Tit, er Tin Man

19 03 2009

I thought, “Eh. I’m being too judgmental. Not all Sci-Fi channel miniseries can be totally terrible.”

“That Dune miniseries wasn’t all that bad. It was way more faithful to the the book than the David Lynch movie. Even though it wasn’t as visually inventive or campy.”

With this self-denial tucked at the front of my palate, I watched “Tin Man”, the Sci-Fi Channel’s miniseries revision of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.

If the bleary end of that sentence didn’t make it clear, this was a terrible decision on my part. I want those 6 hours back.

Now understand, this Tin Man was sneaky. I looked at the cast list: Zooey Deschanel, Alan Cumming, Richard Dreyfuss… not exactly lightweights. And I am a big fan of the Fairuza Balk-starring “Return to Oz” film–it combined just the right amount of psychodarkness with the same childish awe as the books on which it was based. This series seemed to adopt the same general idea.

Alas, this miniseries did stupid shit like randomly start sentences with “alas”. It also proved that decent ensemble acting calibre cannot make up for a ridiculously wooden script. Zooey Deschanel is darling incarnate to self-effacing ex-hipsters like myself, but her listlessly-written “DG” character, despite being the ostensible Christ placeholder, evinced about as much depth and strength of character as a fencepost. Bet you can’t guess what “DG” stands for.

Maybe these actors realized how inane the writing seems, and thus gave their phoned-in performances to avoid putting too much of themselves into the frankly cheesy script.

And it’s not just the writing. During a scene in which Dreyfuss, the retooled Wizard aka “Mystic Man”, staggers around in a cantina and shares his “vapor” addiction with a nightclub-sized audience, I realized what had been bugging me about the look of the series. The visual design seems to be a haphazard potpourri that resulted from a producer or director’s request that the art director and production designer “make it look funky and cool, you know, really hip. But also dark.”

Unfortunately the product that resulted was a visual design that, while filled to the brim with imaginative details and interesting bits, lacked any semblance of a unifying principle or idea, other than “make shit look kinda bleak”. As a result, any setpieces like the aforementioned cantina, where designers got the chance to cram in a lot of shit, felt incongruous and disorganized. And it didn’t seem like that was what they were going for. There was also a disturbing tendency to use lots of clashing pastels to make things look “fun” or “quirky”. [retch]

Tin Man _really_ starred two major characters:

* traditionally hit-and-miss Sci-Fi channel CGI

* Kathleen Robertson’s tits

The first will be obvious to anyone who’s even seen commercials for such Sci-Fi classics as “Manticore”. While some of the environments are perfectly lush and passable, most of the creatures are laughably bad. One example: the retooled Flying Monkeys, which in Tin Man look more like bigass bats with a monkey mouth.

And how, pray tell, do these flying bat-monkeys enter the story? Well, gentle reader, it just so happens that they pop out of Kathleen Robertson’s tits.

I won’t lie; when I saw Kathleen Robertson’s name among the cast, I figured, “Yep. Gunna be some cleavage there at the least.” And frankly I was counting on said tits making up for Kathleen Robertson’s, um, incredible acting skillz.

Little did I know that my half-hearted boorishness would be transformed to highly hilarious levels of camp. If I thought it were intentionally campy, I’d take back some of those things I said above. I doubt it was more than a ploy to keep nerds’ attention span, however.

Kathleen Robertson plays the revised Wicked Witch, nee “Azkadellia”. When she needs her mammalian hybrid things (I’m referring to the bats, not her boobs) to go out and plug plot holes, she unclasps an already low-cut bodice, the camera zooms in a bit on the linen she’s wrapped in (or assumes a conveniently overhead angle), and a string of tattoos just above her bustline COME ALIVE WITH PLEASURE. Needless to say, the tattoos are some weird-ass vaguely Celtic symbols that look kind of like bats. But man, they glow like radioactive shit and TURN INTO MONKEY BATS. Inventive, right? There are several such scenes.

Overall, I would rather mouthfuck Gary Busey.





Self-reassurance

19 03 2009

Today watching the VCU / UCLA game on TV, I saw a commercial for Saturn that disgusted me. The copy went something like:

{with slightly overwrought sense of down-home-iness} “I keep hearing all these pundits talk about how Americans don’t make any cars that Americans want to buy.

[pause]

Well, Saturn makes cars Americans want to buy!”

The copy goes on to intimate that driving a competitor’s car, and then a Saturn, would make the difference very clear.

I’ve known many people, most of them friends, who’ve owned Saturns. Here’s a sampling of a few things that’ve happened to those friends:

* After about 4-6 years, car begins to use/burn oil. As in, all the oil in the pan.

* In less than 5 years, power windows turn into permanently closed windows.

* Two different friends got into accidents that were fairly minor (no one was hurt). Both friends’ Saturns came out of said accidents looking like a shit Popsicle that someone had just microwaved and flung at a wall.

No offense to you Saturn addicts out there (I’m sure there are tons of you, at least as many as there are people dying to mouthfuck Gary Busey), but Saturns are not cars Americans want to buy. They are cars Americans settle for because while they really want a Toyota, they’ll trade 40% of a Toyota’s reliability to reduce the sticker price by 25-35%.

Congratulations, Saturn. You’re the less voluptuous, minorly awkward girl America wants to begrudgingly feel up because Heidi Klum has married an R&B singer with a face like a shark attack and no one can figure it out.





Thumbing the nose.

7 03 2009

I work for a company whose computer infrastructure has typically been composed of 90% free (as in beer) Unix OSes–FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Ubuntu, Debian, Gentoo… Now, after an acquisition by another company 7 months ago, they have decided to move (almost) everything (that’s not insanely expensive to move) over to a certain family of software that comes out of Redmond, WA.

I will have more to say about this later, but for now, here’s the product of my sweat:

Uh! double up, Uh! Uh!

Uh! double up, Uh! Uh!

I spent a long-ass time trying to get gnome-terminal to work, too (mostly because it has far less annoying “helper programs” than pretty much anything in KDE, or if it doesn’t, they don’t use as much RAM).  No go. I even tried building the damn thing.  Sheesh.

Someone needs to make this shit easy.  Get real, the reason you install cygwin on Windows is to have a good shell at your fingertips, not run X apps, you may say. I know, I know.  But until someone comes out with a shell app for Windows that even comes close to the productivity-enhancing skillz of Konsole or gnome-terminal, I will continue to try and build gnome-terminal under cygwin. Over and over again.  The closest non-X thing I can find for cygwin is rxvt, which is still kind of “feh”-inducing at times (ncurses really brings it out).

One of my co-workers suggested UWin, something AT&T created and then promptly buried on their research site. Supposedly native win32 executables and POSIX-emulation binaries (achieved through a posix-emu dll, like cygwin) can coexist side by side. imagine, dir /w | awk ‘{ print $4 }’. It’s freaky.  I haven’t tried that yet, though.





Why is Weeds so disappointing?

20 02 2009

I mean, it’s got Kevin Nealon, lots of pot, and occasional titties, right? Shouldn’t this be a 90s man’s dream show?

Why does it leave that taste in your mouth like “this show really sucks but the one-liners are barely dragging it out of the gutter”?





Nerd habits rub off

8 02 2009

I was never much of a comic book guy. The one childhood experience with comics I remember is reading a compendium of Archie I read while accompanying my dad to court; he was testifying against some dude that stole his car.  Needless to say I was too young to appreciate the delicate assiness of the judicial process and spent my time with Jughead.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve become interested in seeing what’s out there (as far as “cream of the crop” goes), and I’ve discovered I probably should have gotten at least halfway into this shit a long time ago.  Last year on vacation I read Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis books, which I enjoyed.  Then seeing the Dark Knight (and Batman Begins) again on DVD, I decided to check out some of the comics that informed the character-driven darkness of those movies.  So I picked up Batman: Year One, The Killing Joke, and The Dark Knight Returns.  Of the three, I think the Killing Joke probably impressed me the most from an art standpoint, while the other two had far more twisted and engaging stories.  Nevertheless, I decided to check out more Alan Moore–and what better way than Watchmen, right?  I stayed up until 4am finishing that one.

Simultaneously, I decided to check out some of the manga behind the movies and series I’ve enjoyed in the past, starting with Shirow Masamune’s Ghost in the Shell, Volume 1. It was OK, but honestly I think it kind of drops the reader into the world and its jargon without a whole lot of exposition or priming.  I guess the brainfuck was kind of what he was going for, but still…

I also got Zombies vs. Robots based on the title alone. The art style actually is pretty great. (imho)

Anyway. Now I suppose it’s only a few short months until I’m watching Battlestar Galactica or some shit.





1st Presidential Debate 2008: liveblog from an independent.

26 09 2008

6:05pm PDT – Obama’s answer is (duh) highly calculated, and very… boring.

6:06pm PDT – McCain’s answer is (duh) more conversational.  The Kennedy note is (stab me for hardheartedness now) pure filler.

6:07pm PDT – I’m watching the debate on CNN (it’s the only HD version I get, for more nose-sweat spottage), and the little “reaction graph” at the bottom is making me roll my eyes in the most SHUTTHEFUCKUP way.

6:08pm PDT – Good job, Jim. Make them answer the damn question.

6:09pm PDT – If somebody has a source for Obama’s “2 years ago, I warned” claim, I’m all ears. A little snooty.

6:10pm PDT – Blah blah blah. Obama’s a prophet, so now McCain is one too. Yay. You’re both prophets. Let’s hear some freaking details you’re in favor of / not in favor of.  Obama outlined the conceptual problem to some extent, but didn’t dive very far.

6:12pm PDT – Obama chose a slick segue to level the “fundamentals are sound” barb.  You knew he was gunna.

6:13pm PDT – wtf, the little graph is purple now? Does that mean the Dems and Reps are overlapping? is that pink? are my contacts fucked up?

6:14pm PDT – It’s nice that McCain believes the best days are ahead of us. I wish I could share that optimism.

6:15pm PDT – McCain’s “earmarks” answer: Holding a Sharpie. Classy. That $932 million figure was a nasty one.  I wonder if McCain can claim equally free a record. (Doubtful.)

6:16pm PDT – Obama’s retort: Good point. 18 billion is a drop in the bucket compared to the other shit on which we’re (natch) wasting money.  I doubt the veracity of the “that wasn’t the case with me” bit.  Again, love to see some evidence.

6:18pm PDT – I like McCain’s insistence on cleaning up lobbyist-influenced earmarks.  I’m wondering if he can really do anything with that. Earmarks and lobbying have been part of government since Eden (or Egypt, take your pick).

6:20pm PDT – I wonder who the highest business taxing nation in the world is.  France? China?

6:22pm PDT – Nice retort. It’s not the letter of the code, but its ridiculous complexity wrt loopholes.

6:24pm PDT – The “tax code choice” thing really sounds like a lot more unnecessary complexity. Mental note: read up on it.

6:25pm PDT – Obviously McCain is much more talented at butting in.

6:26pm PDT – Ooooh. Good question, Jim. (What would you have to give up in the event of the bailout?)

6:27 pm PDT – Obama’s really not answering this question. It’s just another excuse to have a platform statement.  If this is a background for the answer, it’s too damn long.  He did make a good POSITIVE statement, but the question really calls for a NEGATIVE answer.

6:29 pm PDT – Score one for McCain. Actually gave a real answer, even though it is still still partially a statement of his platform.

6:30pm PDT – Lehrer is spot-on as always.  Neither really directly answered the question.

6:31pm PDT – Alright. An answer. Way to go, Barack.

6:33pm PDT – “And all that.” HAH.

6:36pm PDT – An OK conceptual answer from Obama.  Again, light on details.  McCain’s retort re: health care had much less healthcare.

6:37pm PDT – Oh, McCain. I can’t tell if your trickle down logic reminds me of Reagan or G.H.W. Bush.

6:38pm PDT – Obama took his chance to make his second “you knew it was coming” pointed barb – connecting to Dubya.  I wonder if he feels at a disadvantage.

6:39pm PDT – “the lessons of iraq” question.

6:40pm PDT – Wassuh? Oh, sorry. I fell asleep during McCain’s recounting of how awesome Petraus is, etc.

6:41pm PDT – Obama’s 3rd pointed barb: he knew Iraq was a dumb idea in the first place.

6:42pm PDT – You knew this had to be the comeback.  Geez. I could almost predict this shit. (McCain throws the “surge won’t work” stuff back in his gob.)

6:45pm PDT – “Let us win”?  LET US WIN? John, your definition of “winning” is fucking pathetic. I’m sorry, but it is.  If we’re winning, I’m J.P. Morgan.

6:50pm PDT – Woo hoo! talking over each other!

6:51 pm PDT – “Afghanistan” question.

6:53pm PDT – Obama’s answer is very pointed, compared to some of the earlier answers.  Is this poppy trade really all that bad? and do we really want to play hardball with Pakistan….? (after the shit that’s happened the last couple weeks?)

6:54pm PDT – McCain grabbed my apprehensions about Pakistan by the balls. Way to go.

6:55pm PDT – have to break to eat dinner. dammit

7:05pm – I call the Afghanistan question a draw, maybe slightly in Obama’s favor. McCain makes a good point that Obama never went there, but…. c’mon dude.  I’d bet 2 million bucks you landed and stayed in the rear with the gear.  Politicians going to war areas gives them as good a picture of the ground there as a 7-year-old spending a couple hours on the NYSE.

7:06pm – These times will be off as I’ve had to lean on the TiVo crutch a little.  next question: “Iran”.

7:09pm – Frighteningly enough, Obama seems more of the realist on this issue. BIZARRO WURRRRLDDD

7:10pm – McCain’s first retort: I can understand the “not wanting to legitimize”.  But consider: the fact that you’re *talking* about this means it’s already legitimized.  You’re considering it.  Why not get the facts straight from the horse’s mouth?

7:15pm – 3 inches taller?  WTF? Am I missing something here?  Is someone beating the tops of their heads or the bottoms of their feet?

7:17pm – Russia

Obama’s answer: Largely pragmatic; middle-of-the-road.

McCain’s answer: That first barb was bullshit. Anyone who’s read anything the Georgian government put out during that time would well agree they needed a little restraint of their own.  Not the same kind of restraint as Russia needed, sure.  But restraint nonetheless.  Otherwise, not all that disparate from Obama’s position.

Obama’s retort: Yup.  Kind of a ham-handed transition to energy policy. Is McCain blowing his nose? What is that sound?

McCain’s retort: Drill drill drill.

7:27pm – Last lead: likelihood of another 9/11.

McCain’s answer: Passable answer.  I think the 9/11 commission stuff was largely overshadowed by the “I met a weeping mother with Down’s syndrome whose 8 twin sons were murdered by terrorists” etc.

Obama’s answer: I can understand Obama’s dedication to getting Osama, to avoid all this “Obama / Osama” shit, but…. can you really destroy an organization that, by all accounts, operates as a random collective of small, self-contained cells, by removing its leader?  it’s a PR game more than a substantive one. Perhaps that’s what kills terrorism, being largely a PR game itself.  Meh.

McCain’s retort: “Surrender and 9/11 will happen again.” Snore. “We’ll lose all we’ve sacrificed there.” Yeah, we’d lose everything.  Without us, the Iraqis are a loose collection of idiotic Muslim extremists. Sure.  (** sarcasm switch turns off **)

Obama’s retort: Yup. Spot-on.

McCain’s retort: Ooooh, nasty. Dude, the Georgia thing is bullshit. Give it up, man.  Yeah, the surge worked.  With several millions of bribes. The military tactic totally did it.  Man, I’m a cynical fucker.

Obama’s retort: Is he using the “royal we”?  Huhwhat? Please tell me he’s referring to “us Democrats”, or “me and my Cabinet”.  The “royal we” would really disturb me.

Overall, it’s clear McCain is a better pure debater.  I question the veracity of a shitload of facts from both of them, and where the truth lies is a real indicator of who’s substance and who’s style.





CBO Statement on Paulson’s Bailout

26 09 2008

Good reading, in that it lays plain just how inscrutable the plan is.  Offers some speculation on the details of the possible ways in which the bailout might take place. Read here.