Saturday, December 25, 2010

12 Days: One Wonderful Life

When I was compiling this list, there were some I wanted to add but didn't, some I thought belonged but couldn't find a good way to get them here, some I was sure didn't belong but added them anyways, and a couple I felt perfectly correct putting it in the list.  This one though would not only be a crime to leave out, but also a travesty had I not given it the prime spot in the list: Christmas Day.

In terms of Christmas, it's really not that holiday-ish whatsoever.  That's where it ends, but not where it begins.  It's a case study reminding all of us that no matter what we do, there are ways we affect others.  No one is unimportant, no one wouldn't be missed.  It's a triumph of the human spirit.  What's more yuletidey than that?

This gets a 10 of 10, year round.

And last but not least, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

12 Days: Two Yippee Kay-yay's

What's more in the spirit than saving a building full of hostages (including your wife)?

Oh, that's right, throwing Alan Rickman from a building, that's what.

Now you might again have problems with this being a Christmas film, but we must remember that 1) it takes place during a holiday party and 2) it's exactly the kind of thing you want to find yourself watching during the Christmas season.  I mean, John McClane even sends a note to the terrorists that says "Ho Ho Ho" (followed with "now I have a gun", but still).  Plus, for an action movie, this goes above and beyond.  Twists everywhere, with plenty of fleshed out characters to keep the movie moving.  And you can't forget that everyone likes Carl Winslow (oh, sorry, I mean "Al Powell", as he was known before transferring to Chicago).

All I know is that if I ever meet an Agent Johnson from the FBI, I think it'll be hard to keep a straight face.

This movie gets a solid 10 of 10, but for Christmas I'll knock it back to an 8 (even though I still think all holidays would be better off with a dead Gruber).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12 Days: Three Rules

A prime example of when you get a present you should never have received.

This movie is a cult-classic; who today couldn't recite the three rules?  Not to mention inspiring the original Furby.  It was the perfect toy, everyone wanted a pet like Gizmo, plus instead of multiplying when getting wet, they just broke!

Plus it taught us that you must always follow directions, because who knows when your failure to do so turns one of these cute creatures into a homicidal killing machine.

It even got a sequel, who's only saving grace was realizing it couldn't take itself seriously.

However, a thriller/horror for the holidays isn't always great, so while I'd give it a 8 of 10 normally, for Christmas it gets a 7.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12 Days: Four Ghosts

It's no Muppets, but it's also not 19th century London.

An updated take on an old tale.  Instead of a banker, we have a TV executive.  Instead of a ghost rattling chains, we have a ghost in golf pants.  Meanwhile, his story takes place while shooting a live version of A Christmas Carol, adding to the insanity.  This is Bill Murray still doing insane, but working towards the greatness of Groundhog Day, and an upward step at that.

Otherwise, I don't have much to say.  It's still a good 7 of 10 for the holidays though.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Days: Five Red Ryders

I bet I can make you say something in your head: You'll shoot your eye out!

Not only did you say that in your head, I'm sure you heard it in both Ralphie's mother's voice and his teacher's voice singing it to him.  Not just any movie can do that.

Everyone was there as a child, wanting the one thing they seemingly would never get, dealing with parents and bullies (and teachers and santas), and all the while just waiting for that one miraculous morning where they might find what they want under the tree.  Meanwhile, the family itself proved that not everything in the "good ol' days" was nearly as wholesome as our parents would have us believe.  Not to mention there are so many great things this brought into pop culture:  fudge (which isn't fudge), soap poisoning, "electric sex gleaming in the window", triple dog dares, and a smiling roast duck.  There is no way this isn't a classic, and is one staple which no Christmas should be without.

This gets a superb 9.5 out of 10 for any time of year, and only doesn't have the 10 because I'm saving it for something else.

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Days: Six Bumps in the Night

Is it a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie?  Why can't it be both.

Only Tim Burton could come up with a premise such as this: someone who scares people for a living contemplating the meaning of Christmas.  Taken aback by the splendor of it, his first thought is that he could do it just as well, only he doesn't realize that Christmas is radically different from Halloween in the emotions it's supposed to invoke.  As a character study, interesting; in practicality, engrossing.  Tim Burton pulls you into each world and flawlessly explores their juxtaposition.

But I digress: another movie which, while receiving a 9.5 out of 10 for execution, gets a 7.5 out of 10 for the yuletide.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days: Seven Orange-Juice Futures

Now I know many might argue with this being a Christmas film, because it includes a prostitute, insider trading, and some questionable "monkey" business.  However, there's nothing more Christmas-y than a rags to riches story.  And at least it takes place during the holiday season, with major scenes on both Christmas and New Year's Eve.  Add in some revenge and lots of laughs, and you have a great film for anytime, not just Christmas.

This was from a time when both Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd were just starting their movie careers.  This was prime comedy from both of them.  Add in other standards like Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliot, and Paul Gleason, then a dash of Jamie Lee Curtis in her first real comedic turn, and you have the makings of a comedy for any age (minus the kids, because again of the prostitution and "monkey" business).

As films go, a 9 of 10.  But for Christmas it gets a 6.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

12 Days: Eight Muppets

When I was a child I never cared for Dickens.  Then I saw this movie.

The only thing better than Holiday Cheer is Muppet Holiday Cheer.  Add Michael Caine into the mix and you have a timeless retelling of A Christmas Carol.

For Holiday films, this hits 8.5 out of 10.

I don't think there's anything more that needs to be said.

Friday, December 17, 2010

12 Days: Nine Booby Traps

Ah, Kevin McCallister, the kid every child wanted to be.   What was better than being free from your family and being able to do whatever you want?  Nothing, that's what.  At least until you're found out and have to deal with a couple of misfit thieves.

This movie made children everywhere believe that they were smart enough to deal with the Joe Pesci's of the world (that's a lot more insane of a thought if you've see GoodFellas or Casino).  Even to this day though, it stands up as a good romp whereas most family films are too silly to remain fun.  The only other movie this kid-empowering was Hook (who didn't want to be one of the Lost Boys?)

Not only that, it had everything a kid needs: it shows that scary people aren't always scary, and teaches us that Daniel Stern is never to be trusted.

Another thing every kid wanted after seeing the sequel: A Tiger Talkboy.  A well-placed ad that doubled as a quick lesson reminding us of the difference between movies and real life (it's like Kevin was in a recording studio!)

No doubt about it, this is an 8 out of 10: a first-rate romp.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Days: Ten Intersecting Stories

Sappy choice? Yes. Good choice? Definitely.

Even though I have a reputation to maintain, I'll go ahead and admit it: Love Actually is a great movie.  Made not of one plot but of several, movies like this normally fall apart; if one story isn't watchable, they all falter.  Even worse, if they try to merge the plots too much, it becomes quickly muddled and confused.  In this case though, each plot has a great blend of actor talent and script quality.  Also, the plots don't intertwine much beyond the people involved knowing each other.  There's no merging/diverging of plots, allowing each to stick to it's own and grow as it should without confusion.

It pulls off what it sets out to do masterfully, meanwhile those of us who don't care about analyzing it (normally myself included) will find it to be a superb film.  It earns an 8 out of 10 in my book.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 Days: Eleven Things Gone Wrong

Next up is the favored misfit family, the Griswalds.

Through movie after movie they remind us of how lucky we are not to be them.  Christmas Vacation takes it further: everyone deals with family drama around the holidays, so why not have a family who's drama outdoes our own in hilarious ways.  What the other movies in the franchise did for standard family vacations this one brought home by showing the entirety of the Griswald clan.  No matter how dysfunctional Chevy Chase made it look, Randy Quaid made him look like small potatoes.

I partially blame this movie for the trend of "quirky family" Christmas comedies we've endured the past 20 years, but once you do it as well as Christmas Vacation did it, you can't help but expect crap to follow in it's wake.

Either way this is definitely at least a 7 of 10 on my scale.  Always a classic for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas Films: Twelve Mall Santas

I figured I'd get into the holiday spirit this year and celebrate with 12 films which make Christmas great.

To start, I bring you an irreverently funny film which I have a love/hate relationship with: Bad Santa.

I say love/hate because on one hand it's an awful movie with zero redeeming value.  On the other hand, it's hilariously awkward.  It's the kind of movie that defines guilty pleasure: I enjoy it and feel like an awful person for doing so.

I guess that's one redeeming quality: it is capable of judiciously invoking both joy and guilt (I daresay this might be as close to understanding Catholics as I can get).

With Billy Bob Thornton and the late, great Bernie Mac, this film will either bring revulsion or hilarity to your life, or if you're really lucky, both.  Out of 10, I'd give it a solid 6.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sad News, Everyone!

I was looking through the botched results of the last migration, and realized that the posts which got shanked are irrecoverable (just like in prison). I might try and bring a few back if I remember what they said, but for the most part, they're gone for good (riddance).

All those hours, wasted.

To my subscribers (i.e. you), I'm truly sorry.

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Look

I decided to try out a new theme.  This one has everything I want.  It's called Suffusion, and it's beautiful.  Simple layout, crazy amount of customization.  If you don't like something and think it'd be better, let me know and I'll try it out.  Although honestly you shouldn't waste your breath (fingers?) because I'd never actually take feedback from any of you people.  For that, I'd need some sort of contact page, wouldn't I?  Maybe, some day, if you wish really hard, and believe that it'll actually affect my decision-making process (currently: roll a die, and then do nothing), I'll make one and then simply post an email which goes nowhere (like putting a "Suggestion Box" label on a trash can).

Really, $10 says no one notices this (that's less than 5 pounds for our friends from the isles), because it's not like anyone reads this but me.  If they did, I surely scared them off by now.  Also, if I found out people were actually here, well I'd become self-conscious and go on another multi-month idling-spree (as if anyone would believe it's not simply because I'm lazy as hell).

Hm, I just thought of something: People take talking to yourself as a sign of mental imbalance (nice way of saying "cuckoo"), and yet diaries and the such have always been around.  I'm sure Anne Frank wasn't insane, although she had plenty of reason to be (poor taste? possibly; truth? definitely).

Apparently, the theme has also brought out a bit of my subconscious (no it hasn't), because I seem to have become smitten with commenting on my own writing (something like that).

Another sidenote, WordPress thinks "that'll" is a misspelling.  It also doesn't seem to like sidenote (but that's where all the good info is).  Sorry WordPress, but I can't be bothered to add a space just because you want me to.  I have lots to do (like sit here) and little time (only 5 hours more).

If someone does notice this, well, we never shook on it (yes, I'm that cheap).

Final note: posting at 3 AM might not be prudent (though if I can come up with a word like prudent, maybe I should do this more often).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Awesome Site of the Day: Things 90s Kids Realize

I'm almost depressed that I just now found out about this site, but I guess it's only been around a couple of months. Things 90s Kids Realize speaks to my soul.  Some of the things are a little past my time, but most is on the money.

For anyone who grew up in the early 90s, you'll find so much stuff which never clicked but now makes so much sense.  I now know why I love "Community" so much, why Friday nights really are somewhat depressing now, and how much I miss shows like "Doug", "GUTS", and "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"

My only issues, so far they've left out "Beakman's World":

And don't forget "Square One TV":

(though admittedly the site creator would've only been 4 when it ended)

We truly did live through the Golden Age of Children's Television.

(Last note: #23, so much sadness)

Monday, August 30, 2010

RCI: Robot-Computer Interaction

I happened to watch Terminator Salvation the other day.  It wasn't bad, at least not as bad as I'd thought it'd be.  A good action film.  But it does bring up a point which I tend to find extremely annoying in movies dealing with "futuristic" technology.

Side-note: A SanDisk Cruzer holds the key to defeating the machines?   I knew I had a reason to like SanDisk.

Human-Computer Interaction is a great field.  Understanding how people interact with computer interfaces and designing interfaces to take advantage of natural understanding is the wave of the future.  Nothing's worse than a machine with low usability due to non-intuitive controls or just plain tedium.  And it's blatant that Ubiquitous Computing plays a large role in this, with everything being made more powerful and interconnected.

But that's for humans.  Yes, those meat popsicles, some of whom have problems talking and walking at the same time (much less playing with their phones and walking at the same time).  However, when you have a robot (or part-robot, as it were), why take the time to create a visual display with an interface made for humans, then create an image of someone he used to know in order to speak to him.  He's got the capability for quick wireless communication as shown when he "accesses" the information on his death and Judgment Day.  Hell, even if he had to "plug-in" ala R2D2 or a USB, that's not that much harder to do.  Just creating the giant viewscreen was not worth it.  Really, who's it for?

While we're on this, why do the Terminators only have "eyes" on the front of their skulls?  Isn't this the time to improve on the human?  If it's really a killing machine why can't it see all around itself?  That seems like quite a limitation.

Another movie which fails at this is WALL-E. While an outstanding movie, the idea of AUTO (the autopilot) controlling the ship with the same controls the Captain uses is just insane.  He's an autopilot, he shouldn't have to even move.  It's like Otto from Airplane, only it's a robot mashing buttons to control things.  I don't let it bother me as much though because it's a great, light-hearted movie.

But maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe robot's will have the same problems interacting with computers that we have today.  If SkyNet does try and kill us all, it's incompatibility with Windows might save us all.  (Of course, if it's Windows based, then Linux can save the day.  But nothing that complex could ever survive in Windows...)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Graduation, Greece, Goodbyes, and Google

Three months ago to the day I graduated for the second and hopefully last time. It was finally over, my stay at Georgia Tech. I want a shirt with Tech Tower on it that says "I went to Tech for 6 years and all I got was my Masters Degree."  That's all I feel like I'm missing.

I told myself as soon as it was done that I'd have time to work on all those projects I never found the time to do.  Unfortunately, I fell back into my rut of procrastination as I had one more major thing to do at (or near) campus: move out.  Something which should take 12 hours at most always seems to take days on end for me because I simply don't want to do it.  I pack a little here and there, then find some way to stop packing.  Moving out was the first of many ends to that stage of my life, and I'm just not sure if I'm in a rush to get through it.  As soon as I was done though, it was time to move on to my vacation.

Vacation is a trip to Greece in this instance.  Greece is a wonderful place that I encourage anyone and everyone to visit (they need your money too).  I've learned two very important things while on this vacation: 1) A month is a very very long time to spend on vacation.  2) Vacations are best not spent in small, almost cramped spaces with 8 family members and only one bathroom.  Among all this however, I have still had a wonderful time and Greece is always a wonder; a sight you never get tired of.

Once I returned from Greece though, the whirlwind wasn't over.  I had two weeks to find and pack everything I wanted to take with me on my trip to my new home: San Francisco.  Couple that with the fact that, in those two weeks, I had to make the rounds to say goodbye to friends and family.  After all, when you live somewhere all your life and then up and move 2500 miles away, it's not simple.  It was good times to be had, and a reminder of all the friends I have, but I can't say I won't miss them.  It brought to mind all the things I did in Atlanta, and moreso all the things I didn't get around to doing there.  But that's not important, as it's better to be off on a new adventure then stuck in an old rut.

This was followed by a long road trip west.  Now that I've moved and (mostly) unpacked, I'm overwhelmed with my new location.  The Bay Area is both the same and completely different; so much denser than Atlanta yet, if not in San Francisco itself, very suburban.  There are so many people, everywhere, all the time.  And Google is even more interesting than I could have imagined.  A company that almost feels more like an educational environment then a corporation.  It's about learning, doing, and having a good time of it.  This is something I can definitely get used to.

Adventures in Austin

This is a bit old, actually about 4 months old, but it's been sitting here in draft form and I think it deserves a chance to live publicly.  In March, I flew to Austin to interview with National Instruments.  While I ended up not getting anything out of it job-wise, there were many interesting things which I saw and learned on the trip:

Hartsfield-Jackson Aiport:

  • While waiting in line at Security, I swear I saw the mirror-universe Q (with the evil goatee and everything)

  • Apparently, whoever did the voice on the Tram doesn't know the NATO phonetic alphabet.  They got Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Echo right, but decided to use David instead of Delta.  That bothers me.

  • Flying made me wish I had a netbook, and being in a place without free wifi made me wish I had a smartphone.

  • While about to board, a cute girl came to peddle the in-flight internet service.  I wonder if cuteness is a requirement in the job application?

In-flight to Austin:

  • Easy things to see from the air: Wal-mart, Home Depot, Atlanta Motor Speedway

  • Things not easy to see: Mississippi River, mostly saw the oxbow lakes and floodplain, the main river was hard to pinpoint

Austin "International" Airport:

  • They call it International, but I didn't see an international flight listed either time I was there.  Maybe I just didn't look hard enough.

  • I always forget: When it comes to airports, Hartsfield's the exception, not the rule.

On the ride to the Hotel:

  • Drove by a place called... wait for it... BLAZER TAG!  That's right! Where Blades and Lazers combine!

  • I don't like the Texas license plate, there's one reason not to move here.

  • Saw one that said "Poopy" though

  • I don't care if Texas was once technically a nation, that's no reason to fly their flag on the same level as the U.S. flag.  I call it "arrogance"

The Hotel:

  • It was in a place called "The Domain", which seemed to be very similar to Atlantic Station (like an outdoor mall), only larger.

  • The hotel was called the Aloft.  It and the Domain were very trendy.  But even trendy, when it's new(er), got a King Size bed, and an HDTV (complete with a place to connect any device to said TV), I'm gonna feel spoiled.

I probably had more, but this is where I left off when I first wrote this, and four months has trashed my memory.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Migration Woes

So, when I moved to my new server, I did something stupid while migrating the blog. Due to that bout of stupidity, most of the blog entries have become "dereferenced" from their most current version, turning many of them into draft versions of themselves. I might be able to someday save these posts, but for now I'm going to file them away and mark them as "TO-DO"s.

I doubt anyone'll miss them, but if you do, then you need more excitement in your life.

But hey, at least this time the favicon didn't disappear!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The A-Team is Coming!

The A-Team escapes on June 11, 2010

Things you can already tell:

  • Murdock flies the Team through mortal peril at least once

  • B.A. is bad-ass

  • Face gets the girl

  • Hannibal has at least one cigar

  • The Van is still the Van, and it drives through at least one fence

  • So far no reference to "On the Jazz" (just how I like it)

  • And, of course, the Plan comes together