Monday, October 24, 2011

At Last!

Hopefully my creation works here...

Sorry to those hoping for a real blog post... google+ didn't play my animated gif, and I am in a photoshop war.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Troll Hunter - 2010

Hooray, I did it!
I managed, in between many other things, to finish Troll Hunter over the weekend. Maybe it's just my American sensibilities, but I expected this fake documentary about the Norwegian government's conspiratorial cover-up of the existence of the Troll menace to be a comedy. Worse yet, maybe it was one.

I saw it.. I still don't

While I did, in fact, enjoy Cloverfield Troll Hunter, it wasn't spectacular. It wasn't funny, the action and suspense were a bit lacking, and there wasn't anything particularly terrifying about the trolls themselves. I'm already pretty used to the idea of "things that go 'bump' in the night", and to the type that can be killed by sunlight... I've heard of that somewhere before... but where?

Urban thug throws "gang sign" (probably a "Blood")
The trolls in Troll Hunter were unintelligent beasts, which meant you pretty much had to intentionally get in their way for them to be a threat. Granted, that is precisely what a hunter of trolls would do. Add to the mix a student film crew who stumble on to this hunter's life and mission, and you have the recipe for some pretty fun chaos.

Fun. That's about all there is to say about Troll Hunter. It was fun.

I kept thinking that one of the stars looked familiar.

Yergen splergen Norwegian gergen
Perhaps it's my old friend, and rock legend, Andy Zipf:

Or maybe all gingers look alike.

Every last one of them (Eric Stoltz... allegedly)
You should watch Troll Hunter for a bit of fun
You should listen to Andy for a lot of awesome.
You should not watch Troll Hunter if you are easily duped by fake documentaries.
You should not listen to Andy if you are prone to awesome-induced seizures.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I wanted my review this morning to be on the Norwegian "mockumentary" Troll Hunter.   Instead I have to give a few facts.

I work a 9.5 hour day. 
My job is 33 miles away from my home.
That commute involves something known as a "Beltway".
Beltways circumnavigate major cities, they are parking lots in rush hour. 
They are comprised of an "inner loop" that travels clockwise, and an "outer loop" that travels counter-clockwise.
I am only allowed to work my 9.5 hour day between 6AM and 6PM.
I can only avoid 1 rush hour in that range.
To do so, I depart my home by 5:30AM.
To do so, I wake by 5AM.
Every hour I stay up after 9PM is one less hour than 8 I get to sleep on a weeknight. 
Even dodging 1 rush hour, I still work what amounts to 11.25 hours when you factor in the driving. 
I am also a husband to my wife and the father of our infant.
All of the above to say, I am pretty tired some evenings.

I watched the first hour of Troll Hunter and promptly passed out on my couch. I was on baby duty. Reading subtitles made me extra sleepy. I love a lot of foreign films, and I despise having them overdubbed with English audio. But with my current lifestyle, I am far too tired or lazy or apathetic to put up with reading while watching a movie. This is a shame, especially if you saw what percentage of my Netflix queue was foreign. 

I leave you with the hope of a Monday Troll Hunter review, and a relevant youtube clip of a delightful British comedy, The IT Crowd.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Z Axis and its Role in the War Against Joy

Apparently Disney got it into their heads that they ought to re-release some of their successful films in theaters. I am all for that idea. I remember roughly 6 years ago going to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in the theater with a lifelong friend who had also grown up with Indy as his hero. The theater even had Guinness on tap. It was a perfect experience.

Imagine my surprise at discovering that The Lion King, probably my favorite Disney movie, was playing at my local theater. My wife and I would love to one day take our daughter to see the Disney movies we grew up watching. They are certainly better than some of the other garbage being marketed to children these days. But we'd want her to see the movies we saw.  This wasn't The Lion King, it was The Lion King 3D.

Disney as I knew it

Disney's 3D Extravaganza!

I have gone to great lengths in the past to explain that just because a movie is 3D doesn't mean it is somehow superior. So far only one movie has used 3D correctly, and it was The Smurfs, Fern Gully, Dances with Wolves,  Avatar.

Avatar... oh, wait...

Wow, Smurfette! Have you been working out?
James Cameron, a film-making legend, put so much time, thought, energy, and money into making a film that is a visual masterpiece. I won't say that he put even 1/100th of that time into creating an original story. Also he didn't break the cardinal rule of film making, letting Michelle Rodriguez's character live through the movie... I mean, come on... who lets that "woman" "act"?

His entire film was planned to be a 3D experience from the get-go. Nowadays, thanks to the success of Avatar, just about everything imaginable is adding 3D effects during post production.

Hollywood, this does not work!

Wearing the 3D glasses reduces the amount of light that reaches your eye, so your precious film is now darker than it is supposed to be. There were entire moments in the tragedy that was Tron 2 and the respectable superhero movie, Thor, that I flat out could not see. It was just too dark.

I realize that it has been proven by a gigantic douchebag that there is money to be made by the torture, rape and murder of classic movies held in the highest regard by a die-hard fan base of idiots who liked the prequels. This crime has been called "digital enhancing". (and yes, expect them in 3D)

The aforementioned giant douchebag

A finished work is a finished work, film is film, and 3D is 3D. It's not like Da Vinci, 20 years after painting the Mona Lisa, said "You know what would be great? Now that there has been 20 years worth of advances in art, I will take my painting and wrap it around a marble figure of a woman. Now I can have the sculpture I always wanted".

Disney intends to re-release Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and a few others in 3D by 2013.

You should boycott 3D movies that aren't The Hobbit or Avatar sequels.

You should punch George in his neck-fat.

You should admit that the prequels are terrible movies.

You should not badmouth the three Indiana Jones movies... (That's right, three. Go on... say something)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ringworld - by Larry Niven

Ringworld... it's a world that is also a ring
I am not even going to bother reviewing this book. It's number 44 on NPR's list of the top 100 sci-fi/fantasy books of all time. Nerds everywhere agree, it's worth a read. But, here is where they are wrong. If you are going to read anything by Mr. Niven, you are going to read The Integral Trees and then its sequel The Smoke Ring.

East takes you out, out takes you west, west takes you in, in takes you east; north and south bring you back.

What I DO intend to talk about is phonetics and the concept of invented cuss words.

There is something perversely satisfying about saying the word "f*ck". Whole documentaries have been made to that effect. Other science fiction sagas have invented expletives with varying degrees of success. Some have even chosen to swear in an existing language not native to its core audience. Of all the myriad invented oaths, only one has ever really done the job: Frak.

You might think it's because it's the most similar to the F-word proper, and you are correct in part. I firmly hold to the opinion, because it is the correct one, that it is phonetically appealing as a curse word.

There is something deeply satisfying about the sounds of K's, T's, and hard C's. Possibly why the "C Bomb" is the pinnacle of the swearing pyramid. It grates on the ears, it's violent, and when you create a new curse, one meant to be interchangeable with the great F, you need to retain a measure of harshness.

Tanj. The word Mr. Niven invented was tanj...

"Tanj you! You tanjing tanjer!"

That sounds wrong, it's too soft. It glides to a slow stop instead of exploding to a violent end. It sounds like something I would order at an Indian restaurant. "An order of Aloo Tanj Paneer, if you don't mind".

It's meant to be an acronym-swear word, like FUBAR or SNAFU, but it's used like "f*ck". No one ever says "Fubar you!" or "Get to the snafu chopper before I fubar you up!".  Even those acronyms have the decency to contain an expletive.

Tanj - There Ain't no Justice

In Mr. Niven's defense, audio books weren't a commercial offering until sometime after the founding of Books on Tape in 1975. He didn't have to consider how obnoxious it would be to hear a somewhat nasal voice say that word a couple of dozen times. In his post-books-on-tape era work, his swearing was better, "Copsik" and "Checker". I think he learned his lesson.

Oh, and one more thing. A highly advanced society builds a habitable environment on a ring-like structure in outer space and seemingly disappears only to [highlight the spoiler] have it turn out that it was built by a previous society of humankind. [end]

Go tanj yourself, Bungie.

You should read this book with your eyes.

You should not listen to this audio book with your ears.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Speaker for the Dead - Graphic Novel

U mad, bro?

Speaker for the Dead is among my favorite novels of all time, so I jumped at the chance to buy the Marvel Comics graphic novel. It's probably considered sacrilege by the masses, those many floundering fools, but I think it surpasses Ender's Game, a phenomenal book in its own right.

The story is rich with guilt, brokenness, loss, pain, faith, longing and hope.

Andrew Wiggin, once "Ender" to all of humanity, is faced with a new challenge. Due to planet-hopping and the wonders of relativistic space flight, Andrew has seen the passage of 3,000 years while only having lived another 20 or 30 years since he saved humanity from the Bugger menace as a child. Now, a new race has killed a human and Ender rushes off to the colony world Lusitania to investigate the death and attempt to get to know the strange aliens known only as Pequininos or "piggies".

I realize that a several hundred book will have to cut content in order to meet the needs of a much smaller graphic novel, but did they have to cut out EVERYTHING?

Golly, that looks like it has lots of pages! (side note: you can buy me a signed copy of this edition and become my new best friend)
Major characters were reduced to minor rolls to leave room for Andrew to be on almost every page. He is less the star of the story, and more a force of nature that changes everything he touches by the mere fact of his existence. His friendship with the AI known only as Jane is downplayed to almost nonexistence. The early scenes in the novel when he parts ways with his sister and closest friend, Valentine, were removed completely, robbing the reader of an insight into the cost Andrew has to pay to serve a greater cause.

Novinha and her children were almost exclusively in the background, which would make future graphic novels much more difficult as Andrew begins to take more of a back seat and Miro, Jane, and others step into larger roles. The redeeming factor here is that the graphic novel has the potential to introduce a new audience to a fantastic story, and perhaps whet the appetite for the novel and its sequels.

You should read this if you are able to forgive the absence of crucial elements.

If you haven't or won't read the novel, you shouldn't read this.

The Code of the Woosters - P.G. Wodehouse

I mentioned in an earlier post that a sale at Audible enabled me to get my hands on a few new audio books to hold me over until "new credit day" when I will likely begin the Tales of the Black Company saga. The Code of the Woosters was among the three shorter books used to fill the void until Thursday.

The Code of the Woosters is one of several stories of the life and misadventures of Bertram Wilberforce "Bertie" Wooster and his valet, Jeeves. Set in pre-WWII England, the story follows Bertie as he is swept up in the problems of the extremely rich and insufficiently wise. Such drama includes, but is not limited to, being denied meals prepared by his aunt's amazing chef, having to convince antiques brokers to sell silver "cow creamers" at lower prices to his collector of an uncle, and keeping his loved ones happily affianced thereby eliminating the threat of marriage for himself. Jeeves, the brains of the operation, is busily set to saving Bertie from his own bungling of these stressful situations.

I presume many people have had little or no exposure to these tales. I must confess that my first encounter was through the British TV show Jeeves and Wooster, starring the equally amazing Stephen Fry (Jeeves) and Hugh Laurie (Wooster).

Hugh Laurie as "Bertie Wooster" and Stephen Fry as "Jeeves"

And yes, you uncultured ass, that is TV's "Dr. House" on the left. He is British. He is a comedian. Shame on you for not knowing (and kudos to him for being great at drama too).

You can see this pair in another great British comedy, A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

It's 9/27/2011 and every episode is streamable on Netflix today!

I firmly believe that the Brits have a better understanding of comedy than most Americans. I would go so far as to say that, once I am elevated to the place of power that is my destiny, I will see to it that everyone will be mandated to watch British comedy or will be publicly flogged. Those doing the flogging will be the many out of work American sitcom writers, since their "services" will no longer be required. Not to say that all American sitcoms are bad, just most of them, enough to staff a small army of "punishment distributors" out of the "writing staff".

A cow creamer, two engagements, a chef, a policeman's helmet, a fascist, newts, burglaries, blackmail and broken noses. This fast-paced, witty book has it all.

If you love real comedy and a profound mastery of English, you should read or listen to this book.

If you believe Friends was the pinnacle of humor, you should not and you should not breed.