Monday, December 27, 2010

A Gnomish Christmas: The Gnome Who Fell To Earth

I first met Gniel shortly after Thanksgiving. I thought it was an oversized golf tee, but closer inspection revealed it to be a gnome stuck headfirst. He was mumbling incoherently about "parachute failure" so I took him indoors. Lucky for him, he had landed on a turned up patch of dirt, so no damage was done.

We soon became friends, with Gniel behaving like a typical gnome: Eating endless cups of 'Gnome Kitchens' cream of turnip soup while watching the Gem Shopping Network. (He helped me pick out this eudialyte and silver pendant.)

But there was other behavior as well.

He insisted on driving around the neighborhood street by street. What was a gnome doing in pancake flat Desolation County anyway? Then his friends started showing up. Great. Freeloaders.

This wasn't looking good.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

We need to rewind a bit.

Ok, let's rewind more than five minutes...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Gnomish Christmas: The Assassin

A Gnomish Christmas Story

It is Gnomish custom about this time of year to make an offering to the Spirit of Peace, Prosperity, Happiness or similar, all depending on your kingdom and village. In the olden times, the traditional gift was a brace of goblin heads, but these days any pretty flower will do.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 20, 2010

At The Movies

Went and saw the latest "Narnia" film today. At first I was going to wait for the DVD rental, because from the previews it appeared that it would be overcrowded with special effects, but that was not the case. Overall I thought it pretty good, but I have a few minor quibbles.

The written stories are actually pretty short; the Narnia stores are some of the few in which the screenwriter has to actually add material to make it movie length rather than slice off portions to make it fit. That doesn't excuse the total rewrite we saw on screen. Towards the end, it really didn't make sense. A swordquest? Boatloads of people being sacrificed to a green fog? Sea serpents as monsters from the id? Really?

There is also a scene where Aslan removes Eustace's dragon body by roaring and clawing the beach. In the book, he does so by direct application. To do the former misses the point, I think, but I guess you have to adjust to modern taste.

Special effects are good. CGI is getting more lifelike with each passing day, but like most it can be uneven at times with some effects looking Amiga-ish. I also object to the inclusion of stabby at the screen segments in order to justify a 3D surcharge.

Acting was flawless. Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes returned to their roles and were able to advance their characters in a smooth and natural manner. Will Poulter was a good choice for Eustace Scrubb and he should do well in the next film. Kudos to the filmmakers for not making Reepicheep as annoying as I'd imagined him to be.

Slap an arbitrary B+ on it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cool Old People II

  That's our local (and only) washer dryer repair man.  Ninety years young.  Wrestled that dryer out of his pickup bed and up three steps all by himself.  He asked me what I was going to do when he died.  I replied that I guessed I would have to go get a book.

  We really have too much of a throw away culture.  It's not all our fault though.  We were talking about replacing a dial on top of the washer and he asked me how much I thought it would cost.  I guessed $50; he said closer to $150.  All because "They" want you to buy a new one.  I suspect that those days may not last forever.  Economy being the way it is, I figure more people will start demanding repair rather than replacement.  Probably happening already; I understand the fix it business is being recommended as a wise career choice for young people. 


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blood For Oil

  A lot of the revisionist history about the attack on Pearl Harbor is actually pretty old; charges that President Roosevelt had foreknowledge of the attack and allowed it to happen started the day after the attack and have never gone away.  

  There is also a popular theory that the Japanese were really the victims of American aggression. The United States cutting off supplies of vital resources, especially oil, was an offensive act that forced the Japanese to attack lest their industry, therefore economy and people, suffer.  I've found this theory particularly interesting because it gets trotted out with predictable regularity during online discussions about American policy and shows just how compartmentalized people's thinking can become.  

  Typically, someone will make this charge.  I wait, then ask them to explain more fully.  After they do so, I state "So you think America is justified in invading Iraq for oil."   I can hear the gears grinding.  Fine sport.

  What's odd is that they just recoil and make a different charge.  I was on a forum in which a woman stated that the U.S. was using the International Monetary Fund (Jooos!) to impoverish North Korea, which was why North Korea was so belligerent.   I thought I spoiled the party by pointing out that North Korea didn't belong to the IMF.

  Blink. Blink.  Whirrr...

  "The AmeriKKKans are keeping the North Koreans poor by preventing them from joining the IMF."


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brad Gets Mentioned In Dispatches

  One of our vendors was putting around on his rounds when he saw a man stumbling around in the median.  Being a responsible dude, Brad stops his truck and tries to get the fellow to understand that he is in danger.  Brad finally calls an ambulance and tells us (how he found out I didn't know) that the man had been eating pain patches.  Eating pain patches.  Never heard of such a thing, but I'm wondering what they will rooter out of the drains at work.

  Anyway, well done Brad for looking out for your fellow man.  There is still decency out there if you want to look for it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why Socialism Doesn't Work

  Because if you don't own it, you don't feel responsible for it. That's what makes people feel they can throw whatever they want down a commode somewhere else. Very busy, Christmas is piling up everywhere, and I get to spend the afternoon plunging. Whatever was in the pipe didn't block it all the way, so it was moving from toilet to toilet. Get one draining, and another would back up. Got the bucket and filled every toilet with water in the hopes that the pressure would force the object on it's way. Fail. Grabbed everyone, put a plunger in his or her hand and told them to pick their toilet. "All together now! One, two three, plunge!  One, two, three, plunge!"

  That didn't work either.  In fact, water started spouting from the floor drain.  Nothing to do now but wait until Monday, call HQ and ask them to call a plumber, wait for the plumber to come out, plumber has to give corporate an estimate, corporate has to give permission to repair...

  I could have stayed and plunged some more, but it's not my toilet.  

  Was going to take a picture, but figured describing it was gross enough.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Captain Kirk vs. Alien! Cue The Fight Music!

  Sadly no, but that was what I was expecting when I first came across Mario Bava's 1965 space horror film Planet of the Vampires.  The rumor was that this film was the inspiration to Alien, and when I saw stills of the parsimonious set design and Barry Sullivan headlining, I knew I was on to something special.

  The story opens with two spacecraft descending to a remote planet to investigate a distress signal.  When they reach the surface after a rough ride down, the Captain of the Argos notices that the rest of the crew is acting a little weird, namely trying to kill one another.  Captain Markary solves the problem by single handedly beating the sense back into them with his fists.  

  Once things get settled, the crew sets off to find their sister ship, the Galliot.  They didn't have someone with the sheer willpower of a Captain Markary aboard, so everyone is dead.  They also locked the door before killing each other, so everyone turns around to get a cutting torch.  No, not everyone.  Someone has to stay behind and guard the place...  When they get back, the guard is missing, but so are the dead people.  

  By this time, Markary suspects something is up, and his fears are confirmed when the crew start to see dead people walking around.  To make a short story even shorter, the planet is inhabited by non corporeal aliens who can inhabit an unconscious or deceased body and need the bodies to fly the spaceships which will get them off their dying world.

   Markary isn't having any of it, but the aliens are always one step ahead.  For example, after he tells the guards "Shoot at anything,"  A couple of possessed bodies appear shouting "Don't shoot!"  They are able to talk their way aboard the Argos, where they promptly steal the Illudium Q-36 explosive space mod-u-la-tor.  Markay and one of the female crew then have to go steal it back so they can make their getaway.  

Note time!

  The women are actually useful.  Sure they put their hands on their cheeks and scream "AAAAAaaaa...!"  But they also go "...Wait!  I've a laser gun!"  PewPewPew!  Neither one of them has the slightest hesitation in heating up their former comrades, and they also run like they are being chased by the undead, not trying to fly by flapping their wrists.

  Why is every important device something you can unfasten and carry under your arm?  I remember Kirk stole the Romulan cloaking device by picking it up and walking off.  

  Loved the high collar vinyl/leather spacesuits.  Suspect future spacesuits will look more like this than the bulky ones we usually see.  

  The Alien connection rumor probably started from a section where the crew is crawling around a derelict spacecraft complete with giant skeletons.  My Star Trek connection comes from the unbelievable cheapness of the production.  It looks like an episode stretched to movie length.  Think "The Lights of Zetar" made scary.

  Cheap, but it still looks good.  Bava made the absolute most out of his budget.  A master of his craft doesn't need money.

  This is a good movie.  Forbidden Planet it ain't, but it deserves to be better known.