December 29, 2006


Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 7:11 am

Blogger has introduced Post Labels and Label-specific Site Feeds. If you are not interested in Linux device drivers and are absolutely certain that you never will be, you might like to try subscribing to: Site Feed (NotTech)

If you think I’m particularly fascinating on the subject of politics, you might try:
Site Feed (Politics)

If you’re in the market for videos of men getting hit in the crotch with a baseball and white men who should know better saying “Nigger” over and over, try:
Site Feed (YouTube)
(That one is going to be really low frequency.)

And if you wait up every night for a new post on device drivers, try:
Site Feed (Tech)

NOTE TO BLOGGER: It would be cool if the Site Feeds could add and subtract tags rather than just subscribing to single tags. E.g., instead of a “NotTech” tag, I could have a “ProcrastiBlog minus Tech” feed. Or “Politics plus YouTube”. Or whatever.


Children of Men

Filed under: Battlestar Galactica, Not Tech — Chris @ 6:00 am

Wow, that was a good picture. Towards the end, it has what may be one of the most suspenseful sequences I’ve ever seen in a movie: what feels like (but isn’t) one long hand-held shot of Clive Owen moving step-by-step through Hell on Earth, trying not to get brained or eviscerated just long enough to make sure Humanity’s Last Glimmer of Hope* isn’t lost forever—a sequence which will tie your guts up in knots only to have them unravel for Spoiler-Free reasons immediately thereafter. All of which, naturally, brought to mind the wise words of William Adama:

Why are we as a people worth saving? We still commit murder because of greed and spite and jealousy, and we still visit all of our sins upon our children. We refuse to accept the responsibility for anything we’ve done… Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.

Maybe people this sad, sorry, venal, and fucked-up (you know, people like us) just aren’t fit to survive?

* One interesting thing about this movie is that the MacGuffin** is not Humanity’s Only Salvation, but merely its Last Glimmer of Hope. This is not exactly a hopeful movie—it posits that the entire world irretrievably goes down the crapper sometime around 2008. Which is pretty ballsy pessimism and, sadly enough, seems about right.

** It occurs to me that the term MacGuffin is not applicable here as the precise nature of humanity’s Last Glimmer of Hope is quite directly relevant to the plot of this motion picture. I rule this observation inadmissible on the grounds that debating what is or is not a MacGuffin is both my and Alfred Hitchcock’s least favorite conversation ever.

The Donner Cut

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 4:38 am

To anyone who fondly recalls Superman II as the reigning best super-powered superhero movie 1980-2002, I can heartily recommend Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.

As you probably don’t and probably shouldn’t know, large portions of Superman II were shot by director Richard Donner at the same time as the original film. For some reason I don’t know and refuse to find out, Donner was fired sometime after the first movie was released and Richard Lester was hired to finish the second film. This new release of the film is an attempt to reconstruct Donner’s original “vision” using some original unused footage, some new effects, etc. The result is a new movie with the same basic story and a totally different, less campy, feel. About a quarter of the original movie has disappeared and another large chunk has been replaced with similar scenes that were shot by Donner then re-shot by Lester.

The main difference fans will notice is that almost everything that was corny about the Lester cut has been removed. This includes: Lois Lane and the terrorists atop the Eiffel Tower, lots of silly Lois & Clark antics, the weird part where either the Fortress of Solitude is also a House of Mirrors or Superman has the power of projecting three-dimensional images of himself around at will, and the Magic Kiss of Forgetfulness. The corny scenes where Superman-as-Clark-Kent gets beat up at a truck stop then returns to exact his revenge remain.

And the corniest thing about the first movie has been resurrected and tacked onto the second: in place of the Magic Kiss of Forgetfulness, we have Superman turning the Earth backwards to reverse time. (This makes Lois forget his secret identity, but it doesn’t make the asshole at the truck stop forget he beat up Clark Kent.) According to the Special Features, Donner “envisioned” this as the end of Superman II and used it as the end of the first picture for unspecified reasons. So, you see, in the Donner “vision”, these two movies don’t end the same way: the real first movie (that doesn’t exist) has some other unspecified ending (which is awesome) and Superman II is the one that ends with the time reversal.

Bogus ending-ology aside, I think I finally may be able to forgive Donner for having Superman reverse time. I’ve figured out what he’s up to: he’s being all Silver Age-y. This is backed up by the other major new scene in The Donner Cut—the Silver Age-iest scene in the Superman film canon (not the less Silver Age-y for being cobbled together from pre-production screen tests). Instead of discovering that Clark Kent is Superman after he stumbles into an open fireplace and emerges unscorched, Lois Lane discovers Superman’s secret identity by shooting Clark Kent in the chest. Being unwounded, Clark Kent removes his glasses, broadens his shoulders, and stops acting like a douchebag, thereby revealing his true identity! But, aha!, Lois Lane reveals the gun was loaded with blanks! Superman is so gosh-danged bullet-proof that he can’t even tell if he’s been hit by a bullet! Yikes!

The only problem with this movie? Not Silver Age-y enough. When the real Superman wants to convince Lois Lane he’s not Clark Kent he doesn’t reverse time, he fakes his own death, or murders her, or fakes his own death then moves in with Jimmy Olsen, cub reporter. The important thing is that somebody actually or fakely dies. (On the subject of Jimmy Olsen, I just can’t help but point out: Superman is a Freak-Out.)

[UPDATE] It should be noted, time-travel-wise, that instead of reversing time by several minutes to prevent the state of California from bonking Lois Lane on the head, as in the original movie, in Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, Superman reverses time by several days, so that nothing in the entire movie ever actually happened*. Great Scott, you can’t get Silver Age-ier than that!

* The actual ontological status of the events of the film is unclear.

[UPDATE 2] Oh, and another thing: can we get some Crisis on Infinite Earths-level brain-power brought to bear on the continuity between Supermans I-IV and Superman Returns? Is the act of coitus implied in Superman II meant to lead to the super-baby of Superman Returns? If so, are surly truckers and Superman’s semen the only things on Earth powerful enough not to be affected by the Great Un-Happening of Everything in the Movie? Did Superman see the box office returns of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and fly backwards around the Earth until Bryan Singer signed on to direct a pre/se/Earth Prime-quel?

December 5, 2006

Nigga, please

Filed under: Not Tech, YouTube — Chris @ 5:21 pm

Brotha got played. (Via Ogged)

[UPDATE] Did that embed work for you? Here’s the link.

[UPDATE 12/29/2006] The embed never seemed to work until I changed the Blogger template for the blog. That’s odd.

[UPDATE 12/29/2006 Pt 2] Ah, Blogger’s new pedantic-er Publish routine complained about an unmatched embed tag in the YouTube HTML. Maybe that was it?

December 3, 2006

Quizzes I’ve Taken

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 11:32 pm

Over the last few days, I’ve established that I don’t have an accent, that I love terrorists, and (via Malcolm “Blink” Gladwell) that I’m slightly racist (but less so than the average person).

I suggest taking this last quiz, because it’s interesting to think about what, if anything, it really says about your unconscious attitudes. Go here, click “I wish to proceed,” and choose a test. I chose “Race IAT.”

Comments below are SPOILERS. Don’t read unless you’ve taken the test or aren’t going to.

I’m not entirely convinced the test uncovers hidden racial assumptions—it may be a bit of a parlor trick. I’m not sure if the test always proceeds in the same order, but when I took it it went in four phases: first I was asked to “sort” black from white faces into left and right categories; then “good” and “bad” words; then, the categories became “white OR good” and “black OR bad”; then, “black OR good” and “white OR bad”. In each case where I made a mistake, I believe it was that I tried to assign a “good” word to the “white OR bad” category. This is supposed to be telling, that I was having trouble associating “good” with “black.” But I’m not sure I wasn’t just having difficulty adapting my hand-eye coordination to the new category scheme. I made a few mistakes at the beginning and fewer as I went on.

Anybody else who took it want to weigh in?

Netflix Queue Manager

Filed under: Tech — Chris @ 4:48 am

If you have more than three movies in your Netflix queue, than you need this: drag and drop queue management that works with Firefox or IE. (We actually stumbled across this because H wanted to “shuffle” our queue, which is just ridiculous. Some people…) Why isn’t this the default Netflix interface?

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