Friday, May 30, 2003

Darth Dork

I think Lucas just found his new light saber choreographer for the next Star Wars installment.

Watch the Star Wars Dork act out a light saber fight with a curtain rod.
Duty Free Dog Cage

I have a friend who keeps a large, 70 pound dog. It looks like a Rotweiller to me but he insists it is half sheperd half... I don't even remember what he said. Who cares. The story is what happened to him this week.

Some background; when my friend is at work, he keeps his 70 pound dog in a steel cage. The cage is pretty good size for the dog to move around in, so he's not constrained to face only one direction all day long.

At some point this week, the dog crapped in the cage, as animals are known to do. Normally, the dog can wait until the owner gets home to let him outside and do his business, but today he had to go. To make matters worse, I guess the dog decided to play in the pile since he didn't have much else to do-do and when the owner got home, the dog was apparently covered in it.

So now the dog desparately needed a bath. Unfortunately, the bathtub is on the second floor by way of spiral stair case and did I happen to mention it was a 70 pound dog? He couldn't carry the dog up the steps, he had to drag him, dog covered in his own poop, up a spiral staircase and into the bathtub. The dog got clean but the cage is still soiled and now my friend has the carpet to worry about, like a trail of breadcrumbs from cage to tub.

The carpet he's still working on trying to make doody-free but the cage, that should be easy. The bars are steel and the floor is durable plastic. Nothing is going to stain. However, my friend does not have a water spout on the outside of his apartment and certainly no water hose. I mean why would you need a water hose if you have nothing to plug it in to? So the tough question: What do you do?

Well I'll tell you what he did. He's got a nice lake-view apartment. A lake I say? That's right. He got the bright idea to submerge the steel cage into the lake to wash out the contaminate. It was a solid idea, something that might be worth pursuing except for one thing. He assumed (probably correctly) the apartment owners would frown upon him washing dog dookie into their man-made lake which is normally used for the viewing pleasure of hundreds of residents. There's a simple solution to that - he decided to do it in the cover of darkness.

Out of sight, out of mind.

With as much stealth as possible, my friend hauled the enormous steel cage out back to the lake (it's more of a pond actually), pushed it down into the water with as little as a noise-making splash as possible, to submerge the floor of the case where most of the fecal matter lie, trying to not lose control of the cage where it would float out to the middle of the waterway and partially sink. I say partially sink because the pond-lake probably isn't deep enough to submerge the cage completely and come daylight, the residents would look upon their pond-lake, gazing at the ducks, swans, geese, small man-made waterfall and one partially submerged steel cage covered in dog feces.

His fears were allayed however, he didn't lose control of the cage and I guess the mission was a success. The cage is back in the comfort of his apartment, clean and tidy, awaiting the day for the 70 pound dog to mess it all up again.

You can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Hyper-Hypo Links

I have a couple of links for you today.

Everything you wanted to know about Matrix but were afraid to ask. Matrix Essays has excellent theories on what exactly the Matrix might be and where the next sequel might end up. Lots of spoilers so make sure you've seen Reloaded before reading.

Also, if you ever wanted to see the 555 telephone exchange phonebook used in movies and television. It's a big town. Some residents have to share the same number.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Jeepers United

Jeepers United

As I write this, I have an earpiece hanging on my right ear. That piece has a wire connecting it to a 2.4 Ghz phone hanging on my belt. It's not a cell phone, just my office phone. I am listening to very light jazz buzzing into my right ear even as I type this line. Every, I'd say, 20 seconds or so, a male voice, obviously automated (or someone without any tone inflexion and a very boring job) interrupts the light jazz to say, "Our representatives are currently busy. Your call will be answered in the order it was received." It has been 14 minutes since I originally dialed the number so I've heard that line roughly 42 times. I'm not a fan of light jazz, so it's ok to interrupt the music, but I heard you the last 41 times.

Since I am at work and getting paid for my time to sit on the phone and listen to crappy music and automated messages, I actually don't mind the wait.

Now to explain who I've called. I am a proud Jeep owner, a 2000 Wrangler, and the phone number I've dialed that I am patiently waiting to be helped on is part of the registration process for an annual event Jeep throws for all of its loyal customers called Camp Jeep. This is my second year going. I did attend Camp Jeep 2002 and am trying to make it two in a row. I had a great time last year, there is so much to do. Jeep allows a lot of corporate sponsors to setup a booth, but it's more than a booth, you can try out their products for free. For example there are ATV's you can ride, paintball arenas, swimming pools, scuba, video arcades, rock climbing, all sorts of activities.

We line up for the start of our 4x4 Offroad Challenge at Camp Jeep 2002

Camp Jeep 2003 will be a special event for me as it is doubling as my honeymoon. We planned to make this trip quite awhile ago (since Camp Jeep 2002), and then at some point decided to get married. The date we picked happens to be the week before our trip so we decided to make it an official honeymoon. At Camp Jeep you have the option of camping out on the grounds or picking a close by hotel to live at for the duration of the event. We'll probably be going with the hotel for some strange reason. My tent doesn't have a threshold (or does it?).

Looking forward to it. More about it later I'm sure.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Summer Free TV, RNC Wastes A Stamp

It's season (and some series) finales month and I've been busy watching and recording, recording and watching, sharing and giving...

I decided to give Buffy the Vampire Slayer show a try so I watched the series finale. Just in time. I'm still sore at the cancellation of Firefly so I thought I'd give Whedon's big success a try. Not bad.

Of course I had to watch the 24 finale. The President was essentially poisoned in the last scene and collapsed. And on The West Wing, the President resigned his post in response to the kidnapping of his daughter. So both Presidents on TV were taken out in the finales. Lot of parallels between the two shows I noticed. Both Presidents were also involved with the invoking of the 25th amendment this season. Are the writers sharing their material?

Speaking of the President of the United States, I received quite an amusing piece of mail yesterday. It's a letter from the Republican National Committee (RNC) asking me to fight liberalism and donate $25. Boy are they barking up the wrong tree. I wonder how I got on their list?

Here are some highlights from the letter:

...the liberals are retrenching! And now, they're hungrier than ever to undermine President Bush and his agenda for a better, more prosperous America...the LIBERALS don't agree with President Bush. They want BIGGER GOVERNMENT, HIGHER TAXES, and LESS PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY! And now, they're more determined more than ever to take TOTAL CONTROL of the federal government in 2004! Make no mistake: The liberals will stop at nothing to undermine President Bush and his agenda for a better America. That is why I must have your support today!

It's signed Mark Racicot Chairman of the RNC. There is a post script and also a post-post script. You'd think he could incorporate both PS's in the main letter. Anyway, here's the P.P.S.

While many folks make donations of $50, $100, or even $1,000...


...your generous contribution of just $25 today will go a long way to help President Bush further his agenda for a stronger, safer, and better America.

That's good stuff.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

World Building Taking My Time

It's been a week since I've made a post. I blame it on the PC game Neverwinter Nights by Bioware. If you've ever seen the Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale series, it's the same guys, similar format, DND-style adventure. NWN is more advanced than Bioware's previous titles. It will let you create your own worlds, put them online for all to see and that is taking all of my free time. I'm developing a visual mud based on a text-only mud we ran in college. If you don't know what a mud is, it's a realm for roleplaying. MUD = Multi User Dungeon.

So I'm working on that and my blog suffers. I'll try to get back in the swing of things as soon as I knock out some of the major hurdles I'm working on.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Every perception is based on limited information.
-- me

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Signs: Beautiful But Not Deep

Signs is a B movie with an A budget so what you get is a good looking disappointment. It is true it's a mixture of movie elements few have seen before but just because of this unique style, doesn't automatically make it a pioneering film. Think Waterworld (but not quite as bad as that). If you like a straight thriller, a lot of drama and don't want to think, this is the movie for you.

The good: Shymalan is quickly becoming the master of suspense for our generation. He knows the camera angles to use, the music, the sound effects and has the skill of not overshowing your hand, the scariest monsters are the ones we can't see but know are there. He also has his biggest acting role in this movie compared to his others and for a director, his acting is not bad. This movie also has a sense of humor, unlike his last film, Unbreakable. It isn't bad that Unbreakable was very serious, it's what was warranted for that story. In Signs, it's about the relationship of a family and life in general, so some of those interactions are going to make us laugh.

The bad: Primarily, this is a story of a family dealing with the challenges of life. This family in Signs has had more difficulties than most, but that's why it gets to have a movie done about it. The twist in this movie and the one that discredits it as a good film is that one of the challenges in life that this family is forced to deal with is alien invasion. Put like that, it sounds ridiculous and it translated in the movie that way as well. The acting and the dialog is superb and the character development makes you feel like there is so much potential for this movie to be an excellent film... if it just wasn't for those darn aliens. I've got nothing against alien films, in fact it's a great genre, I just have problems seeing it in a drama.

Aliens or not, the biggest disappointment of the film is that this is not a thought provoking film at all. This is surprising because Shymalan's first film, The Sixth Sense had a lot of depth and forced people to question life after death or at least presented the theory to give you the chance to agree or disagree. Signs does not force you to question anything. It doesn't even give you the chance to ponder extraterrestrial life because the real story is the life of the family and the alien stuff is one of an old-Hollywood mentality, War of the Worlds like, aliens are automatically monsters. This makes for a very dated story and therefore not very interesting. The closest this film comes to provoking any thought is its theories on the coincidences that happen in life (which is probably what the movie is really named for), but only scratches the surface with that ideaology and just wants to tell two stories that don't get along.

The deal: So good acting thanks to the casting, good characters, suspense is good although hoaky at times. The movie is a mix of two stories and Signs can not make the marriage work. This would've been better as two separate movies, one serious, one entertainment. Also, some of the supposed dramatic scenes, the ones with the kinds of revelation that usually thrills audiences, seemed forced and ultimately predictable. Some of them worked, some didn't. The ones that didn't are the ones that felt like to me Shymalan went out of his way to setup early in the movie, a couple of scenes just to grab the Ooos and Ahhhhs at the end that the setup was tied to and it came off as weak for fans who want more from a movie, especially fans of Sixth Sense. I'm disappointed in the film. If this was sold as a B movie/indie/unknown or the story of the family was more in the background (less detail) expanding instead on the aliens or if the story of the aliens was removed completely, it might have been ok. It just seems Shymalan could have done so much more with Signs but fell short. Is he getting worse with his films or should he just stick to the supernatural?

I'll give Signs a B- for it's entertainment value.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Bubblemania - A Movie Review

Let me get serious for a minute. I'd like to talk about a movie I recently viewed that had all the aspects of a quality film. It's about a teenage boy who was being repressed by his ultra-conservative parents.

No this isn't Footloose.

He falls in love with the girl next door but can't express his feelings for her properly because of the way he was raised. The neighbor girl obviously likes him but knows she must move on with her life if repressed-boy won't tell her he loves her.

It's not Say Anything.

The girl next door ends up running off with a loser and plans to marry him. Repressed-boy finally realizes he must do something to stop the wedding and gets the overwhelming urge to tell her his feelings.

The Graduate this ain't.

This kind of plot has been done to death right? I agree. So to make the story interesting, the boy has lived inside a bubble all his life due to his supposed weak immune system. So to stop the wedding, bubble/repressed/lovesick boy has to get cross country in a portable bubble he made to get to the girl of his dreams and, you know, stay alive.

Eat your heart out John Travolta.

This movie has it all. At one point in the movie, Bubble Boy is chased by:

A mexican biker gang
Religious cult of happy-go-lucky kids who all have the same name
Circus sideshow freaks
Sideshow freak owner who wants his his freaks back who is a bit of a freak himself (Verne Troyer).

There's also:

The estranged 90 year old twins who both have random catatonic conditions, strongest when they're driving and flying
Japanese mud wrestling bar owners ("500 DOLLAR!")
An Indian (dot not feather) ice cream truck owner who puts curry in all of his products

and of course:

His parents when they discover he no longer was in his bedroom bubble.

What more could you ask for? Check it out. The movie was surprisingly funny.

Bubble Boy

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

One Good Turn Does Not Deserve Another

Pakistan saying it will tear down its nuclear arsenal if India agrees to dismantle theirs is like Cuba saying it will dismantle their arsenal (if they had one) if the United States agrees to disarm.
The Prisoner's Dilemma

There is an ideology about the possible outcomes of conflict. It is this study that gave way to the development of board games, card games, video games, etc. The main formats of the idea are win/win (cooperative), win/lose (head to head) and play/play (expected outcome if nothing changes). Most games you think of will fall under one of these three categories.

There is a story that gives example to these ideas of conflict. It's called the Prisoner's Dilemma. There are many versions of the story but the basic premise is that two people have committed a crime together, however there is not enough evidence to convict them. The suspects are brought in for questioning, kept in separate cells with the intent of getting at least one confession to make the conviction. All the suspects have to do to avoid the charge is if both do not confess. With the lack of evidence in the case, they will be set free. This is the win/win scenario.

Another option, and this is where the dilemma comes in, should one of the suspects confess to the crime indicting the other, the confessor will be let free. He will be given immunity which means no probation and the other will be sentenced to the maximum term in prison for the crime with no possibility of parole. This it the win/lose scenario.

The last option is that the two suspects become so paranoid that the other is going to tell on them that they both confess to the crime. In which case, they will be given a prison sentence with some leniency because of the confessions. This is the play/play scenario because it is the expected result. It's what will happen every time unless something in the setup is changed. Games like Tic Tac Toe or Paper, Rock, Scissors are play/play if the participants do the expected, the result will be the same every time.

The story has a game version and point values were assigned to the three outcomes. They vary in the different versions but the format is the same. If both suspects cooperate, they're each given 3 points. If both confess, each get 1 point, and if one confesses and the other does not, the confessor gets 5 points and the other gets 0. You play the rounds 10 times and whoever has the most number of points at the end, wins the game. I know it sounds like a boring game, (like Paper, Rock, Scissors, and Tic Tac Toe) but it's the format that most games are based on and it's interesting to see what other people decide. If you get an optimist, you can take advantage of it until they stop being the optimist. If you get a pessimist, you can play it safe. If you get a realist, then things will get tough and if you're up against a telepath (has you figured out), then things will get really tough.

Just something to think about.