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November 22nd, 2007

Giving thanks... @ 09:56 am

Current Mood: grateful grateful

You know...I have a lot to be thankful for.
I ruminate on this every year. Even years I don't get the requisite turkey dinner and nonsense. I've come to take Thanksgiving seriously in my advanced age. No, seriously. I do.
I've set aside the day each year to think about what I really am thankful for. And every year, it comes down to two things: family and friends. They're the two things I'm most thankful for every year.
My family might be spread to the four winds. We might not get together nearly often enough. But...we are a family. The love is still there, and always will be, no matter what. I'm grateful to have what family I have. My sister and brother. My aunt and uncle. My niece and nephew. Even my Republican-in-name-only brother-in-law. Even if I haven't gotten to visit any of them this year (which totally sucks), I still feel close as can be to all of 'em.
My friends are the same way. They're the family that's grown up around me. Each of them might only cruise in to my life every six months, but the hour or two we get to spend together is precious time. I'm appreciative that they give of themselves to me every single day and, like the family, I try and let them know that.
Life is good. I feel I'm at the exact spot where I'm supposed to be, knowing what I need to know and who I need to know. That's satisfying in a way that the simpler definitions of success never can be.
I give thanks for all this, and all that is to come.
 

July 9th, 2007

I've seen HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX...who wants to touch me??? @ 03:28 pm



Hmmm.
What to say about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix?
Hmmm...
Well, they cut a lot out. But, the book was 896 pages. To cover it fully, with every detail intact, would take days. At two hours and 18 minutes, they've pared the story down to its bare bones, trading internal monologue and political maneuvering and teen romance for action.
We lose a lot of character beats for supporting characters as well. This means very little at all of Tonks, only a few moments with Luna Lovegood and all of Ron Weasley's big moments disappear with the Quidditch (there's broom flying aplenty, but none for the sake of the game in the film). Harry and Cho's romance is whittled down to a handful of fleeting moments that doesn't even whet your appetite.
If that's going to spoil your appreciation of the fifth film in the Harry Potter franchise, don't even bother going. Keep to your books and appreciate them for what they are. You're likely never going to be happy with the films, anyway.
If you're looking for one of the most fast-paced films in the franchise (nearly dizzyingly so) or some harrowing wizard-on-wizard combat? Well, they've got your number exactly.
David Yates, the director of this fifth film in the continuing adventures of Harry Potter, has a background in British television. He's never helmed a production like this. He's more than up to the task, keeping things lean and focussing the film almost entirely on Harry. He is our hero, after all. That makes the film more like a typical American film than the previous chapters, but it's not like they're ever going to win converts to the series at this point. You're either watching them or you aren't.

The film starts out with Harry at his lowest point. Cedric Diggory is dead. Harry feels responsible. He's isolated once again from the wizarding world and he feels miserable. He's tortured mercilessly by his cousin Dudley and his crew (Dudley now sporting the costume of a chav and looking much the worse for it). Bad things happen, and Harry is whisked away from Privet Drive by the Order of the Phoenix (waste no time in getting that title in!).
Harry's reunited with his friends and presented with a new nemesis: the Ministry of Magic themselves. Turns out that Harry's claims of the return of Voldemort aren't believed by the folks at the top, and they'll stop at nothing to squash out any word of the return of He Who Must Not Be Named.
In pursuit of that, the Ministry forces Dumbledore to accept a new teacher at Hogwarts. Dolores Umbridge, as brought to shocking pink life by Imelda Staunton, is every bit as iron, unbending and unflinchingly evil as she was on the written page. But there's a bit of humanity to the teensy despot now. I almost felt sorry for her. (Damn you and your acting skills, Imelda Staunton!)
Umbridge starts tightening her fist, enforcing the Ministry's new draconian vision. And that vision doesn't include learning any sort of defense against the Dark Arts (Why would anyone need to defend themselves? Rubbish idea, if you ask me). The students take it upon themselves to have a secret class, with Harry teaching what he's learned from fighting for his life over the last four years.
It's with Dumbledore's Army that the film misses out on some of its best potential material. However, we do end up with a training montage, and that has to mean something, right? Can't have an action movie without a montage, I say.
The kids get pretty darn good at their combat spellcraft, and that's a good thing because we're whisked into the finale very, very quickly.
How's the finale? Well, it's big. Really darn big. The Death Eaters really see action this time (the bulk of their attack on the Quidditch World Cup cut out of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), fighting both the D.A. kids and the Order of the Phoenix. And the results are more intense than anything in the series thus far (and earning the film a PG-13 rating).

What's good?
Hmmm. Well, every moment that Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman or Maggie Smith is on screen, to be sure. They've brought their A games, and consequently, they raise the bar for the rest of the cast, who seem more than adequate to keep up. Staunton as Umbridge, of course. She's so close to how I envisioned the character in the book that she made my flesh crawl. She's the perfect combination of malevolent menace and sickeningly proper ettiquette. I really wish we saw more of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, but he's damn near pushed out of the film until the end.
Jason Isaacs, of course. He's almost always great, though. Ralph Fiennes turns to subtlety to embody the ultimate evil of Lord Voldemort, not going over the top one wee bit. That's left to the batshit crazy Helena Bonham-Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, who gets precious little screen time, but wrings gallons of madness out of her brief moments.
The kids are growing into fine little actors themselves, and Daniel Radcliffe shows signs that his career is going to continue long after he puts the Potter character to rest. Rupert Grint has already proven that, but gets so little time in this one. The budding Ron-Hermione romance is hinted at, but nothing else. Emma Watson also suffers from near-deletion. If she and Ron aren't right next to Harry, they're not in the movie. Evanna Lynch does a marvelous job with her few scenes as Looney Luna Lovegood. She's creepy and weird to the nth degree with seemingly little or no effort.
The humor. This is a really funny chapter in the series. And considering how dark and violent it gets, the humor is a welcome respite from the gloom that the series is delving into.
The effects work is generally good, though I found the centaurs and Grawp a wee bit cartoonish. The final fight is amazing, though. Throwing in visualizations was very necessary, and Yates and company managed to make the wizarding duels exciting and harrowing.

What's not so good?
Well, cutting out three quarters of the book. Duh.
You miss out on a lot of great character moments. "Weasley is our king." The twins' exit from the school (since they've NEVER had Peeves in the films, this was bound to be weaker for his loss). Harry's romantic confusion (though, in his credit, Radcliffe manages to convey some of that without the setup).
The flying scenes. Remember where I said the effects work was generally good? Well, the flying scenes look like they were shot before Star Wars and before Superman: The Movie. The compositing is sloppy -- not even TV quality by today's standards.

You don't need me to recommend the film to you. Either you're going to see it or you're not. You made that decision years ago. While stripped down to its bare bones, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix gets it all pretty close to right. The big moments are all there (including that dreaded third act death). It's just the little things that you end up missing.
 

April 25th, 2007

My daemon @ 07:58 am



Decided to play around with the Meet Your Daemon feature on The Golden Compass site. Needless to say, I was surprised. I got a jackal daemon named Xanthia, one of 118 different jackal daemons or something like that. I didn't commit it to memory.

Here's the fun thing...you folks can help determine if the daemon is right for me. If you take the above quiz, your input will affect what final form the daemon takes.
You have 12 days until it settles into its final form.
 

February 16th, 2007

January 28th, 2007

Dual of the Memes @ 12:56 am

Your results:
You are Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi
76%
Qui-Gon Jinn
70%
Yoda
66%
Lando Calrissian
64%
Mace Windu
63%
R2-D2
63%
Padme
62%
Princess Leia
62%
Chewbacca
59%
Luke Skywalker
57%
You are civilized, calm, and
have a good sense of humor,
even when those around you don't.
You can hold your own in a fight,
but prefer it when things
don't get too exciting.


(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)


Click here to take the Star Wars Personality Test



OR

Your results:
You are Will Riker
Will Riker
80%
James T. Kirk (Captain)
75%
Geordi LaForge
75%
Jean-Luc Picard
60%
Data
60%
Uhura
55%
Worf
55%
Mr. Sulu
55%
Chekov
50%
Mr. Scott
50%
Deanna Troi
45%
Beverly Crusher
45%
Spock
42%
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
40%
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
25%
At times you are self-centered
but you have many friends.
You love many women, but the right
woman could get you to settle down.


Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Quiz



I find it funny that four of my top five in the SW quiz are Jedi. Hopefully it's fitting.
I never would have guessed Riker. He's a bit slutty for me. At least I don't think I'm slutty.
 

January 24th, 2007

It's been far too long since I posted something JUST for my LJ @ 10:36 am


I found this on NeatoRama.
'Tis awesome in more ways than I can describe.
 

January 13th, 2007

Adam attacks the Daily KOS @ 01:25 pm

Current Mood: cranky cranky

So, the Daily KOS blog had to go and take a dump all over football.
I went and replied.
 

January 12th, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson. 1932-2007. @ 02:52 am

Current Mood: sad sad

via Ain't It Cool News and Douglas Rushkoff:
Robert Anton Wilson has officially left his body and transended to whatever great unknown awaits us.
I've been struggling with my writing of late. Nothing's been making me happy the last couple of weeks. But I will find my way through this, because of all the writers who've influenced me in the slightest, Robert Anton Wilson was the one who made writing seem, well, important.
I first became aquainted with his work at college (as most people apparently do). My friend Terry loaned me his copy of The Illuminatus Trilogy and I ate it up. Most books, even that size, take me less than a few hours to read. The text was so dense, so rich with detail and citation and goddamn mindblowing stuff -- that it took me over a week to get all the way through it. I'd probably read and reread most of it three or four times in that week, but I needed to.
I immediately rushed out and purchased everything of his I could find. The Shroedinger's Cat Trilogy. Masks of the Illuminati. The Illuminati Papers. Neuropolitics. Prometheus Rising. Cosmic Trigger. I even found a copy of his Playboy Book of Forbidden Words in the closed stacks of my college library.
I wasn't just hooked. I was obsessed. I tracked down and stole a copy of Akron Daraul's A History of Secret Societies since it featured prominently in Wilson's research. I studied the various Masonic conspiracies. The Gnostics. Crowley. Even the Church of the Subgenius.
Because of Robert Anton Wilson, I believe I'm more in touch with both myself and my world. I don't see conspiracies everywhere -- to the contrary, I know that most conspiracy theories are bunkum simply because no one can keep secrets that big for that long. However, I read newspapers with a more critical eye. I notice the minutia and details. Even the occasional fnord that gets past the editorial staff.
Wilson might have been dense and deep and all that horseshit, but he was also one of the funniest motherfuckers this world has ever seen. Many, many comedians owe him a debt -- I doubt Bill Hicks would have gone on the Flying Saucer Tour without a nudge or two from one of Wilson's books, for instance. The humor was one of the things that lasted with me, long after I'd read any of his books. I'd remember a particulary witty and applicable passage at the right time and chuckle to myself. The guy cracked me up like no author I've read who wasn't named Woody Allen.
I've not mentioned his nonfiction yet. Most people consider the sciences separate entities. They see a line of distinction between psychology and physics. Chemistry and sociology. Biology and politics. Wilson found the keys to meld them all together. His Quantum Psychology really did energize my brain to the possibilites that exist when we realize that everything we're trying to discover is all related. Any man that manages to interrelate the writings of Albert Einstein and Timothy Leary is an intellect to be respected. Wilson did that and so much more.

To tell you how influential Wilson was to my thought processes and creative drive, the newsletter Neurotrash from which this blog evolved was originally titled Operation Mindfuck 2 as a nod to Wilson.

There shall never be another. Goodbye, Mr Wilson. Roam free and learn those secrets you've been yearning to.
 

January 9th, 2007

The inventor of Ramen noodles has died @ 12:38 pm

via CNET:

The New York Times reported today that Momofuku Ando, the inventor of ramen noodles, has died.
College students, techies and fans of quick meals everywhere should raise a cup of noodles in salute to the man who made it all possible.
Domo arigato, Ando-san. Ramen tabetai.
 

December 22nd, 2006

Because I copy from jennjenn (http://jennapple.livejournal.com/) constantly @ 10:43 am

Current Mood: amused amused

On the twelfth day of Christmas, ghoulardi sent to me...
Twelve boddington's drumming
Eleven alias piping
Ten mentors a-leaping
Nine zombies dancing
Eight werewolves a-milking
Seven avengers a-swimming
Six muppets a-blogging
Five ala-a-a-an davis
Four venture brothers
Three geoff johns
Two star wars
...and a beer in an alejandro jodorowsky.
Get your own Twelve Days:


Isn't that cool?
 

STAY SICK! TURN BLUE!

There's a purple knif ova dey!