Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Recently, my wife showed me instructions for building a model of the starship Enterprise from common office supplies. I liked the idea, and over the course of a couple lunch breaks, I made one of my own. Here it is, in all its geeky glory:
Monday, November 24, 2008
I (OK, the wife and I) got to see 5 movies this past weekend, and despite the law of averages, I had an overall good experience. All of these movie have been out for a while, so I'm going to assume that you already have some idea of what they're about. We started off on Saturday evening with Wall-E. This movie was quite good; head and shoulders above the normal Pixar fare. I really liked it, especially the minimalist approach to dialogue (at least until humans enter into the story). This is one of those movies that will definitely appeal to the kids, but can still entertain adults. The future of humanity, as well as how they got where they are, is a fairly adult bit of the movie, but it's just far enough in the background that it won't spoil the film for younger viewers. The second movie that I saw was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Yes, of course I've seen this movie several times already. This time, however, I saw it with Riff Trax. For those of you who don't know, Riff Trax was spawned by a TV series called Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which a former janitor and his robot pals would watch bad movies and make fun of (riff on) them. Riff Trax are MP3 files that you can buy and play along with modern movies. Trust me, they're hilarious and you need to see one as soon as possible, Sunday was an even bigger day for movies at my place. We started with Tropic Thunder. I didn't hate this move, despite Ben Stiller being in a starring role. Jack Black was fairly amusing, but Robert Downey Jr was the real reason to see this movie. He played a method actor who refused to drop character until the movie was complete. Imagine Downey playing a black man as portrayed in late 1970's movies. Yeah, it was like that. The second movie on Sunday was Hellboy 2. This movie was that rarest of gems, a good sequel. Hellboy was a good, fun movie and Hellboy 2 lived up to its predecessor. The action, script and special effects were all on par with the first movie. Even the acting lived up, which was a bit of a concern, as David Hyde Pierce did not reprise his role as the voice of Abe Sapien. I was also quite impressed with Seth MacFarlane as Johann Krauss. Who knew he could actually play a (somewhat) serious role? Movie # 3 for Sunday was The Incredible Hulk. This one slowed things down a bit, after the fast-paced action and nonstop wisecracks of Hellboy. It was, however, a very enjoyable movie - Edward Norton did a very good job of portraying Bruce Banner's struggle to deal with this beast that shares his body. I'm really looking forward to seeing the special edition on DVD - I understand that the deleted scenes available there make the movie even better (thanks for the tip, Slice of Sci Fi). Overall, a good movie weekend for me. Let's see if I can't simplify things a bit to wrap thing up. I'll try to rate the movies on a 5 star scale (I'm not rating Harry Potter - I was watching for the Riffrrax). Wall-E ****1/2 Tropic Thunder **1/2 Hellboy 2 **** The Incredible Hulk ****
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I recently attended a birthday party for my friend's daughter (She turned 3). It was a pretty fun party, especially once the gifts were open. One of the gifts was an animatronic horse big enough for her to "ride." Pretty cool, and also pretty bizarre. You see, this little robot, like so many other toys, requires a bit of assembly. Upon opening the box, we found a headless horse body inside. The head was in a smaller box at the body's feet, along with a brush and a plastic carrot. Amazingly, this had no effect on the birthday girl. She and her friend were perfectly happy to play with the horse's tail while Daddy, Uncle Jeff and Uncle Ron attached and wired up the horse's noggin. Once the head was attached, it was time to install the batteries. This, of course, involved opening the animal's abdomen. Now we have three guys grouped around an upside down robot horse looking as though we're performing some kind of surgery. Strange? Yep. Creepy? You bet. Worth it? Of course, she loves that robo-horse!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I just finished watching an episode of Stargate: Atlantis. This particular episode was a clip show. You know, a thin plot contrived to allow a narrative full of flashbacks. The kind of thing some shows do in order to save money in a season that's trending over budget. Yes, I'm a couple weeks behind. As I was watching this episode, I found myself remembering the vitriol expressed by fans when it was first aired. Most of the fans' criticism centered on the idea of doing a clip show during what was not only the best season yet, but the final season (as had been fairly recently decided by the Sci Fi channel). I think that this anger was misplaced. The writers and producers of Atlantis are not to blame, the decision makers at the Sci Fi channel are. They waited until the current season of Atlantis was well underway before they announced that this would be the final season. The season 5 story arc had already been established, along with the budget saving clip show. How do I know this? Simple - it has already been announced that there will be a direct to DVD Atlantis movie to tie up the loose ends after this season is complete. In other words, season 5's cliffhanger ending was already set, and story threads leading up to it had already been filmed, possibly aired when the cancellation was announced. This is nothing new; the same thing happened when Sci Fi canceled Stargate: SG-1. My question is, why? Why wait until the "final" season is already underway before canceling the show? Wouldn't it make more sense to announce the cancellation prior to the last season? At least that way, the writers could create a final season that satisfies, rather than one that is clearly meant to lead into more. Seriously, what the hell?