Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Not-So-Brief History of Superman V

With the upcoming release of Superman Returns, people unfamiliar with the inner workings of Hollywood might wonder when this gem of an idea started. Those of us familiar or passingly familiar with the inner workings know that the film has been boiling for a looooooong time now.

If you want details of just how much of a cluster the project was until just a year or two ago, check out this forum post at OO. I knew a lot of the details of the project, but sweet Jesus even I was stunned at the wanton hubris of all involved. The story ends just before work on the final film began (circa 2003-4) so it gives the impression of being a cliffhanger. Rest assured that all of our fears will either come to fruition or be laid to rest next summer. From the teaser and early word from the set, I'm betting that Bryan Singer knocked it out of the park.

My favorite part was Justin Timberlake's response when he was offered the title role. I'll leave it for you to discover.

Be warned that if you plan to read it all, make sure to have at least an hour or so because it is about as lengthy and detailed a story as you'll find. It also should prove once and for all that no matter how high you climb in the world, there is always a group of people higher than you that is collectively dumberer than everyone else you've ever met.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Now That's a Lot of LEGOs

CNN has posted this story about a man who stole $200,000 worth of LEGOs. I'm wondering what the tip-off was that he was the perpetrator, but the life-size LEGO X-Wing on his front lawn might have been a clue. I'm all in favor of playing with the over-priced bricks, but you know you might have too many when the cops take them all away using a dumptruck.

Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving

Happy holidays to everyone in the USA. You Canadian weirdos already had your Thanksgiving, so no turkey for you.

A special shout-out to employers everywhere who insisted their people be at work today even while they themselves are out of town on holiday. Not that we're bitter or anything. Of course, it gives me time to work through inventory which is something I've put off for two months because I needed a few hours when I wouldn't be interrupted to do it.

So at least there's that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ripped From the Headlines...

Two hilarious stories for the viewing public tonight. The first is this story about the dangers of aggressively flashing women and refusing to stop when The Man points a taser at you.

The second is a story I can no longer find the link to on CNN.com. It involved a drunken French woman (redundant, I know) trying to open a plane door to light a smoke. The catch is that the plane was in mid-flight. They always told us second-hand smoke would kill us...

Culinary Delights at the Supermarket

Damn you Blue Bell. Damn you for teasing me with Country Vanilla oh so many moons ago. My Fair Lady grew up eating home made vanilla ice cream, which is the furthest thing Blue Bell's vanilla flavors taste like. They have Homemade Vanilla and French Vanilla, yet a few months back we stumbled onto a new flavor called Country Vanilla. Deciding to take a risk, we picked it up and tasted it when we arrived at Casa De Skim.

The lights that went off in My Fair Lady's eyes as she tasted it were so bright it was as if the sun went supernova in the middle of her brain. It tasted... like honest to goodness homemade vanilla ice cream. Of course, we immediately ate throught it all and went back for more.

As is typical, it was no where to be found. Normally I prefer the richer French Vanilla flavor, but Country Vanilla simply ruled. Wherefore art thou, oh Country Vanilla? Why hast thou forsaken me and vicariously My Fair Lady?

On the flip side, we discovered that Black Forrest roast beef and honey ham is the best meat money can buy. Growing up, My Fair Lady's family would cut French Bread up and make sandwiches out of it using fresh deli meats and cheeses. A huge benefit was brought into our marriage when she introduced this concept to me, and we've been eating them ever since. Oh sure, we alternate different meals every few days just to add some variety to the menu. But we continually go back to roast beef sandwiches with fresh deli cheese, and it's tasty as can be. We always just went with the roast beef they had out, because how many times do you actually focus on the beef beyond whether it's fresh or two days old?

As it turns out, there is a world of difference between meat products. One time when I was shopping there, the clerk asked me if I wanted to try the primo roast beef. Figuring that sampling fresh meat is never a bad thing, I tried out it. I now refuse to touch roast beef that's not Black Forest Primo. Ditto their ham. Just thought I would share tonight.

So a New Console Hit Today...

And I honestly could not care less. Oh sure, the future is now and all that with the Microsoft Xbox 360. But despite claims that the games are super-stupendous-unbelievable gorgeous, I have yet to see an instance of that with the exception of Project Gotham Racing 3. This series has always pushed the envelope, and seems to be damn near photo-realistic with the screens I've seen. But since racing games do exactly zero for me, I don't care how pretty it is because I'll never play it. The release of Call of Duty 2 and Quake 4 for the Xbox 360 don't mean anything to me because I can play both on my PC, and they look the same from the screen-by-screen comparisons I've seen. Oh, and I have actually played Quake 4 on a 360 while I met with Activision in San Francisco back in September and it looked identical to the PC version.

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This does not represent the huge graphical leap forward people claim it does. What it means is that the first generation of games on the new console can match existing top-of-the-line PC hardware, and that's good news for gamers. When the "real" games start hitting for the console, my imaginary target for that is next summer, then we'll start to see the envelope pushed on everything. There is not a second before that point in which I will consider buying the console, not one. Any and all new consoles are great for the early adapters who love to blow their money on high-tech gadgets and gizmos, and they are more than welcome to it.

As for me, I'll hold off until it's been at least 18 months since launch. This is what I do with consoles since I started paying for them myself, and at no point do I intend to change this in my life. It worked wonders for the PS2, and I picked up my Xbox for the sole reason of finally playing Halo, a game I'd followed for years prior to its console-only release. But I won't touch the 360 (or next year's PS3) until after it's been out for so long for one reason: The games.

No console can sell me without at least five games I have to play or I'll die. There were at least that many when I finally picked up my Xbox along with Halo, and I did the same with my PS2. Short of that, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo can all blow smoke as far up my backside as they want and I won't budge. If there are five drop-dead gorgeous absolute must-play titles by this time next year for the 360, then I might waver on my timeline. I do not doubt the console is powerful, quite the contrary. I expect phenomenal things from it in the future, but I don't think the developers have had enough time to really get up to speed on what the box can do. Just look at God of War and tell me you honestly thought the PS2 could pull that off, let alone do so this late in its life.

Now imagine the wonders we'll see two years from now on the 360 and three years from now on the PS3 (if it launches this time in 2006). This generation might push me and others further away from PC gaming if only because I've found the older I get, the less time I have for jacking with upgrades for my computer. I just don't care anymore, and maybe that's because of the day job. But I've built and rebuilt enough computers in my time to where I can do it blindfolded, and I hate doing it at home. My machine has a custom high-end video card that's now a year+ old, which means it's not close to what it used to be. To tell you how out of the loop I am on hardware I honestly don't know what the top card is anymore.

Even worse is I don't care. For $500, I can buy a top-of-the-line graphics card and a top-of-the-line sound card, or a new console and two games.

We'll eventually see where I wind up, and I know I will at least pick up a PS3 someday. Sony's exclusive titles have historically proven too tempting, and that's one thing Microsoft never sold me on this generation. Sure, games looked better on the box, but there were so many more options for the PS2 that it bordered on ridiculous. My number two system remains to be seen, but I will say this much. The 360 has a lot of promise and potential, but if it's not 100% backwards compatible in two years, then I'll keep my current box thank you. Halo 2 is the only game I own currently on Microsoft's BC list, and that game outright sucks. I might one day write up a column on why Halo 2 is one of the worst games I've ever played, but that'll have to wait until I'm in a bad enough mood. In the meantime, I'll watch people fight over 360's and laugh because the great games aren't even out yet and we all know it.

I'm just willing to wait for them to arrive first.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Superman Returns Teaser Trailer + Art

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I'll admit it - I am not the comic book freak I once was. Pretty much my only two comic loves now are Batman and a distant second is Superman. Batman Begins pretty much rules the earth for me, and maybe someday I'll write up my thoughts on why. But for right now, we have the second coming of Superman, and it looks glorious. Check out this teaser:

Superman Returns teaser trailer.

Director Brian Singer has openly admitted to a fetishistic lust for Richard Donner's 1978 original, and at no point in the trailer is that not blatantly obvious. From the Marlon Brando voice-over to John Williams' legendary majestic score, this film looks set to galvanize superhero fans. With the one-two punch of Batman Begins and Superman Returns, Marvel better get on the ball because their butt is about to be kicked hard.

Kong Poster

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Yup, another one tonight. I'm burning through my script and I've decided that whenever I hit a wall, I'll blog for a bit to keep the writing going.

Hey, we both benefit.

As for the poster, it's simple and beautiful. I'm curious about the film more and more, but I can't get over the fact that it's three frickin' hours about a damn big gorilla. The original 1933 version was only 100 minutes and is justifiably hailed as one of the all-time greatest films ever made. And all of us can feel free to ignore the 1970's version despite featuring The Dude versus Charles Grodin.

I know Peter Jackson did wonders with the Lord of the Rings saga, I really get that much. But three hours devoted to an ape?

V For Vendetta Poster

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It kills me to have to shrink the posters I put up here, but I have yet to figure out how to use Image Shack (which lets you create clickable thumbnails) without inadvertantly linking to about a dozen porno sites.

On the flip side, that is one wicked cool poster for a story that pro-government politicians will likely be up in arms over. Not because it shows a future where the British government is totalitarian, but because the lead character is essentially a terrorist who works to bring said government to its knees. Frankly, I can't wait to see it, even if it looks like From Hell crossed with The Matrix.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

All Hail Vin Diesel

Something I never thought I'd write, personally. Just thought about sharing the Vin Diesel Random Fact Generator with the three people that read this blog. A sample fact goes thusly:
Vin Diesel is credited with the phrase "revenge is a dish best served cold" when he physically manifested the idea of revenge into a dinner plate, froze it, and then beat his enemy to death with it.
Just keep hitting refresh and you're guaranteed at least ten more kinds of genius contributions like that.

Script Writing is Teh Hard

It's been so many years since I wrote a feature length screenplay that I'd honestly forgotten how. So it was that Mother Dearest handed me a slip of paper she'd clipped from the Dallas Morning News that told of a Hollywood screenwriter holding an extended education class at Richland College on the art of screen writing. So I go and sign up for it figuring it can't hurt. At the very least, it would kick my mind back into the right place for scripting.

Here's a quickie synopsis of how I am. I live, sleep, eat, breathe and love movies above all other things in this world, My Fair Lady excluded. Quentin Tarantino may love just about every grindhouse-kung-fu--exploitation flick ever made, with a particular emphasis on Italian crime cinema, but for me it's everything across the board. Name the flick and I've either seen it or heard about it, unless you truly reach into the realm of the obscure. Cinema is my second language, and has been since I was shot in the head with a movie as a small child. Like so many would-be film makers of my generation, I was bit hard by the movie making bug courtesy of George Lucas and Star Wars, and since then I go out of my way to watch anything and everything I can get my hands on.

In short, I know my stuff when it comes to film and television. But I've been out of the screen writing process for so long that the precise format had been lost to the sands of time, and I felt it was time to reclaim it.

Hence, I joined the class and damn if I haven't loved it. Tomorrow night is the final class and I'm currently on page 45 of my screenplay. It should be about double that, but circumstances at both work and home have taken their toll on my availability to crank out 15 pages per week as mandated by the professor.

The plus side is he still holds an informal discussion for would-be writers on Friday nights, so it's not like I'm without future options. He also loves my writing style, and recognizes that I know my stuff on what should be cut and what should be added to scripts. It's fun talking cinema with him, especially since he believes all films since 1970 are crap. While I won't argue that there are more than a few duds out there, I was half-tempted to throw Marnie back in his face.

Bonus points if you've seen that one.

But good Lord I'd forgotten how much I truly loved writing. Don't let the infrequent updates fool you - this blog has frequently kept me sane. Very shortly in fact, I'll be devoting a lot more time to it and to my personal writings, but saying more now would not be advisable. I'm also planning on talking more about my DVD collection and movies in general to just keep the creative juices flowing as much as possible. Who knows what might happen?

I may even finish a full screenplay this year as a sort of early Christmas present to myself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sony's Early Christmas Present to the Masses

By now, just about everyone has heard about the nifty little rootkit that the latest Sony CDs auto-install when you pop them into your PC. It manages to fit right into that nebulous legal area where law enforcement thinks its against the law, but has a tough damn time proving it.

Welcome to the wide world of rapidly changing technology, and law enforcement's efforts to stay only two years behind. The short version of what Sony CDs install is software that is both invicible to users and which cannot be removed. Oh, and anti-virus software won't pick it up. Should you manage to find it, forcibly removing it will more often than not result in a full system clustersnafu. My favorite part about this?

Sony not only did it as a means of copy protection (thus hurting people who had legally purchased the music CDs), but they didn't cop to the fact that they did it until after they were caught.

And now hackers have already released the first virus based on Sony's toolkit. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Sony decided to release a removal kit.

According to this story, the removal tool only opens a few more security holes than the inital rootkit did. Not to mention the fact that once the initial rootkit is uninstalled, the uninstaller itself remains on your machine.

There are so many things wrong with how Sony is handling this it borders on parody. Unfortunately, it seems that the larger a company grows, the dumber it gets. Call it the inverse law of success. As it stand now, I don't think Sony is going to quite get the message until one of two things happen:

1) Microsoft patches Windows to the point where nothing like this can be installed on any machine running Windows, period

2) Sony gets slapped with a class-action lawsuit the likes of which its never even heard of.

Considering the way Sony has handled this, I'm actually betting the only question is which of those two examples happens first.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Best Use of Board Gaming Ever

Thanks to CdS reader Nathan for pointing out this site which shows exactly what Star Wars geeks with a goal can accomplish. If you're even remotely into tabletop games, this is an absolute must-view. Here's why:

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IQ Limit on Running Your Own Business?

The longer I work for my current boss, the more convinced I become that I'm too smart to run my own business. Every decision he makes seems intentionally calculated to be the dumbest move possible. Take tonight for example - he has a big presentation to make in Chicago at the end of the week, so he has a bunch of us gather together print materials to send out overnight. Not that bad, you might say. Add this gem to it - our ftp site went down on Friday, and he decides to shoot down all of my suggestions at moving on to someone else because he wants things exactly the same and doesn't want to have to pay for a solution.

Here's the fun part - the ftp site may as well have been a server farm in some guy's living room. That's what I pegged it as six months ago when they stopped communicating with us all together. I immediately told the boss this and that we needed a backup plan, or to move on to anywhere else quickly. Since we were paying $150 a month in hosting fees for a ton of storage and bandwidth usage, his answer was that we'd "ride it out."

I guess that horse went belly-up Friday. Trigger is no more, sayeth Teh Lord. Amen.

On the flip side, I located a bunch of other streaming media vendors today while under extreme pressure from El Jefe to do 100 other things all at the same time. I frequently wonder if he's on the same planet as the rest of us, because while he may see himself as a visionary, his staff views him as a ferret on speed with about half the IQ.

Oh what fun it is to ride in this one horse open sleigh. Especially when the horse is dead weight dragging the sleigh down the hill at terrifying speeds and the only thing you can do is hang on and shriek like a little girl.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Further Stem Cell Development

CNN.com has this story that is chock full of future potential. Imagine a world where stem cells could be bio-engineered and programmed to repair damaged organs. People talk about the need to clone things like internal organs, but let me use a dear friend of mine as an example of why this is not the best way to go.

My dear friend was born with a defective heart and through her life has experienced numerous surgeries to keep a failing organ afloat. Were doctors able to clone it, they would essentially be replacing one failed organ for another. If, on the other hand, we had about 50 years of tech gains from the story linked above, then something else entirely might be possible.

Stem cells are essentially blank documents that your body programs as needed. As listed in the story above, scientists have injected a person's own stem cells into their heart to help repair the muscle after an attack. What if scientists were able to bio-engineer stem cells so that they could not only repair damage, but also entirely rebuild an organ? Then scientists could take a person's stem cells, do some funky sci-fi magic to it, grow a brand new, healthy organ that wouldn't be rejected by a person's immune system, then replace the failed organ with the new one.

Presto, we're one stem closer to immortality. At the very least, this would save literally millions of lives from the simple fact that humans are, as a species, susceptible to any number of illnesses and defects that shorten our life spans. I hope that what we're seeing now are the first steps towards gains in health care technology.

My Fair Lady just pointed out that grocery stores are starting to use lasers to burn onto fruit information like which country it was picked in, what time it was picked in, blood type, favorite color, and most romantic date. Isn't technology grand?

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Kong is King... For Three Hours

Here is the official trailer for Peter Jackson's latest love letter to cinema, King Kong. While impressive as hell, I can't shake the fact that it's a three hour movie about a giant ape run amok. I'm a long-time lover of the original black&white film, but that sure as hell wasn't three hours because there isn't three hours of story there.

Then again, I happily spent 9 hours+ following two dwarves who have to drop a gold ring into some lava to blow up a flaming eyeball, so what do I know?