Monday, March 31, 2008
Heinlein was writing in the midst of space exploration, the changing of American mores and social norms, and the Cold War. When I read his novels, I find his type of science fiction to be more speculative fiction. Stranger in a Strange Land (SISL) has many elements that are purely fantasy, but when he describes say the development & history of a colony on the Moon in one novel, or how the government and a corporation would pick the first astronauts to Mars in SISL, it feels authentic. The intense advertising and consumer culture depicted in this book do not feel so far fetched when you look around today.
Central to the book is Heinlein's depcition of the 'alien' brought back from Mars. It is actually a man born on Mars from the first flight crew 20 years later. Born a human in an alien culture and then returned home to be an alien in 'his' society, Valentine Michael Smith is a rich character. The character grows, changes and develops in a well paced fashion. I would have loved to read more about Mike in his mature stage. Heinlein's aliens not only look different but have completely different ideas of time, space, value, etc. They are not as humanoid as most aliens are in sci fi novels. I praise that portrait of aliens as well as the portrait of aliens who do not do things we would deem good or acceptable. The aliens are not shown as superior or inferior to humans. In newer sci fi novels, it always seems like the authors are making some dumb ass multiculturalism point to show them either as superior to humans or inferior. In the instance where they are shown as inferior, it is usually because they exhibit some feature of a certain human group (Nzis) and are driven to eradicate/battle anyone they meet. I like to think that aliens might already know about us and are choosing to avoid us. If you have not read SISl, please check it out.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
A major system is trying to break off from the Republic and bring with it smaller systems that supply it some basics. Obi Wan Kenobi and his peer Qui Gon Jin are sent to help the local Jedi try to retain influence and help the Republic forces battling irregulars. There's some battles to show the Jedi kick butt. Obi Wan ends up tracking a ship that is gunrunning and smuggling goods for the irregulars. Despite their Jedi mind tricks, they can't dissuade the pilot from getting through. This would be a space flight scene for popcorn fun. Obi Wan mind locks onto this pilot, and the other Jedi end up busting up the shipment and meet up with the pilot. The pilot is Anakin Skywalker. Skywalker fights and flies for whomever pays the best. Anakin joins the Jedi in a ground battle, and Obi Wan notices how Anakin never misses with his aim. During a lull, Obi Wan and Qui Gon explain to him the Force and how Anakin is unknowingly using it to aim in the heat of battle. They do some small Force "lift up rock special effect gimmick" practice with him.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
One aspect of Bond movies that I truly love are the horribly delightful names the writers give the Bond Girls. Great eye candy, but the names just send it to a new level. My Bond Girl post will not have hot chick photos in it. Not here. Bond women are usually classy dames that you would drink expensive liquor with and they would wear French perfume and lots of weird clothing. They might stab you int he back if you cross them. They can be tough and they can be femme. It's perfect to infect teenage viewers with an idea that when they grow up women will be like this. Let's break it down into best names and personal favorites for talents.
Best Bond Girl Names
Honorable Mentions: Honey Rider; this is a great name to give for table reservations. Dr. Molly Warmflash; this is so incredibly dumb that I don't think they actually say the name in the film. I think it's just in the script.
5. Octopussy - Now this was just atrocious. Yet, when you watch the terrible action film, you have to laugh whenever you hear them say Octopussy. It kicks the entire film into a new stratosphere of comedy.
4. Domino Derval - If I ever met anyone named Domino, I would automatically think they were cool. It is such an awesome name. I wish we had named our cat Domino (he's black and white). How did they name a female character Domino? Great choice by the writers and producers to do something different.
3. Dr. Holly Goodhead - Astronaut/scientist from Moonraker. I think I've been in men's clubs and heard "Next up on stage, guyyyyys put your hands to-geth-er for Doc-terrrr Good-head".
2. Dr. Christmas Jones - This was Denise Richards' nuclear physicist character. First, someone that stupid playing a nuclear scientist is too much to handle. Throw in Christmas as a first name, and you can't help but laugh whenever she is on screen. I have to ask, why not give her the last name of Hannukah or Easter? This also created one of my favorite Bond lines of all time. Post coital talk between Bond and Christmas inspires "I thought Christmas only comes once a year".
1. Pussy Galore - In Bond's words, "Poosee Galore? I must be dreaming". Could they get this past censors now?
Favorite Bond Girls
Honorable Mention: The Japanese duo from You Only Live Twice. People who love comedy films recognize these two women as the lead females in the classic "What's up Tiger Lily?". Fantastic movie. When I first saw it, I laughed out loud at knowing they were huge stars in Japan who were selected to be in the Bond film set in Japan. It was like a badge of honor.
5. The duo from Man with the Golden Gun - Mary Goodnight/Britt Ekland and Andrea Anders/Maud Adams. In oen scene, Bond (Roger Moore version) is getting frisky with Mary Goodnight. When Anders walks in, he tosses Goodnight into the closet. He gets down with Anders, and then goes back to Goodnight. Top notch quality in this film.
4. Xenia Onatopp - Famke Janssen. Tough broad. Bad girl. Really bad Russian accent. Killed people with her thigh squeeze during sex. Famke Janssen is pretty lame, but I give her props for this role. She played it with tongue firmly in cheek. Killed people during sex.
3. Agent XXX - Barbara Bach. Damn. This was what I hoped would be on the other side of the Iron curtain when I was a kid. In reality, it was not far from the truth. It is a secret shared by many American college kids who study abroad in Europe but the guideline is "the further east you go, the prettier the girls, and then you hit Russia and all bets are off".
2. Honey Rider - Ursula Andress. The first shot, where she walks out of the water, is burned in many men's minds. It is so iconic that it has been spoofed and reproduced but never duplicated.
1. Pussy Galore - She fought Bond quite a bit, but then turned ont he bad guy. That laid the groundwork for every other "bad guy's girlfriend" in every other Bond film. Bonus points for the Pussy Galore character in the Ian Fleming books being a lesbian crime boss from Harlem.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
2. Basic Background: This might be the first thing he fucked up, and subsequently ruined the prequels because of, but he turned the Jedi into a priesthood, when the original set up was more like kung fu masters who take in students. Read any of the comics from Dark Horse set way before the trilogies but in that universe. Yes, there is a Jedi council, but the Jedi learned from masters on different planets. There was no big Jedi Oxford you went to from birth. By taking some of that 1 on 1 cool training away, he made the Jedi into "magnet school" of Force nerds rather than spiritually blessed warrior-philosophers. Yoda sounded like Professor Yoda in the prequels. Luke training in the jungle with Yoda one on one is fantastic. The connection between them seemed special and tough at the same time. That was missing. He demystified the Force by talking about midicholorians. He made it more a matter of science than of spirit. Jedi couldn't fall in love, marry and have kids. How did little Jedi show up?
3. Basic Plot points: Obi Wan met Anakin when Anakin was the best star pilot in the galaxy, saw how he was gifted in the Force and then took him in to train him. Obi Wan was older than Anakin by a considerable amount, which was not honored. If the Jedi are so powerful and strong, how the fuck did they not see the future when the stormtroopers would just shoot them in the back? How? Another giant plot hole is that Vader's mom is buried right next to where Vader's son who is strong in the Force grows up. So Vader never goes to visit his mom's grave for 20 years? He never sees this little boy with the Force, blond hair, and the last name Skywalker????? Was Skywalker like "Smith" in the galaxy so he couldn't be sure it was his kid? Even bigger problem is that Anakin does not choose to become evil for his own gain. He gets tricked into evil to save his woman. Lame. It was like Lucas couldn't let Anakin make the evil choice of his own action so that kids would get mad.
4. Wasted Frames: He wasted space with lame scenes for Jar Jar. Wasted use of the Wookies. Didn't spend time showing awesome battles that didn't have CGI stamped on them. Go look up the battle scenes from Braveheart and substitute lightsabers for the actual blades and that is what I am talking about. Wasted an entire film showing Anakin as a kid. The entire first film was a waste of 2+ hours. He wasted one of 3 films on crap.
5. Missing Pieces: There was no lovable rogue (Han Solo, Lando). There were no underside characters for this "worn in" galaxy (Jabba, Boba Fett). There was no love triangle. Even though Luke and Leia are revealed as twins in the 3rd film; the love triangle of Luke-Han-Leia was great. The prequels could have been full of these guys. Think about it: a Jedi who went to the dark side but came back. There had to be at least one since Obi Wan going undercover and hiding from the Emperor and Darth Vader with the help of smugglers to hide Luke, Leia and their mom. The love triangle was built in: Obi Wan, Anakin, Luke/Leia's mom. How perfect? Run on sentence alert: They could even make it realistic where Luke/Leia's Mom should get down with good guy Obi Wan but she chooses bad boy Anakin who gets her pregnant and then goes evil, ditching her, and then she crawls back to Obi Wan, who still loves her so he helps hide her and the kids and never gets to tap it but lives in the desert watching over Luke pretending that he is the son Obi Wan should have had with Luke's mom, dreaming of what Luke's mom was like before she had the twins as he masturbates through tears of regret. That would probably be a deleted scene.
6. Bad Casting: Anakin never should have been a child in the first film. He used Liam Neeson who has a serious, dramatic background for one film only. Samuel L. Jackson had some weight but wasn't allowed to flesh out his character. How cool would it have been to see Samuel L. teaching Anakin or advising Obi Wan on some tricks of the Force? When they cast the films, Lucas should have called DiCaprio everyday and said "name your price, you will be in my fucking films as Anakin". Supposedly they did reach out to Dicaprio and he said no.
7. No explanations: He failed to explain some things like why some Jedi fade away as they die or threw shitty explanations at us like the midicholorians or how the Jedi got all blue and fuzzy after death. The blue fuzzy explanation was a dumb throw in. How come Anakin couldn't tell using the Force that his wife was pregnant with twins? How did Yoda and Obi Wan, who were wicked powerful, hide for years when the Emperor and Vader could feel Luke's little disturbances of the Force? Why did Vader stop looking for Obi Wan? Why did the galaxy stop using droids for fighting and switch to clones and then stop using clones? How could Darth Sidious be so evil right under the Jedi council's nose? So stupid.
8: Too much CGI: every alien looked way too CGI fake. Battle scenes were obviously CGI. Even the space scenes were not as solid as the originals. It felt like an awesome video game during some action scenes. CGI still hasn't figured out how to capture that real look. Kind of like how Jaba the Hutt was obviously fake, but he looked so real that he made your skin crawl. Jabba looked like something you would find down in Chinatown in some dungeon ready to devour you whole.
Not everything was bad.....
3. Yoda's lightsaber fighting. When that happened, the entire crowd went nuts where I saw it. Yoda kicked some serious ass. It was a cross of kung fu, sword fighting and midget wrestling.
4. The lightsaber duel between Liam Neeson, MacGregor and the lame actor who played Darth Maul. Seriously, Darth Maul's real life voice was so bad they overdubbed his lines using another actor.
5. Natalie Portman. Thank you. I needed her to get me through those prequels.
6. Anakin hunting down and destroying the sand people that kill his mom. That's a cool application of Jedi powers. I wish they had shown the actual footage of it. I think we all saw this one coming after the first crappy film, "oooooh my mom can't leave the crappy planet so watch it end up costing her her life, while I go away to become a Jedi". It is another plot hole that no one confronts Anakin about this decidely evil act.
7. R2D2 rocked. I always wonder how he is going to get out of problems. When we get robots in the future, I hope they are like R2D2 and not like the Terminator.
8. Costume design was fantastic. I loved the quasi-futuristic, quasi-Asian look of the clothes. Not a lot of that monochromatic future wear from the 70s flicks.
9. Some of the settings were well thought out like Natalie Portman's home planet, Coruscant, the fiery planet where Obi Wan fought Anakin.
10. We figured out why Boba Fett was such a bad ass who could get killed so quickly. Look at his dad.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."
You lost my vote. I'm one of those male voters that Dems are afraid you will not get in November. I can't believe this but "Go Hillary". You never, and I mean NEVER, throw your Gramma, who raised you, under the bus. Let's get this straight. You talk of being raised by a single mom. That isn't the case. She was single for a short short while and remarried quickly. You lived in a two parent house until you were around 10 and then you were raised by your two white grandparents in Hawaii and attended rich kid prep school. These old, white people took you in despite how different you were, and how they might have received some flak for doing so from neighbors, and raised you from the fifth grade to age 18. That is almost a decade. You know how some old white people handle their white child's mixed race children? Like phucking plutonium. It is wrong, but that is their personal feeling. These two took you in and raised you. Gramma confesses to you a fear of black men, which must have been incredibly crushing to your cokehead soul as you were growing up to be one, and you manage to mention that in a speech to try to cover up for your pastor who hates America, white people and called the USA "the US of KKK A". Let's do another line Barry! Your speech was lame, your act is growing old, and you just trampled on your Gramma's memory. I can't believe I considered voting for you.
Obama is the hot person across the bar that looks good with bar lighting and a smokey haze. By the time you walk over to them, the ugly shines right through.
Monday, March 17, 2008
It has been a joy to read some extremely well done econ and investing blogs about the Bear Sterns collapse. Here are a few links I check out daily. The great thing about these guys is that they actually look at the numbers, the data, the BS and try to help you understand what is going on behind the scenes. Some of it is tin foil hat-ish and some is incredibly enlightening.
"Mish" writes about econ and is in the deflation camp. I agree with him because I think as more Americans have less cash to spend on consumer items and odd investments, the price of things will fall. Look at all of the "leap year" and "sta patrick's day" sales stores had this year. I like how his signature name is the same as a French Canadian finger sandwich. At Memere's house on Christmas eve, you can always count on mishes.
Winter Watch is brilliant, funny and truly eye opening. I have learned more in reading his articles than in 4 years of economics classes at Cornell. The comment board is somewhat annoying, but the writer, Russ Winter, writes in a clear manner and with style. I do agree that what we are seeign now is a deflation in some assets but rapid inflation in others (energy & food). I differ in that I think shortly it will all be going down. One of his best posts described how fictitous capital, which is a concept he commonly writes about is created. Fictitous capital is when your neighbor sells their house for 200K when you thought all homes in the subdivision were 150K. Suddenly, you and all of your neighbors go to your banks and get home equity loans and what have you based on these new property values. Has anything really changed? Is your home really worth more? No. This loan which is a debt to you is a credit to some investor who expects those mortgage payments to act as a bond. This investor is holding onto a fictitous thing of value.
The Big Picture and Calculated Risk. I go to these two in back to back link clicks. Big Picture is written by barry ritholtz who manages to answer emails (yup, he answered mine) and is pretty witty. He can break down complicated things into easy to understand terms. I consider that a sign of true mastery of a subject. Calculated Risk is housing focused, and the writers do an amazing job of breaking down how the mortgage world really works. Well, how it is suppose to work before the last few years of douchebags in power suits and whores in short skirts and 5 inch heels talking about closing condo deals.
Greg Mankiw. Harvard professor who posts quick thoughts or links. Very intelligent and has a habit of showing data that challenges preconceived notions and does the "follow the numbers" routine rather than come up with his idea and then find data to back it up. The opposite of Paul Krugman.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Highlander is an awesome movie that would have been even bigger had they cast a halfway decent actor in the lead role. The villain is brilliant. Sean Connery plays the older, wise man who instructs the young Highlander about his abilities. There are several great fight scenes. The two storylines in separate times work well together. Somehow, every, single time I watch the movie, I can't help but think how much the lead sucks. This was a worse casting choice than Heather Graham in Austin Powers 2.
One accent that was nominated unfairly was Michael Myers' Shrek accent. I do not think Shrek was suppose to be Scottish. I think Myers crossed his Scottish accent up with a Canadian accent and gave birth to Shrek. It is a movie for children so a true blue Scottish accent might be too hard for them to follow. I was one of the few people who did not like Shrek. I did not like the jokes for the most part. I thought the Eddie Murphy donkey character was pretty lame. I did like the gingerbread man and countless other fairy tale references and wish they had been expanded on in the film. Instead we watched a tale that said it is not nice to judge or make fun of people for being ugly on the outside (shrek and ugly people), but it is ok to make fun of short people (john lithgow's character). Way to go Hollywood.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
1. Why couldn't he have a normal affair? Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. He didn't need to pay for sex. A normal affair would keep him in office. Hiring hookers and committing felonies doesn't.
2. Who is this hooker? At $5500/hour, I am expecting Cindy Crawford.
3. What does a person do for $5500/hour? Does a client get to go to 6th base? Are we going to find out disturbing details of his preferences?
4. Who are clients #1-8? Are we talking about Charlie Sheen and some European and Middle Eastern playboys? That would be my guess.
5. When did he start going to hookers? A person does nto start with $5500/hour hookers. A guy has to break in at a lower level. I bet he started in the '70s when NYC was a much friskier city of sin. Maybe he went down to Atlantic City for some $50 hookers to get a rush.
6. How did this mob controlled organization not set Spitzer up for anything like the Senator in Godfather 2? This plays out like a movie. What governor would be dumb enough to do this, especially in this day and age?
I am a bit sad as well by this news. Spitzer was a guy who was from an uberrich family but still felt for us common folks. I disliked his grandstanding, but he didn't seem to be as much of a slimeball, in bed with business politician like say any of our presidential candidates. On an extended timeline, I pictured Spitzer as a 3 term governor who would consider running for president in 2016 or 2020. I thought the future was incredibly bright for him on a national stage. Sadly, this is all done. Sure, he was a total dick and coerced a lot of people to do things and throw themselves on swords.
Spitzer also made enemies with this guy. Mo Greenberg did not survive a concentration camp, get to the top of AIG, create a wonderful legacy for his family in the insurance business to then get swept out of the insurance industry by a pencil neck, "crusading AG" like Spitzer. If this was somehow a set up, I would laugh my ass off to find out it was Maurice Greenberg. Still, if he hadn't just dialed those numbers, he could be riding high.
Then again, if Ted Kennedy had saved Mary Jo Kopechne, he would have been president in 1976.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
The photo to the right is one of those Tom Brady photos where he tries to pose and look goofy or less made for a movie. Dude, you've got movie star looks and have sex with actresses and supermodels, quite fronting you're a normal guy.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I think daydreaming is a bit healthier than when I practice an accent or an imitation in the car on the way home. That has to look far worse to other drivers. They might be expecting to see a "bluetooth" in my ear, but they do not. Must be a bit frightening.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Monday, March 03, 2008
My favorite dumb Bush quote is...
"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on --shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."
The leader of the free world.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Now I do not turn down a pretty face, but when I consider hair color, which is like 80th on the list of things I would consider in a mate (right behind attention span and ahead of driving ability), brunettes is number 1, followed by redheads, and then blondes. Temporary green and pink dye jobs get sent to the bottom. I don't go for the punk look. It makes sense that my wife has dark hair. I'll be spending the rest fo my life with her, so she better fit the bill. Considering this order, which appears to be different than most of my peers, I tried to trace it back to something. I could never really put my finger on why I would prefer one color over the other. Then it hit me: Return of the Jedi.
Return of the Jedi was the first movie I remember seeing in the theatres. I was about 3 and a half. Believe me, I saw it maybe 20 times. Every single aunt or uncle I had took me to it. Luke Skywalker was my favorite character. I was Van Damme serious whenever he was onscreen because he was a Jedi. He was also a good guy dressed in black, which did not jive with my little brain that had been watching cartoons and movies where the guy in white is the good guy. Going on in the back of my brain was this other message, "Princess Leia = pretty, find Princess Leia in the future". George Lucas had her in that gold metal bikini get give dads a reason to go to the movie, gave teenage boys good dreams, and planted the seed in many little boys' minds that no matter how fat you are, if you are rich and powerful, a smokin' hot brunette might sleep with you in a metal bikini.
There was a dichotomy with Princess Leia's wardrobe in the Star Wars movies. She was either covered neck to foot completely or wearing a metal bikini. There were no in between styles. Maybe Lucas thought that after covering her up for 2 movies, he had to give male viewers a little bit of fun. The wife and I debate the Princess Leia/Queen Padme comparison a lot. Yes, Natalie Portman is a beautiful young woman. Yes, she has a very classic look about her, and is slightly exotic which might be from Israeli roots showing. Still, she could not pull off the metal bikini like Carrie Fisher. Carrie Fisher was in goodshape due to her genes from Debbie Reynolds and the amount of cocaine she was snorting in the '80s... bonus points: she didnt look anorexic. If Portman wore that outfit, she'd look like a boy. I am probably clinging to a memory of Princess Leia on the big screen. My brain has definitely clung to that memory through the years as I have met women.
1. Draft WR to go with Owens and Crayton. I would prefer this to be one of the two 1st round picks we have. Dallas does need to get younger at this position. Ideal player: Mario Manningham. He just might drop enough that they could pick him up at the 29 spot. I don't care about that combine 40; I saw him play on Saturdays.
2. Draft a CB. This should be priority number 1. We need someone else to use with Newman. Henry is a bit slower, but still useful versus larger receivers because he is taller than the average DB. Ideal Candidate: The Cromartie kid or Mike Jenkins. I would like Cromartie because he si a big bigger which is better to deal with Plaxico Burress in the division, and he could manhandle the Iggles and Redskins midget WRs.
3. Sign or draft in later rounds (3rd-5th) a speed back to go with Barber. All of this talk of using a first round pick on a RB is stupid. They have bigger needs than RB. Ideal Candidate: Pick up Steve Slaton in the 4th round. I don't liek wasting a first rounder on a back when we have one of the top 10 or top 5 backs in the NFL already. Let's just pick up speed. Heck, signing Tatum Bell would be a good idea that "Hashmarks" suggested yesterday.
4. Figure out if Hamlin is the answer long term at free safety. This is a player evaluation bit. I would sign him to a 3 or 4 year deal and get rid fo that franchise tag label that is chewing up cap space. Ideal Move: Sign him to 3 years, use him for 2, cut his ass when we draft Taylor Mays or some other stud FS prospect.
5. Pick up a back up for Romo. Romo's thumb injury last year showed how dangerous it is to use Brad Johnson as the back up. Ideal Candidate: Chris Simms. I know he is under contract with the Bucs, but somethign has to give with the logjam of QBs down there. He is competent.