Tuesday, September 30, 2003

This is an exciting new blog (well what he's doing is new): American Hot Wax. Michael Daddino has decided to review every American #1 single since 1950. As he put it: "These are the kinds of challenges I like taking up: the stupid ones." It's just starting but he already has some interesting reviews of things like the "Theme from the Third Man" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." I'll have to keep a watch on this, it seems like fun.

Well, as of yet I've no good linkage for you today. Sorry. But lucky you, I've called in sick to work today. (Nothing serious, just a general feeling of total crappiness.) So I have the rest of the evening to dig up some interesting Web news.
I finished Robert Twigger's "The Extinction Club" and sort of agree with the review I linked to earlier. The book doesn't really go anywhere. Twigger rambles on about extinction, secondhand book shops in Egypt, swallows, the Boxer Rebellion and the deer the book is about. To his credit, it's all interesting. But it doesn't add up to much.
Now I'm not sure what to read next. I have so many short stories yet to read, and I've read a few of those already. But I'm not sure if I want to jump into another novel now. With Nanowrimo coming, I'm not sure I want to tie myself into one genre. We'll see how I feel.
Speaking of Nanowrimo, the signups for new members starts tomorrow. Actually, I'm hoping the forums open up tonight at midnight, which will give me something new to do. This year, Connecticut actually has a municipal liaison. That means we have somebody to organize parties and give out gifts and what not. I'm glad somebody took up that job.
Well, that's all of my ramblings for now. I'll link if I find anything of interest, as always.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Well, that's about it for me today. Sorry, no giant squid links from me today. But if you're looking for more ramblings from me, check out my old diary. I've updated there for fun. Enjoy.

There's a new entry in the Where's Atlantis? sweepstakes. This guy claims it's off the coast of Cyprus. As the article points out, other entries have included the Azores, the Sahara desert, Malta, Central America and Antarctica. We can also include the Bermudas, the whole American continet, sunken islands off the coast of Italy and probably thousands of others.
As much as I like weird stories, I find the whole "where's Atlantis" thing to be getting quite boring. It's almost certain Plato made the place up for a morality tale.
On the other hand, I'll be just as fascinated as everybody else if this guy comes up with some convincing evidence.

Well, I just finished Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" with the final volume "Citadel of the Autarch." The story is good, there are wonderful images and the prose is flawless. It's also frustrating. It's the kind of book you can't read once and understand fully. It requires that you go back and look again. The narrator basically says that at the end of "Citadel of the Autarch":
"Have I told you all I promised? I am aware that at various places in my narrative I have pledged that this or that should be made clear in the knitting up of the story. I remember them all, I am sure, but then I remember so much else. Before you assume that I have cheated you, read again, as I will write again."
And I will do just that, but it will have to wait. I have so many books stacked up waiting for me, I have little time to reread. (Which is something I'm starting to change.) I moved right onto the next book.
That book is "The Extinction Club" by Robert Twigger. Here's a review of the book. They pretty much don't like it and for good reasons. However, when I started the book I approached it differently and that may make all the difference. I'll tell you more when I come out the other end.

Here's a good article on the cassette tape, which is now 40 years old. When I was a teen, the tape was the only music format. Records were still around, but kind of fading. CDs were yet to make their mark. The tape was king. I had everything on tape.
Which, of course, means I've had to re-buy my collections on CD. But I haven't given up on the cassette. I have a cassette player in my car and I tape all my CDs for it. I occasionally go to record stores and thumb through the bargain bins full of old tapes. It gives me the chance to pick up something without risking $15.
I don't make mix tapes enough. I love the mix tape, but I rarely make the time to do it. Occasionally, a friend will ask for a mix and I'll have a ball coming up with one. Here's a good site on the Art of the Mix.
I just watched "Royal Tenenbaums" again the other night and that always gets me thinking about mix tapes. The soundtrack of both that film and "Rushmore" are such eclectic mixes, yet it all hangs together. Both those films and Quentin Tarantino's films inspire me to think about mix tapes.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Ah, the classic Snipe Hunt. I remember my father sending my brother and I out into the woods with a flashlight and a styrofoam cup to catch the elusive snipe.
I'm sure most guys have gone through this initiation at one point or another, in a camp or cub scouts or some other place. I'm not sure the Snipe Hunt is ever afflicted on women though.
My friend Charles and I once had two friends, both women, going on about a snipe hunt for at least a day. One of us mentioned snipe hunting as a joke, figuring the women would get it. They didn't. So instead of explaining, we started offering details about the "elusive snipe." Everytime we went too far ("the snipe is invisible"), the other one of us would come up with some plausible-sounding explanation ("well, it's not invisible really. It just has a natural camoflauge that is almost impossible to see.")
I don't think we ever told them it was made up. They just started doubting our conflicting stories after a few days. Ahh. Why is it so much fun to string along the gullible?

The Internet is a wonderland. Sometimes, you throw a word you're interested in into Google and find wonderful things happen. Case in point, science education at work: Squirrel Fishing. Enjoy.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The much praised Segway scooters are being recalled. So much for the future.
And by the way, marketers of the world, the Segway should be an object lesson in the problems of overhyping things. Beware.

I suppose I should also blog the death of George Plimpton. He is an important writer and done many things in his life. Unfortunately, I grew up in a time when the only thing I knew him for was all the movie cameos he made.

Robert Palmer dies aged 54. I need to find another obit for him. While his biggest hits were indeed "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistible," much of his '70s stuff was better and deserves more attention. It won't get it. Ahh, here we are. Check out Allmusic's biography of Palmer. Much better. Plus you can look at reviews of his albums.

Following up on John Sayles, there's an interview with him at Suicide Girls. It's pretty good. However, for those of you at work, it is a porn site, so beware. There's not a lot to see on the interview page, but you probably don't want your boss behind you when you click.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

An atheist group has a bright idea. They are going to fight religious conservatives at their own game. They want to make an inspirational atheist movie, called Heart of the Beholder. The movie seems to center on people wanting to rent "Last Temptation of Christ" on video tape and the protests against them. This somehow snowballs into murder, blackmail and other evil things.
There's a teaser on the site. It's animated and they make sure to point out that this is not what the final film will look like. And well they should, the film looks just as cheesy as "Left Behind" and other scare tactic religious movies do. It's a trip, check it out.

And at Rotten Tomatoes, John Sayles' latest film, "Casa de los Babys" just barely gets a fresh rating. But then, even bad Sayles is better than most anything else.

Here's a good article on John Sayles and Roger Corman. The article talks about what Sayles added to the Corman films he worked on and how Corman influenced Sayles directing tactics. It also points out a Corman film I'd never heard of, "The Challenge," which stars "Seven Samurai" star Toshiro Mifune.

Here's an item only of interest to giant monster obsessives like me. At Henshin!Online, they have an interview (dated 9/24/03) with Hiroshi Koizumi. Koizumi played in many of the early kaiju films and in the new "Godzilla X Mothra X Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S." will be playing the same scientist character he played in the original "Mothra" from 1961. The original "Mothra" is one of my favorite monster movies and part of the reason for that was the characters were well developed (something that rarely happens in those films.) So for me, this is exciting news. It's an interesting article, check it out.

We're still deprived of giant squid news, but this might make up for it: Octopuses get erections.
"But Voight glimpsed a rather different ligula while watching a failed mating. "It was quite prominent," she recalls."
I think I'll leave it there without comment.

The giant insects in yesterday's story seem to have shrunk: "had a body more than an inch long and was close to five inches long when including the antennae and long ovipositor. " They also appear to be larger than normal ichneumon wasps, which are common. Funny how these stories fall apart after a day.

Alien sex, not all it's cracked up to be: "As his wife and daughter slept below, a 3-m-tall, six-fingered alien with braided fur on her legs straddled his waist. After 40 minutes of levitational copulation she departed through the wall, leaving Meng with a 5-cm mark on his thigh. " The story goes on to say that a son will be born. You know there is a paternity suit coming.
It's an interesting article on Chinese reporting of alien encounters. Good stuff.

Last year, one of my favorite stories was the giant snakehead fish. It's a native of China that suddenly appeared in a Maryland pond. The problem with these fishies is they eat everything in a pond, then crawl over land to another pond and eat everything there. They keep doing this, eliminating whole ecosystems. You can see why it's a worry. Well, the Maryland authorities killed everything in the pond in an effort to stop the snakehead.
But now the 'Snakehead' has been found in Wisconsins Rock River. One way or another, this monster fish is going to come to America. In fact, it seems to already be here. Beware the monster fish!
Which reminds me, there was some talk a month or two ago about somebody making a movie about the Snakehead. Of course, in this movie, the snakehead will be gigantic as a result of genetic testing or something. Can't wait for that to come out. (Could find any links about it though.)

I just want you all to know that it's Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month, not that it's of any interest to all of you or anything.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I got my notice from the people at National Novel Writing Month. I updated my profile and I'm ready to start writing. Of course, I still have another week to go before the forums open and then another month before writing begins. Still, this is the first sign of things getting under way. I guess it's about time I start planning what I'm going to write about.
I want to write something fun. Something set in some kind of crazy fantasy world. I'm not going to do a horror novel (which is what I did last year.) I want to be upbeat this time around. That would probably be more of a challenge for me anyway. Most stories that I complete are horror or, at least, dark. Other things seem to trail off. So this time, I'm going to complete something weird and wild.
What it will be, I have no idea...

Chuck Palahniuk is supposed to be updating his audioblog today with a post about the whole EW controversy (see below). If you're interested, watch his audioblogs. I'm pretty much done with this.
He has since deleted his original audioblog post about the whole thing and asked fans to back down. And initial overviews of the EW article show that nothing about his personal life was revealed. Weird.
It seems to me that Chuck jumped the gun and all this has led to him coming out. He's gotten a lot of support for that on his Web site and good for him. But what a weird way for this all to come about.

I listened to a sample album from Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles magazine. It's got songs by a whole bunch of metal bands. Lots of death metal, which gets real boring, real fast. There was one good death metal song, a band called Moonspell's song "The Southern Deathstyle." It had a strong gothic influence and the growling vocals weren't completely incomprehensible. I liked it enough to check out more by them.
The best song on the album was "Feed Part 1: Stone by Stone," which had a very Tool-like feel. The review in the magazine says the band, Dead Soul Tribe, plays a very '70s style metal. I didn't hear that at all. Still, it was catchy and wasn't going to turn away people who don't regularly listen to metal (no opera-style screamers, no death metal growling). Anyway, it was an interesting sampling, but could have used a few more power metal bands to give an overall feel of what's going on these days in metal.

Indian minister's call for occult studies: "With two cobras coiled around his neck, a federal minister walked on fire, honoured village exorcists and vowed to promote occult studies, a news report said today."
They just don't make politicians this interesting here.
(By the way, both this and the last item come via The Anomalist, another great Fortean site.)

Giant insects are destroying a 40 foot tree in an old woman's back yard. "Their tails open up like a fan,'' said Hanson. "Their bodies are 5 or 6 inches long and the tail that looks like a stinger is just as long.'' Apparently a neighbor captured one in a bottle and the woman promises to take pictures and video tape them. I hope that turns up on the Internet soon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Following up on the Chuck Palahniuk story (who, by the way for those who don't know, is the author of "Fight Club," "Survivor," "Lullaby" and "Diary" among others), the author has put up another audioblog telling his fans to cool it and back off from Entertainment Weekly. I wonder what's happening? He says he's having some "misgivings." Hmm. Am I the only one who finds this interesting? It would probably be for the best if that was the case.

Since I'm short on giant squid news today, allow me to direct you to the Giant Squid Center for all your giant squid needs.

Phineas P. Gage's name alone makes him cool. The fact that he had a metal rod through the head, and lived and became a celebrity, is just a bonus.

In Chuck Palahniuk's audioblog he outs himself before Entertainment Weekly can do it for him. It's kind of sad, you can tell this wasn't the way he wanted it to happen. He also takes a couple of shots at the writer (which are perfectly legitimate if what he says about her is true, and I have no reason to think they are not.)
I'm interested to read the article now, to see if the writer gives some reason for it. Was it really off the record? And here's a tip for anybody talking with a reporter: If you want something off the record, don't tell the journalist about it, there's no point. If they can't use it in the article, they shouldn't hear it. And if you are going to go off the record, well, make sure you say that BEFORE you say what you got to say. Otherwise it doesn't count.
These are the rules. Learn them well.

The Write Hemisphere is back up. This is the best blog around for your science fiction/fantasy/horror fiction needs. I really missed it while it was down these last couple of days.

It's Banned Books Week, so go out there and read a banned book. Or just read a book. Or make faces at a censor, or something. Just celebrate it somehow.
I like this quote from the ALA Web site: "'Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us." --Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
You tell 'em Douglas.

Monday, September 22, 2003

OK, I'm done today. I've got nothing else. I'll try to be more blog-a-rific tomorrow (but don't hold your breath.)

I've found a rarity among heavy metal e-zines, an intelligent one. It's called Transcending the Mundane, and if there's anyone who reads this who is actually interested in heavy metal, check out the editorials. Some are very insightful, especially the one about Nevermore's songwriting and it's links to Timothy Leary.

Well, seek and you shall find. Here are Psychiana Lessons 1 through 20 written by the religion's founders. They're far too long for me to read now, but look interesting.

Here's an interesting article on what (at least at one time) was the United States' eighth largest religion, Psychiana. I wish there was more about the religion's philosophy on the site, rather than the founder's attacks on Christianity. Ah well.

This story, Remains not those of missing Briton, is so focused on the missing backpacker that it barely registers that someone mistook a large animal's corpse for human. Why is that? How is that? Too many questions here. Of course, we all know the real reason they're avoiding the question: Aliens. Oh, you better believe it.

They blame this boat's mysterious fate on pirates. But we who have seen Ghost Ship know the real score. It's those damn bars of gold again.

It turns out Hurricane Isabel did have an effect on Connecticut. It dropped a rain of alligator eggs on Berlin.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Here's a short tour of the Voynich manuscript. I find this thing fascinating. I think I linked to Web sites about it in my old diary. It's this manuscript (currently held at Yale's Beinecke Rare Books Library) which has hundreds of strange pictures and all annotated in a strange language. People have tried to crack it as a code, but it has been impervious. Anyway, read the site, it's a fascinating object.

I've read this story: BBC NEWS | UK | Urban myth exposed by trial twice now and I'm still not sure how all the pieces fit together. Whatever, it's fascinating. Check out this quote: "He believed that some time in the 1940s an alien from the planet Atlantis, called Dr Thor De Allah Kahn, met Earth officials at a rest stop in Virginia and handed over some bonds which were supposed to be distributed to improve Third World countries."
The article is filled with stuff like that.

Arr! Give me back my anchor you barnacled bilge rat!

This photo is disturbing when you find out it's because of this. Um. Arr.

Arr! Pirates may be scurvy scoundrels, but they're not the ones out there kiling giant squid, are they? Arr!

Harold Bloom is flapping his gums again bout Stephen King. (The site requires registration and will probably be gone in a day or two and besides, do you really want to read an article by Harold Bloom?) He's going on about how this is another sign of the dumbing down of America etc etc blah blah blah.
Then he goes back over old ground. He talks about Harry Potter and the article he wrote attacking it: "But when I wrote that in a newspaper, I was denounced. I was told that children would now only read J.K. Rowling, and I was asked whether that wasn't, after all, better than reading nothing at all? If Rowling was what it took to make them pick up a book, wasn't that a good thing?
It is not."
And right there it shows how wrong headed he is. Look, the problem with kids not reading is not that they are not reading intelligent things, it's that they are not reading fun things. Their time is split between movies, DVDs, video games, TV, running outside and playing on the swings, and books. And if they aren't grabbed by the fun of a book (like many kids are by Harry Potter) they won't get into the habit of reading books. And if they are not in the habit of reading books, they won't end up reading Thomas Pynchon and Don Delillo and James Joyce and Walt Whitman and all the other people Bloom praises ad nauseum.
To sum up: You want your kid to read? Show them it can be fun.
Now walk the plank Bloom, you scurvy dog. Arrr.

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, I bring you the words to "Yo Ho Ho" at Sea Shanties. You know the song, it starts:
Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

Avast me 'earties, gather up your booty and raise your sails, today is Talk Like A Pirate Day! Don't be a scurvy dog. Do your part. Arrr!

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Yahoo! Movies: Jurassic Park IV - Greg's Preview Apparently there is some talk going on about a new Jurassic Park film. I get excited about this every time, although every time there's a chance it's just stringing the concept out too far. Lost World was terrible (but I thought had some good scenes) but Jurassic Park III was fun and very tight. So I'm hoping for the best.

Meeting my giant squid requirement for today: Sex trap for giant squid: "'The freezer bag at home - to my wife's disgust - is actually full of giant squid gonad samples. We're going to grind all of this up, and we're going to have this puree coming out from the camera, squirting into the water.
'Hopefully the male giant squid, absolutely driven into a frenzy, is going to come up and try to mate with the camera.
'This is the dream - we're going to get this sensational footage of the giant squid trying to do obscene things with the camera.' "

Yahoo! News - New Theory: Universe Born in a Black Hole Wow. This is one of those stories that make you think that science is so cool. White holes, supernovas, the beginning of time, this article's got everything.
Of course, this gives credence to the Marvel Universe theory. If you read your comics, Galactus was part of an earlier universe (which I think was destroyed by a black hole) and he was the only survivor. The transformation has made him the world-eater he is today.
(And yes, I didn't think talking about science was geeky enough, so I had to add the comic book quotient.)

You know, I usually don't write about politics, but John Ashcroft annoys me. In this article, Yahoo! News - Ashcroft: FBI to Reveal Patriot Act Data, Ashcroft said he will release the number of times the FBI has used the Patriot Act's section 215. 215 allows the FBI to search library records of anyone at any time for any reason.
While it's nice that he's releasing information about it, that's not the point.
The point is that it could be abused in the future. We wouldn't allow the government to have the ability to kill people at random if they assured us they wouldn't use it. Eventually it will be used. And if it's not going to be used, why have it anyway?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

HENSHIN!ONLINE: EASTERN FRONT has updated with info on "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus" and "Godzilla-Mothra-King Ghidorah." Apparently, they will be coming out on DVD in February 2004 in widescreen with both dubbing and subtitles. This may change if they decide to give a limited theatrical run for GMK. Oh, I'm all atwitter.

I rarely listen to the radio anymore these days. But yesterday I did. I turned on the local "alternative" station Radio 104 WMRQ. Much to my surprise, I encountered hip-hop and top 40 radio. Someone had taken it away and replaced it with stuff I hear everywhere else.
Now, I'm not going to complain too much. 104 had become as repetitive and boring as every other radio station in the last 6 years. But back when it started (1994?), it was the first alternative station in Connecticut. Before that you listened to either college radio (always a good idea) or Long Island's 98.5 (which I think has also been replaced).
At the time, it was a breath of fresh air on Connecticut radio. I miss that. But it had long since gone stale. I hope in the near future, we get some other station that will change the radio landscape of Connecticut. But I think it's highly unlikely. Thank god WNHU 88.7 and WPKN 89.5 are still around.

Telegraph | Health | A horror of birds and beans: "'I know it's silly,' says Mawdesley. 'I'm well aware that baked beans can't hurt me. I can't explain what it is about them. It's just that when I see them, they make me feel panicky and I want to vomit. And I don't like that feeling.' "

I meant to blog this earlier, Jaws lives! IOL : Monster shark rips teen to death: Whale said he shouted "shark!" and they all started paddling in furiously.
'I told him he still had his legs' Mills said he saw Bornman catch a wave towards the shore. "But the water around him turned red. The whole wave was just blood."

Enough about stormtroopers and their families, more about squids and their deaths: Giant squid deaths puzzle scientists

The family that plays together, stays together.

Love is ... someone who will go to the Big E with somebody dressed as a stormtrooper.

My friend Charles took part in The Big E 2003 with the rest of the New England Garrison of the 501st. Click on the link and see the pictures. Charles is in this picture.

A friend asked me for a copy of "The Return of Bruno," Bruce Willis' attempt at music from the mid-'80s. I can't decide which is geekier, the fact that I bought the album when it came out (I was a huge Moonlighting fan back then) or that somebody wants it now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I usually don't do quizzes, but how could I avoid this:

You're MechaGodzilla!

What Kaiju are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Found this via Fark: The Dark Tower Page. Does anybody remember this game? It seemed so cool when I was in high school. I seem to remember the game getting tedious pretty quickly though.

The New York Times adds their own two cents about Stephen King in: The Shining Moment (get it? The Shining. Oh, it's rich!) One question, however, what's this mean: "He has created a subgenre that is said to have drawn in readers who may otherwise not have been inclined to pick up a book at all." Subgenre? A genre within the horror genre? Because horror was along a lot longer than old Stephen, he knows that. Do they mean Stephen King's output is a subgenre in itself? Whatever, it's the New York Times, they must mean something important by it.

Stephen King Receives U.S. Book Honor: You know, when I first heard about this, I didn't think it was a great thing. King's prose really isn't up to the level of other winners of this award. But then Harold Bloom sets his flabby mouth flapping:
"He is a man who writes what used to be called penny dreadfuls," Yale University Professor Harold Bloom told the New York Times. "That they could believe that there is any literary value there or any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive human intelligence is simply a testimony to their own idiocy."
And suddenly, I'm quite excited King has won the award.

Steve Almond, who is guestblogging at Blog of a Bookslut, is ranting about why there isn't more sex in fiction these days. "I mean, you all live this shit every minute of every day. Your minds are all filled with the rich filth of desire. You think about cocks and pussies all the live long day. And breasts and asses and the soft skin of her neck. I mean: don’t you? So why don’t your characters?"

Canada: target for alien invasion. Watch your kittens.
The Globe and Mail: "'Dalton McGuinty,' the statement said. 'He's an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet.'"

I'm so excited, my little geek heart is going pitter patter. ADV Films will be releasing the "Destroy All Monsters" movie soundtrack this October. They're also releasing soundtracks for the three recent Mothra moives, but I'm less excited about that.

Monday, September 15, 2003

It's the mental equivalent of "I've seen you naked!" in all its smugly superior juvenility.

While searching Snopes to confirm the stories below (no luck yet) I stumbled upon a story I heard a few weeks ago. It's the horrible, yet fascinating tale of a man who got a drill bit through the head and survived.

On that same link someone notes: "The flip-side of our ability to read garbled text is that proof reading is hard, precisely because we see what was meant and don't see what's actually there on the page." I'm not irrelevant after all!

This is getting blogged everywhere, so why shouldn't I join in. The story at Joi Ito's Web and later published at BoingBoing is fascinating and best explained like this:

"Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, olny taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pcleas. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by ilstef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

Being a copy editor, this worries me. Does tihs now mkae me ilerrevant?

Saturday, September 13, 2003

There's a new trailer up for Kill Bill Volume 1. I am so stoked for this film.

Friday, September 12, 2003

This blog, gangstories, looks interesting. I'm not sure what to make of it. It's interesting and well written though, so maybe that's enough. There's a legal disclaimer on the site stating that it's all fiction. This makes the site seem questionable and more authentic at the same time. Whatever, it's a good read.

Here's a review of a book collecting stories about Johnny Cash. The review is interesting because it sums up many of the good things about Cash. A man who gave support to the downtrodden seems a wonderful way to remember the Man in Black.

So I just came back from "Once Upon A Time in Mexico." It was a lot of fun and it was something of a mess. Rodriguez tried so hard to make this an epic that it has all kinds of plot strands that are hard to follow. Despite that, it was a good time and had some wonderful stuff in it.
Johnny Depp has been appropriately praised. I could see Rodriguez making a new set of films about that character. Having said that, I never got a handle on whether Sands (Depp's character) was in control of what happened or not, and what his eventual goal was anyway. But then, maybe that's the point. Ruben Blades should also be getting some attention. He plays a retired FBI agent dragged into the affairs by Sands. He wrings a lot of feeling for his character out of only a handful of scenes.
Rodriguez also brings back some of his trademark actors including Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin. Trejo is playing a different character from the one he played in "Desperado", but I wasn't sure if Cheech's character was the bartender from "Desperado" or not. I'll have to go back and see if he gets shot in the eye.
Overall, a fine action flick whose reach might exceed its grasp. Well worth your time if you enjoyed "El Mariachi" and "Desperado." It certainly creates an interesting arc for the Mariachi character.

Here's the silliest way I've heard to get out of your college loans: Man uses nose to roll nut across London. Somehow I don't think the prime minister is going to help him much. (Thanks Aimee for the heads-up.)

Once Upon a Time in Mexico is showing at the North Haven theaters, I may go see it. I like the first two movies ("El Mariachi" and "Desperado") in the series, I'm sure I'll enjoy this one. At Rotten Tomatoes it's getting a 64% fresh rating, which just gets it over onto the good side. But even the good reviews seem to think it's a bit of a mess. Still, as long as an action movie doesn't treat me like an idiot, I usually enjoy them. And all the reviews seem to like Johnny Depp in it. After "Pirates of the Carribean" it seems that he can do no wrong.

Here's a new article on Toynbee tiles by the The Philadelphia Inquirer Online.

Also sad is the sudden death of John Ritter.

Johnny Cash, the brilliant songwriter, singer and even TV host, died at age 71. Cash was brilliant. I have a tape of "Live at Folsom Prison and San Quentin" that would probably be my favorite live album of all time. In songs like "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Walk the Line" and "Ring of Fire" you can hear the ache of those longing for something or someone. His voice was one of a kind. Even his last single, "Hurt" (a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song), still carries so much power. Another sad day for music.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

It's a travesty that King Kong (1933) is yet to come out on DVD. There's some kind of legal problems that have held up versions of King Kong for years. It's about time they get cleared up. I know Peter Jackson is working on a new King Kong, so somebody should get this in order before then. And while they're at it, they should also release a DVD of "Son of Kong," which is not as good as the first, but is still a classic. Right now, the only copy I have is a video tape made off of AMC.

Ahhh, Varan The Unbelievable, what a terrible movie. Actually, the Americanized version is a terrible movie. I just watched my Something Weird copy of the movie last night. You spend an hour and 15 minutes watching Myron Healy complain about his saline solution and then get a few cut up moments of Varan (strangely called Ombaki in the movie) smashing buildings.
But I love Varan, the monster. I hope to get a copy of the original Japanese film soon. Varan's design is just strange. He walks on all fours, sometimes. He's got a hard shell, sort of. He flies, occasionally. He's got a line of bright white spikes down his back. But he looks really cool taking out small Japanese villages.
Anyway, I've been in the mood for giant monster movies lately, so expect some more kaiju-related links and reviews soon.

Here are Two Interviews with Raymond Carver. I love Carver. I have to re-read some of those stories soon. (By the way, the picture on this page has to be the worst I've ever seen of the author.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Let my mall rats go: Hundreds of toads hopping around shopping center. Locusts expected next week.

CNN.com - Homesick man who flew as cargo recounts journey - Sep. 10, 2003 I loved this story when I read it yesterday. Guy packs himself in a crate and sends himself by plane across country. When the delivery man brings the crate to its delivery point, the man pops out of the crate, thanks the delivery man (scaring him half to death) and walks away. The delivery man then called police. In the article, he talks a little bit about the situation. But the best quote comes from District Attorney Bill Hill: "He violated the law of stupidity if nothing else."

This site offers you a chance to see your favorite spaceships in scale with each other. Always wondered what the Death Star looked like compared to the starship Enterprise, well now is your chance.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Esquire has a powerful, disturbing story about The Falling Man, a picture from Sept. 11 of a man who apparently jumped from the north tower. The story talks about the search for who the man might be.
But more importantly, it goes over how people felt about the "jumpers" on 9-11. It seems many people have angry feelings about this. They are angry that people jumped, that people lost hope, that they committed suicide. It's one of the many parts of Sept. 11 that people can't easily deal with, even two years later.
For me, I can't see judging these people. First of all, some of these people could have been blown out of the building. We don't know what exactly was going on inside. But those who did jump, what a horrible choice they faced. The fire, the building fall apart around them, or the long drop.
It's a tough article.

In the government's ongoing effort to make our money as ugly as possible, they are releasing the peach-hued $20 bills on Oct. 9.

I'm jumping on BoingBoing's bandwagon here and linking to this story in the The Kansas City Star about the "Toynbee tiles." The tiles are these bizarre little things that say "Toynbee idea KubricK's 2001 Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter." There are variations including one that says "Murder all Journalists I beg you" (a note of particular to concern to me.) There's a Web site at www.toynbee.net that keeps track of tile sitings. They list tiles in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Aberdeen, Edgewood, Washington D.C., Columbus, Toledo, Cleveland, Atlantic City, St. Louis and Detroit. Also, there was one each in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.
The tiles are some hard substance that is actually embedded into the pavement. According to the Kansas City Star, it would take some heavy duty equipment to meet that need.
This obviously could be somebody pulling a weird prank to attract attention. But no one has taken responsibility for it. Also, the tiles have been appearing since the late '80s.
There must be some explanation behind it, but I'm not sure I want it answered. The mystery is so compelling.

Monday, September 08, 2003

And in further Warren Zevon news, a fan writes touchingly about knowing Zevon in his last few years.

Here's a better obit for Warren Zevon.

Warren Zevon has died. It's not a big shock or anything, but it's still sad. At least he was able to get his last album, "The Wind," out before he passed. The album has been getting some good reviews. I think I'm going to pull out my copy of excitable boy and listen to "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" for a while.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

I've sauntered through Big Dead Place from time to time and it's probably a good time to mention it. It's a Web site about living in Antartica, written by people who are living in Antartica. It's had a lot of interesting writing. Take today for instance, there is a story about tax law jurisdiction in Antartica. Sounds excrutiatingly boring, doesn't it? But it's not. It's written with wit and thoughtful self-interest. I hope these guys get their 'foreign country' status.

This guy caught a giant squid in the Bering Sea and it's very anticlimactic. I mean, look at the picture. Sure it's big, but I wouldn't say it was giant. Ah well. Also, the story reads like it's a fifth-grader's book report. Still, for all that it is a giant squid. So check it out.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Old 28 Days Later review (new headline)

Well, at my old diary, The Experiment, I put up a review of "28 Days Later." Go there, check it out, come back and comment on it. If it pleases you...

UPDATE 11/23/2005: Since my old blog no longer exists, here's the review pulled from my personal files. My files include two drafts of it, so you get them both. I've resisted the urge to revise either one:

I just saw "28 Days Later." It was a good, solid horror/action film.
It looked beautiful, great dark shadows and powerful images. And there were some scenes with real scares. The first half of the film was particularly brilliant. I don't know how they managed to get all the shots of empty London, but it looked amazing.
The second half of the film is where problems begin. Now, I should note, the problems are not evident while sitting in the theater. They only bother you after sitting back and thinking about the movie.
Mostly it's the portrayal of the soldiers. We're treated to the old movie cliche of soldiers being people totally led by their impulses and animal urges, who glory in death. These trained-to-kill soldiers are then beaten by the clever trickery of our hero (with the help of zombies, of course.) It should also be noted that our hero is a bike messenger who has only killed one zombie in his life. He just seems to have a powerful dark side.
The cliche keeps the film moving, but cheapens the experience.
The second half of the movie is also one big riff off of "Day of the Dead," including a chained up zombie who exacts his own revenge.
I should also note that the prologue to the film (the part before "28 days later..." comes up on screen) seemed silly and unnecessary. I would have rather had the whole zombie problem go unexplained. (They never use the term zombie, by the by.)
The movie doesn't hold a candle to the George Romero zombie series, but what zombie movie ever has? The movie seems to have a respect for horror (although, it doesn't indulge in gore at all, except for the brutality of it) and treats its themes seriously. The characters are well drawn and I think Serena's change in philosophy is handled well.
Over all, I thought it was an excellent film. Check it out for yourself and tell me what you think.

That being said, here are the caveats. First of all, George Romero has nothing to worry about. His films remain the zombie films. In fact, this film takes a lot from "Day of the Dead." The whole second half in fact. That's not a killer for a zombie movie though, it's not like anyone else has done anything original with zombies either. Watch any Lucio Fulci films lately?
The film was made on digital camera, from what I know. I'm not sure if it's that or the filmmakers choice, but it does give the film a strong, grainy feel. Documentary-style some would say (although when was the last time you saw a documentary with less than perfect camera work?) TV news style might be a better way to describe it.
They use the digital camera to create a few effects -- Manchester burning off in the distance -- but the most notable is the fast-moving, enraged zombies. I think it works, you never get a completely clear view of these people-turned-monsters.
Zombie fans may be upset that there is not a lot of gore. In fact, the zombies (which are never called that in the film) don't seem to eat people. They puke on people a lot and do a lot of crazed punching and things, but not a lot of eating. It didn't bother me. You still see people get killed and you still get an idea of the brutality of it.
I didn't think there was much need for the beginning of the film, the few minutes before "28 days later..." comes up on the screen. It just seemed to overexplain things. I like the "Night of the Living Dead" style where things are hinted at, but we have no idea if that is really what is behind the zombies.
The ending of the film worked for me while I was sitting there getting into it. Upon further reflection, it has its problems. They're even worse because this is a film that has billed itself (intentionally or otherwise) as an "intelligent zombie film."
First off, do we need to repeat the cliche of Army men out of control. There seems to be this common perception of military as people who are consumed with their animal urges. While I have no doubt the military attracts some of these people, I don't think it represents the real depth of military men. Not to mention, it's a straight rip from "Day of the Dead."
Second, if you're going to have a guy going up against military men, he'd better be damn clever. These are guys are trained not only to fight and take orders, but also to strategize. One bike messenger shouldn't be able to take 10 of them out.
Well, the movie does show him using clever strategies and siccing the zombies on these guys, but still. How do all these plans always work out in the movies? I don't know anybody who could make something like that work in real life. (Unlike "Day of the Dead" where the Army guys' own foolishness does them in.)
But all this is really not necessary. It is a good flick. Characters are well drawn. The action is exciting. The horror is scary. The first half works very well. Over all, it was one of the better horror movies I've seen recently.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Speaking of short stories, the new issue of The Fortean Bureau is up. I haven't read this one yet, but last month's was great. I read every story in it. That's a rare thing. I'm not a big fan of reading stories on the computer (although, I'm all for printing them out), but this and SciFiction and a few others sometimes make me change my mind.

This Save Our Short Story Campaign in Britain looks pretty interesting. I love the short story, I read short stories constantly. I find it strange that most people don't. I've heard people complain they don't have time to read, but when they do, they read an 800 page Harry Potter book or a 600 page Stephen King novel. Well, if you're reading huge tomes, yeah, who has the time? But if you were to buy a short story collection, a short story magazine, or just find something online and print it out, you could read it on the john, before bed, on the train, whatever. Do people not like the short story form? I find that hard to believe.

I'm a nonstop testing maniac.

This is another test.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Yahoo! News - Two Lives of Nepal's Child Goddesses What must it be like to grow up a god? And then, just when you're becoming an adult, it's all taken away from you. That has to deal some kind of psychological blow. And what do these girls feel like the rest of their lives? Do they feel like they were a god for one shining time in their life? Or do they feel it was some kind of odd fluke and just try to forget. I wish this article had talked to some of the girls who are now in their 30s or older.

Scientists are studying the domes formed on the 13 mile thick ice on Europa. They think salt and warmer water underneath could form them. This also means there is a greater possibility for microbial life on the planet. It sounds like a fascinating landscape. Nice place to visit, etc. etc.

Here is an earlier article at Slate that Michael Kinsley wrote suggesting the abolition of marriage as a government insitution. This is more about gay marriages and the solution to that problem than the marriage problem in general. Still I think it's a good idea. Marriage should not be recognized by the federal government. Check it out and see what you think.

Slate has another interesting article about marriage. This one is about a book by Laura Kipnis which questions the need for monogamous marriage. It's a really interesting article. Is marriage a reasonable institution? Can people really be faithful forever? At one point, it's asked why people keep going back to marriage, despite rising divorce statistics, infidelities and complaints. I think what is not looked at is the alternative: Do we not want to be alone? Although I'm not a big fan of marriage, I think most of us do have an innate desire to dedicate ourselves to one person. We may not know who that person should be, and more than likely we'll get it wrong, but we're still seeking that person out.

This is a test.

Welcome to my new blog. I'll post entries here on any weird thing that enters my head. On the personal side, I'll probably talk about my own writing experiences and how they are proceeding. In general, I'll post things about writers, books, music (heavy metal, classical, whatever I'm in the mood for a that moment), movies and Forteana (weird things that happen, UFOs, all that good stuff) and such. Hope you enjoy it.