Back after a week in Kansas

Have been in Kansas all week visiting my parents; my two brothers and I were together for the first time in five years, since my wedding, so that was pretty awesome. Also, was the first time for my parents to have all seven granddaughters together; so it was a great week all around.

Will be working on my projects this week – Coraline popup and my chair. Stay tuned for updates.

Grrrr, comment spammers

Let me make one thing clear – I hate comment spammers. Inundating my inbox with spam is one thing; I can filter the vast majority of it to a junk folder and never have to deal with it. Comment spam, I have to deal with each and every one individually, and having comment spammers force me into a position to have to approve each comment before I allow it on the site, it kills any opportunity for meaningful discussion unless I’m right there to click “accept” at the time (assuming, of course, people want to comment on this blog to begin with). I consider comment spammers to be no better than vandals. They’re just swooping in to spraypaint their garbage on my wall and leave.

That said, I’ve been getting pelted from comment spam from the domain ds4ns1ns2.cn, which gives a permission denied if you try to visit it. They anger me.

Coraline house: Construction underway!

After having this project shelved for a couple of months now, I finally got around to starting construction of my Coraline house popup that I started back in March (Adam will surely be excited 🙂 ). I built the top and bottom for the popup and started working on the “Coraline” logo for the front cover. The logo is silver foil cardstock glued to a piece of grey paper for the shadow; the first letter I tried to make, a “C,” turned out OK; I’ll just need to take a bit more care in gluing the pieces together for the final product. This first letter was mostly to see how this would look, and whether it’d be worth the effort to worry about the paper shadow. It looks pretty good, so I think I’m going to continue with it. Pics over there –> in the Flickr sidebar.

I have found my chair!

Today I finally found a lounging chair for my office at home. It’s a filthy, disgusting pile of grossness; the upholstery, which looks to have been formerly a very nice wine-colored velour, is crushed and worn thin; dirt and sand fly out at all angles when you kick it; and it looks like it used to be home to more dogs than people. The sign on the chair at the garage sale said “$20 OBO”; my “OBO” was $10, and they took it.

Now, the planning begins on how to convert it from a cube of stank into a paragon of seating awesome. I already have a picture in my head of what I want to do with it. Just need to go on a material hunt now.

There are five “before” pictures are over there –> in the Flickr sidebar. Check ’em out.

Movie Week in Review

Mel and I knocked out three movies this week – we joined the 21st century and rented our first three BluRay discs. PS3 + mega-clearance on a 37″ LCD = we’re finally living in the present, home entertainment-wise. 🙂

Gran Torino [IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes]
We missed this in the theaters and had been waiting patiently for the DVD; it was worth the wait. This was an incredible movie, even though I thought it suffered a little by a poor acting job by the kid who tried to steal Clint Eastwood’s car — particularly the scene at the end when Clint locks him up to go off to do his ultimate good deed. The kid just didn’t sell well enough his anger about being caged and missing out on his moment of revenge. Honestly, though, that’s a minor nitpick for what was otherwise an absolutely fantastic movie. Eastwood was great; the girl who played his next door neighbor, a person who ultimately pulls him not only out of his racist shell but offers an avenue for the general redemption of his life, was really good. The ending was also completely unexpected (not the final final scene; everybody knows who’s getting the car, and it’s not the bitchy granddaughter). Well worth the price of a rental, and then some. This is an amazing film.

Revolutionary Road [IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes]
Absolutely boring and a huge letdown, especially having just recently seen an exceptional Kate Winslet movie from basically the same time, “The Reader.” The performances by Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio felt very melodramatic and over-the-top; it felt better suited as a play. The ending was completely pointless and changed the whole tone of the movie in one turn of a hearing aid knob – rather than just being a tale about the difficulties that came with DiCaprio having to deal with a wife who had mental issues, the ending turned the entire movie into a cautionary tale about marriage being a trap that breaks the spirits of men. It was awful.

Changeling [IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes]
A powerful, incredibly-acted movie that I felt suffered by being entirely too long. At 2:20, it seriously plodded – especially in the front third. Too much exposition, too much time spent in the insane asylum, too much time developing the storyline of the serial killer. There was great effort here to tell the entire story – and it was very well-done. It just got to the point that it felt like the movie was trying to be too much. Angelina Jolie is really good; John Malkovich is fantastic, as always; the guy that used to have that sitcom on FOX where he’d sit in the basement, get hammered and talk to his friend the invisible rabbit was fabulous as her eventual high-powered attorney; and the kid who ultimately leads the police to what was the true fate of Jolie’s son was *really* good. I just felt the pacing of the movie was off, particularly compared to Gran Torino; both were directed by Clint Eastwood, but Gran Torino is a superior film in just about every way. Better paced; I was more involved with the characters; just a more enjoyable film. Some of the things that befall Jolie as the LAPD is out to persecute her for standing up to them are genuinely difficult to watch; it could be those negative feelings had something to do with my opinion of this movie.

Still, Changeling is very good; I’d have no problems recommending that you see it. It’s still, by a significant margin, the middle of the three movies we’ve seen this week though. Gran Torino stands far above, and Revolutionary Road far below.

Upgraded to WordPress 2.8

I upgraded the backend of andybartlett.com to WordPress 2.8 today; will have to play around with some of the new features, as they seem interesting. I still haven’t taken much time to really dig into WordPress and figure out how it works beyond “Find theme that I like, apply it, write some nonsense and hit ‘publish’,” but it’s still nice to know what this software is capable of, should I ever find the time to really learn how it all works.

EDIT – lol, WordPress 2.8; none of the UI elements in the “edit post” screen work on either Safari 4.0 or Firefox 3.5b4 on my iMac. The “add” button for the “post tags” element doesn’t do anything, nor do the hide/reveal boxes for “excerpt,” “send trackbacks,” “custom fields,” “discussion,” or “comments.” Oops.

EDIT 2 – clearing caches and upgrading Firefox to 3.5b99 doesn’t fix the problem. This will be fun… Luckily the “update post” button seems to be the only UI element that’s functional on my Edit window.

EDIT 3 – the “visual” and “HTML” tabs work, also, as do “preview changes,” “change permalinks” and “view post.” That seems to be about it… “post tags” still not working, nor are the show/reveal buttons for the other sections of the post.

EDIT 4 – Weird; updating my Flickr manager plug-ins solved the problem. All UI elements on “Post” page now functioning; our national emergency has ended!

Yes! Somebody else gets it

Somebody found this blog using the following search term:

“why is marcus more advanced than t800”

Yes! Why indeed? It makes no sense…

Stupid, stupid Terminator: Salvation.

To the person who made it here due to that search term, I say “welcome.” 🙂

Film redemption: “Hangover”

The cinema redeemed itself yesterday in a big, big way. After sitting through two hours of the disastrous “Terminator: Salvation” on Friday, I rebounded in a big way by seeing “Hangover” yesterday with Melissa.

Having seen a little about this movie on-line beforehand, I figured it’d be worth watching. It’s so far beyond simply “worth watching”; it’s genuinely one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. To oversimplify it, it’s a combination of “Bachelor Party” and “Dude, Where’s My Car?”packed full of ridiculous and hilarious cameos. This is one of those movies that we’ll watch forever. We’ll assuredly buy it immediately on DVD and will do things like watch it three times in one night, guaranteed.

I won’t say much about it; just go see it. And when you do, stick around for the first two minutes or so of the credits.

“Terminator: Salvation” — ugh.

T4-getmeout

Ugh.

That’s my one-word review for Terminator: Salvation [IMDB|Rotten Tomatoes]. There’s so much wrong with this movie I’m not even sure where to begin…

First, in the previous Terminator films – particularly in the most-recent two – one needs a relatively large ability to suspend disbelief that the human resistance could not only defeat Skynet’s military assets, but even remain remotely competitive with them. For example, Terminator 2 should have ended in four minutes – the T-1000 should’ve seen John Connor and used his “pointy face-stabbing finger of doom” trick to execute him immediately from across the room. But you suspend that disbelief and go along for the ride, because the movie is fun — and for a really entertaining movie, I’m willing to do it.

Terminator: Salvation wasn’t one of those movies. It requires an absolutely preposterous level of belief suspension if you’re to buy into the movie. Let’s run down a few examples (by the way, Marcus is a Terminator – I’m not remotely going to try to cover up that “spoiler.” If this ruins the movie for you, too bad. You’ve got bigger problems.).

• John Connor [Christian Bale] is flying a helicopter close enough to a nuclear explosion to have the blast knock it out of the sky, but apparently not close enough to suffer any other adverse reactions – not so much as a scratch.

• The Marcus Terminator crawls out of the hole in the ground where the nuclear bomb had gone off just minutes before, and has every square millimeter of his human tissue completely intact.

• Connor can jump out of an aircraft into oceans with 50-foot swells, without a diving suit, and miraculously appear dry inside a submarine in the next shot. There will almost certainly be a restored scene here on the DVD.

• Skynet’s Hunter-Killers use IR cameras to find and kill humans at night – and are exceptionally good at it, but apparently only if they’re in cars. No human on foot at night is ever in the remotest bit of danger from IR cameras on HKs. And apparently you’re completely invisible to them during the day? The desert must be exactly 98.6 degrees at all time, and nobody’s body temperature is allowed to deviate from that of their neighbor.

• Enormous motorcycle-deploying Terminator robots have incredibly accurate laser cannons that allow them to instantly destroy any vehicle carrying an extra, but somehow if your name is on the movie poster their guidance systems go completely haywire.

• Motorcycle-deploying Terminator robots will send two motorcycles after our heroes, who will then need to defeat three of them.

• If you step on a land mine, it will completely wreck every part of your body except your face.

• However, being thrown a half-mile by a motorcycle-deploying robot into a river will cause no visible damage whatsoever.

• Terminators, despite being made of metal, can float and swim.

• Motorcycle Terminators can duck to avoid semi trailers, but can be defeated with a rope across the road. Once they’ve been defeated with the rope, you can take control of them with a PSP.

• When being pursued by a T-800, the best defense is to jump down one level of whatever building you’re fighting in. This causes the T-800 to inexplicably disappear for long periods of time.

• T-800s can punch Marcus-class Terminators in the heart hard enough to put them out of commission, but not hard enough to so much as knock the wind out of John Connor.

• When Terminators get punched in the heart and killed, you can revive them with a little shock by shoving live wires into the holes in their chest.

I could go on, but I really don’t want to. It’s depressing.

Going into geek analysis mode here, it even seems as if they’ve screwed up the timeline for the progression of Terminator models. The first Terminator we saw, Schwartzeneggar in the first Terminator movie, was a T-800. Salvation starts with John Connor finding evidence of a “new Terminator model,” the T-800, in a Skynet computer.

However, Marcus is far more advanced than a T-800; T-800s are Terminator frames with human tissue coverings. Marcus has a) a human brain (apparently one human “cortex” and one cybernetic “cortex”) and b) a human heart powering it; a more advanced model, from both an engineering and AI standpoint — clearly a successor to the T-800, which hasn’t yet been deployed. So why bother with the T-800 at all then? Just deploy the Marcus (which is not referred to by a model number; I’d guess it’d have to be a T-900) and crush everything.

In the original Terminator, the T-800 sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor originated in the year 2029. This movie takes place in 2018. So Skynet has no less than five models of Terminator – the T-1, T-600, T-700, T-800 and Marcus models (all of which are seen in Salvation) – developed in the first 21 years after Skynet becomes self-aware on Aug. 29, 1997, and then nothing for the next 11 years? Sure.

At any rate, Marcus leads us to…

The ending… Oh, good lord, the ending. Stupid. As. Hell. It was the most trite, transparent and ridiculous ending… The much-reviled Terminator 3 ending, which I actually liked a lot, seems like Citizen Kane in comparison.

Mostly, a Terminator movie shouldn’t be boring. Terminator: Salvation was boring. I checked my watch three times. Hollywood’s next step to get the Terminator to not suck will probably be a “reboot” of the original with Will Smith as the Terminator. It baffles my mind that the same Hollywood that produced “The Dark Knight” was also responsible for this.

Ugh.