1.30.08 ~ It’s that time again!

January 30, 2008

So, I realize it’s been some time since I posted. I’ve been busy adjusting to my new school schedule, work, etc. I’ve watched a few new movies in the last week or so, and plan to do posts about them in the coming days. I have a pair of webcomics I’d like to review and get out there to you, my small, hopefully loyal reader base. I’m on the verge of finishing not one, not two, but three more books on my way to that fifty books business – I know that three seems like a lot, but I have one book I keep in my backpack for at school. I keep one at work. I keep one on my nightstand. Seems like a lot, I know, but it keeps me reading and working towards my goal. The next thing to do is to get back to writing regularly.

Tonight’s post, though, is going a different route…

WE HAVE TO GO BACK.

As some of you may well know, the Lost Season 3 finale aired on ABC tonight, complete with a little popup bar at the bottom running a ticker of info, in case the viewer’d forgotten anything in the break. And rewatching it (in HD, no less), really reminded me of how much I love that show. I don’t think I’m out of line when I call it a masterpiece of American television. It was, when it was on during a normal season, nearly a religious event for me. My WoW Arena 3v3 team is named “Not Pennys Boat.” The numbers, the monsters, the hatch, the Others (both sets), and just how absolutely hardcore Rousseau is…

Expect a post tomorrow night.


1.20.08 ~ Good Night, and Good Luck.

January 20, 2008

Today’s Music: “Remember Me As A Time of Day”, Explosions in the Sky
(This song, for whatever reason, really makes me think of Brad.)

TODAY’S TOPIC: Review of Good Night, and Good Luck.

Got this from Netflix with Pan’s. I had wanted to see it when it was out in the theaters, but that was back while I was in wretched Downers Grove and it just didn’t work out. >_> The film is a “docudrama” about the battle between Edward R. Murrow and Senator McCarthy, back during the whole Communist scare. I will be the first to admit it was not at all what I expected.

That didn’t mean it wasn’t excellent.

First things first, the film was black’n’white. Considering the kick I’m on now, this was a huge turn-on.

At an hour and a half, the movie runs at average length, but I’ll tell you, it definitely felt too short. I could have done with another hour. Superbly acted, the entire piece just sorta sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. Engrossing is a good word. The sparse soundtrack had music in all the right places. The acting was tight. Jeff Daniels is Jeff Daniels. I love Robert Downey Jr. – I think I might pick up A Scanner Darkly and try watching that again. What am I saying, the entire cast did a damn fine job.

What I realized, as I was watching the movie, was that a.) it is fantastically relevant to current affairs, and b.) it’s a movie meant to speak to today’s viewers about the role of the news media more than it’s meant to inform its audience about the Red scare from so long ago. I need to start taking notes during some of these – there were lines Murrow delivered that were things I know we’ve all thought during the course of this Bush administration debacle and the election circus that’s going on. About how it’s the media’s responsibility to be fair and honest and to give voices to everyone. To rise up against the politicians, not be controlled by them. To become a strange version of a shining beacon of hope when the government is trying to use fear tactics and propaganda to control and subvert a nation. Sound familiar?

Anyway, make an hour and a half and watch this film. This was a good Netflix weekend.

Pros: Amazing ensemble acting, fantastic cinematography, awesome sound, excellent storytelling and seamless integration of historical material.

Cons: It was too short. I could have easily watched three hours of this, if the quality could be maintained.

***** out of *****
Five out of Five.


1.19.08 ~ Pan’s Labyrinth

January 19, 2008

Today’s Music: “In the Musicals”, Bjork

TODAY’S TOPIC: Pan’s Labyrinth

Two posts in one day! I have little to say about Pan’s. Captivating – at just over two hours, the time just flew by. Beautifully written, beautifully designed, beautifully costumed, beautifully acted. We need more movies like this, that depend -less- on CG. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a ton of CG in it, but the important parts…

What am I saying, you just have to see it. The stuff of dreams and nightmares. Watch it.

***** out of *****


1.19.08 ~ 1. Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama

January 19, 2008

(Fair warning: I feel terrible this morning, and am fighting waves of nausea. This post reads like a 9th grade book review. For that, I’m sorry. Really, consider reading this book.)

Today’s Music: “Fanshawe”, El Ten Eleven

TODAY’S TOPIC: Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama

So, a while ago I got a couple people hooked on this Blog Challenge. Read 50 books you’ve never read before in the span of a year and blog about them. I decided it should be my main New Years Resolution. I’m a little behind, but I didn’t start until the 8th or 9th. But I’m going to try to get this done by the 31st of December. Feel free to join me in it!

Book #1 is Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama’s first book. I expected it to be more about politics and a story of his coming of age into the man he is today. It was, but the book was by far more a commentary about living across the color line. While not what I expected, it was definitely refreshing. Obama writes in a familiar, friendly, accessible voice that can make the book an easy and enjoyable read for anyone with a 10th grade reading level. As someone with a considerably higher reading level, I still found the book a quick and engrossing read.

Obama begins by recounting his earliest memories of children, and continues to work through the first thirty-odd years of his life. What sets this piece apart from other accounts of Issues of Color and autobiographies of African American people is that Mr. Obama must grapple with being black, and being white simultaneously. He often visits the guilt he would feel when joining his friends in white-bashing, knowing that his mother and grandparents (who raised him) were certainly not black. He also does an excellent job of drawing the audience in, and driving them to ask questions of others and themselves by presenting these same general questions he was often asking him. I imagine it would be an excellent addition to the core literature of any Current Events class, sociology, social psychology, and a number of other classes. With its high-school reading level voice, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it start popping up in cirriculum, most especially if Mr. Obama wins the Democratic nomination.

I dove into this book to know more about the candidate I support. I found its approach startlingly honest, inspiring, serious without being preachy, and pretty close to captivating. I had a hard time putting it down once I really got into a reading session. A quick and easy read – if you’ve got the least bit of interest in Barack Obama as a politician, president, or living human being, I’d definitely recommend it. Not the best book I’ve ever read, but one of the best philosophy-of-race books I’ve read.

**** out of *****


1.17.08 ~ Jesus Camp

January 17, 2008

Today’s Music: “Red Eye”, The Album Leaf

TODAY’S TOPIC: Film of Choice – Jesus Camp

Tonight I watched “Jesus Camp”, a documentary on loan to me from Karen Popp (one of my coworkers and work-friend) which was of course on loan to her from Netflix. I’d seen clips of this some time ago and wanted to see it, and had totally forgotten about it until she brought it up the other day.

I don’t quite know where to begin. It’s definitely a political fan about the extreme Evangelical conservatives in the nation. It does an excellent job of implying this on the most subtle levels while keeping you interested in what’s happening with the kids. More than once the ministers come right out and say that they are training these children to be “warriors” and to take over the nation. It’s a little frightening that not only are the Evangelicals (both moderate and severe) are the largest group of voters, but also the group of people most likely to go out and vote.

On one hand, I have to say I wasn’t as incensed by the entire film as I was by the brief clips I watched on YouTube. Part of me is warmed by seeing children with faith, well-spoken children who have each other for a community. It’s good to see children who admit to being teased and not letting it bother them. On the other hand, the narrow-mindedness is troubling. The children, when speaking during interviews, often sound far more grown up than they are. It is as if you can hear the adults who monitor their lives speaking through them. It isn’t the Holy Ghost; it’s the pastors and ministers.

More troubling than the children are the adults featured in the films. Violent and almost terrorist-like, these people exist with a singleness of vision that is at once both commendable and frightening. Becky, the woman leading the camp, spends a fair amount of time describing how the extremist Muslims raise their children from very young ages not to be afraid of dying for their faith. That’s how they can, in their teenage years, so bravely carry hand grenades into public places. That’s what we should be teaching our children, she says. (The first part is not a -direct- quote, but you get the idea. The latter part essentially is.)

As a film, it’s very well done. While covertly being a liberal film, I felt overall it was very unbiased. The few facts it presented were very cut and dry. “75% of all homeschooled kids are Evangelical Christians.” Pure numbers without commentary one way or the other. The directors and producers make no comment for the entirety of the film. All that’s said and shown is what’s said and done by the subjects. There is, of course, an outsider radio host who has a few soundbytes, but these clips I felt were put in to guide the audience to one question or another.

I don’t have much to say about this one. I took a shower after finishing it, to give myself more time to think about it. I’m still digesting it. Maybe I’ll have a solid statement to make one way or another about it in a few days or a week. Right now I don’t even know if I’d actively recommend it. It’s an excellent film, and I enjoyed it. I felt it had a strong message, politically. I just don’t know if I’ll make a big stink out of telling all my friends.

Overall….
**** out of *****

(a.) Yes, I stole Jordan’s rating system.

b.) I now go to sign up for Netflix.)


1.15.08 – Help me please.

January 15, 2008

Today’s post is brief: I need help.

In the past few weeks, my computer has begun to overheat. I was first clued into this by her random shut downs that, upon restarting, summoned up a single line of white text against an otherwise black screen. This line read:

“The computer has experienced a thermal event (overheating).” And then something like, “Press Enter to continue.”

I then downloaded SpeedFan to try to find out what my computer was doing. I doubt the ability of some of the program – it says I have 4 fans, only two of them working. I have three, and all three are working. It also said my CPU temperature was somewhere around 101*C. It varies. But regardless of the capabilities of the program, I have been having overheating problems. (Please see black screen of death above.)

It appears I have no fan upon my motherboard. I do have a heatsink. But no fan. I find this as odd as you do. But that is how it appears.

Any suggestions? Places to begin, past the fans? My airflow is not the best, but I’ve had this box for almost two years, and this has just started happening.

dear readers
plz send halp
love, myth


1.14.08 ~ Webcomics You’re Not Reading

January 14, 2008

Today’s Music: “0 – 4”, The Notwist

TODAY’S TOPIC: Webcomics You’re Not Reading: PVP, by Scott Kurtz

So, since this blog is recently finding it’s feet again, every now and then I’d like to do this little bit, “Webcomics You’re Not Reading”. And maybe some of you are, my soon to be loyal readership, but maybe some of you aren’t.

Today’s featured strip is PvP, a typically-four panel black and white comic drawn by Scott Kurtz. It has been around for something like ten years now, and maintains all the charm it had the day it started. I’ve been reading it daily since 2003 or so – it has become a staple of my daily internetting. The strip features characters who are all employees of an independant gaming magazine, “PvP”. Run by friends-since-forever Cole and Brent (the H.O.M.O.), it employees a handful of writers, including the girl gamers, the teenage gamer fanatic, and a troll. No, not the forum kind – an actual troll. With a mass of unique supporting characters, this comic is sure to offer at least one character each reader can relate to, and more whom the reader can say, “I know someone exactly like that!” (Ask me about any of my Mac friends and I will find Brent in all of them, and become Francis in my rabid defense of PCs.) Nor is the comic entirely about video games – it offers homage to tabletop RPGS, Star Wars, Star Trek, Starbucks addictions and all other things ultimately geeky. Kurtz even throws in the occassional non-gamer plotline.

While the script offers no daily, years-long storylines that must be followed religiously, a story arc will sometimes span a week or two. The beauty of it is that even in these story arcs comic strips stand alone with their own punchline. Take, for example, this comic. This gem from just last week or so really stuck out to me. Boy, you see, had quit WoW and was glad of it. While I never -quit-, we had a conversation very similar to this one. And, like Brent and Jade, now we too are playing together. It’s strips like that that keep me tuned in daily, even in the presence of one of my less-favorite characters, Shecky.

You’re probably thinking, good lord, ten years of comics is a lot to read all on a monitor. Won’t my eyes start on fire? Ah, I would say, yes it is, too bad, if only he was published. You’re in luck! Mr. Kurtz has the good fortune of being published by Image Comics. If you follow the comic for a while, and decide you’d like to read back, you can find issues of PvP in your local comic shop. You can also order them online directly off the PvP site.

There are very few cons I can identify with this comic. While it is a gamer comic, many references are easily accessible to most crowds. The comic is littered with pop culture references from nearly the last thirty years. So even if you’re not a rabid fan of video games, there will most probably be something for you in the comic. There are obviously some characters who are more (or less) likeable than others, and the occassional plotline that doesn’t QUITE make you laugh like another, or a comic where the punchline falls flat. Mr. Kurtz is the first to point these out, usually, with the attitude of, “Hey, one comic in one hundred isn’t bad.” And we, as always, forgive him with hopes of another laugh. He is a man who adores his readers and does his best to please him as frequently as he can.

In short, PvP is a gem of the internet, and definitely one worth adding to YOUR daily internetting. The perfect little pick-me-up to brighten that day that you’ve already ruined at 8 a.m. by spilling your Starbucks latte all in that shiny MacBook Pro.