John August (writer of The Nines, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory among others) has a blog. It’s a really good blog that I’ve been reading for quite a while now. Recently, of course, he’s been on strike, as he’s a member of the Writer’s Guild of America. While he’s not writing movies and such right now, he is writing about the strike, and it’s all very interesting.
Watched two movies last night (really, this is what holidays are for). The first was Beowulf and Grendel, a somewhat plodding and gritty retelling of the first two bits of the epic tale of Beowulf (as you may have guessed). The second was The 13th Warrior a much more exciting film also more-or-less about Beowulf, this time covering the third bit of the poem (sort of, in a way, in that it mentions a dragon). Fun, lots of swords and battle and general squalor, and, as an added bonus, a bit of Antonio Banderas.
We’ve been watching the Zatoichi movies lately (we’ve watched the first three now), and they’re awesome.
That was gorramn awesome, go see it. I’m gonna go see it again tomorrow.
Ballad of Serenity
Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care, I’m still free
You can’t take the sky from me
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain’t coming back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can’t take the sky from me
There’s no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can’t take the sky from me….
Go see the movie. Go go go!!
Boolean and I just finished watching The Elephant Man, starring John Hurt and directed by David Lynch. This is an utterly phenomenal movie, telling (part of) the story of Joseph Merrick. It’s tragic and heartbreaking, while also somewhat uplifting. I won’t bother with any more trite cliches, I’ll just strongly recommend you rent it sometime soon.
Last night, somewhat on a whim, I did a garlic-rosemary sirloin tip roast with potatoes, onions, and asparagus, accompanied by a nice bottle of wine from Portugal (Quinta D Encontro ‘Bairrada Superior’ 2001, $19.95 @ LCBO). Sirloin Tip roasts are roughly half the price of Prime Rib, which is a bonus, and I think Sirloin Tip actually makes for better sandwiches. Tonight’s dinner was leftovers, transformed into total yumminess as Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches with Cordon Bleu Beef Gravy, extremely fresh thick-sliced white bread from the local bakery, and fresh, very lightly steamed, peas. So, a $22 hunk of meat from the local grocery fed 4 people for a nice proper meal, and had enough leftovers for 3 more sandwiches (I’m having the last for lunch tomorrow).
A bunch of us have been playing a strange little web-based space game called Ogame lately. It’s interesting, fun, not very time consuming (unless you’re phik), and a strangely interesting diversion every so often. It’s not for the weak of heart, however, as there’s basically no documentation. Still, if you like space games (or even just resource management/building games with an exploration/piracy twist), you might get a kick out of it.
Tried reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake. Didn’t make it very far. It…I dunno. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time, but after an hour’s reading, it still felt very much like he was just rambling aimlessly. Felt much more like a drunken weblog than a novel, I’m sad to say. Abandoned it.
Started reading Oblivion, a recent book of short stories by David Foster Wallace. I’m only about halfway through the first, but I’m enjoying the hell out of it. It’s a bit of a jarring leap from Roald Dahl to this, I find, if only because Dahl’s stories are actually short, while Wallace’s first in this volume is 64 pages long or so.
For those of you who don’t know, I work for the Mozilla Foundation, managing the Devmo project. It’s coming along nicely, but we’re always interested in having more people come on board to help out. If you’re interested in Web or XUL development, drop by the Devmo Wiki and take a look around. The place is still a bit rough around the edges as we’re still officially in “alpha” stage (which, here, really means we’re still building stuff), but we’re hoping to shape things up for a beta in the near future. Comments, suggestions, editorial help, and content are always welcome.
Someone has way too much time on their hands. Nice replica armour, tho.
Lots of little things to talk about.
HHGttG: The Movie
I finally went to see the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie. I remain ambivalent. I didn’t hate it, by any means, but I also didn’t particularly like it. The new Marvin is cute, yes, but didn’t quite convey the utter pathos of the Marvin in the TV Series. The movie’s Ford simply doesn’t hold a candle to the TV Series’ Ford. I actually dislike the movie’s Zaphod, while the TV Series’ Zaphod remains one of my favourite ne’er-do-well characters of all time. Also, for obvious reasons*, I do not like Vogons and am somewhat upset that they were given such a central role in the movie. All in all, I found myself wishing the parts that overlapped the TV Series were more like the TV Series, and the new parts just didn’t have the same comedic zing I’m accustomed to in Adam’s work.
As someone else (somewhere) said: It started as a radio show, so dialogue is everything. They butchered the dialogue, and so a lot of the “funny” just got mislaid. That said, if the rumours are true and they do turn the movie into a trilogy (of however many parts) I will go see them all. In the meantime, however, I will be rereading the books and rewatching the TV Series (now out on DVD). If you haven’t seen the TV Series, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you shell out $25 and order the DVDs. It’s really, really funny.
The novelty of the new Tiger features has worn off so I can be a little more objective about it now.
Dashboard: The eye-candy is nice, but overall the usefulness is low. Widgets tend to eat system resources like crazy, so I’ve minimized the ones I have running to: World Clock (x2), the Dictionary/Thesaurus, and the weather widget. The others don’t provide enough actual value to make up for the system resources they suck up like little sponges.
Spotlight: I use this all the damned time. Cmd-Space brings up the Spotlight search, type in the name of an app, then hit Cmd-Enter and the app will launch. This is what I largely used Quicksilver for, so I’ve been able to get rid of Quicksilver, freeing up more resources for other things (like browsers and email clients and things I actually use all the time).
Smart Folders: I haven’t really mastered these yet, so don’t use them too much at the moment. Where “too much” actually means “at all”. I need to sort out how to use Automator to meta-tag my files in bunches. Once I do that, Smart Folders will become much more useful to me.
BluePhonElite (3rd party): My trial ran out and I haven’t purchased a proper copy yet. Downside: I have to use my phone’s keypad to write SMSs. Upside: my phone’s battery lasts 3-4x longer when bluetooth is turned off. I doubt I will buy a license.
DragThing: Cute, but largely pointless. I used it for a little while to make really complex docks full of things that would let me organize and launch all kinds of applications. Spotlight’s search-then-launch feature obviates the need for that. Got rid of it and freed up more system resources. My regular dock is also back to a nice manageable size of 12 icons (Finder, XChat, Firefox, Thunderbird, iChat, AdiumX, SubEthaEdit, Terminal, Calculator, iCal, System Prefs).
I picked up Guild Wars last weekend and have been playing semi-regularly since. It’s a very fun game, but also very different.
First off, there’s no monthly fee. This is Highly Compelling for the obvious reasons. I finally unsubscribed from World of Warcraft after not logging in to seriously play for 3-4 months. During that 3-4 months, in spite of putting in roughly 4-5 hours of play time, Blizzard hit my credit card for roughly ~$80. Screw that. No monthly fee means no serious commitment, no pressure to “get your money’s worth”, and so forth.
Second, everything outside of common areas (towns) is an instance. That means when you’re out being an Intrepid Adventurer doing quests and killing critters and getting loot, you (or your party) are the only players there. No killstealing, no camping spawns, no random jerks being jerks, etc. That part of it plays exactly as a single- or limited-multiplayer-game would play. Common areas are for recruiting people into your party, trading, chatting, etc. I actually complained about this in Anarchy Online, but it doesn’t bother me in this game. I’m not sure why.
Third, if forced to describe it by comparing it to other games, I would have to say it’s like a cross between DiabloII, NeverWinter Nights, Dungeon Siege, and a MMORPG.
- Henchmen make it like NWN
- The loot system and linearity of areas makes it like Diablo II
- The Henchmen and linearity and loot and general appearance of avatars make it like Dungeon Siege
- The MMORPG part makes it like a MMORPG.
- None of these comparisons really do it justice.
Anyhow, it’s fun, it’s different, it’s free online play. If you like these sorts of games at all, I recommend it highly.
* They did blow up the planet, you know.
1) Sin City is great. Go see it. I’m already looking forward to getting the DVD and watching it again, then watching the commentary track. Usually I don’t care about commentary tracks, but this one will be interesting. It’s really a piece of art.
2) There are a lot of people on the internet who seem to care way too much about really stupid things. The examples of this are endless, so I won’t bother going into specifics. Mostly I just want to say that a lot of folks just need to get a grip.
3) There are a lot of people on the internet who care a great deal about things that aren’t so stupid. Sifting these few delicious grains out of the deluge of chaff is hard. I’m becoming increasingly impatient with the internet and the content it provides. We need some sort of system that can help with this. Google is good at what it does, but it does not help sort by quality. Technorati and Blogdex and other similar services also suffer from the quantity-over-quality disease. There has to be a better way.
4) House M.D. is a good TV show. You should watch it. Hopefully it won’t get cancelled.
5) The new Battlestar Galactica, I’ve decided after long consideration, is the best sci-fi television series in history. I’m not kidding. It blows all the Star Treks clear out of the water, and I actually liked some of those. Firefly is the only other sci-fi series I can think of that even comes close.
6) I am sad that Enterprise has been cancelled, but not nearly so sad as I was about Firefly.
7) I wish the Max Headroom Show would just come out on DVD already. Come on, people.
8) Over the past couple of years I’ve realized that geek culture is now mainstream. Games, Comic Books, Bad TV Shows, Computers, and all that. I guess there were a lot more of us holed up in our parents’ basements playing Space Invaders, reading X-Men, programming NPC-generators on our Commodore 64s, and watching Kung-Fu than I thought. I wonder what constitutes “geek culture” now that will become mainstream when today’s young geek hits her 30s? I bet I wouldn’t recognize it if it hit me in the face.
9) I like ecto.
10) RSS feeds change how I use the internet. I am not entirely sure I like these changes. With RSS feeds, I do not browse, I scan. I also find myself relying on them, when there are a large number of sites out there that do not have them or to which I haven’t subscribed. Push technology just ain’t all that, no more now than it was in 1997. There’s a lesson in here somewhere about quantity over quality again, and how the sheer quantity of poorly-filtered (it’s not really unfiltered any more) information forces us to skim reams and reams of garbage simply because we don’t have time to dig through it all to find the stuff that’s actually worth reading.
11) We need much, much better filters. Also, librarians.