And most of them sucked.

Not all, of course. The Woody / Jesse Toy Story 2 dolls are pretty good quality and Jameson loves them. You can't go wrong with Barbie (or so it says on G.I. Joe's bathroom wall) and the cheap RC car we bought behaves like a cheap RC car.

But a couple of the other toys we had big hopes for were just crap.

Santa brought Bailey a game called Elefun. Essentially, it's a battery operated fan that blows tissue-paper butterflies up a 4 foot tube. The goal is to catch them with your net. This is fine, but a butterfly actually comes out at a rate of about 1 every 5 minutes. Kicking the smiling blue elephant might halve that rate and there's some small satisfaction to this action. Essentially, it's not the swirling maelstrom of fun it looks like.

We bought Bailey a $35 Barbie digital camera. Now, before you yell at me for expecting ANYTHING from a $35 digital camera, I at least thought it would take a picture. It turns out, that the camera only snaps when the light source reaches a certain level. I was able to take 2 pictures with all of the lights in my house on. The first, was of my computer monitor from about 10 inches away. The second, was of a lamp...that was on...with a 100 watt bulb. Essentially, I must have missed the label on the box that read "Best when used to take pictures of the Sun."

My in-laws also bought Jameson this V-Tech educational game system. Think a Sega Genesis with educational software and that's about it. Unfortunately, he IS too small and he prefers to watch me play it. I've solved the Toy Story 2 Rescue Woody Adventure 147 times now, thank you.

Honorable mentions goes to the Batman Disc Launcher which has crappy battery contacts and doesn't work unless you apply plyers to the handle to force the contacts.

Oh yeah, and don't even get me started on the cat I spent $150 on. We've seen it about as many times as we've seen Bat-discs fly through the house. Too bad I took the Barbie camera back, I could've used it to document the invisible cat.

When I was shopping for the kids, I actually found an old-school Tinkertoy set. I wish now that I had bought it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tivo + The Lottery = Big Fun At Other People's Expense

I found this on Attu Sees All but it was so good I had to pass it along to you guys. Just when you thought that Tivo could offer you no more joy and pleasure, now you can use it to completely screw over your gullible friends.

Watch this as Thad wins the lottery.

*Note: Some language might make this not safe for work.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

God Bless Us, Everyone

This is just a quick post to wish everyone who reads my blog a very Merry Christmas. We went totally overboard on the kids this year and I can't wait for them to wake up. The big gift this year was a kitty (whom I can now not find at this 6am hour). We had wanted to do the "pet in the wrapped package" but the cat is REALLY shaken up so Santa left a letter. We'll see how that goes.

Yesterday, we had friends over and Jen made a lovely dinner of Lobster. All of the kids played very well together and little Ava (Mark and Holly's little girl) was so caught up in the excitement that she began going up and down the stairs like crazy trying to keep up with rest of the children.

Still, amidst all of the joy that is the holiday season, I found out that my neighbor Tony, who's the nicest guy I have ever met, had a heart attack yesterday at his step dad's house. He's in ICU now and will be hospitalized for several days. Just so you know, he was the neighbor that I referred to in this post. We wish him the speediest recovery possible.

So I think the message here is to appreciate what you have. If you don't yet have children, you really can't fathom what you're missing at Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone. I miss you all very much.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Aw Nuts...

Is it just me, or do mixed nuts always taste better at Christmastime?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Coming Soon To the $5 Bin Near You

The video game to motion picture junk heap is about to get a bit bigger.

I frequently review movies before they come out (or before they're made) just based on the things I read or the things I perceive. Sometimes, we're treated to truly frightening things like movie trailers that take themsevles seriously or movie posters that look like a first year art student put them together.

Take for example, Bloodrayne. This is based on a popular video game title that features a super-hot chick who's part vampire. Now, I have never played the game but I'm well aware of the character since she's frequently listed on Tech TV as one of the hottest virtual video game characters (I have to start watching better TV.)

So when listed a news story saying the Bloodrayne trailer was available, I cruised over at DSL speed to check it out.

Oh. My. God.

It's bad enough that this is a video game movie, but the headway the fantasy genre made with The Lord of the Rings is being completely flushed down the toilet. We'll get to the trailer in a minute. Lets look at the poster first. THIS is Bloodrayne?? One of the hottest virtual video game characters? A co-worker went on an on about how good looking Kristanna Loken is but I sure don't see it here. Far be it from me to judge anyone's looks but damn. If she does look better than this, give her a better poster for God's sake.

And look who's in the background of this's Ben Kingsley! Didn't he win an Oscar for Ghandi? That was obviously a long time ago since he's now slumming in Romania with crap director Uwe Boll. Poor guy. I almost want to pick up a copy of Ghandi and Dave just to get him some residuals.

On to the trailer, which you can see here . The dialogue is a riot. I should point out that after the first trailer went up, a second appeared within a day that was slightly better. However, Michael Madsen as the "powerful leader", Meatloaf Aday (Aday??) in a white powder wig, and Michelle Rodriguez (the "man I wish they would kill that bitch" new character on Lost) are also spotted. There's a very stupid segment where the words "A Uwe Boll Film" are on the side of an ancient looking castle. The voiceover just killed me at the end when it said "Bloodrayne, the adventure begins!" Yawn.

It's hard to say how this film will turn out but with Boll directing I don't have much hope. What is unfortunate, is that films like this can ruin some of the very good storylines that some video games are built upon. Rumor has it that Boll wanted to get his hands on Halo. Thank God that didn't happen.

By the way, speaking of bad video game movies. Get a load of the trailer for Uwe Boll's other crapfest, "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Movie". The cast list on this one is just hysterical. The mighty king is ... wait for it ... Burt Reynolds. I shouted "Turd Ferguson" when I saw him walk on the screen. This one looks so bad it's not even funny. There's a lot of interesting people in here and the obvious LOTR rip-off shots could almost be a drinking game. Too bad John-Rhys Davies is stuck doing crap fantasy films like this now.

Check out Dungeon Siege here.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

What Superhero Are You?

I found this link on a website tonight and it seemed to fit in nicely with my blog.

What Superhero are you?

I'm not having a particularly good time right now and I thought I was pretty hard on myself in the answers, but it still came up and said I was Superman. In retrospect, I'm not sure this is a good thing.

Take this quiz and let us all know who your are.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

That Was A Close One

I once heard a comedian say that top athletes who lose a major event by seconds (or fractions of) must measure everything for the rest of the their lives by that standard. I'm doing a little of the same today based on a really close call I had in my car today.

The wife and I were coming back from some Christmas shopping. We live, essentially, on top of a mountain and our street has a pretty high pitch. We live almost at the top, on one side of the cul-de-sac. Directly across from our driveway (which is relatively flat) is the neighbor's driveway which is a very steep hill. Right after we moved in, I commented that "I hope their emergency break holds or we're going to meet their car one day".

Guess what happened today?

Jen and I had just pulled in the driveway and I hadn't even put my car in park yet when we heard a crash behind us. I looked up, and saw the neighbor's pickup truck in the street, sans driver, at the edge of my driveway. I put the car in park and jumped out to meet the neighbor woman who was frantically coming down the driveway. My first thought, was whether she was ok, as I wasn't yet sure what had happened. Her truck, had slipped out of gear, rolled backwards down the driveway, crossed the street, went up the curb to one side of my driveway, slammed into my tree and then rolled back into the street. The truck bumper looked like she'd hit a street light doing about 30 mph and the tailgate was dented in pretty good. The tree had some pretty deep gouges but it had at least stopped the truck from landing in my sideyard.

Had we been about 4 seconds later coming home, it would have broadsided my car and specifically the driver's side.

The neighbor said that when the truck slipped gear, she tried to grab the door handle and stop it but couldn't. She said she then saw us coming up the street and was certain we were going to hit. She kept saying over and over "that was so close". I felt really bad for her because she was obviously embarassed. The bed of the truck was full of Christmas decorations and other assorted junk which had been thrown into mine and my neighbor's yard. I helped her clean it up and then her son and I pushed the truck back into her driveway. As a precaution, I stuck a 4x4 behind her rear wheel to keep it from happening again.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics for the blog. I went out to photograph the truck damage but the family was out there and I thought saying "this will make a great blog entry" would have been tasteless. By the time I went back out, the truck had been towed away.

I also remember that people say most car accidents happen within 5 miles of your home. I just didn't realize it was 5 feet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Return of the King, Kong

I got to see King Kong today, thanks to our work policy that allows us to see a film each month on work time. This month, we had a choice between The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong. I do plan to see the former, but for sheer magnitude, I wanted to see Kong on the big screen.

You should all know the story. There have been two versions of it on film now. The first was the 1933 classic. The second, was the much-hyped but rarely seen since 1976 version. An expedition goes to a mysterious island, the beautiful girl is sacrificed by the natives to Kong, and Kong ends up destroying a chunk of Broadway before his climbs the Empire State Building (changed to the WTC in 1976) and is killed.

This version is relatively true to the overall backstory. I won't go into the plot as that's described on a thousand other websites. Instead, I'll tell you what worked for me and what didn't. There are some potential spoilers here so proceed at your own risk.

What Worked:

1) 1930's New York - I had heard that this was spectacular and Peter Jackson certainly didn't disappoint. Not only did he focus on the skyline, but he also showed you the streets and what passed for entertainment during the Depression.

2) Kong - Graphically, I found the beast very satisfying. At almost no time did I get pulled from the film by an obvious computer-generated slip. He was spectacular.

3) Naomi Watts - One word. Wow. She was absolutely transfixing in this film. I especially loved the scene where she begins "entertaining" Kong. The ice rink scene ws a bit forced, but her tearful blue eyes on the big screen just made it impossible to look away.

4) Jack Black, Adrien Brody and the supporting cast - All good. I was skeptical about Black but he pulls off the 30's huckster nicely. Brody was not given screen time to develop his character though.

5) Good old monster fights - A fella that saw the film with me commented "how could those vines have held up Kong and the T-Rexes". For me, that was a thrilling sequence as it was something that I had never seen before. That's what I enjoy when I go to the movies. Something that is new, fresh, and makes my heart pound until it's over. The monster fights were terrific, although I found it curious the vampire bats waited until the most convenient time for Jack Driscoll to attack Kong.

6) The death - Kudos to Jackson for not showing Kong hitting the street. It would have been dramatic, I'm sure, and completely possible with the current state of CGI but it was also unneeded. I was thankful to see this left out.

What Didn't Work:

1) Some of the CGI got a little obvious. The problem is that after seeing 400+ hours of "How I Did The Lord Of The Rings" we know more about the process than we should.

2) The calvary arrived just in time...twice.

3) The scene where Driscoll is getting Kong to chase him in the car really, REALLY reminded me of the similar scene in the recent Godzilla. And that is not a good thing.

4) This might be splitting hairs, but this seems to be a HUGE inconsistency. Let's start at the end of the movie, when Kong is on top of the Empire State Building. It's sunrise, which happens at about 7am in NYC during December. Let's assume that the actual "performance" where Kong is revealed happened at 10pm at the latest. That means Kong is on the loose for nearly 8 and a half hours before he climbs the ESB. Obviously, that's not the case and you have to leave some creative license there but it really nagged at me that what seemed to be real time in the film couldn't have been.

Honorable Mention:

1) Nice tip of the hat to the original King Kong. It came when Denham is told that "Fay is doing a film for RKO". Of course, that's a reference to Fay Ray and the original King Kong by RKO Pictures.

2) Nice misdirection at the end. It takes several minutes to figure out where Ann went.

3) Some of the jerky, slow motion, effecty camera shots seemed really out of place and really kicked you out of the moment. Apparantly a skull skewered on a stick isn't shocking enough so we have to spin the camera around and blur it. Oh well.

All in all, I would give King Kong 3.5 out of 4. I had a terrific time and it didn't seem long to me at all. I was engrossed all the way through and would certainly see it again.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Presence to Give Presents

I have to admit, and you probably won't believe this, but I really hate getting gifts. Several years ago, I was pretty much dirt poor and couldn't afford to buy anyone gifts. Not my girlfriend, her family or my own family. I made my parents a totally lame sign with the family name on it to hang in front of the house. (They never did.) However, that Christmas, I ended up getting a lot of gifts and it really turned me off on the whole process. It's embarassing to sit there and open a gift while everyone looks at you. I don't know why but it just makes me uncomfortable.

But, I love giving presents. I know that someone will say "well other people like to give gifts to YOU so you should let them have their fun". It doesn't mean I enjoy it any more. I have given a few "great" gifts in my life when I've had the rare burst of insight or stumble across the perfect present. But that is rare. I think I've done pretty good, but it's been a while since I've hit that "perfect" gift.

So now I have two little ones to buy presents for. I have already decided that when they reach the age that they'll remember their presents, I want to make sure they get something that they will remember forever. I remember my sled, my bike, and my Six Million Dollar Man Action Figure (yes, I'm old). A lot of the gifts today are very disposable. I want their Christmas to be special and I want to have fun giving them their gifts. My boy is 2, and I really don't have an idea what to get him. That doesn't make it any easier though.

I took this picture last week after handing them the Toys R Us ad. Notice how hard J is concentrating on the video game ad. Like father like son, no?

And Santa, for me, I really don't want anything.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

When Cows Sing

Kyle sent me this today. Thank God I didn't play it at work. Seconds after the line "ok, normal people..." I had tears running down my face from laughing. If you're not a fan of World of Warcraft, you might not understand why this is so funny. The actual music is from a musical called Avenue Q which is playing in NYC right now. Still, the synch with Horde characters in Azeroth is priceless.

Please check this one out...

The Singing Tauren

Putting The Band Back Together

I came into work today after a particularly late night on WoW (running with the K-man in the Deadmines with his level 17 Paladon and my level 57 Druid. Yes, I have no shame.)

Anyway, just minutes after settling in, Chuck sticks his head in my office to say "good morning". We immediately engage in a conversation about World of Warcraft and I relate a few of the fun items from the previous play session. It was VERY surreal. This is exactly how I began just about everyday at The Company from the time Chuck started playing WoW to the day he was laid off. Now, he's at my new company on a short-term (hopefully permananent) contract.

They say you can't go home again, but if you try real hard, you can at least paint the new house the same color.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

To Boldy Go...Again?

Apparantly Byan Singer and Patrick Stewart have been having some non-mutant discussions on the set of X3, as evident by this interesting tidbit here:

Singer Ponders Directing Next Star Trek Film

Now I'm not one to say that Bryan Singer is the "savior director" but he did do an amazing job on the X-Men and he's showing a great deal of dedication to making Superman Returns. He is at least a director that understands the genre and the fanbase (unlike perhaps, Berman & Braga).

What would be great, is that if Singer were to employ Manny Coto, the fan-turned-co executive producer of Enterprise in it's fourth season. If you weren't watching Enterprise (and many, many people weren't) you really missed a treat for Classic Star Trek fans. But, he understood what it was that made Trek the hit that it was more than probably anyone since Gene Rodenberry. Singer's direction with Coto's input would be great.

However, after the lackluster showing of Star Trek : Nemesis (which I suspect was much less about the film itself and more about the fact it was released a week prior to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) it's obvious that Trek has problems. Berman, Brannon and Braga have been sited by many as the prime reasons. I think as a TV series, it's a lost cause for now. But, a feature film COULD be good if the right team was attached. So in no particular order, here are some thoughts:

1) Classic Crew - We've lost both Jimmy Doohan (Scotty) and DeForest Kelly (McCoy) so a classic crew is prett much out of the question. Quite frankly, the Excelsior fan-favorite idea wouldn't work as George Takei as Sulu would not be able to hold the film. Shatner would also be pushing 80 by the time this film would roll around. It just wouldn't work.

2) Next Gen - Still viable, despite the idiotic "switch" in Data's at the end. I'm not sure you want to try and waste time picking up those pieces but it would sure be good to see Stewart in the command chair again. You could always say that Data's body wasn't destroyed and reprogram him from B4, but it's that kind of thinking that got Trek into trouble in the first place.

3) DS9 - I know that Dr. Heimlich will jump on me for this, but I never could get into this series and I don't believe it to be the best. Honestly, I thought it WASN'T Trek. I agree with Rodenberry that Trek was always about The Enterprise. Not the people. To me, DS9 was just an ugly series that took way too long to find it's way.

4) Voyager - No.

5) Enterprise - Sadly, no as well. As much as I liked T'Pol's character as well as Tripp, the rest of them just weren't that engaging.

6) Move Forward - Pick the series up post-Next Gen. A lot of people have suggested that we could pick up after the yet-to-occur Borg War. This really starts to look a bit like Galactica though.

7) Reunification - What if Spock succeeded and the Vulcans and Romulans reunified only it went the other way? Vulcans decide that the Romulan way is correct and that Humans and Klingons, responsible for more outright war and destruction, need to be eliminated (from the Romulan perpective) or at least contained (from the Vulcan perspective).

8) Enterprise NCC-1701-M - Same story, pushed a couple hundred years into the future. Eliminate the Klingons (long since died out), push the Romulans back, introduce some new races as we expand the Federation into the galaxy. Make a Galaxy-class truly that and begin pushing into other galaxies. The Borg cannot be the worse things out there.

Anyway, those are some thoughts. Yours?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Christmas Lights Suck

Yeah, they really do. We have a new house and we're trying to figure out how to use the strings we have. So far, two strings are up and it's lame.

My neighbors though, went total Griswold. They're display is amazing. My house is actually tanned because of their display.

But both pale in comparison to this house.

Best Christmas Lights Ever!